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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/16/15

Guests: Sabrina Siddiqui, Margie Omero, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Liz Mair,David Catanese, Sam Stein, John Norris

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Two contenders, maybe three. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Hillary Clinton had a great week. We knew that. But challenger Bernie Sanders did, as well. While the former secretary of state won the debate, both candidates gained a point or two in the matchup. And yes, the vice president worked hard to keep the window open to his own entry into the battle. Could this be the real Democratic contest for 2016? Well, it still looks powerfully possible for two reasons -- Bernie Sanders is clearly onto something with his rage against the power of the billionaires to corrupt our system, that and the one-man decision that still awaits us from Air Force Two. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones," Sabrina Siddiqui is political reporter for "The Guardian," and Margie Omero is a Democratic pollster. As I said, there are new polls out today taken since the Democratic candidates debated on Tuesday. An NBC News/SurveyMonkey on-line poll showed that a majority of Democrats thought Hillary Clinton did the best job in the debate, 33 percent said Bernie Sanders did. In fact, they said he won. However, when asked who they would vote for, both Clinton and Sanders got a small bump. Back in September, 42 percent said they`d vote for Clinton, 29 percent said they backed Sanders, 15 percent supported Vice President Joe Biden. Now both Clinton and Sanders have gained a few points, while Biden has dropped by 5. Meanwhile, there was more good news for Clinton in a new "Boston Globe"/Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire Democrats. Clinton holds a slim 2-point lead there over Sanders, that`s 2 points for her, in a poll that showed the Clinton lead in that state -- it`s the first one to show her above Sanders since summer.    Let me go to our distant friend out there, who`s looking every inch a Hollywood agent, David Corn, on this Friday night. I guess you`re out there hustling. But let me ask you this. How do you put it all together? We`ve had a debate. I always believed debates have some impact, but you don`t know what the impact is until you look at the lineup later -- not who won the debate, how`s it stand in terms of who you`re supporting afterwards, because that`s the bottom line. In this case, the big loser in the debate was Joe Biden. He wasn`t there. He must have been thinking, If I`d been there, I might have done better than what I did, which was terrible. Your thoughts. DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, out of sight is out of mind, right? You know, people paying attention, they have a choice of the five candidates who were there, and Biden hasn`t -- you know, hasn`t anted up yet. So until he does, he`s not going to get, unfortunately, a good sense of what the audience for Joe Biden 3.0 might be. And he just -- you know, you got kind of pay to play to get in the game. It doesn`t surprise me, the way these poll numbers turn out. A little more than half Democrats, mainline Democrats, thought that Hillary Clinton did well, performed well, and a third of the Democrats, you know, progressive wing, whatever you want to call it, populist wing, looked at Bernie Sanders and he really bolstered the case he`s been making and they`re still with him and they -- after watching him for two hours, they`re just as much with him. In fact, each camp kind of likes their candidate a little bit more. I mean, it`s within the margin of error. But nobody fell down, and Biden got dropped and the other two, you know, kind of stayed where they were and gained a little bit. So that was really, I think, good news for the Democrats overall, and it shows, I think, a pretty high degree of satisfaction with the two leading candidates, which you don`t have on the Republican side, if you look at the establishment or people we think would have a chance in the general election. MATTHEWS: No, I think it was a bad night for Trump. Let me go to Sabrina on this thing because I -- there`s one point in the debate which still bothers me. That`s when Bernie Sanders in a non-ideological assessment said, Get off of this e-mail thing. And I thought, OK, that`s grand and that`s nice and -- but you`re out there busting your hump for this guy and you`re trying to get him to win the election, you take any break you can get. You don`t just run on ideology, you take all the breaks you can get. And here he was -- you know, Seth Myers on that (INAUDIBLE) said Hillary was laughing not because it was a funny thing he had done. It wasn`t funny. He was giving her an issue that some people could have used against her. SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Well... MATTHEWS: Is this story -- is he running for president or is he just a protest candidate? Because when he did that, I thought, Wait a minute. He`s not trying to beat her on points. He just wants to get his message out.    SIDDIQUI: I think... MATTHEWS: Why isn`t he running against her? I don`t get it. SIDDIQUI: I think (INAUDIBLE) to which he wanted to get his message out. He certainly had impact on the primary by pushing Hillary Clinton to the left on a number of issues. But I also think that for Bernie Sanders, a lot of his reputation rides on authenticity. So that was a moment where we he felt like that`s what draws people to him. He`s a straight shooter. He`s not playing the politics. I also think that he`s looking at Democrats and realizing that the majority of Democrats don`t actually see the e-mail issue as controversial. MATTHEWS: Of course not. Well, it`s a partisan issue. Why would they? SIDDIQUI: Right, but so he doesn`t want to stand up there and get involved in... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he use that moment to talk about something important? SIDDIQUI: Well, that`s the point for him is, Let`s refocus the conversation on the issues... MATTHEWS: Well, why didn`t he? SIDDIQUI: ... that I care about. MATTHEWS: He didn`t -- the whole -- he created a "Bicentennial Moment" of him jumping over the net and thanking Hillary. I don`t get it. You know what it told me? He`s making a point. He`s selling a good message. A lot of Democrats like to hear it. They cheer it like mad. It may change the direction of the election, but it ain`t helping him being elected.    MAGGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, I think... MATTHEWS: Why would you -- Hillary wouldn`t have done it. Hillary wouldn`t have conceded a point to the opponent that she didn`t have to concede! She`s a fighter! OMERO: I think both candidates... MATTHEWS: Would she? Would Hillary have done that? OMERO: I... MATTHEWS: If this guy`s on the horns of a dilemma, like the e-mail thing - - Oh, let me get you out of that one. That doesn`t mean anything to me. Let`s get over it. Would she have ever done that? I`ve never seen her do that to an opponent. OMERO: I don`t know. But I think in this... MATTHEWS: You don`t know? OMERO: I think in this particular debate, it was clear that neither of them were going to go into this debate to try to really attack the other one personally. They both indicated that, and in fact, that`s what they did. MATTHEWS: But he didn`t just not attack her. I don`t want to browbeat you because you disagree with me. Are you for Hillary? OMERO: I just -- I just...    MATTHEWS: Are you for Hillary? OMERO: ... call it like I see it. MATTHEWS: I`m just trying find -- are you for Hillary? OMERO: No, I call it like I see it. I`m an undecided... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK, good. OK, good. That`s what I like. OMERO: ... undecided Democratic primary voter. MATTHEWS: Do you think that that sent a signal to voters out there that, I`m not really running to win, I`m running to make a point? OMERO: I don`t think that that`s how people saw it. I mean, that`s certainly not how the folks in all the focus groups I saw the various networks held -- that`s not how they saw it. It`s certainly, for a Democratic primary audience, whether they`re Clinton voters or Sanders voters, they saw it as refreshing. MATTHEWS: Yes. OMERO: Let`s talk about the issues.    CORN: It also -- it also was an -- it also was an attack on the Republicans. It was an attack on the Republicans. It was Bernie Sanders saying, Hey, I`m not going to let -- you know, take advantage of a Republican attack on a Democrat. And for the 40 years that he`s been in politics, he has not run a single negative campaign. He`s a guy who really wants to win on the message. So I see your point in conventional terms, Chris, but he`s not running that type of campaign. If you agree with him on populism and going after the billionaire class and free college tuition and all that stuff, you know, that`s great. That`s what he wants. And you know, he couldn`t give a you- know-what about the rest of the stuff. MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, help -- thank you for helping me keep up with this new politics that`s going on out there. I -- I really appreciate the... (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I`m kidding. (CROSSTALK) CORN: It`s not hardball, Chris! It`s not hardball! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I know. Sabrina`s right here. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think David brings up an important point, though. For Democrats, a lot of this remains drawing a contrast with Republicans because there`s less substantive disagreements among Democrats.    MATTHEWS: That`s true. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it`s more stylistic. MATTHEWS: Less so since Hillary moved over to Bernie. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, exactly, but she wants to portray herself... MATTHEWS: Let`s try something... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let`s see if this good will works because I don`t think she wants Joe Biden in this race because I think Biden`s more of a threat to her moderate wing of people that support her. Former senator Ted Kaufman, who is close to Vice President Biden, sent an e-mail yesterday to various Biden supporters around the country. He said he couldn`t add much about the timing of an announcement, but he did characterize what a theoretical Biden run would look like. Quote, "If he runs, he will run because he is -- of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the political structure to restore the ability of middle class to get ahead. And what kind of campaign? An optimistic campaign, and a campaign from the heart, a campaign consistent with his values -- his values and the values of the American people. And I think it`s fair to say, knowing him as Joe Biden, as we all do, that it won`t be a scripted affair. After it`s Joe." At a press conference today, President Obama was asked about Vice President Biden and the current crop of Democratic contenders. Here goes the president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not going to comment on what Joe`s doing or not doing. I think you can direct those questions to my very able vice president. The one observation I`ll make about the Democratic debate was that those are all some very fine people. They share a belief in an economy that is working for everybody, and not just the few. I was very impressed with all of them, and I know them personally. They`re good people. Beyond that, I think it`s up to the American people to decide. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: David, you were chuckling. I think it was because he was clearly taking a shot at Hillary there. I mean, this about "scripted." Joe Biden, we know he`s not scripted. That`s been a problem for years. But the fact is, he`s... CORN: Yes, that`s why I was laughing. MATTHEWS: ... muscling in as Mr. Guy, regular guy in the street corner, the guy who`s got -- he`s suggesting there there`s something of those values missing in this current battle between Bernie and Hillary. What`s missing that he`s pointing to? CORN: Right. And I think -- I think Biden can use sometimes a little more scripting. I mean, he does speak from the heart. He has a great amount of enthusiasm and joy about many of the same issues that Hillary Clinton is raising in terms of making the economy work for the middle class, and that`s what Bernie`s talking about, too, from a more progressive, sharper stance. You know, it seems to me that Ted Kaufman`s e-mail was rather an obvious e- mail. Doesn`t give us really any clues. Every day that we take a step forward without a Biden presidency (sic), I think a Biden presidential -- campaign, that is -- a Biden campaign is less likely. At some point, he has to make a decision. You know, they have to start raising money. There are ballot deadlines. And from what I hear from talking to people, you know, there`s no decision until Biden makes the decision, although everyone around him wants to have the jet fueled up and ready to go. MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at what`s missing in this campaign. (INAUDIBLE) latest NBC poll, first of all, it`s that Clinton does very well among African-Americans, I mean, really well, 62 to 8 against Sanders. That`s powerful stuff. And just while we`re at both of these things, young voters, Clinton is 26, Sanders doubles that at 54.    