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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/05/15

Guests: Stuart Stevens, Cory Booker, John Feehery, April Ryan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hillary attacks on all fronts, slamming Benghazi and Bernie both. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. If you were waiting to see Hillary Clinton take on her critics, stop waiting. She`s now in full battle gear, attacking the Benghazi crowd on the Republican right, gun-backing Bernie Sanders on the socialist left. For the former first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state, her new battle station is not only a shift from defense to offense, but to a new fighting spirit, equal in emotion, for now, at least, to her fiercest critics. Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post." Howard Fineman`s global editorial director with the HuffingtonPost. And Joan Walsh is national affairs correspondent with "The Nation." Congratulations. You start today. JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you. MATTHEWS: A visibly angry Hillary Clinton is tearing into Republicans for exploiting Benghazi. It comes just days after the Republican Party`s speaker-in-waiting, if you will, Kevin McCarthy, said Benghazi was a strategy to take down Hillary`s poll numbers. Here`s Hillary fired up during a town hall on NBC`s "Today" this morning.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at the situation they chose to exploit, to go after me for political reasons, the death of four Americans in Benghazi. I knew the ambassador. I identified him. I asked him to go there. I asked the president to nominate him. There have been seven investigations led mostly by Republicans in the Congress. And they were nonpartisan, and they reached conclusions that, first of all, I and nobody did anything wrong, but there were changes we could make. This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan political issue out of the deaths of four Americans. I would have never done that. And if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats who were thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So even though it was me going the other way, I wouldn`t have done it. It`s too dirty. It`s too below her. EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s too below her. She`s visibly angry. But something inside of her is dancing! (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s the irony because her anger now is righteous indignation. ROBINSON: Exactly.    MATTHEWS: It`s the best thing in politics. ROBINSON: It`s a good issue for her... MATTHEWS: It`s gold! Joan, I hear you chuckling because it is gold to be right and to have the other side caught wrong-footed and bad. Your thoughts. JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Caught red-handed, and she`s right. And she feels it. This is not staged emotion. She feels it. She feels the grief over the ambassador and the people who died, and she feels the anger that this has been allowed to just go on and on and on. And poor Kevin McCarthy, for whatever reason, gave her an incredible gift by telling the truth, which we all knew, about why it was established and what they`re proud of, even though they haven`t touched her on the issues surrounding Benghazi. MATTHEWS: What I liked -- what I liked, Joan and everybody, was that, you know, I knew she knew Chris Stevens. I knew she liked the guy a lot. She was hurt as much as anybody... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course. MATTHEWS: ... in the business about what had happened to him, the way he was savagely attacked and dead on her watch. And she felt terrible about it. And that was the first time I heard her say all that, you know, He was my friend. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. MATTHEWS: I picked him. FINEMAN: She`s on firm ground both politically and personally in at least two ways. The one is that she can say, Look, here you are, turning the death of these patriots, these hard-working civil servants who were in harm`s way -- you`re turning it into a circus. That`s number one.    MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: And number two, she shifts the ground back to Benghazi, where, in fact, she has been exonerated, where there`s question there was some evil intent there, and away from the e-mail fishing expedition, which has long since ceased to be about Benghazi anyway... MATTHEWS: This is a tangent. FINEMAN: ... a tangent to see what they can pull up the dregs of personal e-mails, the cut-and-thrust of politics. So she got away from all of that, thanks to Kevin McCarthy. MATTHEWS: Yes, J. Edgar Hoover stuff. What can we get on this guy? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: What can we get on this person? ROBINSON: It was incredibly -- this is an incredible stroke of luck for Hillary Clinton because it gives her campaign a chance to get its stride, which it hadn`t really -- you know, and (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: Well, she actually -- as I said... ROBINSON: ... and now she can get her stride. MATTHEWS: She`s attacked on many fronts this weekend. Here Hillary Clinton unveiled a major push for gun control during a town hall in New Hampshire today, as well.    It was an emotional moment, of course, just days after the Oregon campus shootings, of course. Here`s Hillary Clinton, her voice shaking, introducing Nicole Hockley, whose son was killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: So many of the parents of these precious children who were murdered have taken the unimaginable grief that they have been bearing and have tried to be the voices that we need to hear. And I want you to introduce yourself and maybe talk about what you and other parents are trying to do to get the changes that are necessary. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Howard, you know, talking to somebody -- or talking while somebody standing next to you who`s lost a kid, it`s -- she was real. And there is no authenticity question here. FINEMAN: And again -- no, no. And then again, this goes what`s good about Hillary both personally and politically. Nobody ever doubted her dedication as a mom. Nobody ever doubted the skill of the Clintons as parents, whatever you want to say about them politically. And when Hillary shows that emotional side, when she shows her motherly side... MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: ... when she shows the vulnerability, it`s... MATTHEWS: Well, I think we all would be. I wouldn`t even say you have to be female or a mother... FINEMAN: No, no!    MATTHEWS: ... to have emotion about the mother standing next to her. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I get like that. FINEMAN: Yes, I know. But I`m just saying, given who Hillary is as a -- she suffers the down sides of this stuff, she may as well -- she may as well shine when she has the chance to. MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this. Hillary Clinton went after Jeb Bush and Donald Trump for their recent comments about gun control -- boy, another easy target here -- in the wake of the Oregon campus shooting. Here she is hitting some prime targets. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: On the Republican side, Mr. Trump was asked about it and said something like, you know, Things like that happen in the world. And Governor Bush said, yes, stuff happens. No! That`s an admission of defeat and surrender to a problem that is killing 33,000 Americans. It`s time for us to say, Wait a minute, we`re better than this. Our country is better than this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary Clinton didn`t stop there. Her proposals also stand in contrast with her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. She wants to repeal a special NRA-backed legal immunity that Congress gave gun manufacturers and dealers back in 2005. In that case, Bernie Sanders voted for that legislation protecting the manufacturers from liability. And Hillary Clinton voted against it. Joan, what do you make of this? I mean, I don`t think that`s an accident that they singled out -- they went out and discovered through a little work a bill where she was pro-gun control and he wasn`t.    WALSH: Well, I don`t know, Chris, about that. It`s such an obvious contrast. You know, I wrote about this for "The Nation" today and I had a few folks on Twitter say, Oh, you know, she`s come up with this issue to hit Bernie. This is a real issue... MATTHEWS: Well, what`s wrong with that? Why shouldn`t she? WALSH: Actually, there`s nothing wrong with that. That is politics. But I would also add this is not something that some oppo research had to go find. This was the NRA`s top priority in 2005 when they were pushing this immunity bill. Senator -- then Congressman Sanders voted for it. MATTHEWS: Yes. WALSH: Then Senator Clinton voted against it. This is something she feels passionately about and it`s something that the gun people... MATTHEWS: Right, and he`s wrong on. WALSH: ... also feel passionately about. MATTHEWS: And Bernie`s wrong on. And Bernie is wrong. WALSH: He is wrong about it. And you know, he`s -- he`s being very Bernie about this. He`s really kind of dug his heels in. He`s very proud of the fact that he`s been elected from a state with a lot of gun owners. And he says that that`s the kind of politics he wants to bring to the country. But he has not -- I don`t think he`s fully reckoned with what we`ve seen happen this summer and fall in Roanoke and Charleston and now in Roseburg. And I think he`s got to -- he`s got to perhaps change his lens on this gun issue because people are dying. MATTHEWS: You know, let`s try to recall some great senators that represented the deep South in the early `60s, and what great men they were. J. William Fulbright represented Arkansas and defended Jim Crow down the line, you know? And we didn`t forgive him.    FINEMAN: Here`s the other possible benefit here just in terms of hardball politics. MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: I`ve covered Bernie Sanders for a long time. I was one of the first people to interview him about his presidential aspirations. MATTHEWS: Right. FINEMAN: He doesn`t like to be poked, particularly... MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: ... if you know him. MATTHEWS: Well, what... (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: And all of his supporters were furious. I said something... MATTHEWS: I hear it...    (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: ... coming on this show last week about how he doesn`t have a perfect record on the NRA. Wham! MATTHEWS: OK (INAUDIBLE) people who Twitter him, or follow him as Twitterers, should remember one fact. Running for president, becoming a candidate for president, is not the first step towards canonization. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re not going away into the innocent world. You`re going into real politics, and that involves getting hit. You`re going to get hit. (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: And you have a record. You have a record... WALSH: Right. ROBINSON: ... and people are going to look at your record. And you know, there -- if there are things in there that people disagree with, they`re going to call you on it. MATTHEWS: And by the way, having been young once and believed in politicians completely, what you discover over life, my younger friends who love politics, who care about this country, you will discover imperfection grows in everybody you adore, imperfection. FINEMAN: Well, I`m just saying in the...    MATTHEWS: It just does! FINEMAN: I`m just saying the cut-and-thrust of this, that Hillary`s been on the defensive for months. MATTHEWS: Yes. ROBINSON: Yes. WALSH: Right. FINEMAN: Bernie`s been getting glowing coverage the entire time. If I were Hillary and her camp... MATTHEWS: Deck him! (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: By the way, he`s ahead of her by about 8 or 9 points in New Hampshire. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: By the way, in politics as in war, attacking from a defensive position is the best thing you can do. She`s been under attack, as you said, Howard. She`s now just coming back. People tend to root for that. As you point (sic), she is the underdog in places like New Hampshire, which is really important.    Anyway... WALSH: And she went into New Hampshire with this proposal. It was actually in New Hampshire that she did this, which is, you know, a state where people... MATTHEWS: Risky. WALSH: ... like their guns, as well. MATTHEWS: Risky. Risky. Anyway, Hillary Clinton appeared in the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live." Let`s all be theater -- OK, that`s an amazing picture. Obviously, somebody playing herself. Here she is poking fun at herself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATE MCKINNON, "SNL": Hey, bartender, keep `em coming. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) MCKINNON: Hi. I`m Hillary Rodham Clinton. CLINTON: Hey! Great name. I`m Val.    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Mrs. Clinton. I`m so sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to say my sister`s gay. So thank you for all you`ve gone for gay marriage. MCKINNON: Well, you`re welcome. CLINTON: It really is great how long you`ve supported gay marriage. MCKINNON: Yes. I could have supported it sooner. CLINTON: Well, you did pretty soon. MCKINNON: Could have been sooner. CLINTON: Fair point. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, guys, I love the next scene, where Daryl Hammond (ph) comes in and plays Bill Clinton. What did he say, They`re multiplying or... FINEMAN: They`re multiplying.    MATTHEWS: They`re multiplying. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But who was the actor who -- the comedian who played Hillary Clinton? Fantastic. ROBINSON: Kate McKinnon. (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: And she plays a particularly sort of warped and demented Hillary Clinton, but she softened it, in a way, for this skit, I felt. FINEMAN: Well, but -- yes, so Kate McKinnon -- in the semiotics of "Saturday Night Live," which is a subcategory of political analysis... ROBINSON: Absolutely. FINEMAN: ... Kate McKinnon plays a tough, nasty Hillary most of the time. MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: So the real Hillary, as the bartender, was the nice Hillary in that sketch.    WALSH: Right. (CROSSTALK) WALSH: Amy Poehler was a nicer Hillary, as well. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Hey, Joan, what does Val -- where`d they get the name Val the bartender? Just seems like an odd name. I don`t know... (CROSSTALK) WALSH: I was trying to think about that, too. ROBINSON: Sal (sic) the bartender, you know? MATTHEWS: Who`s Val? Who`s Val? (CROSSTALK) WALSH: Oh, right!    MATTHEWS: Who`s Val? Who`s Val? ROBINSON: Who`s any bartender? MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, guys. I think we ended on a nice note there, a good night for Hillary, a good day for Hillary, good weekend. Eugene Robinson, Howard Fineman and Joan Walsh. Coming up -- is Donald Trump -- this is my phrase -- too big to fail? He`s dominated the Republican field since getting in the race in July. The Republican Party needs him to stay in the race and keep things interesting. I don`t know who would replace him. Plus, as Carly Fiorina rises in the polls, she faces new scrutiny that she doesn`t pay her campaign staffers after she lost that 2010 Senate race out in California, talk of her being a deadbeat. "The Washington Post" reported toady that among the staffers who weren`t paid at the time was Fiorina`s top pollster. He died a month before election day, and his widow didn`t receive the pay he was owed, 30,000 bucks. Deadbeats aren`t popular. Another big victory for President Obama, by the way, as the United States and 11 other countries agree to the largest free trade agreement in a generation. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this amazing new movie Kathleen and I saw this weekend. Amazing movie, "The Martian." It`s so inspiring about our country, about people. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: House speaker John Boehner has set an election date to choose his successor. This Thursday, Republicans will have a secret ballot election for the speaker nominee, and the full House will vote October 29th. This weekend, by the way, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, who`s been on this show, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced he will challenge Kevin McCarthy for the speakership. That might be interesting.    And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump still leads the Republican field, but he`s talking lately about the circumstances that would cause him to some day drop out of the race. Appearing on "MEET THE PRESS" yesterday, Trump said he would bow out if his poll numbers tanked. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Number one, I`m not a masochist. And if I was dropping in the polls where I saw that I wasn`t going to win, why would I continue? And it`s funny, maybe it`s like -- not like me because it`s the power of positive thinking. I`m a very positive person. I`m a positive thinker But the truth is, I`m a realist. If I were doing poorly, if I saw myself going down, if you would stop calling me because you no longer have any interest in Trump because he has no chance, I`d go back to my business. I have no problem with that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Trump has maintained his lead over his opponents since his rapid ascent this summer, through -- although the RealClearPolitics polling average does show his support has dipped from its peak in mid-September. There you can see that, coming down from the peak. While Trump says he has no plans to end his candidacy, of course, he told "The New York Times" that his exit would cause a lot of trouble for the Republican Party. Quote, "There`d be a major collapse in the race. There`d be a major collapse of television ratings," he said from his office in Trump Tower. Quote, "It would become a depression in television," Mr. Trump said that a presidential campaign without him would become so boring -- that`s his word -- that he would struggle to pay any attention to it himself. "I wouldn`t even be watching it, probably," he says, "and neither would anybody else." But without a popular alternative, Trump appears to have cornered the market right how in the Republican race. As Frank Rich observed in "New York" magazine, he`s leading for a reason. Quote -- this is Frank talking -- "Trump speaks for the party`s overwhelming majority. Republican potentates can`t fight back against him because the party`s base has his back. He`s ensnared the GOP establishment in a classic Catch-22. It wants Trump voters, it can`t win elections without them, but doesn`t want Trump calling attention to what those voters actually believe."    Well, that was well written. I`m joined right now by MSNBC panel -- analyst David Corn of "Mother Jones"and Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, a top consultant for Romney in the 22 (sic) campaign and author of new book, "The Last Season: A Father, a Son and a Lifetime of College Football." You`re a great writer, Stuart, and I hope you`re completely free to speak your mind here and have no loyalties to any particular candidate, especially that old establishment of Mitt Romney. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Here`s the thing. Here`s the thing. If you poll people on the issues, Trump is consistent with most the big issues, on immigration and things like that, government spending. When he gets out there and yells and yells, he`s yelling they want to hear. So if he walked away, I just don`t see an election here. I see Carly -- no, I don`t see Carly Fiorina because I think he sort of got her in the action by attacking her. I think all you`d have right now going towards February and the Iowa caucuses -- this is a dreadful thought for David and me, a dreadful thought -- would be probably Dr. Carson hanging in there because he has that spiritual draw -- he`s a nice fellow -- and Cruz coming on strong because without -- without Trump, Cruz would take his place because he`s been drafting him ever since. What do you think? Can you guys survive without Trump? STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think we`ll manage to do that. I don`t think Trump is... MATTHEWS: Do you think... STEVENS: I don`t think Trump is going to be on the ballot in Iowa. MATTHEWS: Well, what about -- not in Iowa?    