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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 08/27/15

Guests: Matt Schlapp, Jennifer Granholm, Ruth Marcus, Gary Rivlin, ClarencePage, Sabrina Siddiqui, Ken Vogel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: His hair is real, but is he? Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Believe it or not, do you see Donald Trump as something phenomenal in American politics, or as just another version of the same old, same old? OK, I`ll make it simpler. Do you think the Republican voters` all-out rejection of Jeb Bush -- he`s now down to 7 percent -- is real? Clearly, there is something happening in today`s politics. Republicans are rejecting the Grand Old Party grandees in favor of Trump, the billionaire, and to a lesser extent, Dr. Ben Carson, the brilliant neurosurgeon. And that is something far harder to sweep aside. Again, there`s something happening on the right and center-right of this country and it`s a far greater revolution than what we`re seeing on the left and center-left. Hillary Clinton may find herself some real competition from Senator Bernie Sanders and possibly Vice President Joe Biden. But the eruption is nowhere near, at least not yet, what appears to be the revolution on the right, which is very real. Today, Donald Trump`s campaign in South Carolina began like an old- time medicine wagon. His opening act, bashing "The New York Times" for running a front page story about Latino groups White House are unhappy with Trump, including one Latino reporter who accused the leading Republican candidate of wearing a toupee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ricardo Sanchez, known as "El Mandril" on his Spanish drive-time radio show in Los Angeles has taken to calling Donald J. Trump "el hombre del peluquin." In other words, the man of the toupee. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: This was on the front page of "The New York Times." I don`t wear a toupee. It`s my hair! I swear! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, like a carnival mind reader, Trump then invited a woman on stage to inspect his hair. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Come. Is it mine? Look. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is! TRUMP: It is. Say it, please. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I believe it is. TRUMP: Thank you.   (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: And have I ever met you before? No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you haven`t. TRUMP: But you`re very nice. Thank you. Nice to meet you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: But he`s met her now. Anyway, for good measure, he then threw "The New York Times" into the audience for show. Eugene Robinson`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post," Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Consumer (sic) Union -- actually, Conservative Union -- and Joan Walsh is editor-at-large with Salon. Joanie, I`ve got to ask you the question. I know you just mock this stuff. But this is show business. You`re not going to get anything like this on the summer weekday... JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No. MATTHEWS: ... from anybody else. It`s something to go see, I guess. WALSH: No, we were all watching. I mean, it was great television. He brought her up. She touches his hair. You know, he`s reading aloud in his mangled Spanish from the newspaper. He`s mocking "The Times." He`s mocking a Latino disc jockey. He`s mocking the media generally. He`s calling Jorge Ramos a maniac.   He`s -- it was a rollicking good time for the people who were there and for those of us watching it on TV. I mean, it`s not for the Republican establishment because I think you`re right, Chris, to point to not only his 28 percent in that Quinnipiac poll, but Ben Carson has another 12 or 14. MATTHEWS: Yes, it tells you a lot. Yes... (CROSSTALK) WALSH: ... 40 percent, four out of ten Republican voters, are rejecting the career politicians. MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go to those numbers, not just career, but the old grandees... WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: ... of the GOP... WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: ... the ones who are the party, who thought it was their turn. WALSH: Yes. MATTHEWS: A new Quinnipiac University poll out today, as Joan said, shows Donald Trump pulling away. He now leads the Republican field nationally -- look at that number, 28 percent -- 16 points ahead of his nearest rival, who`s also not part of the establishment, has never run for office, the brilliant Dr. Ben Carson.   Well, the pollster points out this is the highest tally and the widest margin for any Republican so far in this election season. Even more striking, I believe, is what`s happening to Jeb Bush. This is powerful stuff. The guy everybody knows, and everybody knows whose brother he was, whose father he was, is down to 7, 1 in 12, or whatever -- 1 in 13 or -- 1 in 14. I`m sorry. I forgot my math from high school -- 1 in 14, which is his lowest support in a major national poll since two years ago. The headline in "The Hill" newspaper, by the way, sums it up. "Pollster dumbfounded by Trump." Quote, "The businessman`s dominance of the Republican presidential race is forcing experienced political hands to question whether everything they know about winning the White House is wrong." Matt Schlapp, you`re an experienced political hand... MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION PRES.: Right. MATTHEWS: ... (INAUDIBLE) from the old Ponderosa. I think -- do you agree with me, the big story here is the apparent rejection this season of the establishment? SCHLAPP: Yes, there`s no question. I mean, you look at poll after poll after poll. Some of these state polls show Trump, Carson, Fiorina in the lead. They`re willing to take a chance with someone who`s never spent one day in elected office. They think this town`s broken. They want to run against this town. And by the way... MATTHEWS: Oh, by the way, I think it`s a rejection not just of the party establishment, the government establishment, because if you ask -- Gene, you ask anybody, the country, what they think of the worth of Congress, our legislative body, the one that runs the country. EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. MATTHEWS: It`s, like, 9 percent. ROBINSON: It`s down to friends and family. It really is.   (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: I mean, that`s all it is. And... MATTHEWS: That tells you why a Trump... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: ... in my column -- in my column for tomorrow`s paper. I say the Republican establishment seems to me to be going through Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross`s five stages of grief, right? (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: So the first is denial, OK? They`ve denied it. This isn`t happening. This can`t be happening... SCHLAPP: Hey, the Clintons could be going through this, too! So... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s later. ROBINSON: So you know...   MATTHEWS: Who`s the anti-establishment candidate? ROBINSON: Well... MATTHEWS: It`s not the same as this guy. It`s not... (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: But you have to say the dynamics on the Democratic side are very similar with the fact that there`s a rejection of what they`re supposed to do. MATTHEWS: But that`s ideological more. I think it`s -- I`ll get back to Joan. I think it`s more -- Joan, isn`t that more ideological? If you`re for Bernie, it is not that you`re against the establishment. It seems like you have a different philosophy. WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: You want more government activity. You want more redistribution. You want action on the tax front, on the student loan front... WALSH: I think there`s been a surge... MATTHEWS: ... on infrastructure. You want things done. WALSH: Exactly.   MATTHEWS: Trump doesn`t want particular things done. WALSH: Right. I mean, Bernie Sanders has a program. Some people don`t like it, some people love it. And there`s really a demand for populism in the Democratic Party. So it`s coherent. It`s cogent. It`s about ideas and it`s about solutions. You know, with Trump, it`s really about telling people kind of what they want to hear. And I also think we have to admit that this is -- this is part of... MATTHEWS: Isn`t that politics? WALSH: But this is part of what the -- the Republican Party has brought this on themselves by making a lot of promises -- and I think even Matt might agree with me on some of this -- that they -- that the leaders couldn`t keep -- We`re going to repeal "Obama care"... MATTHEWS: OK... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Before you dismiss politicians telling people what they want to hear, Barack Obama told me what I wanted to hear -- Bush is an imbecile, and we got to have a smarter guy as president and get out of this stupid war in Iraq... WALSH: No, but he... MATTHEWS: ... and the mentality behind it. I wanted to hear that. (CROSSTALK)   WALSH: But he had programs, many of which he enacted. I mean, he had a -- he had coherent programs. He... MATTHEWS: Don`t do stupid stuff. WALSH: ... was speaking -- well, on -- no foreign policy, but domestically... MATTHEWS: Yes. WALSH: ... he had a lot of ideas. So he wasn`t just... MATTHEWS: OK, here`s Trump... WALSH: It wasn`t just pie in the sky, Chris. MATTHEWS: I get it. WALSH: This is pie in the sky. MATTHEWS: Well,let`s look at this. Here`s Donald Trump. He told crowds today that his campaign is built on a simple message, then he bashed the heck out of Jeb Bush. Let`s let him describe his message.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We have a message. And the message is that, essentially, we`re not going to take it anymore. We`re just not going to take it anymore. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Jeb Bush -- and I -- you know, I keep using him because I used to think he was, like, the guy that you had to beat. But he`s, like, mired down. He`s going down fast. I don`t even know who`s second. It`s, like, I really was hitting Bush hard. I actually felt sorry for him because he`s is such a nice person. I can`t call him Bush. He doesn`t use his last name. Did you ever see -- did you ever a sign that says Jeb Bush or Bush? Now, there`s a reason he doesn`t use his last name because it`s not going to work too well. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I mean, (INAUDIBLE) about him that I find engaging. Forget politics. Forget who should be the next president. ROBINSON: Yes. MATTHEWS: There`s something engaging about a guy who`s sort of -- internalizes -- externalizes his sort of thinking. It`s sort of crazy thinking. ROBINSON: Look...   MATTHEWS: And what is he doing there? ROBINSON: He`s a great performer! He`s a great performer. And I`ll bet -- and I haven`t seen that whole, you know, press availability, but I`ll bet he slipped in a "low-energy person" about -- about Bush, is what he`s been... MATTHEWS: Yes. WALSH: Right. Right. ROBINSON: ... calling him recently because it drives Bush crazy... MATTHEWS: Well, you know, in 1946... ROBINSON: He`s a low-energy person. MATTHEWS: ... one of the great (INAUDIBLE) We all studied this. Maybe you`re too young for this, but we all studied this. Joan, the most successful, I think, slogan of any candidates in history, 1946, the Republican slogan was everywhere. "Had enough?" WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: It just captured it all. It`s time for a change. We had inflation and all this stuff, the war, just too much, too much, too much with the Fair Deal and the New Deal, just had enough of it. SCHLAPP: That`s right.   MATTHEWS: You had the shortages, the rationing. And so they said "Had enough?" This guy is almost like Howard Beale. In fact, he`s using the words of Howard Beale, Can`t take it anymore. WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: So it doesn`t have to be specific. We just don`t like these bums in there now! SCHLAPP: Look, I think there`s -- there`s another way to say that, which is, "It`s kind of our turn." This is kind of ours to lose in the sense... MATTHEWS: Be careful of that. That`s what Bush thought. SCHLAPP: Well, hold on, but... WALSH: Yes! (LAUGHTER) SCHLAPP: Hold on. It is... MATTHEWS: That`s what Hillary believes, by the way! SCHLAPP: I embrace the fact that I like the Bush family, OK? I`m not...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... think of the word Bush. SCHLAPP: I think -- I think that there is no question that the country is willing to give the Republicans a chance to make their case because they very rarely give people three terms in a row. MATTHEWS: You think that... SCHLAPP: Yes, I do. MATTHEWS: You think your party has the edge going into this next election? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I don`t think so. SCHLAPP: I don`t think it has an Electoral College edge. But I do think there are -- there is a fatigue out there for any president. George W. Bush had it. Eight years of Obama is a lot. There was a lot of change. There`s a lot of people that are unhappy with that change. Look at the polls. It`s in the polls. MATTHEWS: Gene, I`m looking at all the demographic numbers about the... ROBINSON: Yes.   