CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Comic book hero to run for president. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Filled with science deniers, the Republican Party is now packed with Trump deniers. This can`t be real. This guy from the comic books can`t possibly be zooming even higher than ever before. Well, sorry, Mssrs. Bush, Rubio, Walker and all the rest of you, he`s doing exactly that. Joy Reid`s MSNBC national correspondent. Ryan Grimm is the Washington bureau chief at the HuffingtonPost and Jonathan Allen is the chief political correspondent at Vox. Well, three days to go until Thursday`s debate this week, and Trump is triumphant in the polls. Catch this. In the last hour, we got new numbers from the latest Fox News poll. It has Trump surging. He tops the field with 26 percent, leads Bush by 11. It`s the highest level of support any Republican candidate has received since Fox began polling the field for 2016. The new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll has Trump leading the field, as well, with 19 percent. He`s up 4 points above Scott Walker, who`s in second. The new Monmouth University poll has Trump with a commanding jump. He`s gained 13 points in the last two weeks. He leads the field with 26 percent, I said. The poll has him 14 points ahead of Jeb Bush. Remember him, the establishment candidate? Trump`s favorables with Republican voters are rocketing. Before he announced, only 20 percent of the party held a favorable view with Trump. Those numbers shot up 20 points within a month, and another 12 in just the last few weeks. Trump is now viewed favorably by most Republicans. The director of the Monmouth University polling sized up Trump this way. "There`s no clear sense of who his constituency really is. This makes it very difficult for his opponents to figure out how to take him on in the upcoming debate." Well, that is fascinating. I want to start with Joy up there in New York. Joy, everybody said, oh, it`s just the poor little uneducated white guy. I don`t even like the notion putting that (INAUDIBLE) apart (ph) like that. But it seems like, according to the polling we looked at (INAUDIBLE) not just hard right, not just center-right, middle-right, moderate, men and women both. You know, you see numbers even ethnically surprising you. Your thoughts? JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know... MATTHEWS: This guy is hard to wrestle with come Thursday night. REID: Yes, and it would be interesting to do a Venn diagram of Trump`s poll numbers with the approval ratings of Republicans of their own political party. I think you`re seeing sort of a perfect confluence of kind of entertainment media sort of complex that has encroached on politics. Trump goes -- went in with 100 name ID, or close to it. And then you add to it the frustrations of Republican voters really across the board with their own party, and they are looking at Donald Trump, somebody they feel they know, they know from TV, who`s saying all of the politically incorrect things... MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. REID: ... that the base wants to hear. It`s what they want to hear. And Republicans who think this is not real -- it`s because they themselves are out of touch with their own base. MATTHEWS: Ryan, what`s amazing is his lawyer the other day said you can`t drop your -- Jose Andres, the chef in (INAUDIBLE) chef, You can`t drop your deal with him on a hotel because of the fact that he`s used these anti-Hispanic remarks. He`s made them before! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I mean, that`s his defense! What do you make of a guy who`s a recidivist, who takes slashes at ethnic groups -- what about birtherism -- the president`s illegal, you know, he`s from Africa? I mean, how do you stop a guy who does it all the time? We`re going to show some - - we`ve dug up some amazing stuff. This guy ain`t a new kid on the block when it comes to slashing groups. RYAN GRIMM, HUFFINGTONPOST: It does make it a lot harder to drop oppo on. You know, if he -- well, look what he said in the 1980s, look what he said in the 1990s. Well, yes, he said it last week, too... MATTHEWS: Yes. GRIMM: ... and that takes -- that takes a lot of air out of it. And people -- look at the McCain comments. People thought, Oh, well, you know, look what... MATTHEWS: These aren`t gaffes. GRIMM: Right. No, these aren`t gaffes, and people -- and people are saying, Well, you know, he`s not politically correct, so you know, let him have a little bit... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Before you get in here, Jon -- Trump continued the scorched-earth campaign in an interview on ABC. Here`s Trump going after President Obama. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said of Barack Obama, "Sadly, because President Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won`t see another black president for generations." What did you mean by that? DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think he`s been a very poor president. He has done a very poor job as president. He has set a very poor standard. I think that he has set a very low bar, and I think it`s a shame for the African-American people. And by the way, he has done nothing for African-Americans! You look at what`s gone on with income levels, you look at what`s gone on with their youth -- I thought that he would be a great cheerleader for this country. I thought he`d do a fabulous job for the African-American citizens of this country. He has done nothing! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, that`s as pure a BS as I`ve heard. But that`s all right because it covers up his (ph) real (ph) attitude (ph), which is, I`m totally against this guy. I`ve been against him since the time he arrived. I`ve treated him like an illegal immigrant from the time he`s arrived. I`ve enjoyed everything that`s gone wrong for the guy. Now he`s out there, sadly, with crocodile tears saying, Oh, I wish he`d done more for the -- you know, the inner city poor or some crap like that. He didn`t want that to happen! JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX: I`m so disappointed that my opponent didn`t do a better job. Yes, no, he -- (INAUDIBLE) politics all the time. The problem with what he said is it`s about the most racist thing you can possibly say, which is because this black guy who`s president didn`t do well, no black person will be elected president after him. Not only does it say something about his racism, but what he perceives about the American voter that they think all black people are alike! MATTHEWS: Is that racist? I don`t know. REID: But Chris -- Chris... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Look, I know. I`m a Roman Catholic. A lot of us were very happy, you know, that Al Smith didn`t win in `28 because he would have been blamed for the Great Depression. We would never have gotten in there again. That`s something I grew up with. But go ahead. Your view, Joy. REID: Well, Chris, no, can I -- can I just say, first of all, the factual inaccuracy -- Trump doesn`t even attempt to check his facts, first of all. Yes, poor Barack Obama saved the auto industry, the economy from going over a cliff, got health care done, which Democrats and some Republicans have been trying to do for 100 years, got Osama bin Laden, on and on and on, 5.5 percent unemployment, stock market at what, like, 14,000, 15,000. Yes, he`s done such horrible job. The bottom line is, Donald Trump doesn`t even attempt to check his facts. The president has no problems in the area of whether or not he was a successful president. I think he`s got that box checked. But what you do hear with Donald Trump in the sentence that I pull out of that is, I thought he was going to be a great cheerleader for this country. There`s a part of the Republican base, and we don`t like to talk about it, that believed that to be a "successful," quote, unquote, black president meant spending four years just doing the wave and talking about how fabulous America is and how great it was and how grateful he was to be president and not trying to actually govern or do anything or be the president. And there are Americans who recent Barack Obama for attempting to actually exercise the powers of the presidency, and Trump represents them. MATTHEWS: So -- this is interesting. They wanted him to be a Tom? What did they want him to be? REID: They wanted him... MATTHEWS: You can use any parlance you can use. REID: ... to be a potted plant, a potted plant painted red, white and blue that just reaffirmed how great the country is without ever challenging the country. There`s something about African-American politicians... MATTHEWS: Yes. REID: ... who get a lot of heat for anything that appears to challenge the unquestioned greatness of the country. And we do have real race problems, which came to fore when the president got elected. They`re real. They`re out there. And there are people who embody and espouse them and don`t like the idea of a president asserting himself as an African-American man using the powers of the presidency, and Trump is the perfect leader for them. MATTHEWS: Well, I`ll tell you one thing. Our poll today, just out this weekend, makes the point, at least in gross terms, what you just said. Thirty-three percent of this country across the board is very negative towards Obama, very negative. They personally just don`t like him. Now, it could be all those reasons he didn`t -- he turned out to be more of an aggressive president, more of a Democratic advocate president, a black advocate president, more -- I think he`s been pretty moderate myself. Your view? GRIMM: Yes... MATTHEWS: Is there this kind of the virulent -- I know there`s a 33 percent that just say, I don`t want this guy in the world. I don`t want him anymore here. GRIMM: To Joy`s point, there was certainly this feeling in 2008 that, OK, now we have elected an African-American as president, so now we can move past this whole thing, OK? You know, this is -- consider this our apology for everything bad that`s happened in the past and now we`re going to move forward. And so any -- any -- any hint that there was -- there were still any problems that needed to be fixed was treated... (CROSSTALK) ALLEN: The irony is that he`s aimed policies at helping the lower and middle classes that also disproportionally help African-American, Latinos... MATTHEWS: OK, I don`t want to get into this (INAUDIBLE) because it`s a larger (INAUDIBLE) By the way, a lot of reasons he`s gotten to be more militant, to use an old term, Joy, is that events have occurred. REID: Yes. MATTHEWS: They`ve occurred with police handling of African-American men, and most of the cases look very, very bad. You get Ferguson`s a troubling one, but the other ones are pretty clear-cut and bad. Anyway... REID: Yes. Absolutely. MATTHEWS: ... whether it`s about malice or just a ploy for attention, Trump has built a brand as an outrageous showman. Here`s how he started an interview with Larry King. Catch this, back in `89. I know this isn`t on your level of importance here, Joy, but this is something about the personality of the guy who`s now leading the Republican fight for president. Here it is. (END VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Do you mind if I sit back a little bit... LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": No. TRUMP: ... because your breath is very bad. It really is. Has this ever been told to you before? KING: No. TRUMP: OK. Then I won`t bother. (LAUGHTER) KING: That`s how you get the edge. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: He roasted himself on national television. Here he is on another case of being Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: What`s the difference between a wet raccoon and Donald J. Trump`s hair? A wet raccoon doesn`t have $7 billion (EXPLETIVE) in the bank. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Ego. Anyway, just a few years before that, in 2007, Trump tackled Vince McMahon at WWE`s "Wrestlemania." Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this. Trump! Trump! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hostile takeover of Donald Trump on Vince McMahon has happened at "Wrestlemania 23 (ph)!" (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Jon Allen, is it that? Are we missing, I know, the serious conversation we`re having with Joy Reid about race and a black president and how he has to be a bit more assertive than just, Thank you, boss, for giving me the job. But what`s going on is something bigger. This guy is P.T. Barnum. He knows TV. He knows theater. He -- whatever he does this Thursday night is going to be interesting. ALLEN: The showmanship... MATTHEWS: And most of these other guys are dead in terms of they`re flat-footed people of no interest to people in terms of their personalities. ALLEN: They`re politicians, not showmen. It`s a completely different skill -- not entirely different skill, but it`s... MATTHEWS: No, I think Roosevelt had theater and I think Jack Kennedy did and I think Kennedy -- they brought a show with them. ALLEN: The scary... MATTHEWS: A lot of these other guys are stiffs! ALLEN: The scary part... MATTHEWS: That`s why he`s walking through them like a knife through butter. ALLEN: The scar part is he could prove, if he was elected president, that anyone can do it. MATTHEWS: You think so? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Can anybody make $11 billion? (CROSSTALK) ALLEN: (INAUDIBLE) sucking up to who he hates now! MATTHEWS: Anyway, Joy, your last word here because you had the most serious point about the president we have now. But I do want to keep the focus on the president we might have. REID: Well, I... MATTHEWS: And right now, according to Chris Cillizza in "The Post," this guy`s in fourth (ph) place as a probability. REID: Yes, well... MATTHEWS: This isn`t just a joke anymore. REID: Yes. MATTHEWS: He may be a joke. REID: Well... MATTHEWS: But if you look at the other guys he`s up against, they aren`t that great. They just aren`t. REID: Right. And they`re not -- they`re not showing -- you made a good point. I mean, this president (ph) did elect an actor before and people who command sort of theater or understand it can do on (ph) politics (ph). Look, I think Donald Trump represents something we don`t like to always acknowledge, which is the ugly American. It was something that I was told the first time I went to Europe -- Beware of being the ugly American. There`s a stereotype of Americans that`s sort of rolling over other people and flaunting their wealth and sort of... MATTHEWS: Being (INAUDIBLE) REID: ... crass and kind of politically incorrect. And it`s a terrible stereotype and it`s mean, but there are some people that do have these kind of edges to them. Donald Trump is one of them. He`s speaking for the people who feel they`re tired of political correctness. They hate with a capital ``H`` Barack Obama. They hate a lot of the changes that are taking place in the country ethnically. They`re not comfortable with the direction the country is going in, and they want somebody to say that straight, no chaser, and not use the political language that they hear even their own party trying to do. So the challenge for the other Republicans is for a serious person to try to get credibility with that base, but that base is angry at the Republicans, too. So it`s going to be really hard any of the so-called serious members of that, I guess, clown car to overcome him, at least right now. MATTHEWS: You`re something, Joy. REID: Thank you. MATTHEWS: I can`t disagree with a word you said. Anyway -- who can? No, really, she -- that was really powerfully put. I hope they put that in some kind of time capsule because I think that`s where we`re at. REID: Thank you, Chris. MATTHEWS: Joy`s great. Anyway, Joy Reid up in New York. REID: Thank you. MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) two guys, couple guys, supporting cast. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) ALLEN: We`re the sideshows. MATTHEWS: Like Busby Berkeley (ph). By the way, I was in one of those restaurants in Europe in 1968 on the way to the Peace Corps. We went to an Amsterdam little lunch place, a very quiet little place. And I looked around and I realized the only people making noise in this lunch place were the Americans with me. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Everybody else was, Look, at that. Like, Who are these jokers? You`re right, it`s us! It`s the ugly Americans. Join us Thursday night, by the way, live from Cleveland for full debate coverage here on HARDBALL. We`ll be on live from 7:00 to 9:00, then back again from 11:00, by the way, on until 1:00 o`clock (INAUDIBLE) candidates out there, if you want to get on our show, if you don`t make it on the other one, and even if you do make it on the other, join us at midnight Thursday. And we`re going to go pretty late in the night. Coming up -- is there anything to talk -- to the talk that Vice President Joe Biden may go actually against Hillary? This is a fight, and if he goes in, he`s going against Hillary. Don`t kid yourself. You`re going against her or you`re not getting in. If he gets in, it`s a fight. Or is it just talk? I`m not sure. We`re all buzzing about it here in D.C. and New York. Anyway, plus, Rand Paul will be the lone dove, let`s face it, on that debate stage in a sea of Republican hawks, the neocons. Will he stand out or get drowned out by his rivals beating the drums of war? It`s what happened to his dad. Senator Paul`s dad, former vice presidential candidate Ron Paul -- he`s going to be with us tonight live. And President Obama is once again going big with an eye on his legacy. This time, his target is climate change. That tonight. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a handful of gems. They are real gems in the new "Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, some real surprises about Planned Parenthood, for example, which will lighten you up if you`re a progressive. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: More hot news tonight. Senate Democrats this evening voted down a Republican effort to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The vote was 53 to 46, short of the 60 threshold the Republicans needed. The GOP effort came in the wake of recently released videos by an anti-abortion group in which Planned Parenthood officials discussed giving tissue from aborted fetuses to medical researchers. Planned Parenthood denies that it sells the tissue. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL Is Vice President Joe Biden actually running for president? Is he serious about making a challenge of Hillary Clinton for the nomination? According to multiple sources this week, and reports, the answer is yes. The "New York Times" columnist Maureen Dowd drove much of the speculation when she wrote over the weekend,, quote, "The 72-year-old vice president has been having meetings at his Washington residence to explore the idea of taking on Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire." According to Maureen Dowd, there is a very personal reason. Dowd recounts a conversation between the vice president and his son, Beau, shortly before the younger Biden died. Quote, "He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values." Well, according to "The New York Times," NBC and other outlets, Biden allies have been talking to party leaders and donors about a run for president. And one former senior Biden aide told NBC, quote, "He is definitely thinking about it, not just for show, and there are many people urging him to do it. Yet at the end of the day, I think he will decide to take a pass and instead spend time with family." Howard Fineman is global editor for the HuffingtonPost and an MSNBC analyst and Anne Gearan is a political reporter, and a fine one, for "The Washington Post." Anne, up or down? Is he in or out? ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": My gut is he will not do it. MATTHEWS: OK, what about the reporting that`s going on, all this kerfuffle? People are saying there`s meetings called. I have heard he`s been meeting with a lot of journalists on deep background -- not me -- couple-hour meetings, long, sort of soul-searching. Is it right? Will I be heavy (ph) enough, that kind of thing. GEARAN: This is a guy who has always wanted to be president, and this is -- he`s 72 years old. This has got to be the last time that this is a real possibility, even though it appears to be a slim possibility. MATTHEWS: What has caused the rumble now? GEARAN: So -- part of it is the tragic death of his son. Biden has been back in the news. And it`s the Maureen Dowd reporting... MATTHEWS: That was a while ago. That was a month ago. GEARAN: It was -- it was... MATTHEWS: So, why this week, all of a sudden, are we getting Maureen Dowd, are we getting "The New York Times," way ahead of you guys? I didn`t think this piece really made the strong point that he is running, but it certainly raised a lot of questions about the meetings he`s been having. GEARAN: Yes, it -- part of that is because of what is happening with Hillary Clinton. Right? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Her numbers are down. GEARAN: Yes, her numbers are down. And his position has always been that he would be the backup, right? If she implodes, the institutional party could turn to him. MATTHEWS: So, he has to be on the ballot to be there? GEARAN: So, she would have to go down in order for him to go up. MATTHEWS: OK. Howard, do you think that is this thing? Because a lot of people have -- guys whose have grown up with -- Tom Foley, a lot of those people, they were there when the other guy blew it. They were on the ballot when somebody got caught in a marital situation. And, all of a sudden, well, who is around? Well, he`s on the ballot. He`s the winner. Is that what he is thinking? Or is he thinking this is existential? I got to decide who I am and my son told me before he died, you are the man who should be president. HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, I have it on pretty good authority right after the funeral of his son... MATTHEWS: Beau. FINEMAN: ... Beau, that Joe Biden had been telling people, I have had enough. I don`t have -- my heart is not in it. And I have that on pretty good authority. But between that time and this, a few things have happened. First of all, a lot of the calls he made after the funeral, people were expressing their condolences, but also telling him, you know, Joe, you got to run. MATTHEWS: The last hurrah. FINEMAN: You got to run. You got to run. So he got reinforcement from his friends and the poll numbers of Hillary go down, and I think the driving force for Joe Biden was not his -- the deathbed statement, because I didn`t hear that right afterwards. That`s a piece of -- I would say, with all due respect, that`s been sort of amped up a bit in the last few weeks. (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: Wait a minute MATTHEWS: Both boys were pushing him to run. You knew that. FINEMAN: Yes, but... MATTHEWS: I mean sons, not boys. FINEMAN: The key thing here is the Clintons. The key thing is the Clintons and I use the plural. Joe Biden and his family and his friends don`t like -- however much good they have done and however much Joe Biden respects Hillary as a woman, as a path breaker and as a good secretary of state, he doesn`t like the way the Clintons view politics, which is the money, which is the self- aggrandizement, which is the $300,000 speeches, which it seems to be about them, not about the country and not about the sort of Kennedy-style Irish- American politics that Joe grew up with. MATTHEWS: Ask not. FINEMAN: The ask not politics. It`s the ask not politics that he thinks is missing. And he doesn`t think anybody else can stop them. I think he wished there were. He doesn`t think Martin O`Malley can. He doesn`t think Bernie Sanders can. So, in his mind, it may be -- and this is what I wrote in The Huffington Post over the weekend. It`s got to be me because nobody else will do it MATTHEWS: OK. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: This suggests the only way to beat her is a front attack on the Democratic center. The left is already taken by Bernie. You have to go for the center. There is no right, right now. Anyway, there`s bad news for Hillary Clinton, as you mentioned. In the brand-new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll just released this evening, 37 percent of Americans view her positively, 37, about a third, but nearly half of those surveyed a negative view of her, and that`s a stark change from just last month, when 44 percent viewed her positively and 40 percent were negative on her. Tomorrow, the Clinton campaign will begin airing its first TV ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. The two ads emphasize her biography. The first called "Dorothy" tells the story of Clinton`s mother. Let`s watch a bit of it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I think about why I`m doing this, I think about my mother, Dorothy. She was abandoned by her parents at the age of 8, sent to Chicago to L.A. to live with grandparents who didn`t want her. But people showed her kindness, gave her a chance. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: A second ad is called "Family Strong" and it focuses on Clinton`s own biography as an advocate for children as first lady, as senator, and as secretary of state. Here`s part of that ad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: The senator who made sure the heroes and families of 9/11 got the care they needed, the secretary of state who joined the Cabinet of a man who defeated her because when your president calls, you serve. And now a new title, grandma. CLINTON: I believe that when families are strong, America is strong. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, those are professional ads and they will help a bit. And my question is, why does she need them right now in August of 2015? GEARAN: Yes, it`s the right question to ask. This is earlier than we had anticipated she would go up with ads. These are expensive buys, $1 million. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Two million bucks. GEARAN: Yes, right, $2 million over five weeks. One answer is exactly what you referred to a few moments ago. Her numbers are turning upside down. MATTHEWS: Why are they going down? Is it this Benghazi drumbeat, the e-mail drumbeat by the Republicans? GEARAN: All the things that are in that constellation of the X-factor or what exactly is -- are those questions that are lingering around her from her time as secretary of state, Benghazi, e-mail? That`s part of it. Part of it I think is that she`s been out there on the trail now for several months and she`s -- it was -- her numbers were bound to go down a bit, certainly from the time she was secretary of state, but also from the time she first entered the race. MATTHEWS: Yes. GEARAN: What I have sensed from the campaign is they were not quite prepared for the numbers to slide this much. And Bernie Sanders is partly responsible for that. Certainly, the passage of time is responsible for that. They feel like they need to stir things up. They are going back though to the soft focus biographical material that she used at the very beginning of her campaign. That seems a little off to me. I think it`s a good strategy in many ways. (CROSSTALK) GEARAN: Right. Exactly. It`s repetitive. MATTHEWS: Howard, why isn`t she just engaging in a conversation with the American people right now? Everybody wants to hear from her. Just talk to us. FINEMAN: I think that she may misjudged the temperament of the electorate right now. They are disgusted with politics as they have known it. That`s why they are looking for Bernie on the Democratic side. That`s why they`re playing around with Donald Trump on the right. They hate the Congress. They hate politics. They hate the media. MATTHEWS: So well said. FINEMAN: So she`s running a campaign that sounds like and looks like something out of, I don`t know, the `80s, the `90s. This is a bad time in the American political... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Wait until you see our latest number; 65 percent of the American people don`t like the direction we`re going in. (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: OK. But it`s smart for her to run -- I will say it`s smart for her to run as a woman this time, and the subtext of that second ad was, how can you not trust grandma? MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. GEARAN: But, I mean, she`s... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: A lot of grandmas around, though. Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. My wife. Thank you. I`m a grandpa. Thank you, Anne Gearan. I`m not running. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Up next, former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul will be here to weigh in on the 2016 race and his son Rand`s candidacy and a book he`s got This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never could have done any of this, though, without the help of my parents, who are here today. (APPLAUSE) PAUL: I would you to join me in... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. When he declared his candidacy for president, Senator Rand Paul looked well-positioned to build upon the legacy of his father, U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, who attracted strong libertarian support in the Republican primaries in 2008 and 2012. Yet, with the 2016 campaigns well under way now, Paul has struggled in a crowded field, dogged by lackluster fund-raising and slipping poll numbers. A year ago, Rand Paul led all his 2016 rivals according to a national Quinnipiac poll last summer. Now the same poll shows him tied with Marco Rubio and Ben Carson in fourth place, well behind Trump, Walker and Bush. According to a piece in "The Washington Post" today titled "As Debate Looms, Rand Paul Sees Chance to Be GOP Dove," the dove, Paul intends to contrast himself with his rivals on foreign policy at this Thursday`s debate. "Paul vowed that he will ask Republican presidential rivals face- to-face whether they want to always intervene in every civil war around the world. `I want to be known as the candidate who is not eager for war, who thinks war is the last resort,` Paul said. The libertarian wing of the Republican Party has waiting and waiting and waiting for Paul to do that." I`m joined right now by former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, author of the new book of his, "Swords into Plowshares: A Life in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity." Congressman, thank you for joining us, because I do support what you`re trying to do and your son is certainly trying to do. Norman Podhoretz, of all people, the king of the neocons, last week, at the end of the week, he had the gull to come out and say, we have to bomb Iran, no more deals, no more nuclear agreements, no more containment. We must go to war again. We have toppled Libya. We`re trying to topple Syria. We have toppled Egypt. We have toppled Iraq. We`re trying to topple Iran. When are they going to stop getting us into more trouble, the neocons and the hawks in the Republican Party? Your thoughts? RON PAUL (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, I wish they would listen to reason and just look at what is happening. I think it`s going to stop unfortunately when we go broke and there is nothing left, and then the people will find out that it was a total failure, just as the Soviet system collapsed. It wasn`t because they decided to be peaceniks. They went broke. And I think that`s what is going to happen to us. And right now in the midst of all this, we`re doing the bombing that you demonstrated, but, you know, war is the health of the state. And when you have wars going on and a constant war and a war against terrorism, the war is turned against the American people. And that`s why we have the attack on civil liberties. So, I think there is going to be a serious, serious problem in this country, both in our liberties and our economic policies. But the foreign policy is something that I concentrate on in the book, because I think these wars are needless, they are immoral, they are unconstitutional, and they hurt us. And we ought to stop them. And I think that`s what Rand`s message is going to be this Thursday. He has to try to challenge these other individuals because he`s the only one anywhere close to that position, so I expect that he will follow through. MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, the bugle blowers in your party are like the guys from the beginning of "Gone With the Wind" the movie, where they`re so thrilled that civil war has begun. They`re all going to die. Let`s look at the exchange you had with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the issue of national security and an early debate in 2008. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RON PAUL: Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we have been over there. We have been bombing Iraq for 10 years. QUESTION: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir? RON PAUL: I`m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it. RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Wendell, may I make a comment on that? That`s really an extraordinary statement. That`s an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don`t I have ever heard that before, and I have some pretty heard absurd explanations for September 11. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: That was very cute by Rudy and of course it was very jingoistic and very nationalistic. But the fact is that you were right. You were on to something. If you listened to what Osama bin Laden`s people were talking about, it was the fact that we settled 10,000 troops thanks to Dick Cheney in their holy land and sat them there all the way from the beginning of the Gulf War all the way through until 9/11, that we were the ones that defied their religion, humiliated it, and it was their reason. Whether we like it or not, there is such a thing as motive and you have to live with it. And they don`t want to think about there might be a -- Sirhan Sirhan killed Bobby Kennedy because of political motive. You got to at least know what you`re up against. Anyway, I don`t understand this defiance of truth. RON PAUL: And more people are recognizing this. I think Giuliani lost that little debate we had here. I remember, after that, somebody said, well, I guess you will have to quit. And it was only the beginning. That was early on in `07, I think, when that happened. And Giuliani never went anywhere. And at that time, people were really negative on the war. They were negative on the war. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You`re with the deal with the president on the nuclear deal with Iran. Right? That`s containment, as far as you`re concerned, rather than war? RON PAUL: Right. I have always supported that, and make the point that Kennedy talked to Khrushchev and Reagan talked to the Russians. And they were bad people, evil people, and had a lot of weapons. Yet we still -- but this deal, this agreement, you know, worked out with Iran is far from perfect, and nothing like I would do it. But it`s better than threatening them with bombs, never -- they never want to take anything off the table. And I think that is just immoral to say that, if you don`t go our way, we`re liable to bomb you with a nuclear weapon. And that`s what some of them would do. MATTHEWS: If the people watching right now like the way this man is thinking -- and I certainly agree with him on foreign policy -- the name of his book, Ron Paul, is "Swords into Plowshares," exactly what he`s talking about tonight. Former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, sir, thank you for coming on the show with a philosophical difference with the jingoists and the trumpet blowers of the Republican Party. Up next: the restless herds. We`re going to look into why members of both parties right now are unsettled about their current front-runners. What is so restive that is spooking the herd out there? You`re watching HARDBALL. Both herds, Democrat and Republican. The place for politics right here, HARDBALL. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s happening. The suspect wanted in the fatal shooting of Memphis police officer Sean Bolton is in custody. The officer was killed during a traffic stop on Saturday. Thousands of people in the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco have been forced to flee a massive wildfire that has destroyed more than 20 homes. The fire nearly tripled in size over the weekend to about 84 square miles. And in Florida, torrential rain soaked Tampa and the surrounding area, flooding roads and washing away cars. As least 40 people had to be rescued from the rising waters -- now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Right now, with 17 declared candidates in the Republican field, Jim Gilmore of Virginia just joined. There`s no clear sign of a frontrunner other than Donald Trump who seems to be for real right now. The race remains fluid on the Republican side. The Democratic contest may also be influx after "The New York Times" reported this weekend Vice President Joe Biden is seriously considering jumping in. Well, in other words, both of the herds are restless, the cowboy moves, the herds restless today, remember, there can be a stampede. Is anybody settled down on the 2016 standard? Maybe, it`s also only 28 percent of the American people out there saying the country is headed in the right direction and 65 percent said we`re headed in the wrong direction. It should account for a lot of this thing. That`s the new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll just out tonight. So, time for the HARDBALL roundtable and that environment, Perry Bacon, senior political reporter for NBC News, Ruth Marcus, opinion writer and columnist for "The Washington Post", and Richard Fowler is a progressive talk radio host. Let`s start with Richard. But you can all jump in here. Pick your party. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that only 28 percent, less than a third, less than three in ten, think this country is going in the right direction. That`s a profound statement. So, I don`t think there`s any joy to share right now. RICHARD FOWLER, TALK RADIO HOST: I think you`re exactly right. I think there is a sort of swath across both parties, American people generally speaking saying that there is some issues going on in this country. We`ve got to figure out how to deal and I think the candidate, whether it`d be Democrat or Republican, that can tap into those voters and say, hey, listen, this is how we deal with it. Here`s my plan. That`s the candidate who wins this election. MATTHEWS: Can the establishment candidate be that person? Can you come out of the -- people who have been person running for class president since they were 13, have been running for office their whole lives, running the show since they were post-pubescent or whatever, they`ve been running the show come out and say, we got to change things. Who is going to listen to that? The Bush family saying we got to change things? They are the way things are, the Bushes. RUTH MARCUS, THE WASHINGTON POST: In the end watch that space. I suspect you`re going to see at least quasi-establishment candidates coming -- winning both nominations. But I agree -- MATTHEWS: Why? MARCUS: Because there is a degree of -- because that`s -- first of all, that`s the way the Republican Party behaves, and that`s -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Is that their blanket they hang on to that smells like I`m used to. MARCUS: And yes, that`s the way the Democratic primary is shaping up -- MATTHEWS: Ridiculous. MARCUS: If Joe Biden gets into the race and gets the nomination. MATTHEWS: He`s really in a establishment. MARCUS: Yes, exactly. Let me -- MATTHEWS: He`s been around since `72. MARCUS: Let me make a point about the restlessness. There is restlessness. There is unhappiness with the direction of the country on both sides, but also, let`s get a grip here, folks. We`re a year and a half before the election. MATTHEWS: You think it`s going to be different a year and a half from now? MARCUS: No, but the notion that people have been settled on a candidate -- MATTHEWS: No, they`re not settled in this country. They don`t think we`ve been led right. They don`t like the way we`ve been led and it gets to probably trade, it gets into jobs, it gets into the debt, it gets into immigration, they don`t think anybody has their hand on the helm. And they`re holding it steady in the interest of the country. MARCUS: But to the extent that that`s manifesting itself by reflections of not settling on one candidate or another. I mean, first of all, what will we do for a living for the next 18 months? But also, that`s the way politics is, we want to have that discussion. MATTHEWS: Ruth, you`re the voice of "The Washington Post" right now. You`re the establishment -- (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You cannot explain Donald Trump in normal political times. PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS: Donald Trump and also Bernie Sanders are both tested on both sides. MATTHEWS: Twenty-five percent of the Democratic Party is now for Bernie Sanders. BACON: Yes, I think -- MATTHEWS: A renowned, not renowned -- BACON: A socialist. MATTHEWS: A socialist. He says I`m a different political than your party historically. I`m over here to the left, historically, refusing to this day to join your party. I`ve never heard this before. I refused to be a Democrat, but I want to want your presidential nomination, and he gets away with it because something out there says we don`t like the mainstream or what. BACON: And I think this is Biden`s problem. You talk about Biden a lot. MATTHEWS: He`s in the mainstream. BACON: He`s in the mainstream. He`s not going to win the standard. They don`t want another Biden and Hillary are the establishment. They want something different. That`s the problem for Biden to get in a little bit. FOWLER: I think the difference with Joe Biden, yes, he`s establishment. Joe Biden is like this salt of the earth guy. You put him in Scranton, Pennsylvania, at a rally and there is that whole arena is shaking. His ability to connect with people that a lot of candidates in both the Democratic and Republican Party -- MATTHEWS: In Wilmington, too, among African-Americans. (CROSSTALK) BACON: He has done so well, so well that he`s -- FOWLER: He`s sitting vice president, right? So, he`s a sitting vice president where this president has a decent legacy, right? You have the Affordable Care Act, you have this new environment that came out today, he can run on that legacy. Also, he can be real with the American people. That`s what we expect. MATTHEWS: OK. Don`t we want grandpa Finnegan and all that stuff, we call that schmooze (ph). FOWLER: Hey, I`d have him over Donald Trump any day of the week. MATTHEWS: The great thing about him. We all mentioned this, because Biden during the `60s, in the `60s, everybody wearing army fatigue jackets and long hair and beards, he said I wore a sports coat. (LAUGHTER) MARCUS: I`m just reeling at the notion of a Biden/Trump face-off and who would talk the most in that? (LAUGHTER) FOWLER: Oh, tough. MATTHEWS: Who would say the other guy had bad breath? That amazed me (INAUDIBLE) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, something really important. President Obama is once again talking big about climate change, really raising stakes. This is HARDBALL, a place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, actress and comedian Amy Schumer today teamed up with her cousin, I didn`t know this, New York Senator Chuck Schumer. They call for gun safety reforms in the wake of the fatal shootings down in Louisiana during a screening of Amy Schumer`s movie "Trainwreck." I saw it, too. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AMY SCHUMER, ACTRESS: For me the pain I share with so many other Americans on the issue of gun violence was made extremely personal to me on Thursday, July 23rd. When -- I`m not even going to say his name, when this, he sat down for my movie "Trainwreck" at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, two lives were tragically lost and others injured, and I thought about these victims each day since the tragedy. Preventing dangerous people from getting guns is very possible. We have common sense solutions. We can toughen background checks and stop the sale of firearms to folk whose have a violent history or history of mental illness. We can invest more in treating mental illness instead of slashing funding. These are not extreme ideas. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: It turns out the comedian and senator for New York second cousins once removed. Figure that one out. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Perry, Ruth and Richard. Anyway, the trade, health care, same-sex marriage and opening Cuba under his belt, in the second term, President Obama continues to play his hot hand and cementing another cornerstone of his presidential legacy. This time, climate change. Today, or actually two days after Governor Jerry Brown declared out there for all of California due to wildfires, look at them, and record drought, President Obama is tackling the challenge of rapidly-changing climate on this planet. He announced a new strategy to address carbon air pollution. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Levels of carbon dioxide which heats up our atmosphere are higher than they`ve been in 800,000 years. 