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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/07/15

Guests: Susan Milligan, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Francesca Chambers, CarolLee, Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST (on-camera): Hillary versus Trump. Could we be looking at the battle of the century? Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. The time for great politics may well, be upon us. If these trends continue, the idea of a 2016 general election that pits Democrat Hillary Clinton against Republican Donald Trump may switch sometime this fall from plausible to probable. We may see a Trump-Clinton election as the greatest choice for president in decades, a battle between political maverick of the right and a veteran professional of the center-left as the dramatic electoral test of the young 21st century. That is the big story tonight, this second week in October, 2015. Trump and Hillary, the leaders of the pack. Eugene Robinson`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post," Susan Milligan is a political writer with "U.S. News & World Report," Howard Fineman is the global editorial director with the HuffingtonPost. Anyway, "The Washington Post" reports that Trump is plotting act 2 right now. He`s promising flood the airwaves with ads and build a, quote, "national ground game." Quote, "The views -- he views the nomination as now within his reach. We`re going to the convention. That`s it," his campaign manager told "The Post." Well, Trump was equally defiant himself. "If I don`t win, what have I done? I`ve wasted time." He`s still leading in all the polls. New Quinnipiac Battleground polling him has him leading in Florida by double digits over native sons Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. He leads in Ohio by double digits over the governor thee, John Kasich. He leads in Pennsylvania by 5 over Carson.    And here`s how Joe Scarborough reacted to those numbers on "MORNING JOE." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, "MORNING JOE": If any other candidate in the history of polling was doubling a sitting senator running for president and the most iconic governor of the past 50 years for the Republican Party, there is a... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The race is over. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has new momentum on the trail. She leads -- her leads have tightened now, but she remains formidable. She`s got a 24-point lead in Florida over Sanders and Biden. She holds a 19-point lead in Ohio and an 11-point lead in Pennsylvania. Let me go to you, Gene. I don`t know. I think we have to trust polling for what it is. Polling is polling. But if Jeb Bush, as somebody said today, was leading by these numbers, we`d be working the cabinet. Who`s going to be HUD secretary? Who`s going to be HHS? EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. We would declare the race absolutely over. It would be -- it would be Jeb Bush. For obvious reasons, people can`t quite get their minds around the fact that Donald Trump is leading. But in fact, he is leading. And if you look at history of the polling, you look where he is now -- he went down a little he`s coming back up a little -- you`ve got to say he`s the favorite... MATTHEWS: OK, why... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Excuse me while I (INAUDIBLE) It`s also if you take (ph) the issues. This stuff that you and I may agree in opinion journalism are not the right positions. He`s more inconsistent -- more consistent with the Republican Party than any other candidates...    MATTHEWS: Right. MATTHEWS: ... on immigration, on everything. ROBINSON: Exactly. He started off by hitting that sensitive button on immigration, and he hasn`t really looked back. He`s in touch with his part of the Republican base. Absolutely. MATTHEWS: Susan, he talks like most Republicans today, not like the Republicans we grew up with... SUSAN MILLIGAN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Right. MATTHEWS: ... not these East Coast establishment types like the Bushes. MILLIGAN: Yes. The thing is, though, I mean, I disagree a little bit about saying that the race is over because of where he is... MATTHEWS: Race is over? It ain`t over! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... read my lead! Let me go back to what I said. MILLIGAN: All right, all right...    MATTHEWS: It could go from plausible to probable... MILLIGAN: OK. MATTHEWS: ... this fall. MILLIGAN: But the race -- I mean, the field... MATTHEWS: Who`s going to beat him, Carson? MILLIGAN: The field is so crowded, I don`t think you can assess those numbers in quite the same ways when Hillary is leading by that much. And secondly, I`m not sure for how many people he`s the second choice. I mean, if you`re with Trump, you`re with Trump. But I`m not sure he picks up... MATTHEWS: How about the Carson vote, which is the only -- it`s the buffer... MILLIGAN: (INAUDIBLE) Ben Carson. MATTHEWS: ... between him and reality, I used to would be -- used to be thinking. Now I think the both of them are floating on this cloud of new zeitgeist out there. Why is Carson number two everywhere? Your thoughts. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`m going to disagree with Susan a little bit. MATTHEWS: Good. You`re back to us.    FINEMAN: Yes, well -- and the reason is, if you look at the numbers as you showed them up on the screen, after Trump are Carson and Fiorina everywhere. There`s no establishment normal political alternative. So what I`m going to say is that if people come away from Ben Carson, if they come down away from Carly Fiorina, I think they`re more likely to go to Donald Trump than they are to an establishment politician. MATTHEWS: Yes. How do you go from -- yes. FINEMAN: Because all those people who are provisionally for Carson and Fiorina are saying, We don`t like politics as it is. We don`t like politicians. MATTHEWS: I agree with that. FINEMAN: We want a can-do person. So if they blow up, they go to Trump. And that`s -- that`s the real news here. MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s a hard decision -- just to back and hammer at you again... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: ... my concern is... MILLIGAN: Still don`t see him getting the nomination. MATTHEWS: ... once you say you`re for Trump and you do it for month after month, like they`ve been doing -- I`m saying November`s my sort of touchstone. This is still hot in November, I think it`s going there. How do you say, Oh, yes, I`ve changed my mind, I really like Jeb Bush"?    