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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 11/20/15

Guests: Charlie Dent, Malcolm Nance, Paul Singer, Jeanne Cummings, BarrettPitner, Ileana Johnson, Martin Goldsmit

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Another attack. And this is HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. I want to start tonight by making what I believe to be an important historic point. The number one goal of the Mideast terrorists is to ignite an East-West war that forces moderate Arab governments from power and establishes a caliphate in their place. Only through such a war can they achieve this goal. Why? Because the terrorists do not threaten the power of Western governments, and certainly not ours. Their real threat is to Arab and other countries, such as those in Africa, where Muslims live in dominant numbers. So if Arab governments in Egypt, in Syria and Iraq remain in power, if all the other governments in the Islamic world stretching westward to Morocco and eastward to Indonesia do the same, the caliphate will remain small, and ultimately, vulnerable. The one great danger is that Arabs and other Muslims get drawn into an East-West war. The one sure way to ignite that war is for the West to begin calling the East the enemy, calling the fight against terrorism a war against Islam itself. I believe this is President Obama`s thinking and the reason he resents the bellicose calls for mass bombing of Syria and Iraq, why he fears that rejection of Syrian refugees here will trigger even more bitterness from the Arab world, why he refuses to call or make a call to arms against, quote, "Islamic terrorism," and why he stubbornly refuses to conflate acts of terrorism with the religion of Islam itself. Well, today, terrorists struck again, this time in Mali. The target was a luxury hotel in the capital. At least 20 people were killed, including one American.     NBC`s Ayman Mohyeldin has been covering that attack from Brussels. He joins us now. What happened there? Just give us the facts on what happened today in Mali. AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we`re still learning a little bit more about what happened in the early hours of the morning, Chris. But what we do know is that a group of armed gunmen entered the hotel, launching grenades, with armed weapons, and took the hotel hostage. According to the Radisson Hotel company, they took about 170 people hostage in the early hours of the morning. And as this day unfolded, we saw that Malian security forces, backed by a few U.S. special forces that were in the area at the time by chance, just providing some support, as well as French special forces that arrived on the scene later -- all of them entered the hotel throughout the course of the day and began to clear that hotel out floor by floor, room by room. By the end of the day, we got a clearer picture of exactly what happened. According to the United Nations, at least 20 people were killed. That includes 19 hostages, 3 of the gunmen and 1 member of the Malian police force that stormed that building. In terms of who was behind it and why, that yet is not clear. We do have a claim of responsibility, not yet independently verified by NBC, but it is believed to be credible at this stage. It is a group that is closely affiliated with al Qaeda in West Africa, al Qaeda in the Maghreb, as it is known. And we know that they went after a very symbolic target right in the heart of Bamako, the Malian capital, in an area that is dominated by government buildings, Western diplomats, Western embassies. It is a highly symbolic target, Chris. MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Ayman. Now to the latest in Paris. And for that, we go to NBC`s Chris Jansing. Chris, 800 raids over there, 90 people detained, 174 weapons seized. What`s the threat level tonight in Europe? CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: The fear is high, obviously. They consider the threat level to be extremely high. They believe that the possibility of another terror attack is not just out there, but the possibility, Chris, of a chemical or biological attack. And you can see just how wide a net they are casting with those numbers. By now, probably more than 800 raids that they have done. I think the significant number you talked about is the number of weapons they have confiscated. Remember how tough the laws are here, but 174 arms seized, 18 of which are weapons of war, 84 long arms, 68 handguns, also 64 cases of narcotics, drugs being one of the key ways that ISIS is self-funding, and 250,000 euros. In the meantime, Chris, we`re learning new information about who we thought was the female suicide bomber, the cousin of the mastermind. In fact, now officials are saying she did not blow herself up. It`s Hasna Aitboulahcen. She was someone who communicated with police. She was asking them to come, Help me, help me. And then she had that conversation about, He`s not my boyfriend, he`s not my boyfriend.     The person who ran the raid said they believe that she was trying to get police to come in, so when that bomb exploded, they would be closer and that she would take them down with her, Chris. MATTHEWS: Wow. Thank you so much, Chris Jansing. Great work this week. I`m joined right now by Don Borelli. He`s a former assistant special agent-in-charge of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force. He`s an MSNBC contributor. And Malcolm Nance, a former U.S. intelligence officer. He`s now executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project and author of "Defeating ISIS." Anyway, here`s how the director -- here`s how the director -- director of the CIA -- I was quoting somebody from the FBI and it was pulled down on me right there. Here`s how the director of the FBI, James Comey, yesterday assessed the threat to America. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are not aware of any credible threat here of a Paris-type attack, and we have seen no connection at all between the Paris attackers and the United States. Of course, we investigate all of those propaganda threats. But instead, the threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in America who are being inspired or enabled on line to do something violent for ISIL. