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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 07/21/15

Guests: Kenneth Blackwell, Lizz Winstead, April Ryan, Carol Lee

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I`ll fight any man in the house for a dollar. So who`s going to take on Donald Trump? Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Well, it`s clown car Tuesday, with the king of the clown car now leading the parade. Donald Trump is now soaring in the Republican polls, well above Jeb Bush and all the others. The only question -- who`s going to take him on? Which Republican`s going to risk a face-off with the guy and challenge with it the old rule of never get into a peeing match with a skunk, or in this case, with Donald Trump? Today, Trump tramped into South Carolina and pulled his old number of picking a fight, this time with the local man, Lindsey Graham, who showed just what happens when you take a jab at the P.T. Barnum of 21st century American politics. Steve Schmidt was the senior adviser to John McCain`s 2008 presidential candidate. Michael Steele was RNC chair. And Joan Walsh is the editor-at-large with Salon. All are MSNBC political analysts. Anyway, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, who`s good friends with Senator John McCain, is going after Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRES. CANDIDATE: He`s a jackass. He`s becoming a jackass at a time when we need to have a serious debate about the future of the party and the country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, today, Trump traveled to Graham`s home turf in South Carolina and jabbed back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I see your senator. What a stiff! What a stiff, Lindsey Graham. By the way, he`s registered zero in the polls, zero! He`s on television all the time -- a total lightweight. Here`s a guy, in the private sector, he couldn`t get a job, believe me. Couldn`t get a job! And then I watch this idiot Lindsey Graham on television today and he calls me a jackass -- He`s a jackass. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anyway, that was just the beginning of Trump`s attack today. Watch what happens next. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Then I said to myself, Hey, didn`t this guy call me, like, four years ago? Yes. He called me four years ago, three, four years ago, Lindsey Graham. I didn`t even know who he was. He goes, Mr. Trump, this is Senator Lindsey Graham. I wonder if it would be possible for you to call Fox. And he wanted to know whether or not I could give him a good reference on "Fox and Friends," OK? What`s this guy, a beggar? He`s, like, begging me to help him with "Fox and Friends." So I say, OK, and I`ll mention your name. He said, Could you mention my name? I said, Yes, I`ll -- and he gave me his number. And I found the card! I wrote the number down. I don`t know if it`s the right number. Let`s try it -- 202-(DELETED).   (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: So I don`t know, give it a shot. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: Your local politician, you know? He won`t fix anything, but at least he`ll talk to you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, and he really did. Trump really did give away Senator Graham`s private e-mail address -- or phone number, actually, his private phone number. He actually did it. Graham tweeted back, quote, "Probably getting a new phone." (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: His camp also put out a statement, Graham`s, and a fund- raising plea saying "Donald Trump continues to show hourly that he is ill- prepared to be commander-in-chief." Well, anyway, I don`t know where to begin, but I`ll start with you, Michael Steele, former chair of the Republican National Committee. It wasn`t quite as much fun when you were chair. (CROSSTALK) MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, we never had this kind of...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What are the other Repubs doing now? And they`re thinking about this. They`re -- they`re -- nobody`s paying any attention to... STEELE: They`re not happy. They`re not happy. MATTHEWS: ... people like Ben Carson. They`re all disappearing. STEELE: They`re -- none of them are happy. There`s no one right now in the Republican leadership or candidates running for office who are happy right now. We`re seeing the opening of every newscast, every show with Donald Trump. And leading into this debate in two weeks` time, if this is the continual motion, the level of frustration on that stage is going to be so high, you will cut it with a knife. And anything could happen. The explosion could be monumental because they`re frustrated. They don`t know how to get in front of the story. They don`t know how to create their own news because every microphone in their face is, "Donald Trump said." Lindsey Graham is raising money off of it. God bless him. He`s taking advantage of it. He`s loving that opportunity. But there comes a point where it`s a drag, and the question is, how long does the drag continue? MATTHEWS: You know, Steve Schmidt, I can`t wait to hear you because I`m thinking if you`re driving a good-looking car down the street and somebody`s got a junker coming out and you start getting into little bumping matches, where you say, I`m going to lose this one because they -- his car`s already a junker. Mine`s going to be one. If you get into a match with that guy, Trump, right now, do you lose automatically? STEVE SCHMIDT, GOP STRATEGIST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, Chris. Look, I think this is the ultimate character test for the other 15 candidates that are in the race. This is not conservatism. This is not what the Republican Party should be about. This has to be confronted.   Tomorrow, Rick Perry has announced that he`s going to give a speech that does just that. We will see the candidates who have the guts, who have the courage to lead, to communicate to Republicans that this is not the toxic path that we want to go down. This is opposite the virtues of goodness embodied in men like Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower... MATTHEWS: Yes, well, that`s... SCHMIDT: ... and Abraham Lincoln and the giants that have sat as members of our party in the seat of the presidency of the United States. MATTHEWS: But that`s woulda, coulda, shoulda because right now, Trump is leading your party in the polls, and rather dramatically. He`s way ahead of Jeb, who everybody knows who Jeb Bush is. Everybody knows him, and they choose Trump over him in the polls. What do you make of that? Because that`s the reality... SCHMIDT: Chris, you have... (CROSSTALK) SCHMIDT: Chris, you have covered American politics for a very long time. You are a historian. MATTHEWS: Nothing like this! (LAUGHTER) SCHMIDT: You know that these numbers -- that these numbers...   