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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 11/09/15

Guests: Michelle Bernard, Paul Singer, Richard Blumenthal, Michael Tomasky,Jeff Mason, Rebecca Sinderbrand, Bryan Cranston, Jay Roach

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tell me another one, Dr. Carson. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Tonight, the presidential campaign heats up with Trump on attack, Carson on defense, the Cruz people making outrageous use of Sandy Hook, and Louisiana ready to elect an admitted client of prostitutes. Is this the "Vitter end"? Also on HARDBALL tonight, a story of the cold war. Actor Bryan Cranston shows us the life of Dalton Trumbo, Hollywood`s Oscar-winning writer who beat the blacklist. I start tonight with Dr. Ben Carson, who calls President Obama a psychopath, says the Egyptian pyramids were actually grain elevators, says prison makes you gay. He has, of course, other stories to tell, some of which have gotten people talking, wondering what to make of them and him, like the time he stabbed at someone by a knife but was stopped by the person`s belt, the time he was offered a scholarship to West Point, the time he protected white people during a racial riot, the time a professor gave him $10 for not complaining about an exam. Howard Fineman`s global editor of the HuffingtonPost, Michelle Bernard is president of the Bernard Center, still, and Paul Singer is a Washington correspondent with "USA Today." MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER PRES.: I know you`re jealous! (CROSSTALK)    (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I love life, period! Howard -- Howard, this is a big chance for you. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. MATTHEWS: So much -- many times in your life, you`ve had to write the big story. FINEMAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: What is the big story now on Dr. Ben -- and the reason we`re leading with him, he`s leading the polls. He`s at the top of the hill. He`s number one. He`s getting the scrutiny because that`s what you get at the top. He is leading the race to be the next president from the Republican side, believe it or not. FINEMAN: Well, what`s going on here, Chris, is a contest between the world of politics, specifically conservative Republican politics, and the media to decide who gets to control the story of the life of a candidate and on what terms. We`re sort of going through the looking glass here, where Republican candidates, including Donald Trump and Ben Carson and others, are saying, We are who we tell you we are... MATTHEWS: Right. FINEMAN: ... and that`s our story. That`s our narrative. You know, the... MATTHEWS: That`s my story and I`m sticking to it.    FINEMAN: That`s my story and I`m sticking to it. And by the way, do not trust the media of any kind. This has been 20 or 30 years in the making. This goes back to when Bill Clinton was faced with a tough situation in his personal life when he was running for president. And James Carville, his master strategist, put together a list showing the evil right-wing conspiracy of the right-wing media. They attacked the media to discredit the media so that the Clintons could have some breathing space. Now that`s happening on a much grander scale, only it`s the Republicans and conservatives who are doing it at the time when the media is fractured and when... MATTHEWS: How did the media go so far left? I`m not being sarcastic. FINEMAN: It`s not that far left. MATTHEWS: It`s the same damn media that went after Clinton! FINEMAN: It`s the same media. But the candidates are saying, through social media, through their direct contact with voters, We are going to edit out journalism as it had been understand. We`re going to control our own story through social media and advertising. The role of the press is out the window. That really is... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I remember -- we all remember this -- we`re grown-ups -- when Hillary Clinton went on the "TODAY" show -- I`m sure Sid Blumenthal was nearby -- and came on and said it was a... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: There wasn`t a relationship that was inappropriate, as the president ultimately admitted. None of that was true. It was all a concoction of something called the vast right-wing conspiracy.    BERNARD: Right-wing conspiracy. MATTHEWS: Now -- now that`s applied also to the media because remember, up in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire primary of 1992, he walked door to door -- we followed him -- carrying DVDs he was going to hand out to people so they could get the real story... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... and it worked! BERNARD: Yes. So... MATTHEWS: Does Dr. Carson have his own DVDs to tell his story and pass them around? BERNARD: Well, I mean, well, effectively, he does. And he does it through books. I mean, he -- this is the person who sort of suspended his campaign for a couple weeks to sell books and had us wondering, Are you really running for president or trying increase speaking fees? The problem -- what is so incredibly sad about this whole thing is that Dr. Carson, before he ran for president, is Horatio Alger. This is the man whose mother got married when she was 13... MATTHEWS: Well, wasn`t that good enough? (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: That`s my point. The story is unbelievable. His mother was married at 13. She finds out that her husband has a second family. He leaves her and goes to the second family. She raises her two sons by herself in Detroit. And she has one son who goes to Yale. He goes to the University of Michigan for medical school. He becomes the head of pediatric neurology...    MATTHEWS: You should be his (INAUDIBLE) BERNARD: ... at Johns Hopkins... (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: ... and then -- and then, all of a sudden -- he`s a Democrat at one point in time. He`s an independent for many years because he was so disgusted by the media, allegedly, on what -- their treatment of Bill Clinton. And then he becomes... MATTHEWS: Oh, he thought the press was unfair to Bill? BERNARD: To Bill Clinton during the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Congress. He was disgusted by Congress. He became an independent for many, many years. He did not become a Republican again until 2013, when he goes and speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast, says horrible things about President Obama, and conservatives wake up and say, We love you. We love you. You`re the right kind of black man. If you`re going to run for president, you`ve got to play with the big boys. If you`re going to be number one or number two in the polls, how could he not expect this? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... put this story together to sell himself to the evangelical right? Was it premeditated? BERNARD: No. I think the...    MATTHEWS: The story is real. BERNARD: I think... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... all these bells and whistles... (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: The story is real. I cannot imagine that anyone would lie about wanting to hit their mother with a hammer. Why would anyone make that up? Because it`s either true, or you`re insane. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... a pathological disease. BERNARD: Well, he might. (LAUGHTER) PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": Some version of the story is true, as some version of all of our stories is true. I mean, I can`t tell you what my first resume said when I applied for my job, but it might have been fudged a little bit.    MATTHEWS: Paul... SINGER: This is... MATTHEWS: This is very dangerous territory. Speak for yourself... (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) SINGER: You are the most honest man I know. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s my strange notion (INAUDIBLE) SINGER: This is the challenge. I mean, any candidate sells the American people a version of themselves. It is our job to fact check that version. BERNARD: Absolutely. SINGER: And it is the right of the American people to choose whether they care whether what we say was exactly what we said we said.    BERNARD: And he should be prepared to deal with it! SINGER: And he`s doing -- and the Republicans are doing exactly what we said they could do... MATTHEWS: Well, what about... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to some of these things about not his biography but his theories of the universe -- the gay -- you go to prison, you become gay. He`s a doctor. He should -- should he be -- President Obama`s a psychopath. The man has certain credentials. He`s board- certified, if you will. When he says somebody`s a nut, that sort of means something. FINEMAN: Chris, the other... MATTHEWS: And the becoming gay in prison -- I don`t know what that`s from, what experience he heard about. And what about the pyramids? The pyramids are tombs for the pharaohs! FINEMAN: The other... MATTHEWS: Stop coming up with another theory, buddy! FINEMAN: The other -- the other -- the other trend that`s happening here, Chris, is that candidates no longer even have an eye on voters in other worlds besides the one they inhabit. Ben Carson is speaking to the people who support him... MATTHEWS: At the prayer breakfast.    FINEMAN: ... at the prayer breakfast, who are the evangelicals in Iowa, who -- people who come to him with a predisposition to support him based on faith, based on his manner. MATTHEWS: They want this story. FINEMAN: They want this story. He doesn`t care about independent, skeptical, agnostic, science-based voters down the road. He doesn`t. And that`s true all along in American politics right now. People are speaking to their niches, and they`re not speaking to the whole, especially on the Republican side in a field with so many candidates. MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Michelle on this. BERNARD: Yes. MATTHEWS: Personally -- I mean, you`re -- think a lot about this. The fact that he`s African-American, the fact that we have an African- American president, but interesting, you know, immigrant background, as well, from his one parent -- is this out of a -- is this kind of a Republican perfection here? Here`s how we show them we`re not racist. We just want a different story. BERNARD: Well... MATTHEWS: What is -- what is the connection here ethnically between the two -- the president and president wannabe here? BERNARD: Well, the only connection between the president wannabe and the president that we actually have is that they are both black men, who are always subjected to greater scrutiny for everything that you do. We always say if you`re going to commit -- if you`re going to do anything improper, just remember, if you`re black, they`re going to look it up and they`re going to find it. MATTHEWS: Good point. Let`s listen to this. All the scrutiny has been putting beat on Ben Carson. Late Friday, he said the press and his critics were desperate to tarnish him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me because they have been looking through everything! They have been talking to everybody I`ve ever known, everybody I`ve ever seen. There`s got to be a scandal! There`s got to be some nurse he`s having an affair with! There`s got to be something! They are getting desperate. So next week, it`ll be my kindergarten teacher who said I peed in my pants. I mean, it`s ridiculous! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, in an interview with NBC`s Chris Jansing over the weekend, Carson said he was most -- he`s the most scrutinized candidate in history. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Vetting is a normal part of the process. Did you not expect this? CARSON: I have always said that I expect to be vetted, but being vetted and what is going on with me -- You said this 30 years ago, you said this 20 years ago, this didn`t exist -- you know, I -- I just have not seen that with anyone else. If you can show me where that`s happened with someone else, I will take that statement back. JANSING: You don`t think that Bill Clinton or the president with his birth certificate, people... CARSON: No, not like this. JANSING: ... who still refuse to believe... CARSON: It`s not -- not even close. (END VIDEO CLIP)    BERNARD: Oh, my God. MATTHEWS: Well, in Carson`s book, "Gifted Hands," he describes his violent past, saying that, "I had what I only can call a (INAUDIBLE) label a pathological temper, a disease. And this sickness controlled me, making me totally irrational." Over the weekend, Donald Trump went after Carson, obviously, as damaged goods because he gave him the word "disease." And here`s Trump using it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said he has a pathological disease... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don`t believe him? You don`t believe him, do you. TRUMP: Well, if you have pathological disease, that`s a problem. When you write in a book that you have pathological disease -- pathological disease is not cured. It`s a serious statement when you say you have pathological disease because, as I understand it, you can`t really cure it. He said he has pathological disease in the book. When you have pathological disease, that`s a very serious problem because that`s not something that`s cured. That`s something that you have to live with, and that`s a very serious thing to have to live with. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Now he`s the doctor! (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: There is no such thing as helping anyone with a problem of pathology. It`s hopeless. In every case, it`s hopeless. Donald Trump just said that. FINEMAN: Well, two things. First of all, the notion that Ben Carson is receiving harder scrutiny than other candidates is ridiculous. BERNARD: Yes. FINEMAN: Not true. The second thing is here, Donald Trump has got a choice to make heading into the debate tomorrow night. Does he really focus as Dr. Trump on Dr. Carson? Does he really go after him and tear him down and try to tear him down? Because if he does, that leaves room for the other candidates. But I think he`s not going to be able to resist. I think... (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: Can I just add... FINEMAN: They`re going to be standing right next to each other tomorrow night. MATTHEWS: Really.    BERNARD: Can I -- can I just add, though, the fact that people have been unable to confirm the anger problem, unable to confirm the story about the belt -- it doesn`t necessarily mean it didn`t happen. He should have just been prepared to be able to explain this. MATTHEWS: He could have footnoted it. BERNARD: He -- absolutely. And it`s interesting, you know, in 2008, Barack Obama was running away from people trying to -- who were scared of him as being the angry black man. And we`ve got Ben Carson now who`s... MATTHEWS: OK... BERNARD: ... like, That`s who I am. MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me get back to the bigger point. If -- you know -- Howard, I`ve written books, you know? And you write a book, you`ve got months to get -- maybe years, in some -- (INAUDIBLE) one I`m working on now -- and you have plenty of time to look at it in print, a whole lot of time before it actually gets -- a lot of time to go over it and make sure - - you start making these claims, you better damn well know they`re true. Now, maybe you can`t substantiate them right away, but they better be damn true, not sort of true. (CROSSTALK) SINGER: It doesn`t matter until you`re the front-runner. It doesn`t matter until you`re the front-runner. I was reading Santorum`s book at some point this season, and I was, like, Wait, this can`t possibly be right. But who cares, right? Santorum`s not the front-runner. If he becomes the front-runner... MATTHEWS: What did you find in -- what did you find in... SINGER: Oh, he made up, basically, a person in order to play the role of the straw man and his book. I`m, like, This can`t be a real person (INAUDIBLE) in the back. Well, maybe it`s parts of other people. MATTHEWS: Yes, there`s a guy named Bob in this book...    (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: What`s interesting here is that Ben Carson doesn`t even care if you think whether he made it up or not. BERNARD: Right. FINEMAN: He doesn`t accept the basic premises of what I would regard as rational discussion... MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: ... and fact checking in journalism and in life. MATTHEWS: OK, explain... FINEMAN: He`s saying... BERNARD: Well, with one point... FINEMAN: He`s saying, This is the story. You have an evil motive in even asking me these questions. MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this. Is this play-acting? The first - - I -- I talk fast. Everybody knows that, for better or worse. He talks slow, for better or worse.    BERNARD: Yes. FINEMAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: But it seems to be working for him. The only time he speeds up from, say, to use the old phrase, 33 1/3 to something like 78 or 45 even, is when he was talking about this stuff. Did you notice his arms moving? A lot of animation... BERNARD: Well, he was angry. MATTHEWS: This is the first time he`s actually shown a human response. SINGER: We`re under his skin. I mean, the fact of the matter is (INAUDIBLE) you know, four out of five dentists agree that Trident is better for you, right? We never fact-checked that and we never expected it to be true. We didn`t care. MATTHEWS: You know why? They were wearing a dental uniform. SINGER: Well, that`s right. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) SINGER: Carson is selling a message. It`s a message of belief. It is a message of this evangelical thing. It`s a message of where I`ve come from. And it`s a great message. And maybe it`s not entirely true, but he doesn`t expect his voters are going to care that much. And frankly, I think he`s enjoying the...    (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s one reason why it`s good to vote for people -- not that I`m yesterday (ph), but vote for people with a public record in public office. You won`t have to worry about all this stuff because you`ve got a public record. We can talk about their voting record, how they stood on issues, what they -- how well they were during hurricanes... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You don`t get into this ether we`re in right now of what book he wrote X many years ago. Howard Fineman, thank you. Michelle, thank you. Thank you, Paul. This is a great segment. And a remember now, we`re going to have full coverage of tomorrow night`s Republican debate right here on MSNBC on HARDBALL, in fact. Join me at 7:00 Eastern, and then after the debate -- oh, we love doing these -- at 11:00 Eastern tomorrow night for two hours of reaction and analysis, plus some exciting guests, including -- catch this -- I think we made her - - former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. She`s coming to HARDBALL. She`s a good sport, I guess. We`ll see if she`s smart about that. Coming up next -- Ted Cruz no stranger to nastiness, of course, but a new campaign ad from his super-PAC has leaders in Connecticut feeling downright sick. Should Cruz really be proud that he stood up against the push for gun safety after the horror of Sandy Hook? Plus, it`s one of the toughest campaign ads of all time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots. Now the choice is yours. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Well, that`s part of the attack ad being run by the Democrat in the Louisiana governor`s race against Republican David Vitter. It pulls no punches, but will it work? We`ll see. By the way, that`s hardball. And the great Bryan Cranston, Walter, of course, from "Breaking Bad," on his new role as a Hollywood screenwriter who was jailed and blacklisted during the red scare. The movie is "Trumbo," and Cranston and director Jay Roach will be with us tonight here. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with that game we played as kids, the Republicans are playing right now, King of the Hill. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: President Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House today, their first face-to-face meeting in over a year. Ahead of their private meeting, the two leaders emphasized the bond shared between the two countries and their both hopes for Middle East peace. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also will discuss with the prime minister his thoughts on how we can lower the temperature between Israelis and Palestinians, how we can get back on a path towards peace and how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process, even as we make sure that Israel is able to... BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I want to make it clear that we have not given up our hope for peace. We will never give up our hope for peace. And I remain committed to a vision of peace, of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. I don`t think that anyone should doubt Israel`s determination to defend itself against terror and destruction, but neither should anyone doubt Israel`s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors that genuinely want to achieve peace with us. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Love will bring us together. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A new ad from a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC called Courageous Conservatives has drawn angry responses from Connecticut`s two U.S. senators. That`s because the ad, which was meant as an attack ad on Marco Rubio, plays on the massacre at Sandy Hook. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: Marco Rubio looks good on TV. But that`s about it. Ted Cruz for president. Ted Cruz walks tall for what we believe, standing up, often standing alone. Ted Cruz makes things happen. After Sandy Hook, Ted Cruz stopped Obama`s new push for gun control laws. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: In response, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote: "The new Ted Cruz makes me want to throw up. And I`m pretty sure that`s a feeling shared by many who lived through the horror of Sandy Hook. Middle- of-the-road, commonsense voters won`t be impressed by a campaign whose opening pitch to voters is portraying the candidate as the one senator who took on the parents of Sandy Hook in the wake of the most horrific mass shooting in our lifetime." We are lucky to have Senator Richard Blumenthal tonight. He had tweeted tonight: "I`m astonished and appalled. Blocking gun violence prevention legislation right after the Newtown tragedy is no basis to brag."    I`m joining by now by one of those senators, Richard Blumenthal, and also by David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst. Senator, thank you. Just give us the full picture of Sandy Hook, the legacy of that tragedy in your state especially, and why this ad is offensive. SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Why this ad is so offensive is, it shows a basic lack of humanity. I was there when those families learned that their six beautiful children and -- 20 children and six great educators would not be coming home that night. And I was there when the president came to comfort them. And what this reflects is a lack of humanity and compassion that is really offensive and insulting, demeaning and disrespectful to those families. And it shows also I think a lack of leadership. The president of the United States is a leader. And I call on Senator Cruz to disavow this ad. It isn`t his ad. It`s his PAC`s ad. He can disavow it and denounce it. And that`s what I think he should do, because I think that in the interest of really restoring basic credibility and trust, he should do that. MATTHEWS: Well, even though the Cruz campaign is legally, you might say technically barred from coordinating with the super PAC, Cruz has expressed similar sentiments to the ad in the past. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama and Harry Reid led an assault, not on going after violent criminals, which is what they should have done, but instead going after the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. And I led the fight to protect the Second Amendment in the U.S. Senate and we defeated President Obama`s efforts to undermine our rights.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And there you have it, basically a mirror image of what`s in the PAC ad. Anyway, in 2013, Senator Cruz accused President Obama of using the massacre up there to advance his own political agenda. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: I think he had a political agenda, which was to restrict the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding citizens. They took advantage of that horrible, tragic shooting to push that agenda. And they didn`t focus actually on solving the problem. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I never understood how somebody would say gun safety is a political objective. It`s a policy objective. DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. MATTHEWS: It doesn`t score you any points. It`s a very divisive issues. You do it because you believe in it. CORN: And -- but Ted Cruz has made this a prominent political issue in his campaign for months now. Back in April, I wrote the story, his own campaign, not a super PAC, was putting out a fund-raising e-mail saying that he was much better on gun control than Rand Paul or Marco Rubio. MATTHEWS: You mean much better against it.    