What do you think, Margie? OMERO: Well, and this is a -- this is a... MATTHEWS: Is this an opening for Biden, who`s very popular among African- American voters? OMERO: Well, polls so far show that he pulls more from Clinton than he does from Sanders. That may change as... MATTHEWS: Biden does. OMERO: Biden does. That may change as he enters the race. It may change if Sanders becomes better known nationally in some of the national polls. So we may expect that to change, but that`s where it is currently. And Biden is actually stronger in some general election matchups than either Clinton or Sanders. Biden and Carson are the stronger... MATTHEWS: Yes, we`ve shown those polls. At least, they were before the debate. Sabrina, what`s Biden bring into this race that he can say was a rationale that he can sell to Dan Balzes of the world, the political gatekeepers, and say, You know what? There was an opening. I don`t see it exactly, what the -- moderate Democrats, I would argue, since Hillary`s being pulled over to the left, but Biden may be pulled over there, too, given the Sanders challenge. SIDDIQUI: I don`t see how he can`t be also pulled over to the left. I think that`s the big question surrounding a potential Biden candidacy is what void is he really filling? Is it just authenticity? Because authenticity isn`t enough. That`s not enough, I think, to move the Democratic base significantly away from Hillary Clinton. Of course, he will take from some of her supporters if he were to jump in, whether that would be a substantial enough shift to really give him a chance... MATTHEWS: Did you notice they all stuck pretty close, David, last night or this week to the president? And there would have been an opening to be the Obama candidate. And clearly, Hillary was pro-Obama this week. CORN: Well, yes, Obama still polls really high with Democratic voters. No big surprise. And you know, in a general election, I think Hillary is planning to be a little more hawkish and have some separation...    MATTHEWS: Oh, wonderful. CORN: ... and maybe say that she would do more on guns or issues that now appeal to progressive voters. But it`s -- you know, it`s always hard for, you know, someone who`s running after a two-term president on how to relate to that person. Gore had a tremendously difficult time figuring out how to deal with Clinton and his legacy, partly because of the Lewinsky scandal. But it is always difficult, but it`s no surprise that, you know, Democrats are generally satisfied with Obama, and if you look at the big macro numbers. And so these candidates, they`re not going to score points in the primaries by going after Obama in any really hard and fast way. MATTHEWS: Well, good luck out there, David Corn. You look like you`re in your realm out there. Anyway, thank you so much for coming on tonight, and have a nice weekend. CORN: Thank you, Chris. MATTHEWS: As always, I`m your big fan. Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you. And thank you, Margie Omero. You haven`t been on in a while. OMERO: I know. OMERO: (INAUDIBLE) come back. MATTHEWS: Coming up, Hillary Clinton is getting ready to testify before the Benghazi committee next Thursday. And today, her top aide and closest confidante, Huma Abedin, was there behind closed doors. My question -- what are the Republicans getting at? What are they after? Are they finally willing to say what they`re accusing Hillary Clinton of? The top Democrat on the committee joins us next. Plus, Donald Trump says something you just don`t hear from Republicans. He said 9/11 happened on George W. Bush`s watch, and that has reignited Trump`s fight with Jeb Bush. And RNC chair Reince Priebus says his part is cooked if it doesn`t win the White House in 2016. Does he think the party can win by continuing to slander immigration, Muslims, raising the specter of Nazi Germany?    Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a lost hero. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling for the battleground state of Pennsylvania, and for that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard." According to a new PPP poll, Hillary Clinton leads Jeb Bush by 5 points, in Pennsylvania. It`s Clinton 45, Bush 40. But that`s the only matchup Clinton is winning. Against Carly Fiorina, Clinton is down 1, 43-42. Against Donald Trump, she`s down 2, 45-43. Clinton`s trailing Marco Rubio by 3 in Pennsylvania. It`s Rubio 45, Clinton 42. And Dr. Ben Carson holds a 4-point lead, Carson 47, Clinton 43. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There`s been a flood of activity in Congress ahead of next Thursday`s showdown when Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. U.S. Congressman Richard Hanna of New York state joins House majority leader Kevin McCarthy and an ex-staffer on the Benghazi committee itself as the third Republican on Capitol Hill to openly acknowledge that the strategy of the Benghazi investigation is to simply take down Hillary Clinton`s presidential candidacy. Here`s what Congressman Hanna said just the other day.    (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) REP. RICHARD HANNA (R), NEW YORK: Sometimes, the biggest sin you can commit in D.C. is to tell the truth. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. HANNA: You know, and I -- this may not be politically correct, but I -- I think that there is a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people, an individual, Hillary Clinton. You`d like to expect more from a committee that spent millions of dollars and tons of time. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, four Americans died in Benghazi. But here`s something worth noting. For the first time now, a Republican has blamed a fellow Republican for the deaths of 3,000 Americans who were killed on 9/11. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time. If you look at Sandy Hook... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold on! You can`t blame George Bush for that! TRUMP: Well, he was president, OK? Don`t blame him or don`t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: I don`t know about that reporter that said you can`t blame George W. Bush for something that happened on his watch? We`ll see. Anyway, today the Benghazi committee plowed ahead with its work conducting a closed-door hearing with one of Hillary Clinton`s closest confidantes, Huma Abedin. The committee`s ranking member, Democrat Elijah Cummings, spoke to reporters gathered outside the hearing room. He denounced the Republican-led committee`s work as an insult to the wishes of the victims` families. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: They basically begged us. They said, Do not make this a political football, we beg you, I mean, some of them with tears in their eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, I think that no matter how you look at it, when you have the number two person in the Republican Party who comes forward, the person who makes plans with the speaker and the person who will continue to be -- who was one step away from becoming the speaker, to tell you that this is all about a taxpayer-funded political effort to derail the campaign of Hillary Clinton -- ladies and gentlemen, that is a problem. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland joins us now. Thank you, Congressman. Thank you, Congressman. Can you tell from the questioning if they think they have anything on Hillary Clinton today? Can you tell where they`re headed? REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I -- I honestly do not know. I don`t -- I think it -- they brought Ms. Abedin up. And she is the vice chairman of Hillary Clinton`s campaign now.    And the interesting thing, Chris, is we still have not asked one question of the secretary of Defense. We brought Sidney Blumenthal up. We`ve never talked to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You know, and so we -- I`m not sure -- and we`ve never talked to the head of the CIA. But yet and still... MATTHEWS: Well, that`s important... CUMMINGS: ... we will bring in -- I`m sorry? MATTHEWS: That`s important because it seems to me behind all the lyrics is this music out there they keep playing which is somehow Hillary Clinton is responsible for the death of those four Americans, somehow, during the reality of that tragedy, during those hours when word got to Washington they were used attack, she didn`t do something she was supposed to do. And that`s right. Why don`t they ask the people that we do know the answer to those questions if there was anything there? CUMMINGS: But yet and still we -- we are trying to Hillary Clinton`s speechwriter and anybody who`s been close to her, by the way, has been paraded up to the Hill and the Republicans have announced exactly what time and where their interviews would be. This happened with Cheryl Mills, Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Sullivan, who was the -- the deputy chief of staff. I mean -- and anybody close to Hillary Clinton, this is the way they`ve treated them. And I`m -- and I`ve got to tell you, when I listen to what Congresswoman -- Congressman McCarthy said and then I listened to the Republican staffer who turned whistle-blower... MATTHEWS: Right.    CUMMINGS: ... and, by the way, describes himself as a conservative Republican, and then when I put it together with -- with what Congressman Hanna said, all they are doing is affirming things that we on the Democratic side have been saying for months, that this basically... MATTHEWS: All right... CUMMINGS: ... is a -- derail Hillary Clinton campaign by any means necessary. MATTHEWS: Well, here today on CNN, Hillary Clinton was asked about what she expects from next week`s hearing. And here`s what she said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Other committees of the Congress, standing committees with very experienced members and staff, have all looked into this and basically just rejected the conspiracy theories that are still floating out there in some circles. So, I really don`t know. I will do my best to answer their questions, but I don`t really know what their objective is right now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Do you have any outstanding questions about the secretary of state`s conduct in those tragic hours yourself? Are there any questions worth asking, if you had a legitimate committee?    CUMMINGS: No, I -- I`ve -- the answers we`ve -- I`ve read all of the reports that -- the eight reports that were done previous to us starting the select committee and I`ve heard the testimony. I`ve read the transcripts. I don`t have any questions. One of the things that I`m hoping will happen is that all -- after all the dust settles, that we will come up with a report that will make sure that we debunk a lot of the rumors that have been out there, because I think that`s fair to the families, too. And what has happened so often is there have been leaks by -- by our Republican colleagues and -- but yet and still, they do not put out the exculpatory... MATTHEWS: No. CUMMINGS: ... information, which I think is very important, Chris. And I`m going to insist on that. MATTHEWS: Well, catch this, your committee chair, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, put out a lengthy statement last night dismissing that congressman from New York`s statement, who said there was nothing here but politics. "There are seven members of the Benghazi Committee," Gowdy said, "who are intimately familiar with the work of the committee, the motives behind the work and the results of that work. Congressman Hanna is not one of them." Well, let me just make this point, Congressman. It must have grabbed you, that there`s 12 members of your committee. Five of you are Democrats. And he just basically cut you out of the action officially. He said you don`t know what you`re up to there. So does -- he`s admitted it`s a partisan operation of just the majority members. CUMMINGS: Well, I`ve got to tell you, I was very surprised to hear that statement, because we have four very distinguished members of the Congress on this committee. They have been working very hard. And I`m just surprised that he would say that. But I -- you know, I don`t know what that means...    