STEVENS: No. I think he`ll be out of the race by then. He`s... MATTHEWS: That`s weird. STEVENS: ... preparing the way to go... MATTHEWS: And when`s this going to happen? Give me a date. STEVENS: Well, you know, some time between now, and say, January 10th. MATTHEWS: And what will make him get out? STEVENS: His numbers are going to go down. He`s already said what (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: Oh, he won`t be in the top three anymore. STEVENS: No. He`ll go down. This is not... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Who`s going to be ahead of him?    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You got to make your predictions here. Who`s going to be ahead of him? STEVENS: This is not the "Comeback kid." MATTHEWS: Who`s going to be ahead of him? STEVENS: I think Carson`ll be ahead of him. MATTHEWS: I said that, yes. STEVENS: I think Cruz in Iowa. (CROSSTALK) STEVENS: You have to go by state by state. MATTHEWS: I`m saying Carson and Cruz end up being the race. CORN: No, I don`t think -- no, you have got -- you have got Rubio. You have got other people.    MATTHEWS: In Iowa? CORN: Well, not necessarily in Iowa. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Talk about the presidential election as it really is. As it really is, it`s between now and Iowa. (CROSSTALK) CORN: Iowa never matters. Come on, Chris. You can win Iowa and go nowhere. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Excuse me. The reason why Obama got to be elected president, he started in Iowa. STEVENS: I think, to win, you have to win states. The question I think to ask is, who is going to win these first four primaries? MATTHEWS: OK. Keep going. Tell Who are the front-runners are now. STEVENS: So, I think Iowa. If I had to bet on someone, I think that Ted Cruz has a very good shot there. I think Carson has a very good shot there. I would bet that one of those two will probably win Iowa.    New Hampshire, I think, it`s completely in flux. The thing that is really important, I think, is the calendar is so different now, because before we had the Iowa caucus right after the 1st of the year. Now we have all of January to focus on this. And I think that`s what is going to... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You guys are amazing. All I do is look at the polls. Over 50 percent of the polls right now say that anybody who is elected to office at any time in their career ain`t going anywhere. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So, Trump and Fiorina and Carson are over 50 percent. Your guys, the establishment guys you`re still rooting for, are dying on the vine out there. Look at this. The latest polling shows that the outsiders are still on top in Iowa. Trump is 24, followed by Carson at 19, Fiorina, and it adds up to 51, 51. Trump also leads in New Hampshire, 21. Fiorina has jumped into second place at 16 percent. Bush is in third, Bush in New Hampshire 11 percent. The Bush family is big up there. They are old Yankees going nowhere. Your establishment is dead meat, dead meat. It is. CORN: By the way, Trump has to know this is how it works in TV. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The Whig wing of the Republican Party is dead.    CORN: With TV, they introduce a big show, it gets a lot of attention, the ratings go up, and as it goes on, you have to fight for those ratings more so. His numbers have dipped. But he`s still doubled Jeb Bush`s numbers. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Who is going to turn on a debate between Cruz and Dr. Carson? CORN: Unless his numbers fall precipitously... MATTHEWS: You want to kill me, don`t you? You want to kill the American people with boredom. CORN: Trump is still going to do well in the debates every time he gets up there. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I don`t see how he loses. I don`t see how he loses. He`s got to be one of the top three and he stays in it. STEVENS: Well, do you think that Trump will win Iowa? MATTHEWS: I think he`s the best bet, yes, right now, without a doubt. STEVENS: OK. We will see.    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You know why. Because I think he gets in there against a Dr. Carson, and he will outspend him. He will just go out and just open the wallet the last couple weeks. Number two, he can do a better debate performance than Dr. Carson any day of the week. Dr. Carson has to help you keep awake. Anyway, nice fellow. According to "The New York Times," the struggling Bush campaign is now weighing whether to use former President George W. Bush. This is desperation. They`re bringing back Iran. "The question of how to use the candidate`s older brother is an agonizing one for the campaign. While dispatching George Bush to a state like South Carolina could shore up his brother`s standings with conservatives, it could underscore the impression that Jeb Bush is simply a legacy candidate at a time when voters are itching for change," Stuart. STEVENS: Look, as part of the brain trust that took a 65-point lead for George Bush into New Hampshire, and we lost by 19 and we brought his father, who is one of the most admired men in the country out, to no effect, I don`t think it particularly matters. I don`t think it will help or hurt. I don`t think voters are going to make their decision based on knowing that Jeb Bush has an older brother named George. It`s all about message. And I think that the challenge for Jeb Bush is the challenge for all these candidates. Come up with a compelling message about the future that is really going to capture people`s imagination. That`s what going to win or lose the race. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Isn`t that what Trump is doing? It may crass, it may be cartoonish, but it`s a vision. STEVENS: I think Trump is more a candidate of -- a protest candidate of anger. MATTHEWS: Protest, but... STEVENS: Candidate of anger.    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Do you still feel that your establishment in your party is stronger than the protesters? STEVENS: Yes. CORN: Oh, not at the base, though. The base, as you pointed, over one out of two Republicans want the protest, they want the anger, they want the passion. MATTHEWS: I think it`s a time of historic change. CORN: The problem is, can you come in as the grownup supposedly in the room and say, no, no, no? You had your fling with these guys. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think it`s bigger than `64 in your party, much bigger than `64. That was because of the Rockefeller divorce and remarriage and leaving the kids happy, leaving the kids with the other husband. That killed the Republican front-runner. I really think it`s a time of historic change. I think we are seeing the Republican Party come apart. It was the abolitionists forging -- merging with the Whig Party before the Civil War. I think they`re coming apart. I the abolitionists have had it with the Whigs. STEVENS: Well, I make this prediction for you guys. MATTHEWS: Well, you can.    STEVENS: The candidate for the Republican Party will be someone who has held office before. They will not nominate someone who is not... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, that will be a twist. You know what a resume is in politics today? A rap sheet. Anyway, thank you, David Corn. And Stuart, I have been pummeling here because I just don`t want to hear this message. I don`t think the Republican establishment is worth anything these days. His book, by the way, is called -- a fascinating book -- "The Last Season: A Father, a Son, and a Lifetime of College Football." Much more HARDBALL after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL A Senate bill on criminal justice reform with surprisingly strong bipartisan support was announced last week. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker was one of the Democrats at the helm. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: During his time in the United States, Pope Francis has chosen to do something that I think is extraordinary, to visit with the imprisoned. This step by the pope, to me, is an extraordinary accomplishment in bringing a further highlight to the challenges we have here in the United States with our criminal justice system. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the deal was unveiled just a week after Pope Francis met with inmates in a Philadelphia prison. The bill significantly reduces some of the federally mandated minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. But the proposal does not include a provision to restore voting rights to nonviolent felons, as had been championed by Senator Booker himself. Meanwhile, voting rights come under consistent assault in many states, particularly, as Senator Booker has pointed out, down in Texas. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOOKER: You`re more likely to get struck by lightning in Texas than to find any kind of voter fraud, but yet they passed a law. Even right now, we saw that the circuit court said that there`s 600,000 people being affected by this, disproportionately minority, disproportionately poor. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, as the Supreme Court begins its new session this Monday in October, Senator Cory Booker joins us tonight on HARDBALL. Senator Booker, thank you for joining us. Just tell us. I have looked so long for senators and legislators in either house that can put together bipartisan action in a very divided country. How did you do it? How did you get members of the Senate side to join you on prison reform, criminal reform? BOOKER: Well, I give a lot of credit to my colleagues.    Before I even got to the Senate about two years ago, there was bipartisan activity that came in. But I really came in with this purpose, because we have this nation that has distinguished itself globally for having outrageous overincarceration. We have 5 percent of the globe`s population; 25 percent of the prison population on the planet Earth is right here in the United States. MATTHEWS: Yes. BOOKER: And the federal government has seen an 800 percent increase. So, for me, literally, I swore my oath on Halloween 2013. The first policy conversation I had on the floor moments later was reaching across the aisle to people like Rand Paul and Mike Lee to talk to them about doing something about what I think is a crisis in America. MATTHEWS: Talk about empathy and also justice. Tell me about the guy, it`s usually the guy, in prison right now you think is in there because of the minimum sentencing that is really unfair, that they didn`t do anything wrong, and it was disproportionate, what was done to him. BOOKER: Well, look, I stood with Mike Lee in this bill. He is one of the partners I have across the aisle. And he was a prosecutor and he told stories about a guy, a first-time offense, making -- having three sales of marijuana, that the offenses were stacked. He had a possession of a gun, wasn`t using it. But that was added on, 55 years, never did anything before. Had two children, 55 years in prison for that crime. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And that was the first indictment against the guy. BOOKER: First offense. Here, we have a nation where one out of 10 Americans break drug laws, where the last two presidents admitted to doing drug violations that are felonies in many cases. But yet we see in our nation people being ground into the system. The war on drugs is really a war on people.    MATTHEWS: Yes. BOOKER: And we have been harming actually ourselves as a nation, because this doesn`t come cheap. It`s is a quarter of a trillion dollars a years to fuel this mass incarceration. And we have crumbling infrastructure. But between 1990 and 2006, we were building a new prison in the United States every 10 days. This is a grossly expensive system that is broken and actually doesn`t even empower people that are in there when they come out not to go back, with recidivism rates 60 percent, 70 percent. So, we have a lot of change we have got to make to get sensible laws that empower people that actually could make us safer and save taxpayer dollars. MATTHEWS: Is it a good risk to let people out early, shorter sentences? You have got to make that calculation. It must be part of your thinking here, it`s better to let some people out earlier. BOOKER: Look, this bill that we did in a bipartisan fashion is for nonviolent offenders. And we have seen clearly from all the data that we see right now -- in fact, some states like Georgia, which has reduced its black male prison population by 20 percent, red state Georgia, has shown that you can actually reduce prison populations and reduce crime at the same time, because if you get people access to treatment, help them break their additions, if you get them mental health support, if you get them training while they`re in prison to get out and get a job, then you could actually not only lower crime, but save taxpayers money in the long term. MATTHEWS: I think it`s great you came on tonight, Senator Booker. And I think a lot of our viewers are going to like what you have said. Somebody is getting something done. Thanks for joining us. BOOKER: Thank you for having me. MATTHEWS: Up next, a blockbuster story in "The Washington Post" today. During Carly Fiorina`s 2010 Senate race out in California, she failed to repay $500,000 in debt, but reimbursed herself for more than a million. New scrutiny for Fiorina as she rises among the field of potential presidents. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.    (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s happening. At least 11 people are dead in the Carolinas following historic floods. Authorities urge more evacuations after another dam was breached this afternoon. Tens of thousands of residents are without running water, thousands also without power. The Coast Guard is searching for possible survivors who were aboard the El Faro, a cargo ship lost at sea during Hurricane Joaquin. A damaged empty lifeboat from the ship was found on Sunday. Authorities believe it sank. There were 33 people were aboard; 28 were Americans. And President Obama is headed to Roseburg, Oregon, on Friday. He will meet privately with families of victims of the shooting last week that left nine people dead there -- and now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has stressed the importance of her business background in her run for the White House. Fiorina has swatted back at criticism of her corporate record in recent weeks. But now there is a new "Washington Post" story out on the front page today questioning her money management during a failed run for the United States Senate six years ago, back in 2010, in fact. "The Post" reports that the multimillionaire candidate left up to $500,000 in invoices unpaid through January of this year, even after she reimbursed herself for $1.3 million she had lent to the struggling campaign. Fiorina`s former campaign manager, Martin Wilson, told "The Post" -- quote -- "Occasionally, I would call and tell her she should pay them. She just wouldn`t" -- close quote. And Fiorina`s operations director, Jon Cross said -- quote -- "If we didn`t win, why do you deserve to get paid? If you don`t succeed in business, you shouldn`t be the first one to step up and complain about getting paid" -- close quote. Fiorina was asked about this story on her way out of a campaign event earlier today and attacked "The Washington Post."    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think "The Washington Post" has much credibility anymore. They also said I wasn`t a secretary. QUESTION: So, do you think that you shouldn`t pay your staffers if you lose? QUESTION: Any explanation for why it took so long, the payment? FIORINA: All our debt was paid off and everyone was paid in full. So, once again, "The Washington Post" doesn`t have a lot of credibility here. QUESTION: What about the quote from your campaign manager saying that she asked to you pay them off? FIORINA: I have no idea -- I have no idea what you`re talking about. I`m sorry. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, time for the HARDBALL roundtable. And it`s a HARDBALL question. Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer for "The Washington Post." April Ryan is White House correspondent for American Urban Radio. And John Feehery is a Republican strategist.    Let me start with you, John Feehery. This was put up on the left-hand side of the top of the paper. This is an enterprise piece obviously held for Monday. A lot of work went into it. It wasn`t rushed out as a news item, a flash. They have been working on this, enterprising this. What do you make of the charge and all these great quotes from her campaign team. Why pay somebody if you lose? Tough beans. These quotes are amazing. JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, this means that Carly`s arrived, obviously. (CROSSTALK) FEEHERY: The only way you get on the front page of "The Washington Post" -- the only way you get on the front page of "The Washington Post" is if you are a serious candidate. And she`s rising up in the polls. Listen... MATTHEWS: That`s a silver lining. FEEHERY: It`s a silver -- the fact of the matter is, never be part of a losing campaign, especially if you are a consultant, because you are probably not going to get paid for a while. And this is exactly what happened here. It`s also happened with the Hillary campaign. We all know that losing campaigns don`t pay their bills off right away. And that`s all part of the deal. And the other -- listen, the other thing about Carly Fiorina attacking "The Post" is a good offense -- the best defense is a good offense. And she is going offense. And you have got to do it. MATTHEWS: OK. Do you "The Post" was accurate in its reporting?    FEEHERY: I`m sure they were. I`m sure they were. MATTHEWS: OK. Fine. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let me go to you, April. It`s a piece that goes after Carly Fiorina`s... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... her business acumen. APRIL RYAN, NATIONAL URBAN RADIO NETWORK: Exactly, and the crazy thing about it is reading the piece, now, the piece was very good, I`m just saying. But the crazy piece that I picked up -- MATTHEWS: Are you affectionate towards Jonathan? You have to be careful to say anything against his newspaper. (LAUGHTER) RYAN: No.    MATTHEWS: This is HARDBALL, OK? RYAN: No, the piece, it was a good piece. "The Washington Post" has all the credibility in the world. But here is the issue I found interesting, the fact that she had a lot of small donors. Not a lot of big corporate donors. She doesn`t necessarily have to answer to smaller donors like grassroots people if she owes money. So, therefore, she kind of got out of -- MATTHEWS: How about paying herself (INAUDIBLE) $1.3 million. (CROSSTALK) RYAN: That was not good. MATTHEWS: She was first in line and the other people weren`t. RYAN: Especially if you`re running for president. MATTHEWS: How about a pollster who died a month before and she wouldn`t give money to the widow? RYAN: How about $30,000? JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s not right away. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: But John`s right. I helped in campaigns years ago and you do write a speech. If you use this more than once it could be $1,000, it could be $500. They used it through the campaign, I never saw the second five. I do remember these things. CAPEHART: As John says, losing campaigns, you may or may not get paid. But here`s the difference, Carly Fiorina made sure she paid herself back. That`s one of the big problems here in this story. RYAN: Big problem. MATTHEWS: So, you`re standing by this story? CAPEHART: Of course, I am. MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s another guy, the other of "The Washington Post" story, Peter Wallsten, in response to Fiorina`s criticism today on MSNBC. Let`s watch him and then we`ll go back to Jonathan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETER WALLSTEN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Viewers should know we called her campaign and tried to ask these questions and they didn`t respond. They chose to give us no comment for this story which is always surprising when somebody running for president or any elected office does that. I mean, this is a thoroughly researched report, thoroughly reported. So, she should have responded to us. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So, what happens she gets into a debate and there will be another debate later this month, and all the other -- Trump, first of all, he`s got to do this, right? RYAN: He`s going to.    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That word deadbeat doesn`t work with voters. CAPEHART: That gets to the next I was going to make before you showed Peter sound bite. And that is -- you cannot be a Fortune 50 CEO who`s out on the campaign trails saying I`m a business person. Then you have a -- MATTHEWS: What about John`s point that there`s been -- I remember, I`ve been around so long. Hubert Humphrey would pay the phone company a dime on the dollar. They would be lucky to get the dime. Those stories are all over the place. JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: All you need to do is look at Barbara Boxer campaign commercials against Carly Fiorina. She`s got bigger problems than this story. This story is not great. RYAN: No, no, no. FEEHERY: It shows her not being that compassionate. It shows her not paying her bills right on time. But she`s got bigger problems that are going to come if you see those commercials from Boxer. RYAN: I think this story goes hand in hand with the fact that she was the head of Hewlett-Packard and Hewlett-Packard helped run down the stock. CAPEHART: But those were the Barbara Boxer ads. RYAN: No, but I`m saying -- what I`m saying is the fact that these two things go hand in hand. The fact that she was a CEO and she could not manage the money there and then she couldn`t even manage her campaign pocket book. She`s going to pay herself and she wants to man the nation`s budget. There within is the problem. MATTHEWS: Yes. I think this is one of those things that will knock her a little bit down. But she still benefits -- and this is a great irony of politics -- by the nasty slap she got from him.    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes, to pull her from the back of the pack to the front. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Very good exploiting opportunities. Politics is about exploiting opportunity. She saw her opportunity, she said, "Every woman in America knows what you said." That was brilliantly, concisely said and it really gave her a punch. (CROSSTALK) CAPEHART: I would argue her campaign and her not responding to "The Washington Post" gives her an opportunity to then bash the media, which everyone loves especially on the right. MATTHEWS: Hillary had a good weekend. She may not have a great week, because now she`s going to have to answer the question, where are you on trade? This is something she`s been avoiding. The roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, a legacy-building President Obama achieves an historic deal with this big TPP trade deal. Hillary has yet to say one way or another whether she`s for it. Labor unions don`t like it. Where is Hillary? We`ll be right back on that one. It`s a tough one for her. This is the place for politics.    (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, has announced she will challenge Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte in the Granite State`s big race next year. Many national Democrats felt Hassan was the best bet to beat the incumbent Ayotte. And NBC News/Marist poll taken this month showed how close it is. The two women are within the margin of error of one another. It has Ayotte at 48, Hassan at 45. Boy, that one is going to be a barnburner. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We are back with the roundtable: Jonathan, April and John. Well, the United States and 11 other countries have agreed to terms in the Trans Pacific Partnership, a historic trade deal that would account for 40 percent of the global economy. It`s a deal President Obama has been pushing for quite some time, including a hard sell on my exclusive interview with him on HARDBALL this past April. Here is some of what he had to say then. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We decided to trying to craft a new kind of trade deal in the largest market in the world, because 95 percent of customers for U.S. businesses is going to be outside of the United States. And if we want to compete and create jobs here in the United States, we`ve got to be there. We pulled together 11 countries to come up with a high standard, enforceable, trade provision that has unprecedented labor standards, unprecedented environmental standards and fixes a lot of the problems that you had in things like NAFTA, and ultimately, I would not be putting this forward if I was not absolutely certain that this was going to be good for American workers.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the deal will face a vote, a tough one in Congress next year and will need to be approved by all member nations as well involved in the deal. It will also expect to be the next big fight in 2016 politics, especially among Democrats. Most labor as we know, as well as Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley are opposed to the deal. Front-runner Hillary Clinton has yet to say whether or not she will support it, her former boss`s trade pact, although she encouraged trade talks as secretary of state, and former President Bill Clinton is for this deal. So, this is a tough one, April, but I think she`s going to have to make a decision. Bill Clinton made a decision on NAFTA back in `92. But he did it late in the game, he sort of finessed it. Can she finesse this? RYAN: She`s going to have to figure out, because she`s going to go against the president, the man who she stood beside and the man she helped work this out with -- MATTHEWS: Who`s she more concerned with, his people, or both, or the union guys? RYAN: Of becoming president. If this is -- MATTHEWS: Mr. Trump is a powerful guy. RYAN: If this is played out right, if this is played out right, what this will do, and if it`s rolled out and communicated properly, what this is intended to do is raise the standards of these 12 countries whereas American companies won`t leave to go there. They`re raising, you know, the environment and labor standards and making sure those core pieces are there instead of on the side like they were for NAFTA. MATTHEWS: Yes, you can`t set up sweat shops around the world. That`s the idea.    