CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump towers. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Will nothing stop this man? Will there ever be a reckoning? After weeks of rampaging over rivals verbally, Donald Trump is now doing it numerically. He`s a tight number two in Iowa, a clear front-runner in New Hampshire, and now tops the field nationally. Nothing he says seems as important as what he says with sheer downtown "atty-tude." He sticks it to the political insiders, they gulp, and the country giggles. It`s as if people have been waiting a long time for nothing as much as a guy with a lance to run it through these bloated statements (ph) of the status quo, while all we do is listen and enjoy the sound of the air blowing out of them. Howard Fineman`s the global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost. Michelle Bernard is the president of the Bernard Center. And Robert Costa is the national political reporter with "The Washington Post." When it comes to the field right now, Trump towers above it all. The new NBC/Marist poll has Trump jumping to second place in Iowa, just 2 points behind Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. In New Hampshire, Trump is in first place with a 7-point lead over Jeb Bush. John Kasich has jumped into fourth place there after his announcement last week. Well, these polls were taken before and after Trump`s tough about John McCain`s war record. They had no impact, those statements, on his standing in Iowa, but did knock him down a few points in New Hampshire. Nationally, trump remains on top. An average of the last five national polls has Trump leading Jeb Bush by 4 points. He leads Scott Walker by 7, and everyone else by double digits. Howard, I guess we`re going into that debate next Wednesday -- it`s just about a week off from now. This guy doesn`t seem to face the reckoning yet -- taking on John McCain, no problem. Taking on everybody, no problem. And it seems like he wants to fight everybody next Wednesday night. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, this early in the campaign, which is a campaign going full blast -- MATTHEWS: Thursday night. FINEMAN: -- full blast -- MATTHEWS: Thursday. FINEMAN: -- next Thursday night, you`re going to see the first big moment that nobody could have anticipated, a guy who came out of nowhere, who now is basically dominating not only the polls but the conversation, who has seized the sense of distrust and cynicism and anger about politics that`s out there just below the surface, especially in the Republican Party. And for now, he embodies it. And he is the guy for whom all the other candidates are aiming and for whom he is the biggest challenge -- MATTHEWS: Will they shoot? FINEMAN: I think they have no choice but to shoot, and if they shoot right and if they shoot strong, then it`s going to be a big day (ph). MATTHEWS: Robert, you got some insight on this. ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Look, you may want to take a shot, but you remember the line from "The Wire, If you come at the king, you best not miss. All these candidates know there`s an opportunity to challenge Trump -- MATTHEWS: What do you hear? Are they going to shoot or not? COSTA: I`m hearing a lot of them are reticent to do so because if you take him on, that become a story, your battle with Trump. The know that -- then again, if you`re lower, if you`re Perry, if you`re Graham, if you`re someone who`s struggling for political oxygen, you have to take the shot because you have to get attention. MATTHEWS: Isn`t -- doesn`t (INAUDIBLE) show he wants to win in Iowa. If he wins in Iowa, knocks off Walker (INAUDIBLE) knock off Walker. He`s the neighboring state from Wisconsin -- knock him off, win in Iowa, go into New Hampshire the front-runner. And then all you have to do is beat Bush there. I mean, I`m not saying he`s going to be the nominee, but I can see a route now to early success. MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER PRES.: Oh, absolutely. But also, I mean, there is a route to early success and we can see why people like him. He fights back. He has no shame about saying, I`m rich. He has no shame -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- "F you" money. BERNARD: Exactly. And -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- a lot of people would like to have it. (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: He goes after Democrats, he goes after Republicans, he goes after journalists. There is a path. But also remember, Herman Cain was on fire at this point -- MATTHEWS: OK, OK, this -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You think he`s Herman -- (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: No, I don`t think he`s Herman Cain, but I do think -- (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: -- entertaining as Herman Cain. And do you really seriously believe that there is a path to -- MATTHEWS: Yes. I do. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- because he`s a hot knife through butter that`s been left out for about a week. FINEMAN: Exactly. BERNARD: So what happens when it`s a two-party -- when you -- when you`ve got one person -- FINEMAN: Well, we`re not there -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you how he gets there. He knocks off -- he knocks off Walker to win the western conference. He knocks -- he becomes the chief right wing-candidate, and then goes on and faces somebody like Kasich or Bush or one of those guys, and that`s when the real reckoning occurs. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But I would bet on the right wing against the establishment. FINEMAN: We`re examining him from the inside out, meaning from politics out. You have to examine Trump from the outside -- that is, society -- in. MATTHEWS: The people. FINEMAN: The in. And a few things about him. First of all, he knows how to ride media waves and how deal with a hostile media. He`s done it in New York, which makes a lot of the national press corps, frankly, look like puppies compared to what they do with the Weimeraners in New York City. MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: That`s number one. MATTHEWS: The what? FINEMAN: The Weimeraners -- (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: -- in New York City. OK. Number two -- MATTHEWS: It`s not (INAUDIBLE) FINEMAN: He is saying, I`m not against government, I`m for Social Security and Medicare. You know, I`m not against Wall Street. I want everybody to be me. It`s the politics of personality, and he`s saying, I want everybody -- MATTHEWS: OK -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You`re