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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 11/11/15

Guests: Tom Davis, Anne Gearan, Heidi Przybyla, Anne Gearan, Jon Meacham,Megan Murphy, John Feehery, Amanda Terkel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Breaking bad -- party crashers disrupt GOP. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Well, it`s getting worse, the nasty fights among Republicans. It used to be you could count on Republicans to toe the line, talk like, well, Republicans -- you know, less taxes, less government, more on defense, less on anything like welfare. But last night, they found reason to fight. Bush and Kasich said it was ridiculous for Donald Trump to talk about sending 11 million people outside the country. Those two had the nerve to defend illegal immigrants. The rest joined Trump, with Cruz saying the Republicans would lose if they joined the Democrats on what he called "amnesty." On war, another fight, Marco Rubio led contenders trying to outdo themselves preaching for a tough military. But Trump and Rand Paul stood firm. Why spend a trillion dollars, Paul asked, when we could use it well here at home? Well, times have changed. In perilous -- or previous elections, you couldn`t get by without a solemn reference to 9/11, one that often took the form of a bugle call. In any case, last night, we saw a quartet of candidates present themselves in stark colors. Donald Trump is the economic nationalist ready to repel illegal immigrants for taking American jobs, to attack foreign countries for doing the same, Ben Carson as the soft-spoken promise of deliverance from the complexity and unpleasantness of our times. Marco Rubio is the Army bugler forever calling charge. Ted Cruz is the Tea Partier promising to cut taxes to 10 percent, to knock off five government departments, even if he couldn`t quite remember all five. So who will be the chosen leader? Whose the party -- whose party is it? Of course, that`s the big question, Whose party is it?    NBC`s Katy Tur is in New Hampshire with the Trump campaign. Perry Bacon is senior political reporter for NBC, and Tom Davis is a former Republican congressman from Virginia. Anyway, last night, Donald Trump was asked about his plan to deport millions of immigrants who are here illegally. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS: Can you just send five million people back with no effect on the economy? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You`re going to have to bring people -- you`re going to have to send people out. Look, we`re a country... BARTIROMO: So what would you do? TRUMP: We`re a country of laws. We either have a country or we don`t have a country. We are a country of laws. Going to have to go out and come back. But they`re going to have to go out, and hopefully, they get back. But we have no choice if we`re going to run our country properly... (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow, he got a big applause for that. Katy Tur, you asked Trump today about his deportation plan. Let`s listen to his back-and-forth with you. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) deportation plan would be humane. You`ve often referenced...    TRUMP: Totally humane. TUR: ... Eisenhower`s 1952 deportation of (INAUDIBLE) immigrants. That was at times anything but humane. They were dropping immigrants off in the middle of the desert... TRUMP: But they... (CROSSTALK) TUR: ... heat stroke. Others were shipped off on cargo ships under hellish conditions (INAUDIBLE) How would your plan be different? TRUMP: Very humanely done. TUR: How? TRUMP: Very important. Well, it`s a whole management thing. (INAUDIBLE) good management, good management practices. TUR: It`s 11 million undocumented immigrants. TRUMP: But Katy, it`ll be very... (CROSSTALK)    TRUMP: ... very humanely done. The biggest applause last night by far was when I said we will build a wall and we will have a border (INAUDIBLE) TUR: That`s well and true. But what about getting the people -- if it`s more than 11 million... (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: We`re going to do it very humanely... TUR: How -- but how do you... (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: ... and hopefully, they`re going to be coming back. But we`re going to be doing it very humanely, and it`s going to happen. And it has to happen... (CROSSTALK) (END VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEWS: Katy Tur, it must be an experience for you to maintain some kind of civil relationship with that fellow. You challenge him, and he always seems to come back and simply state, almost definitionally, because he says it is true. I`m going to dump 11 million people across the Mexican border from here, and somehow, we`re going to do it nicely. "Humanely" is a word we often use about dogs that get picked up in the street, Humane Society. It`s an odd word. Your thought about his nomenclature -- humane treatment of people we`re dumping out on the other side of a wall.    TUR: Well, speaking of the Eisenhower plan that I was asking about... MATTHEWS: Yes. TUR: ... the plan that -- called Operation Wetback, Chris, which is a really offensive term for Mexican immigrants -- historians have said that that plan, when it was enacted, that people were treated even less nicely than cattle were treated. They were dropped off in the middle of the desert, 88 died of heat stroke. I`m not sure if you could hear me say that in that audio. The ships that they were carried away on, the cargo ships, were likened to 18th century slave ships. MATTHEWS: Yes. TUR: So I asked Donald Trump about this because he has said, as you - - as you`re pointing out, that they`ll be taken away "humanely," but he`s not talking about how that`s being done. It does seem to make -- put a distance between you and those people that are going to be affected. It makes you not realize that there are families with children who were born here, who are American citizens. We have asked him in the past, What about those children? And Donald Trump has said on "MEET THE PRESS" that they`re going to have to go back with their families or stay here and be torn apart from their families. So the idea of this plan may look OK on paper. It may look feasible on paper. It may sound good to people who don`t want undocumented immigrants in this country. But how it would be enacted is anything but easy and would possibly be, most likely be anything but humane, if past is precedent. And Donald Trump is using the Eisenhower plan... MATTHEWS: I know. TUR: ... as an example of how he would do it, and that was anything but humane. MATTHEWS: Well, last night, Trump also challenged the wisdom of inking trade deals. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)    TRUMP: If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States -- China in particular because they`re so good. It`s the number one abuser of this country. And if you look at the way they take advantage, it`s through currency manipulation. If it is approved, it`ll just be more bad trade deals, more loss of jobs for our country. We are losing jobs like nobody`s ever lost jobs before. I want to bring jobs back into this country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: On foreign policy, Trump said the U.S. should simply let other countries take care of some of the world`s problems. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: As far as Syria, I like -- if Putin wants to go in -- and I got to know him very well because we were both on "60 Minutes," we were stablemates, and we did very well that night. But -- you know that. But if Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it 100 percent. And I can`t understand how anybody would be against it. As far as the Ukraine is concerned -- we have a group of people and a group of countries, including Germany, tremendous economic behemoth. Why are we always doing the work? MATTHEWS: Let me bring in Perry and Tom. Tom -- no, Perry, you first. I hear -- you know, and maybe I connect the dots, but I hear a gut nationalism there, that a lot of people feel betrayed by the big shots at the top, the sophisticates, on all these fronts. PERRY BACON, NBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I agree with you. My guess is Donald Trump does not actually believe he`s going to deport 11 million people. That`s very unrealistic. Even Donald Trump does not think he can do that. But it speaks to the people in the country who, like Katy, said are disaffected. It does speak to a sense that -- like Ted Cruz said last night. People feel like their wages are going down because of the immigrants... MATTHEWS: Yes, OK... BACON: ... and I think that`s what Trump is...    MATTHEWS: What`s anybody else going to do about illegal immigration? BACON: Right. Exactly. MATTHEWS: Nothing! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... nothing! BACON: Nothing. Trump is right. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... across the border. People are going to continue be challenged for their jobs. They`re not going to like the ethnic change, whatever, all the things that bug them, fairly or not. BACON: Yes. MATTHEWS: Trump at least says, I`m going to stop it. Here`s my marker. Let`s start with 11 million go home. Maybe it ends up with nobody comes in tomorrow night, but they`ll end up somewhere different than now. Your thoughts, Tom.    TOM DAVIS (R-VA), FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Well, it`s probably a good primary strategy. The Republican Party has kind of mutated to a more blue- collar party... MATTHEWS: Yes. DAVIS: ... and of non-college whites. He seems to be cleaning up and speaking, I think, to their concerns. MATTHEWS: Yes. DAVIS: It`s a good primary... MATTHEWS: Well, they`re vulnerable (ph). DAVIS: It`s -- absolutely. Nobody else is talking about them, certainly not the White House. So I think at this point, it`s a good primary strategy. He has a good base that don`t care what he says. They know he... MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t -- I have no idea, for example, why the heck Jeb Bush is running for president, except it`s in the family business. I heard him last night. Everybody said he did well. No, he didn`t! He didn`t say anything last night that anybody remembers! Everybody knows what this guy`s saying, however. Let`s go to Dr. Ben Carson`s policy on going after ISIS. It boiled down to make them look like losers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re talking about global jihadists, and their desire is to destroy us and to destroy our way of life. So we have to be saying, How do we make them look like losers? Because that`s the way that they`re able to gather a lot of influence.    And I think, in order to make them look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate. And you look for the easiest place to do that, it would be in Iraq. And outside of Anbar in Iraq, there`s a big energy field. Take that from them. Take all of that land from them. We could do that, I believe, fairly easily, I`ve learned from talking to several generals. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Oh, the cakewalk. Anyway, today, Carson was asked about his assertion it would be easy to take back the Iraqi oil fields near Anbar province from ISIS. Let`s watch this reaction. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARSON: They only have 30,000 people. And they`re spread out not just there, but in several other locations. So I don`t think that they can defend that area particularly well. If you gave our military a mission and didn`t tie their hands and micromanage them, they would be much more capable than what we think. QUESTION: Do you think it would be (INAUDIBLE) easy for the U.S. military to take back those -- that region from ISIS (ph) if they were given... CARSON: I do. I do believe that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Soon as I think I talk too fast -- I could be the number two candidate for president right now if I just talked like this. He talks -- is it because a lot of people don`t like fast-talking people from the Northeast like me, but they like his calm approach? BACON: I was out in Iowa, and several voters mentioned to me, The media likes people to talk fast, but I like that Ben Carson is deliberate. He thinks about what he`s saying.    And I wanted to laugh because, let`s be honest, Chris, that two hours, more than anything else I learned Ben Carson just simply has not studied and does not know what he`s talking about... MATTHEWS: And he didn`t even -- he didn`t cram. BACON: ... and doesn`t try... MATTHEWS: But Perry, he didn`t even cram. BACON: He doesn`t even pretend like he`s learned the issues. But yes, he didn`t cram, but... MATTHEWS: By the way, one question. How do you interpret out of that, Tom -- did he say put our American troops in and take back those oil fields in Anbar? DAVIS: Of course, that`s what he said. We`re going to put American troops on the ground. There are only 30,000 of them... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Send in the Marines. BACON: Send in the Marines. MATTHEWS: It sounded good to me -- I mean sarcastically.    Anyway, Marco Rubio got some of the biggest applause last night by challenging Rand Paul on foreign policy. He took the hawk side, Rand Paul, of course, was more dovish -- in fact, dovish. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures? You cannot be a conservative if you`re going to keep promoting new programs that you`re not going to pay for! (APPLAUSE) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can`t even have an economy if we`re not safe! There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians! A radical Shia cleric in Iran trying to get a nuclear weapon... (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) RUBIO: ... the Chinese taking over the South China Sea! Yes, I believe the world is a safer -- no, no, I don`t believe, I know that the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Katy Tur, back to you. It seems to me he`s a recruitment poster for war, but he doesn`t look like he`s signing up. I mean, I`m serious. This is neocon talk. TUR: Right.    MATTHEWS: A war that won`t (ph) involve American troops. But in the end, after the ideologues have written their op-ed pieces in all our newspapers and made all the case for various wars, including fighting the Chinese, fighting the Russians over the Crimea, who goes and fights? Our regular army of volunteers go and fight, and they get hurt and get killed. And sometimes, they don`t win. TUR: You see... MATTHEWS: and yet these guys keep saying -- all you have to do is give a good speech. TUR: Well, it`s the exact opposite of what Donald Trump is saying. Donald Trump is saying what we need to do is step back and let the rest of the world take care of their own problems. And Rubio is saying the opposite. He says we need to go in there and fix everything. And that`s part of what got us into trouble in Iraq with the Bush administration. They thought that they could go in and they could fix Iraq... MATTHEWS: Cakewalk! TUR: ... by taking out Saddam Hussein and that it would be a cakewalk, "mission accomplished" on the top of that aircraft carrier. You remember that. That is not how it works, though, in the Middle East. It is much more complicated than that. And when you hear Ben Carson talk about ISIS, it`s like he has a fundamental misunderstanding -- lack of understanding about how they work, how they -- how they spread their influence. They spread their influence by saying that America is evil and America is killing our people and they`re taking our oil. And they`re -- and they`re effective with this because, in a lot of ways, that`s what we are doing and that`s how we`re perceived in the Middle East. So the idea that we can go in and just knock out 30,000 people just like that is a little bit ludicrous! It doesn`t work that way. The influence is harder to knock out. You can`t just kill a bunch of people because somebody stronger will come in after them. And that is something that he doesn`t seem to get or doesn`t want to get. And his supporters, as you were saying earlier, like the idea of him coming in and saying, These are problems that are easy to fix. MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s put 10,000 people into the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia for 10 years and see how that reacts -- how they react to that, and it was called al Qaeda. Anyway, Ted Cruz talked about his plan to eliminate five major federal agencies, including, and in fact, led by the IRS. Turns out he could only remember four of them, but he got rid of one agency, the Commerce Department, twice. That`s really hating government. Let`s watch.    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, we rolled out a spending plan, $500 billion in specific cuts, five major agencies that I would eliminate, the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce and HUD. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, he really -- he doubled down on that Commerce... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And I was thinking, Here`s Carly Fiorina, who was hoping to be secretary of commerce! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And he`s getting rid of the cabinet post before he even gets in there. Katy, did you hear me say that? I`m sorry. TUR: It`s so bad, he got rid of it twice! That`s what I was saying. MATTHEWS: Yes. DAVIS: Well, he got NOAA. He gets NOAA with that...    (CROSSTALK) TUR: Kasich`s going to get rid of it thrice! MATTHEWS: They say in New York, New York, New York`s so nice, they named it twice. In this case, get rid of it twice. Thank you so much, Senator Cruz, for getting rid of the Commerce Department both times. Katy Tur, thank you. Great reporting tonight, as always. Tom Davis, a great former member of Congress from the moderate Republican regions of northern Virginia. And Perry Bacon, thank you. Coming up -- what did the Republican fight last night signal to the rest of the country, to Democrats, to the people in the middle even? A little too hot maybe. For starters, there`s no need to raise minimum wage. By the way, they came out against wage increases for anybody! And if you`re in our country illegally, we`re coming for you. That`s pretty rough stuff if you`re a Latino. This stuff might not sell with middle America. Plus, former president George Herbert Walker Bush finally spoke out about Cheney -- that`s the pronunciation -- and Rumsfeld and how they badly served his son, W. Tonight, the elder Bush`s biographer, Jon Meacham, tells us all about what old man Poppy thinks about the boy. And last nights`s Republican debate was the last for a month. We`re going to project ahead and see -- in fact, figure out which way this race is headed tonight. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the people we honored today, those who have served in our armed forces. It is Veterans Day. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    MATTHEWS: On this Veterans Day, President Obama honored men and women who served the country. And in a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, he urged Americans to remember and honor the service of veterans year-round. The president also called the recent VA hospital problems unacceptable and vowed to continue investing in improvements for veterans` health care. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Wages in this country are too high. That`s what Trump said. It`s time to bring back a 1950s-era mass deportation program. Let`s invade Iraq again. And forget the Situation Room, the real foreign policy experience comes from the Green Room. That`s what Trump and the others were saying last night -- in fact, Carly Fiorina, as well. Last night`s Republican debate was full of moments like that, that Republican critics and certainly Democratic ads makers may very well like to exploit. In fact, they`ve begun the assault already. Anne Gearan is national political correspondent with "The Washington Post" and Heidi Przybyla is the senior political reporter with "USA Today" covering the presidential fight. Let`s begin with the resounding rejection of raising the minimum wage in last night`s debate and the curious statement that wages in this country -- it`s like the guy who says, Rent`s too high. Remember last time around? They say wages are too high. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Wages too high. We`re not going to be able to compete against the world. NEIL CAVUTO, FOX BUSINESS: So do not raise the minimum wage. TRUMP: I would not raise the minimum.    BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases. You know, that -- and that`s because of those high wages. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn`t. In the 21st century, it`s a disaster. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And, Heidi, this is an odd thing. Let`s start with Trumpy. He has a great appeal of economic nationalism. The little guy is getting screwed. But the little guy lives on wages. The little guy doesn`t get a salary. He gets a per hour. Right? HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY": Yes. MATTHEWS: He checks in. He checks out. It`s by the hour, wages. Working wages. Why would Trump say they`re too high? (LAUGHTER) PRZYBYLA: Well, I mean, a few reasons. One is that he is in the middle of a big battle against the restaurant workers union. MATTHEWS: He is. PRZYBYLA: Yes, trying to unionize at his -- organize and unionize at his hotels and he`s fighting it.    He doesn`t want that foot in the door from the unions. He`s felt that way, I think, always. So... MATTHEWS: Does that mean they would get -- a waitperson, to use the modern term, would that person now get $15 without an hour tips or including tips? How would that work even? PRZYBYLA: Well, at the moment, you would get a little less than $8 straight minimum wage. And I think the people who are trying to unionize are actually like the restaurant workers, the cooks and the bartenders and so forth. So, yes, they would be eligible. MATTHEWS: For the full $15, plus tips? PRZYBYLA: Well, it would only be $15 if the locality installed $15. MATTHEWS: Yes. PRZYBYLA: But, I mean, the other thing, I think is, he`s just appealing to this ur-Republican, you know, do not inflate wages, pro- business stance, which plays well with people who are already going to vote Republican. It does nothing to expand the brand at all. And it plays right into the Democrats` hands. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The Republican Party`s big growth has been among white working people that didn`t go to college, to be blunt, working guys.    And they are the ones that like Trump because he`s a nationalist. He makes them feel proud and he voices their indignation at the way things are going right now. Why would he stick it in their face and say you`re not going to get any money from me, in fact, wages are already too high? What a statement. PRZYBYLA: I don`t know, because it makes no sense for him politically when you look -- like you said, when you look at who his base voters are. They`re these disaffected, arguably disenfranchised white working-class voters. MATTHEWS: OK. It`s Route 40. It`s Friday night. A guy has had three or four beers. He`s sitting in a bar stool next to another guy. And he goes, what do you think of Trump? I don`t know about this thing on wages of his. What is that about? PRZYBYLA: Chris, 51 percent, do you know what that is? That is the percentage of U.S. kids today who quality for free lunches. And why? Because their parents don`t earn enough money. That`s why you`re seeing demonstrations all across this country. That`s why you`re seeing cities taking already action on their own. And guess what? The majority or two-thirds of Americans agree that the minimum wage should go up. MATTHEWS: I thought it was amazing to hear somebody say, I`m against a living wage last night. Usually, you don`t like buy the other side`s nice way of something saying and then trash it. Anyway, let`s take it -- Donald Trump has taken the Republican Party`s nativist streak to new heights. Let`s watch him. We will see what he is saying. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARIA BARTIROMO, MODERATOR: Can we just send five million people back with no effect on economy? TRUMP: You are going to have to bring people -- you are going to have to send people out.    Dwight Eisenhower, good president, great president, people liked him. "I like Ike," right? The expression. "I like Ike." Moved 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country. QUESTION: Are you going to have a massive deportation force? TRUMP: You`re going to have a deportation force. JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They`re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, they may well be. The program that Trump refers to, by the way, was a 1950s, early 1950s law enforcement initiative. Well, today, Hillary Clinton tweeted -- quote -- "The idea of tracking down and deporting 11 million people is absurd, inhumane, and un-American. No, Trump." This gives Hillary and the other Democrats a free ride. They don`t have to have an immigration plan. They don`t have to talk about E-Verify or stopping illegal hiring or the guy jumping across the border tomorrow night. They don`t have to say anything, just say this guy is an idiot. And he`s cruel. It makes it too easy for them. ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That`s right. And that`s why her campaign spokesman tweeted out last night, yes, actually, we`re giving high-fives.    