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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/20/15

Guests: Rudy Giuliani, Amanda Terkel, Sabrina Siddiqui, HaroldSchaitberger, Jay Newton-Small, Jeanne Cummings

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The fall of the house of Bush. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York. There`s something in the political air this October 20th. It`s out there in the attitude of people, something distrusting and uneasy. You feel it again in the breeze that just struck across our northern border, by the way. Canada, our close neighbor and strongest trading partner, has just dumped the Conservative Party after its decade in power, dumped it good. So yes, there is something happening in our neighborhood, something radical and exciting. I was in Montreal the last time we saw an earthquake like this across the border. It was 1968, the very same year everything was coming apart here in the U.S., the same year the campuses of this country exploded over the Vietnam war, that Gene McCarthy dumped Lyndon Johnson from the American presidency, that Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed. At the same time, the story was sweeping Pierre Elliott Trudeau into power up north. And yesterday, a similar electoral call for change brought his son, Justin, to head the government. What`s happening here in the United States is, as usual, more dramatic. The Grand Old Party is dumping its establishment. All the king`s horses and all the king`s men can`t seem to put it back together again. Rick Perry went nowhere. Scott Walker was sent back to Wisconsin. Jeb Bush, to put it gently, is getting the heave-ho. Forty-four percent of Republicans Americans now say they can`t even imagine voting for Jeb Bush. Fifty-nine percent say they can imagine voting for the man leading the assault on the old order, Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Republicans elected since 2010 to rule the U.S. House are unable to pick a leader. At this very hour, House Republicans are meeting desperately to see if they can find someone, somewhere to be speaker of the House.    Well, the conservative "Washington Examiner" yesterday asked whether the Republicans are still a political party. Great question. Quote, "Disaffected conservatives helped topple House Speaker John Boehner last month and then denied House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy the votes to succeed him this month. And now the premature -- the premature Tea Party obituaries also pre-date Donald Trump`s stubborn dominance in polls of Republican presidential primary voters, running consciously as an anti- establishment political neophyte." Rudy Giuliani`s the former mayor of New York. Rudy, Mayor, thank you so much for coming on because you are my kind of Republican stalwart, East Coast, pro-choice. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You lived with gay roommates, not that you were gay by any means. But the whole thing about you is cosmopolitan, big city. I was just up at Pocantico Hills, the old Rockefeller estate this week, and I was thinking, as a visitor up there, as a tourist, really -- and I kept thinking, what Happened to the Republican Party that had room for Bill Scranton, for the governor of Pennsylvania, for Christie Whitman of New Jersey, for Nelson Rockefeller, for John Lindsay? And now the party seems to be coming literally apart, where all the establishment candidates are getting, you know, nothing. Verkakte, as we say in New York... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: ... (INAUDIBLE) nothing. They`re getting nothing, and Bush is down to 8 and people are saying -- half the party is saying, I can`t even imagine voting for Bush. What happened to the Grand Old Party? RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR, FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: Well, I think what happened is this tremendous disaffection with government, this feeling that government can accomplish nothing. They see the president as a weak president who can`t get anything done. They see the Congress, even though it`s Republican, as not having fulfilled the promises that were made to them when they elected a Republican majority in the House and in the Senate. So what you`ve got are a bunch of disaffected people, and Donald Trump has figured out a way to appeal to them, even though he says some things that I don`t agree with, that sometimes get people a little offended. But what they find in him is somebody who they believe is talking to them in a straight way. And then, you know, number two is Ben Carson, and he`s not far behind. He`s, like, a point or 2 points behind. MATTHEWS: Yes.    GIULIANI: Similarly, he is talking about something very different than the old Republican Party talked about. So there is definitely a sea change going on. MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Trump. You said something a couple weeks ago I didn`t like very much. You said that Obama wasn`t raised the way we are -- we were. And I think you know what you meant, even though I don`t agree with it. We were raised, you and I, waving flags. We were all trying to assimilate. GIULIANI: Yes. MATTHEWS: We Catholics back in the `50s were trying to assimilate. I remember marching up and down Bussell (ph) Avenue in front of maternity (ph) BBM (ph) grade school, waving flags. It was George M. Cohan. We were so trying hard to be really good Americans. We rooted for Bishop Sheen. We looked at Joe McCarthy and thought he went too far, but we liked sort of what his point of view was, anti-communist. We were very anti-communist, and gutting -- in gut -- in a gut sense, patriotic. And I think you felt Obama was too cool for school. That apart, tell me about Trump and his way of appealing to that nationalistic gut. And I think he has found a way to do it that`s very effective with white working class guys out there, men -- what is that thing that he`s gotten to, besides the racist crap around birtherism and stuff that I think is terrible? What else has he got? GIULIANI: Well, what he`s got is, first of all, a very, very, very strong intellect. Do not underestimate him. Don`t make the same mistake that people made about Ronald Reagan, that they always underestimated him. MATTHEWS: Yes. GIULIANI: This is a man who graduated from the Wharton School of Business. This is an extraordinary... MATTHEWS: He`s told us that, Mr. Mayor! (LAUGHTER) GIULIANI: I know. This is an extraordinarily intelligence...    