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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 11/05/15

Guests: Susan Page, Ken Vogel, Matt Schlapp, Carrie Sheffield, JohnStanton, April Ryan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: It`s not brain surgery. Dr. Carson ready to be president. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Can you say anything and still claim you`ll do no harm as president? Can you say the founding fathers lacked political experience, when practically all of them were men with public records of deep and committed political lives? Can you say the pyramids weren`t burial places for the pharaohs, when everyone in the world knows they were? Can you talk about getting your tax plan from the ancient Hebrews and be taken seriously in 2015? Can you bring up Noah`s Ark to argue that amateurs do a better job than professionals? Well, whatever Ben Carson is selling, people are buying. Carson has the highest net favorable ratings of any 2016 candidate. According to a new Gallup tracking poll, Carson`s net favorability -- that`s his favorable minus his unfavorable -- is plus 21. That leads everyone by a mile. Among Republicans, Carson`s net favorability is through the stratosphere at plus 59. He`s 20 points ahead of his nearest Republican rival. Matt Schlapp`s the chairman of the American Conservative Union. Susan Page is Washington bureau chief of "USA Today." And Ken Vogel is the chief investigative reporter with Politico. Susan, you`ve covered politics. You cover it on the front page. Why are people saying, at least, they want this good doctor to be our next president? SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, because Republicans are very interested in an outsider. And Ben Carson gives them an outsider who lacks kind of the bluster and the boastfulness of Donald Trump. He also comes across as a very spiritual man, deeply religious. And I think that`s really appealing to evangelicals, who are so important in the Republican coalition. MATTHEWS: So we want a spiritual leader as -- a chaplain as president.    PAGE: Well, and when people are interested in an outsider, when they don`t trust people who`ve had political experience, he gives them an alternative to Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: I don`t know what to say. So go on. KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: All right, he`s -- he`s... MATTHEWS: I have no idea even how to ask the question because I can`t fathom the answer at this point. I don`t get it. VOGEL: He`s... MATTHEWS: Is this some kind of strange American resort to basics because we`re facing a world of fundamentalism and zealotry? And so we have to respond -- they always say when you`re fighting a war, you end up like your enemy. Are we going back to some sort of basic simpletonism as our way of dealing with life now? It`s too complicated. You know, monetary policy, fiscal policy. too complicated. Climate change too complicated. ISIS too complicated. Let`s get to base truths. VOGEL: There... MATTHEWS: They may not even be truths. VOGEL: Yes, there`s always been an inclination to sort of fetishize the outsider, and even moreso, the citizen public servant. The, you know, reference to the founders as being all outsiders with no public service experience... MATTHEWS: That`s not true. VOGEL: ... which is not true. But there is also a deeper irony here, which is I`ve covered some of these state legislatures that have citizen state legislators, where they only serve for part of the year, and their biggest complaint, almost to a man or a woman, is that they didn`t have enough time to bone up on these issues to successfully be able to make decisions to run a state, let alone running a country and bragging about your lack of track record and public service. It`s a little bit weird and ironic and...    MATTHEWS: Well, here`s how Carson responds to critics who question his lack of experience. Let`s watch him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love it when people come up to me and they say, But, but, but, but, but, but you`ve never been elected to any public office. You can`t possibly know how to do anything. Well, let me tell you something. The Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic was built by professionals. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: OK, how`s that work? MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION PRES.: That`s a great line! MATTHEWS: No, no. A great line, but what`s the point? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... in biblical history is an accountability and (ph) Ark, with the whole world flooding. I know the story.    SCHLAPP: You`re getting too literal. MATTHEWS: We all grew up with -- no. And we know the Titanic sank. How does that argue that amateurs are better than experts at ship -- would you get in a boat that was built by amateurs or would you go into a boat that was built by professionals? What`s the argument here? SCHLAPP: Chris, I don`t have to tell you that what he is doing is responding to the fact that Republican voters in this primary season -- they`re looking for issue papers, they`re looking for personal characteristics. MATTHEWS: How about logic? SCHLAPP: They want someone... MATTHEWS: Where is the logic that the Titanic was built -- it went into an iceberg in the early part of the 20th century, and somehow, that`s an argument against good ship building. SCHLAPP: But is it fair that the Republican voters are looking, including at the Republicans (INAUDIBLE) to be president, and they don`t like everything that they`ve seen. And they like the idea of... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s an illogic. It`s an illogic to argue that because some people have been blown it, have been bad politicians, that we should go to somebody who doesn`t know what they`re doing. SCHLAPP: But you have to admit that the "wrong track" figures... MATTHEWS: I don`t have to admit this.    SCHLAPP: The "wrong track" figures are higher than they`ve been in so long... MATTHEWS: And therefore, pick somebody who`s certifiably unprepared. SCHLAPP: That`s not what I`m arguing for. I`m telling you that the electorate is saying, Try a new model MATTHEWS: So you`re justifying whatever they want. SCHLAPP: No, I`m telling you what they want. MATTHEWS: Oh, they do. And what do they want? SCHLAPP: They want somebody who`s going to take a two-by-four to Washington, D.C.... MATTHEWS: I don`t see that with him! SCHLAPP: I see that`s what the Republicans want. Look at poll after poll. MATTHEWS: I see "Do no harm." I see a guy who looks harmless, who`s a nice fellow who speaks plainly, and with some generosity, in a way that just makes you feel better listening to him. SCHLAPP: But he`s also not beholden to what they view as...    