MILLIGAN: I don`t think... MATTHEWS: How can they do that? MILLIGAN: I don`t think they like Bush anymore than anybody liked Mitt Romney. MATTHEWS: Well, people like them -- Huckabee... MILLIGAN: He just was the guy left standing. MATTHEWS: Huckabee, Kasich, these guys? They`re not lighting up the charts! FINEMAN: Remember Rand Paul, just to use an illustration. MATTHEWS: Is he still on the list? FINEMAN: Yes, he`s still on the list. A year ago, everybody was saying he was the thing. He was on the cover of "Time" magazine three times. He`s nowhere, and the reason is, even though he was once a rebel and an outsider, because he`s a member of the United States Senate... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think a political resume is a rap sheet today.    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And the next time we see him, he`s going to be wearing a bib at the kids` table. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s Bill Clinton on last night`s "Late Show With Stephen Colbert," examining Trump`s dominance on the right. Talk about charm! Here`s Bill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE LATE SHOW": Why do you think Trump is doing so well? BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because he`s a master brander and he`s the most interesting character out there... (LAUGHTER) B. CLINTON: ... and because he says something that overrides the ideological differences. There is a macho appeal to saying, I`m just sick of nothing happening. I make things happen. Vote for me. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, Susan, I think he`s got that. He`s -- he got his political student`s hat on there.    (LAUGHTER) MILLIGAN: He does. I think he`s absolutely right about Trump. He is a master brander. I mean, that`s how he made his -- much of his fortune is this, lending -- or selling his name, not actually... MATTHEWS: What`s the name say? What does that name say on the building when you buy -- you pay enormous rent or you pay a condo fee through the roof? Is it so you can say, I live in a Trump building, with the gold and all the rest? MILLIGAN: The glitziness, the new wealth. Someone mentioned to me that the reason that Paul -- or excuse me -- that Trump is so appealing is that he does what a guy would do who didn`t have a lot of education and won the lottery, you know, buy the big plane... (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MILLIGAN: Put your name in glitter, you know? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And get yourself some arm candy to go with it. MILLIGAN: Right? MATTHEWS: He`s got the arm candy. He`s got everything.    MILLIGAN: Exactly. Exactly. ROBINSON: Yes, what percentage of the American population has (INAUDIBLE) MILLIGAN: It`s about -- less. ROBINSON: It`s less than half, OK? (LAUGHTER) MILLIGAN: An alarming number of people... MATTHEWS: I think -- I think he reminds me -- and I say this in a relatively positive way, with Sinatra. Sinatra was -- hung around some bad guys, we know. But Sinatra lived a life that you`d want to live if you had a lot of money. I mean, look at how he lived! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Ava Gardner? Look at the world he lived in! FINEMAN: To me, the most interesting person in that conversation we just watched was Bill Clinton being very careful about Donald Trump. In other words, you`re not going to catch Bill Clinton trashing Donald Trump anytime soon... MATTHEWS: He went to the wedding!    FINEMAN: ... or ever. (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: First of all, they went to the wedding... (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: They`re all up there in the Trump tower, in their minds, you know, the two of them together. And by the way, Donald Trump is a wild card. If he`s not treated well by the Republicans, who knows where he`s going to be rhetorically... MATTHEWS: OK, here`s... FINEMAN: ... a year from now? MATTHEWS: Here`s a good point... FINEMAN: And Bill Clinton`s saying, You know, we may still have some business, meaning Donald Trump... ROBINSON: Yes. Yes. Yes. FINEMAN: ... to do a year down the road if Hillary makes this.    MATTHEWS: Just think about how he shows his money (INAUDIBLE) why I think the working guy, the working white guy likes him. If you leave (ph) like the Clintons, go to Martha`s Vineyard and hang out with Carly Simon, and you know, Bill Styron in the old days. They hang out around with the intellectual, cultural elite. What does he do? You wouldn`t -- you wouldn`t catch -- you wouldn`t catch Donald Trump on Martha`s Vineyard! ROBINSON: Look... MATTHEWS: He`s down in Florida! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... his own golf course! He`s his own guy! Anyway, we`re less than a week from the first Democratic debate, and the Clintons are ready for battle with Bernie Sanders. Bill Clinton gave his thoughts on Bernie`s rise to Steve Colbert. Let`s watch him on Bernie. He`s being quite the student here. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLBERT: Why do you think Bernie Sanders is doing so well? B. CLINTON: Because there are a lot of people all over the world that are really hacked off, that think the system is rigged against them and the rich get all the gains. And in America, a lot of them believe that the Republicans have been rewarded for -- they reward the people that go the furthest to the right, so the Democrats would be even more effective if they moved further to the left. (END VIDEO CLIP)    So Bernie Sanders is a Donald Trump on the left. Anyway, late today, Hillary Clinton did go further to the left than she`s been on the issue of trade. She officially came out against the president`s TPP trade bill with the Far East. As secretary of ,state Clinton called the emerging deal the gold standard in trade agreements. Bill Clinton has called TPP, by the way, a fabulous trade agreement. I heard him say so. In response, Bernie Sanders late today told reporters that he`d let the American -- he`d let the American people decide if Hillary Clinton is credible on the issue. He`s punching back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ll let the American people determine who has credibility or not. But let me say a word on (INAUDIBLE) I`m glad that she reached that conclusion. This is a conclusion that I reached from day one. I believe that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is nothing more than a continuation of disastrous trade policies which we have experienced for the last 30 or so years which have led to the loss of millions of decent-paying jobs. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Howard, is that "Me too" politics? Remember... (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: Absolutely. But then Hillary`s answer to that would be, OK, who`s got a real chance of becoming president and therefore renegotiating the TPP? It`s not you, Bernie. It`s me. ROBINSON: Yes.    