MATTHEWS: We got a strange look, by the way, at the Republican Party`s lack of foreign policy actual experience last night when Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina talked about their firsthand, first-person meetings with Vladimir Putin. Let`s think about how they got to meet him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I got to know him very well because we were both on "60 Minutes." We were stablemates, and we did very well that night. CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have met him as well, not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting. (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) QUESTION: Where did you meet? FIORINA: I met him in Beijing. We were in sort of a green room setting, actually. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER)    MATTHEWS: They`re in the same boat. As you saw, in that clip a green room is how Fiorina herself described her meeting with Putin. And Politico`s fact-checkers note that -- quote -- "Trump`s interview with `60 Minutes` was filmed in Manhattan. Putin`s was filmed thousands of miles away in Russia. The Donald was almost certainly just having fun with this one." Well, that`s helping him out. You know, I can see Putin from my dressing room, from my makeup room. I can hear that, another Tina Fey. This is weird. PRZYBYLA: Yes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He never actually met him. PRZYBYLA: You know what, though? It`s weird, but I don`t know how much it hurts them in the end. (CROSSTALK) PRZYBYLA: Republicans are the daddy party. Whenever there`s a national security terrorism... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I came up with that phrase, by the way, back in...    PRZYBYLA: Did you? OK. Proper credit given. MATTHEWS: Way back when you were allowed to say things like that. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re not allowed to talk like that anymore. PRZYBYLA: Well, it`s true, though. Look at every election we have had since the terrorist attacks. MATTHEWS: You know, they`re the ones that lock the doors at night. They`re the ones that execute the bad guy and fight the bad guys. PRZYBYLA: Yes. And when Republicans -- when people are scared, they go to... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s the way I talked 20 or 30 years ago, by the way, Heidi. I can`t say daddy party and mommy party anymore. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Back you can look it up in "The New Republic" back when it was OK to say that.    Thank you, Anne Gearan. GEARAN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Heidi Przybyla. Great guests, both of you. Up next, an inside look at what George Herbert Walker Bush, the first President Bush, really felt about his son`s administration, not much, and the hard-right turn taken by Cheney and Rumsfeld. Didn`t like those guys. The great Jon Meacham, one of our great historians, is here with his groundbreaking new biography of Bush 41. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It is rare that a single book adds so much to the historic record of a subject as well known as an American president. But that`s exactly what author and historian Jon Meacham manages to do in his latest biography. "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush," it provides rare insight into the thinking of an accomplished leader who to this day is insecure about his own place in history. As Bush candidly told the author: "I feel like an asterisk. I`m lost between the glory of Reagan and the trials and tribulations of my sons." Well, Veterans Day, which is today, is also the perfect occasion to honor the last president of the greatest generation, a man who was shot down over the Pacific during World War II and had to endure the open seas on a raft until he was picked up by an American submarine.    But, like most warriors, Bush was realistic about what war can accomplish. The most striking new information in the book is the degree of skepticism Bush felt about those who helped lead his son into war. Bush`s criticism, which came as a surprise even to George W. Bush, centered on Dick Cheney`s powerful role as vice president and his son`s unwillingness to curtail that power -- quote -- "Cheney had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer. It just showed me that you cannot do it that way. The president should not have to worry. The big mistake that was made there was letting Cheney bring in kind of his own State Department. I think they overdid that. But it`s not Cheney`s fault. It`s the president`s fault. The buck stops there." What statement. I`m joined right now by Jon Meacham, author of "Destiny and Power." Jon, my friend, what a great accomplishment already in terms of the news this book has made. Did you understand when you heard the first George Bush, the first President Bush, when he laid out, in I assume pain, the fact that he was disappointed, in fact angered by what happened under his son`s leadership? JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR, "DESTINY AND POWER: THE AMERICAN ODYSSEY OF GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH": I did realize what the first 72 hours were going to look like. And now we`re a little bit beyond that. It was very striking. These were conversations that began in October of 2008. He repeated the point in several different sessions over the next few years. He was very critical, as you noted, of Cheney. This was one man who had one view of the vice presidency and Dick Cheney had another view of the vice presidency. He also -- I thought, to his credit, he said that the president was ultimately responsible. He held his son to account for this hawkish tone that he thought actually misrepresented what his son truly believed. MATTHEWS: What do you mean he misrepresented? What did he think his son was up to when he went into Iraq? MEACHAM: Well, he -- the context of these remarks was about -- more about the second term than the first term. And my own sense is that while President Bush 41 had anxieties about the first -- the second Iraq War, that he believed and held his son to account for the phrase axis of evil. He thought that -- he said that that`s a phrase that will probably be proven not to be historically benefiting anything.    