MATTHEWS: Oh, OK. SCHLAPP: ... people in this town. MATTHEWS: Fine. Well, Susan, you recently asked Ben Carson if he`d want to be a surgeon with no experience to operate on his brain. Well, here`s what he told "USA Today`s" "Capital Download." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAGE: This writer said you wouldn`t want a surgeon to operate on your brain if he had never done it before, he had no experience in surgery. Why would we want a president who has never had experience in that area? CARSON: And somebody who would ask a question like that clearly has no concept what they`re talking about. They don`t realize that neurosurgery is considerably more complex than politics. They`re not even close in terms of the things that are required in order to be able to do them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So now he`s stepping down intellectually to an easier job. PAGE: Well, and... (CROSSTALK) PAGE: I don`t doubt that brain surgery is a really tough job, but you know what? Being president is a really tough job in its own way and involves, you know, being commander-in-chief of the armed forces, dealing with foreign leaders, leading the global economy. It`s a tough job.    MATTHEWS: What has it got to do with brain surgery? PAGE: Well, you know, to -- his view was if you could do brain surgery, which is a really hard thing, you can do being president, which he says is not as hard. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You`re playing -- you`re playing to this guy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about a happy medium? MATTHEWS: Susan, you`re playing -- you`re acting like there`s a logic to that. PAGE: Well... MATTHEWS: There`s no logic to that! We`ve had people who`ve been engineers, like Herbert Hoover, who got it completely wrong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. MATTHEWS: We`ve had Jimmy Carter, not considered a great chief executive. I can argue his values, but his ability to get things done, we could argue about. And I just don`t see why anybody...    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... skilled at something completely different would be adequate to the presidency. It`s about public leadership. It`s about the ability to lead the people in sometimes difficult directions, getting through the Civil War, getting -- Washington getting us through the Revolutionary War. It`s getting us through the Great Depression, to war with -- it takes incredible skill at leading a people of millions. What has that got to do with brain surgery by yourself in a -- in an operating theater? PAGE: So that`s, I think, a very legitimate argument, and one that I would assume that Ben Carson`s opponents in the Republican Party, and if he was nominated, the Democratic nominee would be making. SCHLAPP: Look, not having experience is a problem. Look at the president we have! He did not have a lot of experience going into (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: OK. Who`s this? SCHLAPP: Barack Obama. MATTHEWS: Are you -- are you -- is the American Conservative Union arguing the advantages of a complete lack of preparation? Is that what you`re arguing? SCHLAPP: I`m just trying to... (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: You`re pandering! You are pandering! SCHLAPP: I`m putting your argument on its head. MATTHEWS: No, you`re not. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, Dr. Carson put out a lengthy post on Facebook last week. By the way, is Facebook one of those things you just sort of make up in (INAUDIBLE) These are somewhat scientific. Anyway, hitting back on critics who question his lack of experience. He writes, "I have no political experience. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence, every one, had no elected office experience." Well, to set the record straight, Dr. Carson, all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were serving in the Continental Congress at the time. And we found roughly 50 of them had served in elected positions before then. Thomas Jefferson served in the Virginia House of burgesses. John Adams served in the Massachusetts Assembly. Ben Franklin served in the Pennsylvania Assembly. Sam Adams served in the Massachusetts Assembly. John Hancock served in the Boston Assembly. All through it, we knew they were professionals guys who took the thing seriously. They were all men, of course, at the time. And to just say blanket -- where does he get his information from, Matt? SCHLAPP: Well, I think... MATTHEWS: Where does he get his information from about the pyramids being granaries? Where does he get that information, when Egyptology has been going on for centuries... (CROSSTALK)    SCHLAPP: He`s wrong. He`s wrong. He`s wrong on these things. There`s no question. MATTHEWS: OK, that`s what I want. SCHLAPP: But he`s still speaking to a -- he`s speaking to the American people who are saying Look, we think it`s broken, guys, and we want... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... go to church even, and you get a sermon, you still expect the sermon, even though it`s theological, to be based on fact. VOGEL: That`s right. But... MATTHEWS: He doesn`t base this stuff on fact! VOGEL: But he delivers some of these statements that are factually inaccurate or, you know, kind of putdowns, like the way that he said that Susan had no clue what she was talking about. It was just in that calm, sort of even-keeled demeanor and often wrapped in sort of the language of fate that takes some of the edge off it. MATTHEWS: Well, what is the -- what is -- let`s go back to something and see (INAUDIBLE) seriously talking about here. Noah`s Ark, OK? I didn`t like the movie much. But I did like the story. And there is an Ark, a boat, that had each one of the animal species in it, one of each, male, female, so they can all reproduce afterwards, in the whole world. They accumulated all the species we have today in those -- because if you don`t believe in evolution (INAUDIBLE) exactly the same (INAUDIBLE) several thousand years ago. And that boat survived 40 days of flooding. OK, we know that. That`s a story. That`s a story, OK? It may be allegorical, it may be whatever, apocryphal, whatever. But it`s a story told to people in the ancient times in the Old Testament. What relevance is that to today, except as a story? It`s not a fact, it`s a story.    