MATTHEWS: Maybe they`re doing... CUMMINGS: ... but the... MATTHEWS: ... well, maybe the motives are shared by those seven and they don`t share their motives with you. Could be. CUMMINGS: Yes. MATTHEWS: I mean I wonder what it... CUMMINGS: Could be. MATTHEWS: ... I think he gave a -- by the way, I`ve been asked by everybody here to ask you -- I think I know the answer -- are you running for the United States Senate and are you willing to give up your seniority and position in the House of Representatives? CUMMINGS: Well, the -- Chris, I`m going to wait until after all of this Benghazi stuff is over with to make that decision. But I do not want to do what I think the Republicans have done, politicize and use this as a political stepping stone. I`m not going to do that. So I`m going to wait until after that and I`ll make my decision. I was very glad to see that although I`m not even in the race, I`m leading with double digits. But that -- that`s a good thing. And I feel humbled, you know, by the citizens of our state, that they feel that way about me. MATTHEWS: Well, everybody is watching, sir. Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.    I`m joined right now by The Huffington Post White House correspondent Sam Stein. Sam, it looks to me like just a joke, what they are going to do next week. They are going to parade Hillary Clinton in there, pepper her with questions that have all kinds of innuendo attached. And I just wonder, if this was a grand jury, what would be the indictment they were going for? I don`t even know what they are willing or ready or thinking about accusing her of. Would somebody -- can you take a shot at that? What is their charge here? SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, I think that Congressman Cummings was right, in that a lot of this is covered ground. There are general, broad inquiries that they could talk about which I think will be illuminating. I`m not sure it what they want to do, for instance, going over the initial decision to send -- to invade Libya and to put our personnel in Benghazi, what we are doing in terms of specific recommendations for embassy security around the world. Those are very broad, technical, geopolitical questions that I think would be helpful to go over in this type of hearing, but I don`t suspect that that is what we`re going to get. MATTHEWS: I mean, how many soldiers or Marines can you have in an embassy in a country that doesn`t even really have a government? We were in there at the sufferance of the rump leaders of the country at that point? STEIN: And this is a big point of debate. The security at the embassy, obviously, they flagged it. They said it was insufficient. According to the ARB report, it never got up to Secretary Clinton`s level, but the ARB report did fault the State Department for not responding to those requests. But on the flip side, if you talk to people in our diplomatic corps, they say they don`t want sort of bulky, visible, overimposing security measures because it hampers their mission. They want to get out there and talk to people on the ground. So, that is a constant balancing act here. And I think that it is actually a worthy topic of discussion for a committee on Benghazi to go through, but we haven`t really had that conversation yet. MATTHEWS: It seems not. Thank you so much, Sam Stein. STEIN: Sure, Chris.    MATTHEWS: We will be right back after this. MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. Republican front-runner Donald Trump is holding a rally right now at a school in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, just south of New Hampshire state line. Let`s listen in to a bit of Donald Trump. (JOINED IN PROGRESS) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... 32, 33, 35. And then inside the story, she said he had a great week with the polls. And I say, how could I say leveled out? Maybe it was a bad guy who wrote the headline. And I said, well, wait. How are we leveled out? Then they talked about Nevada, where I`m up at 38 percent and win the Hispanics. You believe it? (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And Peggy -- and, remember, I like her a lot. I think she`s great. And then she said, great week. But the title was not so good. And then so Nevada, she said great week. So, I`m at 38. Then, in South Carolina, I`m at 36. Right? And then in Connecticut, which just came out, that`s Quinnipiac, great pollster, I`m at 34-14. And she puts these in. And I`m saying, how did I level out? It`s the press. And then -- oh, and then a Romney person -- and, you know, we all like Romney, right? But he should have won. Give me a break. I supported him. I supported McCain. I supported these people.    And this time, I said you know what? Did you ever have it, like you`re with your wife, you`re with your husband and you`re really competent, and you`re tired of seeing things done wrong? And you just say, you know, this time, I`m going to just do it myself? Do you understand that? (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) REHBERGER: That`s Donald Trump boasting about his poll numbers. We will continue to monitor that event. HARDBALL returns after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. She covered senators, congressmen and was a personal favorite of presidents. But legendary Washington columnist Mary McGrory never completely shed her working-class Boston Irish Catholic roots. The new book "Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism" details McGrory`s rise from book reviewer at the old "Washington Star" to one of the most popular newspaper columnists for more than four decades. McGrory was one of the first female journalists of the 1950s to leave the society page behind for the newsroom. And her pieces on the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954 were overnight sensations. And later her columns offered insights on presidential races and the era`s smoke-filled backrooms, all coupled with her personal advocacy for social justice. She also ended up on Richard Nixon`s enemy list and in 1974 was the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize for commentary. John Norris wrote the book and joins me now, a great book. Great, great book. And anybody who is watching on this Friday night and get near a bookstore this weekend, because what it has it is the three big ingredients of my life, journalism, politics and Irish. You have got it all here.    