FINEMAN: So thank you for guiding me on it. I mean, she can thank him for his research. ROBINSON: Well, she can say that, but... MATTHEWS: But if she treats him like a political cadaver... FINEMAN: No, no, no. MATTHEWS: ... like weekends with Bernie. FINEMAN: No, no. MATTHEWS: Like he`s never going to be... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... weekends with Bernie! (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK)    FINEMAN: She should not be and will not be antagonistic. She`s not going to take the bait. She`s going to -- she`s going to say, Well, we agree. It`s just I can get it done. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s an argument that works with everybody but the often (ph) mine (ph) the new young left because November doesn`t count. ROBINSON: Exactly. FINEMAN: She`s not going to get them early in the primary... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: Look, she had to do this, first of all. She had to come out against TPP... FINEMAN: Definitely. MATTHEWS: Because the labor unions... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: Look how many Democrats voted for fast track. It wasn`t a lot.    MATTHEWS: I know. ROBINSON: OK? It was, like, in the teens or something like that. MATTHEWS: Exactly. ROBINSON: So the party clearly is... MATTHEWS: As a party, it`s against... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... trade regime. MILLIGAN: Well, let`s remember also that Bill Clinton -- he talked about Bernie Sanders appealing to that part of the electorate that feels like, you know, they got shafted. How many times did he say in 1992 that he was up there for people who feel like they played by the rules and got the shaft? The second thing is, he was railing against China during the campaign, and one of the first things he did in office was extend MFN status to China. (LAUGHTER) MILLIGAN: So you know...    MATTHEWS: Well, he was for people who work hard and play by the rules, one of the greatest political slogans... MILLIGAN: Yes. Absolutely. MATTHEWS: ... I`ve ever heard because it suggested all kinds of wedge (ph) without actually saying it. FINEMAN: By the way, what does Joe Biden think of the trade deal? MATTHEWS: Well, he`s for it because he`s with the president. ROBINSON: He`s got to be for it. FINEMAN: But does it have to do with whether he decides to run for president or not? MATTHEWS: When`s Hillary going to stop separating herself from the president? Because she`s begun doing it this week, and I wonder where that`s going to be with minority voters next year, if she keeps finding ways to disagree with President Obama. (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: TPP is not going to hurt her. FINEMAN: Yes. Exactly.    (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: This is one -- this is one where I think... MATTHEWS: That`s true! Thank you for keeping me honest, Eugene Robinson, Susan Milligan, good editor at work. Thank you, Howard Fineman. Coming up, the Democratic -- well, the Democratic calls keep coming to dismantle that select committee on Benghazi. But today, Republicans announced they`re forming a new select committee, this one to investigate and take down Planned Parenthood. Is this a winning strategy to take away options from women in this country? So now we know the Republicans` game plan, attack Hillary and her pro-choice position. Plus, as the world waits for Joe Biden`s decision, the draft Biden movement is out with a new ad urging him on. Well, tonight, we`ll hear from a focus group of New Hampshire Democrats who say they don`t want him to run. And Dr. Ben Carson doubles down on his comments, the ones he made saying the victims of last week`s shooting in Oregon should have fought back. Finally, we heard what Bill Clinton said about Donald Trump`s appeal. But did big Bill push Trump to run for president? That`s ahead. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Be sure to tune in tonight at 10:00 PM Eastern for a compelling MSNBC documentary, "Blood Lions," an inside look at the world of canned lion hunting in South Africa. And here`s a preview.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve lost 95 percent of our lions in 50 years. We`re losing a rhino every 10 or 11 hours. It`s a bloodbath out there. This stuff will be gone before we even know it. And it`s much more important than we think. It affects the very fabric of this continent. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve said to our children, Think 100 years, when you are long gone. Would you be happy to hear that there is no lion in an African bush? And then once they feel the sadness of it all, only then can they be able to step up and play a role and play their part in conserving our animals. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: "Blood Lions" tonight at 10:00 PM Eastern right here on MSNBC. HARDBALL`s back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did hear they`re going to start a special committee. You know, that`s what they do when they want to get real political and partisan, so they`re going to -- they`re going to start a special committee to examine Planned Parenthood. You know, it`s just a waste of time. It`s a waste of money. I mean, honestly, we got so much to do in our country, and these guys are just playing games with people`s lives all the time. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. They`re at it again. House Republicans voted today to form a new select committee to, quote, "investigate" Planned Parenthood. It`s got all the same overtones of the Republicans` select committee on Benghazi, which House speaker wannabe Kevin McCarthy has publicly confessed is partisan in purpose.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she`s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not... SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I agree. (CROSSTALK) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, today, "The New York Times" editorial board called for the House to shut down the Benghazi committee. It wrote, quote, "House Republicans may be disinclined to disband the select committee on Benghazi with the presidential race heating up, but at the very least, they should rename their laughable crusade which has cost taxpayers $4.6 million," quote, " `The inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.`" They say that should be the title of the committee. They added, quote, "The effort to find Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the Libya attacks, was personally responsible for the deaths has lost any semblance of credibility. It`s become an insult to the memory of four slain Americans." That`s "The New York Times" talking. Now with the Planned Parenthood, House Republicans` new select committee could have the effect of limiting what options women have for their health care, while also creating political headwinds at the Hillary Clinton campaign. Well, joining me right now is U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of California. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us. Why would the Republicans think it`s smart strategy to take away from poor women, or any women, an option which is not just choice on abortion rights but the option of going to a place that they know will look out for their health in a reproductive situation? REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, as you know, Chris, Planned Parenthood does so much, especially in the low-income, the Latino community, young women who are near -- going to university. It really is one of the few places where many of these women go for their once-a-year exams. So trying to take that away from them is a really sad situation. But why are they doing it? They`re doing it because they believe that, politically, they can go after Hillary and they can paint her as a demon and they can, you know, jimmy up their non-choice vote and get them to the polls. It`s a very political issue that they`re working with.    MATTHEWS: Aren`t they kissing off California, which is a pro-choice state, just as an example? There are other pro-choice states. But your state hasn`t elected a Republican statewide who`s pro-life since I can remember -- I mean, way back when. What, Kinkle (ph)? I mean, how far back do you have to go to find somebody? And my question is, why are they doing it politically? You think that`s a winner? They think it`s a winner? I don`t get it. SANCHEZ: Well, they believe, when they run the numbers, especially in some of the South and Middle American communities, that they can up their numbers there and they can kiss off California, as you said. But I believe that with all the information now in today`s age, with everybody being able to tap into issues that they want, more people are understanding the issue of choice, and I just don`t think it is a winning strategy for them. MATTHEWS: And also women`s health care generally. I think Jeb Bush made a big mistake when he said we are spending enough money on women already, anyway, and their health care. And U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, thanks for joining us from the House tonight. Up next, when people think president, do they think Joe Biden? We will show you a focus group that is skeptical of the vice president jumping into the race for the top job. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. As a decision over whether to run for president looms for Vice President Joe Biden, a super PAC called Draft Biden is out with its first ad set to air on cable during next week`s Democratic debate, in an effort to encourage Biden, I guess, to get into the contest. Let`s watch a bit of it.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Incredible bond I have with my children is a gift I`m not sure I would have had I not been through what I went through. But by focusing on my sons, I found my redemption. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, after seeing the ad, former Obama political strategist David Axelrod tweeted: "Am I alone in finding this draft Biden ad tasteless? It`s powerful, but exploitative. Can`t believe he would approve." And John Heilemann and Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics conducted a simultaneous focus group of Democrats in the crucial first states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and those Democrats are not sold on a Biden candidacy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many people in the room want Joe Biden to get in the race? Joe Biden -- would please Joe -- would -- think it would be a good thing if Joe Biden entered the race? Only one out of you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And raise your hand if you think Joe Biden is qualified to be president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Qualified. I guess you could say qualified. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your reasons for not wanting Joe Biden? Beginning -- Colin (ph), I will start with you.    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really can`t put my finger on it. I really don`t have a good reason why I don`t think he should run. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not sure he would make the best president for us. I worry sometimes about some of the things that he has done and said. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seems like a really fun guy, but I don`t know as commander in chief. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I worry about his temperament a little bit and some of the decisions that he makes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I don`t know what you make of that. I don`t make anything of it. Time now for the HARDBALL roundtable. We have a smarter roundtable here than there. I can tell you that. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Carol Lee is White House correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal." David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and Francesca Chambers is the White House correspondent for "The Daily Mail." David, it reminds me of what Winston Churchill. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. I don`t know how much thought those people put into it or why we should listen to them. What did you get out of it, the focus group here? DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the thing too is all politics is relative. You don`t get to make a choice in a vacuum on any one person. You compare between candidates.    