sitting in a barroom somewhere, route 40 somewhere, out in the middle of nowhere, right? It`s 9:00 o`clock Thursday night, right? Who are you rooting for? COSTA: They`re rooting for Trump. They want the celebrity candidate. I just caught up with Trump`s campaign tonight, and they said they`re -- the candidate, he`s loving this debate. MATTHEWS: Well, who wouldn`t. COSTA: He`s sitting up in his 757 plane. He`s reading article after article. He`s not really doing debate prep, but he`s relishing this moment. He thinks everybody -- MATTHEWS: OK -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: We only got one moment here. We got one moment. You`re the star right now. BERNARD: Look -- MATTHEWS: Do you want to -- do women have -- my producers, the top producer here, thinks that women don`t like his style. They think it`s brash, it`s too macho, whatever you want to call it, dismissive. What do you think about women and -- I know guys like him. Regular white guys, you know, working guys -- (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: -- because he`s -- because he`s -- MATTHEWS: He`s taking on the big shots! BERNARD: He`s sort of anti-intellectual, anti-establishment, anti- everything. Women, quite frankly, are taking the race seriously, and I think that they will -- MATTHEWS: Do they like him? BERNARD: -- that by and large will have problems with him because he`s not telling us what he`s going to do for the country, other than saying, I want everybody to be rich and I`m better than everyone else -- (CROSSTALK) COSTA: You know, he`s not emphasizing the social issues, like all these other -- MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t, if I were him, either. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: One of Scott Walker`s fund-raisers getting nasty with Trump. Quote, "As you`ve seen, Governor Walker is now well ahead of everyone not named Dumbdumb, AKA Trump, in the national polls." Well, Trump got wind of those comments over the weekend and didn`t hold back. First he slammed Walker himself at a rally in Iowa. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I read this horrible statement from his fund-raiser about Trump. I said, Oh, finally, I can attack! (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: Finally. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Wisconsin is doing terribly. The roads are a disaster because they don`t have any money to rebuild them. They`re borrowing money like crazy. yes, I wrote this stuff all down, although I don`t need it because I have a really good memory. But they projected a $1 billion surplus, and it turns out to be a deficit of $2.2 billion. The schools are a disaster. He was totally in favor of Common Core! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: This is why you don`t want to go after him. He has your dossier! FINEMAN: Well -- BERNARD: Exactly. MATTHEWS: He`s going to go right to it. FINEMAN: And not only that, he is attacking there -- he is attacking not from the Tea Party angle on this. Part of the skill and experience of Trump is he`s running at these guys from all different angles at the same time. (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: He`s criticizing Walker for deficit spending. (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: But here`s the genius in what he`s doing. This -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So you like him? You like him now? BERNARD: No, I`m saying this is the genius in him. Every single person has come to him at some point in time -- MATTHEWS: Has asked for money. BERNARD: -- begging for money. And he`s saying, If they`re coming to for money, they`re coming to me for advice, I can do better than all of them. MATTHEWS: He`s got the surveillance tapes on all these -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, then Trump went after Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, while taking questions from reporters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: He was up in my office four months ago, five months ago, giving me an award -- giving me an award. And I like Scott Walker. He`s a nice guy. But today, one of his people hit me. And I said, Why is he doing that? The person is a stupid person, but why is he doing that? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, I get that most of these politicians are so cultivated, so careful, so many people working for them, telling them, Don`t say this, don`t say that. And he sounds like it`s coming right out of his id, everything he says. COSTA: I`ll tell you, I spent a day with him on his plane. He went -- listed (ph) politician after politician with Trump, and he went -- he went after every single one of them. He has -- he does have a great memory. Don`t doubt that. He remembers every meeting he`s had, and he`ll call you out. He`s willing to take anybody on. That`s why they`re reticent to take him on in the debate because they know he may give out the phone number, like he did with Lindsey Graham. He may take you out. If you`re Scott Walker and you got to win Iowa, you got Cruz, Carson, so many other candidates, you mess with Trump, you take away your state. MATTHEWS: And he remembers every gift he`s ever given somebody. FINEMAN: Chris, another thing is he is not reticent about attacking from any angle. If the weakness of Scott Walker is the fact that the roads are crappy and he`s not behaving like a Democratic (sic) governor, he`ll attack him with no ideological compunction because Trump doesn`t really have an ideology -- (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: He doesn`t have to play defense. He`s always on offense. MATTHEWS: And (INAUDIBLE) Trump never shrinks from a fight with the press, of course. Last week, "The Des Moines Register" ran an op-ed saying that it`s time for Donald Trump to drop out of the race for president of the United States. What did Trump do? he denied the newspaper press credentials to cover his events, which he gloated over over the weekend. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Actually, "The Des Moines Register" is standing outside, too. (LAUGHTER AND CHEERS) TRUMP: You know, it`s sort of funny. (CHEERS) TRUMP: It`s a super-liberal rag, not respected around here. When they start writing accurately, they`re welcome. But they purposely write incredibly inaccurate stories. So they can come, but they have to sit with everybody else. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) the genius in that first one! He says, They`re not respected -- "around here" is Iowa. He`s talking in their newspaper circulation zone. And then he`s saying, They can sit out with you people. No special breaks. And the people love that! BERNARD: Yes. FINEMAN: Chris, a big part of the anger of the people at the grass roots of the Republican Party is about the so-called mainstream media, "the media," the big media, and he`s tapping into that directly. He has the money and the notoriety and the visibility to be able to tell those people, Too bad. I`m going to make news whether you`re covering it or not, and if I have to buy time, I`ll buy time. But in the meantime -- MATTHEWS: Speaking of which -- FINEMAN: -- you know -- MATTHEWS: I got the key question. If he does well in the early outing -- you can start, Michelle. He does well, he does surprisingly well in the first big three, OK -- New Hampshire -- New Hampshire -- I`m sorry, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, he`s in the running going into March, in the -- in the -- if you have to spend money then because you`re all over the place -- you got the super-Tuesday and you got the big fight down Florida -- is he willing to rip (ph) -- to just write the checks to keep up with the Bush money machine? Will he spend the money when the time comes? My question. BERNARD: You know what? Right now, it looks like this is -- I`m someone who still can`t fathom that this is a real campaign and this is about anything other than ratings. Right now, though, at this moment in time, he looks like he`s serious. He really wants it. MATTHEWS: Will he write the check? BERNARD: And he will write the checks. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- telling you that? COSTA: Yes, political insiders (ph). He`s got a campaign manager named Corey Lewin (ph). He comes from the Koch brothers network, working for American Prosperity. Trump`s doing all these things around the country with ballot access, grass roots, but he`s not spending money on ads. Key question is, if he starts to really stabilize in the polls -- MATTHEWS: If he has $10 billion he can rip off and spend -- (CROSSTALK) COSTA: He has a plane. He has an advance team and a couple advisers. That`s it. He`s not spending money on ads. That`s the test. MATTHEWS: You don`t know if he`s going to do it. COSTA: No, I don`t think he wants to do it. He`s like any billionaire. He doesn`t want to spend his money. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- Bush`s money. If it comes to that. COSTA: That`s what Bush`s whole bet is -- I have the organization. I have the financial -- (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: He`s -- here`s Trump. He`s going to carry it as far as he can without spending much money. That`s the way he runs his business, too, by the way. He doesn`t buy those investments. He gets into them after they`re built, often. So he`s going to do that as far as he can. His day of reckoning is down the road maybe even a few months. MATTHEWS: Is it with himself? How much money is he willing to spend? FINEMAN: Yes, because he`s not going to be able to -- after bragging how rich he is, he`s not going to be able to -- (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: -- if he has to spend his own money -- MATTHEWS: I don`t think he`s going to walk away from the winnable. Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman, Michelle Bernard and Robert Costa. It`s a great panel. Coming up -- the right wing is throwing the kitchen sink in an attempt to tank the president`s nuclear deal with Iran. And while Mike Huckabee`s reference to the Holocaust is easily the most glaring, it`s far from the only attack the Obama administration is facing as it rallies support behind the deal. Plus, the empire strikes back. Ted Cruz did something I don`t think I`ve seen before. He called his own leader, Mitch McConnell, a liar on the floor of the United States Senate -- a liar. And now he`s feeling the recall. And Hillary Clinton`s war room is on high alert after those "New York Times" reports on her e-mails. The question from me is, what`s it all about? Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the potent chance that this country`s Republican voters are in outright revolt. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton has proposed a new initiative to combat climate change in the U.S., and in a new video, she also taunted her Republican opponents for questioning the science of global warming. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRES. CANDIDATE: future generations will look back and wonder what were we thinking, how could we possibly be so irresponsible? I`m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain. It`s hard to believe there are people running for president who still refuse to accept the settled science of climate change, who would rather remind us they`re not scientists than listen to those who are. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Among her plans, Clinton said that by the end of her first term as president, 500 million solar panels would be installed across the country. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The rhetoric from opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran has been heated, but comments by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee this weekend that alluded to a new Holocaust have taken the dispute to a new low level. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., PRES. CANDIDATE: This president`s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. He`s so naive, he would trust the Iranians and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: President Obama responded today at a press conference in Ethiopia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we`ve seen that is -- would be considered ridiculous if it weren`t so sad. I mean, we`ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We`ve had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for president suggest that I`m the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, late today, Mike Huckabee appeared on Fox News and he said he would not apologize. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HUCKABEE: If we don`t take seriously the threats of Iran, then God help us all because the last time -- this Neville Chamberlain all over again. We`re going to just trust that everyone`s going to do the right thing. Three times I`ve been to Auschwitz. When I talked about the oven door, I have stood at that oven door! And for the president to act like that the only two options are either have a war or take his deal that got nothing -- got nothing! We didn`t get the hostages out. We didn`t get a concession that they would stop this rhetoric about wanting to wipe Israel off or they didn`t stop chanting "Death to America." We got nothing! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is the undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman, one of the lead negotiators of the Iran deal. Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. WENDY SHERMAN, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Nice to be here. MATTHEWS: What do you make of all that, this hot -- heated -- I mean, over-the-top stuff like Auschwitz and oven doors and -- you know, the great thing about Israel, when I`ve been over there and debated over there, you can debate. There`s a country you`re allowed to take different positions in. This guy is accusing anybody disagrees of him with being a Hitlerite. SHERMAN: Well, it`s really quite depressing, actually. It`s very sad because these are serious issues, these are serious threats. And actually, Governor Huckabee should listen to his own words. He said we should take the threats seriously, and that`s what -- exactly what President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and I have done, take them seriously and make sure Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon. That`s what we`ve gotten. That`s what`s important here. MATTHEWS: What do you make of the opposition? People like Michael Oren, the former ambassador from Israel, now says if you vote against this, that`s -- you`re not doing it because of Israel, you`re doing it because of American interests. And I have a hard time with that, people throwing terms around, "existential threat" to the United States. In the wildest, worst thought (ph) hellish predictions, Iran`s not a threat to the United States` existence! Phrases like that amaze me, what they -- what are they talking about? SHERMAN: Well, I think what they are talking about and what is serious is people are very concerned about what Iran is doing in the Middle East, its activities that foment instability. MATTHEWS: Yes. SHERMAN: The state sponsorship of terrorism. But imagine an Iran with a nuclear weapon, how much more power it would project, what a deterrent it would be to Israel, to the Gulf, to us. And so we don`t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. And that`s what we have to be about. What I wish people would do is stop the high-sounding rhetoric, the good five-second sound bite that might work well on TV, and talk about the facts, because this deal stops all the pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon. That`s what this deal was supposed to do. That`s what it`s done. MATTHEWS: Well, as the president mentioned, Governor Huckabee`s comments are part of a general pattern coming from conservative or right-wing opponents of the deal who are going to quite extreme lengths to villainize it. Even Jeb Bush said: "This isn`t diplomacy. It is appeasement," another reference to World War II and the Holocaust. Others have warned of dire consequences as well. Let`s listen to some of it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s a matter of months until we`re going to see a situation where other people feel they have to defend themselves by acquiring their own capability. And that will in fact I think put us closer to the use -- actual use of nuclear weapons than we have been at any time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is catastrophic. If it goes through, it will result in funding terrorism. And it will endanger the lives of Americans. It will endanger Israel. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have created a possible death sentence for Israel. This is a virtual declaration of war against Sunni Arabs. This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I have ever seen in the history of watching the Mideast. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This deal is fundamentally and irreparably flawed. I believe it weakens our national security and it makes the world a dangerous place. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama gave away the store to the Iranians, to a group of people who, since 1979, have been chanting death to America. This was negotiated so badly that you wouldn`t let this president buy a car for you at a car dealership. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I notice that the opponents of the deal have really pulled back from the -- they were pushing for bombing Iran. We heard that all the time. And Senator McCain, who is certainly a patriot, would be out there saying bomb, bomb Iran. He was singing the Beach Boys song as a joke. Now, all of a sudden, as part of their strategic debating here, they`re saying all the alternatives not to bomb Iran. No, what is their alternative? That`s what I kept -- if it`s not eventually to have to blow up those facilities, what is their alternative? Because I don`t know what it is. Do you? Is there an alternative? (CROSSTALK) SHERMAN: Well, I don`t see an alternative that I have heard that makes any sense. And that`s what the president said today. Some people say, well, just keep sanctioning them to death until they capitulate. But, quite frankly, we were able to negotiate this deal because all of the world and the P5-plus-one, the five, six countries that were working with us wanted to do this deal, came together to agree to this deal. If we unilaterally pull out of it because Congress votes it down, we can`t sustain a presidential veto, the rest of the world might abandon us. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I will be the tough guy here. Was the problem with the -- you couldn`t get tougher with the deal. Was the problem you couldn`t keep your allies together to make it tougher or the Iranians would never sign it if it got tougher? SHERMAN: Well, I think our deal is quite tough. MATTHEWS: But could you make it tougher? What would you have had to do to make it tougher? SHERMAN: I think to make it tougher than it was would have been able to do something that even the Bush administration couldn`t do, and that is to say that Iran couldn`t enrich uranium at all, it couldn`t have even a civil nuclear program where it enriched. And even the Bush administration, which tried that and was willing to give normalization in return for it -- we`re not willing to give normalization of relations in return for it -- got turned down by Iran. So, the real breakthrough here was to say, like other countries around the world, there could be a very limited, very constrictive, highly intrusive monitoring and verification regime to make sure that this was really a peaceful nuclear program. MATTHEWS: Yes. SHERMAN: This kind of intrusive monitoring is going to go on for not just 10 years, not just 15 years, not just 20 years, not just 25 years, but for the lifetime