CORN: Well, against it, on gun -- on gun rights. MATTHEWS: Right. CORN: Why? Because he stood up after Newtown. He had said this again and again. I called on his people. And they said, he`s much better. After Newtown, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul did virtually nothing. So, this has been a talking point that he has developed to get the gun rights vote, the real excessive gun rights vote, over Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, the two people who are in the Senate lane competing against him. MATTHEWS: You know, Senator, this -- I know you don`t want to get into going after a colleague personally, but, Senator Blumenthal, I -- this fits to me the image I have gotten of Ted Cruz. I mean, he calls his party leader, Mitch McConnell, a liar. He seems to be always dumping on the Senate itself, bringing it to a halt, shutting down the government, using unbelievable language. Sometimes, I think he thinks that President Obama is Fidel Castro. He speaks upon his political opponents as the enemy in the worst sense. BLUMENTHAL: We can disagree about policy, and we can take different positions on issues of great contention, but this kind of ad reflects a lack of humanity that I think is abhorrent to many of us. And that`s why I think he can still disavow the ad, since it is from his super PAC. But, profoundly and unmistakably, to play on the Newtown families, I think, is a disservice to him. And many of my colleagues, I think, will share that point of view, because I will tell you something, Chris. No matter which way my colleagues voted on that commonsense package of measures -- remember, it was background checks, a ban on straw purchases and illegal trafficking, they all felt deeply, and they met with those families, and felt the horror and unspeakable, unimaginable tragedy of a parent learning at the end of the day that his parent is -- his child was not coming home that night. So, I think it will resonate in a very bad way. MATTHEWS: Usually, people are -- they treat victims and their families as off-base politically. They leave them alone.    Anyway, thank you, Senator Richard Blumenthal. And thank you, David Corn, as always. Up next, it`s one of the most in-your-face political ads we have seen. Talk about hardball. Wait until you see this. And this is HARDBALL, the show, and the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A tough new attack ad is shaping up the Louisiana gubernatorial race. Republican Senator David Vitter is campaigning for the job, of course, but Vitter`s past use of an infamous D.C. prostitution ring is now being used by his Democratic opponent, as you might expect, in this new ad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: The choice for governor couldn`t be more clear. John Bel Edwards, who answered our country`s call and served as a Ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division, or David Vitter, who answered a prostitute`s call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives and in defense of our freedom. David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what you call juxtaposition. And, today, with the Democratic contender, state Representative John Bel Edwards, ahead in the poll, Vitter launched his own ad. Here he goes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: Fifteen years ago, I failed my family, but found forgiveness and love. I learned that our falls aren`t what define us, but rather how we get up, accept responsibility and earn redemption. Now Louisiana has fallen on hard times, a budget crisis, low wages, failing schools. You know me. I`m a fighter. And, as your governor, I will get up every day to fight for you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I got 100 questions about this race. Vitter and Edwards will duke it out in two televised debates before the run-off, which is on Saturday, November 21, which is also an oddity of Louisiana. Anyway, I`m joined right now is -- the HARDBALL roundtable tonight to talk about this battle of the Bayou State. Michael Tomasky writes for The Daily Beast. Rebecca Sinderbrand is "The Washington Post" political news editor. And Jeff Mason is the Reuters White House correspondent.    Thank you very much. I want to start very much with Rebecca. What is weird about this is, this guy customized, what`s the term, is you -- went to sex hookers in both D.C., on some madam`s list that he showed up, and then back in Louisiana as well. You know, in New York, we had a governor that had one incident apparently of being caught in this. He was gone within hours. How is Louisiana able to accept all this as part of the deal? REBECCA SINDERBRAND, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, you have got to think about it this way. There`s a couple of things going on here and a couple of instances of karma coming home to roost. First of all, you have got campaign karma. In the primary, he went after his opponents hard. He called them used car salesmen. He had -- these super PAC did these blistering spots. And so now he`s -- very first ad of this general election season, and, boy, is he getting it. He`s someone who thought this was behind him. Seven, eight years ago, you think to yourself, he`s gotten past it. Now, when you least expect it, it`s coming back to roost. MATTHEWS: But being a john, as prostitutes call their customers, it`s hard to shake that off, since it all happened while you were a senator. It wasn`t a youthful indiscretion. MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. He... MATTHEWS: This is -- and that poor wife of his had to stand by him. And, by the way, for another wrinkle to this, why does he want to give up a life chance to be a senator to go back to being governor of Louisiana? That`s another thing I can`t quite... TOMASKY: Yes, that`s a separate question.    MATTHEWS: He wants to be Huey Long or what? Anyway. TOMASKY: Well, that is a separate question. But, look, the reason that he survived... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, maybe it`s the same question. Maybe they put up with this back there. TOMASKY: Maybe so, yes. But he is surviving this because he is a Republican and it`s a Republican state. And it is a state that is very, very unlikely to elect a Democrat to the United States Senate or to be the governor, unless the Republican is just a catastrophic disaster. Now, he may meet the threshold of being catastrophic disaster. He`s 10, 12 points behind in the polls. He didn`t do very well in the first round of voting. He only got, I think, 23 percent of the vote. But he did finish second. JEFF MASON, REUTERS: Yes, surprised everybody. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The state has to ratify this. Voters have to write his name in and say, I`m happy with him as my next governor, next governor. MASON: Yes.    MATTHEWS: I`m putting him into a new office. This isn`t reelection. I think this is the man to run this state, affirmatively. That`s what they have to say. MASON: Totally. And he wants the job. He wants the job. He wants to be executive of a state. He has a good job as a senator, but he wants to be in charge of a state. And that`s why he is running. And he is not doing particularly well in the polls. And I guess one of the questions is, why, if you are actually doing well in the polls, as the Democrat is, as Edwards is, why do you come and do an ad like this right now in the middle of some success? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I actually believe this wouldn`t work in Pennsylvania and a lot of states. Louisiana is unique. Why would New York -- New York isn`t exactly a puritan state, but they dumped Spitzer. TOMASKY: There was an element of Spitzer`s thing, though, that he was potentially compromised because he went to a -- he was the governor who was potentially compromised. He`s the governor who was a... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But wouldn`t a senator be compromised in D.C.? TOMASKY: Not in the same way as a governor, who oversees the law enforcement apparatus of a state. SINDERBRAND: Look at this way. Look, first of all, why would do this if you are ahead? You want to make sure, when the guy is down, that he stays there.    MATTHEWS: Yes. SINDERBRAND: But the thing that is interesting, why would he want this job? Look, Louisiana has got one of the most powerful governorships in the country. There is a lot of power there. There`s a lot of influence. There`s the potential to move a lot of jobs around. (CROSSTALK) SINDERBRAND: Yes. (CROSSTALK) MASON: There`s 99 other senators. There`s 99 other senators. And a lot of senators like to -- not a lot, but plenty of senators will leave the halls of Congress to be the executive or to join the executive branch. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. So he wins. TOMASKY: Yes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: To the bitter end, as I`m calling it, the bitter end.    He becomes the Republican governor of Louisiana. Can`t the Democrats run on that all around the country? This is what the Republican Party accepts. (CROSSTALK) SINDERBRAND: Let`s not assume that he wins, for one thing, because I think what this is teaching us is, never assume the obvious when it comes to Vitter. Seven, eight years ago, he`s supposed to be absolutely down for the count. He survives. This year, he is supposed to be past this. He`s already won an election. It`s up again. MATTHEWS: Yes. You know what it is? To me, it is -- it`s a trick of a pollster. Some pollster probably told him, it`s -- like they did with Ted Kennedy, unfortunately, during -- because of the tragedy at Chappaquiddick -- told him he can run against Jimmy Carter. He`s weak. And it`s only 3 percent in the polls. That`s what they -- somebody told Tip O`Neill when I was working for him. It`s only 3 percent. It`s the last 3 percent. It`s the difference between 48 percent and 51, because in the end, they go, oh, I don`t know. This thing isn`t going to go away. Who told him it would? TOMASKY: It`s not going to go away. But, Chris, people vote... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Prostitutes, a list -- he is on lists in Washington. He`s on lists in Louisiana. He`s all over the place.    (CROSSTALK) MASON: People love a rehabilitation story. People love a rehabilitation story, both on the local level and on the national level. You see that with lots of politicians. (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: I`m saying it`s more... (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: It`s more about ideology. (CROSSTALK) MASON: And he thinks that he can show, look, I have gotten over this. I have received the forgiveness of my family. I`m appearing in this ad with my family. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Try to put a knife in somebody`s stomach, and the belt stops you. And, oh, everybody`s got a rehabilitation story. SINDERBRAND: And let`s be honest. He doesn`t have a lot of friends in Louisiana. There`s not a lot of people who like David Vitter.    They may fear him, they may respect him. Not a lot of friends out there. So, there`s a lot of people who are actually sort of happy... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going to come back and talk about something brand-new. The roundtable is sticking with us. And, next, these three reporters are going to have to they me something I don`t know. A lot of hot stories coming up. We`re going to post them for you. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s what`s happening. Two American contractors are dead after a shooting attack at a U.S.- funded police training center in Jordan. Three other victims also died. The gunman was killed by security forces at the scene. The president of the University of Missouri system is resigning. Tom Wolfe was under fire for his handling of racist incidents on campus. And federal safety regulators say children on school buses should wear seat belts. Officials previously said buses without seat belts were safe - - and now we take you back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.    Michael, tell me something I don`t know and mean it. Come on. MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, OK. Check it out. You know Netanyahu is in town. So, he`s appearing tomorrow at American Enterprise Institute. Now, that`s no surprise. MATTHEWS: A home of the neocons. TOMASKY: That`s the neocons. MATTHEWS: It`s got nothing to do with enterprise. TOMASKY: But he`s going to Center for American Progress tomorrow, which is a little bit more surprising and a little bit more interesting. That`s the leading liberal think tank in town. It`s been controversial that he`s going there. So, it`s going to be worth watching to see how that plays out. To see how tough he`s challenged, to see what emerges from there. And it also raises an interesting thing about Hillary Clinton, right? Because Hillary Clinton is close to CAP, as we call it. For all the moving around -- MATTHEWS: Is he working the next president? TOMASKY: I don`t know. All the moving around Hillary has done on domestic issues, becoming more liberal populist, she hasn`t changed anything on Israel. So, we may have occasion to be talking about that. MATTHEWS: Israel -- Hillary, there`s a Freudian slip, Israel and Hillary. This last Friday with Rachel, she said she is not going to be more aggressive in foreign policy than Barack Obama. She`s not the hawk everybody including Rachel suggested she was and I think she is.    