MATTHEWS: Hey, Steve, nothing like this! SCHMIDT: ... don`t mean an awful lot at this moment in time in the polls. MATTHEWS: Yes, but... SCHMIDT: We cover this like a thoroughbred horse race. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. SCHMIDT: There`s a long way to go. We live in a time when trust has completely collapsed in nearly every institution in the country. People are fed up. They don`t think the system`s on the level. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. SCHMIDT: They don`t think the political... MATTHEWS: Trump doesn`t, either. SCHMIDT: ... (INAUDIBLE) is on the level. And he is in the tradition of the Roman emperors. This is bread and circuses for the masses. (CROSSTALK)   SCHMIDT: And I don`t think that this will prevail, that it will last. But we`ll see. MATTHEWS: Joan, I just want to ask you... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I want to ask you a non-ideological question, Joan, JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: OK. MATTHEWS: ... because I want your -- in this battle, who is the fastest on their feet? Name any Republican, forget ideology or any -- who`s faster on their feet than Trump? In other words, when they get in that debate in a couple weeks and Trump pounds them again and again, (INAUDIBLE) he shots back. He shoots back. WALSH: You know what? Chris... MATTHEWS: He`s never going to let them get the last word. WALSH: Chris Christie. This should be a good moment for Chris Christie. Lindsey Graham has shown he`s fast on his feet. I think he`s doing himself a lot of favors, but he doesn`t have much to lose. I just want to take issue with something Steve`s saying. I agree it`s early, and I don`t think Democrats should get their hopes up. He`s not going to be the nominee. But there`s one thing that`s very different from 2012. In 2012, everybody took a turn. Herman Cain was at the top. The thing we also said about 2012, though, was that that was a terrible field. It had a bunch of people, and Mitt Romney.   MATTHEWS: Yes. WALSH: Nobody was ever going to break out except Mitt Romney. This is a dream field for the Republican Party, right? We`ve got sitting governors. We`ve got at least four. We`ve got three -- at least three -- four senators. I mean, it should be tailor-made for a great year against, supposedly, Hillary Clinton. And they can`t get out of their own way because of Donald Trump. So I think it`s a little -- I think it`s -- I know Steve`s worried, and I totally agree. I am so happy Steve is saying what he`s saying, but I don`t know how many people are listening because they`re scared of this man. MATTHEWS: I`m not afraid of anything here, Michael. And I want to go back to Steve. I`m not afraid. The American people are paying attention to this. The same vote they get in any other poll, they`ve given to him. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: For whatever reason, they`re sending a message they want to hear more from this guy right now. What do they want to hear? That`s what I want to know. STEELE: And what they want to hear is what he`s giving them, and that is something that, whether you like it or not, whether it`s inside the Beltway or not, is irrelevant. It`s authenticity for these folks out there across the country who finally found someone who`s saying what they feel. And... MATTHEWS: What is that? STEELE: Well... MATTHEWS: What is that? STEELE: I`m angry. I`m frustrated. I`m sick and tired of these guys pontificating on what they`re going to do when then...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Is he Howard Beale? STEELE: ... to do something -- yes, a little bit. Yes. Absolutely. And I think that that`s part of the momentum. You look at where he`s gone in just a week`s time, where the gap between him and Jeb Bush -- I mean, it`s 24 to 16. MATTHEWS: Yes. STEELE: I mean, that`s -- that`s not something that... MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And Steve, you previewed this. Donald Trump also took a shot at personal hot today at former Texas governor Rick Perry, who has called Trump a toxic demagogue. Here`s Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I see Rick Perry the other day, and he`s so -- you know, he`s doing very poorly in the polls. He put glasses on so people will think he`s smart. (LAUGHTER)   TRUMP: And it just doesn`t work! You know, people can see through the glasses. But he`s got the glasses, the whole deal, Oh, oh, oh, Trump, oh -- I say he did a lousy job on the border. But I see him. He`s so vicious. You know, used to be really a nice guy. He used to come to see me for contributions and support. All of a sudden, he`s -- all of a sudden, he wants to show he`s a tough guy with Trump. So tough. So I tweeted that Rick Perry should have to have an IQ test before getting on the debate stage. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So Governor Perry`s going to get into a fight with this guy. How`s that going to win for him? I don`t get it. Go ahead, Steve. SCHMIDT: Look, this is a test. This is a moment of testing for all these candidates inside the Republican Party. You know, Joan talked about this through the prism of this not being good, obviously, for the Republican Party. This isn`t good for the country. And it`s not good for the Democratic Party... WALSH: I agree. SCHMIDT: ... because you can be the most liberal person in the Democratic Party. In a country with a two-party system, you need both political parties to be healthy. And this anger that he is channeling is real. I understand that people across this country are upset. They have a right to be upset about a number of different issues and reasons, but this anger is not what the conservative movement and the Republican Party should be about. And it`s so opposite the virtues and character of our last great conservative president, Ronald Reagan, on whose tomb is inscribed... MATTHEWS: OK... WALSH: I really...   