of Iran`s nuclear program. MATTHEWS: Will it be as safe to emigrate to Israel now after the deal as before? SHERMAN: Oh, I believe so. Look, no president has backed Israel`s security more than President Obama. Every president has built on the last president. And we have a whole other package ready to discuss with Prime Minister Netanyahu as ready -- as soon as he`s ready. I have to tell you this, Chris. All throughout this negotiation, all throughout these two years, Israeli experts at the working level, with the approval out prime minister, have helped me, have helped my team, have helped Secretary Kerry by providing their expertise, their know-how. They`re very knowledgeable. They`re tough. They helped validate ideas that we had. So I`m very appreciative of the expertise they lent to us. And I`m only sorry, at the end of the day, they made the choice that they made. MATTHEWS: Do we have the firepower if this thing falls through to use the military option at some point? SHERMAN: Well, of course we do. MATTHEWS: To blow up their facilities? SHERMAN: Well, of course we do. But you know what? Iran knows how to do the entire nuclear fuel cycle. And you can`t bomb away knowledge. You can`t sanction away knowledge. The sanctions got Iran to the table, but never got rid of the program. MATTHEWS: So, my argument for this deal -- and I am for the deal -- is that if you get three -- if you blow up everything over there, they`re back in three years. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: With this deal, you get at least 10. SHERMAN: At least. MATTHEWS: Simple math. Anyway, thank you, Ambassador Wendy. SHERMAN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Thanks for your service to the country. SHERMAN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: I mean it. Up next, we go to Ethiopia, where President Obama takes on Donald Trump and, believe it or not, birtherism. Good old Donald, he is carrying his message everywhere. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the son of a Kenyan father and a Kansan mother, President Obama was received on his trip to Africa this weekend like a long-lost son. Of course, for years, conspiracy theorists and those who wanted to derail the president`s political career said he was actually born in Kenya. Well, the president joked about that one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I suspect that some of my critics back home are suggesting that I`m back here to look for my birth certificate. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) (LAUGHTER) OBAMA: That is not the case. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Still got that smile. And, in 2011, it was birther in chief Donald Trump who tried to make the accusation stick. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2011) DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: His people in the United States don`t even know which hospital. His relatives don`t even know which hospital he was born in. The fact is, if he wasn`t born in this country, he shouldn`t be the president of the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, in Ethiopia today, President Obama said the political dirt ball in this country didn`t start yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It`s been interesting, when you look at what`s happened with Mr. Trump, when he`s made some of the remarks that, for example, challenge the heroism of Mr. McCain, somebody who endured torture and conducted himself with exemplary patriotism, the Republican Party is shocked. I recognize, when outrageous statements like that are made about me, that a lot of the same people who were outraged when they are made about Mr. McCain were pretty quiet. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Hmm. Joining me right now from Addis Ababa is NBC News senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing. Do they get this thing over there in Africa about people on the other side, and some of them the strangest people out there, saying the president was actually born in Kenya and shouldn`t be president because of it? CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they know the issue, Chris, at least the small circle of people that I have talked to. And particularly in Kenya, they would definitely take umbrage with the suggest that somehow the president was dishonest. He`s got something like an 80 percent approval rating there of people who think he wants to do what is right for that country. And they know his story. No matter what Donald Trump says, they know his story; they know where his father came from and what he did, what his grandfather did. And so for them, it`s a nonissue. It certainly didn`t make the headlines. But what was Obama interesting is they know about Donald Trump and, again, small sample, not scientific, but it is often treated in a very jokey way. And, tonight, the president went to see the bones of Lucy, the most famous fossil probably in the world, right, 3.2 million years old, precursor to Homo sapiens. And so he`s talking to the Ethiopian curator, and he`s making a very poetic point about the connection between Lucy and the rest of humanity, and he paused and said, even Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: Wow. JANSING: And the president got a good laugh out of that. MATTHEWS: Well, the irony, of course, is, we all descended from Africa originally. The human race does, according to all the studies. Let me ask you about the same-sex issue over there. We have our cultural evolutions over here, as we know, rather rapidly lately towards same-sex rights and same-sex marriage, in fact, in the courts now. How is that going over when he travels with that cultural output over there in Africa? JANSING: Yes, he`s taking it very carefully. I don`t know if you remember, but when he was in Senegal and he brought up the same-sex issue, he got a tremendous amount of pushback. And in the lead-up to this trip, there were African leaders making all sorts of suggestions to him he shouldn`t bring it up, don`t talk about it. Now, he did at the press conference. He spoke very forcefully about it. And a short time ago, I spoke to a couple of the senior White House officials who have been with him in these meetings with the leaders, and he said he also brought it up very respectfully there. But I think it`s worth noting, Chris, that when he went into that stadium yesterday with all those Kenyans who were just so crazy about him, so enthusiastic, it got only a passing mention. Look, he knows that there are cultural issues here, religious issues that make this a very difficult push for him or anyone else who wants to push LGBT under the umbrella of human rights. And so this is going to be a slow process here. They are probably a lot closer, the average citizen, to their leaders in Africa than they are to President Obama, however popular he might be here. MATTHEWS: Chris Jansing over in Africa, thanks for that report. Up next: Ted Cruz calls Mitch McConnell a liar. And Mitch McConnell strikes back. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC newsroom. The families of two teens who went missing while fishing off the coast of Florida want the public`s help from Palm Beach to Georgia to search beaches for any clues about the boys last seen on Friday. New York`s La Guardia Airport will be torn down and rebuilt in a $4 billion estimated plan. Vice President Biden and Governor Andrew Cuomo made that announcement, the vice president once calling it Third World. And Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says he does not want taxpayer -- taxpayers, rather, on the hook for cost overruns, so the city`s bid to host the 2024 Olympics is over -- now back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We now know that, when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he`s willing to say things that he knows are false. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That`s Ted Cruz in a war with Republican establishment over everything that started Friday, when Cruz, the Republican senator and candidate for president, called his colleague, the boss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a liar. Cruz charged that McConnell had struck a deal to review the Export-Import Bank after telling him otherwise. Well, here is Cruz. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: The majority leader looked at me and said, there is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal. What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: A lie. He`s called the Republican leader of his caucus a liar. Disputing Cruz`s allegation in a special session yesterday, on Sunday, Senator McConnell said he didn`t need a deal to allow the measure to advance. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: When there is overwhelming bipartisan support for an idea, even if I oppose it, it doesn`t require some special deal to see a vote occur on that measure. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Cruz`s charge also earned him a strong rebuke from Senator Orrin Hatch, who accused him of grandstanding for the benefit of his presidential campaign. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Regrettably, in recent times, the Senate floor has too often become a forum for partisan messaging and ideological grandstanding, rather than a setting for serious debate. It`s been misused as a tool to advance personal ambitions, a venue to promote political campaigns. The Senate floor has even become a place where senators have singled out colleagues by name to attack them in personal terms and to impugn their character, in blatant disregard of Senate rules. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, prior to his remarks on Friday, Cruz also slammed his party in a fund-raising appeal on Twitter. It reads: "There is a profound disappointment among the American people because Republicans keep winning elections and then we keep getting leaders who don`t do anything they promised. It`s time to change that. It`s time to break the Washington cartel." I`m joined right now by the roundtable, Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast, Anne Gearan, a reporter with "The Washington Post," and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Richard Fowler. Richard, I want to start with this. To me, it`s theater. RICHARD FOWLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Theater. MATTHEWS: It`s street theater, the whole purpose of this, to compete with Donald Trump. This guy wants to be Donald Trump`s successor on the wild right. Here`s his way of taking it. You know, he`s not building a future in the Senate by calling the leader a liar. That`s not about a future in the Senate. That`s about getting out of there quickly, like next year in the presidential election. FOWLER: I think you`re completely right. I think they`re all sort of fighting for bits and fighting to be the next Donald Trump, but too bad nobody can beat the Donald. We talked about earlier in the show, Donald has a plane, Ted Cruz doesn`t. Donald has money, Ted Cruz doesn`t. Ted Cruz is just a walking imitation of Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: OK. Something is at stake here, that`s called the United States Congress and the way we run our government. Those words should be taken down. I work in the Hill for years. You don`t talk about another guy or woman`s motives. You don`t say they`re no good. You don`t call them liars. You`re not allowed to do that, because if you did that, it looked like the French revolution out there every night. There is a reason why they call Mr. Gentleman from this and Gentlelady from that. ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. I mean, you saw the shock from Republicans when this started to unfold over the weekend. I mean, they really couldn`t believe Ted Cruz was saying what he was saying about Mitch McConnell and there was backlash. And that does not come without cost. They shut him down on the Senate floor on Sunday and they will continue to shut him down. MICHAEL TOMASKY, DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: He`s tapping into anger among Republicans, conservatives out in the country, not independents or Democrats. MATTHEWS: He`s not building a future in the Senate, isn`t he? TOMASKY: No, I don`t think so. But Mitch McConnell is not going to be in the Senate forever either. I mean, we don`t know -- (CROSSTALK) ATTHEWS: Anyway, I`m (INAUDIBLE) and lover of politics. This reminds of a scene from that great movie about the United States Senate called "Advice and Consent". And we`re going to move in the minute and continue this thought about advice, that was a `62 movie in which a ruthless senator is shunned by his majority leader, just like this scene. Let`s watch this scene in compared to what we just saw. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tolerate about anything here -- prejudice, fanaticism, demagoguery and anything. It`s totally clear. But you`ve dishonored us. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bender of California. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, what I did was for the good of the country. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fortunately, our country always manages to survive patriots like you. We could introduce a resolution to censor and expel you, but we don`t want (INAUDIBLE) tired old (INAUDIBLE) and make public, whatever it was. So, we let you stay if you want to. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow, Anne, press lovers of the Senate in the glory days in the movies, this behavior lately. He fits -- this is like Cruz trying to play Ben Ackerman (ph), the bad guy. GEARAN: Yes, I mean, Cruz is trying here to, he knows what he`s doing. He`s punching McConnell in the nose for a reason. The theory is that plays well with exactly the voters he`s trying to talk to. MATTHEWS: He`s calling him a liar. I never -- I`m sorry, I maybe a funny daddy, I`ve never seen a guy call a senator, Senate leader a liar. You don`t say the next day, oh, I don`t really mean that, or let`s be buddies and have lunch. No, it`s over there. GEARAN: Oh, McConnell is going to have a long memory. I mean, again, shut him down on Sunday and he`ll continue to do that if he sees. MATTHEWS: Richard, back to your point this is another way to beat Donald Trump. It`s on TV. Maybe the battle is on the tube and he`s getting on the tube, using the Senate, you know, to get him on television, which is to get him back public so when Cruz sees, perhaps Donald Trump flaming out, of he ever does flame out, he steps into his place. That`s what everybody thinks is going on. FOWLER: I think you`re exactly right. I think the problem for Ted Cruz is that this type of Senate gamesmanship is inside baseball. We care about it within the beltway. Outside the beltway, people don`t care. MATTHEWS: Don`t use phrases like inside the beltway here because you won`t be inside the show again. OK, look, because we are inside the beltway, I can`t help. FOWLER: It`s true. MATTHEWS: This is what Claire McCaskill, one of my favorites, had to say, respond to this, "There`s something unseemly about Cruz following Trump around like a lost puppy hoping to get leftovers when he finally flames out", and that`s what I think Cruz is doing here -- Anne. GEARAN: Yes, that`s very funny but it`s true. He would like to be the inheritor of this national wave of anger that is fueling Trump and he`s betting that Trump will flame out at some point. He`s also really, really trying to get in and make as you were he`s part of the first debate, which has got some ground rules that might exclude him if he`s not, if he doesn`t start pulling better. (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: He`ll make the debate but, Chris -- (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: Chris, do you think that Ted Cruz is really bothered by this? MATTHEWS: No. (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: Do you think that upsets him (INAUDIBLE)? MATTHEWS: No, there are rules. TOMASKY: There are rules and he`s broken them. MATTHEWS: And he said something about Kemp and a bunch of guys and a huge story and the other side won that fight. They won. For some reason, the parliamentarian must have because they are supposed to stop this. You know, Anne. TOMASKY: Cruz` base -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: --like a referee in an NBA game. You stop it. TOMASKY: Cruz` base in Texas will be with him. MATTHEWS: That`s a bored commentary. If one of the guys, I shut you down. You want to out-shout me here? Go ahead. FOWLER: No, there`s no need to out shout. Two different ways to operate in the Senate. You can operate as a younger senator like Elizabeth Warren does, make coalitions and make partnerships and get things done, or you can be like Ted Cruz, the whiny kid in the corner, and you`ll still always be the whiny kid in the corner no matter how long you`re there. MATTHEWS: So you`re a progressive? FOWLER: I am a progressive. MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Elizabeth Warren. A nasty asymmetry in the way you presented that argument. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, the round table is staying with us. Up next, back to those outrageous comments from Mike Huckabee about the door to the Holocaust, that the nuclear deal with Iran will take Israelis and march them to the door to the oven. Nice terminology there, Huckabee. And this is HARDBALL, a place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: RNC Chair Reince Priebus was skeptical this morning about a possible third party bid by Donald Trump, should Trump not win the nomination as a Republican. Here is what Priebus had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Certainly, I think our candidates should pledge not to run as a third party candidate. I don`t see that happening. I think everyone understands that if Hillary Clinton is going to get beat, he`s going to get beat by a Republican. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I don`t know what that means. Trump can still run. As for Trump`s lead in the polls, Priebus said he believes the billionaire is touching a chord with Americans frustrated with Washington. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the round table: Michael, Anne and Richard. I want to get back to Mike Huckabee`s incredible, over the top critique of the nuclear deal with Iran. Many on the right have made comparisons to the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany, but Huckabee took it to a new low. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president`s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. He`s so naive he would trust the Iranians and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t quite get it. The great thing is I have been there not many times but in Israel they are open to debate. You can be at peace now with the balance crowd. You can be Tzipi Livni, you have different points of view, Isaac Herzog. You`re allowed to disagree with the Netanyahu approach. You can have an open discussion without people accusing you of being a Nazi. What is it about our culture? We can`t discuss the Middle East without these references? GEARAN: Well, this is a special case for Huckabee. I mean, clearly, he`s appealing to what he thinks is a base at home. MATTHEWS: Evangelical Christians. GEARAN: Absolutely. And also, the Sheldon Adelson money people, too. I mean, he wants -- MATTHEWS: So, he`s gong in that direction, too. GEARAN: Absolutely. What he ends up doing here is sort of being more pro- Israeli than the Israelis, because to your point, they actually are having a debate about this. MATTHEWS: What do you think, Mike? TOMASKY: You know, Huckabee -- this doesn`t have anything to do with Donald Trump. He`s not trying to out-Trump Trump. He`s just Huckabee. This is who he is and this is how he talks. I actually read his book, his book that came out