VOGEL: Certainly not a lot of relevance to running the United States of America. And I would even point out... MATTHEWS: Well, then why is he -- no, he`s saying -- he uses that to argue that amateurs are better than professionals, OK? VOGEL: Well, I would also point out that, in fact, God, in addition to giving Noah the blueprint for the Ark, actually provided sort of job specifications of the types of people who you`ll want to have, the carpenters building the Arc. So nor is it true that these are all amateurs. But clearly, he is using it as an argument, again, an appeal to evangelicals, an appeal to religious voters, but a way to suggest that, somehow, his greatest weakness, the lack of experience in government, which, let`s make no bones about it, is a great weakness, is not going to be an impediment from him being a good president. SCHLAPP: There are biblical references over and over again where God picks somebody who`s an ordinary Joe to do something great. And that`s his point. The Hillary Clinton road to the presidency isn`t the road necessarily we need today, and that`s the point he makes. MATTHEWS: So that`s an argument... SCHLAPP: A real argument. MATTHEWS: ... but you don`t go back to Noah`s Ark to make that argument. SCHLAPP: Well, maybe you should be coaching him. MATTHEWS: I`m baffled. But if you want to get, you know, sarcastic with me, I can live with it. I mean, I just think there`s a problem with this guy. But anyway, we`ll see. Thank you, Matt Schlapp, Susan Page and Ken Vogel.    Coming up, former president George H.W. Bush -- that`s Bush 41 -- says his son, Bush 43, was badly served by Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. He called Rummy arrogant and said Cheney built his own hard-line empire as he pushed war around the world. This can`t be helping Jeb. Plus, remember this moment from the Democratic debate? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails! HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you! Me, too! Me, too! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Bernie Sanders took the e-mail issue off the table, but now he`s second-guessing that decision and taking the gloves off against Hillary Clinton. And President Obama is stepping up his effort to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. He wants to work with Congress, but he`s not ruling out using executive authority to close Gitmo once and for all. And that`s a hot topic for tonight from both sides, and it`s ahead. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with my bafflement -- and that`s the word -- at the appeal of Dr. Ben Carson. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.    (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now to an update on a story we brought you yesterday, this weekend`s Russian jetliner crash over the Sinai that killed all 224 people aboard. Well, late today, President Obama told CBS radio that while we don`t know yet what brought down the plane, it`s possible it was a bomb. Well, earlier, British prime minister David Cameron said, to quote, "more likely than not" a bomb was the cause of that crash. But Egypt and Russia are calling that theory speculation still. Well, NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, is here with the latest. ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: What -- you have David Cameron speaking, standing next to El Sisi, the Egyptian leader, and saying what he did. It was very forward-leaning. Clearly, British intelligence -- and I understand that they have some intercepts -- believe that this was mostly likely a bomb, and not only was it a bomb, they believe that it can be linked to ISIS, to the regional ISIS group in Sinai. And that is a game changer because they have never been involved with bomb making before. They`ve never attacked airliners before. We haven`t had an attack of this nature against a commercial airline since 9/11. This is the worst aviation disaster, if it is terrorism, since 9/11. So this is a very serious deal. TSA is looking at whether any kind of procedures have to be put in place at other airports from which planes do fly into the United States. There are no planes that fly into the United States from Sharm el-Sheikh or to Sharm el-Sheikh from the U.S. MATTHEWS: Yes. What do you make of Putin`s restraint here? MITCHELL: I think everyone is being very careful because they, first of all, don`t want to have another reaction. They`re worried about more terrorism. He is certainly worried about any kind of domestic response. He doesn`t want to get this wrong. Clearly, you know, we don`t know for sure, and there have been speculation before, the TWA crash, other crashes, which initially people said were terror, and they turned out not to be. MATTHEWS: Could this re-forge a relationship between Russia and Egypt that was broken back under Sadat`s reign?    MITCHELL: Well, certainly... MATTHEWS: Could they get back together over this one? MITCHELL: Certainly, this would bring them together because there is an interest in shared intelligence. MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s interesting, geopolitics. Thank you so much. MITCHELL: You bet. MATTHEWS: NBC`s Andrea Mitchell. We`re back now with more HARDBALL after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Revelations today from George Herbert Walker Bush reveal that the 41st president really thinks of his son -- what he really thinks of his son`s leadership in the White House. In a new biography, the 91-year-old Bush criticized George W.`s closet advisers, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and implicit blamed his own son for allowing Cheney to gain too much power. According to reporting from "The New York Times" today, Mr. Bush said that Mr. Cheney had built his own empire -- those were his phrases -- and asserted too much hard-line influence within George W. Bush`s White House in pushing for the use of force around the world. Mr. Rumsfeld, the elder Mr. Bush said, was an arrogant fellow who could not see how others thought and served the president badly. Quote, "The big mistake that was made was letting Cheney bring in his kind of his own State Department," Mr. Bush said. "I think they over did that, but it`s not Cheney`s fault, it`s the president`s fault." That`s his son`s fault, by that. He meant his son. "The buck stops there," he said. Wow!    In response to his father`s criticism, George W. Bush released this statement today. "I am proud to have served with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney did a superb job as vice president. I was fortunate to have him by my side throughout my presidency. Don Rumsfeld ably led the Pentagon and was an effective secretary of defense. I`m grateful to both men for their good advice, selfless service to our country, and friendship." Well, on the campaign trail today, Jeb Bush said his father was just, quote, "trying to change the narrative," close quote and went on to defend Dick Cheney. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My brother`s a big boy. His administration was shaped by his thinking, his reaction to the attack of 9/11. I think my dad, like a lot of people that love George, want to try to create a different narrative, perhaps, just because that`s natural to do, right? But George would say, This was under my watch. I was commander-in- chief. I was the leader, and I accept personal responsibility for what happened, both the good and the bad. And I think that`s the right way to look at it. As it relates to Dick Cheney, he served my brother well as vice president and he served my dad extraordinarily well as secretary of defense. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Time now for the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. April Ryan`s White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. John Stanton is Washington bureau chief of Buzzfeed. And Carrie Sheffield is columnist with "Forbes" and a senior writer for "Opportunity Lives (ph)." You know, I thought there was a couple interesting things. First of all, they -- they did the CYA there, the -- Jeb and -- and his brother. But, basically, the big story here is, in Jon Meacham`s new book that`s coming out now from Random, where the old man, former president, has basically come and said, you know, this -- these guys blew it. Cheney was a hawk. He took us into a stupid war. And even Jeb there was saying he was operating from the mind-set of 9/11. He is sort of justifying a bad decision. APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, you know, daddy Bush was right.    I was there all eight years of George W. Bush. His closest supporters, his closest advisers at that time, Condi Rice, Margaret Spellings were still his closest people, there was a fractured relationship, particularly during the time with Iraq, and then also particularly with Scooter Libby with Valerie Plame, and also with the gay marriage issue. So there was a fracture, there was a breaking off of sorts. But... MATTHEWS: What were the two sides? RYAN: It was George W. Bush against Cheney and Rumsfeld on issues of Iraq. You had Colin Powell at the time... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, why didn`t they break earlier, so we wouldn`t have gone to Iraq? RYAN: George W. Bush is very loyal. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, I`m worried about why we went to Iraq. And Cheney had a lot to do with it. RYAN: WMD, weapons of mass destruction that were never found. And, OK, we were going on intelligence that was faulty. So, Cheney kept talking about this WMD. But then George W. Bush now looked...    MATTHEWS: Which was used at the time and they said so as a way to get Europeans to join us. It wasn`t the reason we went into Iraq. RYAN: Exactly. MATTHEWS: They used it as an argument. RYAN: And they also used -- they took that and used the emotion of 9/11 and went on with that. MATTHEWS: I know. It`s amazing the old man is talking. JOHN STANTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, BUZZFEED: It`s amazing. It`s not surprising. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: We all knew what he thought. He`s now saying it. STANTON: I mean, you look at the administration, he was clearly a very different kind of a person then. But he was much more of a old-school Republican like... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He was a realist.    STANTON: Yes, like an old-line guy. So the fact that he believes this, I don`t think is shocking. The fact that he is doing it now is a little bit surprising, I guess, given the timing of the book coming out. MATTHEWS: Why do you think he is doing it? STANTON: I think a little bit is that he is looking at his legacy a little bit. But I also think -- I also do think that he is trying to do things that his son, that Jeb can`t do. Jeb can`t go out and attack his brother. That would not be a good look for him. He`s in a bad spot no matter what. No what he says about George... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Jim Baker, Brent Scowcroft, the general, the former President George Herbert Walker Bush all thought it was a bad idea to go into Iraq. Now they are saying so. It`s going out. CARRIE SHEFFIELD, "FORBES": Well, there were a lot of Democrats in Congress that thought it was a good idea as well. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Did they say it was a good idea, or they went along with it? SHEFFIELD: Well, they voted for it. They voted for it. MATTHEWS: They went along with it.    SHEFFIELD: They went along with it, voted for it. Ergo, they thought it was a good idea. MATTHEWS: So, what`s the point? What`s your point? SHEFFIELD: The point is that H.W. can -- it is all hindsight. Everything is hindsight at this point. And he is 91 years old. MATTHEWS: Many of us were highly skeptical of the reason we went into that war. A lot of us didn`t believe it had anything to do with WMD. It was thought it was neoconservative ideology and it was geopolitical ideology in the Mideast. These people wanted to go after one country after another. They started with Iraq. They wanted to go on to Iran. They wanted to do with Libya, the rest of them. That was their plan. SHEFFIELD: Hey, I opposed it as a BYU student, which was not a very popular position at Brigham Young University, let me tell you. But, at same time, it is true, like you said, that it had been very public that it was two very different takes in terms of H.W. vs. W. That`s not a secret. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So, why do you think the father is talking? SHEFFIELD: I think, yes, it could be to say that, yes, our family, we are independent. This is what Jeb has been saying all the time. I am my own man. This is illustrative of that, that H.W. Bush was his own, W. is his own man. Jeb... (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: Yes, OK. Well, here is how Bush 41 describes how Dick Cheney changed in his son`s administration. "He just became very hard-line" -- this is the old man talking -- "and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with, just hard-ass, his seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East." That`s how he describes neoconservatives. And here is Cheney -- how Cheney reacting to that today on FOX. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We smile about it. We laugh about it. Same with my daughter, with Liz. But my family was not conspiring to somehow turn me into a tougher, more hard- nosed individual. I got there all by myself. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And here is what Cheney told FOX about former President Bush 41`s comment that Cheney is -- quote -- "an iron-ass." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHENEY: I took it as a mark of pride. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Yes, and over 100,000 people dead because of that mark of pride. It`s not something to chuckle about, Mr. Vice President. Anyway, Donald Rumsfeld was more harsh in the statement released by his office today -- quote -- "Bush 41 is getting up in years." This is the charming Donald Rumsfeld. RYAN: Wow. MATTHEWS: "And misjudges," Bush 43, "who I found made his own decisions." What do you make of that, John? STANTON: I think it`s interesting actually that Cheney is just basically acknowledging that he did change from when he worked for the first Bush to the second Bush. I think that is Donald Rumsfeld, the finest Donald Rumsfeld, right? He`s never been a guy that takes criticism very well and has never been shy of basically being sort of nasty to people who criticize him. MATTHEWS: Where is Jeb between the old man and the kid, between him and his brother? Is he a hawk? Is he a realist? He`s not a hawk, is he, enamored of the neocons? RYAN: I think Jeb is trying to find... (CROSSTALK) SHEFFIELD: I think therein lies the problem. I think therein lies the problem, is that he has not articulated a strong vision of what he would do.    MATTHEWS: He put Wolfowitz on his team, though, which is kind of an interesting... (CROSSTALK) SHEFFIELD: And he has also looked so back at his record as governor, which is not a foreign policy record, so we don`t actually know what he would do going forward, which is why he`s losing and why... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes, I think you have pointed to the problem he has. He can`t make a decision between his father and his brother. RYAN: And Jeb right now is going through this metamorphosis, trying to have a renaissance for himself, so we don`t know and he doesn`t even know where he stands. His father is giving himself cover right now. He has got to figure it out very soon. MATTHEWS: Yes. Roger Mudd once asked the question of Ted Kennedy, why are you running for president? It`s a good place to start, answering that question yourself. Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with me. And up next, the gloves are off. Bernie Sanders goes on offense against Hillary Clinton. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening.    There is another twist in the case of the Fox Lake, Illinois, police officer who killed himself in a staged suicide. Authorities say he tried to arrange a hit on a town employee because he was worried she would find out that he was embezzling money. The deceased officer`s wife and an adult son are also under investigation in the case. And the lineups have been announced for the next Republican debate coming up this Tuesday. The main stage will feature eight candidates, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Rand Paul. And the earlier happy hour debate will include Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum. Lindsey Graham and George Pataki will not be part of either debate -- back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too. SANDERS: Enough of e-mails. Let`s talk about real issues facing America. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I love it. You can hear Hillary Clinton going "Me, too, me, too." Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.    That was of course Bernie Sanders at last month`s Democratic debate. Well, earlier this week, I asked Sanders adviser Tad Devine if pulling back on Hillary`s e-mails was the best strategy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Why didn`t your guy jump on the e-mail thing? And let me put it this way. Why did he give it away? Why didn`t he just say, you know what, I`m not -- I`m tired of hearing about the damned thing? Why didn`t he just let it lie there, let the Republicans and the FBI do their thing? Why did he pull it back out of action and give her a break on that? TAD DEVINE, SENIOR BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Because -- well, I don`t know if he gave her a break. MATTHEWS: Well, sure he did. DEVINE: Because Bernie Sanders is convinced that if we have a real debate on issues that voters care about, he`s going to win this election. That`s why. And if we have debates about other issues that they don`t care as much about, his chances of winning are diminished. MATTHEWS: OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: But now the Vermont senator is sharpening his attacks on the former secretary of state.    "The Wall Street Journal"`s headline today says "Bernie Sanders takes the gloves off against Hillary Clinton." In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal," Sanders was asked again about Clinton`s e-mail saga and he said -- quote -- "There is an investigation going on right now. I did not say end the investigation. That`s silly. Let the investigation proceed unimpeded." Well, Sanders also said Clinton`s inconsistent positions on issues like the trade deal -- quote -- "does speak to the character of a person." He also questioned her position on super PACs, the Keystone pipeline, gay marriage and the Iraq War. Here he is on NPR. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SANDERS: When people consider a candidate it is important to understand their history, how they responded in crisis situations, how they responded when the decisions that they made were not necessarily the popular decision. I remember like it was yesterday the war in Iraq. I remember almost every editorial page in America saying, yes, we should go to war, the Bush administration, public opinion polls saying, yes, we should go to war. I voted against it. Hillary Clinton voted the other way. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the Clinton campaign released a statement today, saying -- quote -- "It is disappointing Senator Sanders and his campaign strategists have chosen to change directions and engage in the type of personal attacks that they previously said he wouldn`t do." We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable, April, John, and Carrie. April, again, back to you right across the table here. And anybody jump in here. It seems like he feels like he has made a mistake, that he gave her a free ride on that one.    RYAN: He feels like he has made a mistake, but he will never let you know that. He is going to keep on playing it. Even the campaign is saying he talked about this even before the debate. But he is making... MATTHEWS: Can he be above the battle and still be in the battle? RYAN: He can be above the fray and still fight. MATTHEWS: How? RYAN: But he has got to fight strategically. But he made a mistake doing -- trying to talk about her factual backing away from things or backpedaling, because we have had presidents who pull back. We have got this president who, because of conditions right now with Iraq, he cannot just take troops away. MATTHEWS: What conditions caused Hillary Clinton to change on TPP? RYAN: She was... (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER)    SHEFFIELD: She began running for president. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: There we go. Carrie, go with that. (CROSSTALK) RYAN: ... with him on that, though. That`s the crazy thing. (CROSSTALK) SHEFFIELD: No, I agree with Bernie Sanders, like, yes, on the gay marriage issue and Democrats in general. It`s like, the president, he said it was a moral issue why he was opposed to it. And then, eventually, he came around. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes, but running for president, there`s so many now that Hillary Clinton has moved on -- moved to the left on, because of Bernie Sanders. He could take credit for it and say, look, I know why she`s coming over here. I`m here and I`m doing well. STANTON: I don`t think it hurts him -- it hurts her in a primary that much to have changed positions on some of these things. In same ways, it can help her. If the unions look at her and they say, she was not really for us on this trade thing, and we beat the hell out of her and she did what we wanted, that can be good for her with union voters.    MATTHEWS: Isn`t that interesting, the way you described it? I like the way you said that, because, in the end, they want you -- with you. STANTON: Right. They want you to vote the way they want you to vote. And if you are willing to do that, it doesn`t really -- to them, they don`t care. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: They don`t care what kind of Norma Rae you are. Just be a Norma Rae. STANTON: Right. Just be a Norma Rae. MATTHEWS: But what about this thing with Bernie shifting? Bernie is shifting and saying, I made a mistake. I should have been a little tougher. I should have kept the e-mail on a skillet. (CROSSTALK) SHEFFIELD: Yes. I think he is -- like you said, he is trying to have it both ways, because that debate moment was actually incredibly potent for him with the public. MATTHEWS: For the minute. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Look at his numbers after the debate. I judge debates not by how much applause there is during the debate. It`s how the numbers look afterwards. And I think he gave away a big part of his game.    SHEFFIELD: He did, especially because it`s a federal investigation. This isn`t just a right-wing hack job, which is what the Clintons are trying to make it out to be. This is the FBI. Who controls the FBI? The Obama administration. MATTHEWS: Well, I wouldn`t say -- you`re acting like they interfere with it. SHEFFIELD: No, well, I`m saying... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You`re in this now. Do you think the president calls up Loretta Lynch and says, squeeze him or squeeze him, pull back? You think he would be stupid enough, whatever your politics, that the president of the United States would risk having any transmission of information from him to the attorney general about that case? (CROSSTALK) SHEFFIELD: Justice is blind at the end of the day. MATTHEWS: Thank you. That`s what I thought. So, don`t say it`s under his control. SHEFFIELD: I`m just saying... STANTON: Taking it off the table was stupid for him, because what happened after the debate is that basically all the momentum he had going into that debate has been lost. MATTHEWS: Because? Explain why.    STANTON: Because Hillary looked like she was the winner. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: It also looked like he wasn`t really trying to beat her. STANTON: Yes. RYAN: I think -- I just think, honestly, he was just being honest and it was a slip that reflected a thought. (CROSSTALK) RYAN: I`m serious. He was just being honest. He said, I`m tired of it. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You know what? It ain`t for amateurs. Your Dr. Carson, that guy, you have been between the breaks telling me you think he`s great. Tell me what I am missing about Carson. RYAN: You know, he is intelligent.    MATTHEWS: Of course he is. (CROSSTALK) RYAN: But wait a minute. Wait a minute. One thing he said -- I don`t understand this myself, the fact that he is on a book tour and he`s supposed to be running for president. But people -- he says he has got this ground game and he is listening to the people. And the people seem to be loving him. Thousands of people are going to see him. I don`t know. MATTHEWS: I don`t get it either, I admit. I`m supposed to be an expert at this after all these years, and I don`t get it. I`m lost on this one. (CROSSTALK) SHEFFIELD: I think he is the alter ego to Donald Trump. Donald Trump is... MATTHEWS: Is crass. SHEFFIELD: ... is crass. So I know lots of evangelicals. Like, they don`t like Donald Trump from a moral position. They think that he isn`t one of them. (CROSSTALK)    RYAN: He has not quoted Scripture yet. Ben Carson is. SHEFFIELD: Yes. And that`s why. So, that`s why he`s the favorite in Iowa. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He is the Huckabee, he`s the Pat Robertson, he`s the Rick Santorum all wrapped up into one, and a smarter guy than all of them, probably. Don`t forget, I will be in South Carolina tomorrow night for the first-in-the-South Democratic forum here on MSNBC. Join me from 6:00 to 8:00 Eastern time, earlier in the evening, and then again after forum, with analysis of Rachel Maddow`s interviews with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley. The roundtable, by the way, is sticking with us. And up next, these top reporters tell me something I don`t know. That`s a growing list of things these days. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable. April, tell me something I don`t know.    RYAN: It is about your friend Ben Carson. I talked to him this morning. I know you don`t like it, but I talked to it this morning. And he feels that he is going to gain the black vote. He is going after the black vote with new ads. And he is also saying that... MATTHEWS: Where is the something I don`t know here? Of course he feels he`s going to get vote. RYAN: Right. But hold on. Hold on for a minute. He feels that he will be the next black president after the first black president to the left, and then he is to the right. He says that... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t it be more news and more something I don`t know if he said he doesn`t feel he is going to be the next president? RYAN: But wait a minute. Hold on. Hold on. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Where is the news here? RYAN: Hold on. Then he is going to -- but he is going to be the second black president. He`s not said this before.    And the next thing he says, he says that public service and this effort in the presidential process is a ministry. MATTHEWS: Well, go on. (LAUGHTER) RYAN: You are so upset about Ben Carson. MATTHEWS: I`m concerned. Your thoughts, John? JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: Ted Cruz said Speaker Ryan is John Boehner without a tan. He told "Politico" that sometimes bills will fail and that is OK. That is identical to what Boehner said when he took speakership. They passed the transportation bill that John Boehner wanted. You can go back all the way to 2013 -- MATTHEWS: So, another death of the government. STANTON: The only difference honestly is that he doesn`t have a tan and conservatives seem to like him. MATTHEWS: Carrie Sheffield? CARRIE SHEFFIELD, FORBES: He has a great agenda on poverty, I`ve got say.    