He was more concerned -- I think he was closer on the substance than on the style of the administration. And he held Cheney as the chief figure who seemed to make the administration appear more hawkish than Bush 41 himself thought it actually was. MATTHEWS: Yes, but he was so right, I thought. And you did the reporting and the history here. But at the time, I remember being shocked at the power that Cheney had in the vice president`s office. He had his own National Security Council. He had not just Scooter Libby, all kinds of people who were loyal to him. Hadley, they were all working for him. He had built a second government and he had connections over there with that special office over in the Department of Defense. It was equally hawkish, equally neocon. And I don`t know whether you could call President Bush a neocon. But his vice president was operating as one. They were extremely ideologically to the right and very, very militarily aggressive. They seemed to have a list of countries they wanted to go into. MEACHAM: That`s a very good point, because what President Bush 41 was particularly worried about was broadening the war on terror beyond Afghanistan and Iraq, and chiefly Iran. The context of these remarks, remember, is `07, `08, when there were fears that there would be even more projection of force through the Middle East. And that worried President Bush 41 enormously. MATTHEWS: Well, later on, when he later became -- the first President Bush became skeptical of Cheney. Bush was also uneasy about the Gulf War which he waged against Saddam Hussein after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Now, this was back when George Bush Sr. was president. Minutes before he famously declared to the nation that Saddam`s aggression would not stand, Bush recorded a note in his audio diary expressing his concern that the situation would spiral out of control. Here is his private recording from that day in 1990 which Bush dictated as he traveled back to the White House aboard Marine One. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a terribly serious problem. It`s perhaps the most serious problem that I have faced as president, because the downside is so enormous.    If indeed the Iraqis went in and got ahold of Saudi Arabia and our objective then was to free Saudi Arabia, we would really be involved in something that would have the magnitude of a world war, of a new -- could have the magnitude of a new world war, with so many countries involved. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: On this point, Jon, do you have evidence that the -- that Saddam Hussein was planning to go into Saudi Arabia back then? MEACHAM: I know that there were enormous fears at the highest levels of the government, the president -- of the United States government. What you heard there was August 5, 1990. You remember well on August 2, the day of the invasion, the president said, "I`m not contemplating intervention of any kind." What is so fascinating about this diary, this audio diary, is you can hear him on the 2nd, the 3rd, the 4th, and then culminating with the evocation of a new world war, he was worried the Saudis wouldn`t stand up. He was worried that the Saudis would actually strike a deal with Saddam. He says that Prince Bandar has been double-dealing them with the Turks, trying to get the Turks not to be as strong against Saddam in those first days. To me, this was revelatory, because the Saudis ultimately became the host country for the forces with enormous implications down the road. But what`s so amazing, Chris, and you love this stuff too, is, he`s on the helicopter. You hear the blades of the -- the blades of the chopper... MATTHEWS: Yes, I could hear it. MEACHAM: ... on the way back from Camp David, landing there, and then steps out and says, "This will not stand." Then he walks into the West Wing, and Scowcroft, Brent Scowcroft, says, "Hey, where did you get that, this will not stand?"    And Bush looked at him and said: "That was mine. That`s what I mean." (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Well, in the years after his presidency, Bush Sr. grew close to the man who defeated him in `92, Bill Clinton, but he did not feel the same about not Hillary. In 1992, Bush privately remarked that: "She`s very militant and pro- liberal cause, and that`s going to get her into some difficulties." But later in 2006, he said: "I don`t feel close to Hillary at all, but I do to Bill. And I can`t read their relationship even today." Well, he`s probably not alone in that. But it`s interesting that he offered that gratuitous comment about the former first lady and the former president and their relationship, an odd step over the line into the personal there. MEACHAM: Well, you know, he`s thinking about, you know, his -- we all project our own family, our own issues on to other people. I think he probably is -- It is one of the most fascinating political -- it is the most fascinating political marriage since Franklin and Eleanor. And, in fact, Barbara Bush in her diary, after she read Doris Goodwin`s "No Ordinary Times," said it reminded her of Bill and Hillary Clinton and they might have separate lives. And Mrs. Bush wrote, "Who knows?" MATTHEWS: Yes. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: What about the affection that Bill feels for -- has George Sr. became his father emotionally? Is that what is going on here? MEACHAM: It`s fascinating, isn`t it? We have two presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who did not know their fathers who have come to revere George Herbert Walker Bush. President Obama in an interview with me for this book was -- lavished praise on Bush as the last -- one of the last gentleman in American politics. And I do think -- I think two things are going on with Clinton`s affection, maybe three, with Clinton`s affection for 41. One is, I do think there`s kind of a warm father figure there. Two, Clinton is very historically minded, and George Herbert Walker Bush is a figure of history now. He`s not a passing political figure. And the third is, it doesn`t hurt with the American middle for Bill Clinton to be seen as being close to a Republican president. MATTHEWS: Also, you know, I think he`s the greatest generation replica, right, the point we have in our lives, rather, the survivor who still represents that heroic period in our history. And I think Bill, who didn`t go into the military, looks up to him, like most of us would, to a real fighting man, a man who really was shot out of the skies and pulled out of the water for a submarine ride back to safety. It`s quite an experience as a young man, to quit prep school and go do that. It certainly separates him from a lot of our generation. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Meacham, you`re the best. You`re the something. You are going to get another Pulitzer for this one, I guess. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, Jon Meacham, of our great historians.    