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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/28/15

Guests: Jeanne Cummings, William Taylor, David Ignatius, Michael Tomasky

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Will Joe Biden challenge Hillary Clinton? Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Can there be a bigger question for the Democrats right now? What will it do to the Democrats` chances if Vice President Biden jumps into the race soon? Will it split the moderate vote and give Senator Bernie Sanders a real chance to win? Will it switch attention to the big questions of competence and policy and away from the termite bites of Benghazi and e- mail? Will it liberate Hillary Clinton from the bunker and forge her team into a fighting stance? Well, one thing we know. A Biden campaign, a real one, would turn the tables on the status quo and bring alive a political party that`s been thrilled on its left but dormant at the center. It could make the fight on the Democratic side as exciting as the king of the hill wildness among the historically tame Republicans. It could bring hardball to the progressive arena at a time when Bill Clinton, that old warrior, is charging back into the action. The second it`s Hillary versus Biden, you can forget the beanbag. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones," Jeanne Cummings is the political editor for "The Wall Street Journal," and Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post." I want to start with Jeanne. Are we looking at an entry here by Joe Biden in the very near future into this presidential contest? JEANNE CUMMINGS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, our reporters, my reporters, are very much on alert because there are certain drop-dead dates that are approaching -- the debate on CNN October 13th. We heard from his staff in our reporting... MATTHEWS: It`s two weeks from now.    CUMMINGS: It`s two weeks from now. MATTHEWS: Tomorrow. CUMMINGS: And we`d heard -- October 1st was floated, and we reported that. We had heard he might wait until after the debate. But in that window, though, next week looks really like a prime target moment because it would be past all the busy-ness... MATTHEWS: Yes. CUMMINGS: ... the U.N., the pope of this week, past all of that, got a nice clean week, and then the debate following it. So we are on red alert. MATTHEWS: David Corn, although you`re not a fellow religionist on this point, it`s very political. DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. MATTHEWS: I`m thinking that Joe Biden made a big point of seeing the pope off last night... CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: ... that that was an opportunity like you can`t beat among his fellow Catholics, among a lot of people watching our coverage, and other people`s coverage, a great chance to get in on the action on the schmaltz level, where he`s really good. CORN: He`s...    MATTHEWS: Is this... CORN: Well, he`s... MATTHEWS: Is this a sign of political life and he`s ready to go now? CORN: Well, he`s been out there, you know, on Labor Day and other events over the last couple -- month or two after coming out of this grieving period. MATTHEWS: Seizing every opportunity. CORN: And the thing about Biden, which is -- I think makes him, you know, a particular threat to Hillary Clinton, is when he`s out there, he looks like he`s having fun. He looks engaged. He`s excited. He`s enthusiastic. Sometimes it leads to gaffes... MATTHEWS: You mean like Bill Clinton looks like he`s having fun. CORN: Yes. Sometimes it leads to gaffes and he puts his foot in the mouth once in a while. But he does like to be out there pressing the flesh and being, you know,what he thinks is a real guy, real politician. Now, I talked to one person who has raised money for him in the past, and he says, until there`s a decision, there is no decision. And he can see it going either way. The people around Biden, his staffers and the money people and his advisers, all -- they want him in because it`s good for them. (CROSSTALK) CORN: Of course they do.    MATTHEWS: OK, let me -- you`re smiling. Why are you smiling, first of all, because I think... EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well... MATTHEWS: ... he wants to go in. What would stop him at this point? ROBINSON: Well, thinking he can`t win, thinking that Hillary Clinton isn`t... MATTHEWS: What`s wrong with a college try? ROBINSON: Well... MATTHEWS: How does a college try... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: He`s made the college try before, and he hasn`t... MATTHEWS: Well, here (ph) he could come in second. ROBINSON: ... gotten -- mixed metaphors -- he hasn`t grabbed the brass ring, right? I mean, he hasn`t -- he hasn`t been able to do it.    MATTHEWS: In other words, he`s on a merry-go-round! ROBINSON: I don`t think he wants to go out, have the last act of his political career be another flameout. MATTHEWS: OK, how about the last act of his political career, Jeanne, being, I let it go? The galloping horse of history rode by. Hillary got into more trouble than I ever thought she would. There was an opening there that opened two or three weeks after I would have announced. I didn`t announce. I kissed it good-bye, even though my son told me to do it. CUMMINGS: I think that`s a very big part of what he`s got to consider, regrets, that he didn`t go ahead and go for it. This time, he`s in much better shape than he was the last two times. And if he doesn`t go for it, he`s got to live with that, as you say, for the rest of his life. And that`s a really hard thing to... MATTHEWS: Do you know how many guys won... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... guys have won it -- men have won on their third and fourth try? I mean, Reagan won on his third try. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I`m talking about these guys that normally get the -- they get the bug. CORN: Well... MATTHEWS: It doesn`t go away. So they usually end up getting it ultimately, or they just die trying.    CORN: Well, Mo Udall had a great... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... because I`m trying to remember that. CORN: He said the cure for the presidential fever is formaldehyde. (LAUGHTER) CORN: Once you get the presidential bug, you know, people who -- and people who are in a position to run for president credibly usually do. Mario Cuomo and a few others, Colin Powell, chose not to. But usually, if you get close enough, everyone`s around you... MATTHEWS: OK... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: But why would he jump in yet? Why would he jump in now? CORN: Well, that`s a good question... (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: Let me suggest that Hillary owned this thing -- I don`t care about realpolitik for a second. Hillary owned this thing until recently. It`s only recently there are even doubts. I still think she`s the nominee, but there`s doubts out there. And I think the other part of it is, I`ve talked to Biden. I`m not that close to him, but I talked to him one time. He`s only working two doors from the president all day long for the last seven years. He`s two doors away. Whenever the president wants him, he`s in there, you know? He`s that close, as close as Hillary was. I mean, he`s there. CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: And I think once you`ve ran twice and you`re there for seven years, you go, I can do this. I can sit in that chair. (CROSSTALK) CORN: He`s not a Dan Quayle. CUMMINGS: I think... MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at the -- I`m sorry, Jeanne. Last point? CUMMINGS: What our reporting is, is that he wants to run because he thinks he would be the better president. MATTHEWS: I think I`ve heard that. And I don`t think he`s a big fan of the Clintons. Anyway, our new NBC poll, "Wall Street Journal" poll, shows Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders gaining on Hillary Clinton. He leads -- leads Sanders by just 7 now, 42 to 35. That`s with Joe Biden taking 17 percent. So it`s very close.    And by the way, translate that to the Electoral College, and that`s not so good for Hillary Clinton because her liberal vote up north, the Northeast and out West, is really centered there. But without the vice president in the contest, Clinton`s lead over Sanders grows to 15 points, 53 to 38. And that is, of course, down from her 34-point lead over Sanders back in July and her 60-point lead in -- I go back to the point of three things -- two things. She was much better off three, four months ago, when he might have made the decision to go in. Now it`s an easier decision to go in. And two, the hard one is that he takes away from her center, Gene. ROBINSON: Yes, he does. MATTHEWS: He doesn`t take away from Bernie`s left. ROBINSON: Exactly. So then you have two candidates of the center... MATTHEWS: From the center. ROBINSON: ... in there and... MATTHEWS: And Hillary calls herself a centrist now! ROBINSON: ... and a candidate of the left, who has a pretty solid base, right... MATTHEWS: OK, if you`re Bernie...    ROBINSON: ... and so... MATTHEWS: ... are you rooting, Come on in, Joe? CORN: I`ve talked to people, the Bernie strategists... MATTHEWS: I knew you would! CORN: ... and they want Biden in. MATTHEWS: They`re your people! CORN: They want Biden in. They think, you know... (CROSSTALK) CORN: But also -- also, you know, Bernie`s campaign is not a media campaign. It`s not quite a stealth campaign, but if Biden and Hillary are punching it out over there, they`re happy to go with the same game plan they`ve had up to date to keep... MATTHEWS: OK, what happens... (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: ... all three go in this jamboree, and Bernie wins Iowa, which he could, he wins New Hampshire, which is a very good place to be, then he -- she knocks him off or and somebody knocks him off in South Carolina... ROBINSON: Right. Except... MATTHEWS: ... and then it gets interesting? CUMMINGS: Well, the problem for Clinton is that Biden is looking at South Carolina as a loss. MATTHEWS: It`s his win. CUMMINGS: That`s right. And so... MATTHEWS: There is no Hillary... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... until the big super-Tuesday. CUMMINGS: Hillary has to win New Hampshire. That`s where -- she`s got to win one of them, and... MATTHEWS: Or else what? Let`s play this out.    CUMMINGS: All right, play it out. Bernie wins Iowa. Bernie wins New Hampshire. Joe loses -- wins in South Carolina. She`s a three-time loser... MATTHEWS: And then what? CUMMINGS: ... going into super-Tuesday. MATTHEWS: Does someone else comes in then? CUMMINGS: No, no. I think one of them will -- could pick up some momentum. MATTHEWS: Bernie can win the nomination of the party, without even joining it! CUMMINGS: No, no, no. You got Biden in there, too. MATTHEWS: Yes. CUMMINGS: Now, the other problem with Biden getting in the race is not just breaking up middle or the center. He takes minorities from her, and that`s where she has really got it over... (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: If you look at our...    MATTHEWS: Let me go right now to something that looks like a big tease from our competitor, CNN. Look at this. CNN announced today that they will hold a spot for Joe Biden should he announce a campaign for president right up until the very day of October 13th... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: ... two weeks from now! Jeanne, this is show business by Jeff Zucker! ROBINSON: Oh, it is. It is. Hey, you know, you got it, you milk it, right? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... down to the railroad tracks, the villain`s got him down there, and oh, he might get up? (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: Please, not three hours of it! (CROSSTALK) CORN: But the ratings will go up, you know, by doublefold if Biden gets in, particularly... MATTHEWS: I know. CORN: ... if he announces that morning.    MATTHEWS: OK, here`s Bill Clinton adding to the action. As I said, he was coming and he jumped in this weekend on the e-mail fight. Now, ignore the topic. The interesting thing here -- first of all, you should ignore e-mail. I think it is a topic, but the fact that big Bill is coming in -- is that good for her or bad? We`re going to talk about that. She needs him? That`s not a good thing. Or is he just the cavalry (INAUDIBLE) cavalry to the rescue? Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The other party doesn`t want to run against her. And if they do, they`d like her mangled up as possible. And they know that if they leak things, say things, that that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about, What`s your position on student loan relief, or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America. You can`t complain. This is not -- this is a contact sport. They`re not giving the job away. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, and here`s Secretary Clinton warming to her husband`s remarks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, you know, I love my husband. And you know, he does get upset when I am attacked. I totally get that. But we also get the fact that, look, this is a contest, and it`s fair game for people to raise whatever they choose to raise. As he said, I think, in that same interview, you know, they`re not giving this job away. You have to get out there. You have to earn it. And that`s what I`m trying to do. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Tag team! It`s...    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He says, It`s not fair, and she says, I can take it. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I love a team! I love a tag team! CUMMINGS: So let`s face it. He is one of the biggest assets in her campaign. MATTHEWS: But there`s a -- OK, woman for president, first woman for president needing the husband. I thought that she was going to try to -- remember how Nixon said, I don`t want Ike helping me? CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Well, you don`t remember it. I remember! CUMMINGS: But... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Is this something like that, where she didn`t want him around for a while?    CUMMINGS: No, but everybody knows he`s there. MATTHEWS: Yes. ROBINSON: Part of the package. CUMMINGS: And so it`s -- it`s almost like the last time, she didn`t want to admit she was a woman and that her race would be a historic win. MATTHEWS: Now she`s admitting she`s a wife! CUMMINGS: Yes. (LAUGHTER) CUMMINGS: Yes. I mean, we`re kind of past all of this, Let`s pretend that... MATTHEWS: But the beauty of it, Jeanne... CUMMINGS: ... it wouldn`t be historic. MATTHEWS: ... is that they can do these kind of tag team things, where he can say...    CUMMINGS: Yes. MATTHEWS: ... It`s totally unfair, it`s all BS, and she can say, Look, it`s not beanbag. I can handle that. CORN: Well, he can do the complaining for his, you know, aggrieved or, you know, spouse, but I think he`s going to be more effective when he actually gets out on the campaign trail. MATTHEWS: OK... CORN: Coming on the shows is good, but when he gets out there, that`s when he`ll be of value to her. MATTHEWS: He or Biden would both have the same -- end (ph) up (ph) impact, getting it away from the termite bites, I`m calling it... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: ... of this stupid e-mail thing that`s never going to go away... CORN: Never going away. ROBINSON: Never goes away, no. MATTHEWS: ... the focus on these personality debates, policy debates, back to the big arena, away from the sideshow.    Thank you, Jeanne. You know more than you say! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Thank you, David, Eugene Robinson -- often does... CUMMINGS: I just don`t get time! MATTHEWS: OK. Is he going to run next week? CUMMINGS: I`m not... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK, Jeanne Cummings from "The Wall Street Journal," which before it gets to the opinion page, is a really good newspaper. Anyway, David Corn, thank you, buddy, and thank you, Gene. Coming up -- President Obama meets Russian president Vladimir Putin for the first time in a couple years. Does the president want Putin to be the cavalry? By the way, this is the surprise of the (INAUDIBLE) Putin has a plan to kill ISIS. We don`t have one. Maybe he does. I think he has some theory, at least, and we don`t even have a theory. Plus, John Boehner`s resignation as House speaker. Boehner hopes he`d call off the red-hots in his party, but the move of getting himself rid of may have had the opposite effect that makes them hungrier for more deaths - - deaths, political deaths. And here`s a big question about the trip Pope Francis made to America. Will it help cool off the heat level in our politics, all the talk about brotherly love and sisterly affection coming out of Philly tamp down the anger of the red-hots? I`d like to think so.    Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the thought of those looking at Trump`s tax proposal. Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: It`s a state Barack Obama won in 2008 and Mitt Romney won in 2012. So who`s looking strong in North Carolina for 2016? Let`s go the HARDBALL "Scoreboard." According to an Elon University poll, in a potential matchup between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, Bush wins North Carolina by 3, 46-43. The GOP lead is even stronger when it`s Ben Carson against Clinton. In that matchup, it`s Carson 52, Hillary 41. But the tables are turned when Clinton takes on Donald Trump. In such a race, it`s Clinton 47, Trump down at 40. So trump don`t look too good in North Carolina. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Battling ISIS took center stage at the U.N. General Assembly today, with two speeches that laid out two very different approaches. President Obama warned world leaders not to allow Syria to go back to the status quo by letting Bashar Assad remain in power. Here`s the president`s -- laying down his marker. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let`s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that in turn created the environment for the current strife. Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL. But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And here comes Russian president Vladimir Putin, who in recent days sent warplanes and tanks to Syria to bolster Assad and just blind-sided the U.S., by the way, by announcing an alliance with Iraq, Syria and Iran to share intelligence on ISIS. In his U.N. address today, Putin said the world needs to acknowledge that Assad`s army is one of the major countervailing forces to ISIS. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face. On the basis of international law, we must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism. Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of forces that resolutely resisting those who are just like the Nazis, so evil and hatred of humankind. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama and President Putin met this evening just recently, a couple of minutes ago, for the first official face-to-face in over two years. The two leaders talked about -- well, they talked about (ph) for 90 minutes. We don`t know what they discussed yet. But my question tonight -- when it comes to our fight against ISIS, which is the American`s people`s primary security concern right now, is the cavalry going to come from Moscow? Is it time to, by the way, let Putin step in and fight the terror group that the world wants to see defeated? David Ignatius is a columnist for "The Washington Post," William Taylor`s the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Howard Fineman is global editorial director for the HuffingtonPost.    Howard, this is strange. We never thought this was going to happen, but Vladimir Putin is quick on his feet in this regard. He sees a natural alliance among the Shia countries, Tehran -- Iran -- the country that`s become Shia-run, thanks to us, Baghdad, and of course, Damascus. The historic relationship between the Russians and the regime of the Assads going back many generations. That`s a natural coalition to fight ISIS. We don`t have such a natural coalition to fight ISIS. We don`t have a force in the field to beat them. Is he offering us something we don`t have, which is a credible way to defeat ISIS? HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, almost out of benign neglect and through no shrewd maneuvering of his own, I think the president may have a policy here. Don`t forget we`ve been dealing with Putin. We`ve been dealing with him on Iran. He`s been our silent helpmate, if you will now, for a few years, Ukraine notwithstanding. So it makes sense for Putin to move in and tell the United Nations that he will be the leader of the new anti-Hitler coalition. MATTHEWS: Just like in World War II where... FINEMAN: Just like in World War II... MATTHEWS: ... a bad guy like Stalin was on our side. FINEMAN: That`s right. You had the -- you know, you had the -- you had Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt making common cause. Fascinating move by Putin and I think one that the United States might not be able to refuse. MATTHEWS: Mr. Ambassador, I thought the cold war was a battle between East and West, and what was going to change at the end of the cold war was a pivot from East/West controversies (INAUDIBLE) conflict to North/South. And in that regard, we were going to be the natural allies of the Russians against Tashkent and the southern nationalities, the Islamic people that could cause trouble for them. Isn`t it in our common interest to fight ISIS? Is it or not? WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Certainly it`s in our common interest to fight ISIS.    The question is, who is our ally here? And is Mr. Putin able to bring something to bear that we can`t put together ourselves? MATTHEWS: The Iranians. TAYLOR: If the answer is yes, then we should take advantage of it. We have been dealing with the Iranians. We have been talking with the Iranians and the Russians have been useful in that regard. There is no reason why we shouldn`t be talking to them as well. However, Mr. Putin doesn`t bring that much to the table. I mean, what he brings is a record of lying to us. Let`s be frank. MATTHEWS: What about the -- bringing Assad to our side, choosing sides here like we did in World War II? Just say, we don`t like Assad, he`s a killer, but we need to get rid of ISIS now. We will deal with him later. DAVID IGNATIUS, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well... MATTHEWS: Is the president likely to do that? IGNATIUS: The president is coming to accept the reality that if Assad leaves too quickly, you have chaos and every likelihood that the worst people in Syria will take over. The problem with what`s just happened is that Putin`s embrace of Assad and Iran is almost a guarantee that ISIS will keep fighting. If you wanted to give the extremists a reason to fight to the last... MATTHEWS: Because they are Sunnis?    IGNATIUS: Because they are Sunnis and they hate the Russians, they hate the Persians, the Iranians. They hate -- this has a sectarian quality. And the addition of Russian power, I think, is going to make the jihadists all the more angry. Is the U.S. really going to embrace that? It`s hard for me to imagine. The only way this is a good thing, I think, is if Putin sees that, now that he`s in it, the only way to get something out of it is to go the diplomatic path, to use his leverage to bring people around the table and get this managed transition that the president very deliberately talked about. If he does that, great. MATTHEWS: I`m not the expert, like you are, Ambassador, but I have -- and Howard, Ambassador, is the expert on so many things. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: But it never made sense to me when Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, and the president would say to Assad, leave. Where was he going to go to? The only place he and his family could go, if they could get out of the country alive without the Alawites not killing before they get to the airport, the people around him who depend on him, was to go to Russia. And where else -- who else would accept him? If we say leave, what do we mean, leave to where? Simple question, except to Assad. He cares. TAYLOR: He cares. And... MATTHEWS: Where would he go? TAYLOR: And he would go to Russia. And the Russians see that Mr. Assad is on the way out. He`s on the decline. MATTHEWS: OK. They have accepted that.    TAYLOR: And they have seen that. And thus I think what Mr. Putin is trying to do is bolster him. He is doing something. He sends his troops in there. MATTHEWS: OK. TAYLOR: He`s trying to... MATTHEWS: OK. Last thought. Could there be something good coming out of this? Could we find a deal where we fight our first and immediate enemy first, ISIS, which the American people don`t like because they behead us, guys like Jim Foley and people like that? We identify -- whereas Assad is a pain in the ass -- I`m sorry sorry -- pain in the butt, a Baathist. And finding and de-Baathicizing hasn`t worked so well for us. So, could it be the smart move is, live with Assad for a year or so, get rid of ISIS and then move on? HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The other card in the deck here is Iran. Don`t forget, the Russians have an interest in having Iran involved in this as well. I think that`s part of their team that they want to continue to make players on the global stage. Rouhani was here, said, we are back, it`s a new Iran, it`s a new day. They are part of the peacemaking effort here, which will make it more difficult for the United States to lean on Iran vis-a-vis the nuclear arms deal and other things. Iran is back as well. It`s not just Putin. MATTHEWS: What does Israel want? IGNATIUS: Oh, Israel wants peace on its borders. It likes to see the strong Arab states just destroy themselves. MATTHEWS: Are they more concerned about Assad or ISIS? IGNATIUS: Well, a weakened Assad is very much in their interest.    