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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/11/15

Guests: Robert Costa, Stephanie Cutter, Rudy Giuliani, Rinker Buck

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Attack of the little people. Is Trump ready for it? Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. I think the battle in the Republican Party`s going to look a lot like this. Donald Trump is that elephant there, with that pack of hungry lions trying to bring him down. He`s going to spend the next couple of weeks, in fact, in the debate this Wednesday, flinging one of them, one by one off his back. I`m joined right now by "The Washington Post`s" Robert Costa, former deputy campaign manager for President Obama Stephanie Cutter, and Howard Fineman, global editorial director for the HuffingtonPost. Anyway, we know now what the debate stage will look like this Wednesday night at the Reagan library. CNN announced that 11 candidates made the main stage, with the addition of Carly Fiorina. Donald Trump will once again be center stage, in many ways, in fact, as well, flanked by Jeb Bush and Dr. Ben Carson. How contentious will it get? Well, according to "The New York Times," many of the candidates are convinced that they are better off using the debates to make forceful and targeted appeals to viewers, rather than trying to knock off Mr. Trump. Advisers of several candidates said that. Anyway, there are some exceptions, however. These are interesting. Both Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina are expected to take on Mr. Trump most aggressively, like those lions going after the elephant. Mr. Bush`s advisers say he will confront Mr. Trump for not sharing the values of conservatives. Howard, what`s your bet? I think Carly Fiorina, just to start with her because she did make the cut -- and he`s been attacking her looks, whatever.   HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. MATTHEWS: It seems to me he owes her a somewhat chivalrous comeback, or what do you call it, step back from that. And she`s going to be there and everybody`s going to be watching her attitude towards him. FINEMAN: No, I think -- I think right now, she is the headline of the show... MATTHEWS: Right. FINEMAN: ... at least the pre-game. She`s going to be there. CNN made sure that she would be there. I would bet that the first question will be to her, and it will be, Ms. Fiorina, do you have any comments about what Donald Trump has said? And then she will lead the tone of how things are going to go. I would expect that she would not attack him at the level he attacked her, but I think... MATTHEWS: On looks. FINEMAN: On looks. She will... MATTHEWS: That`d be a dumb response. FINEMAN: She will -- she will say that she is the business executive with the real knowledge of how the economy works and the real experience. MATTHEWS: Well said. Stephanie, as the woman among the four of us, I think you have...   STEPHANIE CUTTER, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: As the woman among you. MATTHEWS: ... the right to the chair now. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: What do you think is the smart move for her, if you had to game it for her? CUTTER: Well, I do think she have to address the comments, but not on the same terms as Trump leveraged them. You know, I differ with what Howard said in that if she goes to her business experience, Trump`s just going to come right back and hit her on it because that`s where he had started, that she was a -- you know, a failed CEO. MATTHEWS: A loser. CUTTER: A loser, was the worst CEO in American history. And I think she should use it to leverage, you know, some of the issues that she`s running on and say, It`s not that -- you know, what you said about my looks is not insulting, but where you stand on a particular issue is insulting to the American people, and try to turn it to substance because that`s his weakest point. He`s a bully, you know, and his bravado -- that`s all he`s running on. He`s not running on anything of substance. She can use that to pull that... MATTHEWS: Well, you argue that, and I agree with that in terms of the game and the way they`re fighting it. Robert, you`re covering it every day like everybody else here. And it seems to me that he is -- he`s playing high school, high school bully, you know, making up nicknames. There`s always somebody that was good at making up nicknames. And a lot of us were victims of that. He`s really good at it, and he is really good. What`s he called (ph) -- the low energy, low testosterone, voice. I mean, he`s so smart at -- in fact, Bush thinks he`s saying low testosterone. He just says low energy. But It seems to me he`s also appealing to a toughness in the Republican voter electorate against their leaders. ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST": That`s right. He`s...   MATTHEWS: He`s grabbing something out there among women and men both now. They like this approach to life. COSTA: The voters seem to like it. The base likes it. We`re in this post-Labor Day moment, and everyone`s looking to shine on this stage. I was with Trump on Capitol Hill this week, talked to Trump, talked to his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. They say bring it on. They think everyone`s going to come at Trump... MATTHEWS: Like those lions going after the elephant. COSTA: And they think those jump -- those lions are going to come with canned lines. Trump`s whole game is... MATTHEWS: OK... COSTA: ... I`ve been a public showman for three decades. I`m going to... MATTHEWS: Canned lines -- that`s what he`s ready for, the setpieces. He doesn`t need setpieces. It comes to him. Nothing comes to mind with these other people. Anyway, it`s like -- you know, what was that vice president for Bush, the original Bush`s guy? Dan Quayle. Nothing comes to mind! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, in the past few days, by the way, Donald Trump has gone to war with pretty much everyone in the Republican field, and the candidates are taking a much more aggressive stance against him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s a very big part of who I am, humility and a fear of the Lord. I don`t get that impression with him. Maybe I`m wrong, but I don`t get that impression.   JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he believes that he can insult his way to the presidency, and I don`t think history`s a really good guide for that. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s the most unqualified people on our -- unqualified person on our side now to be commander-in-chief. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s a narcissist. He`s an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself. Donald Trump is not a serious person. This is a carnival act. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anyway, it`s better to have a carnival act than no act, Mr. Jindal. Well, it`s not just the candidates fighting back, according to "The Boston Globe." Many of Mitt Romney`s former aides and advisers yesterday (ph) doing (ph) seem to have a shared purpose with them. Quote, "Through concerted -- through no concerted effort, they are curiously aligned once again in common cause, a stem-to-stern effort that has united old comrades, even as they nominally play for different teams, stopping Donald Trump." This is what I`m talking about, this pack approach to him which we showed with the wildlife pictures there. Is that going to look good on TV, a bunch of hyenas all jumping... FINEMAN: Well, depending on the exact choreography that results, I think it`s good for Donald Trump in many ways. MATTHEWS: Yes, so Robert says -- just follow (ph) up (ph) what Robert says -- OK -- or you said, Stephanie -- she takes the first shot at him because the anchors are going to make sure, the moderators will make sure she has the first shot. FINEMAN: Right. MATTHEWS: Then the others (INAUDIBLE) And I agree. Is that what they`re all going to do?   FINEMAN: Right. I think -- I think that`s what they will do. I think they will take the lead from the tone that she sets, which is why I said that she is key to the way this thing goes down. But yes, if they all train their sights on Donald Trump once again, both given the fact that he`s faster on his feet than any of the others and the fact that he is tapping into the things that we discussed time and time again, which is revulsion with the system that exists, all the rest of them are going to look even more like the system... MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: ... that he`s attacking. It`s paradoxical, but to the extent they get down to his level and get out of their own... MATTHEWS: It gets... FINEMAN: ... and get out of their own comfort zone... MATTHEWS: Right. FINEMAN: I mean, Bobby Jindal is a Rhodes scholar nerd who`s suddenly trying to act like a schoolyard bully. It doesn`t work! It`s not going to work! MATTHEWS: Making fun of the guy`s hair. Why do they all stupidly go for the looks game? I mean, they all go for the hair. It`s so predictable! CUTTER: They`re all such lookers. MATTHEWS: Huh?   CUTTER: They`re all such lookers themselves. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Let`s not start on that! CUTTER: Yes, I guess... MATTHEWS: But I do think there`s a certain Three Stooges aspect, that you (ph) almost expect Trump to go like this, Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba -- you know, like -- like Curly, like just make fun of them, because they make stupid, obvious comments, and he knows they`re coming, the setpieces, and he just kills them! COSTA: So forget about setpieces... MATTHEWS: I`m sorry about... (CROSSTALK) COSTA: What`s that old Kennedy word, "vigor." Who`s going to have vigor on this stage? Who`s going to have life? MATTHEWS: Well, will the low-energy guy have it? COSTA: It`s going to -- you...   CUTTER: He has to. COSTA: It`s a natural inclination among Bush allies, a lot of these other rivals, to be dismissive of Trump. I think you`ve got to keep an eye on... MATTHEWS: Well, that`s not working! COSTA: ... on Kasich, on someone like Rubio. Do they bring the life, the energy? Trump has changed the stakes of this race. You have to play at his level with the vigor. FINEMAN: Somebody has to corner him with substance, Chris, at some point, either on what he doesn`t know, on the fact that he`s flip-flopped, if not lied, on issues, on the fact that he doesn`t understand the depth of things. I don`t know who is going to do it. A debate format... MATTHEWS: Why don`t we let... FINEMAN: Wait! Wait a minute! (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: A debate format with 11 people... MATTHEWS: OK...   FINEMAN: ... is not the place to do that. MATTHEWS: OK... FINEMAN: Hugh Hewitt, the conservative radio guy, did it because he had him alone on the stage himself. MATTHEWS: Well, he`s going to be on this week (ph)... FINEMAN: Right. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Joyce Behar, who`s definitely not anybody that needs any -- my help or anybody. She`s quite an aggressive person. But she said, When are you going to start talking about women`s brains instead of their looks? And the audience applauded. And he just walked away from that. He did -- OK, you can have that round. Now, that shows -- I think he should have done that with Megyn Kelly, let the other side have a round now and then... CUTTER: Yes. MATTHEWS: ... and move on. Don`t fight -- is he capable of that sophistication in this fight? If somebody like Joy Behar just says, in a really good line, does he walk away from it and keep... COSTA: There is a... MATTHEWS: ... and pick a fight somewhere else?   COSTA: I`ve been covering Trump all year. He adapts. He makes mistakes a lot, but he also adapts to situations. They`re going to all -- they`re all going to try to rattle him. MATTHEWS: We got news now. Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, has dropped out of the presidential race. That`s according to the Associated Press later today. So the little kids` table`s getting littler. FINEMAN: And by the way, he was one... (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: By the way, he was one of the first people... MATTHEWS: And he looked like he had a shot... (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: I think he was the first guy, actually, to attack Donald Trump -- not that he was going anywhere to begin with, Rick Perry, but he at least was the first guy to try to take him down... MATTHEWS: OK, you got... FINEMAN: ... and he got run over in the process. MATTHEWS: OK, everybody, you`re the first because you`re -- you`ve been in the business, Stephanie, and you`re good at it. You got advice for Republican candidates to at least get some points on the board next Wednesday night? Is it the smart move to take a shot at him, or is it the smart move to somehow use those moments on the stage to separate yourself in a way I think Kasich did the first time?   