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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 08/21/15

Guests: Rick Santorum, April Ryan, Jason Johnson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Friday night lights. Can Trump fill all the seats? Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. So what do you make of this thing, this Trump thing out there? Is it a moment, a flash in the pan, or has he got something, something that will last right into the electoral battle for the presidency? Well, let me read you something from my brother, Charlie (ph). I`ve told you about him many times before. He`s my brother, who`s had a lifetime uncanny ability to pick presidential winners. Who he votes for wins. Well, this is what he wrote me early today, and I take it very seriously. Quote, "Trump has energized the middle. The middle is where every winner wins. The idiots who think that the far right and the far left have to be kowtowed to are wrong. He`s talking to people like me, and we love it. We are not idiots and realize this may be a fairy tale, but he`s not stuck in the Washington crowd who most of us Republicans known as RINOs hate." That`s moderate Republicans. "We hate the logjams the Republican Party creates. We hated the last two elections as the candidates sucked." That`s my brother talking. "The VP selections were awful" -- that was Sarah Palin and the rest -- "flat-out unelectable. We voted for Obama, who has in all accounts been much better than the choices we had, but he still missed the mark on a lot of stuff. Much better than Bush and the VP, of course" -- that`s Cheney, who came before, "who do not speak his name in or out of Hogwarts." That`s my brother talking. So within the hour now, Donald Trump`s expected to take the stage for a campaign rally in Alabama in front of about -- well, I think precisely 36,000 people, which is an unusual crowd for any sport, certainly the sport of politics. Anyway, he also will be holding a press conference with reporters. We`ll take you to that event live as soon as we can get you to it, soon as it starts. NBC`s Katy Tur is on the site in Mobile, Alabama. First of all, what`s the temperature down there? It`s beautiful here in D.C. It is a hot summer sultry -- what do you call it -- well, never mind. What do you call it down there?   KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Sweltering. MATTHEWS: What`s the nickname for it down there? TUR: Sweltering. Oppressive. MATTHEWS: Redneck Riviera. Yes, go ahead. TUR: Sweltering, oppressive, humid, Mickey Mouse (ph). It`s a little cooler now, thank you. I think it`s going to -- it might threaten to rain at some point tonight, but so far, it`s held off. 90 degrees today, pretty awful and muggy. But people are still coming out. They`re lined up. They`re filing in right now. And it looks like he`s going potentially to fill this stadium although, there is a long way to go. And he`s just done a flyby in his Trump 757, Chris. MATTHEWS: Are there any black people there? TUR: I have not seen any today that have come out for Donald Trump. I just spoke -- I spoke with a lot of people at lunch today, and they were all, to be blunt, Caucasian white people who expressed support. The others did not. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the airplane. I heard there was a flyover, and a lighter moment. There it is. TUR: Yes, there was. He -- yes, exactly. He did his 757 flyby to the crowd. They announced it, and there were some pretty big cheers. You have to admit, he does like to make an entrance. Chris, I really loved that letter from your brother, and I think that`s going to resonate with a lot of people because that`s what I`m getting when I`m talking to people in the seven states that I`ve been to him with -- been with -- with him to. Also, when I`m flying over a number of the other states, sitting next to people on planes, asking me what they do, I`m telling them I`m following Trump.   And otherwise people that just look like you and me, normal looking people, not far right, not farm left, normal looking people who have normal looking opinions on things, saying that they just really feel like he is speaking to them, that he`s reasonable, that he`s not a politician, that he`s not going to keep feeding them the biased information or telling them one thing and doing another. So certainly, this is a moment in time right now, and it remains to be seen if this is going to be a movement. But this is the dog days of summer right now, no football season right now. School is still out for a lot of the country. No fall TV. The entertainment on television is Donald Trump going out there and making a run for the presidency. So if this lasts through the fall, then you`ll really have something to contend with. But as of now, he is not going anywhere, and he is as loud as ever -- as is this music. MATTHEWS: OK, Katy, we`ll be back to you when the eagle has landed. Thank you for joining us. By the way, you`ll be with us throughout the hour. We me now, the HuffingtonPost`s Howard Fineman, host of MSNBC`s "Up" Steve Kornacki and MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid. Joy Reid, I want to go over these because I read your pre-interview, and I know where your thinking is, your analysis. What`s interesting in these polling we`re coming up with here now, the CNN/ORC poll, the national Opinion and Research Corporation, is basically that he isn`t going to left or the center-left, but his appeal seems to pick up on independents who lean Republican. Then you get moderate Republicans and further right and you get conservative Republicans, then you get Tea Partiers. So he has a big grab of the electorate starting somewhere in the middle. So he`s middle to right. He`s not -- you think, though, based upon your sampling, that he`s all Tea Party. I wonder if you think that still. JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, I mean, I`d like to see a Venn diagram between the Tea Party, the Palinites and the Trump supporters. I`ll bet there`d be a lot of overlap there. And Remember, Tea Partyers claim they weren`t far right, they weren`t really Republicans, they were just, you know, average Americans who wanted the truth. And so I think what you have with Trump and what I see as his base is not just the far right, but the right, and it`s a lot of Republicans who are disgruntled with the Republican Party. It`s white Republicans. MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s true.   