SCHMIDT: ... "In my heart`... STEELE: Hey, Steve... (CROSSTALK) WALSH: I agree with Steve. I agree with Steve completely that this is not good for the Democratic Party, either, and it`s terrible for the country because this is the kind of hate -- I mean, he started on President Obama. He rode the birther wave. He whipped up that frenzy about the president really wasn`t born here. He`s not eligible. We haven`t seen his college grades. Then he went on to Mexican immigrants. He`s playing not just to frustration but to sometimes racism and to a real kind of nihilism about the political process. That`s not good for Democrats. It`s definitely not good for the country. MATTHEWS: But to make a point here, because we have two Republicans on the show -- when he was making fun of the president, he was an illegal alien, that he was secretly born in Kenya... WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: ... there was no roar of disapproval from the Republican Party. STEELE: No, there wasn`t. MATTHEWS: You guys enjoyed that clown act. You enjoyed -- not you personally, but the party enjoyed that. SCHMIDT: Well, Chris -- Chris, there was certainly -- there was certainly disapproval on that from the two Republicans you have on this show today.   MATTHEWS: I know. SCHMIDT: We said it was despicable then. STEELE: Right. SCHMIDT: It was wrong then. It was racist. It undermines the legitimacy of the duly elected commander-in-chief. It was wrong, and Republicans should have repudiated it. And we paid a price for it, and to some degree, we`re reaping what we sowed by a feckless political class that didn`t call it out. MATTHEWS: Exactly what I`m going to say at the end of the show because that is the terrible -- it`s a tragic reality. Let`s call it that. The Republican Party that giggled in their back seats... WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: ... while he was talking about all this birther crap, loving it because it helped to bring down the president, it helped to miniaturize him. The whole plan (INAUDIBLE) burdening of this guy. He could take it, by the way, but it put more burdens on his shoulder that the -- have to come out and show your papers, like some South African black -- I got to show my papers. WALSH: Horrible. MATTHEWS: I`m legal here. That was ridiculous. And that was Trump. And he bragged about forcing the president, like they stopped him in a car, let`s see your license, the president of the United States. And that miniaturization of his persona was part of the Republican plan. And everybody loved it when it was working for the party. Now you see the clown act writ large, and he`s going after your own people. So, oh, tut, tut, tut. We shouldn`t have Donald Trump in our midst. Well, you got him. Steve Schmidt, thank you. Thank you, Michael Steele. Thank you, Joan Walsh. You`re all smart tonight.   Coming up, while Donald Trump`s making noise, John Kasich`s trying to make some real news. The Ohio governor announced today he`s running for president. He`s the 16th Republican to do so. He`s got a good story to tell, and he could give Jeb Bush a real fight, believe it or not. Watch this guy. He`s for real. Plus, President Obama is pushing his nuclear deal with Iran, and today, he`s blasting the hawks. He says the same people who oppose the deal right now with Iran are the same people who pushed us into war in Iraq, and he`s dead right. And it`s Tuesday, time for the Tuesday clown car, as I said. And tonight, Mitch McConnell hitches a ride and warns Hillary Clinton that she can`t win the presidential election by just being a woman. Big news there. And that`s all she`s doing, he claims. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the excitement Donald Trump is causing in the Republican presidential campaign, the bad excitement. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: "The Washington Post"/ABC News poll has new potential matchups in the 2016 general election. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard." Among registered voters, Hillary Clinton beats Jeb Bush in a two-man race, a two-way race, 50 percent to 44 percent. But if Donald Trump runs as a third party candidate, Clinton takes 46 percent, about the same, Jeb Bush is down to 30 percent and Trump`s at 20. We`ll see who wins that one. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have decided to run for president of the United States. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) KASICH: I have the experience and the testing, the testing, which shapes you and prepares you for the most important job in the world. Policy is far more important than politics, ideology or any of the other nonsense we see! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) KASICH: I know what needs to be done. I have been there at all levels, OK? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Ohio governor John Kasich announcing his 2016 bid for the White House earlier today. Kasich becomes number 16 in the crowded field of Republicans vying for the Republican nomination. Joining me right now from Ohio is MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt, who was there for Governor Kasich`s announcement this afternoon. Kasie, you`re smiling, as always, but this is a great moment. I think it was a very positive speech at a time when there`s a lot of negativity out there. KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, I think you heard Kasich focus on this idea that the country needs to be united, not divided. And he hit on themes that a lot of the other Republicans, most of whom I`ve been to their announcements, didn`t hit on. He talked a lot about the working poor, about the mentally ill, about the developmentally disabled. He says that that comes from his own background as the son of a mailman.   