CUTTER: Yes. I think you have to do both. But both have to be -- the opportunities need to be there for you to take it. You can`t manufacture opportunities. Otherwise, Trump is going to slam you. You can`t have canned lines. So you know, Jeb Bush is the perfect example. Donald Trump is going after his weakness that we can all identify, his lack of strength, his lack of energy, excitement. And you know, he`s doing what -- to Jeb Bush what lots of people did to his father when he ran for president. MATTHEWS: Call him a wimp. CUTTER: He needs to address that, and the debate is the perfect place to do that. But he`s got to do that on an area where he has strength. So he has to look for the opportunity to do it. Doing it for -- you know, just to pick a fight is not worth... MATTHEWS: Howard, you and I were looking at... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Howard and I were looking at the betting odds right now. Trump is in the top three now as the best bet to win among the people who put money on the table. Has that impressed you out there? COSTA: Let`s see... MATTHEWS: People with money are betting it on him now. COSTA: Because he`s got... MATTHEWS: To win the nomination.   COSTA: He`s got a coalition that brings in new voters. It`s just the question is, can he keep his interest in this race, can he keep running a campaign that has a national network on the ground? MATTHEWS: Howard? FINEMAN: Can he keep his interest, or can he keep the voters` interest? (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: I think -- I ask that seriously because I think part of it is whether he keeps his own interest in the darn thing. MATTHEWS: OK, Howard... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Howard and I are going to meet tomorrow morning and get breakfast and look over the morning line again. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway -- like two touts! Anyway, Robert Costa, Stephanie Cutter and Howard Fineman. Coming up, on this anniversary of the attacks of September 11, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani argues that the threat of terrorism is still real and very present. He`s coming here next.   Plus, Vice President Joe Biden`s heart-wrenching appearance last night on "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert. It was honest, emotional, and it`s once again fueling the question of whether Biden plans to get into this presidential race. And inside the complicated relationship between Hillary Clinton and President Obama. She`s separating from him now on some of the big foreign policy hot spots, Syria, Russia and the Middle East. Can we go to -- can she go to the hawkish side and still win the Obama people? Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a positive legacy of September 11, those two heroic words, "Let`s roll." And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We just reported the breaking news that Rick Perry is dropping out of the presidential race. Here`s Perry speaking late today in St. Louis. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK PERRY (R-TX), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: We have a tremendous field of candidates, probably the greatest group of men and women. I step aside knowing our party`s in good hands as long as we listen to the grass roots, listen to that cause of conservatism. I give you this news with no regrets. It has been a privilege for me. It has been an honor to travel this country, to speak with the American people about their hopes and their dreams, to see a sense of optimism being prevalent despite this season of cynical politics. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Governor Perry took a thinly veiled parting shot at Donald Trump, warning his party not to give in to nativist appeals.   We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK CITY: The only thing we know right now is that two airplanes struck the two large towers of the World Trade Center. We spoke to the White House. There also apparently was an attack on the Pentagon. We asked that the air space around the city of New York be sealed by military aircraft. We`ve been informed that it has been, and we`ve seen military aircraft up in the air. So we`re hopeful that right now, things are secure. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani on the morning of September 11, 2001, as he offered a calm but commanding voice amidst the chaos. Well, today in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, they remembered the 40 passengers and crew of United flight 93 for their courage. At the Pentagon, with the same cloudless September sky of 14 years ago, survivors and family members of the 184 victims killed when flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, held a ceremony of somber remembrance. And beside the empty footprint of the World Trade Center twin towers, the names of the dead were called this morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael F. Camerata (ph).   UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David Otay Campbell (ph). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeffrey Thomas Campbell (ph). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert Arthur Campbell (ph). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sandra Patricia Campbell (ph). (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: In an opinion piece in "The Wall Street Journal" today, Rudy Giuliani warns that vigilance is still needed. He writes, "It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that 9/11 is now simply part of the nation`s history, like Pearl Harbor, because there is one big difference. The causes and hatreds that created 9/11 are still with us and the terrorists have enlisted members who are even more diverse, cunning and determined." Joining me right now is the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. One thing I`ve always liked about the way you handled that, and it was magnificent in so many other ways, was giving us the information as you got it. I love it. I hate rolling disclosure. I love it when guys, police commissioners like in the old days, stood on the curb across from the five- alarm fire and gave us the facts as they knew it. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: It was the comic book hero, and you played that so well, and I appreciate that. You know, there`s a -- there was a great line "Casablanca," Mr. Mayor, when the Nazi, Major Strasser, said he was going to invade New York, and Humphrey Bogart`s character said, Well, there`s certain neighborhoods in New York I wouldn`t advise you trying to invade. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: You know, that attitude about our country -- I don`t care whether it`s the tough neighborhoods or the nice neighborhoods, I love the fact we`re willing to fight. What was your reaction when you heard that the three American guys on R&R -- two of them were GIs -- over in France on the train having a good time, nevertheless had the instinct and the guts to jump up and run over and grab the guy with the AK-47, the automatic Luger, disarm him and capture him, all on their own initiative with one guy yelling "Let`s go." I am so glad we still have it. Your thoughts. GIULIANI: Well, yes, it reminds -- it reminds me of my firefighters and my police officers that day. It reminds me of Steven Siller (ph), who ran through the Brooklyn Battery tunnel with his bunker gear. He was off duty, but he wanted to go help. He lost his life there. And there`s a whole foundation now called the Tunnel to Towers Fund that`s building homes for wounded warriors, believe it or not, with the money that they raise. So we do have it. You know what September 11 answered for me? And it answered it in one picture. It was the picture of the firefighters putting the flag in the ground that looked so much like Iwo Jima. MATTHEWS: Yes. GIULIANI: It answered for me the question asked by Brokaw in the book about the greatest generation, whether we had it, you know, whether we still have that. And it`s -- what I said was -- when I saw that and I saw the construction workers come and volunteer at 5:00 o`clock in the afternoon and tell me -- I asked them, What are you doing here? And they said, We`re here because we`re big and we can lift things. MATTHEWS: Yes. GIULIANI: I said, these are the sons and the daughters and the grandsons and the granddaughters of the people who fought the Second World War. And when things are OK, we fight with each other and we create lots of problems, but when we`re under stress, we`re one nation and we`re one country, and we fight back. MATTHEWS: Yes, I loved it when the yuppies in those days, to use an old term, were sitting at the sidewalk cafes of your Manhattan, in the nicer parts of town, cheering the firefighters as the trucks went by.   (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Those were magic days. (LAUGHTER) GIULIANI: How about the ones who were cheering President Bush? I drove up... MATTHEWS: Well, I cheered him too. I thought that was a moment of greatness when he said, we`re going to get those guys. I mean, we were united. (LAUGHTER) GIULIANI: I was driving up West End Avenue with him and Governor Pataki and the police commissioner, the fire commissioner, energy commissioner, and the West End, of course, is very Democratic. And they`re all yelling and screaming for the president. "We love you, George. We love you, George. " And I leaned over to him and I said, "Mr. President, I don`t know how to break this to you. None of these people voted for you." MATTHEWS: But they voted for you the second time. Who did you run against the second time? Let me ask you about a -- now that we`re going to get into the difficult stuff, and I know you and I disagreed about the Iranian deal. We will see how that works out in the future.   But let me ask you about Peter King, who is a tough customer, a real New York kind of guy, who is very skeptical about this decision by the president to bring in those people from Syria. What`s your view about, how do we ensure, at least as best we can, that they don`t bring their politics with them? GIULIANI: Well, we got to do tremendous background checks on them. Peter is right. MATTHEWS: Is that doable? GIULIANI: I mean, Peter is right to be careful. I mean, you might bring in 1,000, and 997 are terrific, and three of them want to blow some place up. So you better be careful about who you`re bringing in. This is not bringing in people from -- it`s not even like a situation with Mexico or some place like that. This is an area in which... MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Mexico has never been at war with us since, what, 1840 or something. GIULIANI: Yes, yes, a totally different situation. So, I think Peter is right to be careful. I think we have to take some numbers. And I think we have to participate, but I think we have to be very careful about who we take. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the question of what we have to do to behave. I was with a group last night called CELL out in Denver. And they really want to educate people to how we respond individually to terror attacks. We have marshals on airplanes. Maybe you`re good at spotting the guy on the plane. It`s a guy, usually. I don`t know how to do it. But some people say they can always tell who the marshal is. He`s the guy that asks for the Diet Coke. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: No drinks. He`s armed and ready and he`s sober, obviously. And then -- but you get on trains, you get in movie theaters, you get in malls. In Israel, I was there years ago when I got out of the Peace Corps. I was over there. And there`s a nice looking young woman next to me in uniform with an Uzi. GIULIANI: Yes. Oh, yes. MATTHEWS: Nobody is going to mess with that theater. Nobody is going to -- and nobody is going to mess with that theater, because they`re going to get killed instantly before they can lob their grenades. How do we respond as a society reasonably? Do we deputize people? Do we have volunteers? We can`t have police everywhere. We don`t want them everywhere. What do we do about keeping ourselves safe in large public spaces? Because you raised the hell -- you raised a very loud alarm this morning in that piece. It`s a danger. (CROSSTALK) GIULIANI: Well, I would there are two things we do. First of all, we make sure all of our police departments are trained in looking for the precursors of terrorism. New York is. Los Angeles is. Chief Bratton in New York -- Commissioner Bratton in New York and Commissioner Kelly before him were terrific at it. I think actually it`s Commissioner Bratton who coined the phrase precursors of terrorism. They train their cops to look for it. Chicago is good at it, a couple of others. But all police departments should be good at it. And then there`s absolutely nothing wrong in communities to have courses and for the police to train people in what to do in case there`s a terrorist attack, how to defend themselves and how to help. You don`t want to raise the alarm too far. Here`s the reality. The reality is that there`s very little chance that any one of us is going to be killed by a terrorist. But there`s a very good chance there`s going to be a terrorist attack, if that makes sense. MATTHEWS: Yes.   