MATTHEWS: He tells us that every three days! Go ahead. GIULIANI: This is an extraordinarily intelligent guy... MATTHEWS: Right. GIULIANI: ... who can adapt, who can move with what`s going on, who gets a kind of sense of what the people are thinking. That`s a very dangerous candidate. I mean, meaning, that`s a candidate who can find a way, somehow to win -- a little bit of Bill Clinton, a little bit of Ronald Reagan. I don`t say he`s going to be the candidate, but I don`t count it out. He -- he could be -- he could be the candidate. And he could have figured out where at least the Republicans are right now, and I think he`ll probably work on where the independents are. MATTHEWS: What do you make -- first of all, would you vote for him over your -- New York`s own Hillary Clinton? GIULIANI: Absolutely! MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about the Hispanic people out there who`ve taken a whipping from this guy -- I mean, accused -- look, we know - - everybody knows Hispanic workers. They bump into them at the lunchroom. They bump into them at work. You see them around the office. You see them everywhere. They`re part of our lives. They all work hard. All the time you see anybody who`s Hispanic in this country, they`re working hard. That`s one thing. They`re always working. And the idea of treating them like a bunch of hustlers and rapists -- how`s he get around that with that community and with people who think that`s not a fair way to talk about that community? GIULIANI: Well, I think he gets around it by talking to them about how he`s going to improve their lives, how the reality is that... MATTHEWS: Even after humiliating them?    GIULIANI: Even after having said something I don`t agree with. I mean, I -- as I said when he first said that, I thought he said it in the reverse order. Most of the people coming in are good people, people seeking jobs. They were not my crime problem in New York. My crime problem were the people who lived here in New York, not the people who came here to New York from other places. Some of them are bad. Some of them fit the category that Donald is talking about, but certainly not the vast majority of them. And I think the way he gets around that is he starts talking about -- he kind of puts that aside and he starts talking about how he`s going to find jobs for them, as he has done in his businesses, how he is going to improve their lives, how he is going to bring back the American ladder of success... MATTHEWS: Yes, well, that`d be great. GIULIANI: ... which is opportunity rather than dependency. And from our point of view, being Republicans, we think what Obama has done is extend dependency, that he`s made America more dependent. MATTHEWS: You really think so? GIULIANI: I do. MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let me ask you about this sanctuary city thing. The Republicans down in the Senate down there are trying to get rid of something I know you believe in, which is a sanctuary city, where you don`t go around pestering people who are here illegally. What do you think of that? Do you think they should have sanctuary cities? GIULIANI: It depends on how -- you know, it`s all in the definition. It depends on how you define sanctuary city. If you are not turning over drug dealers, killers, murderers and people who are doing bad things, then you have a sanctuary city that is wrong, illegal and terrible. If, on the other hand, you`re allowing people who are working hard and you allow them to put their children in school, all you`re doing is making sure the 50,000 children aren`t on the streets with nothing to do. If you`re giving them medical services, you`re just being humanitarian. And if you are allowing them to turn in criminals, well, then, you`re catching criminals that you wouldn`t otherwise catch. MATTHEWS: Yes.    GIULIANI: So if you define a sanctuary city as the way I just described it, well, then, it`s a sanctuary city. But if you`re holding back people who are criminals, then you`re making a terrible mistake. Those people should be turned over. And they should be thrown out of the country. MATTHEWS: Rudy Giuliani, a vote tonight for, well, Donald Trump over Hillary, if it comes to that. Thank you, sir, for making your position clear. And by the way, I`ve learned a lot tonight. Thank you so much. There are -- former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. GIULIANI: Thank you, Chris. MATTHEWS: There are a slew of new national poll numbers on the race for president. All of them show the same things Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican field, and Ben Carson also surging. The new NBC News/"Wall street Journal" poll has Trump at 25 now, Carson close behind at 22. According to the latest CNN/Opinion Research poll, Trump is at 27, Carson not far behind at 22 again. In the New Monmouth University poll, Trump tops the field again, higher still at 28 percent. Carson comes in a weaker second there at 18. Jeb Bush, incidentally, comes in sixth place in that poll with only -- I don`t believe this -- 1 in 20 votes, 5 percent. Amanda Terkel is senior political reporter for the HuffingtonPost, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones." Thank you, Amanda, and thank you, David, both of you. First Amanda. I just listened to a man who`s a classic moderate Republican, pro-choice, big city, pro-gay rights, everything, the kind of guy that probably can`t get elected president of the Republican Party or nominated by them for president in the last 10 or 20 years and probably not for 20 or 30 years from now, into the future, but who seems to see and offers up a reason what people in the Republican Party would go for a guy like Trump, maybe because he suspects he`s just every bit as cosmopolitan as Rudy TERKEL is under the surface. That`s my hunch. Amanda, he seemed to be making the case there`s some gut reason why people are so disaffected with government and their established political party that they`re really ready to go for Trump. And I see it in the numbers