IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/04/15

Guests: Jeremy Peters, Maria Teresa Kumar, Ken Vogel

STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: From the e-mail controversy to Joe Biden to Donald Trump, the MSNBC exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews. "Let Me Start" tonight with a somewhat rare occurrence. For only the third time since launching her campaign, Hillary Clinton gave a one-on-one national television interview today. NBC`s Andrea Mitchell sat down with the Democratic front-runner this morning for a discussion that covered her e-mails, Donald Trump, Joe Biden and much more. On her use of private e-mails, Clinton acknowledged it wasn`t the best choice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Are you sorry? Do you want to apologize to the American people for the choice you made? HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it wasn`t the best choice. And I certainly have said that. I will continue to say that, as I`ve also said many times, it was allowed and it was fully aboveboard. The people in the government knew that I was using a personal account. But it would have been better if I`d had two separate accounts to begin with. (END VIDEO CLIP)   KORNACKI: Andrea also asked Clinton about the potential of Vice President Joe Biden jumping into the race. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: He has to make a really difficult decision. You can see him struggling with it, and I just wish the best for him and his family. If he gets into this race, there will be plenty of time to get into the debate and the back and forth. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And they also talked Trump, specifically the Republican front-runner`s personal attack against Clinton`s close aide, Huma Abedin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: He`s great at innuendo and conspiracy theories and really defaming people. That`s not what I want to do in my campaign, and that`s not how I`m going to conduct myself. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And Andrea Mitchell joins me now, along with "Mother Jones" Washington bureau chief David Corn, an MSNBC political analyst. Well, let`s watch what Hillary Clinton had to say about her use of private e-mail while secretary of state and whether that raises questions about her judgment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   MITCHELL: Did anyone in your inner circle say, This isn`t such a good idea, let`s not do this? CLINTON: You know, I was not thinking a lot when I got in. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world. I didn`t really stop and think, What kind of e-mail system will there be? I just... MITCHELL: Does it raise judgment questions? CLINTON: Well, I don`t think so. I think that the facts are pretty clear that we had a lot of hard work, hard choices to make in those four years, and I`m very proud of the work we did. I`m very proud of all the people that I worked with. I think we really served our country well. And now the State Department has everything that they could have. So at the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: All right, Andrea, she says there are answers to all these questions. She says earlier in the interview, too, everything was done in an aboveboard way, seeming to say that everybody who needed to know knew about this. Is that an accurate -- is that an accurate take on this, something that`s going to put this to rest? MITCHELL: Well, certainly, a lot of people within her circle, the top advisers, senior staff at the State Department apparently knew because they were e-mailing back and forth with her. The help desk didn`t know. We know that because of the latest batch of e-mails indicating that the IT people in the State Department did not know. And you know, it was not illegal at the time, but there were plenty of advisories, as I pointed out to her. There were cables, even one under her signature which is routine, telling everyone in the State Department not to use personal e-mail for work-related issues. So it`s still pretty ambiguous, and they know that they`re going to have to answer more questions. As she said, she`s going to be as transparent as possible, certainly when she goes before the Benghazi committee on October 22nd. That is going to be her opportunity in public, in contrast to what happened to Cheryl Mills, her very close aide, yesterday for more than nine hours.   She has demanded and has finally negotiated that she will be -- Hillary Clinton will be appearing in public so that that question and answer will be seen by everyone. KORNACKI: Well, Andrea, you also asked Hillary about a recent Quinnipiac poll that asked people to give the first word that comes to mind when they think of Hillary Clinton. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITCHELL: But the first words that came to mind when asked about you were "liar," "untrustworthy," "crooked." How does that make you feel? CLINTON: Well, it certainly doesn`t make me feel very good. But I`m very confident that by the time this campaign has run its course, people will know that what I`ve been saying is accurate, and I will have a chance to do that in front of the entire world with the congressional committee hearing. They may disagree, as I now disagree with the choice that I made, but the facts that I have put forth have remained the same. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, you mentioned, Andrea, a minute ago those hearings coming up about a month from now, a little over a month from now. Is that -- I mean, because there`s a couple ways, I guess, of looking at this question of trustworthiness with the Clintons. One is maybe she could put questions to rest a month from now. The other one is, a lot of ways, these are questions that have been out there for a generation now, going back to the 1990s, and is there really anything she can do to satisfy the critics after all these years? MITCHELL: Well, I think it`s true that there is nothing that she`s going to be able to do to satisfy some of the critics. But even many of her friends and supporters are raising questions. Ed Rendell the other day on our show and in other programs said that the way she had handled this was atrocious. He told that to "The New York Times." He`s one of her closest supporters in a key state of Pennsylvania, former Democratic chair.   