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And I guess the question for everybody here, Don Borelli and Malcolm -- I`ll start with Don -- is what is going on over there that might affect our security situation here in the States? Don first. DON BORELLI, FMR. ASST. FBI SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the key thing over there is the amount of training and planning, the sophistication, the operational security and the direct contact that those attackers had with ISIS.     A lot of them came out of Syria. They presumably had training. They certainly had the weapons and the firepower to launch a large-scale attack. The difference in the threat here is that there`s a lot of inspired by-type investigations that the FBI`s looking at, people that don`t necessarily have access to weapons and training, but nonetheless, you know, they`re inspired, although I`ve got to say, there`s no shortage of weapons in the United States, assault rifles and so forth, that should be obtained legally. However, the level of sophistication is not here what we`ve seen in Paris. MATTHEWS: What do you think accounts for this sense that there`s more coming? And if you look at all of the weaponry that`s been picked up in Paris and elsewhere, all the drugs, in fact, that Chris Jansing just mentioned, all this power that was out there, just sitting out there, not in plain sight but is only reachable through the emergency powers of the French authorities now because of what happened last Friday night, but there it was, sitting there all this time -- but is it -- is there a sense over there, or can you capture that sense of an imminent series of explosions occurring? Is there more coming? Is this going to be an uptick in the action over there on the side of the terrorists? BORELLI: Well, as far as I`m concerned, it certainly could be. We don`t know. You have to give a lot of credit to what the investigators in Paris have uncovered over the last week, so many weapons, as Chris Jansing mentioned, explosives, a rocket launcher. You know, I mean, I think to say that absolutely, there`s more coming. It`s anybody`s guess. They`re making significant progress, but they`re certainly not out of the woods yet. MATTHEWS: Malcolm, your thinking on this, just in terms of the dynamic. Is there -- these are -- you know, I don`t think this brings down a government, an attack on a cafe, a series of cafes and a nightclub and a concert hall with a band playing. So what`s the purpose of it? I keep thinking, it`s just to inflict damage with people committing suicide? Well, they`re giving their lives cheaply in many cases, so I don`t see what the purpose is except to create a war, to get the West so angry, it really begins to attack the Islamic world by name and with bullets and guns and bombing raids that ignite something over there. What is the strategy here? MALCOLM NANCE, TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT: Well, you`re absolutely right. In your opening monologue, you spelled out the strategy perfectly. This is designed as a psychological operation, which is implemented through an active tactical operation, which was done through the infiltration of agents who were already trained, brought over, came back, put them back into their society and let them kill themselves within their society.     This is just pure, perfect, standard dogma for the ISIS group and al Qaeda- like groups. They intend not to survive any of these attacks. But that`s what they do on the ground. What they want on a national, international scale is for us to react in such a way that we will overcompensate and that we will take out -- what they`ve done, which is with an apocalyptic, cultic ideology -- they`re a cult -- and take that out on the other 1.5 billion Muslims by, you know, limiting immigration and all of the other rhetoric that we`re hearing these days. And we are playing into their hands. It is terrible that... MATTHEWS: And that destabilizes... NANCE: ... these people lost their lives... MATTHEWS: And I think the ultimate -- tell me if I`m right here -- and I believe the purpose of that is to destabilize, to discredit all moderate forces in the Arab and Islamic world. NANCE: Absolutely. You`re absolutely correct. Their goal is the elimination of traditional Islam. They`re actually an existential threat to Islam itself. Most Muslims have nothing to do with this. They don`t even understand that this ideology`s, you know, additional cult facets in it are completely un- Islamic to the point that it`s anti-Islamic. They are the victim base first. And it shows you the power of eight men, what they can do to change the entire strategic dynamic of the political relationship between the United States and Europe and Europe versus the Muslim world. MATTHEWS: Check us on that, Don Borelli. Your thoughts about what we`re talking about because I think it`s an elaborate case of jujitsu. You take the strong Western powers, you get them to use their muscle to help you become more powerful back in the East and in the Islamic world so you can build a caliphate. BORELLI: Well, Malcolm could speak to this better than I can, but as I`m, you know, reading and watching some of the reports and some of the ISIS rhetoric out there, there`s talk of, you know, this ultimate, this final crusade, you know, the West against Islam.     And this seems to be just one of the things, the messages that resonate with these young people when they`re drawing all these recruits, giving them some sort of a sense of empowerment and hope that they`re going to be part of this, you know, final crusade, and it`s their duty to go. MATTHEWS: Yes. BORELLI: And again -- and Malcolm, I believe, is correct in this, when we overreact, that just fuels the fire, and you know, underscores the message that`s getting these young people to join the fight. MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, Don Borelli, and thank you, Malcolm Nance. Still ahead this hour, Donald Trump responds to questions about whether he`s willing to create a database of Muslims in this country. Is this what ISIS wants from America? Maybe that`s what they`re triggering us into. And terror in Paris has changed the course of the presidential election here in the U.S., and arguably not for the better. The HARDBALL roundtable will dig into that one. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: One week after the Paris attacks, the French senate today voted to extend that country`s state of emergency for three more months. Also today, the death toll from the attacks has increased by one. France`s prime minister announced another victim has died due to the attacks, bringing the count from last Friday night to 130 dead. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)     (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the aftermath of Paris, I think that there is just a very strong tendency for us to get worked up around issues that don`t actually make us safer but make for good political soundbites. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama yesterday on the alarmist and bellicose rhetoric we`ve been hearing from Republicans in the aftermath of the Paris tragedy. Since Friday, the Republican candidates for president have taken a hawkish stand, especially when it comes to the Syrian refugee issue. They`re even hawkish on that one. Yesterday, Dr. Ben Carson used an analogy, likening to dogs with rabies. That`s what he`s calling these people, dogs with rabies. Let`s listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, if there`s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you`re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you`re probably going to put your children out of the way. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, speaking about the refugees on Fox, Ted Cruz said their religion encourages them to lie and that the president wants to admit the same people that carried out the Paris attacks into this country. (END VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a religious philosophy in Islamism that encourages them to lie to carry out jihad.     We know that at least one of the terrorists who committed these horrible attacks in Paris came in with the refugees, and President Obama and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are willing to allow those same refugees to come to our shores. And apparently, they`re willing to just roll the dice and take the risk that hundreds, or God forbid thousands, of Americans will be murdered by jihadists. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Thousands of Americans will be killed by jihadists in this country if we let the refugees come in. Anyway, front-runner Donald Trump told Yahoo! News that, quote, "We`re going to have to do certain things that were, frankly, unthinkable a year ago." And when asked about placing Muslims in a national database, he didn`t rule it out. And then last night, Trump told an NBC News reporter that he`d absolutely enact such a program if he becomes president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Should there be a database system that tracks Muslims here in this country? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There should be a lot of systems, beyond database. I mean, we should have a lot of systems. And today, you can do it. But right now, we have to have a border. We have to have strength. We have to have a wall. And we cannot let what`s happening to this country happen (INAUDIBLE) HILLYARD: But that`s something your White House would like to implement? TRUMP: Oh, I would certainly implement that. Absolutely. HILLYARD: But Muslims specifically, how do you actually get them registered into the database?     TRUMP: It would be just good management. What you have to do is good management procedures. And we can do that. HILLYARD: Do you go to mosques and sign these people up into the system? TRUMP: Different places. You sign them up at different -- but it`s all about management. Our country has no management. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, today Trump tweeted this clarification. "I didn`t suggest a database, a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism and have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America." I`m now joined by MSNBC political analyst David Corn of "Mother Jones," as well as Paul Singer, Washington correspondent with "USA Today." So He obviously is sharpening up what was a kind of a sloppy statement. DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. MATTHEWS: Putting together a database. Well, OK, I don`t know how we keep track of religion in this country, but you certainly want to keep a lookout for people that give you reason for suspicion, which is where he`s working his way back to sanity here. CORN: But at the same time, he`s also called for possibly closing down mosques, making Muslims carry identification papers of some type... MATTHEWS: Has he actually done that?     CORN: Yes, so -- so... MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Where`s the -- let`s get back to this. Where did he say about identification papers? CORN: Read "First Read" of NBC News this morning. They outlined some of the statements he`s made. And so it`s all the same piece, that Muslims are the other. You know, this is the argument that a lot of them try to make about Barack Obama, the secret Muslim. And they`re feeding the fear or responding to the fear and paranoia of a good part of Americans, particularly of the Republican primary electorate. MATTHEWS: Yes. CORN: They want a visceral reaction, and they`re equating terrorism with Muslims. You know, Ben Carson has done that a bunch of times. And you just saw Ted Cruz say "Islamism," which I don`t think is even a word... (CROSSTALK) CORN: ... you know, basically leads to terrorism. MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the problem. You have people in this country who are Islamic who come from the former Yugoslavia. You have got people here from Pakistan, Bangladesh... CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: ... India, Indonesia.     CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Islamic people come from all around the world. It`s 1.75 billion people. CORN: Right. MATTHEWS: They`re not -- first of all, if you bring it into a subset of Arabs, even, it`s like 300 million Arabs. OK, let`s get down to Arabs. Who are -- and then you down to the small number of people who have had -- who have given reason to be thought of as possible cell members. Like, let`s face it, the French have been rounding up a lot of people who have a lot of guns. PETER SINGER, "USA TODAY": Right. Well, I mean, part of the issue is, Americans at the moment are smothered in fear. I mean, there is a palpable fear of another terror attack in America. I mean, ABC news has a new survey out just today, in fact, that showed that something like 81 percent of Americans are expecting a terrorist attack in America. MATTHEWS: But have you the numbers are worse? People believe that they will be hit in a terrorist attack. Those numbers blow my mind, how people actually think... SINGER: ... which is stunning. MATTHEWS: ... they`re going to win the reverse of the... CORN: The lottery.     SINGER: Yes, right, exactly. MATTHEWS: Some lottery. Yes. SINGER: When you think of how rare it actually is, as you`re making the point, right... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I was going to say the Irish sweepstakes. It`s like one of those things. Like, the chance are one in millions. SINGER: And we have had Muslims come into the country for years. We have -- and it`s so rare that it occurs here in the United States, and yet there is this fear, palpable fear that it`s going to happen. And, of course, the candidates respond to that. And when they respond to it, people respond back. MATTHEWS: Well, this is the weird part. We all travel a lot. Guys who work in the TSA come with Islamic back -- who are Islamic people. People that work in hotels are Islamic people. People who drive cars are... SINGER: My brother is a Muslim, Chris. My brother is a Muslim. We adopted a refugee to Afghanistan. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: It`s around us, and yet...     (CROSSTALK) SINGER: It`s part of our culture. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... incite, and it`s portrayed as some furtive operation. CORN: That`s what`s happening. You have the Republicans mainly running, these lead candidates, who are equating Muslim or Islamic with terrorism. SINGER: Right. CORN: They`re making this direct A-to-B point, and you have got Jeb Bush and a few others pushing back, but that`s the tone. (CROSSTALK) CORN: Even John Kasich, who has seemed to be reasonable in the past, the other day called for a U.S. federal agency that would promote Judeo- Christian values around the world. So, like, they really want to make this an us vs. Islam fight. MATTHEWS: Well, I told it in the opening. I said in the opening -- but I`m telling you -- I said it during the break, I`ll say it now loudly -- if you believe the president of the United States, against every estimate of his life, every account of his life, everything about the Reverend Wright and all the rest, his family, everything about his history, if you still insist he`s a foreigner...     CORN: Right. Yes. MATTHEWS: ... if you still insist he`s from Africa, if you still insist he`s a Muslim, then it`s easy to say these guys coming in there as refugees are dangerous, if you accept that kind of baseline. (CROSSTALK) CORN: And that he`s doing it on purpose. And, you know, about 30 percent, 40 percent of the Republican base believes that. MATTHEWS: OK. SINGER: But the issue is, there`s no answer. Honestly, even Obama doesn`t know how to prevent every single possible act of terrorism. We can`t do it. So, all the candidates can say is, I`ll stop it. MATTHEWS: I know. SINGER: How? CORN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Corn. Have a nice Thanksgiving.     CORN: You too, Chris. MATTHEWS: Paul Singer, thank you. Up next: Congress and the White House battle over the refugee policy in the wake of those Paris attacks. I`ll speak with one congressman who represents a district that includes a significant Syrian community. I will give it away, Allentown. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. More now on the political fight over Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. Nowhere is this issue more relevant than the towns and cities directly affected. Allentown, Pennsylvania, for example, is home to one of the nation`s largest populations of Syrians. It is a settled, established community there; 38 refugees, by the way, arrived in Allentown and Scranton between October of `14 and September of this year, according to the local press, and more are on the way. Republican Congressman Charlie Dent grew up in Allentown. He represents the area and he joins me now. Congressman, I would love to know your thinking about this and how we deal with Syrian refugees now. REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Sure.     Well, thanks, Chris, for having me on the show. I do live in Allentown, Pennsylvania. We do have one of the largest Syrian communities of any in the country. And I would let you know that the Syrian community that I represent is largely Christian. And many of them are outspokenly in support of Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria. They`re very pro-Assad. We have had some very tense moments here when there was an anti-Assad demonstration a couple years ago, and it was met by a large pro-Assad rally. There was violence. All the police were called out. So, we have had some incidents. And I will tell you, though, our Syrian community is well-established. In fact, the Republican sheriff just elected, a good friend, Joe Hanna, he -- the Syrian-American leader of that community, I have had conversations with him about this. The Syrian community, though, is I think somewhat split on the refugee question. I believe we have had about eight families recently resettled in our area by the Lutherans. Some of these -- some of the local Syrians feel that it`s their obligation to open their hearts and their homes to their fellow Syrians, whether they be Muslim or a different faith. Others are very concerned because of the pro-Assad, pro-government feelings of many of my local Syrians. They`re concerned that many of the people coming are Islamic and are anti-regime, and that that can create some tension. MATTHEWS: So, where