MATTHEWS: ... the Democrat(ph) -- the number of white voters. ROBINSON: Yes, I know. MATTHEWS: You see the papers today. ROBINSON: Yes. MATTHEWS: The number of white (INAUDIBLE) it`s like Philadelphia used to be... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... Frank Rizzo needed to take 87 percent of the white vote to win the primary. SCHLAPP: It`s a bad strategy. It`s a bad strategy. ROBINSON: Right. Right. MATTHEWS: It doesn`t work. ROBINSON: Exactly. It`s a terrible strategy because demographics -- demographics prove the point, basically. You can`t just ignore...   MATTHEWS: Be for white people. (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: You can`t ignore 38 percent of America... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The number today was you have to carry 65... SCHLAPP: That`s right. MATTHEWS: We shouldn`t even be talking about this in America. It sounds like South Africa, talking in (ph) group identity. ROBINSON: Yes. MATTHEWS: But you have to get 65 percent of the white vote to win if you`re a Republican... (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: If we want to be a majority party, the Republican Party should want to be everyone`s party.   WALSH: Right. SCHLAPP: And it shouldn`t just be a regional party or a white party. I don`t want that. MATTHEWS: Joan, your last thought here because if it does get down to demographics, Hillary`s got the advantage if she runs a competent, smart campaign. WALSH: Any -- any Democrat... MATTHEWS: She doesn`t have to be a charismatic... WALSH: Any Democrat has the great advantage, especially if they run somebody like Donald Trump. And you know, Bush`s thing was that he was the electable guy. I mean, Matt`s right, there is -- there is a chance. There is fatigue. There`s always fatigue after two terms. But you know, with these Electoral College numbers and these demographic numbers, there`s not much of a chance and there`s no chance if they... MATTHEWS: Well, we got some numbers... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: John, you know the numbers as fast as I know them. We got numbers show there`s a significant advantage if Joe Biden runs over Hillary Clinton against the opponents, which I didn`t think was coming at all. We`ll see. WALSH: Well, that`s one -- that is one poll. We`ll see. MATTHEWS: I know.   WALSH: We`ve got to keep an eye on it. MATTHEWS: You think it`s an outlier. WALSH: I do, actually. SCHLAPP: There`ll be more to follow. MATTHEWS: OK, we`ll see. Anyway, thank you, as always, Joan Walsh, for being a part of our show, and Eugene Robinson, as well. And thank you, Matt Schlapp. You`re becoming part of the show. Coming up -- did she go too far? Hillary Clinton says the Republican presidential candidates are as anti-woman as the world`s Islamic terrorists. This as a new poll shows that Joe Biden would be doing better Hillary Clinton in matchups with both Trump, or Bush. Either one, he does better. Ten years later, by the way, President Obama travels to New Orleans today to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. How is the region faring from this historic and devastating storm? Wait`ll you see the pictures of before and after. And on the 2016 front, no filter. We`ll tell what you people come out with when they`re asked to describe Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in just one word. A warning. Most of those top one words are brutally, brutally honest. Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with some of the reasons why Donald Trump is commanding the Republican field. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MATTHEWS: Wow. Good news for investors and Americans worried about their retirement savings, a rally on Wall Street today after positive news about the growth pace of the U.S. economy. Stocks closed higher for a second straight day, out of correction territory, as the Dow finished up nearly 370 points and the NASDAQ and S&P both finishing up nearly 2.5 percent. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also have to admit, I take it a little personal when they go after women, when they go after women`s health, women`s rights. Extreme views about women -- we expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don`t want to live in the modern world. But it`s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States. Yet they espouse out-of-date and out- of-touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America! We`re going forward, we`re not going back! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton earlier today in the swing state of Ohio failing against Republicans` extreme views on women`s health, even comparing them to terrorists. The former secretary of state lit a -- lit into a few of her Republican rivals and called them out by name. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: This is happening all over the country, here even in Ohio. Programs and services to help women take care of themselves are being cut down. Marco Rubio brags about wanting to deny victims of rape and incest access to health care, to an abortion. Jeb Bush says Planned Parenthood shouldn`t get a penny. Your governor right here in Ohio banned state funding for some rape crisis centers. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Well, not surprisingly, the Republican National Committee responded. RNC national press secretary Alison Moore (ph) released a statement saying, "For Hillary Clinton to equate our -- her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her failing campaign -- flailing campaign," they say. "She should apologize immediately for her inflammatory rhetoric." And Jeb Bush tweeted, "Hillary Clinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable Planned Parenthood treatment of the unborn. Her priorities are totally wrong." Well, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm`s a Hillary Clinton surrogate and Ruth Marcus is a columnist for "The Washington Post." Governor, thank you for joining us. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FMR. MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: You bet. MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s a little extreme to compare -- to compare Republicans, I guess she`s talking about Trump, but maybe all of them -- to Islamic terrorists? She`s talking about people that don`t want to live in the modern world about (INAUDIBLE) terrorist groups. She is clearly talking about the people who want to bring back the caliphate, comparing them to Republicans. GRANHOLM: Well, I mean, terrorists, people who are extreme, people who don`t want to live in the modern era, who won`t want women access to have health care -- I mean, that`s what she was saying. I loved it! I`m, like, Go girl! MATTHEWS: Terrorists! GRANHOLM: I mean, well... MATTHEWS: Terrorists! GRANHOLM: ... I mean, she didn`t say they were terrorists. She said people who are -- you would expect to hear that from people like terrorists, or from people who don`t want to be in the modern world. But you don`t expect it from Republicans.   