GIULIANI: It`s like the airplane crash and the car accident. Many more people die in cars than airplanes, but when there`s an airplane crash, it is a much more horrendous event. And the reality is, it isn`t as if most Americans are going to be killed by terrorists, but we are going to have terrorist attacks. We can`t constantly be successful. We have had them, Fort Hood, Boston Marathon. You have had them in Europe. And now that they have decided that they can do these one-offs and two-offs, it becomes much, much harder for law enforcement to stop that and to track it. MATTHEWS: And, by the way, I think Sirhan Sirhan was the first terrorist, who killed Bobby Kennedy. GIULIANI: Yes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And that was about politics. GIULIANI: It goes way back. MATTHEWS: That was Mideast politics. Let me just say to you, by the way, and a tribute to Rudy Giuliani -- and a lot of our viewers are liberals and progressives and -- but you did something really big really right. And thank you. GIULIANI: Thank you very much, Chris. I really appreciate that. MATTHEWS: Coming up, the incredible story how America was made by the bestselling author who traveled the length of the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon.   And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. What`s the best way to really see the open road these days? Turns out it`s a covered wagon. Journalist Rinker Buck is out with a new book which is really selling big, "The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey." Well, it`s about a four-month ride, 2,100 miles, 79-campsite journey, retracing the old Oregon Trail from Kansas City, Missouri, all the way to Portland, Oregon. Along the way, Buck and his brother Nicholas discovered some of the physical challenges that 19th century American settlers faced once, but also a lot about the spirit of Americans today. Joining me right now is Rinker Buck to tell me about his fascinating adventure. I love these books. (CROSSTALK) RINKER BUCK, AUTHOR, "THE OREGON TRAIL: A NEW AMERICAN JOURNEY": Thank you. MATTHEWS: They`re iconic. They`re about America. It`s like Mount Rushmore, places like that. The Oregon Trail, why did you pick that out? Because this is the kind of thing that David McCullough always digs up, and you got there first.   BUCK: Yes. Well, it was an accident. I was up in Kansas and I wanted to see the Flint Hills country. And I came across an Oregon Trail marker, became fascinated by the trail. I walked... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Was it on a real paved road or was it off the road? BUCK: It was right off of paved roads, but there`s many -- people think the Oregon Trail must have disappeared, but most of it is still two- lane blacktops now or it`s about 1,000 of the 2,000 miles trail is original ruts, you know? MATTHEWS: What was it like with the mules? What were the mules all about? Because I was -- I`m looking at it right now. They`re pulling your wagon and they pulled the wagons back in the 19th century. BUCK: Yes. Well, I say that what I learned on this trip is body language. I learned body language. You read them . They`re actually smarter than horses. They have a bigger cranial capacity than a horse. And so you tell a horse what to do sort of like a dog, and a horse will generally do it. A mule goes, well, let`s consider that. Let`s try and figure that out. (LAUGHTER) BUCK: And so you have to do a lot more coaxing and you have to be a lot more emotional with them. So you call the mules. You talk to them.   MATTHEWS: You don`t whip them with a whip? BUCK: It`s very -- bad horsemen do. MATTHEWS: Bad... (CROSSTALK) BUCK: But they will never forget it. So you don`t. So we had some places where we had to come down the mountains, 2,000- foot drop in a mile, mile-and-a-half. And you got really talk to them. MATTHEWS: How do they hold it back? How do they hold the wagon back? BUCK: Well, actually, we had the wheels chained in that situation. But they do have something called breaching straps on their rumps, and they lean back into the harness. That`s why going downhill is a lot scarier than going uphill. MATTHEWS: What kind of -- what America did you see out there when you just did this? What did America look like, poor, rich, mixed? BUCK: It was fascinating.   I would say, through a lot of the agricultural areas in Eastern Nebraska and Eastern Kansas, the small towns have died. And that`s very depressing. But then you will get to one, and it`s usually more than 50 miles from a Wal-Mart, and it`s revived. And it`s fun. MATTHEWS: Yes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Pennsylvania is like that, yes. BUCK: Yes. The generosity of the people is fabulous. But the most interesting thing is that the trail is all still there, and all the old trail encampments. So, the places where the pioneers camped, like Plum Creek and Independence Rock and Chimney Rock, they have all been turned into state parks. As a matter of fact, they were converted into state parks during the New Deal. And you can ride right in there and camp just like the pioneers did. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What do you think it is about America? Because everybody loved what Stephen Ambrose did on Lewis and Clark. And this is a real place you can go to. BUCK: Right. Right. MATTHEWS: It`s still there, as you point out. What is it about it? Is it like nostalgia, trying to figure out where we came from as Americans, even if we -- our parents came here more recently?   BUCK: I think that there`s a residual memory of what Daniel -- the historian, librarian of Congress said, Daniel Boorstin said, the covered wagon was essentially a community vehicle. It required activity in groups. And that was very true. While we were alone, we were reminded many, many times how much easier it would have been to be with a covered wagon train getting up hills, emptying the wagon, and everything. It is America`s subliminal memory of still doing things as a community, in groups. MATTHEWS: I think in the old cowboy movies, whether they were true or not, of the circling the wagons when they were under attack. BUCK: Yes. Well, what`s -- they actually didn`t do that. But what`s in my book... MATTHEWS: That never happened? BUCK: No. Well, it happened, but to keep the cattle in. MATTHEWS: Oh, I see. It wasn`t to fight the Indians. BUCK: No, it wasn`t to fight the Indians. MATTHEWS: Wow. BUCK: But what the book is all about and why I got motivated to write it is, all the myths that are passed down by our history teachers and Hollywood were inaccurate in many ways. And so the book goes into all the things that really happened.   MATTHEWS: I have never seen a troika before. BUCK: A three-mule hitch was actually very common in the 19th century. We used the three mules because we were pulling -- what liberated us from vehicular support, from pickup trucks and stuff, was -- there I am on one of the Oregon Trail markers. MATTHEWS: You look... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Rinker Buck. BUCK: Yes. MATTHEWS: We`re out of time. BUCK: Good. MATTHEWS: But what a great story, "The Oregon Trail." It`s big on the bestseller list. Much more HARDBALL right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. A man is being questioned in connection with the series of shootings along Interstate 10 in Phoenix. Eleven vehicles have been shot at since August 29. More than a hundred people are dead after a devastating crane collapse at Mecca`s famed Grand Mosque; 200 people were also hurt. And more than 70 Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Obama to allow at least 100,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. Hundreds of thousands have flooded into Europe. Thousands have died trying to get there -- back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT") STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": I want to talk about the elephant in the room, which in this case is a donkey. (LAUGHTER) COLBERT: Do you have anything you would like to tell us right now about your plans? JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) BIDEN: I think you should run for president again, and I will be your vice president.   (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was of course Vice President Joe Biden with Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show" last night, when he capped about week of speculation about his potential candidacy for president in 2016. It was a wide-ranging and at times emotional interview, especially when it came to the loss of his son Beau. Here is how the vice president recalled one of his final conversations with his son before he died. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT") BIDEN: And he said: "Dad, I know how much you love me, so you got to promise me something. Promise me you`re going to be all right, because, no matter what happens, dad, I`m going to be all right. Promise me." This -- this is a kid who -- who -- I don`t know what it was about him. He had this enormous sense of empathy. And I`m not making this up. I know I maybe sound like a father. I hope I -- anyway, but it`s real. COLBERT: It sounds like -- it sounds like you loved him, sir. BIDEN: Oh, geez. I mean, I...   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, he also told a very candid story about the pain he carries with him into public life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT") BIDEN: I went out to Denver and I landed at a military base. And I met a whole group of military families, which is not unusual, in a rope line about 100 yards from the aircraft. And it was going great. And a guy in the back yells, "Major Beau Biden, Bronze Star, sir, served with him in Iraq." And all of a sudden, I lost it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the vice president, while he said he`s not emotionally prepared to decide whether he will run, even to decide, he spent the last two days of Hillary Clinton`s turf -- in her turf in New York joining Governor Andrew Cuomo at a rally supporting a minimum wage hike, and yesterday at an event for the anniversary of 9/11. Anyway, a new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll out today finds that Joe Biden fares better than Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical general election matchup against the potential opponents. It shows that Clinton would beat Donald Trump, for example, by 13 points, 53-40, while Biden would beat Trump by 18, 56-38. In a matchup with Jeb Bush, Clinton would win by a margin of just four, 49-45, while Biden would beat Bush by eight, 50-42. I`m joined right now by the roundtable to decipher all this, "Mother Jones" Washington bureau chief David Corn, MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid, author of the new book -- by the way, we`re going to keep talking about this book, "Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Democratic Divide," and NBC News senior political reporter Perry Bacon. Let`s first of all, what I think is happening is, I think Biden`s getting bigger in our national discussion. He`s a larger figure than he was a few months ago, not just because of the tragedy of losing his son, but something else is going on.   And I would argue power hates a vacuum, an old Tip O`Neill argument. And Hillary Clinton is not on the ropes exactly, but she`s in some kind of quicksand. I don`t know what you would call it. The more she squirms about this stuff, the more she argues it, more -- for whatever reason, her numbers drop. Joy, there is an opening for somebody. JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. MATTHEWS: And I don`t thing Bernie`s the answer. The socialist guy over there isn`t. The guy from Vermont, Ben and Jerry`s country, is certainly going to have a following on the campuses. But nobody thinks he is going to grab the whole country by their heart. REID: Yes. MATTHEWS: And so there`s an opening there. And I guess that`s what Biden is tempted by. REID: Yes. And Democrats that I talk to who are more Obama/Biden people than they are Clinton people tell me two things, one, that he clearly wants to be president. It`s a dream he`s had a long time. Two, he definitely is not in an emotional place right now where it seems likely he would do it, but that, see, he hears the noises. The party is looking for a plan B. He sure doesn`t want it to be Al Gore or, you know, the former Governor O`Malley -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: How about the way you said that? REID: I`m sorry. Did I say that with attitude?   (CROSSTALK) REID: I think Joe Biden wants to be the plan B. I think he`s out there right now as you said getting his name out there, getting his legacy out there. He doesn`t want someone else to be it. MATTHEWS: That`s an old argument. I`ve said this before, a lot of people -- he`s an older politician obviously. But a lot of people built their entire political lives on putting their names on the ballot in their 20s and 30s, and guess what? They won and they had a life in politics. So, you don`t want to -- yes, the old argument is if you want to win, you got to have a seat at the table. DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He may even feel a sense of responsibility. I mean, after Barack Obama, he`s the number two Democrat. And if you look at Hillary Clinton -- I don`t want to be in the whole panic mode about Hillary Clinton. MATTHEWS: What Granholm calls the bed-wetters. CORN: The bed-wetters, but there`s still a lot of time. But she certainly is at a lower altitude now than she was six months ago, and a lower altitude where she and her people would like her to be. MATTHEWS: And sinking. CORN: Well maybe. She can gain height or maybe go down. MATTHEWS: You were betting on her going up in the next few weeks? CORN: Not the next few weeks but January is a long time away. Biden can say I`m not there yet, but the party may need me and I may want to do this. And there`s no reason for him to make a declaration in the next couple of weeks.   