MATTHEWS: OK, tell me something I don`t know. SHEFFIELD: Let me ask you, what was the black margin supporting Republicans in 1956? Do you know? MATTHEWS: `56, I`d say about 28. SHEFFIELD: Thirty-nine percent. Then it was 32 percent in 1960 for Richard Nixon. Then I was 6 percent in 1964, Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act. Donald Trump is poised to be Goldwater 2.0 this year with Hispanics and he`s poised to alienate a group for a whole generation with the way we had in 1964 with African-American voters. MATTHEWS: Great. SHEFFIELD: Since that 1964 election, it`s always been single digits. MATTHEWS: The African-American vote was 2-1 Democrat. They became 90-10 after the `60s. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, April Ryan, John Stanton, and Carrie Sheffield. When we return, President Obama steps up his efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but it`s a sticky situation from all sides, legal and safety-wise. You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.    (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: I`m headed to South Carolina tomorrow for MSNBC`s special coverage of the Democratic forum hosted by my colleague Rachel Maddow. Join me from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow night, I will be back after the form with full analysis of Rachel`s interviews with the three Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The question of what to do with the 112 detainees that remained at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay continues to go unanswered. The House of Representatives today passed with a bipartisan vote a spending bill that restricts President Obama from moving the detainees to the U.S. The vote comes amid reports that the White House is considering closing Guantanamo prison by executive order. House Speaker Paul Ryan says those 112 detainees should stay where they are. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think Guantanamo detainees should be in Guantanamo. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Well, that`s short and sweet. Anyway, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Paul Ryan is misguided and the U.S. can move the men to U.S. prisons without compromising national security. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The suggestion that this cannot be done safely flies in the face of every piece of available evidence that exists. The view that Speaker Ryan is expressing is in contradiction to some of the brightest foreign policy thinkers in both parties. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina. His district includes residential work at a naval brig in Charleston, that could house some detainees if they were moved to the U.S. Also with me, Chris Anders. He`s an ACLU lawyer who advocates for Guantanamo detainees themselves. Congressman, thank you for coming on. Now, I have looked at this and tried to figure out and argued it with people. But is this about safety? Do we not trust our prisons to hold these guys? Is it about the problem of bringing people to the United States who can`t be charged for a lot of reasons but are still dangerous? What is the issue to you? REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the issue is side stepping the issue. I think that is what the president is doing here because the issue is not the geography of indefinite detention. The issue is indefinite detention. He`s sidestepping that issue completely. And at the end of the day, from the civil liberties standpoint, from a taxpayer`s standpoint, from a local geography points back in Charleston, you know, I think that you not really looking at what is at play if you simply say let`s move the prisoners without addressing indefinite detention. So, I think the president is trying to deliver on a campaign process about closing Guantanamo Bay. But in so doing, he ignores existing law, he ignores the piece of legislation that he`s just passed the House that the president has said he`s going to sign that says you can`t deal with this until December 21st and he`s once again trying to act unilaterally in a way that`s contrary to common sense and the law.    MATTHEWS: Well, I want to get back to what we should do as citizens, forget the president, forget everybody. This thing about what we all agree should make common sense here. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, advocates in an op-ed piece in "The New York Times" for shutting Gitmo down. She says, `For those relatively few detainees who can`t be tried because of a lack of evidence, but still need to be held until the end of hostilities, bringing to the United States presents a more cost effective option, facilities in the United States are up to the test. There`s no reason to think a Guantanamo detainee is anymore likely to escape from a supermax than any other federal prison." Look, here`s the problem, Congressman, and you know it as well as everyone, we have people we are holding right now we can`t try, we can`t convict, we can`t even indict legally because of the evidence that was gathered. But we know for sure that they are dangerous. What do you think we should do with those people? Dangerous people we can`t criminalize, we can`t convict? What do we do with them? SANFORD: We have a tradition in this country of either taking them out back and shoot them if we have enough evidence, or we let them go. But this idea of holding somebody for 10 or 15 years of their life -- MATTHEWS: What do you do with the guy who swears to your face that he hates the United States, wants to kill our people, the minute you let him out, he has committed -- he is a committed terrorist, you say the president of the United States should let that guy go? You would actually advise him to do that? Let him go? SANFORD: What you I say is we`re going down -- no. What I say is we`re going down -- again, we`re skipping the real argument. The president could act unilaterally with regard to military tribunal against these folks, and he`s not doing that. And instead he`s wanting to do -- what he`s wanting to do is to skip that argument and move it to the one we`re having now about the geography of where prisoners are held. MATTHEWS: But where do you think -- SANFORD: He`s skipping the issue he can`t deal with. MATTHEWS: Do you think we should be allowed to keep people who are dangerous even if we can`t convict them? Yes or no, in principle? SANFORD: In principle, no. And military tribunals have gone --    MATTHEWS: We can`t keep a person who we know to be -- you`re saying we have to release terrorists. SANFORD: I`m saying you have to bring charges against another human being, you can`t