2014 was the planet`s warmest year on record. And we`ve setting a lot of records in terms of warmest years over the last decade. We`ve seen stronger storms, deeper droughts, longer wildfire seasons. There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change. Power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air. For the sake of our kids, and the health and safety of all Americans, that has to change. Today, after working with states, and cities, and power companies, the EPA is setting the first-ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Ruth Marcus, how do you tell the frog in the pot it is getting hotter? That`s what I think of all the time. You know, Washington -- you and I have been here a while. It`s a weird change. Every day, practically here, we have this thunderstorm that strikes. August, it starts in May. The weather, if you want to call it, that is just different. The snowfall in the winter is igloo-like this year. It`s different. And yet people are saying there`s nothing, it`s the same old, same old. Eight hundred thousand years, the hottest year in record last year on the planet. MARCUS: I think your answer about the frog is it partly depends on whether the frog is a Republican presidential candidate, because I really - - MATTHEWS: Oh, it`s not getting hotter if you`re running. MARCUS: It`s -- climate is very variable. It`s the argument and there`s inadequate evidence, scientists disagree -- no, they don`t -- about whether climate change is human by man, and even if it is human-caused -- MATTHEWS: Yes. MARCUS: -- whether there`s anything reasonable. MATTHEWS: Is this off the record in the first FOX debate, Richard? Is this the kind of thing they`ll say, oh, that`s a bizarre discussion like, evolution, we better not bring up anything to do with the climate of this planet, because that`s sort of weirdly shouldn`t bring up anything? FOWLER: I think they have to bring it up. MARCUS: I think Chris will bring it up. FOWLER: They have to. MARCUS: Bret. FOWLER: And the reason why is because, for any of the Republican candidates to win this primary, as well as in the general election, they have to talk to millennials. If you talk to millennials across the board, including my audience -- MATTHEWS: You`re a millennial? FOWLER: Yes, I am, proud to be one. MARCUS: Oh, don`t -- (CROSSTALK) FOWLER: And my audience will tell you, climate change is a real thing. Whether you`re a Democrat, Republican, independent, blue, green, yellow. MATTHEWS: Why are younger people more hip to that, to be -- FOWLER: Because we took science class in school I guess. I mean, because you look at these Republican candidates, clearly, they missed science. MARCUS: I just think that there`s -- I really hope you`re right, but I don`t think there`s any evidence that Republican presidential candidates, unlike their kind of a little bit cautious stance on same-sex marriage, are buying into the issue of climate change. And I think the one thing -- MATTHEWS: Because it affects their industry. MARCUS: Yes, and because -- MATTHEWS: They don`t want to cut down on production of gas -- MARCUS: For a lot of reason, and I think this is an important move that the president did today, but I think it`s a kind of a shaky piece of his legacy because it will really depend on two things, the courts and the next president. MATTHEWS: By the way, I think the best destructive industry in politics are the Koch brothers, not to knock them personally, but they have an interest in their industry, in Kentucky, in West Virginia, goodbye for the Democrats, right? BACON: And you saw the candidates were out, you know, wooing the Koch brothers, Jeb Bush, said this weekend -- MATTHEWS: They don`t want to hear about climate. BACON: -- this plan was unconstitutional. . He said he would reverse it immediately. So, I think, on this issue, I would say, Hillary Clinton did put out a pretty comprehensive plan. She talked about climate change a lot. I think this issue where those , the wrong tracking numbers issue. On this issue and others, President Obama has been pretty much leading from the left, and Hillary is -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Hillary can`t claim to be under educated either. BACON: Yes. MATTHEWS: She can`t hide from his and say, I just don`t understand this. BACON: Or she`s not a scientist, is what we`re hearing a lot. MATTHEWS: No, people thought she`s pretty well-educated. Thank you, Perry Bacon on that point. And thank you, Ruth as always and Richard Fowler, thank you. When we return, let me finish with a handful of gems from the new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll. You got to stick around. These are fascinating little gold items I`ve come across that will make you very happy, I think. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a handful gems in the new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll. The first tells you all you need to know about the state of American politics. It asks people whether the United States is headed in the right direction, or if it`s off on the wrong track. Well, a piddling 28 percent think things are going swimmingly in this country, 65 percent say we`re on the wrong track. And that explains why people have contempt for the political class, to people running for office year after year. You got to wonder who the 28 percent are, actually. We all know who the 65 percent are, they`re our neighbors. Second gem, how many people either don`t know who Donald Trump is, or have no opinion about him? If you guessed 2 percent, you`d be right. This explains why he`s the big noise right now. Nobody has gotten attitude about his guy who`s all attitude. Third gem, where does the Republican Party have an edge on the Democrats? For one, the economy, 37 percent of those polled would place their bets on the Republican side, just 31 percent on the Democrats. The real Republican edge is foreign policy. There, they led 36 percent to 28 percent. So, expect to see the Republican candidates punching hard on who will do a better job protecting the country. Fourth gem, who has more committed enemies out there, Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton? Well, Hillary by a landside, 33 percent of those polled say they view her very negative. Jeb grabs only about 18 percent score in that category. So, the fashion thing, Hillary is winning, one way or the other. Anyway, fifth gem on the poll, looking over the list of people and organizations, and how people view them, you`d be a bit surprise to see the following views. Donald Trump, 26 percent positive. The Republican Party, 28 percent positive. The Democratic Party, 38 percent positive. The Supreme Court, 39 percent. The National Rifle Association, 43 percent. And catch this, Planned Parenthood, 45 percent. Planned Parenthood, the highest on the list in terms of positive opinion right now. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. 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