REID: It`s mostly white male Republicans, and it`s basically white Americans who feel left out of Obama`s America, who are peeved with the fact that their preferred party can`t seem to beat Obama, and who want to hear a guy be able to stand up and be as politically incorrect as they can`t be. They`d get fired from their jobs if they put on Facebook some of the things Trump said. But here`s a guy who can say what he wants to them, be a man`s man, and get out there and be the kind of Ronald Reaganesque kind of America where we did what we want, said what we want, pushed the world around, and told them to go to hell if we wanted to! (LAUGHTER) REID: I think that`s what they like. MATTHEWS: Well, you`re capturing his idiom now, that`s for sure. Howard, you`re smiling. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well... MATTHEWS: Is she right? I mean, I think it starts in the middle right and moves to the hard right. I don`t think it`s just a bunch of crazy right-wingers. Well, maybe -- I can accept any analysis, except the polling`s pretty solid here. FINEMAN: Yes. And I saw one respected poll today of Republicans that said that 57 percent of Republicans now expect Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee. (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: Now, that`s the Rasmussen...   MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, I... FINEMAN: No, wait. Don`t laugh. That`s the Rasmussen poll, which is pretty well respected and it is certainly quite well respected when it comes to Republicans because that`s their sort of in-house bias. So that`s very interesting to me and... MATTHEWS: This is the fastest evolution in history. FINEMAN: Well, and you got to remember... MATTHEWS: I thought acceptance of same-sex marriage was the fastest evolution. FINEMAN: As -- as Joy was... MATTHEWS: This is really fast. FINEMAN: OK. As Joy was saying and as Katy Tur pointed out by looking around the crowd... MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: ... this is a sectarian -- this is a racially sectarian thing at this point, OK? MATTHEWS: Right. You can see that in the crowd.   FINEMAN: You can see that in the crowd. If you`re Hispanic and you`re an Hispanic family and you hear what Donald Trump is saying, that`s not dogwhistle but foghorn, about getting 11 million people out of the country, get them out of the country, when you see his almost casual, comic expressions of violence which we saw the other night, Bing, bong, you know, holding up the gun... MATTHEWS: Sonny Corleone. FINEMAN: Yes, it was a little bit of Corleone, a little bit of making the trains run on time. MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: But the positive side is that he is telling people in the middle class, in this conservative suburban middle class, that he can get things done. And by the way, he`s not saying, I`m going destroy government. He`s saying, I`ll make sure you get your Social Security check. I`ll make sure it doesn`t go bankrupt. I`ll make sure you get Medicare. I`m the only guy left who can make government work... MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: ... because it`s so big and so sprawling that you need somebody of my business cleverness and my confidence to actually make government work. So he`s appealing on that side and he`s appealing on the business side and the fear side, as well. MATTHEWS: Sounds so true. Steve, your take. All three -- I want to hear all three. You`re last, but let`s hear it. STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, "UP": Yes, no, I mean, I think, look, there`s been an assumption that I think we`re seeing as maybe being proven wrong by the Trump campaign, but there`s been an assumption for the last few years, since the rise of the Tea Party, that, you know, the Tea Party itself, the Republican base, the right wing, it was all an ideological -- an ideological movement that was going to pull the party further to the right.   And certainly, the party has gone further to the right, but I think what we`re seeing in Trump is that, fundamentally, as Joy said, as Howard said there, what`s driving and motivating the base of the Republican Party is this sense of cultural anxiety. And the interesting thing about Donald Trump, Howard just getting to it there, is listen to some of the things he says. He goes out there and he says the Iraq war was one of the biggest mistakes in American history. He goes out there and he says, you know, the Bush family has no business running the country anymore. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He said Bush was the stupidest president we ever had. (CROSSTALK) KORNACKI: ... health care. That`s not a bad thing in this country. MATTHEWS: OK, you`re on a hotline here, Steve, so let me -- you`re up there in New York -- I love the way you work in shortsleeves, (sic) by the -- shirtsleeves, by the way. It`s sort of rough and ready. It`s cool, very millennial. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, let me ask you this. He`s a secular guy. He`s been married three times. I`m not knocking it, but he`s hardly a Bible thumper. He is not exactly running on cultural and religious issues. He`s no Rick Santorum. That doesn`t seem to bother Southern people, Southern whites, who are mostly Baptist and religious, as a general rule. Doesn`t bother them that he`s had -- lived in New York and Manhattan, sin city as far as most of them are concerned, up there with all those ethnic people. Doesn`t seem to bother them. The fact that he`s a New Yorker with the New Yorker brashness doesn`t seem to bother them. Is there anything cultural he that has in common with the people in those stands tonight? Anything?   