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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/09/15

Guests: Andy Harris, Barney Frank, John Feehery, Kathleen Parker, AndyWeir, Ruth Marcus, Cornell Belcher, Marty Baron

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: On Wisconsin! The wooing of Paul Ryan. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. People keep bringing up that old Groucho Marx line about refusing to join any club that would accept him as a member. Well, the Republicans in Congress, a lot of them at least, won`t for anyone for speaker now who has enough stature to actually be elected. It`s that bad. If you`re even vaguely influential in the GOP House caucus right now, you`re not above suspicion of being a Washington establishment type who won`t answer the grass roots demand to stand the line. It`s quite a situation, and there`s no sign it`s going to end, even if they get someone to walk the plank and actually take the job of speaker. Michael Steele was RNC chair. He joins us now from the campaign trail in New Hampshire. And today a fractured (ph) and desperate Republican establishment begged -- and that`s the word for it -- Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to rescue the party. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: I actually think Paul Ryan eventually will get into this thing. QUESTION: Do you really? COLE: Yes, I really do. Well, you know, I`m like a reporter. I can`t reveal all my sources. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Paul`s under tremendous pressure because, in fact, he is the only candidate that, broadly, we can agree can get to 240 votes on the floor consistently. REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: Paul is looking at it, but it`s his decision. If he decides to do it, he`d be an amazing speaker. REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Paul Ryan, I know, is thinking very hard about this, and he could bring a lot of folks together. REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: If Paul Ryan got into the race, of course I`d support him. He`d be the kind of person that I could get excited about. REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: He has the stature that really nobody else has right now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, Ryan doesn`t want the job, not today anyway. His office put out this statement. "Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he`s getting from his colleagues but is still not running for speaker." Meanwhile, hard-liners in the Republican Party begin a preemptive strike on Ryan. The conservative news outlet Breitbart proclaimed that Paul Ryan is the absolute worst choice for speaker. They went after Ryan for compromising with Democrats on a two-year budget deal. They say he`d blink in a game of chicken over a government shutdown. He called, by the way, the 2013 shutdown a suicide mission. And he said he favors a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.    Let me go to Michael on this. It looks to me like the only guy they want is a guy that`s already been targeted. And even if they get this guy to take the job, he still has to deal with the fact that 40 or 50 members want a government shutdown. They don`t want to do a debt ceiling. They don`t want to do a spending bill. They want to go after Planned Parenthood... MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. MATTHEWS: ... at all costs. It does seem to be a strange, perhaps even an Armageddon for the Republican Party. STEELE: I think, in some respects, the only way this thing resolves itself is if the Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party members of the caucus get together and get their force behind a candidate and have that one-on-one debate within the caucus about the direction of the House leadership, the direction they want to lead the country. Paul Ryan is sensitive to that. That`s why the red flags have gone up for him. He is not looking to jump into this race. When your first statement is, I don`t want the job, that should tell everybody within earshot of what he feels and what he thinks about that opportunity. He knows this is a potential quagmire. And you know, I suspect no amount of pressure from the party leadership and others is going to really force his hand on this. I`m really skeptical that he takes this because he knows there`s still that element that has to be dealt with. There are still big battles come December, Chris, as you talked about before... MATTHEWS: Yes. STEELE: ... that the leadership, particularly the speaker, is going to have to deal with. MATTHEWS: Well, even within a couple of weeks now, early in November, they got to deal with this debt ceiling thing. STEELE: Yes. MATTHEWS: And my question is, what happens when 40 or 50 members of the Freedom Caucus come up to you and say, We don`t believe we should raise the debt ceiling unless we get major concessions, including maybe Planned Parenthood, elimination of all funding for that, something like that, and the leader says, Well, then I can`t get it through. That will never pass muster. That`ll never go to the president. It`ll never get signed by the president.    What do they... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... because it won`t get 60 votes in the Senate. It`s not going to get to the president`s desk. STEELE: Right. Well, you make a very key point, and that is that one of the important elements of the frustration of a lot of those House members that they hear from their constituents at home is that we always give on raising the debt. We always give on raising taxes. We always give to the other side, but we don`t get anything in return. So we want something in return first. Then we will give you your debt ceiling. Show us that you`re prepared to spend wisely going forward and that you`re willing to make the cuts that are necessary before we give you what you want. And that is a big sticking point. and I don`t know how Paul Ryan or anyone else navigates that without realizing we can`t make this move without these 40, 50 voters. MATTHEWS: Do you really wonder where your predecessor is right now? I think he`s in the tall grass right now. Where`s Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican Party, right now? STEELE: Well, this -- this... MATTHEWS: I haven`t heard his name... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He wouldn`t show up in any newspaper (ph) test right now. Where`s the name... (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: Where is the name Reince Priebus? STEELE: You will not hear the name Reince Priebus in this conversation because this is actually outside of his purview, luckily for him. This is an internal congressional matter. This is a leadership battle that`s -- that`s he`s outside of. So what he`s waiting for, quite honestly, is the fallout because there will be fallout. Even if a Paul Ryan becomes the next speaker, there will still be fallout, as you rightly noted at the beginning, with Breitbart and other conservative outlets and groups around the country that are suspicious of Ryan`s leadership. So that`s when Reince... MATTHEWS: Yes. STEELE: ... is going to have to have a plan to deal with that. MATTHEWS: I`m mystified by this. I`m not mystified. We all saw it coming. There are rejectionists in your party who don`t want to have anything to do with governing, if governing involves compromise. That`s as simple as I can make it. They do not want to be known as compromisers because they call that chickening out. And if that`s their attitude, they have a weird way of coming to Congress. Your thoughts. STEELE: Well, you know, I would disagree with that to this extent. That frustration, that willingness not to compromise or unwillingness to compromise comes from someplace. You know, when they gave Reagan the tax increases, what did they get in return? The last time we did amnesty, we were told we would deal with the border. What did they get in return? So you have to see it from that perspective, when you`re always ceding the point and making the compromise on the promise that you are going to get something in return, it doesn`t come, at some point, you draw that bright red line. And they`re not crossing it right now. MATTHEWS: You know, on the immigration issue, you have wandered into the truth. Exactly right. That bill was a pretty good bill back under Reagan. It never got enforced. STEELE: It was. MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Michael Steele, for that shrewd discernment, I must say. I`m not sure I agree with you about the fiscal stuff, but I agree with you about the immigration.    Today, Republican congressman Peter King, a Northeastern Republican, painted a grim picture of the mess his party is in right now, quote (ph), even if Paul Ryan decides to jump in the race. In fact, here`s King talking with reporters on the Hill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: Do you think even Paul Ryan could be successful as speaker, given the division in the conference? REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I think it`d be difficult for anyone, so long as any group thinks they have veto power and can hijack and blackmail the House. QUESTION: What do you think this looks like (INAUDIBLE) KING: It looks like chaos. And it is. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Congressman Andy Harris is a Republican from Maryland and a member of the Freedom Caucus. And we also have former congressman Barney Frank. He`s a Democrat -- or was a Democrat from Massachusetts. In fact, he`s still a Democrat from Massachusetts. Let me go to Congressman Harris. Thanks for coming on today. How would you explain to an outsider from Mars, for example -- we`re going to talk about Mars tonight -- what`s going on in the Republican caucus right now? REP. ANDY HARRIS (R), MARYLAND: Well, what we`re doing right now is we`re going to try to find a consensus candidate for speaker. The last speaker resigned only two weeks ago. I mean, I don`t think it`s unreasonable to think you`re going to take longer than two weeks to actually select an office as important as speaker of the House. And that`s what we`re going to do.    MATTHEWS: Would you have voted for Boehner to continue, if it came to a floor vote? If you had -- would you have gone on the floor and said Boehner when they called your name? HARRIS: You mean -- at this point -- look, the speaker has resigned. The fact of the matter is... MATTHEWS: No, but would you have done it? Would you have voted the name Boehner again if it had come up again? If he hadn`t resigned. HARRIS: Probably at the end of this term, I probably wouldn`t have because it`s time for new leadership. MATTHEWS: What about McCarthy? Would you have voted McCarthy on the House floor? HARRIS: Only if he had -- he had acceded to our request that we actually stop the top-down, power-driven approach of leadership to, you know, force bills to the floor and do a bottoms-up -- changer our rules, bottoms-up approach, everybody gets a say in the legislation, and let the chips fall where they may and send it off to the Senate. MATTHEWS: Well, give me an example of something where the voices of the grass roots weren`t heard by the leadership, were not honored, where you had something you really wanted to bring to the floor, but Boehner wouldn`t bring it and McCarthy wouldn`t promise to bring it. What is it that you want heard and voted on? HARRIS: Well, I`ll do it the other way around. I mean, we just passed a CR that was brought to the floor with no debate, no opportunity to offer amendments. And it was brought to the floor seven hours before the funding for government ran out. That`s not the way to do business. No one feels empowered, no one feels obligated to support this when they had no say in the legislation. And I don`t care whether it`s (ph) the Democrats say, Republicans say, liberals say, conservatives say. We ought to give every member a say as the House crafts legislation, send it to the Senate, but don`t do it with seven hours left in the fiscal year. MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Barney Frank. They`re arguing process over there. I think there`s more to it. Your thoughts. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Well, first, I think that`s inconsistent. For example, I`d like to see the Export-Import Bank bill brought to the floor, open for amendment. It is the conservatives who were saying, Don`t do that, the Freedom Caucus, Jeb Hensarling on the committee. So it is simply not true that they are consistently for doing that.    