The Israelis have been very smart. Along their border, they have been providing medical care for fighters from -- I don`t know about ISIS, but for the al Qaeda affiliate. And they have been very clever in keeping this... (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: Can I just... MATTHEWS: Quickly. Real fast. FINEMAN: Netanyahu was in Moscow the other week. MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: My sense is that Netanyahu and the Israelis are going to stand back and hope that a deal is done. They want the deal. They don`t mind the Russians being involved in this at all. As a matter of fact, I think they might like it, because they don`t trust Obama either. MATTHEWS: OK. Boy, a lot of politics here. David Ignatius, thank you. Ambassador William Taylor, thank you for your expertise, and Howard Fineman. Coming up: Pope Francis leaves the United States after inspiring millions. A look back at his historic visit to America. Up next, I`m going to tell you what hit me when I was covering this thing. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.    (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, I want to show you a quick travelogue of the trip that Pope Francis just made through the three major cities of the East Coast. From his arrival here in Washington, his visit to the White House, the Catholic Basilica here and the U.S. Congress, then to New York and Saint Patrick`s, down to Ground Zero, then uptown to Harlem, Madison, with an ebullient Cardinal Dolan at Madison Square Garden, that was all great. And finally to Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families, starting with his embrace of Michael Keating, a cerebral palsy victim, at the airport, meeting with prisoners and victims of sexual abuse, including that from priests, and then mass on Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a million communicants. What a few days mattered there. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your Holiness. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) POPE FRANCIS, LEADER OF CATHOLIC CHURCH: God bless America. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (SINGING)    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: What an amazing week. Anyway, I was thinking, those last scenes were from beautiful Philadelphia. I kept wondering, what does he think of us? He had never been here before in whole 78 years. What did he think? Was he overwhelmed by it all? I think he might have been. I looked on his face sometimes, like, wow, what a country. Bottom line, do you think he liked us? I certainly hope so. We all do. Up next: the fanfare of the pope`s visit. House John Boehner`s announcing he is leaving Congress altogether, and he is not mincing words about the Republican right-wingers like Ted Cruz and what they did to him. He calls them jackasses. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) DARA BROWN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Dara Brown. Here`s what`s happening. Lawyers for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert are reportedly in talks with prosecutors about a possible plea deal. Hastert is accused of bypassing banking laws for trying to pay hush money to conceal misconduct. Former prison employee Joyce Mitchell has been sentenced to up to seven years in prison for helping two inmates escape. Mitchell pleaded guilty in July. And Apple set a new record, selling more than 13 million of its new iPhones over the last three days. The company has said preorders were strong, indicating demand for the new phones would be high -- now it`s back to HARDBALL.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It`s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. So, this morning, I informed my colleagues that I would resign from the speakership and resign from Congress at the end of October. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL. Amidst all the other news, that is John Boehner, the speaker, announcing this Friday, just three days ago, that his time as speaker is up. And he will be resigning from Congress altogether, giving up his seat as well, in October. His exit comes amid a conservative revolt -- you could call it conservative, a right wing inside the Republican Caucus and growing discontent among the party`s base at home. According to Friday`s NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 72 percent of Republican primary voters said they were dissatisfied with the leadership of John Boehner, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In an interview with "Face the Nation" just yesterday, the outgoing speaker, John Boehner, warned about the faction of his party that has made it increasingly difficult to govern. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FACE THE NATION") JOHN DICKERSON, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Well, are they unrealistic what can be done in government? (CROSSTALK)    BOEHNER: Absolutely they`re unrealistic. But the Bible says, beware of false prophets. And there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done. I mean, this whole idea that we were going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013, this plan never had a chance. And so we have got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town who whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know, they know are never going to happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: They know. But for a party that`s increasingly unwilling to compromise -- well, the prompter is not compromising either. I don`t know what is going on here. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Right now, we have got Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast. He`s joining us on the roundtable. Michelle Bernard is president of Bernard Center, has been recently reelected. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And NBC political reporter Perry Bacon. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: I have never figured out your politics. I think you are a moderate Republican. So, tell me this, Michelle. Is this a pound of flesh, that they are happy now? Are they going to keep biting and keep digging and try to knock over Kevin McCarthy? It looks like he`s the next speaker. He will get elected. Will he immediately be pounded? Will Mitch McConnell face a challenge? Is this the end or the beginning of the attacks? MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND POLICY: This is the beginning of the -- it is the beginning and the end. Here is what I kind of foresee happening. Anyone who gets the job, the farthest right faction of the Republican Party is going to continue to go after that person, because as soon as you become speaker, you become the establishment. What I think is dangerous for them, all of these GOPers who are running around saying that we have won, victory, victory, we have gotten rid of Boehner, I think Boehner, going on "Face the Nation" or "Meet the Press" or anywhere else, and talking about the fact that his soon-to-be former colleagues know that they are promising their electorate something that they can`t deliver on, it is dangerous. MATTHEWS: I think that was so smart. There is a theory among the Democrats I have been reading. I haven`t heard about it. I have been reading it, that they believe the Republican right doesn`t want to govern. It wants to disrupt only. Let`s take a look at this just to make that point. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Perry and Michael, look at this. Conservatives are taking a victory lap over Boehner`s resignation. Here`s what happened at the Values Voters Summit when Marco Rubio told the crowd the news on Friday. Catch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just a few minutes ago, Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning.    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Senator Rubio didn`t whip them into a frenzy. They were in a frenzy. That was spontaneous. The hate the leadership. Here is how Republican front-runner Donald Trump reacted to the news of Boehner quitting. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s wonderful, frankly. I think it`s good. It`s time. And it`s time for -- I don`t think he is conservative enough. I think it`s time. And somebody else will come in and maybe they will have a little bit tougher attitude. QUESTION: Did he not fight for conservative principles? TRUMP: No, he didn`t, not enough. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, after calling for a conservative replacement for Boehner, Ted Cruz criticized Republican leadership for capitulating to President Obama. Here he was on Saturday.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely nothing would have been better than what the Republican majority has done. Republican leadership took the lead in funding Obamacare, in funding President Obama`s unconstitutional executive amnesty, in funding Planned Parenthood. I led the fight against each and was vilified by Democrats and Republican leadership. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Perry, what`s he talking about? I mean, he says the Republicans basically funded Obamacare. The Republicans funded -- he makes it sound like they did everything. Republicans opposed Obama down the line. PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Boehner referred to unrealistic comments not based in truth and false prophets, there you had it right there. MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Absolutely. BACON: The Republicans fought as hard as they could to stop Obamacare from being funded. They all voted against it. I guess he`s saying, unless they defund the government and shut it down forever, they were complying with Obama. But this part this is definitely the beginning and not the end. These guys do not want to govern. They want -- they don`t want to govern as long as Obama is in office, at least. They don`t want to govern with him -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: On "Face the Nation", John Boehner, the speaker, was asked about Senator Cruz` behavior there. Here`s what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    JOHN DICKERSON, FACE THE NATION: Is Ted Cruz a false prophet? REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You pick a lot of names out, I`ll let you choose them. DICKERSON: You don`t debate that assertion? BOEHNER: I`ll refer to you to my remark at a fund-raiser I made in August in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. DICKERSON: Let me ask you about -- by the way, you called Ted, I believe the word you used was jackass referring to -- BOEHNER: I refer to that same remark. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: That was pretty good. I have heard him at a certain Catholic event with the cardinal years ago, he spoke about these characters in a way I cannot use the language on television. He used it right there. He didn`t like that crowd. They ruined the government. They are trying to ruin it permanently. MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. He didn`t like that crowd. I suppose one feels sympathy for him for the position he was in.    I don`t feel that much sympathy for him, Chris. I mean, there are things he could have done. He could have stood up to that crowd a little bit more -- MATTHEWS: Broke the Hastert rule. TOMASKY: Yes, well, particularly -- MATTHEWS: How a democracy would work. TOMASKY: Particularly, yes, particularly on immigration. You`ve been talking about immigration on the air the past few days, I`ve noticed. That immigration -- MATTHEWS: Why does he bring that bill up? TOMASKY: Well, it`s too late because it expired. It`s a new session of Congress. It could have passed, I`m sure you both agree, any day. And the speaker could bring anything to the floor any time he wants. He could have brought it to the floor and it would have passed any day with 180 Democratic votes and 30 or 40 Republican votes. And at least then, he would have lost his job but at least then he`d have something to show for it. MATTHEWS: I argue that the center right -- the center right, if it held its ground, they would have passed the immigration bill with a compromise in it. You can`t come in the country and work here legally once you work illegally. That`s the deal. BERNARD: And his base wants no compromise. That`s one of the reasons why he is leaving. They want no compromise. He wouldn`t should down the government, all this business with Planned Parenthood. They don`t want to govern and they want the government shut down. MATTHEWS: I believe every time they shut down the government, not -- there`s always been frictions and stoppages, a couple of days later, a couple of hours. But that wasn`t an attempt to kill the government. I believe the stopping of the government now, the shutting that is a way to constantly weaken it, to weaken the government itself, to bring it down.    