KORNACKI: I think Joy hit on it, though. He`s speaking to this sense of cultural anxiety about the rise of the Obama coalition in the last few years, this nostalgia for Ronald Reagan. Make America great again -- that is a callback to Ronald Reagan right there. And he shares their absolute disgust with and contempt for the Republican Party establishment and major political institutions in this country today. And when he goes up there and he calls out, for instance, the Bush family by name, when he calls the Iraq war one of the biggest mistakes in American history, he is talking in a way that none of these other Republicans talk like. And he`s telling the people in that base, yes, they all say the things you want to hear, but none of them mean it and none of them deliver on it. Look at me. I`m being authentic. MATTHEWS: OK... KORNACKI: I am actually somebody who can deliver on it. MATTHEWS: Let me go back to -- let me go back to Joy. Joy, I want to ask you a question, a profound anthropological question because I`ve never (INAUDIBLE) Ronald Reagan seemed to work it. He worked with the Irish, the Italians, the ethnics, the Polish, the people that were sort of in the middle politically, the ones that never felt like country club types, if you will, that weren`t elite in some sort of social sense, which is all nonsense, most of this stuff. But among African-Americans, Reagan never got a yes. What was that about? REID: Well, it was partly because of the style, because you remember Reagan comes in and his message -- he starts in Philadelphia, Mississippi, which wasn`t exactly a way to start off your campaign being open to African-Americans, right? And then... MATTHEWS: Where those three Civil Rights guys were buried alive, yes. I remember that. REID: Exactly, the place where those three Civil Rights leaders were murdered, and he said things about states` rights that were meant to be a dogwhistle to that same kind of Archie Bunker crowd. So he turned off African-Americans right from the get-go. And I think that what Reagan`s message had in common with the kind of meat and potatoes message that you`re hearing from Donald Trump is that the substitute slogan for it could be, It`s time you got yours, right? This attitude of, The African-Americans, they got theirs, they got the White House. The gays are getting theirs. Look at all of us focused on gay marriage. The Latinos got theirs. They get to come over the border. Look they`re everywhere in our country. It`s time you got yours! MATTHEWS: Interesting.   REID: He`s saying to that middle-aged white guy, whether he`s rich, middle class or broke, I`m going to make sure you get yours. This is going to be your country again. It`s a very ethnically polarizing appeal, and it really can only appeal to that white guy. It isn`t going to appeal to African-Americans and Latinos because when what he`s saying to that white guy, You`re getting yours, he means getting yours and getting it and taking it away from or pushing away all of the rest of us and saying, This is your... MATTHEWS: So he`s Robert de Niro. REID: ... America, not theirs. MATTHEWS: Robert de Niro -- You talking to me? You talking to me? FINEMAN: Well, I think it`s a little Robert de Niro and a little Ayn Rand in the sense that he`s -- I mean, I agree with most of what Joy was saying there, and I do think it`s racially divisive. But he`s also saying, Look, I`m not going to destroy the private sector, but I`m a businessman and I`m going to restore the vigor of private enterprise, and everybody`s going to get rich. He`s saying, Everybody`s going to get rich because I know how to get rich. I`m going to make other people rich. He`s sort of like the pope of the free market. I mean, that`s what -- that`s the other thing he`s running as. He`s saying, I`ve been successful... MATTHEWS: No minimum wage, none AP (ph), none of that stuff. FINEMAN: None of that stuff. Let`s get the government out of regulating that stuff, and I will let you business people, you middle class business people, you know, do better because I`m going to get... MATTHEWS: Why couldn`t...   FINEMAN: ... that part of the government off your back. MATTHEWS: Why couldn`t guys like Michael Bloomberg and Ed Rendell that talked about building again -- how come they couldn`t sell it? FINEMAN: Well, Michael Bloomberg could sell it because he spent his life in business. MATTHEWS: Or Rendell... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let`s get building highways, let`s get building bridges, let`s fix the subway systems in the big cities. FINEMAN: Right. MATTHEWS: It never worked. It was -- it didn`t work. FINEMAN: Well, he also has -- and again, to refer to Ayn Rand again - - he`s got the builder -- I mean, he`s saying, I build things. MATTHEWS: That`s true. (INAUDIBLE) FINEMAN: And it`s a metaphor that works up to a point. I mean, you can examine the details and wonder. But when he says, I can build a wall - - he`s built a lot of big buildings. Superficially, at least, people believe him.   MATTHEWS: David Garth`s (ph) commercial for Hugh E. -- Hugh E. Carey back in 1974 -- (INAUDIBLE) in my head. Before somebody tells you what they`re going to do, first ask them what they`ve done. Powerful stuff. Anyway, thank you. It worked for Hugh E. Carey. Howard, Friday night lights. Thank you, Steve. Thank you, Joy. It`s always great. Keep the argument going. I want to hear it (INAUDIBLE) well, doesn`t matter if I want to hear it or not, you`re going to give it to me. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, coming up -- with all this talk of Trump, what happened to the issues central to the core Christian conservatives? Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is coming here as my guest in a moment live. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re awaiting a Donald Trump appearance tonight by airplane coming into that stadium, before possibly tens of thousands of people down in Mobile, Alabama. We hope to bring you that as it happens live. This is quite a Friday night. But first, a look back at vintage Trump. Here`s what he told me and what he told a questioner in the audience back in 1999 about his plan for a huge one-time tax -- tax -- on anyone worth more than $10 million to pay down the debt of the United States. A word of warning. It doesn`t sound like it comes from a 2016 GOP front-runner. Let`s listen to Trump of old here. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Let me just put you in a situation, professional situation. You just got out of Wharton business school. You`re out practicing. You`re an accountant. Your client comes to you and says, I`m scared to death. Some crazy guy wants to put a tax on everybody owes -- owns more than $10 million. How do you protect me? What would you say?   TRUMP: Well, I`d start off by saying the man must be brilliant. The economy would boom. We`d have no debt. Hey, I know about debt, probably as much as anybody. I`ve had too much, and I`ve had too little. And you know what? Too little is much better, believe me. (END VIDEO CLIP MATTHEWS: Of course, Trump`s history has drawn criticism from his Republican opponents. Jeb Bush pounced on that old Trump position yesterday and tried to play up his, Jeb`s, own conservative bona fides. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s a big difference between Donald Trump and me. I`m a proven conservative with a record. He isn`t. I cut taxes every year, he`s proposed the largest tax increase in mankind`s history, not just our own country`s history. I have been consistently pro-life. He until recently was for partial-birth abortion. I`ve never met a person that actually thought that that was a good idea. He`s been a Democrat longer than being a Republican. I have fought for Republican and conservative causes all of my adult life. And I just think when people get this narrative, whatever the new term is, the compare and contrast narrative, then they`re going to find that -- that I`m going to be the guy that they`re going to vote for. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: "Narrative, whatever that new term is." I can`t stand the excitement, Jeb! We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., PRES. CANDIDATE: You have taken the first step of taking back this country. People ask me what motivates me. I say the dignity of every human life. Whether it`s the sanctity of life in the womb or the dignity of every working person in America to fulfill their potential, you will have a friend in Rick Santorum. We are off to New Hampshire. Game on! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That`s, of course, former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum on the night of the Iowa caucuses back in 2012. Santorum was declared the victor a few days later after spending months in the single digits in polling leading up to Iowa. Now he`s back in 2016, starting out again at the bottom of the pack this time. Santorum, by the way, carried evangelicals by 33 percent in Iowa in 2012, more than doubling the eventual nominee in that category. Mitt Romney did very badly in that crowd. But a poll this year found Republican caucus goers aren`t interested in hearing candidates talk -- at least they say they aren`t -- on issues important to evangelical voters; 51 percent of Iowa Republicans don`t want to hear the candidates spending a lot of time talking about abortion; 58 percent don`t want to hear about them talking about their religious beliefs personally. And 60 percent don`t want to hear them discuss even the issue of same-sex marriage. With this sentiment among Iowans, can a man like Santorum, a candidate like him, basing on cultural issues, once again manage a come-from-behind victory? The former Republican Pennsylvania senator joins us now. Rick, thank you so much.   RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Pleasure. MATTHEWS: And I`m going to give you a time to make the case, because I do respect your beliefs. I don`t always share them, but I have to tell you, you do have clear beliefs. There`s no B.S. from you. You are a right-to-lifer all the way. It`s a big part of your religious -- your political commitment, if you will. And yet it just seems like we`re in a secular time. If a guy like Donald Trump, with three marriages and coming out of New York City with the whole -- he doesn`t claim to be some country boy -- how does he get the crowd he`s going to get down there we`re watching already in Mobile, Alabama, tonight? SANTORUM: Well, I don`t know. I think, how Donald Trump gets his crowd here in the summer is -- I will let the pundits figure that one out. How I`m going to get crowds and how we`re going to win this election - - you know, I announced from a factory floor in Western Pennsylvania. I talked about how we`re going to make America the number one manufacturing country in the world again, how we`re going to put people back to work, how we`re going to make sure wages go up, not just by creating better jobs, but by making sure that we`re not flooding labor markets, which we have been in the last 20 years in this country. And so I think that we`re very much in synch with what voters want to talk about. And, by the way, I also talk about the importance of the family and that the fact that the family breakdown is causing a lot of the hollowing out of the middle of this country. And I`m not alone on that. You have folks like Robert Putnam, who wrote a book called "Our Kids" just a few months ago, who is saying very much the same thing. This isn`t a left/right issue on a lot of these issues. And I`m hopeful that people will see someone who is talking about commonsense solutions to problems and has a record of leadership in getting things done in Washington, D.C. I will get things done. I have proven I can get do that. And, hopefully, Republican voters will respond to that. MATTHEWS: What can you do for the little guy out there, the guy who is struggling, the soddy buster, the guy making $20,000 or $30,000 a year, barely able to provide for anybody at home, bring the food home. SANTORUM: Yes. MATTHEWS: How do you talk to that guy when Trump is out there saying, I`m going to punch the Chinese in the nose, I`m going to send the Mexicans home where they came from? How do you beat that bluster when you`re offering what you call common sense?   SANTORUM: Well... MATTHEWS: How do you beat that? SANTORUM: Yes. Look, I talk about we`re going to bring the manufacturing economy back in this country. We had 20 million people in manufacture when Ronald Reagan came into the office. We`re at 11 million now. We can win. We can win against China and Mexico and other countries right now, if we create a competitive environment for manufacturers to win. We can win in increasing wages if we stop flooding this country with, this past year, 1.7 million legal and illegal immigrants, almost all of whom are competing for jobs. You know, Chris, in the 25 years, the last 25 years, wages have increased a little over a dollar. That`s, by the way, about a nickel a year in real wage increase for American workers. And I think American workers are tired of it. They`re tired of everybody giving them lip service, and no one is doing anything to try to restore the jobs that are going to create that opportunity and stop bringing people into this country, both legally and illegally, that are directly competing against them, holding down wages. There`s one candidate in this race who has been talking about that from day one. And that`s been me. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. They like to say that people are liberals, and I guess some businesspeople want to get make some -- get cheap labor. They love the guy who just got here, by the way. SANTORUM: Of course. MATTHEWS: That`s the cheapest, most scared guy they can hire. SANTORUM: Yes.   