Let`s have a vote on the minimum wage bill up or down. with amendment. So that`s not really it. I think what you have here, though, is a very serious issue, and I -- Chris, I got to use -- I don`t generally like metaphors, but I think a metaphor is relevant here. This is what happens when an elephant rides a tiger. The Republican Party for some time now, many of the leaders, have been encouraging their own voters, their primary voters to dislike government, to say that government`s no good, that government does more harm than good. They have basically convinced a very significant percentage of those who vote in Republican primaries that governing is kind of a bad deal and that therefore, you don`t lose a lot if you just absolutely insist on what you want. Then there`s a second point. It`s one thing to say that these are your views substantively. It`s another in the American system of government under our Constitution to insist that because you won one election for one branch of the government, you have the right to impose your views. At any given time, thanks to James Madison, we`re governed by the last three elections, and that means you have a right to advocate but not a right to demand. So I think here`s what you have both in the House today and in the presidential process, Republicans who want to govern in a conservative fashion -- Bob Doles, Ronald Reagans. Michael Steele correctly pointed out these are people who think they got jobbed by Ronald Reagan. If you want to govern America from the conservative standpoint, making all the necessary compromises that you have to do to govern, you can`t -- you can`t win because -- and last point. The most significant thing that I heard and read was both Boehner and McCarthy saying they didn`t want to run for speaker because they didn`t want to force their members to take a tough vote. We just saw Andy Harris try to duck your question on that vote. Here`s the point. They have so persuaded Republican voters, especially those who vote in primaries, that governing is kind of a bad thing, that Republican members of Congress are saying to their leadership, Please don`t make me vote for you because people think you`re somebody who wants to govern and I`ll get in trouble. And I don`t know how they get out of that. MATTHEWS: How -- isn`t there a challenge, though, Mr. Harris? I now you`re a member of the Freedom Caucus, but members of the caucus, it would seem to me, will be very careful, as you were suggesting, not to put their names to a leadership candidate because of fear that that person will agree to a compromise. Isn`t that your concern, with the Democrats? HARRIS: No. I think -- I think our -- our concern is that, again -- and look, I`m going to disagree with Mr. Frank. The Freedom Caucus is just calling to open up the process in the House. We don`t -- we don`t want to impose a conservative bill. MATTHEWS: Well, what about the immigration bill? If you want to have votes, why not throw the immigration bill that passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion with a dozen Republicans on it -- why not bring that vote to the floor?    (CROSSTALK) HARRIS: Why should we bring... MATTHEWS: ... if you believe in democracy? HARRIS: Chris -- Chris, why should we bring a Senate bill to the floor? The way it works is we should craft a House bill that is the House idea and House message. MATTHEWS: Well, when are you going to do that? HARRIS: If the Senate disagrees let`s go ahead and go to conference. MATTHEWS: Well, when have you done that? HARRIS: I`m not in leadership. That`s our point. Leadership decides... MATTHEWS: Do you actually... HARRIS: ... everything that goes on. Individual members don`t. MATTHEWS: What about...    HARRIS: We`re not empowered in any way, shape or form. MATTHEWS: What about minimum wage? You`re saying you want democracy practice in your caucus. What about democracy in the House of Representatives generally? Do you think the American people... HARRIS: We had multiple -- Chris, we`ve had... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... see a House of Representatives voting on the key issues or not. HARRIS: Chris, we`ve had multiple votes on the minimum wage as amendments to bills. It`s not that those haven`t come to the floor. But the fact of the matter is, members don`t feel empowered, and that`s whether they`re Democrats or Republicans. They feel that there`s a top-down approach, where the leadership decides what`s coming to the floor, how it`s coming to the floor, and it`s always at the last minute... MATTHEWS: OK. HARRIS: ... so that you can`t make changes to it. MATTHEWS: OK. HARRIS: That`s not the way... MATTHEWS: Would you vote for -- let me...    HARRIS: ... the Constitution... (CROSSTALK) FRANK: Chris, can I say... MATTHEWS: Mr. Harris, I got to get one thing, then we`ll go to Barney Frank. Do you -- would you vote for Paul Ryan? HARRIS: I probably... MATTHEWS: Without the condition. HARRIS: ... would. I probably would. MATTHEWS: Without condition. HARRIS: We`ll have to have a discussion with Paul... MATTHEWS: Oh. HARRIS: ... about whether he`s willing to change some of the rules. I mean, we`re going to have...    MATTHEWS: OK. HARRIS: ... a discussion about some of the leaders. MATTHEWS: OK, there is conditions then, right? HARRIS: Look, I would -- Paul Ryan has to appear before our group, like every other member has appeared before our group... MATTHEWS: OK. HARRIS: ... and answer some of our concerns. MATTHEWS: So you have the veto power. HARRIS: But I believe that the group will end up supporting him. MATTHEWS: Barney -- last question for Barney Frank. Your thoughts here about how this -- do you think it`s going to reach a -- is this a stable situation or an unstable -- do you think it`s going to reach a resolution? FRANK: No, first, I want to say I understand Andy Harris trying to bring Democrats in because misery loves company. But it`s not a parallel situation. No, the Democrats -- you know, when Nancy Pelosi was speaker, we had a very participatory process and we passed good legislation. He didn`t like it substantively. I did -- Health care, financial reform, repeal of "Don`t ask, don`t tell." This is not equal Democratic and Republican unhappiness. And I`m still waiting to see the Export-Import bill come up, simple, straightforward bill. The right wing says, Keep it off the floor.    I think the problem is this is not a Washington problem. This is a problem, again, of the Republicans reaping what they have sown. They have so demonized government, the whole process of government -- which, again, under the American Constitution (INAUDIBLE) compromise. It`s a separation of powers. It`s staggered terms. MATTHEWS: OK. FRANK: And what they have is a Republican primary electorate that has so bought into this anti-government thing that they can`t get the support for anybody, presidential or speaker, who wants to govern. MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, former congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, U.S. Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland. Congressman Harris, thank you for coming on. HARRIS: My pleasure. MATTHEWS: Coming up, Ted Cruz is the ballistic missile looking to blow apart the Republican Party. He`s the number one attacker of the Republican establishment. He`s leading the mutiny in the House of Representatives, by the way, even though he`s a senator. Is this his ticket to winning the White House? He thinks so. Plus, President Obama travels to Roseburg, Oregon, today, and he could be close to using his executive authority to do what Congress won`t do, tighten gun laws in this country. And "The Washington Post" reporter held captive in Iran has passed a grim milestone. Jason Rezaian (ph) has now been held longer than the Americans held during Iranian hostage crisis of `79 to `81. We`ll get an update on the fight to get him out. And finally, the writer behind "The Martian," this great movie about the triumph of the human spirit -- he`s coming here. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    MATTHEWS: Next Tuesday is the first presidential debate for the Democrats, and HARDBALL will be there live from Las Vegas. Join us for a special edition of HARDBALL at 7:00 Eastern and then again after the debate at 11:00 Eastern. We`ll have all the reaction and the analysis to (ph) the expected showdown Tuesday night between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Chief among the conservative lawmakers who have sown discord within the Republican Party is a senator and 2016 presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. Ever since cheering the shutdown in 2013, Cruz has remained an improvised explosive device under the Republican leadership. And on the campaign trail even today, he took another shot saying, they are not fighting to do anything. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is obviously dramatic change happening in Washington. And I think the reason we are seeing that, the reason Speaker Boehner is stepping down is that the American people are frustrated. Unfortunately, right now, Republican leadership is not fighting to do anything. Instead, they are facilitating and funding the Barack Obama/Harry Reid failed big government agenda. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Well, during his short time in Washington, very short, Ted Cruz, perhaps more than any other candidate, has made it clear that he is at war with the establishment. Earlier this summer, he made headlines when he called Mitch McConnell a liar -- those were his words -- charging that McConnell had struck a deal to revive the Export-Import Bank after telling him otherwise. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: The majority leader looked at me and said there is no deal. There is no deal. There is no deal. Like Saint Peter, he repeated it three times. What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press, over and over and over again was a simple lie. We now know that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things that he knows are false. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: With the potential for another fiscal crisis this fall, Cruz`s gamble may be that a stricken government will give his presidential campaign a boost in the homestretch to Iowa. I am joined right now by "Washington Post" columnist Kathleen Parker and Republican strategist John Feehery. I think this is where the two big parallel -- the parallel realities in Republican politics are meeting now. Cruz, because he is running for president, he`s in the running, he`s one of the top five people that might well win, at the same time, he has basically become an IED blowing up things in the House of Representatives. He`s right -- a part of both these stories now. KATHLEEN PARKER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes.    He`s sort of created this image of himself as an outlier, even though he is within, and he is of course responsible for the shutdown or at least to the extent that he was encouraging. MATTHEWS: He goes over to the House and meets with the right-wing caucus and says let`s blow this place up. And it works. PARKER: Exactly. And that performance that you showed a little while ago, where he, like Saint Peter, that McConnell spoke three times, what a performance that is. You know he practices in front of the mirror. And that seemed to me such a contrived... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: How do you build a political career by denouncing the leader of your party as a liar? He said lies. I guess liar is a fair assumption. JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Ted Cruz is the most hated man in Washington and he`s using that to his political advantage outside of Washington, which is the most hated city in America. MATTHEWS: OK. How do you do that? How does that get you into the White House? FEEHERY: I`m not sure if it does. But it will get him in the final... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Short of winning, doesn`t he end up losing? There`s no cigar for a guy who runs a campaign against everybody in his party. FEEHERY: I think Cruz is gambling that the Republican base hates Washington so much, that he can use that hatred to his own -- to get the nomination, even if Mitch McConnell and the rest of Washington hates him.    MATTHEWS: But usually coming in second or third is a good deal for a candidate, because then you get V.P. He`s not going to get V.P. with anybody -- or secretary of state or something like Hillary Clinton got. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What do you get if you are Ted Cruz and you are basically a guided missile that blows up, tries to blow up the party, fails to blow up the party, and then is, I think, hated? PARKER: Well, he is going to keep getting these small donations and keep - - he is being a big... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And $12 million, I know. PARKER: He has got an infrastructure being constructed at this moment. But he`s -- people in the Republican base, as you say, hate Washington so much. They wanted to get rid of John Boehner. They want to get -- they have obviously gotten rid of McCarthy as the next speaker. And they want to get rid of McConnell. MATTHEWS: Don`t you need some charm in politics? PARKER: Well, you do. And I think, over time, under pressure, he will be revealed for what he is, which is a complete narcissist. MATTHEWS: I don`t see any charm. Anyway, Trump has a weird kind of circus act charm, I guess you would call it. I don`t know what exactly you would call it.    Anyway, so far, Ted Cruz has declined to take on Donald Trump. But in a WABC interview yesterday, Cruz said that Trump would lose the Republican nomination and predicted that he, Ted Cruz, will get most of Trump`s supporters. Let`s watch this narcissism, if you will. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) QUESTION: Do you believe eventually you could beat him based on your principles? CRUZ: I think that`s right. I think in time I don`t believe Donald is going to be the nominee, and I think in time the lion`s share of his supporters end up with us. There`s a big difference between my record and that of everyone else if you ask who has stood up to Washington, who has taken on, not just Democrats, but taken on leaders in their own party. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: It`s like driving a V.W. Bug behind a big semi down 95, you know? You get the draft effect. There`s nothing -- there`s no wind resistance. He has been doing that with Trump. He has been riding behind Trump, but now it looks like he has given up on Trump failing. He has got to start saying he is failing. I don`t think Trump is failing right now, by the way. FEEHERY: This is the death match that all other Republicans hope, that they knock each other out. The question is, will Trump actually prevail over Cruz?    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You are a Republican pro with a brain, really. I`m being contemptible actually here. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I`m saying you`re a very -- I think you have got a really good brain. Why am I getting hysterical? It`s Friday night. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. Who has a better shot at being the nominee, Trump or Cruz? FEEHERY: I think Cruz does, because of consolidating the base. I think that`s a huge strategic threat to the Republican Party in general. MATTHEWS: You think Cruz can be the nominee of your party? FEEHERY: He very well could be. MATTHEWS: Oh, my God. FEEHERY: Even though everybody in Washington hates him. If that is the case, we`re in serious trouble. Say hello to Hillary Clinton as president.    MATTHEWS: Thank you. Your thoughts, Kathleen? PARKER: Yes. Well, I think that`s -- I do think he can definitely be one of the last men standing. To see him as the nominee is really beyond my comprehension. But, as you say, he has this broadening base. He does appeal to the evangelical voters. And there is a good chance that he could win in some of the -- at least -- not New Hampshire, but possibly Iowa and possibly South Carolina. MATTHEWS: Kathleen, remember the -- whatever your politics, that was a beautiful poster he had for Obama when he ran. Remember hope? Is this going to be nope? Is this going to be where your party goes, just nope? (LAUGHTER) PARKER: Maybe dope. How about dope? FEEHERY: I will say this, that if the final two are Trump vs. Cruz, the establishment might very well... (CROSSTALK) FEEHERY: ... Trump, because they hate Cruz so much.    MATTHEWS: That`s news. Did everybody hear that? Trump could be the establishment figure against a guy as unpleasant as Cruz. Anyway, thank you, Kathleen. Have a nice weekend, Kathleen Parker, John Feehery. Up next, the writer behind the great new movie "The Martian." This could be the film that will get a lot of new generation of Americans into science and space exploration. It`s always -- it`s also one great upper of a movie. And we need one. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL With the recent discovery of water on Mars, the new Hollywood thriller "The Martian," which it screens this month, is proving to be a well-timed success. Part science fiction, part survival story, it stars Matt Damon as a NASA astronaut who gets stranded on the Red Planet. Here is a clip from the movie. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Begin abort procedure. MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Let`s wait it out. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Prep emergency departure. We`re scrubbed. That`s an order. Martinez, how long before takeoff? UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Twelve minutes. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Visibility is almost zero. Anyone gets lost, hone in on my suit`s telemetry. You ready? UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Ready. Commander, are you OK? UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I`m OK. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hey, we might be able to keep the MAV from tipping! UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Watch out!    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: But "The Martian" is not your typical science fiction film. As film critic Joe Morgenstern wrote -- writes in "The Wall Street Journal," "What is so stirring about the film is that before and after everything else, it is truly about being human." The film captures not only one man`s will to survive, but explores the spirit of innovation that has propelled mankind to new frontiers. It`s based on the book of the same name by Andy Weir, who joins me right now. Andy, thank you. And I have got to tell you, huge congratulations. I hope you got a good price for this, because this is one great story. And I left that theater so inspired about not just this MacGyver kind of ingenuity of this guy, but the way everybody pulled together, and everybody made the -- in many cases, because of the crew, sacrificial commitments to save this one guy. I just thought it was -- and the Chinese part. I mean, they`re going to be jumping up and down over in Beijing when they see this baby. Your thoughts about the inspiration of people pulling together. I just thought it was great. ANDY WEIR, AUTHOR, "THE MARTIAN": Well, I just -- I honestly think that is what people are like. We have this basic instinct to help each other out. And you see it on the news all the time when people aren`t like that, but it is so common for us to go out of our way to help each other out that it`s not even newsworthy.    