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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 08/14/15

Guests: Matt Schlapp, John Stanton, Michelle Bernard, Richard Fowler, LizMair

QUESTION: Rand Paul just spent three days here in New Hampshire, and he spent all of his time criticizing you. What... TRUMP: Well, that`s because -- yes... (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: No, Rand Paul, you have to understand, is a disaster in the polls. He`s a disaster on military and defense. He`s getting decimated by everybody. And other than giving him a lot of money for an eye center -- at his request -- he asked me, Could I have money? I said absolutely. But I gave him a lot of money for an eye center, which is very hypocritical, when you think of it. But other than giving him a tremendous amount of money for his eye center, which I`m happy about, frankly, because I`m sure they do good work -- I hope they do good work -- he is doing so badly that he figured he has to go out and attack Trump because I`m leading by a lot everywhere. And I don`t mind. I think he`s -- he`s never going to make it. Never going to make it. Can`t make it. Got the wrong message. I mean, this is not a time to be weak on defense, OK? And I`m the opposite. I want to make our military so strong, so powerful, so great that nobody`s going to mess with us. And I want to take care of our vets, who are treated like third class citizens. You know, two weeks ago on Wednesday, our vets, as you know, and you probably reported on it because you have a big problem here with vets that are not taken care of properly -- our vets had the longest wait in the history of the VA, waiting for doctors in rooms. They`ll wait four, five, six days. In and one case, they waited five days and the doctor said, Sorry, I`m going on vacation now. So our politicians -- all talk, no action. They`re all the same. Our politicians have let the vets down. Rand Paul has let the vets down. He`s let the vets down. So but Rand Paul -- you know, I don`t blame him. He`s doing so poorly in the polls, so he attacks the person that`s -- you know, I -- hey, look, I`ve been attacked by Perry of Texas, and he went bing (ph) like a rocket ship, except in the wrong direction. I was attacked by Lindsey Graham, and he had 2 points, now he has zero. Now, Rand Paul has very few points, but I think he`s going down, too. And I`ll say one further thing about Rand Paul, then let`s not waste a lot of time. But Rand Paul is using the people of Kentucky. Either run for Senate and do a good job, or run for president. You don`t run for president, and by the way, if I don`t make it, I`ll become your senator reluctantly.   If I were somebody, a good, strong Republican from Kentucky, I would run against him in a heartbeat, and you`d win because the people of Kentucky are being used by Rand Paul. Now, think of it. They`re saying, Oh, if he doesn`t make it, we`ll take him. That`s not the way it works. The people of Kentucky should get a senator that wants to represent them, not a senator where it`s a backup plan. So if I was in Kentucky, I would run against him, and believe me, I`d win. Yes. Hi. Yes. QUESTION: I understand that you care a lot about veterans. TRUMP: I do, a lot. QUESTION: I`m glad about that. I work as a veterans claims advocate... TRUMP: Good. QUESTION: ... for disabled veterans. The problem I have helping with them is that it takes over three years to process one claim... TRUMP: Unbelievable. You hear that? It takes over three years to process one veteran`s claim. QUESTION: And my question to you is, do you think the VA has run out of money to help them because it`s been allocated (INAUDIBLE)   TRUMP: No, I think they`ve run out of competence. They have incompetent people running it. And it starts with our senators and our congressmen and our president. And I run things properly. What I run, runs properly. One of the things I will do is take care of our veterans. QUESTION: Mr. Trump? TRUMP: It`s going to be very important. You know, you`re a perfect example when you say three years to process a claim that should take 24 hours? Yes, ma`am. QUESTION: On a lighter note, Boston mayor Marty Walsh has challenged you to take the ice bucket challenge. Is that something you`ll do? TRUMP: Look, he`s a clown, Marty Walsh. I don`t even know who he is. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: This guy Marty Walsh, he spends all this time and effort and money on an Olympic bid, and then he goes out, and you know, he`s talking about ice bucket challenges. Get a real mayor. You know, he came out, and he was strongly against -- when we had the original problem with -- as you know, when I was totally misquoted -- now everybody`s apologized to me -- illegal immigration. He said, Oh, I don`t like Trump`s statements. Now everybody`s apologizing because I turned out to be right. And you`ve had massive crime. You had beautiful Kate in San Francisco and so many others, even three days ago, a 63-year-old woman -- in fact, 66-year-old woman was raped, sodomized and tortured by an illegal immigrant. And they caught him. And it`s just disgraceful what`s going on.   So I brought up -- and I`m so proud of it. I brought up -- and I took a lot of heat that first week, week-and-a-half, a lot of heat. They called it "incoming" -- from you people, incoming. Now so many people have apologized to me, and it`s become a mainstay of everybody`s campaign. The problem is they don`t know what to do about it. I do. I know how to solve the problem. And it starts with building a wall, believe me. OK. TRUMP: Massachusetts governor Baker has said that some of your recent comments were reprehensible about women, speaking... TRUMP: I don`t think he said that. No, I don`t think he said that. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: Let me tell you something. Jeb Bush said that on women`s health issues, that he won`t fund them. Then he went -- he apologized. He`s -- are you OK? (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: Jeb Bush said that on women`s health issues, he won`t fund them. Whose phone is that? You ready? Third time. Ready? Jeb Bush said that on women`s health issues, he won`t fund them. Then he said, Oh, I misspoke, I`m so sorry.   I cherish women. Women will be taken care of better with a President Trump than anybody else, Republican or Democrat. Anybody else. And you know, you can look at my company. I have many women executives. They make, in many cases, more money -- because the second question, How many do you have? Many. And I`m going to be introducing them over a period of time, too. They`re unbelievable executives. And they get paid almost -- I think they`re paid more. We`re looking into it. We`re studying it right now. But they get paid more. They`re phenomenal. They`re incredibly talented. And even years ago, in charge of major construction projects, I`ve had women in charge, which years ago was unheard of. So I`ve been way out in front. And Governor Baker should only dream about doing for women what I`ve done and what I will do. But on the women`s health issue, I will -- there will be nobody better than Donald Trump. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: It might be more. You know what it means? Whatever it takes. That`s what it means, whatever it takes. Yes, ma`am. QUESTION: Bernie Sanders (INAUDIBLE) over Hillary Clinton... TRUMP: Bernie Sanders has gained a lot of traction. QUESTION: ... in New Hampshire. What (INAUDIBLE)   TRUMP: Well, they`re looking for real change. You know, Obama said they`re looking for change, and, oy, look what we got! We got change. But they`re looking for something different than what they have. And you know, Bernie Sanders is not going to end up being the standard. But certainly, he and I are getting by far the biggest crowds. I mean, look at the crowd tonight. Other people have 51 people, 54 people. We have 2,400 people and a thousand people or more than that are standing outside listening to microphones, so -- and loudspeakers. So we have -- you know, we`ve had tremendous -- we`ve had tremendous crowds. I had 15,000 in Phoenix. We`ve had -- you know, every crowd is a record crowd. Every crowd is totally sold out. And he`s done the same thing on the other side with a very different philosophy, to put it mildly. QUESTION: Mr. Trump? Rand Paul has come out with this ad that sort of strings together comments about (INAUDIBLE) health care and single-payer health care, supporting Hillary Clinton (INAUDIBLE) How concerned are you - - you said your positions have evolved, but how concerned are you that people... TRUMP: I don`t think so. Look, I built a net worth of more than $10 billion. I`ve been a world-class businessman. All over the world, I build. I have some of the great assets of the world. And that`s -- I don`t say that in a bragadocious way. That`s the thinking that our country needs to take our jobs back from China and Japan and Mexico and clean up the border, by the way, speaking of Mexico. But that`s the kind of thinking we need to take back our jobs, bring back our money, bring back our manufacturing. You take a look at China, what they`ve done. They`ve taken our money, our jobs, our base, our manufacturing, and we owe them $1.4 trillion. That`s like a magic act. They`ve taken everything, and we owe them money. You know, we owe right now China $1.4 trillion. I`m telling you, it`s like a magic act! How do they -- they get everything, and we owe them money, not the other way around because we`re led by people that don`t have a clue. Honestly, I think we`re led by stupid people. I don`t thing they`re bad people. You know, it used to be they said it`s so bad, it has to be that they`re bad people. I actually don`t think -- I think they`re very stupid people. Our leaders don`t have a clue. They`re incompetent. And China is a great example. I met with Carl Icahn, one of the great businesspeople, and I had dinner with him two nights ago. And I said, Carl, If I do this, I`m going to put you in charge of China and I`m going to add in Japan. And you know what? Everything`s going to be just fine for us. Going to be just fine. We have people negotiating for us that don`t have -- they have no idea what they`re doing. They`re not even businesspeople. And remember this. Bush and Hillary and all these people, they have a lot of money. They raised a lot of money from my friends. I used to be one of them. I contribute to everybody. And they`re always there for me.   But that`s not good for the country. That`s not good as a system. But Jeb has raised $114 million, approximately. Everybody that puts money up for Jeb Bush -- it`s like he`s a puppet. He`s totally controlled by these people. Jeb Bush is controlled by the people that put up the money, and so are the other candidates. I don`t want money from people, other than small donations because I have so many people writing -- one woman sent $7. Another one sent $20. I love that where they invest in my campaign. They invest. I don`t want that for the money. I want that because, psychologically, I think it`s great. But Jeb Bush has $114 million. What`s he going to do with it? He`ll start hitting me with ads, I guess. You know, at some point, he`s got to because he`s going down the tubes. The guy`s going down the tubes. There`s no energy. So when Jeb and Hillary and all of these other candidates start spending money, remember this. That money was given by people that have total control over them. And those people, many of whom I know very well, they don`t care about him. They don`t care about the color of his hair. They don`t care anything about him. And they don`t care about the country, in many cases. They only want whatever they want. And they`ll get plenty. Yes, sir. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) TRUMP: Yes. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... we don`t know who they are. Would you call on Jeb Bush to have his PAC release the names of the donors? TRUMP: They should release the names of the donors. I think we should be much more open -- talking about campaign finance. I think we should be much more open. If somebody contributes a lot of money, we should know who those people are. (CROSSTALK)   QUESTION: ... Citizens United, did you think that was a bad decision, or did you agree with it? TRUMP: Well, it`s not a great decision for me. And they`re friends of mine, David Bossie -- they`re friends of mine -- because I`m putting up my own money. So here you have other people putting up money into other campaigns where they`ll have total control, 100 percent, Katy (ph), they will have control of those people that are running for office. One of the reasons I`ve done so well in the polls is because everyone knows I`m not going to be controlled. I`m going to do what`s right for the country. No lobbyists. I have all these -- they -- I know them all. I`ve hired many of them over the years. They`re very good. But when they give a million dollars or $5 million to Jeb Bush, they have total control over him. He will do, like a puppet, whatever they say. With me, there`s none of that. QUESTION: So would you push for legislation to change that or make stronger rules? TRUMP: I love the idea of campaign finance reform. And one of the things you should do is everybody should be known. If somebody gives a million or $2 million or $5 million, it should be known. And I will tell you this nonsense with PACs, where they have millions of dollars raised, $100 million raised, and they don`t coordinate with the other people -- I mean, Bush puts his best friend in there. They don`t talk. You`re not allowed to talk. Do you really believe that that doesn`t happen, OK? They`re not allowed to talk, OK? They play golf on Saturday, but they don`t talk about the $100 million and where they`re going to invest. Come on, we`re not babies. It`s a shame. It`s a disgrace. And what I would like to see is if you put money up, you can put money into either or both, do whatever you want, but there has to be transparency. You have to know where the money`s coming from, and that would help. QUESTION: What about limits to... (CROSSTALK)   TRUMP: Limits OK. QUESTION: What about Al Gore running? Have you heard about that? QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: I would love to have -- I think the concept of a woman running with me would be fabulous. Too soon to say. QUESTION: Carly Fiorina? TRUMP: It`s too soon to say. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Al Gore and Joe Biden? TRUMP: Well, I think that they`ll be probably involved at some point because there`s a lot of pressure on Hillary right now. It`s been brutal. It`s been brutal for Hillary. And I think at some point, she`s perhaps not going be able to run. She`s going to have to end her campaign. That seems to be the thinking by so many. And I was saying that two months ago, and everyone thought, What are you -- you know, not right. But it looks to me what they`ve done -- this is top secret stuff. Look, General Petraeus, his life was destroyed with a tiny fraction of what she`s done. So it`s very unfair to him if they`re going to destroy him over doing by comparison nothing. I don`t see how she can run. I think she`s got much bigger problems than running for office. Yes, ma`am.   QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) how much longer? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s last question. TRUMP: OK. Last question. (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: We`ll do -- we`ll do two more questions. Go ahead. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) giving these donations is bad for the country. Does that mean when you were giving these donations to the politicians, you were doing something bad to the country? TRUMP: No, I don`t think donations, when people don`t know who`s donating, are good. I think the concept of donations should be -- people should know who they are and who`s contributing. I would rather see that. Don`t forget, while I`m friends with Citizens United and I like them and I like David Bossie, who`s head of it all -- I love him. I think he`s a great guy. But to me, that doesn`t help me because I`m spending my own money, OK? So on a personal basis, I don`t love it. I think there should be better transparency. And I think when the money comes in, you should use the money to do what you want because that`s what they do anyway. Everybody does it, unfortunately -- not us because I`m not doing it -- but these candidates are doing it illegally because they`re telling the people that are running the PACs exactly what to do. And if anybody thinks they`re not, they`re children. QUESTION: You`re headed to the Iowa State Fair next week... TRUMP: I`ll be -- yes, I`ll be doing jury duty. Can you believe I`ll be doing jury duty on Monday morning. I knew you`d ask me that question, Candy (ph). I will be doing jury duty on Monday morning in New York City.   QUESTION: Criminal court or district court? TRUMP: I don`t know. It`s one of the courts. QUESTION: Are you looking forward to it? TRUMP: Yes, I`m looking forward to it. I think it`s fine. QUESTION: Mr. Trump, regarding specifics on policy, why not have that stuff (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: It`s going to be rolled out soon. Thank you very much. I will see you. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) free helicopter rides? TRUMP: I don`t know. Are we giving helicopter rides? I think so. I hope so -- to the kids. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)   TRUMP: Well, I don`t think it`s going to be Hillary, but we`re going to find out pretty soon. OK? Thank you. STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: All right, good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews tonight, in New York. You`ve been listening there to Donald Trump speaking to reports before he kicks off a rally in New Hampshire and hits the road for a big event out in Iowa. This was a vintage Trump performance you just watched. He made it a point to rip into Rand Paul. He`s been on the attack against him lately. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Rand Paul, you have to understand, is a disaster in the polls. He`s a disaster on military and defense. He`s getting decimated by everybody. He is doing so badly that he figured he has to go out and attack Trump because I`m leading by a lot everywhere. And I don`t mind. I think he`s -- he`s never going to make it. Never going to make it. Can`t make it. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Matt Schlapp is a former political director to President Bush and the chairman of the American Conservative Union. John Stanton is the Washington bureau chief at Buzzfeed. And Kristen Welker is NBC News White House correspondent. Well, Matt, let me start with you. I mean -- and I don`t know where to start exactly in this press conference. We have the clip there of him attacking Rand Paul. He also bluntly attacked Jeb Bush. I got some of this written down. He called Jeb Bush a "puppet" at one point. He said the last thing we need right now is another Bush. He said that Jeb Bush is totally controlled by his donors. These attacks from Trump -- we`ve seen so far when the other candidates attack Trump, it`s not helping them. What happens in the minds of Republican voters when they hear Donald Trump attacking these candidates? Is it more effective? MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Look, he`s connecting. He is seen as someone who`s going to -- telling it like it is. He says the things in front of a camera that a lot of people are afraid to say and say behind the camera. And there`s an authenticity to it that I think Republican primary voters are definitely connecting to.   KORNACKI: Yes, you know, John, one thing that really jumped out at me in this, too, was the attack on Rand Paul. One of the things that Donald Trump said was that this is not the time to be weak on defense. and Donald Trump said that after he attacked and called a mistake the Iraq war. And it`s fascinating to me because the only voice in the Republican Party for the last decade or so that`s really been raising doubts about and criticisms of Iraq has been Rand Paul, has been his father, Ron Paul, making sort of the isolationist argument against Iraq. Now you have Donald Trump, who`s making more of the sort of muscular military strength argument against Iraq. We haven`t really heard this on the Republican side before, have we? JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: Well, I think he`s (INAUDIBLE) sort of doing the same kind of thing he does with his own personal bluster, right? I mean, he`s saying we shouldn`t have gone into Iraq, we shouldn`t be involved that much in Ukraine, we should -- but we should have this really huge military that`s going to scare the hell out of everybody on earth, right? And so I think that`s -- that`s -- It actually is a little bit consistent with his sort of personal philosophy of, like, be really loud and boisterous, and you know, sort of push people around a little bit and throw your weight around. And that`s kind of, it sounds like, what his foreign policy would be, I guess. I