do you stand on the issue of -- where have you been voting? DENT: Oh, I -- look, I supported the legislation the other day that would allow for a pause, a pause to allow us just to better reinforce our existing programs on refugees. And so -- and, by the way, I`m on the committee, the Appropriations Committee. I`m on the committee that actually does provide the funding for refugee assistance, and we have provided over $3 billion of refugee assistance in this fiscal year, $2.5 billion for the refugees overseas, $500 million here. I`m not even counting the monies that we have for the unaccompanied children. So, I understand we have a responsibility, but let`s get this resettlement program right. I also just want to be clear. I don`t believe the refugee issue is the major security threat. There is a threat. We have to take al Qaeda at their word. They intend to penetrate or infiltrate some of the refugee communities. And so -- but we should take them at their word, but I would also tell you, Chris, that the bigger threat, in my view, are Europeans who are citizens of various countries who are already radicalized and can enter our country by passports through the visa waiver program and come in this country very easily right now.     MATTHEWS: What can we do about that? DENT: Well, we`re going to have to look at it. We`re going to be talking to our friends in Europe about ensuring that we share information a lot better than we do. We have, obviously, a very robust terror watch list and a no-fly list. I don`t think that we are as well-coordinated with the European countries as we ought to be. We`re going to look at it. We`re not going to talk about shutting down the visa waiver program. It`s just too darn important. There`s a lot of Americans and Europeans who go back and forth on passports. MATTHEWS: I know. DENT: And, obviously, there would be a big economic effect, but I believe that`s a greater threat to our country. MATTHEWS: Yes, we don`t want them going back and forth to Syria. That`s the one we`re worried about. Anyway, thank you so much, Congressman Dent. DENT: Well, that... MATTHEWS: Yes, do you have a thought? Go ahead. DENT: Yes, thank -- yes, I was just going to say one thing.     I actually have legislation I`m going to be introducing, the Enemy Expatriation Act, which would basically make it -- make it easier for an individual to have his or her citizenship relinquished if that individual were to leave this country and go to Syria or to join some foreign terrorist organization, deal with them the same way we dealt with individuals during the Second World War who went to fight for the Nazis or for the imperial army of Japan. MATTHEWS: Yes. DENT: It was very important that we established that kind of program, because we have had over 250 Americans who have gone there. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And that`s an easy argument with me, I think. If they go to express their loyalty to some other part of the world that`s out to kill us, I think it`s time for us to end our relationship. Anyway, thank you, Congressman Charlie Dent. Have a good Thanksgiving. Up next: In the wake of the Paris attacks, American politics gets nastier here at home. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a new -- welcome back to HARDBALL. There`s a new Republican technique out there. It goes something like this: We don`t want to do anything because we don`t trust President Barack Obama to do it with us. And here`s an example.     (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not trust this administration to effectively vet the people who are proposed to be coming in, in order to protect the safety and security of the American people, so I would not permit them in. QUESTION: What if they were orphans under the age of 5? CHRISTIE: You know, Hugh, we could come up with 18 different scenarios. The fact is that we need appropriate vetting, and I don`t think orphans under 5 are being -- you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, President Obama also used a bit of a snarky tone the other day to strike back when he was at that summit over in Manila, in the Philippines. Let`s listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they`re so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL or using some additional rhetoric somehow`s going to solve the problems out there. But, apparently, they`re scared of widows and orphans coming in to the United States of America. And now suddenly they are able to rush in, in a day or two to solve the threat of widows and orphans and others who are fleeing a war-torn land, and that`s their most constructive contribution to the effort against ISIL? (END VIDEO CLIP)     MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Jeanne Cummings of course is political editor for "The Wall Street Journal." Barrett Pitner is a columnist with The Daily Beast. And Eliana Johnson is the Washington editor of "The National Review." Strong members tonight. Let`s go through this. Have you noticed -- Eliana, did you notice that technique there? Even 3- year-old orphans can`t come into the country because we don`t trust Obama. That relieves you of a lot of discernment. You don`t have to think anymore. Just say, if Obama is involved, whether it`s immigration generally or this, I`ll just stand back and blame it all on him. ELIANA JOHNSON, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, Chris, I have to say I don`t think... MATTHEWS: Isn`t that a new technique in government? As long as the president`s involved, I`m not going to trust anything? JOHNSON: I have to say, I don`t think it really engenders a lot of trust when the president is overseas and his most impassioned response to the massacre in Paris is to point fingers at those who are raising questions about the refugee policy, when, in fact, one of the perpetrators came on the migrant trail, and to say that they are thoughtless bigots, when they are actually speaking for a majority of the people in the country. I think a more constructive response from the president would have been to try to assuage some of the concerns that they are raising, rather than to denounce them as... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. So, you thought -- you took that as a legitimate concern, we can`t let 3-year-old orphans in the country? That was a legitimate concern? JOHNSON: I don`t think the concern is that we can`t let 3-year-old orphans in the country.     (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what he just raised as the issue. JOHNSON: I think it`s that -- yes, but the concern isn`t, we can`t let 3- year-old orphans in. It`s, do we have the right protections, security, screening? And I think it`s ridiculous to respond to that concern by saying you`re a cold-hearted bigot. MATTHEWS: OK. Go ahead. Barrett? BARRETT PITNER, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, I think Obama has said plenty of times that he doesn`t have any more campaigns to run. He is positioning himself and the rest of the Democratic Party to be in a strong position against the GOP. Like, he is not -- if it may hurt him in the long haul, it may help the other Democratic candidates. And you brought up a good point about the regulations or the security we have for -- who are coming into the country. We need to have conversations about that, not conversations about whether the GOP wants to engage with the president or they trust him. Like, if we have something serious, we need to have serious conversations about these regulations and not whether we want to trust Obama or not. MATTHEWS: Jeanne, it`s getting snippy out there on both sides. JEANNE CUMMINGS, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": It certainly is, and it`s going to get a lot worse.     I mean, I don`t think this is the first time that candidates or members of a party have said, look, I just don`t trust that guy with X, and so I`m not going to do something. So, I don`t think it`s a brand-new tactic. They`re using it in a whole -- on a whole lot of issues. MATTHEWS: Yes. CUMMINGS: And I`m not sure that the president, if he`d taken a very reasoned position over in the Philippines, if that would have changed any minds. MATTHEWS: Well, part of the problem... (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: I mean, these people barely talk to each other. However, the debate now is going to the Senate. And the Senate, they do have real negotiations. And over in the Senate, they are looking at both the refugees and the visa program, both of which... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Feinstein is a grownup. (CROSSTALK) JOHNSON: Yes. Well...     (CROSSTALK) JOHNSON: ... that it`s Democrats in the Senate who are leading the charge to put more restrictive efforts on visas and so forth. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. JOHNSON: So, it`s really a bipartisan issue, and the president`s response, pointing fingers at Republicans for being bigots, I don`t think it`s constructive. He`s not addressing the Democrats` concerns on this. MATTHEWS: Well, I think he should address Dianne Feinstein. Anyway, a pair of polls conducted after the terrorist attack shows a majority of Americans are opposed to allowing Syrian refugees here. According to Bloomberg Politics, 53 percent of Americans do not want to accept Syrian refugees into the country; 54 percent of those surveyed in a new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll say the same thing. But there are a chunk of people in this country on the Republican side, a large chunk, that believe the president is not here illegally, and the president is... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I`m serious. I`m -- look, I`m as staggered by these polls as anybody who`s chuckling right now, but people keep saying it to pollsters. Why do they keep saying -- is just it a screw-you kind of answer? Yes, we will have some fun with this. I know he`s an American, but I`m going to have some fun with this. Or I know he`s Christian, but I`m going to say he`s a Muslim. Why do people keep saying that, Eliana? They do they keep telling pollsters that?     JOHNSON: Well, I have to say, I do think it`s amusing that it`s Hillary Clinton, it`s the Clintons who first put this out there about Obama being a Muslim. MATTHEWS: Why did she do it? JOHNSON: I think because it`s a pretty effective way, when you start to question somebody is American in their origin. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s an American thing to do? JOHNSON: No, I don`t. I think it`s an abominable campaign tactic. (CROSSTALK) JOHNSON: But I do think it`s worth it to remember that it was, in 2007, the Clintons who did this. MATTHEWS: I know. JOHNSON: The dirtiest campaign... (CROSSTALK)     JOHNSON: ... in the country. MATTHEWS: It`s their original sin. Jeanne, if you name it on this -- I know it was Al Gore who used the Willie Horton... (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: We know that history. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Why is that funny? It`s terrible. Let me ask you this about -- about the mentality of the country. Is it just they`re foreigners? JEANNE CUMMINGS, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think so. It`s the fear of the unknown, because we have a history in the country of, you know, there was a lot of angst when the Irish came, there was a lot of angst when the Italians came, and so on and so forth. And so, that`s part of it, is -- but I think add to that -- I mean, the Irish came because they were starving. These people are running from a war zone. And, you know, the kind, the sort of drive-by attacks are really scary. And so, I think you put those both together, and I think that raises the level of anxiety.     MATTHEWS: The question is we have to behave like Americans, no matter what`s going on. Anyway, following Donald Trump`s comments yesterday that he would certainly implement a Muslim database in the U.S., several of his GOP Republican competitors condemned the stance, including Ted Cruz. Let`s listen to him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Senator, your reaction to Donald Trump`s suggestion yesterday that Muslims be tracked as part of a national registry. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, listen, I`m a big fan of Donald Trump`s, but I`m not a fan of government registries of American citizens. The First Amendment protects religious liberty. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: There they go. It`s an interesting division there among people, very nationalistic, like Trump -- I think he`s a supernationalist -- and somebody who`s a libertarian as well. BARRETT PITNER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, frankly, I think a lot of people in the GOP field are not too pleased that Donald Trump is leading right now. So, any opportunity that they can have that they can use to hopefully knock him down a peg and increase their polls is something they`re going to use. But frankly, we all have to say that this idea of a database or registering all Muslims is just -- MATTHEWS: I`ve got to be careful. I don`t think he said registering them. Under the McCarran Act from 1950 to 1965, until it was ruled unconstitutional, rather, we forced the communist party members to register. But that`s different in this sense. I`m not defending it, but if somebody chooses to join the communist party under Stalin, they know what they`re doing. That`s a political move. That shows loyalty to the other side in the Cold War. That`s not being born a Muslim or born Jewish or being born anything else. It`s totally different.     It`s a signal of where you stand on world politics. And back then in the Cold War, we had attitudes about those people. CUMMINGS: Going back to Cruz, though, a couple of interesting thoughts to add is that he`s actually tried not to say anything about Trump. He`s tried to avoid -- MATTHEWS: He`s riding behind him -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He`s hoping he`ll wipe out and he`ll be the first one in the race. CUMMINGS: Exactly. MATTHEWS: By the way, that`s not working, is it? (LAUGHTER) CUMMINGS: Not yet. Maybe it will work later. MATTHEWS: That`s not working. Trump is still out there. CUMMINGS: OK, wait, wait, he`s also appealing to his evangelical base. In the Republican Party, the evangelicals are those that bring in refugees, and so Cruz represents that part of the party.     MATTHEWS: They`re Christian in the best sense. By the way, who`s got the personality least applicable to the presidency, Cruz or Trump? Which is least likely to fit into the line of presidents we`ve had? CUMMINGS: I`ll let you answer that. MATTHWES: I think Trump becomes plausible because of Cruz. Anyway, the roundtable`s staying with us. And up next, with the presidential campaign changing focus to terrorism, which American politicians have lost their footing in the race for the White House? We`re going to do some losers and winners here. And this HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: As you mentioned earlier, more than eight in ten Americans now believe a terror attack is likely here in the U.S. in the near future. That`s according to new numbers from a "Washington Post"/ABC News poll. Eighty-one percent believe it could happen here soon. That`s the second highest number ever according to pollsters. The highest came in 2005, when 85 percent feared a threat in the wake of the London subway and bus bombings. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans, 54 percent disapprove of how this president`s handling the issue of terrorism. Just 40 percent approve. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)     (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ISIS is demonstrating new ambition, reach and capabilities. We have to break the group`s momentum and then its back. Our goal is not to deter or contain ISIS, but to defeat and destroy ISIS. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Jeanne and Barrett and Eliana. That was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of course, laying out her plan this week to defeat ISIS. It was yesterday, it was a week -- a good week if you were a hawk running for president in 2016, but it was a bad week if your answer to the Paris attacks is to do nothing or if you`re the odd man out like Bernie Sanders. As his rival was outlining her plan to defeat terrorism, Sanders was defending socialism and laying out his attack against this country`s billionaires. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next time that you hear me attack as a socialist, like tomorrow -- (LAUGHTER) Remember this -- I don`t believe government should take over, you know, the grocery store down the street or own means of production. Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system which is corrupt, that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy. The billionaire class must be told loudly and clearly that they cannot have it all. (END VIDEO CLIP)     MATTHEWS: Eliana, what do you make of that this week, that speech? JOHNSON: This week was about terrorism. Bernie Sanders gave a speech largely focused on domestic politics. And so, I really think it got lost in his delivery, but he`s slipping in the polls and he needed to deliver largely a broadside against Hillary Clinton, and I found it ironic in some ways that a lot of what he said, broadside against crony capitalism and dynasties in politics are things that a lot of Republicans would actually agree with. MATTHEWS: Well, I thought it was interesting, Barrett, that his definition of socialism is what you don`t like right now -- in other words, we socialists don`t like billionaires controlling our political system. That`s the new definition of socialism. PITNER: Right. MATTHEWS: It`s a convenient new definition. It`s a great one. PITNER: Right. And what his -- I think the speech -- he had to reframe the conversation. The title of socialist is something that Americans are not comfortable with and he has -- that`s a title on him, he has to have that conversation. It`s going to be a difficult one for people to digest and get around, but he has to have this if he wants -- MATTHEWS: Why now after all the successes does he feel the need to fight the definition that he has chosen all his career? CUMMINGS: I don`t think he`s fighting it. I think he`s trying to explain it so it`s not scary to voters. He`s got to figure out some way to appeal to a broader base and some way to knock her off of her game. But they felt like he first needed to establish who he is. And to his credit, it is a definition of Democratic socialism that fits the times. I agree with you on that. MATTHEWS: Very conveniently. It`s the one thing he knows everybody hates, which is the Koch brothers and a few people because of Citizens United being able to control our politics. CUMMINGS: But Bernie`s been saying this for a decade. MATTHEWS: Not about Citizens United.     