here. David, we all see it. They`re ready to go. The seduction is working. Your thoughts? AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTONPOST: I mean, Trump is incredibly attractive to a part of the Republican Party, like you said, that is disaffected by what`s going on. They see a lot of promises. I think a lot of them were incredibly frustrated by the Bush administration, whether it was what he did on immigration, the bank bail-outs, his foreign policy, and those are the types of people who are looking for someone not associated with Washington. That`s why you have Ben Carson and Donald Trump surging. But right now, I mean, the divide I see is -- in the Republican Party are people who want to govern and actually believe in government and governing, and the people who don`t. And Trump and Carson fall into the latter group. Everyone in the field is conservative... MATTHEWS: Well, Cruz. Cruz is also part of that. You would also put Cruz...    TERKEL: That`s the divide. MATTHEWS: ... in that... TERKEL: Absolutely. MATTHEWS: So David, it seems to me that it sounds, like Amanda said, there`s a part of the Republican Party that likes these outsiders. I would call it the main chunk of the party right now. DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well -- yes, but I don`t want to put too fine a gloss on this, as Rudy TERKEL just did. He made it seem like they`re disappointed, they wanted more, now they`re turning to somebody who, you know, gives a little oomph to that. These people like the fact that TERKEL -- excuse me, that Donald Trump is bashing Latinos. They like the fact that he`s a birther, and that`s a racist thing you and I have talked about in the past. MATTHEWS: Yes. And that`s it. Do you think that`s it? CORN: Well, I think that`s part of it. MATTHEWS: I agree. CORN: It`s not just that... MATTHEWS: It is part of it.    CORN: ... they`re disappointed that government`s not working because there are other people they can turn to. MATTHEWS: What about this other thing that... (CROSSTALK) CORN: It`s an emotional reaction. MATTHEWS: I`m trying to get at why the bulk of the Republican Party, which I don`t think is racist, seems to be seduceable. They seem to be saying, yes, I can see voting for this guy. Let`s take a look at these two numbers now. Trump -- "Can you picture yourself voting for Trump?" Now 59 percent say yes, and 51 percent said they imagine voting for Bush. He`s in a stronger position than Mr. Establishment. How do you reconcile that with your notions about racism and ethnic prejudices against Hispanics, just that. CORN: Well, I think -- I think it`s about -- not just that, it`s frustration, and I think to some degree, hatred. The Republicans have ginned up the Tea Party base. They`ve talked about Obama being the other, the enemy, not an American. And they`ve... MATTHEWS: How about hating Boehner? CORN: And they`ve gotten so worked up that they hate anybody who`s not out there throwing bombs because if you believe that Obama is a secret Muslim socialist dictator who wants to ruin America, you have to take any means necessary. So Boehner and McCarthy look like milketoast to the GOP base now. MATTHEWS: Amanda, get in here with your same thoughts. What is making them despise their own establishment? And Bush -- how can you dislike Bush? (LAUGHTER)    MATTHEWS: He doesn`t seem to have the stuff to hate. How do you hate a Jeb? Jeb is unhatable. If they hate him, they hate anything. TERKEL: I mean, he`s also associated with his brother. He is out there the past, you know, couple of weeks, all he has been doing is defending his brother`s legacy. And there are plenty of people in the country, including Republicans, who are sick of George W. Bush. But they - - you know... MATTHEWS: Yes. Bad mistake for him to talk about... TERKEL: ... a lot of Republicans... (CROSSTALK) TERKEL: ... aren`t thinking about who would be the best president. They`re looking for someone who speaks for them, and right now, that`s Donald Trump and Ben Carson. MATTHEWS: So it wasn`t smart to say, My beloved brother kept us safe. That wasn`t a smart move. Amanda... TERKEL: I mean, a lot of Republicans -- a lot of Republicans agree, but there are... MATTHEWS: They agree he kept us safe? How can you agree with that? TERKEL: There are polls that show the vast majority of Republicans think Bush kept us safe, despite 9/11, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, and everything else. There are people who still like Bush. But plenty of Republicans don`t, and certainly a lot of independents, and you know, general election voters don`t.    CORN: It`s certainly not you want -- it`s what you want to be talking about if you`re Jeb Bush. Let me give Donald Trump some credit here, which I don`t get to do too often on this show, Chris. But when he says that it`s ridiculous for Bush, either Bush, to say that George W. did things right about 9/11, he is right. It`s one of the... MATTHEWS: I`m with you, Brother. CORN: ... biggest sins of the Bush administration was that he did not see -- in fact, he, Wolfowitz -- we`ve talked about this -- and all the others, dismissed the al Qaeda threat because they were fixated on, what? Saddam Hussein. MATTHEWS: I know. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... Osama bin laden to strike within the United States, handed it right to him, didn`t act on it. TERKEL: Right. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Amanda Terkel. Thank you, David Corn. TERKEL: Thank you. MATTHEWS: It took a Republican outsider to say the emperor has no clothes. I love it. Coming up, Democrats are waiting for word from Joe Biden that either he`s in or he`s out for 2016. Say it ain`t so, or say it is so. Biden`s decision is expected -- well, let`s not overdue this. It could be any day now.    Plus, we`re going to preview the dangers awaiting Hillary Clinton when she testifies Thursday before the Benghazi committee. What have they got aiming at her? What Howitzer are they going to turn on her? Do the Republicans have an ambush ready to against her? You`ve got to believe they`re up to something. And Donald Trump has been on top of the Republican field for more than three months now. For the Republican establishment, Trump`s staying power has been a nightmare scenario come true. Looks like the Trump seduction is working. People can imagine voting for him. They can`t imagine, hardly, voting for Bush. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this great new movie about true American patriotism from a great man, a great American, Steven Spielberg. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. At this hour, the House Republican conference is meeting behind closed doors, awaiting word from Congressman Paul Ryan about whether he`ll run for speaker of the House. Let`s go live to Capitol Hill, where NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell has the latest -- Kelly. KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Chris. This is an opportunity for Paul Ryan to try to play hard to get, talking with members of his Republican conference to see if they would welcome him as speaker without too many strings attached. In covering Ryan over the years, I have asked him if he ever had an ambition to be speaker, and he has always said, no, that was not the job he wanted. But many believe that with the departure of John Boehner, with the Kevin McCarthy short-term candidacy falling apart, that Paul Ryan might be the only person in the Republican conference who could bring together the establishment and maybe quiet that group of three dozen or so most conservative members, known as the Freedom Caucus, formerly the Tea Party group. And so what we`re hearing tonight is that Ryan has been talking to members who want to sort of feel him out and get a sense of what he would be willing or not willing to do as speaker, but Ryan doesn`t want to be pushed in this job. He wants to be drafted. And what we`re -- the indication we`re getting is that he is open to it, but it`s not a done deal. We`re also told not to expect a decision tonight, but this meeting behind closed doors is an important part of the process, to see if Ryan and his Republican colleagues could live with each other if he becomes the next speaker -- Chris.    MATTHEWS: I think our mothers` advice was, don`t make yourself too available. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I think he`s following that. Anyway, NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell with the latest. Thank you, Kelly. HARDBALL back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Just make up your mind. If you want to do it, for God`s sakes, you certainly deserve to take a shot here. And if he beats Secretary Clinton, I will be for him in the general. But I`m obviously not for him during this primary. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL.    That was Hillary Clinton`s surrogate James Carville earlier today. Well, it`s just a sample of the collective exas -- well, I wouldn`t call it exasperation -- he`s working for Hillary there, of course, rooting for her -- surrounding Vice President Joe Biden`s indecision. And it is indecision so far. Yesterday, we were told his decision was imminent, like in 48 hours. Now we`re not sure that -- what the heck that`s going to happen -- or when it`s going to happen. According to "The Delaware News Journal," the newspaper in Wilmington, Beau Biden`s widow, Hallie, recently told Biden that she would support his campaign 100 percent. But just 30 percent of Democrats want to see Biden run; 38 percent, according to the poll, say they prefer he would not run. Either it`s say it ain`t so, Joe, or say it is so, Joe. Harold Schaitberger is one of the country`s top labor leaders. He`s president of the International Association of Firefighters. He recently spoke with Joe Biden, and his union has held off endorsing Hillary Clinton. Howard Dean, of course, the former Vermont governor, of course, DNC chair and presidential candidate, he has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Let me go right now to Mr. Schaitberger. And, Harold, thanks for coming on the show. You`re in the news a lot now because your union has held off making an endorsement of Secretary Clinton. And you`re also in the news because you`re on close speaking terms with Joe Biden. What do you know that we don`t know, if anything? HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS: Well, I don`t know if I know something you don`t know. But what I do know is that the vice president is going through his process very deliberately, very carefully. He`s doing his due diligence. He`s checking the boxes. He`s doing everything that a candidate needs to do to make that final decision on whether or not you`re going to put yourself before the American people and run for president of the United States. And he`s focused on whether he can raise the funds, has the infrastructure, and focused on the constituency groups. So I think he`s doing exactly what he needs to do. And, by the way, Chris, all this reporting of these artificial deadlines, I think, has been driven by outside forces.    MATTHEWS: Yes. SCHAITBERGER: My strong view and understanding has been that he`s going through this process. And whether it was a debate and then it was imminent and then it was 48 hours and then it`s the hearings and then it`s the J.J. Dinner, he`s going through a very serious deliberate process to get to that final decision. MATTHEWS: Governor Dean, is that true, that the people around Hillary Clinton are pushing this guy to make a decision, hoping he will say no if he`s forced to make it fast? HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don`t really think so. I`m pretty sure that the Hillary folks would rather he not run. I actually, I`m sorry to say, because I think Joe Biden is a good guy, think he helps Hillary. I think he helps Hillary, because I think she`s going to win, and the stronger of the field she beats, the better amount of credibility she has going into the general election. MATTHEWS: I know what you mean. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, let me get back to both of you. I want to start with Harold and come back to you. Here`s what I think Biden is thinking. And I know the guy, just like everybody knows him. He`s a great, easy guy to talk to on the street corner. You bump into him, he talks, he chats about everything. I get the feeling that he must think that he has a street corner appeal that Hillary doesn`t, that she`s Ivy League, a bit aloof, very well- educated. He from -- went to regular schools like Syracuse and Delaware. He`s a guy who you don`t ever feel is intellectually or culturally somehow you`re superior. He feels like he can talk to the white and black guy on the street corner, because I know he does that very effectively. Do you think that`s it, Mr. Schaitberger, that he thinks he`s got a unique street corner appeal that the elitist Democratic Party, not you, Governor, but the elitist Democratic Party may have gotten too smart alecky for?    SCHAITBERGER: Well, I can tell you, for over 40 years, that`s exactly what he`s been doing. He`s able to connect with real people, real workers, the middle class, the blue-collar. I mean, he`s able and understands the importance of a labor movement and willing to say openly, but for many years, the word union. Joe is able to connect with people. I know, with the members of the International Association of Firefighters, he connects with our members. And he connects with them emotionally. He connects with them on policy. And I -- by the way, Chris, I just have to remind my good friend, you know, Governor Dean, when he said that he was glad to see him get in the race because he thought Hillary would win, but would just help, but I remember, in 2004, there was another candidate that it was thought was going to win and be the presumptive nominee, but then along came this guy named John Kerry... (LAUGHTER) SCHAITBERGER: ... and a few of us. And sometimes things don`t work out as it appears to be early in the contest. MATTHEWS: You know, I will do a worse one for you. I thought Howard Dean was going to be the nominee, so... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I have been wrong before too. DEAN: Unfortunately, so did I. And it didn`t work out for me so well. SCHAITBERGER: Well, I was kind of -- I was saying that in a cryptic way. But I do remember... (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you that. Do you think Hillary Clinton -- go to that thing, Governor Dean. You have been elected to office. You have been chair of the party. Is there a working-class black and white crowd of regular people out there that didn`t go to superior schools who just feel that they`re not really talked to anymore the way that a regular guy will talk to them on the corner? You don`t buy that? DEAN: Not according -- not according to the polls. Here`s the problem. Joe is a good guy. Everybody loves Joe Biden. He`s at 15 percent in the polls. I think that`s his ceiling. Here`s the other problem. MATTHEWS: He`s not running. DEAN: There are people -- there are people -- yes, exactly. That`s exactly the point. And when you do run, it gets a lot rougher. So here`s my -- here`s what I think. There are a large number of people in the Democratic Party who will walk through walls for Hillary Clinton. There are a large number of people in the Democratic Party who will walk through walls for Bernie Sanders. There are a lot of people in the Democratic Party who really like Joe Biden, but not a lot of people are going to walk through walls for him. And that`s a problem in a primary. MATTHEWS: Passion. SCHAITBERGER: Well, I certainly... MATTHEWS: You say the passion`s not there. SCHAITBERGER: ... would be in a position to take -- I would take issue -- I would take issue with that, Howard.    I mean, I have seen and I know that, over the years, that workers would walk through walls for Joe Biden. He has a long, long track record in supporting and delivering for workers. I know, for the members of our union, firefighters and paramedics, he`s been there every step of the way, every day, on every issue, and helping to protect jobs and bring jobs laid off during the great recession, and helping to provide the security for our country, understanding, you know, what homeland security really means. So, I know the members of the IAFF, when we are prepared to make our decision, when -- if and when he announces, we will walk through a wall for him. MATTHEWS: So you would endorse the vice president if we were to run for the nomination? SCHAITBERGER: I will say this. Our union is preparing now as if the vice president is going to announce his candidacy. MATTHEWS: So you`re ready to endorse? SCHAITBERGER: We`re ready to move. MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Harold Schaitberger of a great union of firefighters, and, Howard Dean, who was a little bit surprised by what he just heard, I think. Coming up, two days out from Hillary Clinton`s Benghazi testimony, do the committee Republicans have an be ambush plan? I think they must. The HARDBALL roundtable weighs in next. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have already testified about Benghazi. I testified to the best of my ability before the Senate and the House. I don`t know that I have very much to add. 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: "I don`t really know what their objective is.` Well, that`s powerful, if it`s true. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Hillary Clinton just Sunday on her upcoming testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. And charges of partisanship, Republicans on the committee -- amid those charges -- are preparing for a marathon hearing, which could extend well into Thursday night, like all day. With their credibility, their own credibility at stake, the Republicans on the committee have to have a strategy. Quote -- here it is -- that`s what they say -- "No cheap shots and stick to the facts, but don`t give an inch." Well, that sounds like bluster. But after the committee`s Democrats issued a report just yesterday showing the Pentagon has found no new evidence in their investigation so far, it`s unclear how Republicans plan to pin down Secretary Clinton. Here`s what the committee`s chairman, Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, said on Sunday about the focus of this Thursday hearing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thursday is about the three tranches of Benghazi, what happened before, during and after. And, frankly, in Secretary Clinton`s defense, she`s going to have lot more information about the before than she is the during and the after. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: I don`t know what that means. I`m joined right now by the HARDBALL roundtable. Jay Newton-Small is a correspondent with "TIME." Jeanne Cummings is political editor at "The Wall Street Journal." And Sabrina Siddiqui is political reporter at "The Guardian." We have a heavy group here. Let`s start with the -- let me start with Jay. Jay, what is it that you know they have got planned for her? Some hooked question that nails her, do they have one? JAY NEWTON-SMALL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": I mean, they haven`t said they have a -- one particular question that nails her, but they have said that they do have more e-mail evidence about what she might have known going -- about Ambassador Chris Stevens` multiple requests for more security going, you know, ahead of the attack on Benghazi. That`s something that she`s said repeatedly in hearings, as she noted in the clip, in hearings that she has -- she knew nothing about. It would have gone to the sort of cone in the State Department that does embassy security, embassy operations. So the idea that she might have known about this, I don`t know if they have a smoking gun, but they basically think -- they seem to indicate that they might have some evidence that she might have personally known about these requests for more security in Benghazi. MATTHEWS: Well, just to put it in perspective, this is a facility which is a half-mile from the CIA operation in a part of the country to the west, which is -- or to the east, rather, which is 400 miles away from the capital of Tripoli. And they`re actually going to say that somebody in the State Department somewhere on the ground level there in Tripoli, at the headquarters there, at the capital, asked for more reinforcements of men with weapons to stand guard at that facility over near the CIA facility in Benghazi. It`s going to be that particular? NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, we will see how particular it gets. I mean... (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: Otherwise, why is it relevant? If it isn`t about protecting the lives of Chris Stevens at that place we`re watching burn down now, why are we talking about it? NEWTON-SMALL: But her point to that always comes back to, even if we knew about these requests, even if I personally knew about these requests, it was the Republicans who cut the budget and didn`t give money to embassy security, and, therefore, even if I wanted to give it more money, it would have been incredibly difficult to do so. MATTHEWS: Jeanne, what do you think they have got? JEANNE CUMMINGS, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, we know that she did, in fact, get copied on e-mails with where the security of this area was indeed questioned. MATTHEWS: Before the fact? CUMMINGS: Yes, we know that. They were part of -- those e-mails were part of one of the first batches that went out in the late spring, early summer. So we know -- they know that she did get those e-mails. We also know that the committee today got a new batch of copies of e-mails from the ambassador. We don`t know what`s in them. So, they could have even more cases where there were calls for additional secure measures around this. There also was, in the prior e-mail, the very early e-mail cache, discussion about there was a bomb tossed over the wall in the compound in the weeks leading up. So there was evidence that there was some -- the security issue was becoming worse. And so it seems to me when Gowdy talks about the before, that`s what they`re going to go after. If she knew about it, why didn`t she or her department respond? She`s been asked this before. She was asked by the Senate. And she said there were people who vetted these things and talked about the budget issues as well. But I think what they`re going to try to go at her on it is not the specifics, but as a leadership question. What kind of a leader was she, that the department -- if she had set as an objective a top priority keeping our people safe, why didn`t the department respond more aggressively to these calls for extra protection? MATTHEWS: It sounds like headline would be a Republicans on panel score or hit Hillary on failed security measures.    Anyway, let me go to Sabrina on that. What do you hear is coming? And these are both before. Both have to do with failing to preparing against a possible attack, nothing to do with the fact that she issued a stand-down order. That would be the most horrendous charge, that she actually, positively, made a pre-active -- or, rather, proactively acted in a way that kept those guys from being alive. Your thoughts about it? What do you think they`re going after? Before stuff? SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, I think that one of the issues that`s happened here is they have had to sort of refocus their attention on any area where they feel like they can try and ask a legitimate question. So they`re focusing on the security question, because at least they had some evidence that there were calls for more enhanced security there, because going into this, the momentum is on Hillary Clinton`s side. Based off of Kevin McCarthy`s comments, acknowledging that they drove down her poll numbers, other House Republicans also saying that this was -- the investigation has become politically motivated, they`re on really shaky ground when it comes to this panel. And they really need to make sure that they at least give off the impression that they have serious questions to ask, and that they`re not just trying to score political points, even though now everyone has pretty much acknowledged that that is a large part of what this panel has become. MATTHEWS: It looks to me like they`re trying to score a single in baseball. Just get on base with something, rather than arguing the inarguable about whether she issued a stand-down order or not. They will be able to say they can prove -- if these copies, Jeanne, are right that went to her -- at least they were sent to her desk, and she could have read them and didn`t, they can at least tie her to the failure to act. Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with me. Up next, politics is not predictable. But Donald Trump, is he winning his argument? After months of skepticism and criticism, the billionaire businessman is looking more and more electable in the eyes of Republican voters. More and more people on the Republican side are saying, they can imagine voting for him for president. And, later, the HARDBALL roundtable, well, they will tell me something I don`t know, which is a big part of the show now.    You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump continues to lead in every major national poll of the GOP primary field, despite all those predictions of his inevitable decline. Trump has led the field for the last 99 days and he reached his highest level of support in the latest, the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. Trump`s at 25, Ben Carson is three points back at 22. It appears Trump`s seduction is working. Back in June, 66 percent of GOP primary voters said they could see themselves supporting him. And only 32 percent said they could not see, 32 said they could. Now those numbers have basically flipped. Almost 60 percent of GOP voters can see themselves supporting the real estate billionaire. Only 36 percent say they could not. Politics may be unpredictable, but one thing is certain, the voters are now changing how they view Donald Trump and his 2016 chances. Back now with Jay, Jeanne and Sabrina. Ask me -- I`ll tell you what I think. I think something`s moving in the ground out there. I think the ground is shifting, the ice is cracking, whatever the metaphor. The Republicans establishment, even the moderate establishment, Rudy Giuliani was just on this show saying I could vote for Trump over Hillary without even thinking. He`s no longer unacceptable. In fact, I think they`re getting used to him. Your thoughts, Jay, and then Jeanne, and then Sabrina. JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, look, I mean, I think it`s actually less about how long he`s been the front-runner than the actual time period where he is the front-runner. So, you had, for example, Herman Cain was the front-runner at the end of 2011. It wasn`t until voters kind of got serious and it was like December of 2011, and started paying attention that he didn`t -- that his popularity fell. Well, that and his scandal. But you just had Howard Dean on the show. It was all the way of the Iowa caucuses and everyone thought that Howard Dean was the front-runner, 90 days. And then all of a sudden he wasn`t the front-runner.    MATTHEWS: So what`s your point? NEWTON-SMALL: I think when voters really start to pay attention, closer to actual voting -- MATTHEWS: You don`t think they`re paying attention? Have you watched the ratings for these programs, these debates? What do you mean they`re not paying attention? Everybody I talk to is talking about Trump. What do you mean, not paying attention? Are you an elitist? Do you think you live in a bigger or smarter world than the people out there? Everywhere I go, they say Trump. Who`s not paying attention? NEWTON-SMALL: Pay attention to the entertainment factor. MATTHEWS: Oh, they`re saying, oh, I want to be entertained. They`re not saying who I want for president? The same polling operations have been going on for as long as I`ve been alive, ask the same questions all the time, and don`t compare him to Godfather pizza, Mr. 999. How long was he up there, an hour? And this guy`s been -- NEWTON-SMALL: Twenty-two days. MATTHEWS: -- up there 100 days. Why? Is this "Time" magazine`s establishment thinking? What is it in your job description that makes you think you have to fight this guy? NEWTON-SMALL: Fight Donald Trump?    MATTHEWS: Yes, you have to dismiss him? NEWTON-SMALL: I`m not fighting Donald Trump. I`m saying that I think when voters actually go in a voting booth -- MATTHEWS: What make you think that? NEWTON-SMALL: -- and think, who do I want to be president, who do I think is capable of being president, it`s not going to be the same person necessarily that wins -- (CROSSTALK) NEWTON-SMALL: -- and they say, hmm, I like Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: How do you switch from Trump to Bush? I agree with you in concept, you would elect somebody a little more substantive than just a flashy guy. You know, one guy you go out, the other guy you marry. I understand all these references. But what makes you think there`s someone out there to marry politically? I don`t see -- I see Bush down, what is he, down at 6? Are they just keeping in the ice -- in the refrigerator and they`re going to bring him out and say, now it`s time to say I`m for Bush? I`m going hard at you, because I`ve never seen a Republican Party so crushed. Jeanne? Back to you. I`ll come back to Jay with her rebuttal. JEANNE CUMMINGS, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Let me bail her out here. He`s got -- he hovers 20 to 25 percent --    MATTHEWS: Or 28. CUMMINGS: And he`s showing some growth, as you point out, with the people who are willing to take a look at him in a more serious way. But it`s still 75 percentish are picking other people. So, there`s a lot of fluidity still in this race. The thing that strikes me -- MATTHEWS: A Ben Carson is going to be the nominee of the Republican Party? You think he`s more substantive? CUMMINGS: This is what strikes me about this race -- MATTHEWS: Ben Carson? CUMMINGS: No, no, no. Ben Carson`s people are very different than Trump. So, when candidates, when the field is winnowed, and it will, people are going to go different places. So, all of -- you know, Trump`s supporters aren`t the same as Ben Carson`s supporters. So, like I said, there`s still going to be a lot of movement in this race. But I go to your point, Chris, in that one of the more striking things about this race is that we are -- we have seen before where the Republican primary, we see strong personalities, unexpected personalities rise to the top. What we don`t see is this implosion of the so-called establishment wing. That`s something very rare. And where that goes is as interesting as anything else. MATTHEWS: You`re so smart. You know, Jeanne, I think we`re all looking at this from a different perspective, but that`s the one I`m looking at. The reason I`m big on Trump`s potential is not because I like him, I like guys like John Kasich, but I see John Kasich at three. I think Jeb`s a good guy. I don`t think he`s a dunce. A little slow sometimes, but I don`t think he`s a dunce.    