MATTHEWS: Because he`s scared of the government and he`s desperate for his family. You know, they say they`re taking jobs nobody else wants. Now, I see a guy cutting lawn with a lawn mower, modern lawn mower, sitting down on the tractor cutting a big golf course. Do you got -- I`m telling you, give that guy 30 bucks an hour, there will be a lot more people out there. I mean, I don`t buy this theory. SANTORUM: I agree. MATTHEWS: Dishwashing, you pay people enough money, they will take those jobs. And the argument is always, well, we can`t get people in this country to do those jobs. I don`t -- how come the labor unions don`t say, we want to unionize these people that work here and we`re going to get them better wages and we`re not going to let people work here illegally? Where are the unions in all this stuff? SANTORUM: Well, here`s what I know. The Commerce Department has over 400 job classifications, and there`s only six where a majority of the people in those job classifications were not born in this country. So there are some jobs that it`s going to be difficult. And, by the way, as you can imagine, they`re harvesting fruits and vegetables and they`re in the agriculture... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s seasonal. SANTORUM: Yes, that`s it. But those are jobs that I would argue -- and, in fact, when I laid out my immigration plan yesterday at the National Press Club, I said we can provide a temporary guest-worker program for those people here illegally working in those businesses, so we don`t disrupt those sectors of the economy.   MATTHEWS: Well, why isn`t that the law? Why can`t somebody come up here from Central America in the picking season, make a good bundle of money and take it home... SANTORUM: I agree. MATTHEWS: ... and be -- totally have the government on their side and have -- pay for maybe Social Security. Why don`t people push commonsense solutions like that if Americans don`t want those picking jobs? SANTORUM: There`s absolutely -- look, I`m in agreement with you. In fact... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I`m with you. I`m agreeing with you, not with me. I`m not with -- you`re not with me. I`m with you. You said it. I think it makes sense. But, you know... SANTORUM: Well, all I`m saying is, right now, that program is operated by the Department of Labor. It`s been basically useless. You talk to the people in agriculture, it just simply doesn`t work. And we need to move that program over to the Department of Agriculture, so we have people in the bureaucracy that are actually on the side of the folks who are in business, as opposed to on the side of labor unions who don`t like those kind of jobs coming from Central America. MATTHEWS: Well, somebody has got to use their brains. Anyway, thank you, Rick Santorum. SANTORUM: A pleasure.   MATTHEWS: You`re -- I have always liked you, even though I have disagreed with you. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Good luck in this race. SANTORUM: Thank you so much. MATTHEWS: It`s tough beating the master of showbiz. Anyway... SANTORUM: Hey, there`s five-and-a-half months to go, my friend, five- and-a-half months to go. MATTHEWS: OK. OK, Rick. Still ahead, we are going to hear from Donald Trump in Alabama within the hour. Plus, on the Democratic side, it`s Bernie Sanders at the moment. Is he a movement or is he a moment? And why big crowds are turning out for the Vermont socialist. He calls himself a socialist. He`s pretty old politically, and look at the crowds he`s getting. This is a great act, maybe a Vaudeville act, but what a crowd. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Let`s go to NBC`s Katy Tur, who is in Mobile, Alabama, at that Trump rally. This is an amazing thing for us to do at this show. We don`t usually events on Friday night live, but how many people are there now, would you estimate, Katy? KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Chris, I`m terrible with numbers, not 36,000. Let`s pan, and I will show you some of the crowd. It`s filling up, but he does have quite a long way to go before he`s going to get to 40,000 to fill the capacity of this stadium. And he`s supposed to be speaking -- in about a half-hour, he`s supposed to take the stage. So we will see if they get there. But even if they get only half the amount that RSVPed, like 20,000, they said they are going to be really happy with that turnout. Of course, that wouldn`t necessarily beat the Bernie Sanders turnout earlier this month. But it would still be very big and certainly the biggest for a Republican candidate. It`s interesting that he came to here Alabama. As I`m sure you have been talking about, it`s not an early voting state, but it`s the state where Jeff Sessions, the Republican senator here, actually helped Donald Trump with his immigration policy. He helped craft it. It`s also a state that... MATTHEWS: Yes. TUR: ... passed the harshest immigration law back in 2008, one that even made it a crime to transport an illegal immigrant in your car, give them a ride to school, a ride to work, a ride to down the street. Most of that though was struck down in the courts. So, it`s not on the books any longer. Also, the governor here, Governor Bentley, just endorsed John Kasich on MSNBC a couple days ago. So, I think Trump, what he`s hoping to do, while necessarily -- not necessarily responding to the governor, he`s going to come out here, show that he can get a massive crowd, show that he`s so anti-establishment that the governor of this state might have endorsed someone else, but look what he can do and look at all the people that he can bring out.   Of course, they do want to see it a little bit more filled than this, Chris. And, also, I will say, there are some minorities in the crowd. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let me see if I can get you a couple questions here to make life difficult for you. Do you see any Confederate Flags, any Confederate Battle Flags anywhere in the audience? TUR: We actually have -- we have kept an eye out. I have not seen any in the crowd within the stadium. We did see one on a motorcycle from a gentleman out here pulling up, so, yes, one so far. But that`s it. MATTHEWS: Have you found any -- have you found any significant number of African-Americans at the event of the 30-some-thousand there? TUR: No, not a significant number. And I will say this. I have heard some -- at Trump rallies, I have met a lot of very lovely and great people, but at various Trump rallies in various places in the country, I have heard some very off-color remarks about various minorities in this country. MATTHEWS: Yes. TUR: And I hadn`t heard those sort of things in places in quite a while, so that was definitely off-putting. But the vast majority of the people that I speak with are pretty lovely people, from what I can tell at least. Yesterday -- or two days ago -- my days are running into each other -- two days ago in New Hampshire, I asked Donald Trump about that pair of brothers in Boston who were arrested for beating up a Hispanic homeless guy and saying that it was OK because Donald Trump wants to get rid of illegal immigrants, and I asked Donald Trump about this. I said, what do you think about it? And he said he didn`t really know about it, that it was a shame, but that his supporters were -- quote -- "passionate," which many thought was kind of an odd answer, that he didn`t necessarily denounce those beatings, instead saying that his supporters are very passionate, as if it`s some excuse for that sort of behavior.   