MATTHEWS: Are we going ever going to live through something like this? Maybe you will. I`m not sure I will. Will we ever get to Mars and actually have real drama like this about getting a guy or a person home who gets stranded? WEIR: Well, I hope not. MATTHEWS: And how did you come up with something that has never happened before? You figured this -- because it seems so reasonable. Every aspect of it seems, yes, yes, I can see this happening. Yes, I can see that happening. It just -- how did you get the authenticity right, the science right? WEIR: Well, I have been a space dork my whole life, so I grew up watching documentaries about space flight and the space program. And, also, I just did a ton of research while I was writing it. I really wanted the science to be accurate. And I gave it my best shot. MATTHEWS: Well, you know, the best science fiction has always been human. "Star Trek," about that relationship Captain Kirk and Spock, is very human and likable. And "Twilight Zone" has always been about human nature, you know? And your movie is about that. Two things, first of all, the ingenuity, do you think a guy in Matt Damon`s situation would have been able to come up with an agriculture on the moon (sic)? Was that feasible, when he put together the tarp and created indoor sort of truck farming there, like greenhouse farming? Is that doable? WEIR: It actually is. It`s scientifically feasible. And you would have to do -- you would have to do a little more work on the soil than they showed in the film. But you could absolutely do it. He has everything he needs. And it`s just a matter of, does he have the skills? And he is an astronaut and a botanist. So, he is a pretty clever guy and he has the training. MATTHEWS: I love that, because the definition now of macho is brains. I love it.    Anyway, thank you. Anyway, author of "The Martian," congratulations. Again, I hope you got a good fee for that script -- up next -- I mean, for the property. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Up next: President Obama is considering acting on an issue Congress won`t touch. Guess what? Gun safety. And that`s ahead. You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. One student is dead. Another person is wounded in a shooting near Texas Southern University. Two people are being questioned. Meanwhile, a freshman at Northern Arizona University opened fire earlier, shooting four other students during a dispute. One person was killed. Three others were injured. The floodwaters in South Carolina are still up to rooftops in some areas, as water moves towards low-lying coastal areas. Authorities have rescued more than 100 people over the last two days. And the White House is lit up in pink tonight for Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. Each time this happens, I am going to bring this up. Each time this happens, I`m going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we are going to have to change our laws. And this is not something I can do by myself. I have got to have the Congress and I have got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama, of course, in the White House Briefing Room, the James Brady Briefing Room, in fact, the night of the Roseburg, Oregon, shooting at Umpqua Community College. Well, today, the president went to Roseburg itself to privately console family members of the nine people who were murdered and the nine others injured by a lone gunman. He made a few remarks after seeing the families. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: There are going to be, I think, moments as we go forward where we are going to have to come together and figure out, how do we stop things like this from happening? And I have got some very strong feelings about this, because, when you to talk to these families, you are reminded that this could be happening to your child. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Well, there were some protesters of President Obama`s visit to Roseburg over reports that he is considering taking specific executive action to widen background checks. Well, joining me right now is the HARDBALL round table: MSNBC political analyst and "Mother Jones" Washington bureau chief, David Corn, "Washington Post" columnist Ruth Marcus, and Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher. Cornell, you start this. I hate to say it but most pro-gun safety advocate these days are getting to be novices (ph), it`s very hard to come out for anything dramatic. Did you see Charles Krauthammer today? I mean, there are people saying, if you`re going to do it, do it. But nobody wants -- but I don`t think, no one really wants to confiscate. What they want to do is make it hard for people that shouldn`t have guns to get them. Whether that would stop specific horror crimes or not, we don`t know. CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, look, we`ve got common sense here and you look at the 85 percent of Americans are for background checks. Even 57 percent, according to Pew, are for assault weapons ban. So, you have majority of Americans on for common sense approaches. But what you see in Congress is the same thing that is bogging down all of Congress as Congress is broken and you have the extremist on the right stopping any legislation or any movement on this. The vast majority of Americans are for common sense legislation, Congress is broken. MATTHEWS: You know, for the people for gun safety are not really ideologues. They`re -- you know, Moms for Common Sense and other sort of regular people who are just worried about guns. But the people who are for guns are ideologues. This is a deep philosophical belief they have that their guns protect them from federal authority. RUTH MARCUS, THE WASHINGTON POST: The people who are for guns are passionate and they vote their passions. And that combined with the pre- existing dysfunction and the gerrymandering and the safe districts just creates an intolerable situation. MATTHEWS: What is a pre-existing condition here, beyond me here? MARCUS: Well, pre-existing gerrymandering and the grid lock of Congress. And so, the president, as you said, he can -- he may be able to take some executive actions on the margin, but even steps that would be reasonably marginal like tougher background checks require, like he said on the clip that we showed, he needs to work with Congress. I think the solution is in the states. MATTHEWS: Well, on the other side of the gun control issue are many GOP presidential candidates including Dr. Ben Carson. Here he is on MSNBC earlier today opposing the proposed action. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I certainly hope that Congress, the legislative branch, if he does such a thing, will finally stand up and recognize that there is a reason we have separation of powers and checks and balances. And if you sit back and you pretend that you are the peanut gallery, then the other branches are going to be doing things like that. That`s not appropriate action. This is the United States of America. We have a system for making laws and rules and it does not include a monarch. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Carson says limitations to American Second Amendment rights might allow someone like Hitler to take over our country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARSON: I think that the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people have been armed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Is Hitler the only historic figure that people can talk about when they are at a loss for words? I mean, everything has something to do with the war and the Holocaust. It doesn`t. Not everything relates to that. DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Or Neville Chamberlain. The thing is he is also wrong. Hitler didn`t come to power by fooling the German people. He got elected. And he used -- MATTHEWS: He wrote a book what he was going to do. CORN: You know, he told everybody else, and there was open gun laws in early Germany except for the Jews. Germans were able to get guns. He has this belief that the Germans would have fought the Nazis, the Germans were the Nazis, unfortunately, if they had more guns. I mean, this -- even Quinton Tarantino doesn`t go this far. And, you know, he just comes up with --    MATTHEWS: He was the most popular figure in government in 1940. I came across this figure the other, Jay Winik`s book, "1944". Hitler, he was enormously popular in Germany. CORN: Of course, he was. MATTHEWS: We may hate the idea but he had beaten France. He had beaten the lowland countries, beaten Poland, taken back Austria. The y liked it. CORN: The German people were not looking for guns to overthrow Hitler. That was not the issue at the time. MARCUS: The basic rule for politicians should be if you are not talking about the Holocaust or a Holocaust, leave aside the Hitler analogies. It`s just offensive. MATTHEWS: Ruth Marcus, how do I know this isn`t going to work? You`re right. I think you should never do it and they just -- (CROSSTALK) MARCUS: They`re just drawn to it. MATTHEWS: Insufficient history to draw from here. BELCHER: But Carson keeps doing it. This is not the first time doing it. Book smarts and not a lick of common sense. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: If I slowed down and talked as slow as Ben Carson, could I be president of the United States? MARCUS: Yes, you could (INAUDIBLE) gardener. (CROSSTALK) BELCHER: You could say crazier stuff. MATTHEWS: He is a nice man and it is nice to hear the words except when you put them all together, I don`t like what I hear. Anyway, the round table is staying with us. And up next, much more ahead on the Republican revolt in Congress. Plus, a grim milestone for an American reporter for "The Washington Post" being held still in Iran. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: "Washington Post" reporter Jason Rezaian has been held captive in Iran for 445 days now and that`s one day longer than the Americans held hostage during the Iranian hostage crisis of `79 and `81. Rezaian`s employer, "The Washington Post" has called a milestone significant in its injustice. "The Washington Post" executive editor Martin Baron joins me now.    Mr. Editor, help us understand. Is there anything you know that we don`t know? MARTY BARON, THE WASHINGTON POST: All we know is that Iranians seem to be interested in a prisoner exchange. Apparently, they`ve been interested in as many as -- MATTHEWS: Three for 12. BARON: Well, something like that, exactly. Maybe three for 19. MATTHEWS: And they want real terrorists, right? Or what do they want? People -- BARON: Well, we don`t know exactly the names of the people who are involved, but we understand these are people who helped Iranians circumvent sanctions, and perhaps some other people as well. People held in the U.S. and maybe outside of the U.S. on behalf of U.S. government. MATTHEWS: Well, just now, we can`t administer an oath but everything you know as an employer is he, Jason was and is a journalist. That`s pure and simple. There is no doing favors for anybody, passing secrets, nothing. BARON: We have seen no evidence of that. We believe that is absolutely not the case. As a matter of fact now that it has been 445 days, the Iranians themselves have produced no evidence publically that he has done anything wrong. MATTHEWS: What constitutes their trial system over there? What basis do they have for, I know, habeas corpus, whatever, for holding the guy? Why are they holding him? BARON: Well, they are claiming that he engaged in espionage and other offenses. But they produced again, no evidence that he`s done anything wrong whatsoever. And he has been held in prison for all this time, including several months in isolation right at the beginning. So, it`s an outrage. I mean, here`s somebody who`s innocent who should be released?    MATTHEWS: Any help -- are you getting any help from the State Department? BARON: Well, we are. I mean, they say they have been having discussions with the Iranians along side with the nuclear talks and since then as well, and that they continue to have those kinds of conversations. But we have seen no results of those conversations so far. MATTHEWS: What kind of shape is he in? BARON: Well, he`s obviously suffered physical mistreatment for having been in this terrible prison, the worst prison in Iran for such a long period of time and psychologically, obviously, he`s suffering. And suffering, I think he`s depressed. MATTHEWS: Does Red Cross get through to him in situations like this or there`s no contact from a third party at all? BARON: Not that we are aware of. No. MATTHEWS: So, you have to rely on the generosity of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. BARON: Yes, and that`s not very generous by the way. MATTHEWS: Well, I`m glad you are on the show. I think it is fantastic we are looking out for a journalist just being used as a pawn. Marty Baron, thank you for joining us. A great editor, by the way. BARON: Thank you for having me.    