mean, that`s what it sounds like. KORNACKI: Well, the question I -- the thought I have when I`m watching it is, how does that resonate with Republicans? Because what we saw -- what we`ve seen with Rand Paul, what we`ve seen with Ron Paul, when they attack George W. Bush and the decision to go into Iraq and that war, is they`re basically branded as traitors to the cause, traitors to the Republican Party. They`re marginalized. They get their 10, 15, 20 percent, whatever it is. They never climb any higher than that Here`s Donald Trump saying this in a very different way, where he`s saying -- he`s basically saying what they believe about Rand Paul. He`s calling him all sorts of names. He`s saying he`s way out there. He`s saying he`s weak on defense. But he seems to be offering Republicans a way to distance themselves from the Iraq war without necessarily being branded as traitors to the cause. KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s right. And I think that that is one of the reasons that he is gaining so much traction. And just taking that point a little bit further, what really stood out to me, Steve, is the fact that he said, I`m going to get along with Putin. I think Germany should be pressing Russia to get out of Ukraine. I mean, I am going to be fascinated to see how the broader Republican Party responds to that because if you`ll recall, a lot of Republicans have said President Obama should be tougher on Putin in terms of pressing him to get out of Ukraine. So that`s something that could potentially alienate some Republican voters. Look, I`ve been talking to Republican strategists. They say they want the Republican candidates to get their Donald Trump on. And what that means is to find that authentic part of themselves to translate the message they want to get out so that they can get into this conversation. SCHLAPP: Yes, that`s right.   KORNACKI: Yes, I mean, Matt, is that possible even, though, when we`re dealing with -- these guys are professional politicians. SCHLAPP: Right. KORNACKI: And Trump is just absolutely -- like, Jeb Bush, he says, look, the guy`s raised $114 million. Do you really think that these people plopping down tens of millions of dollars aren`t going to have real control over this politician who has taken all their money? How can they show that authentic side when Trump is the sort of point of comparison? SCHLAPP: Look, the fact is, is that Donald Trump is going after his adversaries for this nomination. This is all fair game. And I think this is exactly right. Initially, a lot of these candidates thought they could just lampoon Donald Trump and they could marginalize him and make fun of him. And now they`re imitating him, because when you see polls of him getting anywhere from 10 to upwards to 30 percent in these polls, they`re realizing he`s really resonating with people. When people make fun of Donald Trump or try to marginalize him, they`re actually making fun of voters and they`re marginalizing voters. That`s a stupid thing for a Republican to do in this nominating process. The fact is Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, add up how well they`re doing in all these polls, and it`s a blistering message coming through from Republican primary voters. Washington is broken. They want to try new candidates. They`re ready for a whole new way to approach this. KORNACKI: Absolutely. That is so striking. You add up all those outsiders who are performing so well and you think back to how the stage was set for this campaign. Originally, all the talk was, you got Scott Walker, a governor, you got Marco Rubio, a senator, you got Jeb Bush, a former governor. These are going to be the stars of the field. That`s not where the energy is right now. That`s clear. Kristen Welker, I understand you have got to run. Thank you for joining us, though, tonight. I really appreciate that. WELKER: Thank you, Steve. Appreciate it.   And, of course, the question is, what can stop Donald Trump? Because nothing has so far. We`re not kidding you here. Trump confirmed that he`s been summoned for jury duty in Manhattan. He confirmed that at his press conference just a minute ago. He reports on Monday. By the way, on the side of your screen there, what you`re looking at is an event that Donald Trump is about to speak at next door to where that press conference was held. And while we await that, NBC`s Katy Tur joins us now from that campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire. She was in that press conference. You could hear her asking the Donald a number of questions there. So, Katy, let me ask you. You have interviewed him. You have been watching him in these settings. I have really noticed, two press conferences he`s given this week, this guy is feeling more relaxed and more confident. And that`s saying something, because this is a guy who never lacks for self-confidence. KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: No, he doesn`t lack for any self- confidence. You can see when he doesn`t like a question. I don`t think he particularly liked the Cuba question that I posed to him early on, whether or not he agrees with President Obama opening the doors once again to Cuba. His answer was a Trump answer. We need to make a better deal. The deal was awful. I would make a better deal. How would you make a better deal? And then he doesn`t say specifically. But as the pressers go on or his words go on, when people start asking him questions that he knows he can riff a little longer on, you see him start to warm up, certainly with the questions on Rand Paul, and he`s able to denigrate Rand Paul and say how terrible he is doing in the polls. The question about Boston`s mayor asking him to do the ice bucket challenge, and then saying the Boston mayor needs to do find something better to do with his time, including some other language that I won`t repeat. And you could see that he enjoys that stuff. He enjoys talking about campaign finance reform. I think it`s interesting that he is for campaign finance reform, considering that he`s given so much money in the past. He says that he wants it to be very open, that people should know who is giving what money and how. And I think a lot of people think that that`s a correct thing to do, and they see the hypocrisy and the ludicrousness of the idea that this major corporation or this donor is giving a ton of money to a super PAC, but yet they can`t speak to the candidate. But he was mentioning how they were golfing together and not speaking. I think there`s a lot of people in the population who see that as something that doesn`t quite connect. And they are seeing the other candidates as people who are beholden to special interests. So, in that way, I think he`s really connecting to a lot of voters.   