Now, his speech was a little bit rambling. He didn`t use notes. He didn`t speak from a teleprompter. So we had some pretty classic John Kasich up there, but definitely some differences in tone than we`ve heard from other people. MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the crowd reaction because he wasn`t giving them red meat, like, some of the people on the right have been doing. He didn`t blast Obama, I don`t think. He didn`t blast the political world. He seemed to be just saying, Here`s my personal story of a working class guy who`s had problems, you know, the tragedies in his life, lost his parents. And he seemed to be talking about his uncle George, his uncle Steve, guys who fought in the war, in World War II. It was great story telling. It sounds like my family to some extent. But it was so to me American and positive. That`s what I liked about it. HUNT: Well, I don`t think that it was red meat, Chris, you`re definitely right about that. And the reaction in the crowd was, to a certain extent, I think, muted by that fact. That said, these are a bunch of people who know John Kasich. They know his story, and they know that he`s not the guy that can be out there attacking President Obama and offering that kind of thing up. I mean, this is a guy who didn`t just expand Medicaid in Ohio, but who fought with a Republican legislature to expand it, and whose argument in favor of it is to say, You know what? When I get to the pearly gates of heaven, St. Peter isn`t going to ask me how much I cut the government, he`s going to ask me what did I do to help the poor? MATTHEWS: Well, the party that likes to hear about the numbers of executions in Texas -- will they cheer this? HUNT: You know, Chris, I think that`s the real test for Kasich. I think his advisers know that Iowa`s not going to be the place for him. That kind of -- this kind of a candidate is probably not going to play with the conservative activists who hold sway there. They think that the place he can make a stand is New Hampshire, that that`s a place that`s picked maybe more establishment Republicans, Republicans who... MATTHEWS: Yes. HUNT: ... you know, the establishment feels can do a better job in the general election. But you know, that`s a pretty crowded place, too, Chris. You know, Jeb Bush making likely his major stand there, Chris Christie. There`s a lot of people who are going to live or die in New Hampshire, no pun intended, in the "Live Free or Die" state. MATTHEWS: Yes.   HUNT: But Kasich`s advisers will privately say that they need Jeb Bush to make a big mistake for him to be able to rise to the top of that pack. MATTHEWS: I think that pun was intended. What do you think? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Thank you, Kasie Hunt. Great reporting. We felt like we were there. Thanks for coming to us from Columbus. HUNT: Thanks, Chris. MATTHEWS: Governor Kasich isn`t your typical conservative, by any means, in the 2016 field. For one thing, he boasts a 60 percent job approval in Ohio. He expanded Medicaid under President Obama`s Affordable Care Act. He`s open to a path of citizenship for illegal immigrants. He supports Common Core in education. He voted for the assault weapons ban in Congress and he says it`s time to move on from the same-sex marriage debate. As Kasie Hunt just reported, when a major GOP donor and the wife of the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks questioned his decision to expand Medicaid coverage, Kasich responded by saying, "I don`t know about you, lady, but when I get to the pearly gates, I`m going to have an answer for what I have done for the poor." The Ohio governor also comes from a regular working-class background, as I said, and has a good story to tell. Here`s what he said today about his family and how it inspired him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I get my inspiration from the people who came before me.   And I want to tell you about a few of the ones that inspire me. I would like to start with my uncle Steve. Uncle Steve was a tough guy, you know, the son of a coal miner, rough and gruff and tell it like it is. And uncle George, he`s here today, he`s right over here. He`s 89 years old. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) KASICH: I so love my uncle George. He`s the patriarch of our family. Where my father-in-law -- we call him Popsy -- grandfather, joined the Marines at the age of 17, wanted to serve his country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: As it stands now, the two-term governor is polling at just 2 percent nationally and looks unlikely to make the cutoff for the first debate on August 6, which is being held there in Cleveland. Joining me right now is former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Ken, people like me tend to like this guy. That`s probably why people like you don`t, because I think the hard conservatives have a hard time with a guy that says let`s move on from the same-sex debate and let`s not keep arguing that one over and over again, and also think that Medicaid should cover people who are near working poor and not just the ultimate poor, and who believes that, somewhere along the line, people who come here illegally should have a chance to become legally, if they do everything right once they`re here because they`re here anyway. Your thoughts? KENNETH BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Chris, I think John Kasich has been a very successful governor in the state of Ohio, and he won his last election by 38 points. But on a policy basis, he`s going to have to make the case. There are hardworking, decent Americans that believe that our borders are porous and that this is not only a domestic problem, it`s a national security problem. There are good and decent people who are concerned about the numbers.   The numbers of the folks who are not working -- unemployment is down, but labor participation rate is also down. So, as a consequence, you have good, decent people who are concerned about public policy issues that Kasich is going to have to make the case if he, in fact, is swimming against the grain. That`s what primaries are for. John is -- at times, he can be edgy and, at times, he can be the compassionate person that you heard speaking about his family, speaking about the poor. But, at the end of the day, people are going to want to know, what are you going to do to get the economy growing at a rate that we can get the labor participation rate back up? What are you doing to make sure that we`re fighting global terrorism, that we`re protecting the integrity of our borders? MATTHEWS: OK. BLACKWELL: So, this is what primaries are -- this is what primaries are for. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ken Blackwell, for coming on. Up next: Mr. Insult. Is it going to be Donald Rickles or Donald Trump? We have rounded up our best insults from Trump. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump seems to lower the bar every day on what`s acceptable. And "The Washington Post" has released its list of the top 25 places, people and things that Donald Trump has trashed. There are obvious targets, like Senator John McCain`s time as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s not a war hero. FRANK LUNTZ, FOUNDER, LUNTZ GLOBAL: He`s a war hero, five-and-a-half years as a prisoner... (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: He is a war hero -- he is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren`t captured. He`s a war hero because he was captured. OK? And I believe perhaps he`s a war hero. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And, of course, his opening salvo on immigrants coming from Mexico. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best. They`re not sending you. They`re not sending you.   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) MATTHEWS: Well, he said that all the way back in June, fairly recently. And he certainly lacks a certain reverence for his own religious rights. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: You know, when we go in church and when I drink my little wine, which is about the only wine I drink and have my little cracker, I guess that`s a form of asking for forgiveness. And I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Eats his little cracker. What is he, a parrot? Anyway, there isn`t time enough for tonight to go through all the list of who Trump has trashed, or dissed, if you will. Joining me right now is Lizz Winstead, co-created "The Daily Show," who once had to decide professionally what was in and what was out. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: So, let`s go through some of this -- through a lightning round.   And, Lizz, thanks for joining me. Here`s number one. Personal phone numbers, Trump doesn`t seem to think they should be kept personal. Here`s how he fired back at Lindsey Graham today after Graham called him a jackass. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: He gave me his number. And I found the card. I wrote the number down. I don`t know if it`s the right number. Let`s try it, 202 (NUMBERS DELETED). (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: I don`t know. Maybe it`s -- you know, it`s three four years ago, so maybe it`s an old number. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You know, Lizz, whatever you think of the destructiveness of his nature, he`s like an old hit -- pitch man on the Atlantic City boardwalk. He`s selling that stuff, selling the Japanese steak knives. Whatever he`s got on the counter, he`s selling. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: He sells an old phone number. I got the piece of paper right here. He went after the glasses. He puts his hands over his eyes, the glasses that Rick Perry`s wearing now, and says you can see right through it.   It`s all visual graphic showbiz. Your thoughts? What`s -- but what`s -- are there any limits to this? Or is it going to get worse and worse and worse? LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR, "THE DAILY SHOW": Well, I think it`s just, if there`s no repercussions, I think it is going to get worse and worse and worse. Donald Trump has sort of replaced bedbugs as America`s number one pest. (LAUGHTER) WINSTEAD: He just won`t stop. And to announce Lindsey Graham`s phone number? The irony of announcing Lindsey Graham`s phone number is I think John McCain might answer it. MATTHEWS: Yes, well, that`s funny. Aren`t you funny? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, one thing people aren`t going to do is talk, what do they call, quietly with him anymore. They are going to assume it`s all going to get used in the next stump speech. Anyway, Trump is against gay marriage. He says he`s in favor of traditional marriage. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   TRUMP: I`m traditional marriage. It is changing rapidly. JAKE TAPPER, CNN: But what do you say to a lesbian who is married or a gay man who is married who says, Donald Trump, what`s traditional about being married three times? TRUMP: Yes, I have a great marriage. I have a great wife now. And my two wives were very good. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: If he`s not embarrassed by that question, I don`t know what he`s capable of being embarrassed by, Lizz. WINSTEAD: I think he believes in traditional divorce. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, serial marriage doesn`t seem to bother him as a canard at all. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s Trump going after Rick Perry again today -- and this is pretty funny -- for wearing glasses. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I see Rick Perry the other day, and he`s so -- he`s doing very poorly in the polls. He put glasses on, so people will think he`s smart. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: And it just doesn`t work. People can see through the glasses. But he`s got the glasses, the whole deal, huh, huh, huh, Trump, huh? I say he did a lousy job on the border. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: God, there`s a (INAUDIBLE) aspect to this guy, huh, huh, bingo, you know? But the glasses thing -- you know, when the Hollywood guys always testify before Congress or do fund-raisers, they do wear glasses. He`s right. It`s a way of showing some sort of gravitas. And he nailed the poor guy from Texas, I thought. Your thought? WINSTEAD: Well, I will say that, with Rick Perry, the glasses may be half empty.   (LAUGHTER) WINSTEAD: But for Donald Trump to mock Rick Perry for his glasses, and not look in the mirror and look at what`s on top of his own head, that contraption he calls a hair... (LAUGHTER) WINSTEAD: I think that this is all buffoon -- it`s just -- the buffoonery is insane. And I just -- I`m sure all of the Republicans are just going like this that this guy is at the top of the polls. MATTHEWS: OK. But they`re not going to like this. He`s at the top of the polls. The applause meter is going high for this guy. In this political idol show, he`s getting the reaction from the audience. Why it is working as an act? Question to you, Lizz. (LAUGHTER) WINSTEAD: Maybe it`s working as an act because people need an act. But, really, people need to take a breath and realize that they`re going to need a presidential candidate. And it`s just so interesting to have watched the segment before mine, where a guy who I disagree with, but who has gravitas and ideas, who might not even be on the stage, when this one`s going to have blowup shoes and a squirting flower, and we... (CROSSTALK)   (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You mean John Kasich. Anyway, Lizz, here`s a tweet by Trump going after the courageous American doctors who went over to East -- West Africa to fight Ebola -- quote -- "The U.S. cannot allow Ebola-infected people back. People that go to faraway places to help out are great, but must suffer the consequences." (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: He`s banishing, banishing the doctors who go to save lives. How can you beat that? WINSTEAD: You know, at some point, you have to say, who has he not offended and how big is that constituency? Because anybody who is buying this, it`s like I`m terrified that they can vote. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Lizz, my comic dear, he`s watching right now. Beware. He`s coming after both of us. Lizz Winstead, thank you very much. I know. Thanks for coming on. Up next, if it`s Tuesday, it`s time for the HARDBALL clown show. We`re already in it with Donald Trump, but today it rolls through Kentucky, driven by Mitch McConnell, who just hitchhiked a ride. He says Hillary Clinton is playing the gender card. Is she? You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC newsroom. Defense officials say the leader of the Khorasan terror group was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria. The U.S. was offering a $7 million reward for information about his location. A federal appeals court in Chicago has thrown out five counts against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The ex-governor may end up serving less time behind bars as a result. And it`s another day of stifling summer heat in the Southern and Eastern U.S. Advisories are in effect from Virginia to Louisiana -- now back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. If it`s Tuesday, it`s time for the clown car. And we have got a crowded one this week. Let`s start with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a hitchhiker in the car. This week, he warned Hillary Clinton that playing the gender card won`t be enough for her. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I don`t think arguing vote for me because I`m a woman is enough. You may recall my election last year. The gender card alone is not enough. I beat my opponent with women in my race because the gender card alone is not enough. I`m sure there are millions of Americans who would love to have a woman president, but the question is, a woman president to do what?   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Clinton responded during a Facebook chat. She said -- quote -- "Mitch McConnell really doesn`t get it. There`s a gender card being played in this campaign. It`s played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception." Well, this isn`t the first time McConnell made a controversial comment about gender. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference two years ago, McConnell had this to say about Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCONNELL: Don`t tell me Democrats are the party of the future, when their presidential ticket for 2016 is shaping up to look like a rerun of "The Golden Girls." (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I don`t think that would work with the Democratic Party. I`m joined right now by tonight`s roundtable, April Ryan, to my left, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, "Washington Post" opinion writer Jonathan Capehart, and "The Wall Street Journal" Carol Lee. Thank you.   (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: The president of the Association of White House... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Congratulations. So, you get to be the emcee of the next event. Ask me -- I don`t mean about this -- I don`t think Hillary`s run entirely on her gender. Of course, it more this time than last time. But why is a guy, a guy going after this one? It seems to me a stupid thing to argue if you`re a guy. Don`t go after somebody being a woman and making that something of an issue. RYAN: Several reasons. Number one, Hillary Clinton is out of the GOP fray right now. They`re fighting amongst one another, giving out each other`s cell phone numbers and calling each other jackass. So, they`re trying to bring Hillary back into the fray. But Hillary Clinton is a woman, but guess what? She has a pedigree that no one else has. And I have said it on the show before. She`s been secretary of state. She`s dealt with international issues. She`s been a senator. I mean -- and she`s been a first lady. So, she has a pedigree. She is someone to be fearful of. And that`s why McConnell threw that out there. MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this other one. Next up, a strange article from the conservative "National Review" writer Kevin Williamson, explained why Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist from Vermont, is actually -- you`ll love this -- a national socialist, in other words, a Nazi.   In writing this, he said, "In the Bernieverse, there`s a whole lot of nationalism mixed up with socialism. He is, in fact, leading a national socialist movement, which is a queasy and uncomfortable thing to write about a man who is a son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. But there is no other way to characterize his view and his politics." Williamson went on to say that Sanders, quote, "national socialism wasn`t the kind that persecutes racial minorities." Quote, "He`s a national socialist in the mode of Hugo Chavez. He isn`t driven by racial hatred. He`s driven by political hatred. And that`s bad enough." Anyway, making the Nazi comparison has become somewhat commonplace in political discourse lately. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HANK WILLIAMS, JR., COUNTRY SINGER: Remember the golf game? That was one of the biggest political mistakes ever. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean when John Boehner played golf with President Obama? WILLIAMS: Oh, yes, yes. And Biden and Kasich, yes. Uh-huh. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you not like about it? It seems to be a really pivotal moment for you? WILLIAMS: Come on, come on. That would be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu. RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Now, what are the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi party in Germany? Well, the Nazis were against big business. They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables, as we all know, and they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized health care. There are far more similarities between Nancy Pelosi and Adolf Hitler than between these people showing up at town halls.   UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been told that he said we`re living in a Gestapo age. What do you mean by that? BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, very much like Nazi Germany -- and I know you`re not supposed to say Nazi Germany, but I don`t care about political correctness. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t get it. I mean, can`t someone stamp, you know, with a big cement seal, never compare anybody to Hitler but Hitler. JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. MATTHEWS: Just do it right this. Just keep it there. CAPEHART: It seems like every four years or every election cycle, you know, you can`t just oppose your opponent`s ideas. You have to root them in evil and plans to murder and enslave people. Why can`t we just -- look, if you don`t like Bernie Sanders, just talk about how you think Bernie Sanders` ideas are out of the political mainstream or too left of center or not good enough for America, not that he`s trying to outright kill people. MATTHEWS: And both these guys say, I know it`s odd to call a son of Jewish immigrants a Nazi but. And the other guy says, I know it`s politically incorrect but. They seem to know it`s a trip wire, and they go crashing right to it. Let`s take a look at this, Carol. Up next, presidential candidate Scott Walker, he strongly criticized the Supreme Court in this country, their decision to legalize gay marriage. He also said he supports a ban of openly gay Boy Scout leaders on CNN this week and he refused to answer whether he thought homosexuality is a choice. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   DANA BASH, CNN: Do you think that being gay is a choice? GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I mean, I think that`s not even an issue for me to be involved in. The bottom line is I`m going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background. BASH: To do that properly, you have to have to understand or at least have an opinion on who they are and where they`re coming from? WALKER: But again, in any -- no, I don`t have an opinion on every single issue out there. I mean, to me, that`s -- I don`t know the answer to that question. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Carol, why is that the default position on so many issues, climate change, all kinds of things now, candidates now say I don`t know, as if that absolves them. It makes them look stupid. CAROL LEE, WALL STREET JOURNAL W.H. CORRESPONDENT: Well, the problem is -- MATTHEWS: Because you would have an opinion on that because everybody is furious (ph) about it. Most people do. LEE: Of course you would. If you`re running for president of the United States, you should have an opinion on that. The problem with the answer that he gave is that this -- that kind of sentiment, that kind of wishy-washy, you know, not taking a stance one way or another is what this electorate is really unhappy about. They don`t like the -- you know, the blow dried poll-tested politicians. They`re showing that in the rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump`s rise as well. An answer like that -- when you don`t answer the question, for voters, that doesn`t resonate with them in any sort of meaningful way. And frankly, you know, everybody`s running -- obviously, Scott Walker`s going to run to the right. His answer later to the question of how he would represent every American is more of a general election --   MATTHEWS: I got to ask Jon. Jon, what do people in the gay community think when they hear a guy say something that dumb? I mean, what do -- do they think is he playing a game? Or what do you think he`s up to? CAPEHART: No, they don`t -- well, they think he`s playing a game in that he doesn`t think we exist. I mean, I`m an out gay man. So, I`ll say we. He doesn`t think we exist. He doesn`t have the vocabulary to talk about us. He doesn`t think that we are a part of the American fabric. He has nothing to propose to us. He doesn`t want our votes. We are not welcome. And that is the problem for the GOP. MATTHEWS: Say my name. CAPEHART: Right. MATTHEWS: You heard that the other day, say my name. Anyway, the roundtable`s staying with us. And up next, President Obama takes his message on the road tying critics of the nuclear deal to those who pushed us into the war in Iraq. I think he`s right on most of that. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: President Obama traveled to New York today for his seventh and final appearance on "The Daily Show", which is tonight. He made his debut eight years ago when he was still a candidate for president. Jon Stewart is in his final weeks, as we know, as host of "The Daily Show" finale set for, well, it`s coming up, August 6th. It`s all going to be over.   Trevor Noah begins his host worth on September 28. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of rushing into another conflict, I believe that sending our sons and daughters in the harm`s way must be always be a last resort, and that before we put their lives on the line, we should exhaust every alternative. That`s what we owe our troops, that is strength and that is American leadership. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the round table, April, Jonathan and Carol. And that was President Obama, of course, today addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their annual convention down in Pittsburgh, and defining the nuclear deal with Iran, the president stressed the need for diplomatic engagement as a way to avert more wars in the Middle East, and he slammed the opponents of the deal by pointing that the same voice opposing diplomacy are now the ones who misled us in that war in Iraq. Here he is hitting them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: In the debate over this deal, we`re hearing the echoes some of the same policies and mindset that failed us in the past, and some of the same politicians ands pundits that are so quick to reject a possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran`s nuclear program are the same folks who are so quick to go to war with Iraq and said it will take a few months. And we know the consequences of that choice and what it costs us in blood and treasure.