CUMMINGS: Not Citizens United, but he`s been talking about income inequality -- (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: Yes, he has. PITNER: He`s been talking about this for a very long time. If you look at his -- MATTHEWS: Dr. Carson I would think of another subject. If he were playing jeopardy, would not say foreign policy. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Eliana, I think he would pick something along the lines of domestic moral issues or something. He didn`t know to name one ally to fight ISIS on behalf of, these are easy. Just say Jordan, say something. He didn`t have a name. I don`t think he`s familiar with the topic. JOHNSON: Yes. Look, I think there`s a mistake Republican voters are making that because he`s a neurosurgeon and he`s smart that he`s informed. And the guy is clearly smart but he`s not informed about world politics. And when you`re running for president, that`s something of a problem. PITNER: Yes. We`ve been waiting -- Carson has been having a narrative that his intellect as a neurosurgeon can transfer over to political run. We`ve actually been really patient to wait for that to happen, and thus far, it just hasn`t transferred over and now -- MATTHEWS: Things don`t transfer over. My knowledge of basketball, I always loved basketball, my favorite sport because it`s the fastest, I don`t know anything about hockey and everything I know about basketball tells me nothing about hockey. I can`t name the players, even the flyers. I know a lot about basketball, but that doesn`t help me when it comes to hockey. PITNER: Right.     CUMMINGS: I think for Carson, it`s an even bigger problem. I agree with everything they`ve said. His language is wrong, his knowledge isn`t there, but I think he`s got a temperament issue. I mean, that`s why Trump is actually not doing so bad this week because when people are afraid and they want someone to defend them, they want energy. They want -- MATTHEWS: Yes. So, he doesn`t have enough juice like upset -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Most people you say you have a temperament problem, you flap the handle too much. What do you mean by his temperament problem? CUMMINGS: I think his temperament problem is he`s way too cool and way too low key. MATTHEWS: Well, it`s always baffled me because I`ve talked fast my whole life, a big family in the East Coast, and he talks this very deliberate intellectual level where he actually hear every word. But I`ve been amazed by the success, but it has succeeded from. Anyway, people like him. Thank you to the roundtable. Jeanne Cummings, Barrett Pitner and Ileana Johnson from my favorite, what used to be my favorite newspaper. Coming up -- magazine -- how will historians look at this week in American politics and it`s repercussions. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.     The question of whether to allow Syrian refugees into the U.S. has become a hot political issue, of course, and for my next guest, it`s personal. He`s written about this story of desperate people fleeing the Third Reich, and seeking refuge in America, only to be turned away by our government. In his case, it was Jewish people from Europe fleeing Nazi persecution, and they included his uncle, and his grandfather, two men who eventually perished at Auschwitz. Martin goldsmith is author of a great book, "Alex`s Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance." Martin, thank you for this. You only have a little bit of time. How does this reawaken the echoes of what you lived through as a family member and what you studied? MARTIN GOLDSMITH, AUTHOR, "ALEX`S WAKE": The St. Louis came to this country six months after Kristall- nacht, November 9th, 1938. And on board the St. Louis were more than 900 Jewish refugees turned away first from Cuba for political reasons and then from the United States and Canada. And the ship was so close to the coast of Florida, that the people onboard could see the lights of Miami during the couple of nights they were flying the waters off the coast of Florida. And Edward G. Robertson and other Hollywood stars sent telegrams to President Roosevelt to convince him to allow the passengers to get off in Miami. MATTHEWS: There it is. GOLDSMITH: And yet, the permission was denied. The ship sailed back across the ocean, and at the time, earlier in the show, you showed that 53 percent of Americans were against allowing Syrian refugees to come into this country. A Roper poll in 1938 showed that 53 percent of Americans thought that Jews were not like the rest of the populace, that they should be treated differently somehow. And 10 percent of the respondents of that poll said the Jews should be deported. MATTHEWS: I mean, people who are here as Americans? GOLDSMITH: Exactly right. Jews living here in America.     My grandfather and uncle onboard the St. Louis sailed back to Europe. They got off the ship in France, and spent the next three years being sent from one camp to another before being sent to their deaths in Auschwitz in August of 1942. So, yes, as I said earlier, it is personal and when I hear these ideas of registries and keeping track of Muslims, I think of cards that my grandfather and uncle had filled out -- MATTHEWS: Yes, we should show them with the big J -- GOLDSMITH: The big J in Montrebund in 1940, just days after the (INAUDIBLE) -- MATTHEWS: There they are. We don`t want that here. We don`t want here. Martin Goldsmith, the great guy, thank you so much. I listen to you all the time on Sirius radio. GOLDSMITH: Well, thank you so much, Chris. MATTHEWS: And your book is called, "Alex`s Wake", about you going back and checking this whole thing out yourself personally as a member of the family, and what did occur to those memories of your family. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END     Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>