hold them for 50 years of their life without ever bringing a charge. And from a logistical standpoint, the idea of taking them from a spot where they`re removed from the American populace and even removed from the Cuban populace in Guantanamo Bay and instead bringing them to a place like Hanahan, South Carolina, where you have churches, schools, a place that`s rated as a tourist Mecca and saying why don`t we house them there to me doesn`t make common sense. MATTHEWS: I think it`s tougher charge, though. Let me get Chris Sanders. Thank you. Hold on, Congressman. It`s supposed to be taken to an absolute supermax where it`s down in some dungeon where they`re never going to get out in a million years that`s not the issue of security because there are such places. From an ACLU point of view, do we have the right to take a dangerous terrorist who we can`t convict of a crime and hold him until these hostilities are over as Dianne Feinstein put it? These hostilities are going to go on forever for as far as we know. CHRIS ANDERS, ACLU SR. LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL: I mean, look, a lot of these people -- MATTHEWS: Are we allowed to hold them? ANDERS: Well, look, a lot of these people have already been held for 14 years. The United States in our entire history has never held people without charge or trial for as long as 14 years. If you go back -- MATTHEWS: Yes, but how long do we involved in an ongoing struggle like we are right now? ANDERS: But these, you know -- MATTHEWS: ISIS is still there.    ANDERS: Look, if after 14 years of holding men at Guantanamo, we can`t even put together a criminal case or -- MATTHEWS: Well, what do we do? ANDERS: Look, if somebody -- our laws, anti-terrorism laws are very broad. If you as a prosecutor can`t figure out how to bring a case against somebody -- MATTHEWS: Let them go? ANDERS: -- for material support for terrorism. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let them go? Just say it. Let them go. ANDERS: Well, what happens with them is they get transferred overseas to foreign countries that have accepted them, have resettled them, in many cases they`re monitoring them. MATTHEWS: And the next time we hear their names, they`re in Yemen somewhere attacking the government. ANDERS: Well, in terms of what has happened during the Obama administration, that is true under -- some of the people that were released early on under the Bush administration where they didn`t know who was coming into Guantanamo, they didn`t know who was coming out. MATTHEWS: Some of them came back to bite us.    ANDERS: But under President Obama where they`ve done the hard work of with each detainee coming up with a security -- MATTHEWS: Do they get more rights by being transferred to the United States from Guantanamo? Could you get a good lawyer if you`re put in some prison in Colorado, could you get a good lawyer from the ACLU that gives you more rights than you would have in Guantanamo? Isn`t that the case? ANDERS: We think that at Guantanamo detainees already have full constitutional rights -- MATTHEWS: But you don`t have to argue the case as hard in the United States, do you? ANDERS: The Supreme Court has already said that these detainees are entitled to habeas protections. Every single detainee down at Guantanamo already has a habeas lawyer. The problem with bringing the detainees to the United States, though, is that then you have, as the congressman just said, then you have indefinite detention going on in the United States itself, you have judges that are then going to be making a decision about how long that`s going to continue. MATTHEWS: So it does give the prisoner a greater chance to get out. ANDERS: Which is why the detainees should be brought to the United States are detainees who would be charged -- MATTHEWS: I think we see the problem. It`s a problem of safety being raised by the congressman. It`s a problem of legality being raised by the ACLU. I see why the president`s stuck in this thing. Congressman, do you think they should stay at Guantanamo? SANFORD: Until we have a plan. And again, the president could do things unilaterally with regard to military tribunal. He`s not doing that.    MATTHEWS: OK. SANFORD: And the idea of saying our plan is simply to move them to Guantanamo Bay, continue to house them indefinitely at a place that frankly has civilian population close by, again, to me does not seem like a sensible plan particularly when he side -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I don`t think they`re going to put him in some brig somewhere. Anyway, thank you. I don`t think it`s going to be a brig. It`s going to be some supermax. But thank you, Congressman. Come back on the show again. And Chris Anders, ACLU, which I greatly respect. When we return let me finish with my bafflement at the appeal of Dr. Ben Carson. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: I am baffled by the appeal of Dr. Ben Carson. There, I`ve said it. He advocates a tax policy based on the Old Testament, on tithing, as if 10 percent is some blessed counsel to us living in the 21st century.    He argues that the Egyptian pyramids weren`t built as tombs for the pharaohs but rather as grain banks even though everyone in the world knows that King Tut and the rest of them began building their pyramids from the time of their youths as way stations for deliverance after death. Why else did they equip the sealed chambers with all the things they`d like to have in the afterlife? And why to put it bluntly is Dr. Carson right about this and every book on Egyptology wrong? Is this a case where a gifted amateur shows us his beginner`s luck? Well, give me a break. The experts are right, he`s wrong and this is just another example of the wildness of listening to him. What does Dr. Carson know about the ancient Egyptians and their funerary practices? In effect, nothing. What does he know about U.S. tax policy and its complexity? In effect, what he`s read in the bible. When asked why an amateur like him could do a better job than the political professionals, he points to the Founding Fathers calling them his fellow amateurs. Fact check. Practically all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were committed deadly serious men of public affairs elected in their own states to serve on legislative bodies, all of which preceded the founding of the country. The country was founded by professionals, Doctor. And what is this talk about the ark, Noah`s Ark? What relevance does this account from the bible have to teach us today? Well, Dr. Carson, answer us. It teaches us that amateurs build boats better than professionals he says. How else he asked do we explain the sinking of the Titanic? Well, you got me there, Doctor. 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. 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