So this is not limited to either the press corps or the vast right- wing conspiracy, as she once phrased it in an interview also with NBC, with Matt Lauer on "TODAY." This is very much out there. People who don`t understand it want answers, or at least have some feelings, according to people that come up to me on the street and ask me about it, that something was a little fishy. And she was trying and I think the whole campaign is now trying to get out in front of it. KORNACKI: Well, Hillary Clinton also had some strong words for Donald Trump and the kind of campaign that he`s running. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITCHELL: Donald Trump, among other things that he`s done, has really personally attacked one of your closest aides, Huma Abedin. What was your feeling about that? CLINTON: Well, he`s attacked so many people, including my close aide and myself, and many other people. You know, I can take that. I mean, that`s just par for the course. I do regret that he is going after so many people, many of them by name, from great basketball players to people who express different opinions from him. I think it`s an unfortunate development in American politics that his campaign is all about who he`s against, whether it`s immigrants or women broadcasters or aides of other candidates. He is the candidate of, you know, being against. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, David Corn, what do you make of that answer? Because I mean, we`ve had to now begin entertaining the possibility that a year from now, we`re dealing with a Trump versus Hillary general election. DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and I thought what was interesting there is the way Andrea phrased the question,as, What is your feeling about this? She never told us. She got very kind of clinical and was very distant and calm about it.   Now, I understand she doesn`t want to elevate Trump, want to get into a, you know, you know what match with him right away. But I think, you know, one thing -- you know, people sometimes say she may come across as cold and calculating. There are times to actually show what you feel and what you`re made of. And I think a perfectly good response would have been, Hey, he can say whatever he wants about me, that`s politics. But when it comes to personal attacks, personal aides, he should just lay off. You know, That`s not appropriate -- just show some fire, defend someone who`s close to you. I understand the reasons not to do that, but I think there are reasons for her to show a little more gumption. And it reminded me in a much more minor version of what happened to Michael Dukakis when he was asked what he would think of the death penalty if his wife was raped and killed. It was very kind of detached. And if she wants to make connections with people outside of coffee shops, she has to show, I think, a little more heat and passion about day- to-day stuff, not just policy, when it comes to these interviews on television. KORNACKI: All right, well, Andrea, the other big name out there besides Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton -- you also asked Hillary about Joe Biden and his potential to get into the race. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITCHELL: Are there real differences, big differences between you and Joe Biden on domestic or foreign policy? CLINTON: You know, I`m not going to address any of the political questions around my friend Joe Biden. He has to make a really difficult decision. You can see him struggling with it, and I just wish the best for him and his family. If he continues as vice president, he will continue to serve with great distinction. If he gets into this race, there`ll be plenty of time to get into the debate and the back and forth. But I think everybody should give him the space and respect he deserves to make what is a very difficult choice for him and his family. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And last night, speaking at a synagogue in Atlanta Biden gave an extremely frank and personal answer when he was asked if and when he`ll decide to jump in. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be straightforward with you. The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run. Everybody talks about a lot of other factors, the other people in the race and whether I can raise the money and whether I can put together an organization. That`s not the factor. The factor is, Can I do it? Can my family? I have to be honest with you and everyone who`s come to me. I can`t look you straight in the eye and say now I know I can do that. That`s as honest as I can be. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, Andrea, the answer to your question from Hillary Clinton sort of the politically correct answer there, I guess, from Hillary. But that performance, that speech from Joe Biden last night we just played -- you`ve covered him for a while. I`m just curious what your reaction is to watching the vice president speak that way. That`s a tone we don`t usually see from him. MITCHELL: I know. And I`ve known Joe Biden since he first became a senator. I was a local reporter in Philadelphia, and Delaware, used to consider itself (ph) as the third Pennsylvania senator. He is heartbroken. And he doesn`t know, according to all of my reporting, whether he and his family have the emotional strength to make this race. That said, he wants to do it. He would love to run for president. He thinks he`s more qualified than Hillary Clinton, according to a lot of people who`ve spoken to him. But he doesn`t know that he can actually do this. And I think, for one, that it would be a terrible political fact for Clinton if Biden were to get into the race because I don`t think it helps her and toughens her up, I think it just divides the party and makes it a whole lot more difficult for the Democrats to be competitive. KORNACKI: All right. Well, also, on a key foreign policy question, Hillary Clinton backed the president on the Iran nuclear deal. She also, though, had some tough talk for Iran. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITCHELL: What do you say to your friends, many of them in the Jewish community, who think this is a terrible deal?   CLINTON: I believe that the agreement is not perfect. It is by no means some kind of validation of Iran. You know, my view is, Don`t trust, and verify. But it is a very important step, and it is better than the alternative. So on Wednesday, I will be outlining in great detail both why I support the agreement, but equally importantly, what I would do as president to enforce it, to hold Iran accountable and to make clear that no options were off the table, that they can never, ever have a nuclear weapon. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: You know, David, it`s so interesting. I`m thinking back eight years ago when it was Obama versus Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, and the issue of how to deal with Iran or whether to deal with Iran was sort of a dividing line between them. Here we are eight years later, and Hillary Clinton`s going to run on the legacy of this Obama administration and its dealings with Iran. CORN: Well, she`s inheriting this accord, which will survive, I think, the congressional opposition to it from the Republicans, and so she has to make a good argument for it. I think that part of the interview showed Hillary at her best, the whole foreign policy portion, because she, you know, speaks with a certain amount of credibility, authority about these very difficult issues, much more so than we`ve seen with Donald Trump recently. And I think the speech she gives next week will be really important, perhaps even more important than some of the things that the president has been saying about the deal with Iran because this is the future. The Democratic Party has this deal. It`s part of, you know, whoever the Democratic candidate`s going to be, part of their platform. And so she`s going to need to talk about it in a common sense way that registers with people when the Republicans out there are demagoguing and have an easy case for demagoguery. You can`t trust the Iranians, they`re terrorists. How can you let this happen? So she has a harder challenge. And her ability to do that will show, I think to a large degree, how effective she can be in a general election.. KORNACKI: Yes, Andrea, the politics of this one are interesting because when you ask that question in the polls, Do you support this deal, do you oppose this deal, the oppose side is winning pretty big right now. MITCHELL: Well, not in our latest "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll, I think. It depends how you ask the question. Ours was 35, 33 and about a third not knowing enough about it have an opinion. So the polls are all over the place, I think, the last I checked, which was yesterday or the day before.   But that said, she has to own it because she helped launch the secret negotiations. She can`t walk away from this. KORNACKI: All right, Andrea Mitchell and David Corn, thank you both for joining us. And Andrea, again, congratulations. That`s a fantastic interview. MITCHELL: Thanks very much. Thanks so much. KORNACKI: All right, and you can watch Andrea`s full interview with Hillary Clinton tonight at 9:00 Eastern on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW." Coming up, we just heard what Hillary Clinton thinks of Donald Trump. When we come back, Trump is on the warpath again, not just with Jeb Bush but now with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, who stumped Trump with some foreign policy questions. Plus, with that county clerk behind bars, same-sex couples are finally getting marriage licenses in Morehead, Kentucky. We`ll get the latest on that story ahead. And with Labor Day upon us, it`s the unofficial end of summer, "the summer of Trump," as this one was known. We know Trump`s the big winner this summer. Who are the biggest losers? And finally, you`ve heard of Trump`s "Art of the Deal." Tonight, well the art of the squeal, trump`s most outrageous moments from the campaign trail so far. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Some mixed news in the August jobs numbers released today. The unemployment rate dropped from 5.3 to 5.1 percent. That`s the lowest level since spring of 2008. But employers added just 173,000 jobs. That is lower than expected, although numbers were revised upwards for jobs added in June and July.   Amid the jobs news today, Wall Street finished in the red with the Dow down 272 points and the NASDAQ and S&P both closing lower, as well as concerns grow about China and a possible interest rate hike from the Fed later this month. Be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump has escalated another war of words with the media, and this time, it`s with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. On his program yesterday,+ Hewitt posed a series of tough foreign policy questions to the Republican front-runner. Specifically, he asked Trump about the leader of a division of Iran`s notorious Revolutionary Guard, a special forces unit known as the Quds Forces, as well as other questions about high-profile terrorist figures in the Middle East. Trump stumbled through the interview before the conversation turned into a debate about the fairness of what Trump insisted were gotcha questions. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Are you familiar with General Suleimani? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. I -- but go ahead. Give me a little -- go ahead. Tell me. HEWITT: He runs the Quds Forces. TRUMP: Yes. OK. Right.   