JOHN NORRIS, AUTHOR, "MARY MCGRORY: THE FIRST QUEEN OF JOURNALISM": What more could you ask for? MATTHEWS: No, it has -- and I think -- I say this to all the journalists I work with. I say, it will make you love the business even more. What I want to know about is just give me the fun stuff, first of all, 1954. OK? I remember going home and the TV was on, black and white television, Admiral TV. And all day long was hearings. I had no idea what they were. They were Army-McCarthy hearings. And that`s when she made her name. NORRIS: It was her big breakthrough. Her editor, Newby Noyes at the old "Washington Star," pulled her aside and after asking her if she didn`t plan on having a family, they wanted to do more with her at the paper, asked her to add color and flare to the news pages. Maureen Dowd`s dad, who was a Capitol Hill policeman, escorted her a front-row seat at the hearings. She did a column for every single day of the hearings and became an overnight sensation in the process. MATTHEWS: I was with both Maureen and her at the Good Friday accords over in Belfast back in `98. Anyway, the Irish power, I love it. let`s talk about her loves of these guys. She fell for a lot of people just emotionally and aesthetically. I don`t think she had relations, obviously. She loved Jack Kennedy. She loved Gene McCarthy, hated Joe McCarthy, loved Bobby Kennedy. NORRIS: Absolutely. She was an emotional observer of politics, that she put her heart into it. And she really believed in politicians that were out there and willing to take a chance and willing to raise their voice, particularly for social justice, as you say. MATTHEWS: Why did Nixon hate her? NORRIS: They were perfect enemies. If you designed two people, you couldn`t make them more dissimilar.    He saw her as an enemy of the state. He had the IRS investigate her returns. She got a bigger return. MATTHEWS: Three years, her taxes were audited. NORRIS: Yes. She got a bigger refund because she donated to orphans. And she just thought that Nixon was terribly miscast as a president and a politician. MATTHEWS: She said in your book he should have never been in politics. NORRIS: Oh, absolutely. And she wrote to one of her friends, "If he was a horse, I would not buy him." MATTHEWS: Let me ask about LBJ. What was the role with him? You want to give us the dirty on that? NORRIS: Well, LBJ was desperate to woo her. MATTHEWS: Literally. NORRIS: Literally, as well as a columnist. And it shows how important it was that perch as a columnist in that era, that what she was writing and appeared in the paper... MATTHEWS: Look at this picture in the backroom next to the Oval Office. That`s notorious for other reasons these days, that room.    But there is Mary in there and there is LBJ sort of giving her the eye. What was that about? NORRIS: With feet up, you know? And that was part of his campaign to woo her, and literally he took it to a very personal level, showing up at her apartment. MATTHEWS: He propositioned her, didn`t he? NORRIS: Yes, showed up with the Secret Service at her apartment late one night, said, "You love the Kennedys, you should love me," and made a pass at her. MATTHEWS: OK. Let me just use a modern word for that, creepy. NORRIS: Creepy. MATTHEWS: Yes, OK, thank you, buddy. This is a great book. I know it`s Friday, a good time to go to the bookstore, if you can find a bookstore anymore. "Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism," if you are interested in a journalistic career, read this book. Thank you, John. NORRIS: Thank you.    MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, John Norris. NORRIS: Sure. MATTHEWS: Up next, Donald Trump picks another fight with Jeb Bush, saying that 9/11 -- I love this -- 9/11 happened on George W. Bush`s watch. Well, it did, didn`t it? The HARDBALL roundtable is coming up here next. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump has done something the Republicans just don`t do. He took a swipe at former President George W. Bush, saying the attacks of September 11 happened on his watch. Here he is in an interview with Bloomberg. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want. The World Trade Center came down during his time. If you look at Sandy Hook... QUESTION: Hold on. That -- you can`t blame George Bush for that.    (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: He was president, OK? What -- don`t -- blame him or don`t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Jeb Bush jumped in to defend his brother tweeting, "How pathetic for Donald Trump to criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked and my brother kept us safe." Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable: Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer with "The Washington Post", Liz Mair is a Republican strategist, and David Catanese is reporter with "U.S. News and World Report". Let me start across the line here. What did you make of that exchange? It`s refreshing, I must say. JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: It was Donald Trump being honest Donald Trump saying exactly what is on his mind. Just factually speaking, what he said was true. The World Trade Center, the towers came down when George W. Bush -- MATTHEWS: So, what did Jeb Bush mean when he said he kept our country safe? CAPEHART: I`m still trying to figure out what that meant. And what I`m assuming he meant, Jeb Bush means, is that after that happened, after we were attacked, and the country was scared and not sure another attack was going to happen, George W. Bush kept us safe. But the towers came down and we were attacked when George W. Bush was president. MATTHEWS: Liz? LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think Donald Trump has become an expert of provoking Jeb Bush to lineup right new to his brother, as close as humanly possible, which set aside this particular topic and the merits of what Trump said versus the merits of Bush`s response. In terms of the substance, that is not really a good political position for Jeb Bush to be in. People still have a certain weariness, including Republicans, about George W. Bush.    