TOMASKY: She did say that. MATTHEWS: Let`s get Rebecca. REBECCA SINDERBRAND, THE WASHINGTON POST: Here is a fun factoid that will keep Chris Christie up at night for years to come. The new poll today, if it had been released a couple of days ago. Chris Christie would have been on stage, on the main stage tomorrow night. Coming out of the last debate, he actually had a good showing last debate. He had a good performance, got a tiny bit of bump in the polls in New Hampshire. What might have been. JEFF MASON, REUTERS: What might have been. MATTHEWS: And I say, boo-hoo. By the way, he`s still got the bridge to face. He`s still got that wonderful person, Bridget Kelly. And every time I look at her, I go, there`s trouble with him. We`ll see. MASON: All right. Climate change. The president decided to oppose or to reject the Keystone pipeline. MATTHEWS: Apparently, he decided to do that two or three years ago. MASON: I think that`s very possible. But they finally announced it last week. And that`s coming up ahead of him going to Paris in a few weeks for an international climate change conference. I asked the White House today, what else do you have to go to that conference with that you can help sort of encourage the rest of the world to reduce global warming? And Josh Earnest said we may have a little bit left up our sleeves. So, watch for that. They might --    MATTHEWS: So, you think they held this to be close to the big meeting over at Paris? MASON: I think they wanted it done before Paris. That is something that could have been a vulnerability for the president. MATTHEWS: I think it`s part of his four of five legacy pieces. He`s going to be campaigning the rest of his life. MASON: Definitely. It might change. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- and health care, a lot of who he wants to be around the world, the next Mandela. (CROSSTALK) MASON: And so will his successor if it`s a Democrat. MATTHEWS: Yes. Anyway, I think he`s going to live in New York as a launching pad for world figure. That`s my theory of Obama. He is not going to hang around. He`s not going to be Mr. Democrat. Anyway, thank you, my round table, Michael Tomasky, Rebecca Sinderbrand, and Jeff Mason. Up next, actor Brian Cranston joins me. He`s played everyone from Walter White in "Breaking Bad" to Lyndon Baines Johnson. Now, he`s out with a great new movie. It is a great movie, about the blacklist.    This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Be sure to tune in tomorrow. We`re going to have special guests. HARDBALL coverage, by the way, of the Republican presidential debate out of Milwaukee. Join me from 7:00 to 8:00 Eastern Time, then after the debate we`ll be here from 11:00 to 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time for highlights and analysis of the GOP field tomorrow night and their performances. And we`ll be right back tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN GOODMAN: Trumbo, we can`t afford you. BRYAN CRANSTON AS DALTON TRUMBO: Well, how much did you pay for the script of that? "Bad Men of Tombstone?" GOODMAN: Twelve hundred bucks. CRANSTON: All right. I`ll write your movie for $1,200 then. GOODMAN: And you don`t want your name on it?    CRANSTON: No. You don`t want my name on it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We`re back. That was Bryan Cranston, of course, with John Goodman in a new film "Trumbo", based on the life of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, set at the start of the Cold War. It`s the true story of a top Hollywood writer whose membership in the communist party lands him in the crosshairs of the house un-American activity committee, jailed for contempt in Congress and banned from gainful employment, Trumbo works under assumed names to regain his livelihood. Against the odds, he managed just to pen two Academy-Award winning screenplays in defiance of the blacklist. Here is a clip of Cranston as Trumbo with the anti-communist columnist Hedda Hopper played by Helen Mirren. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HELEN MIRREN AS HEDDA HOPPER: Drinking alone. CRANSTON: Preferably. MIRREN: What are you up to these days? CRANSTON: I`ll have another one of these and I just may tell you. MIRREN: Oh, I`m buying.    Usual. Same again with. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Ms. Hopper. MIRREN: Oh, come on. I hear the rumors. Show me you`re still in the game, fighting the good fight. Rub my face in it. Whisper a movie you`ve written in secret. Maybe I`ve even heard of it. CRANSTON: Maybe you have. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston, as well as the director of "Trumbo", Jay Roach. Bryan, thank you so much for coming. CRANSTON: Thanks. MATTHEWS: I saw you as Lyndon Johnson. This is a spectacular performance. CRANSTON: Thanks.    MATTHEWS: And I really think going back into the history is fascinating but what`s more fascinating to me, besides even the blacklist and the red scare and all that, was human survival. A guy who was faced with his politics being thrown in his face and yet saying I`ve got to provide for this family of mine and finding a way to do it. It was very American that way. CRANSTON: It was. MATTHEWS: Ironically. CRANSTON: It really was. One of Trumbo`s statements is dissent is like a cornerstone of American democracy, is that without dissent, our country wouldn`t have been formed. So, there`s no trying to be fearful about dissent or even opinions that may differ from your own. And that`s the whole theme of "Trumbo", is not to use someone else`s opinion and create sort of an enemy out of them, but just to embrace that we as Americans have a variety of different opinions. MATTHEWS: Jay, you produced some great stuff. What`s it called, "Game Change"? That was a hell of a thing. JAY ROACH, DIRECTOR: Thank you. MATTHEWS: And, of course, "Recount", which I`ve watched many, many times. ROACH: Yes, thanks. MATTHEWS: The great thing about the Academy Award is when you have a phony name, a front name like Richard Rich or this other guy with the Irish name. Both times, the Academy people said, yes, we`re just going to go with the best stuff. They get beyond the politics by making it blind. ROACH: Yes, they didn`t know who had written them. MATTHEWS: "Roman Holiday" is one of the great movies.    