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Those remarks, which were reminiscent of his 2008 campaign argument opposing the Iraq war came as his opponents in Congress tried to assemble enough votes to scuttle a deal with Iran. April, I don`t think that it`s fair to say, just people are wrong, once they`re wrong again. But in some cases, it`s true. Your thoughts? RYAN: Well, what I`m hearing is the fact that this is such a serious issue. Number one, we don`t know as much about Iran as we thought that we knew. And we don`t know much about that in the context of, what happened with WMD? We thought that we had the information and the intelligence. MATTHEWS: Did you think that? RYAN: I heard our intelligence was faulty at the time. I heard our intelligence -- MATTHEWS: Did you think that was the reason we went to war with Iraq? RYAN: I know that wasn`t the reason. But I`ll just say that was -- (CROSSTALK) RYAN: No, no, but our intelligence we don`t have the intelligence on Iran yet. We`re getting information now. And a high ranking official that used to be at a White House told me, he said, look, if we ever want to go war with Iran, that Iraq would be a walk in the park compared to what happens.   MATTHEWS: It`s a real country. Iran is a real country. RYAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: But I think hawks are hawks, generally, and doves are doves generally. In my case, I`m a dove most of the time. I`m a dove. And I know the hawks tend to be hawks. CAPEHART: And the president is a dove. Remember, one of the reasons why he was able -- MATTHEWS: He got elected -- CAPEHART: Right. RYAN: As a dove. MATTHEWS: The Cairo speech was critical to me once he got in office. CAPEHART: And so, you know, the president campaigned on bringing the troops home. RYAN: Yes. CAPEHART: He is now as president of the United States, he`s brought a lot of the troops home, but now, he`s dealing with a much more complicated war that he anticipated as a candidate and now, he`s with this Iran deal, he is trying to say once gain to all of those people who are clamoring for some confrontation with Iran, look, no, we`re going to exhaust every diplomatic avenue possible before we ever send troops into harms way again.   And he is not only talking to Republicans, but he`s also talking to a war weary nation that does not want to go into another war. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question, Carol, just a minute left. Do you think the people who are hawks on this really want to bomb Iran? LEE: Well, I think -- MATTHEWS: Do they? Do they want us to Iran? LEE: Well, I think that what you`re seeing -- the president is certainly making that case. But let`s look why he is making that case. MATTHEWS: His opponents want to do that? LEE: Yes, and the reason he is making that case is because he has to win over at least Democrats, for them to hold the line so that the veto of any rejection of this deal is not overridden. And so, he is making this simple case as he possibly can. This is a very complicated deal. The White House says that it`s not a perfect deal, there`s a lot of ways to come at his with criticism, and they`re having to make that case. (CROSSTALK) LEE: At the end of the day, like you said 2008, that war argument is powerful with Democrats, and that`s why -- MATTHEWS: By the way, Menendez, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was, you know, he is getting all of this money to pay -- pro- Israel guys are paying his legal defense fund. Some of these guys are not looking completely on the level here. Some of these people voting in Congress.   Anyway, thank you, April Ryan. You know what I`m talking about. Jonathan Capehart, you know what I am talking about. Carol Lee, I don`t know you. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Just kidding. When we return, let me finish with the excitement Donald Trump is causing in Republican presidential campaign. The bad excitement. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight on the excitement that Donald Trump is causing on the campaign. Get this, get it good. He is the front runner. Yes, according to the Republican voters, he is the best they`ve got, the best person around to sit in Lincoln`s chair. Is this insane? Is that the way you look at it? Well, you might want to get used to it, because I`ve got the sense that Mr. Trump isn`t going away. As we once said of Hillary Clinton, he`s found his voice, not that he ever lost it. But let`s not forget and let`s not let the Republican panda bears forget where this political jack and the beanstalk first sprouted back.   It was way back when he was talking about running for president the last time, back when he`s stock and trade was telling the world that President Obama was an illegal alien and never ever forget how the Republican big shots and wannabe big shots gave him one big gigantic pass. How they giggled when the man from Gotham straw the networks barking that the president of the United States was a con artist, some street corner guy who had conned his way into the presidency, some guy whose mother ran off to Kenya to have him and then snuck back into the country to sell him into a political career. Well, the image was clear, and powerful. Obama who did everything right and played ball in high school, gotten into good schools, became editor of the Harvard Law Review, and blind competition had foresworn the easy money to work for his community, had shown the guts to run statewide and then country-wide. That according to Trump, he was nothing more than a street corner hustler, a guy from the hood who conned his way into the White House, a place where nobody like him could have ever gotten into legitimately, of course. Well, you got it. In seeing this crap never bothered the Republican big shots, not one bit. It didn`t bother them, that a man claiming to be a member of their party was selling this kind of cheap ethnic catnip as long as it added to all of the other burdens they were putting on Obama, all the Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich`s strategy of killing the guys presidency in its crib. Well, it didn`t work, did it? And now, the Republicans have Donald Trump, the man who entertained them, kicking the hell out of them right now. They`ve got no one -- not the Democrats, not the media to blame, just themselves. They made Trump by letting him say the dumb, stupid, nasty things, anything that came out of his mouth. 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.>