RYAN: Right, and also the side piece for this versus being in the court is the exchange rate. That`s the side piece on this. MATTHEWS: So they don`t play games. RYAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: The Chinese side. RYAN: The Japanese side. MATTHEWS: Jonathan, your paper`s always been a pro-trade paper. CAPEHART: Yes. MATTHEWS: Are you going to push for Hillary to make a decision here? CAPEHART: Absolutely. I mean, we have to talk about it. But, of course, yes, of course. Because we think TPP is a good deal. I`ve written about it, saying that it`s a good deal and that the Democratic Party needs to stop fighting the battles of NAFTA and be here in the 21st century. When the president -- the idea that a pro-middle class president like Barack Obama who ran on protecting the middle class would turn his back on the middle class in a trade deal, because that`s what you hear a lot of Democrats saying, both on the hill and activists. It`s ridiculous. It`s ludicrous.    But Richard Trumka, as you mentioned him, the threats coming from labor to members of Congress if they voter for this deal are real they have members of Congress scared. And that`s why I think Hillary Clinton -- MATTHEWS: Your party`s like pro trade right now. FEEHERY: Not necessarily. Donald Trump`s going to come out strongly against this. I think it`s a good deal. It`s good policy. It`s bad politics. The question I think for Hillary is Joe Biden. MATTHEWS: He`s got to be for it. FEEHERY: He`s got to be for it, so that means that`s probably trying to figure out what the best politics for her is. Her husband passed China trade which is still very controversial for a lot of the Americans -- MATTHEWS: Yes, he did NAFTA. FEEHERY: And NAFTA. CAPEHART: Which is really controversial. RYAN: Yes. FEEHERY: And trade globalization is under assault by both wings, both by the far left and the far right.    MATTHEWS: It`s a good shot -- it`s a good target. FEEHERY: It`s a good target. And this is why Bernie Sanders gets 20,000 people to come, because he talks about these and -- MATTHEWS: Who`s the youngest person here? You? RYAN: I think I am. MATTHEWS: OK -- CAPEHART: Yes, you are no matter what. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Explain if you will, April. Seriously, why do millennials make -- they`re not all occupiers. But there`s a lot of the anti-trade attitude from young people. Is that because the job market is still so tight so, hard to get a job, they feel their jobs -- or is it some ideological notion that there`s global going on out there and it`s hurting them. RYAN: Millennials, moms and dads worked in the factories so they can go to the college or go to the trade school and work in STEM and other things. So look for the union label is not -- you don`t hear that now in this generation. It`s two generations old. We don`t hear that anymore. And that`s the unfortunate thing. But being from a city like Baltimore, I understand why Martin O`Malley chooses not to support this, because one, globalization created pockets of poverty in Baltimore because Bethlehem Steel left Baltimore and you have all of those -- MATTHEWS: It`s hollowing out of our big cities.    RYAN: Hollowing out. So -- MATTHEWS: I always do this thing about North Philly, because you`re driving along 95. All that along the river used to be factories, and now it`s a few tennis courts. That gentrification is not helping a guy get a job. FEEHERY: Millennials are anti-corporate, too. So, this is -- MATTHEWS: I agree. Ideology -- FEEHERY: Ideology. They`re anti-corporate. And, you know, none of them can find jobs. That`s the thing about Obama economy. (CROSSTALK) CAPEHART: The Obama economy. I cannot believe -- MATTHEWS: Why do millennials oppose trade? CAPEHART: I don`t know if it`s that they oppose trade so much as they, as April was saying, and I agree with April, that they`ve watched their parents, their grandparents, their relatives, maybe even their great- grandparents watch their livelihoods shrivel up as manufacturing disappeared, as one trade deal after another came through and seemingly took jobs with it, and you put on top of that the economic collapse in 2008 in George Bush`s administration -- RYAN: Fight. MATTHEWS: What`s the richest company in the world? Apple, right?    CAPEHART: Yes, let`s ask them for some money. MATTHEWS: They got money. Jonathan Capehart, thank you for that emotion. CAPEHART: Thanks. MATTHEWS: And, April, thank you for that youthful opinion. And John Feehery, thank you. When we return, let me finish with the movie that absolutely blew me away, "The Martian." I`m going to talk about it, what it means for our country. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this incredible movie, "The Martian." If you love movies, you`ll find it irresistible. If you haven`t been to the movies lately or even for years, make an exception. Go out and see this one. It`s a movie about an astronaut who gets left behind on our nearest planet, which is as you know pretty far from home. It`s about how he manages but also how the people back here on Earth manage to operate at their human best. You`ll be inspired by it, by how well people behave here. And this is important. Feel proud to be a human being. Proud that people like you can do good things, make good decisions, care about the right things, and overall beat the spread. If the Chinese scene in this movie doesn`t get to you, I`m afraid nothing will. But it will get to you. As so much of "The Martian" will.    This isn`t a horse race movie about some animal on a track. It`s not a boxing movie about some guy`s heart staying with the fight. Those have made some very good movies, of course. But this one "The Martian" is better because it`s about an individual, a team of fellow professionals, and a couple of countries that put all the bad stuff aside, even as they`re faced with some pretty bad stuff. It`s about the prevalence of the human spirit through the forge of individual courage and human loyalty. As I said after all, the lowlife stuff that began with Paris Hilton and has led us to the Kardashian and all the similar sleaze in the tabloids and glossy magazines, this movie says that people aspire to be something better. We want to see people rising up to their great moral potential as human beings. And this is what the film`s director Ridley Scott bet on. And it`s what I predict people here and around the world are ready to prove him right on. 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.>