ROACH: It`s a great movie. Audrey Hepburn, her first film. She`s adorable. Gregory peck. And it`s a sweet fairytale of a movie. And he wins an Academy Award for, it can`t claim it. Evidently, you know, the house un-American activities committee decides this man who writes such a - - you know, a beautiful fairytale kind of movie and movies like "Spartacus" and "30 Seconds Over Tokyo," a war film -- MATTHEWS: So, you`re both in this business, you`re both great artists. Did you ever think -- they were communists, these guys, they weren`t accused of being. How did it influence their writing? I mean, objective, did it ever get into the little guy gets the big guy? But that`s very American too -- Bryan. CRANSTON: I think you will see. You will see -- MATTHEWS: "Spartacus." CRANSTON: "Spartacus". MATTHEWS: It`s a great example of the slave guy being a better man than these elite Romans. CRANSTON: Exactly. And the fact that by sticking together as a group, great things can happen. MATTHEWS: Yes, on "Spartacus". CRANSTON: Right. MATTHEWS: Tony Curtis. By the way, my kids still love that conversation between him and Lawrence Olivier. All the double entendre. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: That was a real giggle. ROACH: But that`s one of the great things about those guys, they were funny too. They were deadly serious but they also had great wit, which helped expose the lunacy of the blacklist. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, what are you doing now? Now that we`ve got you here. CRANSTON: Well, we just -- MATTHEWS: Because I know you`ve got a great answer. CRANSTON: Jay and I just finished doing the HBO version of the play "All The Way" that I did on Broadway. MATTHEWS: About LBJ. CRANSTON: About LBJ. MATTHEWS: And what`s so great is before the Vietnam War made everybody get mad at him, this amazing man was able to take the moment of the Kennedy assassination and produce probably the six months greatest governance we`ve had in decades. What he did with civil rights and Medicare and all that other stuff. CRANSTON: Yes. Maybe a century of political power. His political acumen was unbelievable, FDR and perhaps the Founding Fathers. But he was right up there. What he was able to accomplish. But knowing his political stance and where he was at that time, six months after the -- after the assassination, he knew he had a window of opportunity to be able to push through the Civil rights act of 1964. He knew it would close if he didn`t get in there. MATTHEWS: Just like Lincoln.    CRANSTON: Yes. MATTHEWS: Just like Lincoln trying to get the outlawing of slavery. ROACH: Yes. It was a similar opportunity he saw -- MATTHEWS: Like Spielberg`s movie. ROACH: There`s some overlaps. And Spielberg is one of the producers on "All the Way." It was an incredible time when he could harness this rare moment of unity in the country, but he had to take on the south, the people who helped him early on. MATTHEWS: Yes, and even before that and this is going to be a big fight with the Kennedy people, he knew he had to fly back from Dallas with Jack Kennedy`s body. There`s no way in the world he could have gone back without it. Because then he would have looked like an interloper, right? ROACH: Yes. It was a big decision -- MATTHEWS: He had to fight the Kennedy people on that. ROACH: Before he started he had to call Bobby and get Bobby`s permission to -- or approval of being sworn in on the tarmac before he flew back. MATTHEWS: You know, you read about Jack Kennedy when he finally won in 1960, I`m working on that now, and when Johnson became -- something happens to a person. A better president. They really become president. CRANSTON: They really take on the mantle of that responsibility.    MATTHEWS: Well, congratulations on this book -- this movie. Dalton Trumbo. I`ve done this on television before, I gave great credit, I hope enough, to Kirk Douglas for ending the blacklist. We had a special segment on that one time, when he put his name on that -- right up there on the screen and said Dalton Trumbo wrote "Spartacus." ROACH: That kind of broke the spell, right? It broke the spell, threw the water on the wicked witch. That`s that shot of Helen Mirren at the end. MATTHEWS: I love what the movie`s saying, I`ve got this movie called (INAUDIBLE), which says terrible things about the script. They`re really honest movie. Thank you so much, Bryan Cranston. CRANSTON: Thanks, Chris. MATTHEWS: And, Jay Roach, love your stuff. ROACH: Thanks so much. MATTHEWS: "Trumbo" is in theaters now. HARBALL back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me close tonight with a game we played as kids, and I bet you played it too -- King of the Hill. It was simple, basic, perhaps even primordial. All you need is a mound of dirt. That and a competitive streak and everyone ready to play.    The goal is to get up on that mound of dirt and stay there as long as you can. That means grabbing the person who`s up there and pulling them down off that hill. It`s fun in a rough sort of way, especially a nice fall day like we`ve been having here lately. What`s unusual is to see Republicans playing it. First, there was Trump up there as king of the hill, and then after weeks of the other candidates pulling on him and trying to shove him, they finally nudged him down. Up ran Dr. Carson, where he now stands all alone at the top of the polls, all alone at the top of the hill. But now, he says he doesn`t like this game, doesn`t like the skepticism about those stories he tells about the pyramids being secret grain elevators. Not the tombs for the pharaohs. And we and the Egyptologists always thought they were. That people become gay from going to prison. That the president, and this is a doctor`s opinion, is a psychopath -- et cetera, et cetera. So you can see, doctor, why so many people are now asking for a second opinion. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>