You know what I mean, Perry? It shows you have contempt for the very government we`re working in if you`re just killing everyone for a couple of days. BACON: I don`t agree with that. I think they have contempt for Obamacare and they have contempt for President Obama and -- (CROSSTALK) BACON: -- Planned Parenthood. MATTHEWS: OK, explain to me, what do they mean when they basically hold the government hostage? What do they mean by that? BACON: They want to hold it hostage that they don`t support. MATTHEWS: What do they speak the endgame of that? BACON: This is the problem is they have no -- Obama is not going to sign the repeal of the Obamacare that seems to be the end of -- (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: They believe that the electorate -- TOMASKY: The Democrats are the party of government and when people see government failing, it hurts.    BERNARD: When government fails, the people fail. That is not the democracy we stand for. MATTHEWS: That`s all we got, is a government, to get things done. Anyway, most of these public missions. The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, can Pope Francis inspire us to tone down the political rhetoric from people like Donald Trump? They are already laughing, the cynics. BACON: And Cruz. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: This is HARDBLL, a place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump is still on top, but his rival Republican candidates are gaining. In a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Trump leads with 21 percent, but -- catch this -- Dr. Ben Carson at 20 percent, right there even with him. Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina are up to 11 percent each. Jeb Bush and John Kasich round out the top six but not very well. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Rubio is a lightweight. We understand that. He wouldn`t be able to do this. He wouldn`t know a trade deal from any ordeal. We are going up strongly in the polls. They don`t know what to do about it. Guys like Rubio, I mean, he desperately needs money. Ask the car dealer in Florida. Ask the people that support him. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We are back with our roundtable, Michael, Michelle, and Perry. Perry, you know, he is basically saying the guy is a deadbeat. He wouldn`t make his payments on the car. He won`t make the monthly. He`s a bum. He`s a bum. He obviously sees, like a lot of us around think, that Rubio is one that may be the sleeper here, the one that`s going to come out and win the whole game. So, he`s ready to kill him now, right? BACON: He is killing him now. Rubio has the same problem Bush does, the amnesty problem. Rubio was the author of the immigration bill. Bush was a big supporter of it. And he`s -- Trump made a good point there. You know, that his donor, the car dealer who basically funds Rubio`s life. MATTHEWS: Is that Braman? BACON: Braman.    MATTHEWS: Oh, I thought he was back on his payments. BACON: No, no, (INAUDIBLE) he was talking about. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s what it said to average viewer who doesn`t know about this, you know what the micro. The guys don`t make his payments. This personal aspect of him, I`m trying to get to something here -- the crassness of the guy works so far. It worked for a while with Chris Christie. BERNARD: It did. MATTHEWS: Sorry, Emily, it`s none of your business. BERNARD: Yes. MATTHEWS: And then it didn`t work. (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: And look where Chris Christie is now, exactly. I mean -- and also, all of this coming on the truck -- on the truck -- all this coming on the heels of Pope Francis being here and the country is enlightened and, you know, trying to be moral and do the right thing. And the very next thing we hear out of Donald Trump`s mouth is an attack on Rubio. I think it`s going to be a problem for him.    MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Rubio again in a pair of radio interviews, Marco Rubio is trying to chop down Trump from the top, saying Trump -- well, here he is going after him directly calling him out as we say. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) The very next thing we hear out of Donald Trump`s mouth is an attack on Rubio. I think it`s going to be a problem for him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TURMP: You have this clown Marco Rubio. I`ve been so nice to him. I`ve been so nice. (BOOS) I`ve been so nice. And then -- no. But he`s in favor of immigration and he has been. He has been. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, he got some resistance there, Michael. TOMASKY: Yes.    MATTHEWS: It`s not stopping him. TOMASKY: No, no. It`s not going to stop him of course. But he misfired on that one. And that`s -- you know, when you`re going to talk like that about other people, it has to resonate. It has to reflect something. MATTHEWS: Loser. TOMASKY: Yes. Well, it has to reflect something that people feel is true. Like when he said that Jeb Bush was low energy, I mean, nobody could deny, that right? That hit home because that -- anybody with two eyes could watch and see, yes, low energy. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So, is it just a question, Michelle, to see who he`s going turn on next. You can enjoy if you`re really sadistic and you`re somebody beating somebody else up rhetorically because you`re not a big fan of that person. But certainly when you turn on somebody they care about, like that audience does care about Rubio because they in the end know he`s the next generation and he`s a good shot at being the sleeper here. BERNARD: And he`s got a good story. There are things about Rubio that anybody on the right or the left can like. I think Carly Fiorina is going to find herself next. If she and Rubio are tied for third, Donald Trump goes after her next, and it doesn`t matter that she`s a female that he`s up against. He will just find something hopefully -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, he did her a favor in a weird sick way by going after her appearance, and that got her into the game again and certainly since then she`s been a charger. Let`s take a look at Rubio going back here.    (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not interested in the back and forth to be a member or a part of his freak show. I would just say this -- he is a very sensitive person. He doesn`t like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly. He takes shots at everybody that gets anywhere close to him or -- in terms of a poll or any time he hits a rough spot, that`s what he does. He had a really bad debate performance last week. He`s not well-informed on the issues. He really never talks about issues and can`t have more than a ten-second sound bite on any key issue. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Timing is everything, Perry, and everybody here, I want you to respond. Is this the time as Trump begins to crest, maybe even fade, the time to take him on for a young guy like Rubio. BACON: I think it really is. Bush looked weak by not taking on Trump really sharply, and Rubio said -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: When he went after his wife, he wouldn`t do it. BACON: Yes. Rubio said a lot of the right things. It`s not that Trump is crazy, it`s that he`s clueless, he can`t talk about issues. MATTHEWS: Is the timing right? BACON: The timing is right. I think it is.    BERNARD: I think the timing was perfect. I just don`t think he needs to harp on it for too long. Hit him, hit him hard and keep going on. Rubio knows foreign policy. Rubio knows domestic policy and he doesn`t have to stoop to saying things like you`re a loser. TOMASKY: Rubio still looks young. He just looks younger than his years. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Now it`s time to attack the big guy. The big ugly bear. (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: Sonny Liston. MATTHEWS: Last question: will the pope improve the mood of American politics? Perry? BACON: The mood of American politics cannot be improved, no. Trump is leading in the polls. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. Michelle, do you have any hopes?    BERNARD: I have hopes that the pope`s presence here is going to lift our aspirations and make all of our governing people actually want to govern. TOMASKY: Marginally. Makes it a little bit harder for a right-wing - - MATTHEWS: Here`s my argument -- that it will. I think the arguments he made, which is compassion, care about other people -- we`ve been a country at our best that roots for the underdog. It just does. I saw some things out on the parkway in Philadelphia the other day. First of all, all these people who left the city came back to the city for this. Hispanic people are Catholic. White people are Catholic. All realize they`re in the same religion together. The Spanish language was raised, was elevated to such a stature in the last six or seven days, just raised up the stature of the language. Here`s the leading man in the world really speaking beautifully in the language of so many Americans. I think it added stature. I think it added stature to our cities. It brought back the idea -- cities really matter in our culture, a place to get together, all the different ethnic groups. Hey, want to get together? Go to the city. They didn`t meet in Tanglewood or Westchester. They met in the three big cities. And it was great. And I was told to stop. Anyway, thank you, Michael Tomasky. I think we need a little spiritual uplift around here. And Michelle, I`m glad you agree with me. You have to give it out (ph). Perry Bacon, you`re always so smart. When we return, let me finish with a thought to those thinking of Trump`s tax proposal being a serious proposition. My answer -- let the buyer beware. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.    (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I don`t think it`s my job to tell people who is a credible candidate for president and who is not. The day of the journalistic gatekeeper, the estimable columnist who offers himself up as the great mentioner, is passed. With all the television and print and social media out there, you`ve got an awful lot of information on these people. You don`t need me or anyone else to guide your decision-making. My only but, and here it comes, is that you pay attention before someone tells you what they`re going to do. First, ask them what they tried selling you before. Donald Trump inaugurated himself into the presidential conversation with the claim that President Obama was born overseas and has lied about being an American throughout his life. Trump then claimed he will deport all 11 million people in this country illegally including, we must assume, the president. He intends to build a wall on the Mexican border that no one, including again President Obama, can get back across. If you find either of these proposals credible -- well, you`ve got to think. Do you? Well, if so, for those still buying into his thinking, Trump`s thinking, he has another policy set of nostrums to share, beginning in the tax area today. Did they add up? Do you really expect them to? Do you believe that his solution regarding the 11 million people here illegally does? Do you believe his claims regarding the president do? Well, this is a question that any candidate for president -- sure, they can promise, they can promise anything. But do their promises compute? Does their pitch pass the smell test? We Americans are pretty good at this. When we buy a car, we ask about the terms, we ask the monthly cost, the total when all the payments are added up. We don`t just go for the car. We want to know what the cost is. And if we`ve done business with this dealer before, this car dealer, we remember precisely what we got for our money. If anyone believes Donald Trump want President Obama`s birth, place of birth, if they believe that, if they believe that Trump`s talk of building a wall is real across the Rio Grande, that no human being can get over that wall, and have the Mexican government pay for that -- if you believe this, then you may swallow this tax plan whole. Just don`t expect the candidate to B.S. you to get your interest, then tell you the truth when it comes to the kitchen table stuff. If it`s the same dealer, it`s going to be the same deal.    And 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. 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