And certainly the voters I was speaking to out here said that that really resonates with them. But when I have asked them if they have already decided that they want to vote for Trump, a lot of them here in New Hampshire say they aren`t quite sure yet. They want to hear what they say. They want to hear more policy specifics. The New Hampshirans are very used to candidates coming here and having more intimate gatherings and talking to them one on one and getting their ideas and being specific with policy issues. He hasn`t yet done that. I have asked, do they trust that he will be able to do it? They do want to hear more details, but they`re optimistic that he is going to have some good ideas. KORNACKI: Yes. That point you make there about how he talked about Jeb Bush, the money, the super PAC, all those technicalities, all I`m thinking of there is, for the first few months of this year, when Jeb Bush had not formally declared his candidacy, every event he went to, he was reading this, like, legalese, fine print. And he had to say it in public. I`m considering the possibility that I might have a full-fledged campaign for president. All of this was to fulfill those sort of super PAC fund-raising fake barrier issues that are raised legally. And you got a guy like Trump up there, and it just sounds he is stripping away all the artifice, all the phoniness from this. I can definitely see the appeal of that to people who are just sick of politics. Anyway, Katy Tur, thank you for that. We`re standing by here waiting for Donald Trump to arrive in that auditorium you`re seeing on the left-hand side of your screen in Hampton, New Hampshire. We will have it for you as soon as he appears. We`re going to sneak in a quick break here, again, waiting for Donald Trump. Back right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: All right. Here`s Donald Trump. He`s live in Hampton, New Hampshire. (JOINED IN PROGRESS)   DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m going to make the people outside angry, but they love me and I love them. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: We have over 1,000 people outside. We have hundreds of people in the second auditorium, but you people got the good real estate. Right? (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: You got the good real estate. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: So this is has been an amazing period of time. I know it`s very early, but the polls have been through the roof, every one of them, every one of them. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Because -- and I don`t know if it`s for me or if it`s for the message, or maybe it`s a combination of both, but, you know, I brought back a term that hasn`t been used in a long time. It`s called the silent majority. There`s a tremendous silent majority that politicians have taken advantage of. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)   TRUMP: I mean, they have taken advantage of the people of this country long enough. They`re largely incompetent, except when it comes to getting reelected. That`s what they do. And, look, who knows them better than me? I have contributed to everybody. And who knows them better than me? They`re great at one thing, don`t make any waves, get reelected, serve it out, then get reelected again. And I see it all the time. I have been watching it for so many years, and I personally am sick and tired of it. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: So, backstage, I met some of the vets, the greatest people we have in this country. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And they have been mistreated. They have been treated like third-class citizens, and it`s going to stop. It`s going to stop. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: You look at these senators and the congressmen. They ride around. They`re like kings. They think, great, oh, isn`t it great? They come, they make speeches. Nothing ever happens. So, two weeks ago, on Wednesday, they had the longest waits in reception rooms and reception areas in the history of the Veterans Administration, people waiting three days, four days, five days to see a doctor, to see a doctor. So we are going to straighten -- that`s called management. It`s called management. That`s all it is.   (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: The military is going to be so strong in this country that nobody is going to mess around with the United States. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: That, I can tell you. That, I can tell you. Nobody. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: You know, over the last few weeks, Jeb Bush, in favor of Common Core, weak on immigration, not good on military... (BOOING) TRUMP: ... can you believe thought the Iraq War was a good thing? I mean, you can make a mistake. I was against it for a long time. I`m the most militaristic person in this room, but you have to know when to use it. You have to know when to use it. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Think about it. We spend $2 trillion in Iraq.   And, by the way, China`s taking out a lot of the oil, just so you understand. Is may have it and Iran may have it, but China`s taking out a lot of the oil. Can you imagine? We spend -- we never do anything right with China. We spend $2 trillion, thousands of lives of great people, mostly great young, beautiful people, wounded warriors who I love all over the place, all over the place, not treated properly, by the way. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And we have nothing. And Iran is taking over Iraq. And the parts that they want to give up, they`re giving oil to ISIS. So ISIS has the oil. And you remember when I said you shouldn`t go in? And, in fact, just check it. Reuters wrote an article, big article, in 2004 that, Trump, don`t go in because you`re going to ruin the balance. You had Iran and Iraq, they were the same, they were twins. They`d have wars for years, wars, boom, one goes this way, one goes that way, one -- and I said, if you take out one, the other one`s going the take over. Well, we took out one, and look at the mess we have. We have destabilized the Middle East, and it`s a mess. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And Jeb Bush couldn`t -- he didn`t know the difference. He couldn`t answer a question, was Iraq a good thing or a bad thing? It`s all right to say they made a mistake. Finally, after going to his pollster, who he pays a fortune to, by the way, after five days, he said it was a bad thing. OK. So, let`s accept that. That`s OK. Then, the other day, I`m watching, yesterday, and he`s saying, well, we got Saddam Hussein out, didn`t we? I mean, I`m not a fan of Saddam Hussein, but he ran the place. And he had no weapons of mass destruction. And now, instead of Saddam Hussein, we have far more brutal. We have ISIS. And we will have Iran, because they`re already making deals. Two weeks ago, I read where the leaders of Iraq are visiting the leaders of Iran. What did we get out of this now? What did we get? We have stupid leadership. Now, if you remember, so I didn`t want to go in. I was right.   (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: I didn`t want to go in. I was right. But then we were in. And it was bad. And there was still bombings and all, but it was bad. But we`re in. And at some point, we have to go out. Right? And we can`t stay there forever. We have to rebuild this country. We have to rebuild our country. We have to. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Our bridges are falling apart. Our roads are a mess. Our schools, our highways, everything, it`s a mess. Our -- and who`s better at infrastructure than Trump, OK? OK? (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: So look, at some point, we have to get out. They talked about the surge, the surge. Remember Bush`s brother? He said, the war is over. We have taken over. You know, like two days later, it was a disaster. Now, Obama said it with Yemen. He announced Yemen was a total victory. And then, like three months later, it was like a disaster. And we don`t have Yemen. We don`t have anything. We send over to our allies, if you call them that -- they don`t even know what they are. There`s no word for them, OK? Iraq isn`t even a country. Iraq is a bunch of corrupt people that sort of string something together. It`s not a country. But we send over to our allies 2,500 Humvees. So when I heard 2,500, I thought it was a typo in "The New York Times." I said, they mean 25. They mean two-and-a-half.   (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: They mean 250 maybe. That`s a lot. So these are 2,500 Humvees, armor-plated all over, so when the bombs go off, you don`t lose your legs and you don`t lose your life and you don`t lose your arms, really great vehicles. One shot is fired, and these guys run away and the enemy picks up 2,500. Now, think of it, think of it. So, we need the right thinking. And I said -- and some people said, what a terrible statement he made, because when we had to leave, we had to leave. You can talk about the surge you got, but at some point, we have to leave. We can`t stay there forever. And if we`d loosen up some of these ridiculous rules, we have so much oil under our own feet. We don`t need them anymore for those things because of new technologies. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: New technology. So we`re going to leave. And I say, leave. Like, take the oil. Do you remember that? Did anyone ever hear that -- me saying that? I`m saying it all the time. I have been saying it for years. Take the oil. And I watch these guys on television, political people. Many of them are with the administration. And I think they mean well. But they don`t have a clue. They`d say, isn`t that silly? Mr. Trump says take the oil. Well, you know who has the oil now? Iran. ISIS. Everybody has it but us. We`re the only ones without the oil. It`s hard to believe. We need General Douglas MacArthur, who -- I thought he was great. You know, to this day, the highest academic record -- I`m big into school and academics. I love it. I went to the greatest school. You have to be really smart to get into that school, the Wharton School of Finance.   (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: But -- you have got to be really smart. And that was before I was Trump, you know? That was before I was Trump. But you have to be really smart. That`s like the hardest one. But, you know -- even then, by the way. But General Douglas MacArthur, to this day, was the greatest student in the history of West Point. Plus, he had the look. He had the whole deal. He was a general. I don`t see it now so much. I don`t want to knock any of the generals, but I will see some of these guys come on. Can we defeat ISIS? "I don`t think so." (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: You know, I don`t want to use names, but he`s sort of retiring, this guy. Then you have general George Patton. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: So do you think, General Patton, when President Obama -- remember, not so long ago, he said we`re going to attack a certain city? And he said, in two weeks, we`re going to attack this city, and we`re going to attack it from the front. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: And we`re going to use drones and we`re going to use this.   Now, in the meantime, the enemy`s saying, huh, bing, bing -- and it was brutal. It turned out to be a brutal situation. And I said, you know, that`s great. That`s camouflage. What a smart thing he`s doing, because he`s probably going to do the opposite. Well, in two weeks, we attacked. We attacked from the -- it was the craziest thing I have ever seen. And it was a terrible -- something that should have taken 24 hours was like months. And I said, I wonder what General MacArthur and General Patton, just to name two of the great ones, are doing right now in their grave? You know what they`re doing? Spinning. They`re spinning. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: They`re saying, I don`t believe it. I don`t believe it. So we have such a great country, but we have gone down so far. China yesterday -- I`m big for the world of financial. And I tell you what. CNN did a poll. And I was through the roof on the economy. I was like really high. I have to be exactly accurate, because, otherwise, they will have a front-page story that Donald Trump gave false -- but, I mean, I was many times number two. I was through the roof on leadership. That`s a pretty important subject, right, leadership. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: I killed everybody on leadership. Right? I did great on the military. And I actually think the military would be just as good as the economic for me, personally. I think I would be good on -- oh, would I be tough? Oh, these poor people. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: I would be creating things, and nobody would be playing with us, nobody, nobody.   (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And I don`t necessarily... KORNACKI: All right. We`ve been listening to Donald Trump up there in Hampton, New Hampshire, talking to a rally. This after he gave another press conference next door. Trump spoke with reporters right before he took the stage. It was a vintage Trump performance, both the press conference and the speech you`re listening to right now. He slammed Jeb Bush on the subject of Iraq, went after Rand Paul. Listen to some of the things he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Was it worth it? We have nothing over there. His brother made a horrible decision and President Obama made a horrible decision the way he left, and when he left he should have taken the oil. I heard Jeb Bush talking about it. First of all, took him five days before he could give an answer. After the pollsters told him what to say, he said it was bad. Now he`s trying to backtrack probably because his brother said, wait a minute. You`re killing me. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And Trump also delivered a warning shot to Rand Paul`s campaign, specifically saying that Paul`s attacks on Trump will doom the Paul campaign. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   TRUMP: I`ve been attacked now by Perry of Texas, and he went being like a rocket ship except in the wrong direction. I was attacked by Lindsey Graham, and he had two points. Now, he has zero. Now, Rand Paul has very few points, but I think he`s going down, too. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And even went off on the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has challenged you to take the ice bucket challenge. Is that something you`ll do? TRUMP: Look, he`s a clown, Marty Walsh. I don`t even know who he is. This guy, Marty Walsh, he spends all this time and effort and money on an Olympic bid, and then he goes out and talking about ice bucket challenges. Get a real mayor. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: All right. Michelle Bernard is president of the Bernard Center, Richard Fowler is a radio talk show host, Liz Mair is a Republican strategist. Well, Michelle, let me start with you. I mean, I was watching that right there, and, honestly, I`m thinking this is why Trump is doing so well in the polls. This is why he`s such a threat to these other Republican candidates right now because listen to him talk about Iraq. Listen to him talk about the relationship between these candidates and these million dollar donors. He is saying things that people at a commonsense level start nodding their heads at. Things the other candidates can`t say or don`t think it`s safe for them to say politically. MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER: Absolutely. I sat -- I was watching the press conference as someone who actually thought after the Megyn Kelly incident that Donald Trump would once again be toast. And what was scary but interesting to listen to him tonight in both the press conference and the speech he`s giving is that he absolutely makes sense.   And there is a method to the madness, the way he was attacking Bush. If you listen to people in polls who are asked what it is they like about Donald Trump, they keep saying the same thing over and over again. He says it like it is. He says it real. He said things that I think but I can`t say. And so, when he attacks Bush and the others`, quote/unquote, "establishment Republicans" who are also running for president, he`s really showing the American public what he believes is wrong with establishment politics. And tonight, he absolutely made sense on every single statement he made. KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, Liz, I got to say, I`m listening to him specifically on Iraq. I think he`s got turf here on the Republican side that no other candidate has claimed or maybe can claim. It`s the turf where they don`t thing Iraq was a good thing and they don`t like Rand Paul. They don`t like the idea that Rand Paul is dovish, that he`s non- interventionist. Trump is saying to those voters out there, he`s saying, look, we can still throw our weight around in the world. We can still bully other countries, but we`ve got to say, Iraq wasn`t the right war. And I haven`t seen any other mainstream Republican stand up -- the only ones who stand up and say that are the Rand Paul types. LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. I think he definitely is saying things that are going to be somewhat appealing to people who take a close look at Rand Paul. I think my analysis of why he may be doing better with those people than Rand is, is a little different. I think Rand has done some things that to some of his supporters have read is a little bit confusing in terms of his philosophy where Trump seems extremely clear-cut and you know what he`s saying. And I think, you know, that`s a fundamental issue that a lot of politicians have. They do have a hard time saying things with clarity and definition and easy to understand terms. And I think Trump obviously doesn`t have that problem to the same degree. And that is perhaps why he`s doing better. But I would also just make the point that watching that press conference, I think it`s pretty clear that Trump knows he took a beating after that debate and his performance wasn`t the way it needed to be and the way he handled the Megyn Kelly situation was very, very bad. I think when you watch his press conference tonight, he seemed much more polish, much more substantive. I don`t agree with everything that he said, but he sounded more credible to me than he has to date. (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: He was the infrastructure president tonight. KORNACKI: There was a moment where he was actually dropping information about the heroin problem in New Hampshire saying, oh, by the way, per capita -- Richard, do you think I`ve got to say, I`m sitting there and I`m watching this tonight, I`m saying, in front of our own eyes we`re watching him become a real front-runner.   RICHARD FOWLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that`s it, Chris. I think watching beyond him become a real frontrunner, watching him become more and more presidential. Every time he steps to the mike, he`s able to sort of re-create himself. All the Republican candidates are fighting for one pie and Donald Trump is just baking more pies. It`s almost -- it`s phenomenal to watch as sort of a political insider and to watch him continue to bake more pies, continue to change the game up. Every Republican candidate tonight and every campaign manager is scratching their head thinking about what are we going to do to make our candidate stand out in the new world of Donald Trump. KORNACKI: All right. The panel is sticking with me. We`re going to be right back with much more HARDBALL, much more Trump, right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We`ve been bringing you live coverage of Donald Trump`s campaign rally up there in Hampton, New Hampshire. And NBC`s Katy Tur joins us now from outside that rally. So, Katy, obviously, the speech still going on, but the thing I was so struck by that really stands out from me from what he heard so far is what is said about Iraq. I mean, he didn`t just say he`d been against the Iraq war. That was an extended and blunt denunciation of the Iraq war. And I`m sitting there saying, there`s been an opening for a Republican, a major mainstream Republican for years now to say what he`s saying and none of them have taken it. I guess out of deference to the Bushes, out of deference to the fact that Republicans a decade ago were for this war. But he`s making the hawk`s case to say Iraq was a bad thing. I think he`s got a lot of room to run with that. KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think what`s surprising is you don`t hear Republicans say that the Iraq war was a mistake or say that Bush was wrong to come out and say mission accomplished, before things really started heating up.   