MATTHEWS: Yes. TUR: I don`t think that`s the way he intended it. I think that obviously -- I don`t think he`s a man that is advocating violence. But I do think he does get tripped up in the way that he expresses himself sometimes. Is that sort of thing resonating with the people that are coming out to support him? Not necessarily. That might be the sort of thing that resonates with the press more than anyone else, because most people are just expecting him to say what`s on his mind. They aren`t holding him to any sort of political correctness or any sort of higher standard of common courtesy, the same sort of standards that they`re holding the other candidates to right now at least. MATTHEWS: You got it. I think you`re a great reporter, Katy Tur. Thanks for joining us. You have got to guts to tell it as you see it. TUR: Thanks, Chris. MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. As we have said, Donald Trump will be speaking within the hour. We are going to bring it to you live as it happens here on MSNBC. You`re watching it, HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s happening. It was brutal on Wall Street today, triggered by worries about global growth. The Dow slid 530 points. The S&P sank more than 3 percent, closing below 2000. The Nasdaq ended off a whopping 171 points.   Two Americans traveling on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris subdued a gunman who opened fire on passengers earlier. Two people were seriously injured, including one of the Americans who helped thwart the attack. President Obama declared an emergency in Washington State, where wildfires are burning out of control. The move authorizes federal help for the blazes, which now cover more than 252 square miles -- and now we take you back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the year 2015, in South Carolina, in Vermont and throughout America, children are going hungry. It`s not acceptable that billionaires become richer when kids in this country go hungry. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was of course Bernie Sanders warming up, rallying a crowd in South Carolina just moments ago. The Democratic primary race doesn`t have the same fireworks of course we`re seeing on the Republican side, at least not right now, but front-runner Hillary Clinton might be set for a collision course with her closest rival, Bernie Sanders, who is holding a town hall meeting in Columbia, as I said, South Carolina, as we speak. Anyway, a report today in "The New York Times" compares Sanders` insurgent campaign to that of Barack Obama eight years ago -- quote -- "By overtaking Hillary Clinton -- Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Hampshire in some polls and drawing tens of thousands of people to his events on the West Coast, as well as thousands in Iowa and Nevada, Mr. Sanders, 73 years old, has recaptured the enthusiasm that fueled the 2008 Obama campaign, with T-shirts that say `Feel the Bern` and show an image of a floppy white hair and glasses replacing the famous image of the Obama hope poster." Anyway, sure enough, that image of Sanders is ubiquitous at his campaign events and has become a symbol of what Sanders has described as a coming political revolution. In three short months, he`s consolidated enough Democratic support to emerge as the chief -- and this is what he has won -- he`s now the chief alternative to front-runner Hillary Clinton, all by himself. His gains are most evident in New Hampshire, of course, where he leads Clinton, Hillary Clinton, by seven points, according to the "Boston Herald"/Franklin Pierce University poll, 44 percent to 37 percent. And that`s real.   We`re joined right now by roundtable. Ron Reagan is out there in Seattle. And Howard Fineman is here, MSNBC political analyst. April Ryan is a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. And Jason Johnson, he is our newcomer here, a political contributor to Let me go to Ron Reagan and give you the first shot. You`re out there, Ron. Is this a moment or a movement? Let`s start with Bernie. Let`s start with the Democratic side. Is it a moment or a movement? RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it remains to be seen. Right now, we can certainly declare it a moment. If he does any better, if he wins some primaries, then I think we will start calling it a movement. It`s interesting that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump couldn`t be more different in many ways. I mean, Donald Trump looks like he spends hours on his comb-over, and Bernie Sanders looks like he`s never been introduced to a comb. (LAUGHTER) REAGAN: But on one thing they`re very much alike and they`ve both tapped into a kind of contempt, I think there is growing in the middle of the country, if you will, for politics as usual and the usual candidates. Whether it`s the right or on the left, you got a lot of people out there who identify with these two candidates who are just disgusted with the usual suspects showing up and saying the usual things. MATTHEWS: Let me get to Jason on this. It seems to me the interesting -- the difference in age between Trump and Bernie Sanders is hardly anything, like three or four years. But one seems -- it`s not just appearance, but one really represents an earlier age, the 1930s, the 1960s, the socialist tradition. Fair enough. Where this guy is like Mr. Improv. I don`t know what tradition he represents, Donald Trump. What? JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, NBC: That`s what`s exciting about both of them. Donald Trump seems like that kind of guy who could jump off the horse in a middle of a rally. I`m expecting him to land his helicopter or sky dive. It`s exciting, it engages people. I was at Netroots with Bernie Sanders. People came running in like it was a Justin Bieber concert. They both get a lot of excitement.   