What I thought was really interesting and telling is I think Jeb actually missed a good opportunity to attack Trump back here. If you look at what else he said there, it`s pretty clear that Donald Trump seems to have Hurricane Sandy confused with Sandy Hook. If I were Jeb Bush, rather than lining up -- (CROSSTALK) MAIR: Well, he was talking about how these people are still waiting for help. He is either advocating gun control which is real popular with Republicans -- MATTHEWS: The periphery of New York City. MAIR: I think he is talking -- he was asked about, he referenced Sandy Hook when he`s talking about Hurricane Sandy, and that`s what Jeb should have shot back. MATTHEWS: There`s a lot more work to be done on Sandy around New York area. Your thoughts? DAVID CATANESE, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: I agree with Liz. I think Trump is laying the bait for Jeb and Jeb is taking it every time, tying him to George W. I think Trump wants that fight. But it`s also a mistake to think of Trump as a regular Republican. This is another example. He`s not really Republican candidate. He is an anti- establishment -- MATTHEWS: He`s not defending the fort. CATANESE: He is running against both parties. He`s not a neocon.    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I know he`s not an ideologue. Let me ask you this. Suppose the World Trade Towers had been attacked and demolished under the watch of Barack Hussein Obama? Osama bin Laden had attacked us, caught us with he door open, blew up our major financial centers, would the Republicans have let it go at that and just move on? CATANESE: Of course, not. They`d be barnstorming the White House at this point. MATTHEWS: They would be saying he has something to do with it. He let it happen. That`s what I couldn`t understand about the Bloomberg reporter saying how can you connect him to that? He was president. CATANESE: She was baiting Trump, too, don`t you think? (CROSSTALK) MAIR: But I think also, she specifically used the word blame there. I think the question is objectively -- (CROSSTALK) MAIR: Sure. But do you blame him or do you not? MATTHEWS: Would the Republican Party --    MAIR: Sure. MATTHEWS: -- do not blame Obama for -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Are you kidding me? MAIR: And when we are talking about the underwear bomber plenty of Republicans did. MATTHEWS: Republicans hang him high. MAIR: But it`s is also worth remembering, a lot of what we have heard out of Democrats probably more in the base with regards to that, I think there has been blame placed with Bush. I mean, we can re-litigate this to the end of the earth, but the problem is that -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Democrats never jumped on George W. for this. They rallied for the country, 90 percent for George W. Bush after 9/11. We all joined in together. Nobody played the politics. Anyway, here`s Jeb and Trump going at it in the last GOP debate over George W. Bush`s handling of American security. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As it relates to my brother, there`s one thing I know for sure, he kept us safe. I don`t know if you remember - - (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) Do you remember the firefighter with his arms around it? And he sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism and he did keep us safe? TRUMP: I don`t know. Do you feel safe right now? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You just, I wonder -- I`m going to get into this, but I do think the Democratic Party has gotten a little less ferocious and the Republican Party is more ferocious about partisanship. Democrats have not jumped, they did not jump when George W. the way Republicans have been jumping on, four people who lost in some facility, somewhere in Lebanon, and murky circumstances without a government. CAPEHART: Sure, and think about this in terms of litigating the Iraq war. A lot of people wanted President Obama when he was first selected to litigate what happened, to hold people accountable and he put the country first. He says, no, no, not going to do that. We are not going to do this kind of partisanship. And to your point, could you imagine? Well, it`s going on now. We are now on the Benghazi -- we`re now on the eighth special committee investigating Benghazi. All the other reports prove nothing happened. And yet here we are -- (CROSSTALK) MAIR: I also add, though, that it`s a little bit hard. I think Obama would have known assuming the role of commander-in-chief that it would have been hard to say, yes, we are going to prosecute Dick Cheney for war crimes given a lot -- (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: Why did you bring up the name Dick Cheney? Why did you bring that name up? Because I was thinking of it the very second. I said, where is that hanging tree? Because that guy, nobody went after him. MAIR: I have no -- irrespective of that. MATTHEWS: Why would Dick Cheney be held responsible for Iraq war? MAIR: But the point that I`m making here, the point that I`m making, you can substitute a number of names. You can say George Bush -- (CROSSTALK) MAIR: Whatever. Well, he is the Darth Vader. MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. By the way, when I say Darth Vader, Darth Vader, you have to do this. Anyway, the HARDBALL round table is staying with us. And up next, it`s happened again, a top Republican presidential contender faces a voter spewing hatred about Muslims. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    (NEWSBREAK) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable, Jonathan, Liz and David. Anyway, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave an interview to "The Washington Examiner" in which he acknowledged his party`s in big trouble if it loses the presidential election next year. "I do think that we`re cooked as a party for quite a while as a party if we don`t win in 2016," he said. "So I do think that it`s going to be hard to dig out of something like that." Well, some of the wild talk about Muslims and minorities that we`re hearing right now from the right on town halls and campaign events these days certainly won`t help the GOP rally a diverse coalition to win. Anyway, in fact, it`s this dark side to his party that Priebus must probably be worried when worries doesn`t exist. Remember this Trump rally just last month. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: OK, this man. I like this guy. AUDIENCE MEMBER: I`m from White Plains, amen. OK. We`ve got a problem in this country. It`s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. TRUMP: Right.    