If you asked all those people what they thought about Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, maybe they would be kind of lukewarm about those choices as well. So, it doesn`t really tell you... MATTHEWS: Maybe they`re picky. CORN: They may be picky. They may be waiting for a Barack Obama again from 2008 in Iowa. The standard is pretty high for an Iowa Democrat to be excited these days. That doesn`t really tell you much that Biden -- that will add to Biden`s decision-making tree. If people all said, yes, yes, yes, give me Joe, that might have been pretty extraordinary. But I wouldn`t have counted on that happening in any event. And you can ask the Republicans on the same side. How many of them are going to be excited about Jeb Bush? MATTHEWS: That clashes with what we have been talking about tonight, which is I think of presidents, I think back Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Ford even, Nixon, and then you put Clinton on that list and Obama on it, it is still a pretty high average of people. They`re pretty impressive, presidents, as an average. People, when they think of president, do they think Ben Carson? Really? Really, Fiorina? Do they really think they are presidential material? And then you say these people are very picky. And then I look at the polls. They don`t look picky to me. Your thoughts? FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, "THE DAILY MAIL": Yes. You said that they are not jumping up and down for joy about Joe Biden. But I have been in Iowa. I have been out on the campaign trail this time and I am seeing something completely different. In fact, I have been surprised how excited in Iowa they are for Joe Biden. Every time I have tried to talk to them about Hillary, I have so many people say I`m waiting to see what Joe does. And when I talk to people out there who are just as random as the folks in that focus group, I`m hearing experienced, sincere, a man of the people. And, sure, there are some folks saying that he doesn`t have the backbone to be president. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: By the way, they may have been a random group, but they certainly weren`t randy. That was the dullest looking group of people. Did you have to wake me up for this? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What do you think, Carol? What do you think of focus groups anyway, the idea of 12 people telling us the truth of the universe? CAROL LEE, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think you can learn things. They have been done for a long time. You can learn things from them. But... MATTHEWS: Can you tell majority opinion? LEE: I don`t know that you can tell majority opinion, but you can a sense of words that people associate with different candidates and things like that. One of the things I found striking is that they thought -- some of them thought the vice president wasn`t experienced enough or didn`t have the qualifications to be commander in chief. MATTHEWS: Well, how many years will it take? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Been elected to the Senate at the age of 29 and has been there ever since. CORN: Who do they think has more experience?    MATTHEWS: Was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee forever. He`s vice president for almost eight years. Anyway, one thing I have noticed that new -- here are some numbers, because I do notice in a new swing state poll from Quinnipiac University of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania shows that Hillary Clinton is still the heavy favorite -- let`s be thoughtful here -- among Democrats in all those states. Clinton leads with 43 percent in Florida, with Biden and Sanders at 19. In Ohio, it`s Clinton at 40, Biden at 21, Sanders 19. In Pennsylvania, my home state, Hillary is up by 36, followed by Biden. She is at 36, Biden at 25, Sanders 19. What has happened here, interesting, Francesca, is Biden has crept beyond in the national polls Bernie Sanders. For a long time, we see Sanders as the alternative to Hillary. Biden is doing better than Sanders in most of these polls. CHAMBERS: And he is not even out there campaigning. I think that is what is so striking. CORN: That may be good for him, actually. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: It still shows that Bernie is still working that left, just the left. Your thoughts. Is Biden going to run? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What can you report, based on your latest reporting tonight and what you hear around the paper at "The Wall Street Journal"? Do we know any more today than we knew last year? Is Biden going to run or not? Is there any movement?    LEE: There is a discussion that is under way that is going to happen this weekend with his family. This is our latest reporting, and that they`re -- some people think he will make a decision one way or the other within... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Would he have a meeting with his family if he didn`t want to run? LEE: No. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So, he`s having a meeting with his family. Therefore, he is going to run. CORN: No. (CROSSTALK) LEE: Well, there is a difference between wanting to and actually doing it. CORN: Yes. And I have talked to people in his universe who have said they all want him to. Everyone -- this is what you get. Everybody who is around him professionally, not family wise, they want him to run because...    MATTHEWS: They want the action. CORN: They want the action. It`s good for them. Their influence goes up. Some of them even make some -- make money. But they believe in the guy. That`s why they are in his orbit. (CROSSTALK) CORN: But they all say, until there is a decision, there is really only wishful thinking in this camp. And I don`t think -- I think Biden has been kind of really a cipher about this so far. MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about something policy and important to a lot of people watching right now, the issue of trade. On the American left, there is great skepticism, if not antipathy, about trade. They feel the trade deals end up helping the multination. They end up screwing the average working person. They drive down wages because of an international market for wages, obviously, and for product. So, Hillary has now come out late today against the TPP, against the biggest trade deal. She was part of negotiating it, I guess, but she is off of it. Bernie is definitely against it ideologically. Biden, he is going to have to defend the president. He`s running as an Obama guy. He`s running to continue the work of the Obama policies. Doesn`t that make it interesting? Doesn`t that sort of justify a debate? I think it would be great to have a debate over trade. My thoughts. What are yours? CHAMBERS: Well, what is interesting about the whole entire debate thing is I have been talking to strategists who say that if Biden is in, he should actually wait until after the debate, because he would going to the debate unprepared.    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I meant the issue of trade. LEE: Well, it`s going to -- trade is going to come up in the first debate. It has to come up in that first debate. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. I think you skip the first. But on the issue, can he go into this race with a raison d`etre, with a reason to fight? I am a moderate Democrat, proud to say so. CORN: But he won`t be on trade, though. The question... MATTHEWS: Give me some other issues. CORN: That`s a point. And I think that`s -- if you look at the ad that came out today by the super PAC, it wasn`t him, but it was a super PAC. It had nothing to do with message, what he would do. I agreed with David Axelrod. I thought it was being exploitative of a personal tragedy and I think viewers might actually think that it is his ad, not a super PAC ad, and might not like it.    