MATTHEWS: Is this like the Tony Bennett thing? For years, he`s able to make a comeback work going up against Lady Gaga. (CROSSTALK) JOHNSON: Oh, yes, people still find it exciting. APRIL RYAN, NATIONAL URBAN RADIO NETWORK: But his comeback has been with, like you say, with Lady Gaga or with Stevie Wonder. It`s not by himself. And for Bernie Sanders, he`s 73 years old and we`re seeing the test of the trail. It`s about stamina. And we`re hearing his voice crack already. MATTHEWS: Bernie`s? RYAN: Yes, Bernie, and he looks tired. MATTHEWS: Whereas the other guy seems to be juicing up. RYAN: Oh, Donald Trump, he is ret to go. He is ret to go as the kids say. MATTHEWS: Howard, who`s running the store? HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Who`s running which store?   MATTHEWS: He`s gotten a $11 billion business he supposedly runs and he just left. Took French leave and nobody is saying "Where`s Donald"? FINEMAN: It`s not only stylistic in the comb or lack of comb. It`s not only the energy or the lack of energy. They`re coming from different places philosophically. Meaning that Donald Trump is the big business guy, descending out of the clouds of big business to make society work. And -- MATTHEWS: Where`s Bernie coming from? FINEMAN: From the campus with the list of nonnegotiable demands. (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: He`s serving a subpoena on the country. MATTHEWS: He went to school with that guy. He`s the political science professor. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. My favorite political science professor 101. Anyway, much more -- by the way, I think Trump comes from Krypton. Much more with the round table up next including how the Trump campaign plans on winning the 2016 -- they have a plan now. You can buy one of them.   This is HARDBALL, the police for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, as we await Donald Trump`s pep rally in Mobile, Alabama, I`ve been saying Trump reminds me for years now, it`s been a long time as a figure for the comic books, long before this latest sortie into American life as in this guy is a comic book figure. So, we dug into the archives and it turned out that I asked him about this in 1999 when Trump was a guest on our HARDBALL college tour from Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. Let`s watch us when we were younger, talking about him, in the way he is now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Aren`t you character out of a -- like a comic strip hero. Gotham, big time developer. Do you know when you first wake up, hey, I`m a comic book hero. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Do you know that? DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER: Is that a compliment or not? MATTHEWS: It`s a compliment. I`m not saying you`re the Joker. I`m saying you`re the good guy. You`re like this Gotham, you know, Bruce Wayne. TRUMP: I just really set out to do a terrific job. I build the most beautiful buildings in the world. I get the highest prices for my buildings.   I`m in other businesses but I love real estate business. I truly do. I love it because it`s creative. There`s something you can see, there`s something tangible. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Just to set the record straight to point out my consistency, that was back before he started this birther crap. I had nothing against him back then. So, this is when we were both innocent, OK? Ron Reagan, he was a more likable guy back then. Anyway, we`ll be right back with Ron Reagan. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with Ron Reagan and Howard and April and Jason awaiting Trump`s pep rally in Mobile, Alabama. Trump, by the way, has proved he has staying power. Now his campaign needs to formulate a strategy to actually capitalize in the huge interest in order to achieve a primary set of victories. Trump leads, by the way, in the polls in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire right now. He`s scored big in those states with helicopter rides at the state fair in Iowa and a raucous town meeting. Anyway, tonight, he turned his Trump-emblazoned plane South -- there it is -- where his relentless drumbeat on immigration has appealed apparently down there. According to "USA Today" strategists in South Carolina think, quote, "His message plays well with conservatives who believe cheap foreign labor, bad trade deals and immigration, legal or otherwise, have cost American jobs and the so-called political establishment has failed to address these problems." Trump is, by the way, starting his effort to conquer the South tonight. Billionaire Trump says he doesn`t need to generate monetary donations from other normal -- like other normal presidential candidates but he does need to formulate a good contact list, of course, for people to help him locally, to have a ground game, to gain entry into the pep rally, by the way, in Mobile. Trump is requiring attendees to give their e-mail addresses in their online ticket request forms. That campaign`s goal, of course, for getting the message out the voters. Trump would not seem to be a natural fit for southern evangelicals with his unrepentant approach to religion. I love that phrase -- unrepentant.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I like to do the right thing where I don`t have to ask for forgiveness. Does that make sense? Where you don`t make such bad things that you don`t have to ask for forgiveness. I mean, I try and lead a life where I don`t have to ask God for forgiveness. If I make a mistake, yes, I think it`s great, but I try not to make mistakes. I mean, why do I have to, you know, repent? Why do I have to ask for forgiveness if you`re not making mistakes? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Why didn`t we with think of that? And as a New Yorker, he does seem to speak the language of the southern pro-gun rights crowd. Here he is talking Second Amendment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATY TUR, NBC NEWS: You`re for the Second Amendment. Do you have a gun? TRUMP: I have a license to have a gun. Yes, I do. TUR: Do you own one? TRUMP: Yes, I do. TUR: Do you use it? Gun range?   TRUMP: It`s none of your business. It`s really none of your business. I have a license to have a gun. TUR: Gun control. TRUMP: What are you talking about? You asked if I have a gun. Yes, I have a gun. Excuse me, yes, I have a gun, and yes, I have a permit to have a gun. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Excuse me, I love that, excuse me. Are you ready for Trump? I`m back at the round table. Of course, Ron, and Howard, and Jason and April. I want to start with Ron again, it`s easy to start with you out there. Let`s talk about the Bernie Sanders thing. We have given so much time to Trump. Bernie Sander`s coalition is not the same as Obama`s coalition. Obama`s coalition obviously started with people who are African-American, thrilled at the first African-American president in their lifetime and liberal also, liberal whites liked him. I think he built on those foundations. Bernie is building sort of a campus revolt with some proletarian support, if you will, people on the hard left. Your thoughts? REAGAN: Bernie Sanders is saying the things he`s been saying 25 years. He`s a pro-labor kind of Democrat. He self identifies as a socialist. That`s a new thing for American politics. But it`s -- he`s got a lot going against him. You know, Bernie Sanders is going to have to buck the establishment media too. "The New York Times" article you cited earlier which was a big article on how he is drawing big crowds but the first word in the headline was angry, angry Sanders, and then went on to talk about him snarling at people and glaring at a reporter who asked him a question at an impromptu press conference at after one of these rallies. Well, I saw the video clip of that press conference. He wasn`t glaring, and he wasn`t snarling and he wasn`t angry. But the media -- the mainstream media is going to do the best to marginalize Bernie Sanders because he makes them uncomfortable. He`s an actual progressive. He`s actually on the left.   MATTHEWS: Do you say that somebody has their thumb on the scale at "The New York Times" for Hillary? REAGAN: Yes, yes, I am. Yes. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: OK, Howard. That`s all right. Thanks, Ron. FINEMAN: Can I say Bernie doesn`t make me uncomfortable at all? I`m saying that as someone who was one of the first, if not the first to interview him about his presidential hopes going back. I think what he`s doing -- yes, he`s got an edge to him but he`s got tons of substantive proposals which runs counter to the way politics works today, Ron. MATTHEWS: OK, I think a lot of "New York Times" readers, readers of "New York Times" are like him. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think "New York Times" readers are looking at the guy seriously. Anyway, Trump supporters, we`re going back to him, say his straight talk has fired up a broad base of first time voters, but they haven`t voted yet, and disconnected voters, discontented, have sitting out previous elections. In Iowa, Tea Party leader says, quote, "Some on are the fence but they are dropping for Donald. The Tea Party doesn`t want mushy middle moderates." And there`s a woman down there that says I never went to see Elvis Presley, but I am not going to miss this guy.   So, there`s a bread and circuses aspect to this, Jason. JOHNSON: Look, it`s fantastic if it`s sustainable. I mean, I think it`s perfectly fine -- MATTHEWS: Is he a Roman candle? JOHNSON: Yes, he`s a Roman candle. MATTHEWS: Are you sure? You have bet on that. JOHNSON: I`m willing to bet on it. If he can`t -- he can`t keep this up. He`s got to get -- it`s one thing to talk about. MATTHEWS: You want to come to the cash drawer in my office. JOHNSON: We can make a bet. MATTHEWS: When does he die? JOHNSON: He`s going to die in Iowa. MATTHEWS: Seven months from now.   RYAN: I wouldn`t bet that. MATTHEWS: Why? Even though, who`s going to beat him? JOHNSON: I think it`s going to end up being Scott Walker. I think Scott Walker`s been -- I`m serious. I think he has been in Iowa long enough. (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: I`ll tell you what he needs to do if he will get to April`s time in February he can`t do it based on one lounge act he did the other day. He can`t do it just by getting headlines for 25,000 people. He`s got to get in to specifics and getting into substantive fights. MATTHEWS: How many people go to the Iowa caucuses roughly. FINEMAN: A hundred thousand. MATTHEWS: He`s got to draw four 25,000 trounces in one night. RYAN: OK, now, you heard what they had to say. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Style we`re watching here.   RYAN: No, this is a style. I`m listening to old tradition. JOHNSON: Old tradition. MATTHEWS: Hold on. We`re about to hear the new gospel. Here it is. RYAN: According to April. Let me say this to you. What was is not today. We are seeing something we have never seen before. Donald Trump knows what he is doing. He is building his campaign organization. He`s building his staff. He`s watching all the candidates who have like 3 percent or less and watching with them fall off as they don`t have the money that he has. Money is funding him. He has $6 to $7 for their one. MATTHEWS: He lasts. RYAN: He lasts. Money makes -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You were doing what he does. You are putting your hand in my face. (CROSSTALK)   FINEMAN: I`m glad I`m over here. RYAN: Let me finish. MATTHEWS: Excuse me for living. RYAN: I love you. I adore you, Chris. But let me say this and this is the last thing. I think Donald Trump is getting first timers who are expected to be first time voters because a lot of people don`t get in to the where thou arts in politics. MATTHEWS: Around the table. Ron, you first, Bernie, last or not last, moment or movement? REAGAN: Movement. I`m going to say movement. MATTHEWS: Anyone else think he`s movement? JOHNSON: I do. MATTHEWS: OK, movement. Bernie? RYAN: He`s someone there.   MATTHEWS: We have three to four votes, to one unsure. Donald Trump, moment or moment? Howard, first. FINEMAN: I think he`s going to turn into a movement because I agree with April, he`s utterly different in politics. RYAN: Howard, amen. JOHNSON: His moment is done by Iowa. MATTHEWS: OK, go on. RYAN: He`s movement. MATTHEWS: OK, two movements, three movements. Your thoughts, last one, Ron. You`re the last one. Is he a movement or a moment? REAGAN: I think Bernie is a movement. I really do. MATTHEWS: How about the other guy?   REAGAN: Donald Trump, he may be a long moment, he may stick around but he`s a moment. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. You may be right. It may not be just your hard talk. My guest tonight Ron Reagan, thank you, sir, from out there in Seattle. It`s even cooler out there. Howard Fineman, my friend forever actually. April Ryan who takes over everywhere she goes. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And Jason Johnson -- at least give her a block. HARDBALL back right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>