MATTHEWS: Do the calculations, Perry. You`re the reporter on the scene there. Do the calculations here. Is it something that`s going on with Hillary that`s driving something with him? PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS: Yes. If Hillary were doing better, her numbers, she`s not in a moment of panic yet but her numbers are going like this. MATTHEWS: Why would someone who can`t fathom why we`re talking about it, how people`s impact on how they`re going to vote for president of the United States. I mean, if you had to write it down for an essay question, why am I not writing for Hillary Clinton when I was two weeks ago because of the handling of the e-mail matter. OK, explain. Just to explain -- I can`t explain it. BACON: I think it`s less the handling of the email and more of people been like, I`m tired of the controversy of the Clintons around, the media hates the Clintons and the media is, you`re going to be stuck in this Clinton story forever if you elect her. MATTHEWS: That`s a good bet, by the way. BACON: I think Biden, maybe there`s a break from the Clintons. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the fact that there`s a Jack for every Jill, there`s usually somebody who is contestant for every opportunity. OK, so Biden comes off -- in the world in which it`s all about Hillary Clinton`s -- whatever it is, her secrecy, her tendency, her tendency to pull back, to keep things to herself, her marriage, everything to herself, which is her right, but it`s not really a political move, it makes any sense, Biden`s the opposite. He`s like a big St. Bernard. He`s there slobbering and he`ll talk, he`ll lick your face -- well, maybe not. But he`s like that --   (CROSSTALK) REID: He`s built for the kind of sort of model of -- MATTHEWS: Look at this guy, he just loves the human contact. REID: He loves it and I think he`d be a more ebullient candidate. One of the things that`s missing -- MATTHEWS: Look at this, every person. REID: He`s a little -- CORN: I`m sorry. REID: Positivity. CORN: He gives a message every time you see him. MATTHEWS: I`m here. CORN: I`m here. I am right here.   MATTHEWS: Biden also spoke about a valuable commodity in American politics, authenticity. Here he is talking, I think he`d like to think, and maybe he`s right about himself. Let`s look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask yourselves the question, would you want a job that, in fact, every day you had to get up and you had to modulate what you said and believed? If you are going to run, you`re running for a reason. You want the job for a reason. And if you can`t state why you want the job, then there`s a lot more lucrative opportunities other places. (CHEERS) STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: I can`t -- I can`t imagine what it would be like to spend nine years pretending to be somebody that you`re not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Who is he talking about? CORN: Himself. REID: And that`s such an indictment, and I`ll tell you what, Chris -- MATTHEWS: Oh! He`s talking about Colbert, the guy he`s playing. REID: But I mean, the thing is, if you think about it, I know exactly why Bernie Sanders wants to be president. I don`t know why any of the others want to be president. And that`s a problem. What is the log line of the other campaigns? What is their reason for being?   MATTHEWS: By the way, now that we have you on, it`s not a surrogate, but explainer. Explain, Lucy, why does Bernie Sanders want to be president? REID: Because he wants to take on the banks. He wants to use the power of the presidency to take on Wall Street. It`s simple and a one- liner. Hillary`s one-liner I haven`t heard or understood yet. It`s not hope and change. It`s a Democratic president. Joe Biden would be running as a continuation of the Obama era. It`s simple. It makes sense to people. It would be a powerful -- MATTHEWS: You mean the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party? REID: That`s right. MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, the tricky relationship between Hillary Clinton and President Obama. Is she going to the right of him on foreign policy and to the left of him domestically, and will the base of the Democratic Party loyal to the president stick with her? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: How bad is Donald Trump`s tough talk about illegal immigration hurting him with Latino voters? Well, according to our new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll, Latino voters favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a wide margin. Sixty-nine percent of Latino voters support Clinton versus just 22 percent for Donald Trump. Well, that gap widens a bit actually if Joe Biden is the nominee. There is Biden with 71 percent Latino support versus just 20 percent for Trump.   And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back. And the question will be, who`s covering the president`s back? The relationship between the Obamas and Clintons has also been an unsettled one. But now, they need each other more than ever. Hillary needs the Obama coalition to win the election next year, and Obama needs Hillary to cement his legacy, of course. In the 2008 primaries Hillary Clinton openly patronized Obama`s foreign policy views as naive. And the relationship was patched up when Hillary served as the secretary of state. But those fissures appear to be widening once more. This Wednesday, two days ago during an address in Washington defending the Iranian nuclear deal, Hillary Clinton criticized President Obama`s handling of Russia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have not done enough. I am in the category of people who wanted us to do more in response to the annexation of Crimea and the continuing destabilization of Ukraine. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: She second-guessed his response to Syria. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   CLINTON: We have to bring sufficient pressure on Assad to force a political solution in Syria, including a meaningful increase in our efforts to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition, something I called for early in the conflict. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And in response to a question about tough love with Israel, she suggests he got it wrong there too. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I just don`t think it`s a particularly productive approach for the United States to take because in large measure, it opens the door to everybody else to delegitimize Israel, to, you know, pile on in ways that are not good for the strength and stability not just of Israel obviously, but of the region. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, "The Washington Post" ran this headline following her speech. Quote, "In break with Obama, Clinton lays out tougher world view." We`re now back with the roundtable, the HARDBALL roundtable, David Corn, Joy Reid -- who`s authored, by the way, of that new book about the Obama/Clinton relationship. It`s called "Fracture" -- and Perry Bacon. So, you have to start here. REID: Yes. MATTHEWS: And I think she`s going to run to his right. I thought this for a long time, more pro-Israeli, more Netanyahu, play to that obvious opening there. On domestic play, the challenge she is getting from Bernie.   REID: Yes. Absolutely, I think it`s a terrible idea. I have to be honest with you. There`s always a feeling of quid pro-quo to the relationship between the Clintons and Obama in terms of him seeing herself as the successor -- MATTHEWS: You mean transactional? REID: Transactional, yes. But the transaction will fall apart if she tries to run away from Barack Obama. His coalition is what she needs in order to win. And if she thinks that a Clinton restoration opposed to an Obama will work, she should ask all those 2014 red states Democrats how that worked out for `em. MATTHEWS: She said she was a moderate and I think she has been moderate during her career. But what does that mean? Does that mean I`m not a socialist? To use the term that Bernie Sanders uses for himself? Or what is she trying to position herself? I`m worried about the word moderate on foreign policy being left on that one, because I`m afraid moderate means hawkish. (CROSSTALK) BACON: The last thing we said she wasn`t authentic. These are her foreign policy views. She is being authentic. We may not like those. She`s been more hawkish than a lot of Democrats for a long time. She didn`t second-guess his Syrian policy. She also first guessed it, as far as I can tell. She`s been criticizing it for a long time, agree or disagree. MATTHEWS: What were we supposed to do in Syria that could have been done? CORN: This is what`s so great, because she can just say, I would have done it better. MATTHEWS: Who are the Syrian liberation groups? We can`t find them. CORN: There was no one really good to support. MATTHEWS: To give guns to.   CORN: It`s a ghost. It`s a specter. We couldn`t something better, just the way Republicans say we could have negotiated a better deal. It`s an abstraction versus something concrete. But I do think she is burdened by perhaps the assumption that if she is going to be the first elected female president she is going to have to be seen really tough as commander in chief. It`s unfair, but I think a lot of people and say, oh -- MATTHEWS: Who says? You say. CORN: This is my guess. This is not the way with I would like to see the world. But I think a lot of voters looking at voting for a woman for the first time would say -- MATTHEWS: What you are saying she has something to prove and that scares me. CORN: I don`t know if she has. She hasn`t been elected president yet. REID: I think she is seen as a muscular figure on foreign policy. Everyone sees her as a hawk. No doubt she would be a firm commander in chief. Her authentic self is right of where the Democratic Party right now. MATTHEWS: How do you know that? REID: Because if you look at the energy in the party is, it is coming from the left. It`s on every issue, whether it`s gay rights, gays in the military. It`s to the left of -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Why she thinks she`s right on foreign policy?   REID: Because of this take that the Clintons have of believing you have to chase after white working class voters and I think she is hawkish on foreign policy. But this drift to the right -- MATTHEWS: But she was senator of New York a long time. I mean, she doesn`t have that interest in the Middle East. CORN: Yes. REID: She does. I think she is more hawkish. I think the party is to the left of her. BACON: Obama`s relationship (ph) with Netanyahu is not great. I do think some other president could do better. They have had a few that hopefully the next president can solve. Hillary is not wrong about that. MATTHEWS: You are going to enjoy your day at the beach with that. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Joy Reid, and Perry Bacon. When we return, let me finish with the legacy of 9/11. Serious stuff. You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the marking of 9/11. We`ve got to be careful here. There are too many people out there, forces out there who will use the horror of 14 years ago to drive us toward more mayhem, both by the wars we start and consequences that come with them. Everyone in this country pulled together after 9/11. The yuppies cheered the firefighters. The Democrats cheered W. We were together going in after al Qaeda for what it had masterminded against us. Well then came the exploitation, based on nothing but ideology, the Bush administration and its allies decided here`s their chance to knock off a country they didn`t like. In their parlance a regime. It was Iraq, a country that had nothing whatever to do with 9/11 but sat there as an easy target, a cake walk to use the phrase of the hour. And there, it went from there, to 800,000 people dead. A Sunni government overthrown by a Shia government allied with Iran, the main buffer separating the ayatollahs from Israel removed, the country of Iraq torn in to pieces, the officers of the Iraq army thrown out to later become the army of ISIS and, of course, America divided. Look, some good has come of marking 9/11. We have a better system of keeping our eyes on potential enemies. We have better safety for airlines. We`ve been taught to be ready for action, if we see a terrorist operation underway like those brave Americans that disarmed the terrorists on the train headed to Paris. That reminded me of a positive legacy of 9/11. What happened on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, when those passengers said, "Let`s roll". It`s like a trio of heroes again on that French train, "Let`s go", those Americans yelled. Now, there`s something to remember, if it is ever your moment to do with your very best to match. 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.>