And I look at guys like Walker who I thought from the beginning made perfect sense, Sabrina. I thought Walker made perfect sense. They have erased him. As they said in racing, they`ve scratched him. He`s gone. And Kasich is basically scratched. That`s the thing, Jeanne, I agree on, the erasure, really, of the establishment so far. Your thoughts? SABRINA SADDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: Well, what I would say is I think what does strike me, if you add up the numbers for Donald Trump, Ben Carson, throw in Carly Fiorina in some of these polls, you`re getting to the point where half of the electorate is picking an anti-establishment candidate. And that`s the deficit that`s going to be difficult for Jeb Bush or even potentially Marco Rubio to make up, because how will they convince those voters that they are the candidates they would like to support. I also think that part of this is the establishment`s own doing. You can`t overlook the fact that it`s the Republican establishment in Congress that catered to this base that over the last couple of years, on issues ranging from immigration to the shutdown over Obamacare, to women`s reproductive rights, really pushed themselves further and further to the right in order to take control of the Senate. And now, they`re in this position where they don`t know how to pacify this base of supporters, who are choosing candidates that on a national scale, might not be electable. MATTHEWS: You know, I think after you date somebody, to use an old metaphor, when you date someone for over three months, it does get serious. Ha! Three months is a very long time, at least for me, it always was. It was a very long time for me. Anyway, the HARDBALL roundtable is staying with us. And up next, the roundtable will tell us -- tell me and you something I don`t know and maybe you don`t know. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.    By the way, we`re going to ask the reporters to tell me something I don`t know. Well, the latest word from Paul Ryan, he will decide by the end of the week if every single member of the Republican caucus, that`s 247 members, including the 40 or 50 red hots out there on the right, all endorse him, he will take the job after he thinks about it at the end of the week. Now, tell me something I don`t know be -- Jay. NEWTON-SMALL: Well, mine is actually about Paul Ryan. Four and a half years ago when I became my mother and I became my father`s caretaker, he actually pulled me aside and told me how he found his father dead when he was 16, became one of his family`s caretakers and said that it made family the most important thing in his life. So, when everyone scoffs and says, Paul Ryan, oh, he uses family as an excuse, I actually believe him when he says he wants to spend more time with his family because he`s had that personal experience. MATTHEWS: I love you on the show. Thank you, Jay. Let`s go to Jeanne. CUMMINGS: Well, mine is about Joe Biden. I interviewed him in 2009, shortly after he came into the White House. And we talked about the process in which he became vice president. And he`s a guy who likes to get the ask, Chris. He was asked once by Obama, "will you be my vice president and by the way, we got to know the answer right now." His answer right away was no. I don`t want it. I have to think about it. So, they had to go back to him again, ask him again. He deliberated on it and took it. MATTHEWS: Wow, doing that again. Sabrina?    SIDDIQUI: I`m going to go with one of your favorite subjects, the Trans Pacific Partnership. A new "Washington Post"/ABC poll out today, I think, you know, when we talk about the TPP, it`s often in the context of the Democratic primary. But interesting little nugget here that the American public is increasingly more supportive of this trade pact. There`s a 12-point margin of support in favor of the TPP. So, I think it will be interesting when it comes to the general election whether Hillary Clinton or another candidate, what kind of position you`re going to have to take depending on where the public is. MATTHEWS: Looks like part of the Obama legacy is about to happen. Anyway, thank you, Jay Newton-Small, thank you, Jeanne Cummings, and thank you, Sabrina Siddiqui. Great panel, great HARDBALL roundtable. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this great new movie from Steven Spielberg and it`s about the Cold War, the dangerous battle of nerves between the United States and Russia that lasted from the years just after World War II through the failure of the Moscow coup in 1991. "Bridge of Spies" is set at the heart of it in the first years of the 1960s. It`s about the elaborate spy transfer between east and west between a Soviet spy caught in this country and an American U-2 pilot shot down over enemy territory. The real story here is about patriotism, true American patriotism built as much on our shared values as our shared history and culture. It`s about doing the right thing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s all about this man and what he represents. He`s a threat to all of us, a traitor.    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who`s the traitor? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Rosenburgs were traitors. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who were they? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They gave atomic secrets to the Russians. They were Americans. They betrayed their county. You can`t accuse Abel of being a traitor. He`s not an American. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen to yourself. You`re defending him already. You`re rehearsing it on me. You said you were just thinking about taking it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am thinking about it. Everyone person deserves a defense. Every person matters. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jim, what do we deserve? Do you know how people will look at us, the family of a man trying to free a traitor? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I came away from "A Bridge of Spies" with a deep admiration for Director Spielberg in the heat of the Cold War, we were right because we did right. 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. 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