There was a lot of placing the blame on the Obama administration after that or placing the blame on other parties. And you didn`t -- you haven`t seen very many Republicans come out and say, this was a bad idea. And Trump is doing that. And I think it`s surprising that he`s speaking to so many people. And I think it`s probably surprising for some in the Republican Party that he`s getting a big reaction from those words, that this was wrong, it wasn`t a good idea. It wasn`t a war that we should have gone into. And people agree with that. They think that -- they think that he`s going to be really strong with the military. When he says, I`m going to be very strong and I`m going to cut ISIS off in the oil, I asked them, do you trust him? He doesn`t have any military experience. And they wide-eyed say, yes, we do trust him. And that`s because I think that he`s just such a convincing personality and larger than life. And there is this whole trend right now going on in America towards reality stars and the worshiping of reality stars, and I think this is almost that taken to the extreme. But he is, frankly, a good businessman. He wasn`t born -- he was born into it, in some ways. He was given a lot of money by his father to start things. But he has certainly made that money -- doubled it, tripled it, billioned it, and done a good jobs since then, and they see him as sort of a role model, somebody that they can look up to, somebody that they can aspire to be. He`s like the cool guy or the guy who made a lot of money and now can`t stop talking about how cool it is. And that`s really resonating. So, when he comes out and talks about the Iraq war in such blunt words, people feel like he`s being honest and he`s not double speaking, he`s not twisting it around, he`s not placing the blame somewhere else. And I think that they`re really reacting to that. And you hear big cheers from these crowds wherever he brings up the military and ISIS. And those words he just talked about with Saddam Hussein were actually pretty surprising. KORNACKI: Yes. No, I mean, Katy, it`s an interesting observation from the voters up there. I mean, that`s where I picture Republican voters, average Republican voters sitting around the kitchen table talking about this stuff. They don`t like Obama, they don`t like Obama`s foreign policy but they look back at Iraq and they don`t know why we went there. And there`s no Republican who`s not a Rand Paul, Ron Paul noninterventionist out there saying it and here`s Donald Trump saying it. Really interesting. NBC`s Katy Tur, thanks for joining us. And up next, back with my panel. Much more on Donald Trump. His next stop after New Hampshire, Iowa and also an appearance on "Meet the Press."   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Well, they`re looking for real change. Obama said they`re looking for change, and, oy, look what we got. We got change. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And welcome back to HARDBALL. Back now with our roundtable, Michelle Bernard, Richard Fowler, Liz Mair. Liz, you were making a point earlier that I thought was really interesting, saying that you thought Trump had learned lessons that were evident in his performance tonight from that debate that he was a little more polished, a little bit more prepared, dropped in some policy details. We`re talking about this sort of evolution from a front runner, everybody thinks is a fleeting blip into maybe, maybe a real front runner. Do you think with that sort of new Trump you`re talking about, do you think we could start to see some Republican establishment figures actually coming on board with this guy? MAIR: I suspect that that`s probably quite a ways off. And he would have to do quite a bit more work to get to that point. But I do think that this particular performance and the context of this press conference is something that definitely ups the game for some of the candidates out there. They`re not just necessarily going to be able to treat him as a pure comedy figure and they are actually now in a position where he`s bringing some substance to the table. You know, I don`t necessarily agree with all of it, but he is, and they`re going to probably have to engage with him on a bit of that.   KORNACKI: Yes, you know, Michelle, I guess there`s a risk in that for Donald Trump. I mean, everybody`s saying, when`s he going to start doing policy specifics, he said at the end of this press conference tonight, soon. But I guess when you`re Donald Trump and you have risen this far in the polls by being the anti-politician, by sounding like a politician no one`s ever heard before, the more you get into footing out these policy plans, the more you maybe starts speaking like, speaking like a lawyer, speaking like somebody who has all this fine print they have to get out there, sounding like a politician. BERNARD: Well, as a lawyer, I will not take offense at that little dig. (LAUGHTER) MAIR: Me either. BERNARD: But you`re absolutely right. You know, I got to tell you, Chris, I also think that tonight Trump was not just appealing to the Republican base that is angry and wants change, I think he was quite appealing or possibly quite appealing to independents and Democrats. We definitely saw a new Donald Trump tonight. Not the Trump we saw after the debate. What I`m still watching for with Mr. Trump is how he`s going to do with women. I think that, you know, we would be remiss if we were to ignore the fact that we have a gender gap and the women`s vote in both parties is absolutely the penultimate. Last week, what happened with Megyn Kelly was I think an atrocity. He did better tonight. But, you know, I made note of the fact during the press conference that he said basically under a Donald Trump presidency, he`s going to take care of women. KORNACKI: Right. BERNARD: And the first thing I thought is, women don`t want to be taken care of, women, whether they are red state or blue state feminists, conservative, liberal, independent or whatever. Women don`t want to be taken care of, they want to be taken seriously. KORNACKI: Right. BERNARD: They want to earn the same amount of money for the jobs that they do. And so, what I am looking for is to see the evolution of Donald Trump on, quote/unquote, "women`s issues". And I say that as one who believes that all issues are women`s issues. But I want to see Donald Trump address the issues that are important to women.   KORNACKI: All right. Richard, quickly, we have about 30 seconds, but the question we`ve been asking for now, what would it actually take to take down Donald Trump? FOWLER: I think it`s going to take a lot of campaign spending, a lot of negative advertising, and I even think when that happens, he`s going to still manage to rise above the fray on this one. I mean, listen to this speech. He talks about campaign finance reform, infrastructure investment. These are the things that the American people are looking for. And I think that is a problem that all -- that`s why the Republican candidates are in big trouble with Donald Trump. I`ve got to tell you. KORNACKI: Yes, no. I mean, look, three times now, I think people have said, this is it. This is the last line, Donald Trump`s crossed it, has not happened yet. Michelle, Richard, Liz, thank you all for joining us tonight. Really appreciate that. That is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Chris Matthews is going to be back here on Monday night. And "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>