So she wasn`t calling them terrorists. She was saying, Why is the Republican Party so out of date? And truly, I mean, if you look at what these candidates are espousing, no exceptions for rape or incest? I mean, come on! So... MATTHEWS: OK, so no apology is necessary. GRANHOLM: ... cutting down the -- no! MATTHEWS: No apology. OK. GRANHOLM: I mean, that`s kind of ironic, Chris, don`t you think, coming from the party with Donald Trump with such inflammatory wild rhetoric? No, I think she`s totally right to call them out on their extremism... MATTHEWS: OK. GRANHOLM: ... and I think most women across the country believe the same. MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you, Ruth, will she stick to this position or will she pull back on this? RUTH MARCUS, "WASHINGTON POST": I think she`ll stick to it for a little while, and then she`ll pull back, which is the cycle that we`ve seen with Secretary Clinton. We saw it yesterday, when after insisting that nobody was paying attention to her e-mails, she finally said, and appropriately so, that she understood why it was a big deal for people and she got it. I just want to say I have a lot of almost for Governor Granholm, couldn`t disagree more. I think the Republicans are wrong in their position on defunding Planned Parenthood, wrong in their position on abortion, no exceptions for abortion. But I think that is a very far cry from a Taliban-type treatment of women, and it would behoove Secretary Clinton to not compare the two.   MATTHEWS: Well, yesterday in Iowa, Hillary Clinton sounded more contrite about the controversy, as you said, surrounding her use of private e-mail at the State Department. Here she is, the secretary. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Here`s what I want the American people to know. My use of personal e-mail was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn`t the best choice. I should have used two e-mails, one personal, one for work, and I take responsibility for that decision. And I want to be as transparent as possible, which is why I turned over 55,000 pages, why I have turned over my server, why I have agreed to - - in fact been asking to and have finally gotten a date to testify before a congressional committee in October. And I`m confident that this process will prove that I never sent nor received any e-mail that was marked classified. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at this. It may be too late for what she just said there. According to the Quinnipiac poll just out today, liar is the first word that comes to mind, more than any others, in an open-ended question what voters think of in one word of Secretary Clinton. What do you make of that poll? These polls are pretty rough. But they say name one word you think of when you think of Hillary Clinton. That includes a lot of conservatives and far-right people. But it`s still the leading number, the leading word used to describe her. Your thoughts, Governor? GRANHOLM: Yes. I think that yesterday was a pivot point, honestly, Chris.   I think that you are going to see her move in this new direction of saying that she really regrets having made the choice to have one server, rather than two. I think she was honest, her tone yesterday, her contrition. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. But what is wrong? Obviously, it got her into trouble. So, you always apologize for something that gets you into trouble. But what was essentially and character-wise wrong with a decision to use her private e-mail? What was wrong with that? When you apologize for something, it should be for something you did wrong. She said she didn`t do anything wrong, so why should she correct it? GRANHOLM: Right. She said, in retrospect. No, she -- and she didn`t violate any laws. MATTHEWS: Well, then what did she do wrong? GRANHOLM: But, in retrospect -- no, I mean, what she is saying is that, in retrospect, especially as this played on it, it would have been better to use two servers. But here`s what I think about this. Because of the Quinnipiac poll and the concern that we have seen among especially base Democrats, the fact that she`s leaning into this, and that she is saying, I regret that this happened, I wish I had done it a different way, and that she is going to testify in front of the Benghazi committee and she`s asking the Department of State to release the e-mails quicker, and that she voluntarily turned over her server, all of that should eventually put this behind us... (CROSSTALK) GRANHOLM: ... because how much more money can the Republicans put into creating this story about her as a liar? That`s exactly what has gone on is that they have spent a huge amount of money trying to craft that particular image that you see. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: I think liar is a terrible word. Excuse me, Governor. I think liar is a terrible word. I hate anybody using on it this show. It ends the conversation. I think a word -- a softer word may be too secretive, too afraid of exposure, maybe because of her years of dealing with us. But definitely what she did wrong there, if she did anything wrong, was she didn`t trust her e-mail to get into public circulation for whatever reason. I think it was just political mail is all it was. I don`t know. Of course she should keep to it herself, my view. It was political mail. (CROSSTALK) GRANHOLM: Yes, it would be political malpractice to not have some private e-mail. MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. I don`t think it`s about funerals and weddings. I think it was about some supporter, person in California she was defense favors for or checking in with or saying how is the family? This is wonderfully political and positive. Your thoughts. MARCUS: Whatever the motivation is, the fact of the matter is, is that Governor Granholm talked about yesterday as a pivot point. The really relevant question is, why did it take so long to get to this pivot point? Why isn`t the campaign a little bit more and the candidate little bit more adept at being able to respond before you have all these people saying liar? MATTHEWS: Do you know what I have noticed, Governor? And you`re a surrogate, so I don`t give advice, but I`m giving some now, I guess. The campaign is -- it looked wonderful yesterday. The way she came out and presented herself -- I`m not getting into clothes and everything and hair and all that. That gets you into trouble. But her presentation yesterday about the horror that happened down in Virginia was so presidential, so perfectly tuned, so with it. And then this kind of stuff happens. And I go, how come one day -- it is like following the Phillies. They win one, they lose two. Or they win one or two and then they lose three. And I go, this is driving me crazy.   (CROSSTALK) GRANHOLM: We don`t agree on this. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, there is an unevenness -- no, you think it has been an evenly run campaign? GRANHOLM: No, no, I`m not saying that. Obviously, the campaign has had to catch up on this e-mail thing. I think the strong statements about women`s health -- I disagree with you both on that. I think that people, women... MATTHEWS: Terrorists. GRANHOLM: ... especially, want her to be strong. But I would say that yesterday`s comments, both about the shooting and about Joe Biden, which were very sensitive, and about this e-mail, I think, were really on point and shows her to be a strong leader. And, by the way, In that Quinnipiac poll, that -- it asked the basic questions about who is a strong leader, who -- or do you think that this is a strong leader, do you think this is someone who cares about you, do you think this is someone that you could trust in a crisis? Hillary Clinton wins hands down in all three of those measures, every single person... (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: But it also -- it also showed, however, that Joe Biden is significantly more powerful running against the possible Republican opponents, whether it`s Trump on one side or Jeb on the other. So why is the vice president leading in that poll? GRANHOLM: Well, you said significantly. It was by a couple of points. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, the lead was four times as good in one case. No, it was like eight compared to two. It was significant. (CROSSTALK) GRANHOLM: Well, OK. Let me just say, everybody knows that when you are not a candidate, you do better in polls. And the minute you become a candidate, all bets are off, right? This is to take nothing away from the great Joe Biden, who we all love dearly. This is just a fact of campaigning. MATTHEWS: Sure. GRANHOLM: And I`m sure it`s one of the things that he is weighing. But let me just say that the coverage of this poll has been really quite surprising. She beats all of the Democrats by 22 points-plus. And, of course, all the coverage is totally the opposite. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: You know why it was? Because it is news. It is news to me that Joe Biden is doing better against the Republicans than she is. That surprises me. OK? That`s why I`m talking -- I`m reporting it, because it is what we call news. Anyway, thank you, Governor Granholm. We come from a really political background. I have got some journalism in my background. It is news. Thank you, Ruth, as always. MARCUS: Thanks, Chris. And your hair looks great. MATTHEWS: I got a haircut. Anyway, it`s real, too. (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) GRANHOLM: We have to test. MATTHEWS: A trip back -- no, please. You can after we`re all here. A trip back to New Orleans tonight 10 years after the devastation of Katrina. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What started out as a natural disaster became a manmade disaster, a failure of government to look out for its own citizens. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans today. He is there marking the 10th anniversary, the 10-year anniversary since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast, of course. Back in 2005, 10 years ago, I was on the ground reporting on the immediate efforts to try and save lives and restore some semblance of order down there. It required the help of the United States Army Special Forces. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2005) MATTHEWS: I visited a command post not far from here, and I talked to some of the soldiers there about the challenges they`re facing as they try to save the people of New Orleans and clean up the city. We are here at Harrah`s Casino. I have been here before in brighter days. What is going on here? What is this? CAPT. WILLIAM LYNN, U.S. ARMY SPECIAL FORCES: We are assisting the coordination effort with the New Orleans Police Department on getting assets out to the waterborne areas, where we have got five-ton trucks, (INAUDIBLE) and boats to continue to search for survivors.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, there was kind of a surreal quality back then, as soldiers from the Oregon National Guard, veterans of the Iraq War, sought to help find survivors. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I feel like I`m on a patrol here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that`s what we are on, sir. MATTHEWS: In an urban situation, in an American situation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re here to protect American lives and property, sir. MATTHEWS: Not a familiar sight, for me at least. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks a lot like Baghdad, sir. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I think I have lost some weight since then.   Anyway, Gary Rivlin covered the Katrina catastrophe for "The New York Times" and he is out with a new book, "Katrina: After the Flood," about New Orleans` recovery, both the failures and the successes. Let me ask you a brutal question. If this all happened again, the same weather that conditions, the same flooding, would New Orleans be flooded again? And is there any better improvement in terms of what protects that city from a flood like this? GARY RIVLIN, AUTHOR, "KATRINA: AFTER THE FLOOD": Oh, yes, New Orleans is in much better shape right now than it was 10 years ago. The federal government spent almost $15 billion rebuilding the levee system. And so if there was the same exact storm, a Category 3 hurricane hitting New Orleans as it did, yes, I think people here are very confident that they would fare much better. And of course you go through that kind of trauma, you`re going to be more prepared the next time. Not as many people will stay and there is also a better plan in place to evacuate people. MATTHEWS: You know, I`m going to help New Orleans out a little bit the next couple minutes. Maybe you want to help too, as well as push the book, which looks great, "Katrina: After the Flood." RIVLIN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: You know what? People love to go to New Orleans. It`s a natural city, unlike Las Vegas, which is sort of a manmade place, which is OK. But New Orleans is real. There`s a certain feel, an atmosphere down there that is old and French and Southern and Cajun, the whole thing. And there`s just something really great about this. You go to Cafe Du Monde and you have a beignet. You go out and listen to some real jazz at night at a club. The food is fantastic, places like Emeril`s. Tell me about that. What is the greatness? Give me the pitch for visiting New Orleans as a family right now. RIVLIN: That is part of the story that -- New Orleans 10 years later. I was here for eight months after Katrina. There was a long period where it wasn`t clear that New Orleans was going to come back and look anything like it does now. From a tourist point of view, from a visitors point of view, New Orleans is in fantastic shame, 20 percent less people, but more restaurants. It`s thrumming with energy. There`s all this youthful energy here.   