Anyway, the book is called "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush." It`s a long time coming, but what a Christmas gift right now, if we dare say. How about a holiday season gift? MEACHAM: There we go. MATTHEWS: Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable is here to game out the Republican nomination fight. With one month until the next GOP debate, who can gain some momentum and rise above the pack in the weeks remaining before the next one? You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWSBREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you`ll see quite a few people starting to -- I don`t want to predict. I think I know. There will be a lot of people dropping out. They have to drop out, they`re not resonating. And some of them are very good people. But if you don`t resonate, they`re going to drop out. (END VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.    That was Donald Trump speaking to reporters earlier today, predicting a big shake up in the race after last night`s debate. Well, the good, the bad and ugly from last night`s debate are going to replay in voters` minds until the next GOP debate which isn`t for another 35 days. So, we`re in the home stretch. And here`s the state of play right now in the polling. Averages: Trump and Carson are one two at the top. Rubio and Cruz have moved into the second tier. Jeb Bush is still struggling with just 6 percent. Everyone else is hanging on. Can Dr. Ben Carson hold up to the scrutiny? Can Donald Trump continue to draw enormous crowds? He had 10,000 the other night. Can Rubio and Cruz continue their momentum? Who is vulnerable? Who won`t make it through the holidays? Who`s going to fade? The HARDBALL roundtable tonight: Megan Murphy is the Washington bureau chief for "Bloomberg", John Feehery is the Republican strategist, and Amanda Terkel is senior political reporter with "The Huffington Post". Amanda, you start. Project it out, where is this going over the next month at least? AMANDA TERKEL, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I think we`re going to see the candidates start attacking each other a lot more. Maybe not name calling and things like that. But you`re started to see in the debate last night where they drew more contrast on policy, starting to preview a little bit - - MATTHEWS: Who is out to get who? TERKEL: I think Ted Cruz. You already saw, he`s starting to get Marco Rubio, didn`t call him out by name, but started the preview, you know, you don`t want someone who is soft on immigration. You don`t want someone supporting sugar subsidies for example. So, Trump and Carson, they didn`t go after each other but it`s going to get nastier.    MATTHEWS: Sugar subsidies are worthy of presidential candidate. I couldn`t believe that last night. TERKEL: I was surprised it was mentioned, too. But, you know, he is clearly watching Rubio -- MATTHEWS: He`s trying to insinuate that Marco Rubio, a fellow Spanish surname, I`m sure the right word is Hispanic because they are Cuban nationals or whatever -- come from Cuba. But is he going to insinuate that he`s still basically for what he calls amnesty? TERKEL: I think he is. I mean, Rubio got very, very lucky last night, and that he did not have to jump into the immigration debate. He skated by. He got some slightly easier questions. You saw Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Donald Trump get in there on immigration. But Rubio didn`t have to do it, but he`s going to have to obviously. MATTHEWS: Wow. John Feehery, what do you see coming next month? JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Opposition research. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Oppo. FEEHERY: I think you`re going to see Danny Diaz from Jeb campaign really go at it against Marco Rubio. Now, that being said, there`s two top guys who have plenty of oppo research that needs to be done, who are the top two guys, who are still at the top of the polls. And nobody thinks they`re going to be the presidential candidate, but they`re still up there. So, somebody`s going to start taking some shots --    MATTHEWS: I think Trump can win. FEEHERY: Well, other people start believing that as well. You`ve got to start doing some opposition research on those two guys. But you`re absolutely right. Ted Cruz is also seeing that the real problem with Marco Rubio. So, you`re going to see a lot of folks -- MATTHEWS: OK, remember in `92 when people wanted so much, they didn`t want to hear about the crap about them, Bill Clinton. They heard crap after crap. They heard about Gennifer Flowers. They heard about the letters. But they wanted this new young guy who seemed to have the chops. I wonder if what we`re seeing in the case of Trump, they like this angry, economic populist so much they`re willing to put up with the personal life, the divorces, all these stuff, the bankruptcies, they don`t -- they`ll forgive it all because what they want is strength? I`m just thinking -- MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS: What you`re going to see over the next 35 days, let me say something a little bit controversial is what I like to call the education of Donald Trump. You saw last night when he bones up on policy specifics, he`s much better than you think he can be. He can talk about tax. He can talk about corporate inversions. MATTHEWS: About Eisenhower shipping people out. MURPHY: He can talk about that. He can actually sound credible on some of these very high level issues. MATTHEWS: Well, he`s smart. Wasn`t he smart? One of the smart ones? MURPHY: He`s smarter than I think a lot of people think he is. MATTHEWS: He`s rich. He`s got to be smart.    MURPHY: He`s rich. And what we`re going to see is I think people think they`re gong to opposition research him out. He`s going to bone up and he`s going to sound more -- MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about it. Those who haven`t -- I love these new words, like the cycle. It`s used to be the campaign, now, everything`s a cycle. Now they call the primary season the primary. The language keeps - - the DNC is now the convention. It used to be the headquarters. Anyway -- I hate language change. Anyway, tonight, trouble for Kasich. What Trump was talking about, the New Hampshire focus group of Republican voters organized by pollster Frank Luntz, a Republican, was less than enamored with Kasich`s performance last night. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: So, what was it? Who had a negative reaction to John Kasich tonight? Really? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Painful. LUNTZ: I need a word or phrase to describe John Kasich. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boring. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiring. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Irritating. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Finished.    LUNTZ: Hold on. Finished? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t belong on the stage. Chris Christie should have been there. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: There`s an objective point of view. I love these focus groups. There is something carrying the water for Christie. Upset that Kasich got the last spot. Your thoughts? FEEHERY: Well, I like John Kasich him a lot. I think he`d be a great -- MATTHEWS: How`d he do last night? FEEHERY: He didn`t do very well. MATTHEWS: What`s this jack in a box thinking of his? He keeps jumping in there. Carly Fiorina did not interrupt anymore than Kasich did. In fact, not as much. FEEHERY: I think that was a problem. I think he was so worried about being on the end, he was so worried about not getting time, but he wasn`t very good. MATTHEWS: Yes, every time he complained about time, he sounded like Jim Webb.    FEEHERY: Yes, he sounded -- MATTHEWS: It doesn`t work. Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these people surprises me with someone I don`t know. It`s always a big part of the show. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump was the candidate with the most Twitter mentions during last night`s debate. According to Twitter, he was tops, followed by Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz all sort of bunched together. Ben Carson, however, had the biggest number of new Twitter followers last night. Marco Rubio came in second, Donald Trump third in that category, with Trump overall. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable.    I want to know from Megan. Tell me something I don`t know. MURPHY: Bush fund-raiser called this morning with donors, they admitted that they were having trouble raising money, really interesting, a pretty open admission from them that they needed to get that momentum back. MATTHEWS: Last night hurt? MURPHY: Last night helped to staunch the bleeding, but I don`t think it`s going to help him gain momentum with donors that much. MATTHEWS: The big surprise of the election, the biggest surprise is the failure of Bush. Go ahead. FEEHERY: Paul Ryan might be a new speaker, but he`s got an old hand as the chief of staff, and the person who is the chief of staff for Mitch McConnell used to work for Dave Hoppy, and why that`s important is it`s going to really improve communication between the Senate majority leader and the new speaker. I think it`s going to help them get stuff done in the United States Congress. MATTHEWS: Did you read today that Ryan sleeps on a cot in his office every night? He doesn`t even have an apartment in D.C.? FEEHERY: I think that`s still true. MATTHEWS: I think that`s sort of understandable since they have three kids going to college. Yes, Amanda?    TERKEL: What you`re going to hear more in the coming months and probably in the campaign trail is transgender rights. There`s a bill being drafted in Tennessee that would prevent students, transgender students from using locker rooms and bathrooms -- MATTHEWS: So, this is anti-transgender rights? TERKEL: Anti-transgender. You saw this -- MATTHEWS: So, where does transgender people supposed to go? What locker are they supposed to use? TERKEL: They want to use based on the gender they identify with, but they`re being -- MATTHEWS: Well, what does society saying in these cases? The conservative society saying they should go? TERKEL: They`re saying they should go to the one based on -- MATTHEWS: Where they were born? TERKEL: Where they were born. MATTHEWS: Thank you to my roundtable tonight, Megan Murphy, John Feehery and Amanda Terkel. I think this is one of the things that`s going to change. When we return, let me finish with the people we honored today, those who have served in our armed forces.    You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the people we honor today, those who served our armed forces. It used to be that serving in military uniform was a prerequisite to running for president. Every president who came to office after World War II, for example, from General Eisenhower through the first George Bush was in uniform during that great war. It was only after the Cold War that was concluded that Americans stopped insisting that the commander in chief not come to office without some experience as an officer down the chain of command. Well, think of it. The Moscow coup failed in August of `91. Bill Clinton, the first of the new generations of presidents, was elected the year after. We all see the logic of this, the good logic. It`s that those who fought in wars tend to see, if not their folly, certainly their costs. Think of Dwigth Eisenhower who received the Nazi surrender Europe, the man who led the great crusade against Hitler. Think about how this same man stood firm, refusing to join the French in battling for Indochina in 1954, refusing to join in the nuttiness of the Suez campaign when Britain, France and Israel went to war with Egypt. Think of young Jack Kennedy, refusing to send U.S. forces to fight in Cuba in 1961, despite all the treachery that the CIA tried to hook him into it. Think of him again in October of the following year, refusing to accept the call to war by Curtis LeMay and other hawks in the military and elsewhere, pushing for invasion of that same island. You know, it`s always been my hunch that the best buffer against stupid wars is the veteran, the person who has been to war. It`s why I put my bets on Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, those who don`t need to prove it in high office, who don`t need to talk forever about the need to make policy more muscular. What I fear, those who do, those who once are in the position of power become bent on proving their toughness. I want leaders who want to prove the future historians, if not the current voters, that they were wise, that they knew the cost of war, and took it to heart. It`s a difference between the veteran and the armchair general, between the true conservative and the neocon. 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. 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