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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/29/15

Guests: Anne Gearan, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Robert Costa, Douglas Brinkley, Jonathan Chait, Jonathan Chait, Liz Mair, Cornell Belcher

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Finally, the truth. Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with it. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Carly Fiorina has been telling the world about watching pictures of a fully formed baby kicking and breathing after a Planned Parenthood abortion. Everyone has heard her. And not a word of what she said was true. And why? Because what she saw was not true. Facts matter. At 2:30 today on MSNBC, the mother of a child stillborn at 19 weeks came forward. She described holding him, along with her other children, after the delivery. It was not at a Planned Parenthood facility, nor did it have anything to do with Planned Parenthood. None of it did. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEXI OLIVER FRETZ, MOTHER: They were able to see him, to hold him, to realize that he was real. And while, yes, he was technically stillborn, his heart was beating. I held him in my hands until his little heart stopped. I could see it clearly under his ribcage. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts asked the mother, Lexi Oliver Fretz, how she felt about seeing her son on the anti-abortion group`s video.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: This has been really distorted out of context in this larger political conversation. Have you felt betrayed in any way by Walter`s life being used and mischaracterized in such heavy, and in some ways mischaracterized, political debates? FRETZ: I was a little surprised at first, not being directly asked. But at the same time, I -- our lives are in God`s hands. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has insisted that the video showed an abortion being performed by Planned Parenthood. Will the truth matter? This attack video on Planned Parenthood being used to shut down the U.S. government is a fraud. Its only value has been to dupe a presidential candidate into mouthing its propaganda in a national debate before 24 million people. But will the truth that the baby was stillborn, that its birth and death had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood, count in this wild and angry conflict of values? Joining me now is Anne Gearan of "The Washington Post" and U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, a member of the House Oversight Committee. Congresswoman, I want to give you a chance to talk about what this means, this falsehood, this lie, this fraud. I want to ask you -- and this is startling, that it`s come out -- the mother`s come out. Now, she`s an anti-abortion rights person. Put that aside. The fact is, the picture of her stillborn child on that table, breathing and kicking, apparently, was used to say, This is what happens when they have abortions over at Planned Parenthood. Nothing to do with Planned Parenthood and not an abortion, and yet it`s right in the middle of this debate being used as propaganda. REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Right. And it was right in the middle of the discussion on Capitol Hill today. And I think what the main question will be for Carly Fiorina going forward is, what does she do about it now? Does she disavow what she said earlier? Does she make this -- double down on it and say it doesn`t really matter what was on the video, what matters is her interpretation of what Planned Parenthood...    MATTHEWS: Well, it is an opportunity for her to say, Look, I was -- you know, I was I was bamboozled. MALONEY: And that will be a political decision she`ll have to make. She clearly... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I know you don`t want to deal with political judgment, but it is a fact that it was a video put into this context to make it look like, Oh, this is how badly they behave at Planned Parenthood. MALONEY: Right. I mean, and she`s using it to make a larger point that, in her view, Planned Parenthood doesn`t deserve federal funding and the potential government shutdown is worthwhile, and so forth. And so now she has a real political question to decide here, is, does she go forward with that argument, or does she somehow backtrack? MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Maloney, thanks for coming on. We didn`t know this was going to be the hot button story, but I am actually stunned at this -- this dishonesty. MALONEY: It`s chilling. It`s chilling that -- it`s manipulative. It`s a willful misleading of the facts. I believe they`re investigating the wrong person. They should be investigating this person who did the video, the false video. Congress -- Planned Parenthood polls four times better than Congress. They`re providing needed health care services to 2.7 million people, services that are desperately needed. And they are -- this is chilling news. They will stop at nothing. The videoer has pled the fifth. He`s refusing to testify. They`re creating a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood. They should create a special committee to investigate what happened and how they created such misleading, negative, false tapes... MATTHEWS: I agree. MALONEY: ... to smear a good organization that`s providing needed health care in America. Thank you -- I am stunned. I find it chilling, disturbing, almost unbelievable...    MATTHEWS: I do, too. I... MALONEY: ... that little Walter was used in that way. MATTHEWS: I thought I was pretty callused about this basically, but making up something completely and throwing it into this very emotional question of abortion rights. Anyway, today the Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, was called to testify, as you said, Congresswoman, on the videos before the House Oversight Committee hearing. By the way, the people in the committee never helped us get to the truth here. Let`s go. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CECILE RICHARDS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD PRESIDENT: Planned Parenthood has been in the news recently because of deceptively edited videos released by a group that is dedicated to making abortion illegal. The latest smear campaign is based on efforts by our opponents to entrap our doctors and clinicians into breaking the law, and once again, our opponents failed. The outrageous accusations leveled against Planned Parenthood based on heavily doctored videos are offensive and categorically untrue. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Let me get to this, Anne. This story`s going to change overnight, I assume, based upon the mother coming forward.    ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean, until now, we`ve had a certain amount of "he said, she said" about what the videos really represented. Planned Parenthood and its defenders said they were heavily edited and doctored, and its makers and those who side with them said, No, they represent what Planned Parenthood actually does. Now there`s some objective truth here that shows, at least in this instance, what was portrayed on the video isn`t what really happened. MATTHEWS: I think it helps find our way to the truth, Congresswoman, that the mother in this case, who is anti-abortion rights, is still coming forth with the truth. It isn`t like somebody who`s an activist for abortion rights is saying this. It`s a mother who delivered a stillborn child and saw the picture of that child used to make a case against abortion rights. Whatever her views are on the subject, it was a fraud. MALONEY: It`s stunning news. It shows how far the extreme right will go to manipulate a story that their real goal is to do away with abortion rights and the rights for a woman to choose. They are chipping away in many different way. And this whole assault on Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with fetal tissue research, which was a bipartisan effort, supporting this vital research. Their real goal is to abolish the right to choose and abortion rights here in America, and defund one of the most successful of basic health care providers for mammograms, pap smears, and referring them to the appropriate place for vital health care services that can save women`s lives. This is stunning news. I am chilled to the bone. We should have hearings on this new revelation, and we should get to the facts. Planned Parenthood says that on the tapes, their employees repeatedly turned down offers to entrap them... MATTHEWS: I know. MALONEY: ... to trick them into saying that they would illegally buy fetal tissue. And they kept saying no. Even though they were offered 10 times the value and 10 times this and 10 times that, they kept saying no. We should see the tapes in their entirety. We should get to the facts and look at the absolute extreme steps that they have taken to deceive the American public in their efforts to roll back and defund a major health care provider in America. MATTHEWS: This reminds me of the policeman who traps -- puts information out there, evidence, to convict somebody he believes is guilty, so I`ll use the evidence against him, you know?    Anyway, I want to thank you both for coming on. Anne Gearan, as always, a great reporter. U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, I agree with you. Coming up -- is Donald Trump planning on sticking in the presidential race to the critical caucuses and primaries, or will he pull the ripcord and get out of this thing before he has to face actual voters? Will the guy who hates losers risk being one himself really? And that`s next. Plus, Bill Clinton is ready to hit the campaign trail for wife Hillary. Will his popularity help her get her numbers back up? And the final year of the Nixon tapes. Historian Doug Brinkley comes here, and he has the complete unvarnished account of life inside the Nixon Oval Office as his presidency started its meltdown. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a good day on the campaign trail with a young -- oh, a young me, too -- Bill Clinton in this case. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m Page Hopkins with breaking news. Kelly Renee Gissendaner, the only woman on Georgia`s death row, was set to die moments ago, despite a clemency request by Pope Francis. NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez is standing by outside the prison in Jackson, Georgia, with the latest -- Gabe. GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Page. Good evening. Well, several demonstrators -- several dozens of demonstrators have gathered outside the prison to ask for mercy in this case. But Kelly Gissendaner was set to be executed at 7:00 o`clock. We have not received word if that execution was carried out, but we`re told that her lawyers are frantically trying to appeal the clemency board`s ruling. There are several pending lawsuits, so they`re waiting on word from that. But this afternoon, that clemency board denied clemency, denied to commute her sentence to life in prison without parole, despite an appeal by Pope Francis. The archbishop of Atlanta had written a letter on behalf of the pontiff asking for mercy.    Now, her grown children were also at that hearing and they say she has turned her life around since she was convicted of plotting the 1997 murder of her husband. But her husband`s relatives say that she planned and executed his murder, and his life was not for hers to take. Now, her case has reignited the national debate over capital punishment in this country, especially after the pope`s comments to Congress last week. And despite Supreme Court support, executions in the U.S. have dropped from 98 16 years ago to 20 so far this year. The 21st was scheduled to be carried out a few moments ago here at this prison behind me by lethal injection, but again, so far, we have no word that it has been carried out. And Kelly Gissendaner`s lawyers are frantically trying to appeal to commute her sentence -- Page. HOPKINS: OK. NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez, thank you. HARDBALL is back right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There`s a big debate now about the future of Donald Trump`s presidential campaign. If his decline in the polls continues, will he even face voters, or pull the rip cord and get out of the race altogether? Trump is still struggling with the fallout of those caddish remarks he made about Carly Fiorina`s looks. He`s fallen 7 points, according to polling averages. That`s roughly a quarter of his entire support in just two weeks. He`s come from 30 down to 23. Noted columnist Joe Nocera of "The New York Times" today says Trump will be out before the first primary vote is ever cast. Quote -- this is from