AUDIENCE MEMBER: You know he`s not even an American. TRUMP: We need this question. This first question. AUDIENCE MEMBER: But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. TRUMP: Mm-hmm. AUDIENCE MEMBER: That`s my question. When can we get rid of them? TRUMP: We`re going to be looking at a lot of different things. And, you know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We`re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We? Anyway, Carly Fiorina was also asked a question from an audience member about what she will do about Muslims in this country. This is now. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AUDIENCE MEMBER: What is your position on immigration? And why should we change our country to suit their needs like the Muslims? You know, especially the Muslims, they`re really raising heck right now. They want us to change our whole country to suit them. If they don`t like the United States, get out of here. Take your camel and beat it.    CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, people are so frustrated and angry with the immigration situation. Let me say that one of the most important things about this nation is that we judge people as individuals. We judge people as individuals. We don`t lump people in a category and say you`re this, so therefore you think that. By the way, that`s called identity politics. And the Democrats play it way too often. You`re a woman, you care about this. You`re Hispanic, you care about that. The point is we judge people as individuals. And so, I`m not willing to condemn any group of people. I`m willing to judge each individual. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: The enlightenment. Anyway, can the Republican Party win in 2016 with an electorate that exudes the hostility? That person there, not her, Carly Fiorina. But the questioner, the hatred towards minorities, Liz Mair. She handled that OK as far as I`m concerned. MAIR: I thought she handled it very well. I`m sure that Michele Bachmann will probably take to Twitter and trash her for it because she likes to trash Carly as being too nice to Muslims. But we -- MATTHEWS: I mean, treating people as individuals sounds to me like -- MAIR: Yes, treating people like individuals. MATTHEWS: -- the Republican philosophy. MAIR: I agree. But there are some people -- and this goes to where we have a real problem. There are some people in the party that I think don`t fully subscribe to the value set that a lot of people in it want to actually advance. And I think that`s a challenge because that`s where you`re seeing people going to Trump versus -- MATTHEWS: You know what? I like the way they approached immigration was Marco Rubio when he talked about his grandfather explained to him in Spanish the values of America. We`re all very patriotic here and I think we love the fact that somebody loves our country not just as a place to get to for a job, but a country whose values we really absorb. And I thought that was a wonderful way for a guy who`s the child of immigrants to say, OK, I`m a Republican, this is the way we look at it. CATANESE: And Rubio would be the best vessel for that message, responding to that question. He`s articulate. He talks about American exceptionalism better than anybody else in the field. But, of course, the Republicans can still win this race because they`re going to make it about Hillary and with her numbers and --    MATTHEWS: If they don`t knock her out how do they beat her in how do they beat her in points? CATANESE: She`s defined by most of the American electorate. She`s under 50 percent on favorability. She`s losing general election matches in Pennsylvania -- (CROSSTALK) CAPEHART: I disagree with you, David. Here`s the problem. When you have people talking like that, it might play well in the Republican Party base but it turns off the general -- MATTHEWS: Like whom? CAPEHART: I`m talking about the general electorate -- MATTHEWS: But you`re talking about that lady -- the person -- the guy who asked the question or how she responded? CAPEHART: Well, I thought her response was better than Trump`s response but it`s certainly not the gold standard that Marco Rubio sets. And the Republican Party knows it has an issue, Reince Priebus knows it has an issue because of the GOP autopsy. He knows they`re in trouble. That`s where that quote came from. MATTHEWS: The body`s still dead. Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Capehart, Liz Mair and David Catanese. When we return, let me finish with a lost hero. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: Jerry Parr died this past week. He was for years the chief Secret Service agent in charge of presidential protection. I remember him in action once in November 1980 when Marine One was landing in rural Georgia for President Carter to vote in his hometown. It was Parr who alerted us that Rosalind Carter await us on the ground waiting for her husband to tell her he`d lost. Getting word of the last poll, the president had asked only that he break the bad news personally. The other image I retain of Jerry Parr was him standing on the west front of the capitol. In one moment, he was standing behind president carter. The next he had shifted behind the new president, Ronald Reagan. He was the country`s one man changing of the guard. Well, it turns out that young Jerry Parr had set his heart on becoming a Secret Service agent from boyhood. When he was 9, he`d talked his father into taking him to see "Code of the Secret Service." Its hero was a dashing agent and pilot named Brass Bancroft. You can see the appeal it had for a young boy like Parr. According to the studio build-up at the time, Bancroft and his fellow agents were required to be dauntless in the face of danger and fearless in the face of death. On March 30th, 1981, at 2:30 in the afternoon, the man who started "Code of the Secret Service", had just given a speech at the Washington Hilton hotel. He was heading to his car when shots rang out. In the midst of that horror, Jerry Parr followed the secret service rule of cover and evacuate. This is the president, Parr yelled to those out in front of George Washington University hospital. It was just three minutes after they`d left the Hilton. Ronald Reagan had lost a huge amount of blood through internal bleeding. It would take the great surgeons of the GW to extract the unexploded slug resting precariously close to his heart. Jerry Parr had gotten the president and the timing he had left to the only place that could have saved him. He had done his job. He had followed the code. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>