HEWITT: Do you expect... TRUMP: And I think the Kurds, by the way, have been horribly mistreated by us and... HEWITT: No, not the Kurds, the Quds Forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces... TRUMP: Yes. Yes. HEWITT: ... the bad guys. TRUMP: Right. HEWITT: Do you expect his behavior to change as a result... TRUMP: Well, I think you said Kurds. Kurds. HEWITT: No, I`m looking for the next commander-in-chief to know who Hasan Nasrallah is and Zawahiri and al Julani and al Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard yet, Donald Trump? TRUMP: As far as the individual players, of course I don`t know them. I have never met them. I haven`t been in a position to meet them. If -- if they`re still there, which is unlikely in many cases, but if they`re still there, I will know them better than I know you. HEWITT: I don`t believe in gotcha questions. I`m not trying to quiz you on who the worst guy in the world is.   TRUMP: Well, that is a gotcha question, though. I mean, you know, when you`re asking me about who`s running this, this, this, that`s not -- that is not -- I will be so good at the military, your head will spin. (END AUDIO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, still seething from that exchange, Trump took to mocking Hewitt today in a phone interview on "MORNING JOE." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MORNING JOE") TRUMP: When you say Quds vs. Kurds, I thought he said Kurds, this third-rate radio announcer that I did the show. It was like a gotcha, gotcha, got -- every question was, do I know this one and that one? And it was like he worked hard on that. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: This appears to have become a familiar pattern for Trump, who last month attacked FOX News host Megyn Kelly after she asked similarly tough questions of Trump at the first Republican debate. I`m joined now by Joy Reid, national correspondent for MSNBC, as well as McKay Coppins, senior political writer at BuzzFeed. Well, Joy, let`s start with you. Is it a fair question, is it a gotcha question, or is a gotcha question a fair question? (LAUGHTER)   JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Exactly. Well, you know what? I think the difference between what happened with Hugh Hewitt and what Megyn Kelly did was, Megyn Kelly was asking Donald Trump about his own statements, which I think is perfectly legitimate. And on foreign policy, I think there actually is a difference, not to defend Donald Trump, who I think for a lot of other questions should be questioned on everything he says and does. But there is a lot of -- a big difference by asking, who is the leader of Iran and who is the leader of the Quds Force? I doubt most journalists could tell you who the leader of the Quds Forces are. Yes, everyone knows who Zawahri is. Well, do they? I don`t know. I think most Trump supporters are going to dismiss this as smarty-pants-ism on the part of Mr. Hewitt, who is a Harvard guy and sort of an intellectual right-winger host. So, I don`t think it is going to hurt Trump at all with his fans. KORNACKI: Well, today, Marco Rubio told CNN that Trump`s response to Hugh Hewitt`s questions is a red flag. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think, if you don`t the answer to those questions, you`re not going to be able to serve as commander in chief. It should be part of the reason why you`re running is because you understand the threats that the world is facing. You have a deep understanding and you have an understanding of what to do about them. And if someone doesn`t, I think it`s very concerning. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And yesterday Jeb Bush also told reporters that Trump`s answer doesn`t cut it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got to know who the players are. You need to know what the capabilities of the United States are. You need a strategy.   All this stuff, you just can`t flippantly say, well, you know, I will hire the best people and it will be done. You got to have some sense of what`s at risk here. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, OK, McKay, we know they`re going to pounce. His opponents are looking for anything they can find to take him down in the polls. So, here`s an opportunity. Let`s see what they get out of it. But pick up on what Joy was saying. I`m wondering about the average voter`s response to this. If the average voter doesn`t know much more than Trump about any of these questions, does the average voter give him a pass for it? MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: Yes, I mean, the thing with Trump is that -- and why he might survive this better than some other candidates might have is because people -- what people like about Donald Trump is not his mastery of the issues. They like his attitude. And when he said, I will be so good at the military, your head will spin, that`s funny to a lot of people in the media and pundits, but the fact is, a lot of people believe him. A lot of voters believe him. And they don`t care if he knows the name of specific leaders in Iran. What they care and what they believe is that once he gets in office, he will take care of business if he has to, right? And I think that that`s something that helps him overcome little stumbles like this along the way. KORNACKI: Yes, we`re getting used to these stumbles that we say, that should take down any other candidate, and it doesn`t work with Donald Trump. COPPINS: Right. KORNACKI: Well, as a candidate for president back in 1999, Jeb`s brother, George W. Bush, was asked to identify the leader of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf. But he was unable to come up with his name. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1999)   QUESTION: Can you name the name the general who in charge of Pakistan? GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, is this a -- is this a 50 questions? QUESTION: No, it`s four questions of four leaders in four hot spots. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The top man in Pakistan is General Pervez Musharraf, who overthrew an elected government. G. BUSH: The new Pakistani general has just been elected. He`s -- not elected. This guy just took over office. He appears he`s going to bring stability to the country, and I think that`s good news for the... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: And you can name him. G. BUSH: The general. I can name the general. QUESTION: And it`s? G. BUSH: General. (END VIDEO CLIP)   (LAUGHTER) KORNACKI: Now, while embarrassing, Bush`s answer was not a major setback for his campaign. But in the 2012 cycle, then front-runner Herman Cain, remember him, was asked a similar question. Not only was he able to answer, though. He gave a mocking response. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: Are you ready for the gotcha questions? They`re coming from the media and others on foreign policy, who is the president of Uzbekistan, you know, all of this stuff. HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m ready for the gotcha questions. And they are already starting to come. And when they ask me who the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I`m going to say, you know, I don`t know. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, it obviously didn`t work out, Joy, for Herman Cain, though there`s probably other reasons that the Herman Cain campaign didn`t work out in 2012. (LAUGHTER) KORNACKI: Can`t necessarily pin it on that. But I remember that George W. Bush thing from 1999. That was Andy Hiller, a reporter at Channel 7 in Boston, who was asking those questions. That caused a big stir back then. Was that fair? Was Bush set up?   But, again, it`s a pretty good example. Bush was the front-runner when that happened. He took a lot of heat from the media. It didn`t trickle down when the voters cast ballots. REID: Yes, absolutely. And, first of all, nine, nine, nine, I will never forget that from Herman Cain. But, yes, I think, with George W. Bush, he was running on a similar I`m every man, I`m sort of an ordinary guy, even though I come from this famous political family and highly wealthy family. I`m kind of just like you. I think the big risk for Jeb Bush is that everything that he says about this particular topic reminds people of two things. Number one, his brother, who wasn`t exactly known for being an intellectual, wasn`t able to cram enough for the answers to questions like that -- it didn`t stop him from being president -- but also that Jeb himself may know the answers to those questions because he`s being advised by the same neocons who got us into Iraq. And one of the other things that Trump is running against is that sort of thinking that got us mired in a war we didn`t have to fight, courtesy of Jeb`s brother. So, I think Jeb is not in a strong position. And Marco Rubio, who has no more foreign policy experience -- yes, he`s on the committee. He doesn`t have foreign policy experience. He was head of the House of Representatives in Florida. What does that give -- so none of the candidates really have the portfolio to say that they have got so much more knowledge just because they`re elected officials than Trump does. So, unfortunately, I think it`s just a problem for all of the candidates. None of them are really foreign policy heavyweights. KORNACKI: Well, at his press availability yesterday, Jeb Bush also rebutted Trump`s assertion that he should speak English while in the United States, calling Trump`s criticism a dog whistle. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) J. BUSH: English is the language of our country, and people that come to this country need to learn English. But that doesn`t mean that they stop speaking their native -- native tongue. I just -- I think this is kind of bizarre, to be honest with you. Perhaps even more offensive was the notion was somehow I went down to the border and spoke Mexican. Those are -- those are dog whistle terms. He knows what he`s doing. And these are very divisive terms. If we`re going to win elections, we need to be much more open and hopeful and optimistic than sending signals to prey on people`s angst.   (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, McKay, using the term dog whistle there. I mean, dog whistle usually seems to mean using racially coded language. That`s what Jeb Bush is now saying Donald Trump is doing. COPPINS: Yes, this -- I think there are two things going on there with Jeb`s response. One is that this is a personal issue for him. He`s married to a Mexican woman. He`s raised children where they often spoke Spanish at home. And, in fact, he left Texas and moved to Florida when he was young with his young family partly because of the racism that his wife would confront. And so this is obviously something he cares about deeply. And he really doesn`t like sort of the nativist wing of the party. Politically, I think that taking on Donald Trump in this way, he`s not going to take away votes from Donald Trump. They`re not going to go to Jeb Bush, most likely. That said, I think Jeb is setting himself up as the single leader of the establishment, of the more moderate wing. And by incessantly attacking Donald Trump, he makes the show, makes the campaign basically Jeb vs. Donald. And that`s good for him in the end. And I think that`s why we`re going to keep seeing him hammer away at Jeb on this and every other issue - - or at Donald. I`m sorry. REID: Agreed. KORNACKI: All right, Joy Reid, McKay Coppins, thank you both for joining us. Appreciate it. REID: Thank you. COPPINS: Thank you. KORNACKI: And up next, we go live to Kentucky, as clerk Kim Davis remains in jail, but her staff is issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.   