Nocera`s column today -- "All his life, Trump has had a deep need to be perceived as a winner" -- the word "winner" in quotes. "He always has to be perceived coming out on top. And that`s why, ultimately, I don`t think he`ll ever put himself at the mercy of actual voters in a primary. To do so is to risk losing, and everyone will know it. He`ll be out before Iowa. You read it here first." Well, Robert Costa is national political reporter with "The Washington Post," Michael Steele was RNC chair and Ron Reagan is an MSNBC contributor. Let me go -- let me start with Robert Costa. You`re with the guy all the time. I know from conversations with him he`s not exactly in a mood to commit suicide, hari-kiri, that he -- if he sees he`s going to blow it, I don`t think he wants to face that. But that was a while before this whole thing started. Is he now so caught up with the idea that he might be president, or at least the nominee of the party, that nothing`s going to stop him except the rejection of the voters?    ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST": I think Nocera`s onto a point. Trump wants to win, and his friends have always said if he starts falling behind in the polls, he may get out. But if you look at his moves, where he`s spending money, where he`s hiring staff in Iowa and New Hampshire, this is someone who for now is certainly in it to win it. MATTHEWS: Is he spending the money necessary to win in Iowa? COSTA: Not on ads, not on buys, but when it comes to grass roots infrastructure, he is spending the money. Doesn`t have many aides around him, spends most of his money on his private plane, but he has a ground game. MATTHEWS: Anyway, NBC`s Matt Lauer asked Trump about his campaign stalling. Here`s Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, this is going to be an ebb and flow. I`m not saying -- you know, how can I continue to lead by such wide margins. MATT LAUER, "TODAY" CO-HOST: Right. TRUMP: It`s an ebb and flow. But I`m leading every single poll, and most of them by a substantial number. Now, can I keep that going? I have no idea, but I`ll try. LAUER: Do you have the stomach to stick this out? TRUMP: Well, I`m a practical person, Matt. If I think for some reason it`s not going to work, then I go back to my business. There`s no question about that. But right now, I think it`s working very, very well. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: "New York Times" columnist -- magazine columnist -- or actually, correspondent, Mark Lebovich (ph) tailed Trump extensively for his new piece that`s coming out. He found a lot of swagger, but also seeds of doubt. Quote, "I asked him whether he had ever experienced self-doubt." Quote, "`Yes, I think more than people would think,` Trump said. `I don`t want to talk about it because, you know, probably more than people would think. I understand how life can go. Things can happen.`" Ron Reagan, the thought there is that, You know what? He`ll sense it`s falling apart. He`ll get out like Nixon. This ain`t anything he wants to face. Actually, I don`t think he`s the kind of guy to give concession speeches night after night. Thoughts. RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I question whether he`s really running for president at all, or if he`s just doing this as a sort of ego gratification exercise. But I think Joe Nocera is a very astute judge of his character in this. And you heard Donald Trump say it himself. As long as this is working -- he`s a practical guy, and as long as this is working -- and what does it mean for it to be working for Donald Trump? It means he can stand up on television and say that he`s winning in all the polls, or perhaps later that he`s won primaries. But if he`s not winning in the polls anymore, if he can`t win primaries, I think the practical Donald Trump is going to decide, It`s over for me. It`s not doing me any good, and I`ll just go on to the next thing. MATTHEWS: You know, Michael, you know what I know. We all know -- you know, we`re trying to figure this guy out, but he`s unique because I think the way he talks -- he talks like a rock star. MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. MATTHEWS: I`ve got this one-hit wonder (ph). It may want last. This album was good. I don`t know about the next one. STEELE: Right. MATTHEWS: He`s talking -- I`ve never me a politician who (ph) say, Well, if it`s not looking good, I`ll get the hell out of this thing. Politicians are in it for the game, for the win, for the loss, all the way. They don`t quit. He talks about, Well, you know, this may not be my number. This may not be my thing.    STEELE: Well, and... MATTHEWS: That still separates him. STEELE: Well, yes, it`s still affirms him as someone who`s not a politician. And I think both Ron and Robert are right in their analysis of where Trump is. But I think, overall, we need to stop trying to psychoanalyze the man. He`s a very straight-up guy. You see what he`s about. And everyone gets that this is his effort this time, and whether or not it ends is going to be on him, not anyone else. MATTHEWS: Did you think that tax thing he threw out there, that pander bear for the American people -- tax cuts for everybody! STEELE: Well, let me tell you... MATTHEWS: The corporate number`s going down to nothing. STEELE: Well, let me tell you... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The average person is going to pay -- even the guys with the so-called carried interest characters (ph), they don`t have to pay anything. STEELE: Let me tell you what the...    MATTHEWS: Where`s the money coming from? STEELE: Let me tell you what the practical outcome of that is. This is about breaking through the ceiling that he has now hit. MATTHEWS: Yes. STEELE: You showed at the beginning of the segment how the numbers have fallen and they`ve now plateaued. He`s got to break through that. This does it because the average Joe out there is saying, $25,000, no taxes, I`m in! (LAUGHTER) STEELE: All right? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... like he`s buying the fact Obama`s from Borneo. He`s going to buy the fact the wall`s going to keep the Mexicans out. STEELE: Exactly. MATTHEWS: Anyway, can you take out Trump? Who can do it? Rand Paul`s trying to breathe some life into his own campaign by attacking Trump. Let`s watch something close to a death rattle here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How did we get the race for the most important office in the free world to sink to such depths? And how could anyone in my party think that this clown is fit to be president? By no means am I finished. I`m just getting started. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: How many syllables in that word "clown"? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s Trump`s response today. "Prediction: Rand Paul has been driven out of the race by my statements about him. He will announce soon. One percent. I hope when Rand Paul gets out of the race -- he is at 1 percent -- his supporters come over to me. I will do a much better job for them." Well, the headlines are getting worse for Paul. Politico -- Rand Paul -- is reporting now that one of Paul`s super PAC -- I love this phrase, Ron Reagan -- has gone dark. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: It`s like, it isn`t going to pump out any more millions of dollars. So, one thing is, it`s like that old -- what was that called, that old Agatha Christie play, "Ten Little Indians," they used to call it, but they changed the name, where you would go to this house, and every -- one after another, people kept getting murdered, and nobody knew who did it. Well, we have had Rick Perry, bye-bye. We have had Walker, Scott Walker, bye-bye, and maybe bye-bye this guy, Rand Paul, the libertarian. Maybe he will win out of attrition. He will be the last guy in the race. (CROSSTALK)    REAGAN: Yes. You know, I don`t think that Donald Trump is really the story here, I have to say. I know we have been talking about him, you know, obsessively for the last few months. MATTHEWS: Well, give me a better one, brother. (LAUGHTER) REAGAN: But it`s not Donald Trump, really. The real story here is that the supposedly strong Republican field and the deep bench and all that kind of stuff cannot content with Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: That`s a good point. REAGAN: And they`re asking to be president of the United States, these people, and they can`t deal with Donald Trump, for God`s sake. COSTA: Chris, I got a different point... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Go back.    Robert Costa, I want to hear from you on this. Robert Costa, it does seem an uneven field that Trump, even as he makes clownish moves like making fun of people`s faces, which was almost unimaginable in American politics, and it`s gotten pretty low, but not that low, and making fun of John McCain`s war record and stuff, he`s still -- and making fun of Megyn Kelly`s questions. COSTA: Sure. MATTHEWS: It does seem like he does just keep bobbling up, bobbling up to the top of the surface of water. Your thoughts? COSTA: I mean, my thought, if Senator Paul gets out of this race, a lot of people are going to write, it was because of Donald Trump. But, as a reporter, I have been reporting on Paul for two years. This campaign has never caught on with the Ron Paul coalition. Those libertarians that supported his father have been lukewarm on the son. That has hurt Paul from the start. He`s never caught fire with that part of the liberty base of the GOP. MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the ceiling, because you`re talking about his ceiling. Can he get that ceiling to go up because of tax offers to people, really Santa Claus-type offers? Anyway, according to a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Donald Trump is the most unpopular figure in America right now, at least those polled; 25 percent of the country has a positive view of Trump. That seems to be his ceiling; 58 percent holds a negative view. Now, what the undecided is obviously the rest. Fifty-eight percent, three out of five people, don`t like the guy. What`s his ceiling? STEELE: But it`s a national poll. So, it`s not a reflection of what`s going on inside the GOP who are actually going to be voting in three months on who the nominee is going to be. MATTHEWS: OK. STEELE: That`s why national polls don`t really matter at this point in predicting what Donald Trump will or will not do.    MATTHEWS: So Republican voters can be bought with a bogus tax offer? STEELE: Well, it`s not that Republican voters can be bought with a -- vote. It goes back to what Ron was just saying about Trump and his popularity. It`s -- his problem is not with the -- you know, the structure of things. It`s with the base of the party. I mean, the party`s problem is not Trump. It is the base. The base is... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. Let me have a little fight you here. STEELE: Go ahead. MATTHEWS: I`m going to have a little fun. You`re not calling -- you don`t call this pandering when he says, nobody who makes under $50,000, any couple, no more taxes, bye-bye? I write a note, you win. You get a note from the IRS saying, you win. That`s a realistic... (CROSSTALK) STEELE: But that`s been part of the flat tax pledge that the party has been on for a long time MATTHEWS: Nobody`s going to pay over 25 percent income tax.    STEELE: OK. MATTHEWS: Nobody`s going to pay over 15 percent corporate tax. STEELE: Yes. MATTHEWS: And what happens to the federal debt? STEELE: Well, it obviously goes up. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Thank you. A lot. Anyway, Robert Costa, Michael Steele, Ron Reagan, boy, a hat trick. Up next, the final batch of the Nixon tapes. Presidential historian Doug Brinkley takes us inside the Oval Office during to the climatic months of the Richard Nixon`s presidency. The fights he fought for, the fights that caused him to get kicked out, we`re now reading. These tapes are public thanks to this book. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. By his second inauguration in 1973, Richard Nixon had achieved what few presidents could ever dream of, a landslide reelection with over 60 percent of the popular vote. Less than two years later, he became the first president in history to resign. Nixon`s fate was sealed in part because he used a secret taping system to capture almost 4,000 hours of his own private conversations. Now historian Douglas Brinkley has collaborated with Nixon tape expert Luke Nichter on a second volume about those White House recordings, The Nixon Tapes: 1973," which is out this month. Assembled from the final batch of Nixon tapes released in 2013, it is an inside look of an embattled president. Joining me now is one of the authors of that book, historian and professor at Rice University, Douglas Brinkley. Doug, let`s take a look at this. Let`s get right to it. After bringing the Vietnam War to a close in 1973, Richard Nixon said he had achieved -- quote -- "peace with honor." Behind the scenes, Nixon was still playing hardball with the North Vietnamese over the release of American POWs, saying, if North Vietnamese dragged its feet, he would honor the agreement itself. Here`s Nixon in a conversation with Henry Kissinger just one month after signing the peace accords. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Believe me, we aren`t going to give them one thing if they renege on one part of this deal. Now you know what I mean, this idea of going ahead, what the hell do we care about the agreement? What the Christ do we care?    HENRY KISSINGER, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They don`t usually cave unless you kick them in the groin. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Doug? Does say that he cares about agreement or -- he certainly doesn`t care about the wording of it much. DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No. You know, the Paris peace accord happened, and the big provision Nixon was worried about was getting those POWs released. It was signed January 27 of 1973. And Nixon kept wanting the POWs back. He wanted their names, where their locations were. He eventually has Secretary of State Rogers deal with 12 countries finding these POWs. And no matter what, he will go right back to war if he doesn`t get them released, because, for Nixon, he didn`t like the Defense Department a whole lot. He didn`t like the anti-war left, but he did care about the troops, and particularly wanted to be seen as the person who brought those POWs home. By May, he throws -- maybe only the good event of his -- of that whole spring was the POWs coming to the White House, 600 of them in May, and Nixon was able to shake hands and greet them all. MATTHEWS: Well, in his testimony, devastating testimony, former White House council John Dean linked the Watergate break-in to the Nixon White House. But Dean had previously been a loyal soldier to the president. You can hear it in the tapes. Just five days before he famously warned Nixon that there was a cancer growing on the presidency in `73, Dean was anything but doom and gloom with the president. In fact, he said that Nixon would beat the Watergate rap. Here he is saying that. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) JOHN DEAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: A lot of my conclusions were based on the fact that there was not a scintilla of evidence in the investigation that led anywhere to the White House.    There`s nothing in the FBI file that indicates anybody in the White House was involved. NIXON: Mm-hmm. DEAN: There`s nothing in what was presented before the Grand Jury indicating... NIXON: Mm-hmm. DEAN: ... White House involvement. NIXON: Well, just saying some of those things could be helpful. DEAN: That`s right. NIXON: See? It could be helpful... And then we just put it out and then let -- let the committee try to prove otherwise. OK? DEAN: All right, sir. NIXON: All right.    DEAN: We will win. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And, Douglas, President Nixon all along knew about the Watergate cover-up. He was leading it. BRINKLEY: Well, that`s right. In fact, Dean had 35 conversations with Nixon about Watergate cover- up-related issues. But that`s a tricky moment you just played, Chris, because you see Dean as having to be the lawyer, if you like, to Richard Nixon, at the same time as he`s doing investigations, and he`s finding a lot of unsavory things going on. MATTHEWS: Yes. BRINKLEY: And Nixon wanted a Dean report to kind of pull it all together. And, as we know, Dean decides not to cooperate with Nixon, but to cooperate with the Watergate Committee. MATTHEWS: But at the time he was telling Nixon not to worry, that nothing had linked anything to the White House from the break-in or the cover-up, was he, in fact, already working with the feds, with the FBI? BRINKLEY: It`s a tight call there. What is clear is that -- you know, that Dean may know these conversations are being taped and he`s often saying things that would make it seem that he`s still working with Nixon and then switching. But we just don`t know. You could take Dean at his word or you can be a conspiracy theorist. Roger Stone and a group of people think Dean was duplicitous in this period. But Dean certainly was right to distance himself from Richard Nixon as fast as he could that spring.    MATTHEWS: Well, in May of 1973, Nixon confined to Alexander Haig, his chief of staff, that he was considering resigning. This was a full 15 months before he actually did it. Let`s listen to the early Nixon fears about having to quit. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) NIXON: Wouldn`t it really be better for the country to just check out and... (LAUGHTER) NIXON: No, no, seriously. No, seriously, I mean that because I -- you see, I am not at my best. I have got be at my best. And that means fighting this damn battle, fight it all-out. And I can`t fight the damn battle with people running in with their little tidbits and their rumors and all that crap, and did the president, you know, make a deal to pay off this one or that or the other thing? ALEXANDER HAIG, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It would be the greatest shock this country ever had. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, you have to identify with Nixon there. The empathy, if you have any empathy for Nixon, it`s got to it show there. It was like the Chinese water torture of old, one thing after another telling him he`s finished, and he would like to get it over, it looks like there. BRINKLEY: That`s right. And you could hear it in his voice, Chris. That`s where the tapes are interesting to listen to, not just read the transcripts. You could feel see he`s just being beaten on all sides. He`s -- he really, I think, is thinking about resigning early, so he didn`t have to go through a whole year of what he ended up going through.    