All these recent college graduates have come down here. That`s part of the story. The other half of the story is the neighborhoods, the eastern half of the city, which is to say the black half of the city. And there is a still lot of suffering there. I spoke to one man who said, the water isn`t here, but we`re still drowning. There is that part of the story too. MATTHEWS: What can the government do at this point? And would there be money to help them continue this restoration? RIVLIN: No, I mean, there were fundamental mistakes made in those early years that just set the dye. And so you have Lakeview, a white, prosperous community, it`s 100 percent back. But then you look at black middle class, black working class, black lower-income communities, and they`re still struggling. The president is in the Lower Ninth Ward right now. Only one-third of the population is back 10 years later after Katrina. Look at black working-class neighborhoods, they`re about half back, black middle class, black professional class neighborhoods maybe 60, 70, 80 percent back, because decisions were made. Road Home, the $10 billion program, the largest federal recovery -- housing recovery program in U.S. history, and it went to court. A federal judge five years after Katrina said it is racially discriminatory. It benefits white communities over black communities. Well, at that point, there were only which $150 million left. MATTHEWS: Well, do you think it makes sense for the federal government -- for money coming from all around the United States to benefit people that live below sea level? Is that a reasonable investment, if you`re building a community below sea level, where it`s going to be vulnerable? RIVLIN: And people live in the earthquake zone on the West Coast and people are in the tornado -- along rivers in the Midwest. What makes it such a complicated is, the high ground was pretty much taken in New Orleans by the time most African-Americans access to homeownership. So, who are we talking about in the low-lying parts of New Orleans? It`s mainly African-Americans. There was a plan put in place like four or five months after Katrina that would have told the lower-lying neighborhoods, I`m sorry. We`re not going to rebuild you, we`re going to move you somewhere else. That would have removed 80 percent of the black population of New Orleans. Just the racial history of this place, of our history didn`t make that possible. MATTHEWS: Well, it doesn`t make sense because New Orleans is, to a large extent, that people think of it as jazz and black people and the whole -- you`re right, you got it. The milieu is very much that anyway. Anyway, thank you, Gary Rivlin. You made a good case for helping the worst-off.   Up next, can any action come on gun safety reform in the wake of the tragic on-air shootings in Virginia yesterday? What do you think? You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. President Obama taking time out during a visit to New Orleans to talk about the economy. It grew at a rate of 3.7 percent last quarter. That`s right in the sweet spot for sustained economic growth. State officials say Californians cut water use by a better-than- expected 31 percent in July, in response to what is being called the drought of the century there. And Tropical Storm Erika is now being blamed for at least four deaths in the Caribbean. She could hit Florida as a Category 1 hurricane on Monday -- back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Twenty-four hours after two journalists, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, were killed live on the air, their colleagues at WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, paused this morning in the broadcast for a moment of silence and to pay their respects. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are approaching a moment that none of us will forget.   It was yesterday around this time that we went live to Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward. We are ending this moment with our continued thanks and support for all of you at home. You have been our rock, our strength during this time. This hurts all of us so much, as you can see. But we will, with time and the blessings of our many friends out there, all of you, we will heal from this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We really do, are close to this business, that holding of hands meant something to me there. Anyway, the killer, Vester Lee Flanagan, was a former employee, actually he was a reporter of the station. In a 23-page suicide note sent to NBC to ABC News, he said he purchased a gun two days after the Charleston church massacre. He called himself a human powder keg waiting to go boom. Those were his words. And he praised the columbine and Virginia tech shooters. Well, today, Alison Parker`s father, Andy, said he was making it his life`s mission now to change laws in order to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people. Let`s listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDY PARKER, ALISON PARKER`S FATHER: My grief which is still apparent and will be that way for a while, it has turned to anger because, you know, how many times are we going to see an incident like this happen. You know, Newtown, Charleston, you know, the movie theaters, you name it, it`s got to stop. It`s got to stop. Nationally, locally, we`ve got to find a way to keep crazy people from getting guns, mentally unstable people. I mean, look at it. The people that do this are mentally unstable and somehow they`re able to get guns. And the NRA is fighting it tooth and nail. And I -- my goal is to call these people out, which I`m doing now and I will do it on national television every chance I get. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by tonight`s roundtable, "Chicago Tribune" columnist, the great Clarence Page, political reporter for "The Guardian", Sabrina Siddiqui, and "Politico`s" chief investigative reporter, Ken Vogel.   You know, I`ll start with Clarence, because we`ve been through this so many times. CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Yes. MATTHEWS: Every time somebody has been killed in gun violence, whether it is senseless, it`s the phrase people like to use, or whatever it is, irrational or insane or a political killing or it`s just a crime. We`re also going to do something about guns. PAGE: That`s right. MATTHEWS: Two weeks later, we`re talking about something else. PAGE: That`s right. MATTHEWS: We`re talking about hurricane Katrina. The gun people, the Second Amendment rights people, are still talking about how much they want to hold to their guns. Passion and focus is what wins for the NRA. PAGE: Well, you`ve got it. There`s not that same kind of passion and focus on the side of gun safety, some kind of sensible gun control. MATTHEWS: Yes, but other interests. PAGE: Well, you know, yes. People on the whole are not as committed to it, and or -- as well-funded as the anti-gun control side. And this is, this means that, unfortunately, the numbers are being built up in their ranks by tragedy. A lot like this father sounding like the Sandy Hook parents or the family of those people down there in Charleston. The thing is we`re going into a presidential election year right now. MATTHEWS: Do you think it will matter?   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let`s watch Hillary. I was very impressed. You can pick up on this, Sabrina. Anyway, Hillary Clinton promised she would take the issue of gun violence on. She called it a difficult issue and said too many politicians turn away from dealing with it. She`s so right. Let`s watch her. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yesterday once again, this time, horrifically on live television, we saw the terrible consequences of gun violence in America. I know that we have a majority of Americans and a majority of gun owners who support universal back ground checks in America. And I strongly believe we`ve got to have common sense reforms to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, the violently unstable, domestic abusers, and even terrorists who find it pretty easy in our country to get ahold of a weapon if they so choose. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, today, Republican front-runner Donald Trump was asked on CNN if he would do anything to change gun policies. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don`t think I would because this is really a sick person. This isn`t a gun problem, it`s a mental problem. A case like this, he snuck up on them. Whether it was a gun or a notify, whatever it would have been, it would have been something. But, you know, you`re not going to get rid of all guns. So, I know one thing, if you try to do it, the bad guys would have them, to use an expression, and the good folks would abide by the law. That`d be hopeless and it would be a homeless situation for them. And I think it`s a big mistake. And, you know, I`m very much Second Amendment person, Chris. And I know the arguments both ways very well. I`m very much into the Second Amendment. You need protection.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Donald, this is one bad guy that had a gun. So, with his whole principle, only good guys will be kept from having guns. This bad guy had the gun. And Hillary deserves a lot of credit for that. But, politically, can she sell this in 50 states? A lot of which are rural, pro-gun states. SIDDIQUI: Well, I think that she`s making a calculation that the general electorate views this issue differently, that if you`re just talking about background checks, it`s not banning assault weapons, not to some of the more far-reaching measures, then you could have that support. And I also think that -- MATTHEWS: Is that the way Second Amendment people look at it? SIDDIQUI: It`s not the way Second Amendment people look at it. MATTHEWS: They`re in a slippery slope all the time. SIDDIQUI: But the general public is different than, for example, the Republican primary voters and that`s why no Republican candidate is going to show any interest in any kind of new gun laws whatsoever. I do think that Democrats feel the only way they can own this issue is to make this more about holding politicians accountable and try and build the kind of passion that we were talking about. MATTHEWS: Size this up. The immediate tragedy. We all watch it on TV. We saw it on Twitter, which was taken down, the whole horror of it pretty much. What do the American people need, a shock treatment to say, you know what, guns don`t kill, people do, people kill people. Well, in this case, a person who shouldn`t have had a gun had one. KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Well, a couple things. You would think that a lot -- the sort of social media aspect of this might really grip folks in a way that perhaps we haven`t seen in past shootings. But let`s -- MATTHEWS: What do you mean by social media?   VOGEL: The fact this video is out there for everyone to see. MATTHEWS: Twitter. VOGEL: And it was so shocking and so outrageous, right. And it was played, you know -- MATTHEWS: I think it was taken down by some of the people. VOGEL: It was eventually, but nonetheless, I mean, that`s -- you don`t need much more evidence to see something like that. But let`s think back -- MATTHEWS: Is it going to matter a year from now? VOGEL: You know, it`s tough for me to say that it would, just because you look back to Sandy Hook when 20 innocent school children were killed. MATTHEWS: Good point. VOGEL: If that`s not the wake up call, then this, you know, yes, there`s additional video evidence, but I have trouble believing it will overcome some of the entrenched politics and constituencies you guys have talked about, NRA, and other interest groups. MATTHEWS: We`ve talked about celebrated killing, we all live in Washington here. The killings in this city, over 100 already this year, way ahead of last year, there`s going to be an enormous number of shootings -- family disputes, guys dissing each other. The stuff that happens all the time on a hot summer night is happening in this city because there are too damned many guns around this place. There`s no need for guns in D.C.   