MATTHEWS: Well, nobody is going to see it. CORN: But the focus group, if it means anything, I don`t think anyone could tell you what Joe Biden means. And he needs... MATTHEWS: He has to stake out some things. CORN: And it won`t be trade, but what does he want to do that is different? MATTHEWS: Let`s do it quickly. Is there any way he can go to the left of Hillary, as Obama`s guy? LEE: No. (CROSSTALK) CORN: On foreign policy issues, perhaps. MATTHEWS: Well, on foreign, getting to the left of Hillary is not hard. I think Hillary is much more hawkish than Obama. I think that`s a fair estimate. LEE: But if you look at what she had done recently, she has distanced herself from the administration on TPP, on Syria, on deportation. And so she is setting up to differentiate herself not only from Biden, but paving a way for him to run as Obama`s legacy. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: I got an idea. He runs as the minority candidate. He`s not a minority, but he runs as a tribune for minorities. He will say, look, I have been with Obama all the way. I`m Obama`s guy. If you like Obama, stick with me. I`m going to stick with him. That`s not a bad position for Biden, who has great African-American support, to do. That`s what I think. LEE: She is certainly creating that path for him. (CROSSTALK) CORN: And particularly if Bernie... MATTHEWS: She gives him an opening. CORN: And if Bernie maintains a strong position, he needs less number of votes to beat Hillary than otherwise. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I love the idea of it. I never thought of it until we were having conversations, because now I think there is a reason, a rationale for Joe to run. Run as Obama`s candidate. Run as the guy who is going to continue this administration`s policy in the Middle East, which are more liberal, more left. In a way, they`re more like Bernie, but also continue to fight Hillary. He will more hawkish. The roundtable is staying with us.    And up next, this is wacko time. Dr. Ben Carson, I have not been tough on him. I will now. He has got to clean up his comments suggesting that if he were confronted by a gunman, he would have acted tougher than those folks out of that school in Oregon. Do you believe it? There ought to be something above the level here that he is operating at. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We are back with the roundtable, Carol, David and Francesca. Republican candidate Ben Carson has taken a lot of heat this day, today, for saying that he would have confronted that gunman in last week`s shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, out there. Here is what he said yesterday morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only would I probably not cooperate with him. I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can`t get us all. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, it appeared to many that Carson was suggesting that the victims of that shooting had allowed themselves to be killed because they, to use his word, cooperated with the shooter. So, last night, Carson tried to explain what he meant again on FOX News. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    CARSON: Of course, you know, if everybody attacks that gunman, he is not going to be able to kill everybody. But if you sit there and let him shoot you one by one, you are all going to be dead. QUESTION: In a time of great stress like that, one might not know exactly what to do. And to judge them, to sound like you are judging them... CARSON: I`m not judging them at all, but these incidents continue to occur. I doubt that this would be the last one. I want to plant the seed in people`s mind so that if this happens again they don`t all get killed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anything to take the heat off the killer. Anyway, today, Donald Trump defended Carson, of course, what crocodile tears, saying on the Twitter: "Ben Carson was speaking in general terms as to what he would do if confronted with a gunman and was not criticizing the victims. Not fair." Isn`t it nice when he is cute and sweet and comforting? This is a game. They are a tag team on this. Trump and especially Carson is so pro- gun. Wait until you see some of these other quotes. They`re outrageous. CORN: Well, I hope we get to them. MATTHEWS: Blaming the victims. They`re blaming the victims and leaving the killer off the hook here. CORN: Because they are playing to the Republican base. There can`t be no talk about any sort of gun safety measures. There can`t be even talk about research into this. The thing about Ben Carson is he has cruised along at the top of the Republican pack for a couple of months now. He is under the radar, but not like George Pataki is under the radar. He is under the radar at 20 percent. And this is a guy, if you start looking at what he said about all sorts of things, not just guns, but about evolution and the devil behind the Big Bang theory and believing that communists have infiltrated the U.S. government, he is the guy with extreme views. And they have got to start coming out.    MATTHEWS: OK, look at this one. This is how bad it gets. He talked about the number of bullet wounds in these people out there. CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: He said: "I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away." Francesca, in other words, there is nothing awful, no matter how awful it is -- by the way, nobody is talking about taking guns away from anybody. CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: So, what is he talking about and who is he talking to? CHAMBERS: Well, you know, and the thing that -- that is striking to me is that he keeps going out there and trying to defend his remarks and make it better. But, this morning, you know, he was also on CBS. MATTHEWS: There he is again. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You jumped me there.    Carson was pressed further on this on "CBS This Morning." And then you follow up. Let`s watch, Francesca. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TV HOST: Do you believe the victims in Oregon just stood there? BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: From the indications that I got, they did not rush the shooter. TV HOST: Do you know who Chris Mintz is? CARSON: No. TV HOST: So, Chris Mintz is an Army veteran, and he was shot seven times. He did actually rush the shooter and he`s being hailed as a hero. He actually blocked the door. He saved people`s lives. So, someone did act heroically. CARSON: That verifies what I`m saying. That`s exactly what should be done. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Francesca, what do you make of that? He`s just contradicted a contradiction of his contradiction. He puts the focus on the victims and says what they should have done, as if that`s some sort of calamity that had to deal with no other person when one has to do a murderer.    CHAMBERS: The big problem was he was factually incorrect saying someone should have tried to do something, tried to rush the shooter. Someone did, Chris Minsk who`s being labeled a hero did try to do that. And then what happened, Chris, is after he barricaded the door the shooter was able to get in and able to keep on killing. And so, I think that`s kind of the problem with Dr. Carson`s statements. MATTHEWS: How far can you go with the pro-gun statements? Because he goes as far, late quotes say basically under no conditions will we do anything on gun control, because when you guys, all they want to do is round up the guns and I`m not going to let you do it. CAROL LEE, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That plays well with the Republican base. This is not just gun control. He is talking about after a tragedy about bodies with bullet holes and they should have reacted differently. If you are a parent of a child who was lost or your brother or sister no one wants to hear this. MATTHEWS: Pretty grotesque. LEE: I think in that sense even if his intentions are what he said they are it`s not the time and it`s not playing well to anybody. It`s a totally different level. MATTHEWS: Not having your head screwed on. You shouldn`t be talking about victims, how many bullet holes they have. You shouldn`t be talking about it`s their fault they didn`t act properly. DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Talk about bad bed side manner. This story shows a lapse in judgment. MATTHEWS: In an interview with "USA Today", Dr. Carson said gun control is the first step towards tyranny. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARSON: When you look at tyranny and how it occurs the pattern is so consistent. Get rid of the guns for the people first so you can go in and dominate them. That is not what we need to be doing.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So, he actually is suggesting, Francesca, that there`s somebody in Washington or somewhere who`s trying to collect all the guns so they can create a tyranny. Who would that person be? Or even conceptually, where is this happening? CHAMBERS: Well, you know, if you ask President Obama, he might conceptually think that that was him. If you recall on Friday, he said there were crackpot theories that he wanted to take the guns so he could run for a third term, and he seems to think some Republicans think that. So -- CORN: That is a real belief on the right. I get e-mails every day, some signed by Rand Paul and other people you know for all these various PACs and gun rights groups that say there is a secret plan for Barack Obama to take the guns. There`s a secret plan for him to have a third term. There`s a secret plan to invade Texas and take that over. They really -- MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s my exercise. Just tell people give me a date when you are pretty sure that will happen. And after it`s over, it didn`t happen. Just set some sort of a realistic exercise that forces you to realize it`s nonsense. Oh, in five years, OK, in five years, mark it on your calendar, if they haven`t come to collect the guns, would you then believe you are paranoid? Or ten years? In other words, how can this theory never been disproven if people have this paranoia that persists? It never comes. CORN: They keep it at bay. They succeed in preventing this from happening. MATTHEWS: Because they are hiding out in Idaho with a bunch of guns. CORN: And electing Republicans to Congress. MATTHEWS: The black helicopters are not being shot down, though, the black helicopters. CORN: Well, not yet.    MATTHEWS: OK, Carson, how long? I think Carson has played a brilliant role sort of reverse of drafting. He says there is a buffer between Donald Trump and reality. And he`s not in reality either. So, nobody is close -- it`s like the old Agnew thing. If you kick Nixon out of the White House, you get Agnew. If you get rid of Trump, you get Dr. Carson. So maybe that`s what his role is here, Francesca. CHAMBERS: You know, I do have to agree with what you said earlier. He hasn`t been as heavily scrutinized because Donald Trump has been leading in the polls and that is who everyone is talking about. But if you look at Dr. Carson and when he speaks, you know, the other day, asked about what he would do if a hurricane was coming his way. I don`t know, you know? He doesn`t know what to do in that situation. But, you know, when you talk to him on the campaign trail it is hard to ask him questions. I think if he does move up in the polls, he`s going to have to talk to reporters and do more interviews and that could be a problem. MATTHEWS: Well, I`m going to get to him and scrutinize him in a couple of minutes, because I save my close tonight because I have been too soft on the guy. Thank you, Carol Lee, David Corn and Francesca Chambers. Up next -- from the NFL field to the presidential ticket, I`m going to speak to two authors about how Jack Kemp used his background in professional sports to shake up establishment Republican thinking. And he really did. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Here is more from that late show interview with Bill Clinton and Stephen Colbert, when Colbert asked whether Clinton encouraged Donald Trump to run for president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN/HOST: There is a rumor out there and you feel free to dispel that. Did you call Donald Trump and ask him to run for president of the United States?    BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: No. No. COLBERT: Because that would be pretty smart, man. CLINTON: Yes, I get credit for doing a lot of things I didn`t do like that. COLBERT: You never said like Iowa is beautiful this time of year or anything like that? Nothing like that? CLINTON: I had a very pleasant conversation with him and it wasn`t about running for office. So, I missed the chance. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JACK KEMP (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Lincoln founded the Republican Party in 1860 on one simple yet profound predicate: All men are created equal, if there is a Creator, and he created as equal, we do not look at the other party or those in power today as enemies. Your opponents, I learned on the football field -- I learned on the football field that you can be a good opponent and walk off that field. Shake hands and be friends. And I can tell you, my best friend in professional football are not just my teammates but the guys who used to try to knock my head off on Sunday.