We all know Lyndon Johnson stepped down in `68 over pressures from Vietnam. And I think Nixon was toying with the idea there in what you just played. And you can start feeling his administration unraveling in this period. MATTHEWS: Well, I love looking at documents like that. First of all, they`re primary documents you`re putting out. This is the real deal. And, secondly, you never know when you`re going to come across something that just gets to you, it`s a wow. Anyway, congratulations again on another great book, Douglas Brinkley. The book is "The Nixon Tapes: 1973." It`s a biggie. Coming up, the big hot -- the big dog, I should say, hits the trail. Elvis is back. Bill Clinton plans on campaigning hard now for Hillary. This is going to be a lot more fun now, I think, don`t you agree? You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s what`s happening. The execution of Georgia inmate Kelly Renee Gissendaner was set to go ahead at this hour, as planned, despite a last-minute appeal for clemency and a plea from the pope. She was convicted of conspiring with her then boyfriend to kill her husband in 1998. Her ex-lover is serving life in prison for the murder. There`s still no word right now whether that execution has been carried out. Tropical Storm Joaquin could become a hurricane tomorrow before heading towards the East Coast. It`s packing 65-miles per hour winds.    Friends and family attended a private funeral earlier for baseball icon Yogi Berra. Berra died last week at the age of 90 -- now back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. After months of making himself scarce, former President Bill Clinton is starting to speak up and hit the road on behalf of his wife, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Here`s the former president on CNBC discussing Hillary`s e-mail controversy just yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It really is similar to the strategy that the Republicans employed against me with Whitewater. But I`m glad it happened in 2015, instead of 2016. And I believe it will burn itself out. What the American people have to think of is this. A few months ago, she was still the most admired person in public life in America. Why? Because she was covered because of the work she did. She`d been around a long time. People knew that she`s on the level, she gets up every day and tries to do a good job. Then, all of a sudden, the only thing that matters is e-mails. What exactly does it matter? I trust the American people. They will get this. They will work through it. They will understand that they`re being sent a heavy signal, we don`t want to run against this woman. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, as Hillary Clinton`s poll numbers continue to erode and Bernie Sanders surges, and Vice President Biden signals he may join the Democratic field, the Associated Press reports that Bill Clinton is ready to take on a more public role in his wife`s second bid for the White House. He`s already filed -- filled in for her at fund-raisers in Chicago. He will raise more money for the campaign in Atlanta and Kansas City later this week, before headlining a dinner for the West Virginia Democratic Party on this Friday. Next week, he will court donors outside of Detroit. But will Bill`s road show overshadow the candidate or will it be -- he be her best advocate? Jonathan Chait is a writer for "New York" magazine. Liz Mair is a Republican strategist. Cornell Belcher is a Democratic pollster.    I want to start, Jonathan, with this. So, how do we know or should we think that this is the cavalry charging in to save the vulnerable candidate, or was this already planned? You know what I think. JONATHAN CHAIT, "NEW YORK": There are... (LAUGHTER) CHAIT: There`s a maximum -- it think there`s a maximum of two people who know the answer to that question, maximum, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. MATTHEWS: OK. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What would the bystander, or the smart informed commentator think is about -- is afoot here? CHAIT: Look, if you go back and look at what the history of the 2008 election was, it was Bill Clinton acting largely on his own, completely against or outside of the advice of any... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes. But this is all scheduled fund-raising work he`s got scheduled now. He`s been tasked now. CHAIT: Right.    MATTHEWS: Who`s tasked him? CHAIT: Sometimes, nobody tasks him. MATTHEWS: No, who has assigned him to go to all these fund-raisers coming up this week and next? CHAIT: Right. MATTHEWS: Who`s tasked him? CHAIT: Sometimes, nobody tasked him. MATTHEWS: No, who`s assigned him to go to all these fund-raisers coming up this week and next? CHAIT: Right, the Clinton campaign surely has. Now, have they told him to speak about the email campaign, or is that just him unable to repress himself? It`s -- MATTHEWS: Right at the time, Cornell, that the numbers for Hillary are fading, I think just because of erosion, it`s just a natural whatever, sort of like water erosion, I don`t think e-mails connected to the success of Bernie Sanders. I think they`re unrelated. I think Bernie Sanders is appealing to nostalgia, to some extent, to romance, to simplicity. Go left, young man. But I don`t think -- Hillary`s problems are this chronic thing between her and the press and the vulnerability the Clintons have to transparency, even on things that don`t matter, that they`re innocent of. There was no guilt in white water. There was no real guilt in travelgate and all these things were just sort of like, will we get the evidence or not? They say, no, you won`t, finally you get it, and there`s nothing there. This is an old pattern. CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, I`m a campaign hack. So, from a campaign standpoint, you`ve got to balance the ups with the downs. The upside is, as President Obama said, Bill Clinton is explainer in chief. I mean, there`s no one`s better at explaining stuff than Bill Clinton.    MATTHEWS: Do you think he`ll become her explainer on e-mail? BELCHER: And he`s also someone that 81 percent of Dems have a favorable opinion of him. He is one of the best campaigners we have had in three or four decades. I think you never want a candidate to be overshadowed by the people around you. But I think at the same time, you got to look, we need someone who can cut through -- MATTHEWS: OK, does this make Bill Clinton a target for his old behavior? LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Possibly, but I think just to add to what you said, I think, actually, if you`re Hillary Clinton, you do want to be overshadowed by Bill Clinton, because she`s a manifestly crap candidate. I mean, I`m sorry, but she`s -- MATTHEWS: What candidate? MAIR: She`s terrible! I didn`t swear, I think we`re good. No, but I mean, she is a terrible candidate. She`s absolutely abysmal -- MATTHEWS: You`re being sarcastic right now? MAIR: No, I`m being deadly serious. MATTHEWS: You`re saying it`s good to be overshadowed because you can`t do the job yourself -- MAIR: Everybody likes Bill Clinton.    