last year. It`s full of lines -- not quite like this. Not Holocaust lines but unbelievable screeds, crazy screeds about Obama, about Hillary Clinton, about Democrats, about Jerry Brown, everything under the sun, you name it. MATTHEWS: What moves this guy? He`s like a Rastafarian talking about Ethiopia. I mean, it`s not realistic. Israeli is a country. Like any other country, with strengths and weaknesses. It is not perfection land. TOMASKY: He`s got this messianic -- GEARAN: He leads Holy Land tours. I mean, this is a big, big deal for him. MATTHEWS: You`re right. I read about that. What do you think, Richard? FOWLER: I think he`s into it but I think the problem here -- MATTHEWS: Why comments about Hitler? FOWLER: He truly believes it. MATTHEWS: He believes that -- OK. FOWLER: I really think he believes it. Now, it`s un-presidential, but he believes it. MATTHEWS: This deal, you can argue it both ways, and it`s legitimate. It`s a tough one. You know, ten years better than nothing. Better than back at it in three years. That`s an argument. There`s another argument don`t trust no matter what they do, although we can say we are trying to verify. You say, well, you can`t really verify. It`s an argument. Why the Armageddon discussion? FOWLER: But here`s -- I agree with you on that point. MATTHEWS: They already have a nuke potential. If there wasn`t a deal, they`d be doing it. FOWLER: I guarantee you, I think this is a good deal overall, and that`s why I think Mike Huckabee is wrong. This deal at worse case scenario slows town their ability to develop a nuclear weapon. And I think that`s a good thing for all Americans and for the world. MATTHEWS: What`s his deal do? What`s Huckabee`s deal? FOWLER: He doesn`t have a deal, which is part of the problem. GEARAN: Right. MATTHEWS: I think the deal is to bomb, bomb Iran. I think that`s what it is, but he doesn`t want to say it. FOWLER: That doesn`t work. MATTHEWS: It would be after a deal goes down though. Once the deal goes down the doors open, the big fight over how fast do we go to war? TOMASKY: The deal won`t go town. He`s going to have -- FOWLER: The president has the votes. MATTHEWS: Huh? FOWLER: The president has got the votes on this. TOMASKY: He has the votes. MATTHEWS: Forty-six in the House, right? FOWLER: You got it. MATTHEWS: How do you get that? You`re just grinning. You know something I don`t know. FOWLER: I do. MATTHEWS: Report. Looks good in the House, how about the Senate, 34 votes in the Senate? FOWLER: I think he has the votes. (CROSSTALK) FOWLER: Both chambers. TOMASKY: At least one of them. MATTHEWS: Good Monday for me. Anyway, on the campaign trail there was push back to the Huckabee comment. Here was Hillary Clinton jumping into the argument. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Comments like these are offensive and they have no place in our political dialogue. I am -- I`m disappointed and I`m really offended personally. This steps over the line and it should be repudiated by every person of good faith and concern. (END VDIEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Jeb Bush also went after Huckabee. He said he should tone down the rhetoric. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have been to Israel, not as many times as Mike Huckabee, who I respect. But the use of that kind of language is just wrong. This is not the way we are going to win elections. That`s not how we are going to solve problems. So, unfortunate remark, I`m not sure why he felt compelled to say it. Having said that, this is a bad deal, and I can see why people are angry about it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m going back to argument. Everybody, jump me on this -- I think the eastern conference of the Republican Party, which is made up of people like him, and Kasich, and Christie even, and certainly, Walker. They see government as a responsibility. The other side sees it as a chance for radical debate, radical action, complaint, resurrection, insurrection almost. And I think Jeb still talks like that and the other guys are competing for the other flag. GEARAN: Yes. I mean, you`re seeing it play out absolutely in the primary right now. You got two wings. And then you got Trump who sort of like -- MATTHEWS: He`s perfect (ph) of western division. GEARAN: Absolutely. MATTHEWS: Anyway, we`ll get back. My theory, eastern division regular normal people. Western division, look out. Anyway, Michael Tomasky -- TOMASKY: They put Scott Walker in the wrong place. MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll see. I think he still wants to be considered an alternative to Bush, not an alternative to that guy out there. But I think the other guy looks your way. Anyway, he sees him as a threat on the right. Michael Tomasky, quibbling to the end. Anne Gearan, Richard Fowler, I think Richard Fowler is a welcome guest here. When we return, let me finish with the potent chance that this country`s Republican voters are in revolt. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the potent chance that this country`s Republican voters are in revolt. Just look at the latest national polling. In fact, the average of five national polls. Look how the GOP establishment is doing and how the resurgent party`s right wing is doing. It`s not even a contest. Jeb Bush is at 14 percent, one vote in 7. Scott Walker, vote one in nine. Chris Christie, three in a hundred. Rick Perry, two in a hundred. That adds up to 30 percent, three in ten Republicans nationwide. Now, count up the chunk of Republicans being grabbed by the Tea Party types, 18 percent for Trump, six percent for Rubio, Paul, Huckabee and Cruz. Plus, 5 percent for Dr. Ben Carson. Just about half, 49 percent for the rebels. What this suggests is that when this thing winnows out, the winner of the establishment league, Bush, Walker, Christie or Perry, is going to have 30 percent of the vote total. The winner of the hard conservatives is going to have 50 percent of the total. It`s not even close as I said. I just don`t see how the party that`s pushing for these guys on the hard right are going to get excited by a ticket led by Bush, Walker, Christie or Perry. That strikes me as weak beer for the red hots, especially after they have had a few months of swigging the 100 percent proof of Donald Trump. And based on the numbers, there are a lot more red hots than there are even barely moderate establishment types. Donald trump didn`t light the fire. It was already burning when he got here. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. END 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.>
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