MATTHEWS: HARDBALL back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: Paul is looking at it, but it`s his decision. If he decides to do it, he would be an amazing speaker. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, David, Ruth, and Cornell. That was Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy commenting on the possibility of Paul Ryan as speaker of the House. Well, pressure is mounting on Paul Ryan to run for the post, but Congressman Ryan`s spokesperson released a statement late today saying, "Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he`s getting from his colleagues, but he`s still not running for speaker." But the Republican Party has bigger problems than who is at the helm. With debt ceiling and budget votes coming up in the next few weeks, can the party decide if it wants to compromise and actually govern? And that to me is the big question, you know, this idea of bringing them in, it`s like bringing Chinese Gordon into Khartoum, he`s going to get his head chopped off. I mean, who says this hot shot Ryan can deal with a party that`s got 50 members who say, no deal -- no deal, period? CORN: That`s what this is really about. It`s not -- you know, they keep saying the Tea Partiers are about process, we want to be represented.    MATTHEWS: You heard that tonight. CORN: They represent one fifth of the GOP caucus. And up to now, John Boehner didn`t want to get too far on the wrong side, because they would mutiny and try to bounce them out of the speakership. Now, Boehner doesn`t care, he would probably like to be bounced. But the question is whether the next guy who comes along can say, OK, on the government shutdown and on the debt ceiling crisis, can I say, you know, screw these guys and bring in enough Democratic votes and have a bipartisan vote to get past these issues and have fights on individual items. And the Tea Partiers up until now say, we`re not going to let you do that. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The member from Maryland said, I want to have a member with him. In other words, you have to make a deal, and you have to agree to this. MARCUS: So, their view, the Andy Harris view is that they need guarantees from him. But I think that`s -- that may be what they think, but that has it totally backwards. If I were Paul Ryan, there`s no way on earth I would be accepting this speakership if I didn`t have guarantees from them along the lines of what David is saying. And so, therefore, you`re in complete chaos. You cannot have a speaker under those circumstances. MATTHEWS: My argument yesterday was a little more philosophical. If you can`t agree on a leader, you`re not a party. If you can`t agree to just go down, in the end, I don`t -- it`s not Democratic centralism, like the old left thing, but if you can`t finally at all of the end of the meetings and votes and everything, you can agree on, OK, we`ll back the winner. And they won`t. They should have 247 votes, not just 218 if they`re a real political party. BELCHER: The problem is this and I`ll blame the guy I work for, Barack Obama. When Barack Obama was elected, he said, it was a calamity in certain segments of this country and they went complete revolt. And what you see is a civil war playing out in the Republican Party.    MATTHEWS: You think this wouldn`t be happening with another liberal Democrat? BELCHER: It has not happened before. It has not happened before. I`m going to go -- MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s -- BELCHER: It is people who are uncomfortable with the changes that are happening in America and Barack Obama encapsulates the changes that are happening in America. On Election Day, we had a percentage of the country who were not comfortable with adversity and we had a majority that was comfortable with diversity. MATTHEWS: No, I think that`s a big part. I also think they`re really obsessed with the spending issue and illegal immigration. BELCHER: Well, then, why didn`t they revolt when George Bush took us from a surplus to a deficit? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Because it`s spending, it`s not the deficit. They don`t care about the deficit, they care about the spending. (CROSSTALK) MARCUS: George Bush was in their party and some of this was their pent-up anger in having to swallow it when George Bush did it. But wherever, I mean, there is animus towards Obama, but if President Obama left office tomorrow, it would be towards Joe Biden. MATTHEWS: By the way, Bush never -- W. never vetoed a spending bill.    CORN: But it`s the base. It`s the radicalization of the base, which I think having Obama as president, certainly was a catalyst, and the Republican establishment, which is now crying like John Boehner, rode that tiger into the majority, and now they can`t deal with it. MATTHEWS: Nerf (ph) time -- will we have a speaker this month? It`s October, or no? CORN: Yes. BELCHER: No. MARCUS: Yes, because I think in the end, they will look over that cliff and not like the -- all the air they see. MATTHEWS: Will we have a government shutdown in November and December? CORN: I say we`ll have a speaker. I think it`s going to be John Boehner. (CROSSTALK) MARCUS: That was a trick answer. (CROSSTALK) CORN: Will we have a government shutdown? Probably for a couple days. That would be my guess right now.    MATTHEWS: How do you settle the Planned Parenthood issue in two days? That`s what I don`t get. We`re going to shut the government down over Planned Parenthood and in two days we`re going to find some resolution. BELCHER: But they want the government shut down because they want the government to fail. MATTHEWS: OK, it`s a disaster. Anyway, thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Ruth Marcus. Boy, a lot after firepower. Cornell Belcher, thank you, sir. The best dressed guy here. MARCUS: I really resent that. MATTHEWS: This guy. I`m not going to not give him credit for it. Although I look pretty good, too. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Don`t forget this Tuesday is the night of the first Democratic presidential debate. And we`ll be covering it out there live from Las Vegas. "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. 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