PAGE: That`s really -- MATTHEWS: In the ideal world, there wouldn`t be any excerpt the cops. PAGE: That`s not really the best example, though, because urban crime and homicide exactly has been in decline over the last 20 years. MATTHEWS: Not in this city. PAGE: Including in Washington, but they always go up and down. MATTHEWS: But they`re going up right now. (CROSSTALK) PAGE: The real issue here, Chris, is why can`t a commonsense reform like universal background checks get passed when polls show overwhelming majorities like -- VOGEL: Although there`s no evidence that tht would have prevented this and that is one of the arguments of the Second Amendment -- (CROSSTALK) PAGE: If you can`t get that passed, then you`re not going to get anything more serious passed.   MATTHEWS: The roundtable is staying with us and it`s obviously in dispute right now. Coming up, what is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump? Think about it. And what about Hillary Clinton? First word, a revealing look at voters` impressions coming up next. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIALK BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz will make a joint appearance in Washington, D.C. in September, that`s next month, to oppose the Iranian nuclear deal. The Texas senator has spoken kindly of Trump from the get-go said he didn`t find the billionaire to join him at a rally. And Trump confirmed today that not only would he be there, so would a, quote, "tremendous crowd". Of course, he`s going to bring the crowd. The rally, held by the Tea Party Patriots, the Zionists Organization of America, and the Center for Security Policy will take place on Capitol Hill prior to the congressional vote on the deal. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We are back. Well, the latest Quinnipiac poll which we`re mentioning released today asked respondents what is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of the three presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Well, the answers were very telling and some were disturbing. Here`s what people said about Hillary Clinton, the top six words. Number one, liar. Then dishonest, untrustworthy. They`re all about the same, all bad. Experience, that`s good. Strong, that`s good. And here`s a mixed statement, Bill. We`re back with our roundtable, Clarence, Sabrina, and Ken.   So, Sabrina, I think a lot of that is just Republican haters. But your thought? SIDDIQUI: Well, yes, this certainly -- MATTHEWS: Liar? SIDDIQUI: -- shows some of the struggles amid the e-mail controversy and the campaign`s inability to break through on the messaging there. At the same time, she leads Republicans in all the hypothetical head-to-head matchups. She also has a sizeable lead over Joe Biden, over Bernie Sanders. MATTHEWS: But not in the matchup with the Republicans. Biden has taken the lead there, which is weird. What did you think of the words on Hillary? PAGE: Well, some people think -- MATTHEWS: How about secretive? Something nicer? PAGE: Some people say, yes, she`s a liar but at least she`s our liar. MATTHEWS: Oh God. PAGE: I think the question is --   MATTHEWS: Oh, God. You`re tough. PAGE: Have you ever been to Chicago? MATTHEWS: Let`s look at the words to describe Jeb Bush. You can get in here. The top six were, this is a killer, Bush. Family, the same thing. Honest, that`s not bad. Weak, like Fredo in "The Godfather", brother and dynasty. These aren`t positive. VOGEL: It`s a struggle for both of them frankly, for Jeb and for Hillary. So much of this is baked into the cake. There`s not a whole lot they can do. I agree the e-mail controversy may be increasing the frequency with which people would think of the word "liar" when they`re asked about her. MATTHEWS: How about Bush? Trump was making fun of him earlier today by saying he never uses the word "Bush." SIDDIQUI: I will say that having been on the campaign trail following some of these Republican candidates, the thing that primary voters always say to me about Jeb Bush still is that his name is going to be a problem. They just can`t appoint another Bush as their nominee. MATTHEWS: Finally, the top words used to describe Donald Trump. This is no surprise. Arrogant, blowhard, idiot, businessman, that`s good. Clown, honest. PAGE: I`m not so sure how good that is. MATTHEWS: Businessman is sort of mixed bag. Honest is good, but blowhard, arrogant? PAGE: I`m reassured that the public is not as stupid as a lot of people think they are. VOGEL: Those are remarkable, talk about with Jeb and Hillary, it`s long track records. With him, I mean, you only have to go back a few months and he was actually kind of respected. He did this to himself and he did this pretty quickly. I think this is a pretty indelible impression that`s not going anywhere.   MATTHEWS: Is arrogant a killer? VOGEL: I don`t know. I mean, you talk to his supporters -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: They want self confidence. SIDDIQUI: I think there`s a difference between Republican primary voters and the general electorate in America, which is why you know Donald Trump cannot actually be the nominee. MATTHEWS: You don`t think? SIDDIQUI: Well, if he is, then they`re in deep trouble. PAGE: You ask the Trump supporters and they`ll tell you what they like about him. SIDDIQUI: I think demographically, they`re definitely in trouble. Thank you, Sabrina, thank you, Siddiqui. In fact, you`re both Sabrina and Siddiqui. And thank you, Ken Vogel. Up next, when we return let me finish with some of the reasons why Donald Trump is commanding the Republican field, and he is.   You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with my explanation for Donald Trump. First, there is no one reason why he is commanding the Republican field right now. There are several reasons, only some of which I think I`ve got figured out. Let`s start with the candidate himself. A smart Canadian pollster, Alan Greg, once told me there`s three elements to any successful politician in any country. Motive -- you know why they`re running. Passion -- they`re letting you know when they`re excited by something and angered by something. And, spontaneity -- the lights are on and someone`s home. They can think on their feet. They can react to a situation -- even something they just said themselves as a real, live human being. Trump`s got all of this. He`s running to blow apart the country`s political establishment. He`s showing gusto in making his points and he is clearly capable of reacting when someone tries going toe to toe with him. There`s some other factors, nationalism being the strongest, but a lot of others of tried speaking to this deep feeling that our country is being betrayed at the top. But only Trump has so powerfully succeeded. The key to Trump is the message, an outraged citizenry, at least somewhat, and Trump himself. Nobody out there or in recent memory does it better, in fact, nowhere near as well.   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.>