This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The Kentucky county in the midst of a firestorm over gay marriage has ended its ban on issuing marriage licenses. This was the scene earlier today at the Rowan County`s clerks office, where deputy clerks issued licenses to same-sex couples. Meanwhile, the county clerk, Kim Davis, who refused to issue the licenses because of her religious objections to same-sex marriage, has now been jailed after a federal judge found her in contempt of court. Kim Davis` lawyer spoke to the press after he visited her in jail today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATHEW STAVER, ATTORNEY FOR KIM DAVIS: Kim Davis slept well last night. She slept with a very good conscience, and she was in very good spirits. She has a clean conscience, even though she is incarcerated behind these bars. She has no intention to resign. She will continue to serve the people of Rowan County, as she has done for so many years. And, number two, she will never violate her conscience and never betray her God. (END VIDEO CLIP)   KORNACKI: NBC News` Gabe Gutierrez caught up with Davis` husband earlier today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE DAVIS, HUSBAND OF KIM DAVIS: We might as well be in Russia. We might as well be over in Iran or something, because we have no religious freedom no more. And if we the people don`t take it back, we`re in trouble. Not only are they coming after the Christians. Your next step is going to be your preachers. GABE GUTIERREZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: How long is your wife prepared to stay in jail? DAVIS: As long as it takes. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Gabe Gutierrez joins me now from Rowan County, Kentucky. So, Gabe, the husband says as long as it takes. She`s not giving an inch on this. How long could that be that she will be behind bars? GUTIERREZ: Well, that is the big question right now, Steve. Her lawyers say they expect her to be in the jail behind me until at least through Tuesday, is what they`re saying. They also said that she is doing well, that she`s in isolation, and that she`s saying that things are going -- that, rather, that things -- that all is well. Now, another thing her lawyers were saying is they think that the licenses that were issued today by those deputy clerks are invalid without Kim Davis` approval. However, the county attorney in Rowan County, he says that they are valid.   And just now, it appears that their legal arguments are not flying with the judge. The judge in this case, the federal judge that sent Kim Davis to jail yesterday and found her in contempt, he just filed some paperwork saying that he refused to put this contempt order on hold while Kim Davis` attorneys appeal. The attorneys say that they will fight this. There`s a rally that`s being planned on Tuesday to try to gain more support for her. But, again, she`s -- her legal team is trying all that they can, but, right now, the federal judge seems not inclined to listen to any of it or at least to rule in their favor right now -- Steve. KORNACKI: All right, Gabe Gutierrez down there in Kentucky, thank you for joining us. And up next: the art of the squeal. We will take a look back at how Donald Trump has provided us some much-needed comic relief this summer. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. Thousands of people packed a Texas church to mourn Deputy Darren Goforth, who was fatally shot a week ago at a gas station. A suspect is charged with capital murder in that shooting. Authorities investigating the shooting death of a Fox Lake, Illinois, police officer say they have received more surveillance video that`s relevant to the case. And in Hungary, thousands of desperate refugees gave up hope of trying to travel by rail to Austria and Germany. Instead, they began walking a journey spanning hundreds of miles -- back to HARDBALL. KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.   Labor Day will mark the unofficial end of summer. Like it or not, you have just witnessed one of the strangest, wildest, most entertaining, or, depending on your political persuasions, most frightening chapters in the history of modern politics. This has been the summer of Trump. Never before have we seen a candidate hit the stump quite like this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Trump or Jeb? CROWD: Trump! TRUMP: How about this? Trump or Hillary? CROWD: Trump! TRUMP: She`s married to Anthony Weiner, you know, the little bing, bing, bing. (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: I love you very much. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)   TRUMP: So, no, think of it. It`s like puppets, bing, bing, the bing, bing, bang, bang, boom. You know, in the old days, bing, bong, bing, bing, bong, bong, bing, bing, bing. You know what that is, right? I`m used to, you know, dealing with killers, people that go argh, argh, argh. MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: You`ve called women you don`t like fat pigs, slobs, disgusting animals. Your Twitter account -- TRUMP: Only Rosie O`Donnell. KELLY: No, it wasn`t. TRUMP: When I told my wife I`d be very presidential so I`m not going to attack people. But Cher. And I`m not going to attack Rosie O`Donnell. She`s not for me. How could Bush be in first place? This guy can`t negotiate his way out of a paper bag. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s consolidated all Republicans who think Obama`s a Muslim. And they do it again. So, whatever bloc that is, that`s what you got. TRUMP: Oh, what a group. What a schmuck. What a stiff. What a stiff. Every country in the world thinks that the United States is represented by stupid people. And they`re right, of course. No, they`re wrong. Very stupid people. They think we`re run by a bunch of idiots. I don`t wear a toupee. It`s my hair. I swear. Come here, come here. Is it mine? Look.   UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. TRUMP: Say it, please. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I believe it is. TRUMP: Thank you. 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) STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: What`s it all mean? And what happens now? The roundtable tonight: "New York Times" reporter Jeremy Peters, Voto Latino`s Maria Teresa Kumar, and "Politico`s" Ken Vogel. Jeremy, let me start with you.   