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was refreshing. That was conservative hero Jack Kemp joining Bob Dole as his running mate in 1996. Kemp was a star quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo Bills, a Republican congressman from Buffalo, New York, cabinet secretary, and presidential and vice presidential candidate. The new book about Kemp`s career called him the most important politician of the century who was not president. Kemp was the champion of supply side economics, the idea that lower taxes create economic opportunity. But at times his position on other issues agitated members in his party. He fought his entire life against racism, toward African-Americans, opposed anti-immigration legislation, and tried to open the Republican party to minorities. He declared a conservative war on poverty, and supported outlawing assault rifles. But what sets him apart from today`s GOP the most was his distaste as you just heard there for personal attacks. Journalists Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke, the authors of a great new book, "Jack Kemp: The Bleeding Heart Conservative Who Changed America." Morton, thank you -- (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: We have this electronic system since you`re all journalists, when they put it up, but I`ll put it up for you. Let me bring up a friend. You guys are two great journalists, let`s talk about Jack Kemp. Let`s talk about the ethnic part. Having played pro-football, he played with a lot of African-Americans, obviously, just like Bill Bradley played in the NBA like that, had a different way of looking at this. MORTON KONDRACKE, CO-AUTHOR, "JACK KEMP": Well, it was said of Jack Kemp that he had showered with more African-Americans than most Republicans have ever met. He said late in his life that he missed out on the civil rights movement and this was his chance to get to -- to do right by African-Americans. And he wanted the Republican Party to once again become the Party of Lincoln. And he really believed -- this was kind of fanciful, that he could get a majority of blacks back into the Republican Party by creating economic growth. MATTHEWS: He was an interesting guy because he was an ideologue who believes certain things more than he believes it just being in a party. It was not just a political -- a social club. He got along with people. Usually when you`re a big ideologue, it means you`re pretty angry.    FRED BARNES, CO-AUTHOR, "JACK KEMP": Well, he wasn`t angry. He was optimistic. He was positive. And, you know, going back to the question of Kemp and race. Remember the Republican Party he came from, he was from Los Angeles, he was born in 1935. He was born into a Republican family. This was back in the days if you were from the South, if you were a Republican, you were for integration, you were for civil rights -- and so on, and so on. He had very strong feelings about race before he got to football. And we saw him in action there when he joined black players in the AFL to stiff the owners who wanted him to segregate the players. They would go in -- MATTHEWS: Different hotels. BARNES: And the black players, of course would get the black ones. MATTHEWS: He agreed to stay with the black guys. He wouldn`t go to the ritzier hotels. Let me ask you the ideological stuff because Reagan was very different in `76. In `76, when he ran He wanted to be the tight spending guy, comes back in 1980 and beats us, I`m working for Carter, with this idea, I can be the second Santa Claus. I can give away stuffs like the Democrats, in this case, tax money. BARNES: Right, exactly, and Kemp converted him. So Kemp invented -- he took the idea of supply side economics and made it political. MATTHEWS: Lower the taxes but lower the rate, the marginal rate to get the growth rate up. KONDRACKE: Right, the top rate in 1981 was 70 percent, right? So, Reagan using Kemp law knocked it down to 50, and then tax reform knocked it down to 28. And then a quarter century of growth ensured, right? It also made possible the defense budget which helped knock the Soviet Union out of existence. MATTHEWS: So, you`re a Kemp guy.    KONDRACKE: I`m a Kemp guy. Yes, I am. BARNES: He`s a convert, I was already there. MATTHEWS: Look, I like Kemp. I know him personally as we all did. He was a good guy, socially, with people, with minorities. And I think we can use a little this today. I mean, the idea of having strong views, not just being a middle of the roader, but a guy with strong views on the right who -- he respected people and didn`t make fun of people. KONDRACKE: He is relevant to the present context. MATTHEWS: He is not really the same personality stripe as Donald Trump. Thank you, Fred Barnes. And thank you, Morton Kondracke. The book is called "Jack Kemp: The Bleeding Heart Conservative." I think it`s good for progressives, too. We`ll be right back with HARDBALL right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. Sometimes the crazy comes through. I`m talking crazy politics here. I`ll leave the clinical questions to the professionals. Why would someone running for president, yes, sadly, it`s Ben Carson, lay the blame on those young people in Oregon who are just killed by a mass murderer? Why would he say they should behave differently when he doesn`t even know how they did behave in those last split seconds before they were killed? Why good does it do to say that no matter how many bullets someone had shot into them, it`s not as bad as denying people their gun rights? Why say that when no one is talking about taking away their gun rights. Why make such a drastic, even contemptible thing about gunshot victims at any time for any reason?    Why is this guy, Dr. Carson, talking like this or even talking about this? What does Carson mean when he says the road to tyranny lies in collecting people`s guns when nobody is talking about collecting people`s guns? Why would Carson say that he would not bother going to Roseburg, Oregon, to pay tribute to the victims if he were the president? Why would he say at this particular time that he would have had better things to do as if anything would be something better than this? Look, we all know there`s a lot of pandering going on in politics these days, far too much of it. But these words of Dr. Ben Carson are the verbal equivalent of letting the hard political right walk all over you and then sticking your head up to say, now, will you make me president? It is pathetic. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now, it`s time for "ALL IN" with Alex Wagner, filling in for Chris Hayes. 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.>