MATTHEWS: They like him now. MAIR: It doesn`t matter. The more people associate her with somebody they like, as opposed to her -- MATTHEWS: Well, explain -- MAIR: That`s the only hope they`ve got. MATTHEWS: Jonathan, why do people like Bill Clinton? I think, first of all, to get a couple of numbers straight, Hillary Clinton`s popularity and based on all the polls, very recent polls, are just about the same as Joe Biden`s. Yet everybody just says, everybody likes Joe Biden, they don`t like Hillary Clinton. Well, that`s not true. It`s exactly the same. We should at least get the facts straight. Hillary Clinton is very lure, so is Obama and so is Joe Biden. None of them are not popular. But why is Bill Clinton as perceived as being the happy guy, the guy that everybody likes, where, in fact, I`m not sure there`s a big difference. CHAIT: What his fundamental strength is he was president for eight years and the economy was good and conditions were good and people remember that fondly. That`s a very powerful strength that they can tap into and will continue to tap into, all the way through her campaign if she`s nominated, which I expect she will be. MAIR: But also, I mean, talking about numbers, that 81 percent you cited, that`s a high number. Yet, a lot of this is driven by nostalgia and people remembering things that aren`t necessarily 100 percent accurate about the Clinton years. But you know what? That doesn`t matter. That`s all they`ve got to go on at this point. She is not an appealing person. She is not doing a good job as -- she`s not, she`s not. That`s why Bernie Sanders is appealing -- BELCHER: I won`t go that far, but Bill Clinton is an authentic character that people like. He passed that test like George Bush did.    MAIR: That`s right, that`s right. MATTHEWS: This is absolutely without attitude. They have a wonderful tag team way of helping each other out. When one gets in trouble, the other vouches for them and they do it both ways. Stand by your man, Tammy Wynette, the whole thing worked. It really did work, and he`s doing that for her now. The roundtable is staking with us. Up next, Rush Limbaugh calls news of water on Mars part of a leftist agenda. Hmm. You`ve got to untangle that one. We`ll be back in a minute to figure that one out. He sees trouble on Mars. HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, last night on the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert," First Lady Michelle Obama extolled on the real-life luxuries she`s missed while living in the White House. Let`s take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I also want to do little things like, you know, open a window. I mean -- (LAUGHTER & PPLAUSE)    STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN/HOST: I`m sorry -- OBAMA: I want to go to Target. I want to drive. COLBERT: I`m sorry, Madam First Lady, you don`t have security clearance to open a window. OBAMA: I can`t open my windows. I really can`t. The window opens if I press it in the car, everybody`s like, oh, my God, what was that? (LAUGHTER) OBAMA: One day -- COLBERT: We`ll get you a canister of fresh air, Madam First Lady. OBAMA: One day, as a treat, my lead agent let me have the windows open on the way to Camp David. It was like five minutes out, he`s like, "Windows open, enjoy it!" I was like, "Thanks, Allen." (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: That personality is way underused. She`s fabulous. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Invaders from Mars, capturing humans at will for their own sinister purposes, turning them into diabolical instruments of destruction. VOICE: Welcome to Mars. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got a lot of nerve showing your face around here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look who`s talking. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let`s do the math. I got to figure out how to grow four years worth of food here on a planet where nothing grows. But if I can`t figure out how to make contact with NASA, none of this matters anyway. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. We`re back. The question is, what is up there on Mars, has long obsessed scientists and just about everyone, including storytellers.    Well, yesterday, came an announcement about a major discovery by NASA, evidence that there is flowing water on the Red Planet. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The discovery we`re going to talk about today really is most exciting because it suggests that it would be possible for there to be life today on Mars. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: One person apparently not so impressed, at least not happily by this, is Rush Limbaugh. In his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh said the whole thing is about advancing a left wing agenda. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: OK, so there`s flowing water on Mars. Yip, yip, yahoo! You know me, I`m science 101, big-time guy, tech advance, you know it, I`m all in. But NASA has been corrupted by the current regime. I want to find out what they`re going to tell us. OK, flowing water on Mars, if we`re even to believe that, what are they going to tell us that means? That`s what I`m going to wait for. This news that there is flowing water on Mars is somehow going to find its wait into a technique to advance the leftist agenda. I don`t know what it is. I would assume it would be something to do with global warming and maybe there was once an advanced civilization. If they say they found flowing water, next they`re going to find a graveyard. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, scientists believe that Mars once had much more water, maybe even oceans. They said one reason to study the planet is it could provide insight into what`s happening here on Earth.    Well, today, Limbaugh took issues with that thought. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIMBAUGH: If there was once all that water on mars, and there is a lot of water here on earth, what`s going to happen to our ocean? How did the water vanish? My point is, they`re presenting all this stuff to you as fact just like they`re presenting everything involving global warming as scientific fact. It`s nothing but wild guesses. It`s nothing but based on computer models which is the result of data input that who knows if it`s legit or not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable, Jonathan, Liz and Cornell. Jonathan, you`ve written brilliantly on this. Tell me, what is he trying to say? He said the point is, I still didn`t hear the point. Are we wrong to do archeology, anthropology to study bones of ancient dinosaurs? We`d like to know who was here millions of years ago. We`d like to know what`s out there. We`d like to learn from learning. What is wrong with discovery? He seems to have a problem with discovery. CHAIT: Well, Chris, as I`m sure you know and are pretending not to know, discovery of water on Mars leads to socialism and then the total abolition of heterosexual marriage. This has been known on the left for years. So, really, we`re right on schedule. MATTHEWS: What`s this fear of knowledge? We want to know what`s on Mars. We used to think the moon was, we`d kid about it being made of cheese. You know, we didn`t know. CHAIT: So, conservatives, in general, have grown more and more distrustful in polls of science over the course of the last four decades. They used to be more trusting of science than liberals now, they`re much less. And specifically with global warming, what they have is a conspiracy theory. They don`t have an alternative scientific theory.    MATTHEWS: When did it start? Let me stop you because -- CHAIT: For more than 20 years. MATTHEWS: Young people, especially, because old people know this isn`t true. CHAIT: Right. MATTHEWS: Old people starting with that, with me working later, know that science won World War II in the end because the atom bomb won World War II in the end. It put a couple men on the moon. We know what we can do it. It did all kinds I have discoveries in ending diseases like polio. Science has worked for mankind across the board. When did it become the enemy of the hard right? MAIR: I don`t think it`s just the enemy of the hard right. I actually think that we`re in a period in society where there are a lot of people who are very skeptical of discovery and science in general. I mean, when we had the debate about vaccines, right, and we were looking at the resurgence of awful illnesses because people weren`t having their kids vaccinated, a lot of that was center centered in very, very liberal enclaves of California. I think unfortunate -- MATTHEWS: They were afraid to get their kids vaccinated -- (CROSSTALK) MAIR: They believe it`s going to give them autism, right? I think we`ve reached a place in society, and maybe Rush Limbaugh`s comments are manifestation of this, where a lot of people just don`t prioritize discovery or science anymore. I mean, remember in the 2012 election how much Newt Gingrich was derided for all of his talk about moon bases and space exploration, right?    MATTHEWS: But this is about common sense. MAIR: But I think that`s symptomatic of something broader. It`s unfortunate. I grew up in a world where kids wanted to grow up and be astronauts. How many kids say that now, right? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Everybody gets -- can I get one point? (CROSSTALK) BELCHER: Let me get in -- MATTHEWS: No, not yet, not yet. Personal interest -- personal interest. If you discover you`ve got a bad diagnosis from a doctor, the first thing most people do is they go online, they go to the best people they can. If they`ve got resources and connections, who is the best oncologist, the best guy on this. Best woman. Everybody wants the best scientist. They don`t say who`s the quackiest, craziest person with a theory. They go to the best person they can find. BELCHER: Something has changed centered on the right. If you go back a couple decades, Nixon started the EPA. You know, this was happening -- MATTHEWS: And environmental equality.    BELCHER: What`s happening right now is unique to the conservatives and even more conservative than conservatives in Europe. Right now, you have a party where almost a majority of them think Obama is a Muslim and they deny science. There`s something else going on with the conservative - - MATTHEWS: You mean there`s scientific evidence that he`s a foreigner? BELCHER: There`s no scientific evidence. MAIR: Now, Chris is going to have to bring Donald Trump on. MATTHEWS: No. MAIR: With his birth certificate stuff, right? MATTHEWS: It`s not just -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He`s a legitimately elected president. If you keep saying he`s not, then you`ve got a mental problem. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Thank you.    My roundtable tonight, Jonathan Chait, Liz Mair and Cornell Belcher. When we return, let me finish with a picture of the good old days campaigning with a young Bill Clinton. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this picture that MSNBC`s been running in newspapers and magazines around the country. It was a happy time as you can see. Governor Bill Clinton has just accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in New York. He and Al Gore are barnstorming through Texas and things could not be more exciting. It`s one of those moments when it`s not at all clear who is going to win the elections. The debates haven`t even started. Clinton and Gore enjoying the post convention high that comes after a presidential nomination. But there are some signs out there. I remember heading for the bus to interview a guy in a local hotel along the way. When I asked him who was going to win, this is down in Texas, he answered in a way that told me how things were headed. I kind of think those two boys, he said, in a calm nonpolitical way. He just liked the cut of those two young guys from the South. I couldn`t tell it wasn`t going to be as simple as that. Governor Clinton was wondering himself what bomb the Republicans would drop on him. And so, now, once again, 2015, he hits the campaign trail, this time for Hillary. I have to say will never be as hopeful and innocent as it was back then when we were both still so very young. 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. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>