We all said at the beginning of the summer that this Trump thing would last a week, maybe a couple weeks, it`d be over by the Fourth of July. We`re basically coming up on Labor Day and this is still going strong. How long can this last? JEREMY PETERS, NEW YORK TIMES: I stopped making predictions about that a long time ago, because every time you think he`s put his foot in his mouth he seems to climb higher in the polls. I do think that there`s -- you know, an inevitable crest to his popularity. We may be nearing that. But I just don`t think you can say it. I don`t think any of us can pretend. I think you`ve got at, Steve, part of the reason why he`s so popular. Look how much fun the guy is having. He`s got that Cheshire cat smile on his face. I don`t even think the Darrell Hammond "Saturday Night Live" impersonation could be as funny as the real Trump himself. And that joy that he`s expressing out there on the campaign trail, it`s almost infectious. And that`s what people are responding to, and when you look like you`re having fun, you look like you`re winning. KORNACKI: Yes, Maria, I completely agree with that. And I think about some of the things that Trump does that you don`t see any other candidate for office at any level do, they ask him about the polls. Every politician in America tells you, oh, I don`t read the polls. The only poll that counts is Election Day. They give you something like that. Ask them about their opponents, and they say, well, I respect my opponent. My opponent is a fine American. Trump speaks like the average American would speak about the polls and about his opponent. That does connect with people in a way that we`ve never seen with a politician. MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Right. The only folks that aren`t laughing are folks in the Latino community, because he`s basically used them as a cheap scapegoat. And if you want to see poll numbers go down, 84 percent of Latinos don`t like Trump. They won`t vote for him. The only way for him to get to the White House is through the Latino vote. And I think we`re seeing increasingly our allies saying, this is enough. It was funny until people started getting hurt. Two weeks ago, Steve, there was a homeless Latino man that was 58 years old beaten nearly to death by two Trump supporters citing him as the reason why they went after this Latino guy. Trump`s response was, "Oh, my folks are passionate." That`s not presidential.   KORNACKI: Well, is this how Trump drew it up? If so, this is one hell of a summer to-do list to become the Republican front runner. First, Trump insulted a conservative war hero and refused to apologize. Then he went over the most powerful conservative media outlet in the country by calling their prized female journalist a bimbo. He`s talked to evangelical Christians in Iowa about how he`s never asked for God`s forgiveness and he described the Holy Communion wafer as little crackers. He`s publicly bullied and openly threatened his party`s infrastructure and leaders, and he`s demeaned the head of the party. He forbade Iowa`s largest paper from gaining press credentials to his event and he`s ended the summer with no big endorsements. At this point, Trump`s biggest endorsements are former NBA star Dennis Rodman and former NFL start Terrell Owens. Ken, let me ask you, though -- KUMAR: There you go. KORNACKI: We`re sort of showing you that all the traditional rules of politics that we swear by in this business and we see a candidate break one of them, well, that`s going to be the end of that candidate. Is Donald Trump rewriting some of the rules of politics that we`ve etched in stone over the years? KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: He certainly is at this moment. The question is, can it last? And the biggest threat to him is when he starts deviating from that script, when he stops going with his gut and when he starts playing by some of the more traditional roles. What I`m talking about now is we`ve seen some evidence of that recently including him signing the loyalty pledge with the RNC, including him submitting to one of these traditional grillings through Hugh Hewitt, the radio host who really made Donald Trump look horrible on foreign policy, totally clueless. You know, he`s talking about releasing more plans, the only plan he did release on immigration was sort of widely laughed at. And so, where he`s gotten in trouble is tried to play by the traditional rules. When he`s done well is when he`s totally flouted them and called his opponents by name, the all the things that you just highlighted right there, and so, really I -- it`s tough to predict, as Jeremy said, how this will end. But I think that where you start to see him potentially cresting and maybe reaching the limits is when he starts to really try to be a serious candidate. He`s not good at that. He`s good at being sort of the jester of the campaign and he`s found a very effective way to do that and ride that to the top of the polls. KORNACKI: I mean, it almost reminds me of the old Seinfeld episode where George started doing the exact opposite of every instinct he had, everything he thought he was supposed to do, and suddenly, his life turned around.   Well, Trump`s opponents have hurled big insults his way. They called him fake conservative, cancer, carnival act. They called his support in the polls a temporary loss of sanity, jackass, birther and complete idiot. So, none of that has taken him down yet, Jeremy. But I wonder, if calendar here still says Donald Trump, if he`s going to win the nomination, he has to keep this up, he has to keep up this level of interest, this level of excitement, this level of fun, this idea that every time he steps behind the podium, you have no idea what`s going to come out of his mouth. Is it sustainable for six months? PETERS: That`s what I`m wondering. And I wonder if there`s a candidate out there that`s kind of an antidote to Trump who is just as much anti-establishment but doesn`t have the same kind of loose cannon attitude that Trump has. And I think that person could be Ben Carson. Of course, these predictions in this cycle have often been wildly off. KORNACKI: Maria, what do you make of Jeb Bush lately has been fighting back against Donald Trump or Donald Trump`s comments about speaking English, and Jeb Bush accusing him of dog whistle politics, saying basically saying he`s using racially coded language. How do you think that`s going to play out in the Republican primary universe? KUMAR: I think this is much stronger. This is what people were expecting from Jeb back in the middle of July when Trump said all these horrible things about Mexican immigrants, right? So, this is something that they`ve been waiting for. But let`s be clear -- this is the party. This is the candidates that he Republican Party built. When they were saying that they were tired of big government, they were tired of establishments, they were basically saying they didn`t want anybody in politics because you can`t trust them. So, that is one of the reasons why Trump is rising in the polls and why people are interested in Ben Carson and even Carly Fiorina. This is the slate that the Republican Party has built. KORNACKI: All right. The roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, as Trumps a risen, we`ll reveal some of the other winners and the losers of the Republican field thus far. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MADDOW: Well, here`s some good news heading into the Labor Day weekend. According to AAA, gas prices are at their lowest point for this holiday weekend since 2004, $2.44 on average for a gallon of regular. That`s a dollar lower than this time last year and prices are expected to drop further this fall. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: We are back with the roundtable: Jeremy Peters, Maria Teresa Kumar and Ken Vogel. One word describes this summer, upheaval. On the day before Trump go in the race, it was a packed field with Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio toward the front of the pack. Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Chris Christie were within shouting distance and Trump wasn`t even on the radar. Today, though, Trump is soaring, Carson has shot up, too, Jeb Bush has gone nowhere and Ted Cruz is surviving by hitch ago ride with Trump. Rubio has fallen, Walker support has imploded nationally. Then there`s the crowd of folks who have simply evaporated. Rick Perry has run out of money. Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, they are polling at basically zero. If you throw Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich into this group, the combined support for these nine candidates comes in at less than 9 percent. We have a couple minutes left here. I want to go around the horn and ask you a two-part question. The first is this -- we`re going to start with you, ken. I want you to tell me, the biggest loser of the summer in the Republican race in the second part of this is a few months from now when the fall finishes, we said this was the summer of Trump. Who will we say it was the fall of? The autumn of? Who will be the candidate of the autumn? VOGEL: I think the biggest loser has to be Scott Walker. You don`t to look further than the polls to know that. But even more so is the positioning, the expectations headed into the summer. Scott Walker was going to be the guy who bridged the divide between the establishment and the Tea Party base. Clearly that hasn`t happened. You`ve got to think it`s because Trump has brought the base so far to the right that Scott Walker can`t compete and he can`t be -- he can`t sort of find a way to moderate that.   As far as who we`re going to be talking about in the fall, I actually think Jeb Bush is in a pretty good position. He`s managed to overcome, I think, or at least deal with, minimize, perhaps, his biggest hurdle which is not Trump but his last name. He`s done an all right job with that except for the stumble over Iraq which was a problem. But I think since then -- and maybe John Kasich depending on how he performs in these debates, he`s potentially positioned to be sort of an anti-Trump. KORNACKI: I`m writing you down for Jeb on that one. Jeremy, how about you? PETERS: I think Scott Walker definitely has lost a lot of his luster. There`s no doubt about that. I think if I could pick someone else, the sheen has kind of come off of, it would be Rand Paul. He`s had a lot of internal campaign dysfunction. I think he`s also kind of given up on a lot of his message of being a different kind of Republican. Right now, he`s leading the charge to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood and you`re not going to reach a lot of younger open minded bipartisan minded voters if you`re talking about shutting down the government over women`s issues. KORNACKI: So, Rand`s the loser. Who`s going to be the candidate of the autumn? Who`s that going to be? PETERS: I think I would go back to Carson. I`d look at Carson. I don`t -- I don`t know that I see him actually winning a caucus or a primary, but I think there`s going to be -- you`re already seeing the kind of heavy flirtatious with Carson right now -- KORNACKI: All right. Maria we got a couple of seconds. I want to get Maria in here, too. Maria, the biggest loser, the candidate of the autumn? Who is it? KUMAR: I actually think the biggest loser is the RNC. They threw out their autopsy report last year, of how do you engage women, how do you engage Hispanics, and how do you engage young voters and embraced Trump. So I think they`re the biggest loser. As far as candidates are concerned, I think Kasich. Kasich basically marks every single reason that Jeb Bush says vote for me, Kasich has it without the political baggage of the Bush name and he`s also the anti-Trump and he knows how to talk about what -- he knows how to talk about immigration issues, he knows how to talk to young people.   So, I think he`s actually the one that`s the on the sidelines waiting if everybody to pile out on each other and he`s going to come out on front. KORNACKI: All right. Now, I channel John McLaughlin here -- the correct answer is Walker is the biggest loser, Kasich the candidate of the fall. Thank you, Jeremy Peters, Maria Teresa Kumar, Ken Vogel. HARDBALL is back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: And don`t forget, you can watch Andrea Mitchell`s entire interview with Hillary Clinton in one hour on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW". That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Chris Matthews returns Tuesday. And "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>