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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/1/15

Guests: Robert Costa, Susan Page, Barbara Boxer, Rick Santorum, Molly Ball

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 1, 2015 Guest: Robert Costa, Susan Page, Barbara Boxer, Rick Santorum, Molly Ball

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Donald Trump leads, and we`re not in summer anymore.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, a good while back, I said that if Donald Trump was still in this presidential fight come November, why assume he won`t be in the fight come February, when we have the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary starting up the whole primary season?

Well, it`s now December -- December 1st, in fact -- and Donald Trump is still right where he`s been, on top. We`re just two months away, of course, from the Iowa caucuses, the first time Republicans will cast ballots in a presidential contest, and Trump remains in the lead there in Iowa, with Ted Cruz, of course, close behind. But Trump has a bigger lead in New Hampshire. Marco Rubio and Ben Carson are distant runner-ups there.

Trump also dominates national polls. As Trump said at a rally last night, if anyone wants to win the nomination of the Republican Party, they`ve got to come through him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Christie hasn`t hit me yet. He will. He has to. He has no choice! He`s at 2 or 3! He`s got to -- he`s going to hit me, at some point. Rubio`s got to hit me. Hey, there`s only one way you get to the top, and it`s all through Trump, let`s face it. Even, I think, Cruz is going to have to hit me. It`ll be a sad day, but we will hit back, I promise. I promise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He says with resignation.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Robert Costa`s national political reporter for "The Washington Post," and one of the best out there. Susan Page is, of course, a great one, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." She writes the front page story. And Michael Steele is a former chairman of the National Republican Committee. He`s now an MSNBC political analyst, and doesn`t actually have to write anything he doesn`t want to.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You don`t have to hit those deadlines.

Let me start with you, Michael, and your party, the Republican Party. Why will February be different than December now? I mean, everybody says something`s going to change, there`s going to be some reality cutting into -- we`re in reality, I would argue. Your thoughts.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t see it changing. And I have two questions to ask anybody who is thinking about this process. So who takes out Donald Trump, and when do they do it?

MATTHEWS: Take his head off.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Can you -- do you have to go through him physically (ph), or can you sneak around, like Cruz seems to be doing, by eating the remains, basically, of Dr. Carson?

STEELE: Yes. Cruz has done that. Christie is about to do that.

MATTHEWS: Go around him.

STEELE: Is going to try to go around him. And I don`t know how successful they`ll be. As the polls are showing -- Cruz has been out there. He`s getting close, but not consistently. In Iowa...

MATTHEWS: Is that fight coming? Is Trump going to go after...

STEELE: Oh, I...

MATTHEWS: Robert, is Trump going to go after Cruz and say, You can`t go sneaking around me eating the remains -- I hate to be too graphic here, but the remains of Dr. Carson among the evangelicals?

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST": Cruz thinks he can have sidestepped Trump, run up the side in Iowa, and try to have a surprise victory there. But look, the donor class in the Republican Party, the biggest leaders in the party -- they`re not putting the money in to go after Trump. There`s no anti-Trump effort at this moment...

MATTHEWS: Well, who are the Koch brothers for?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where`s Sheldon Adelson?

COSTA: They`re sitting on the sidelines. The only people who are in the fight now against Trump -- Kasich`s super-PAC and the Club for Growth. They haven`t landed a punch. So if you`re going to beat Trump, you have to go at Trump...

MATTHEWS: But why raise a trillion dollars if you`re not going to spend it? Why are the Koch brothers...

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: ... don`t want to spend that money. Bush has $100 million sitting in their super-PAC, they don`t want to spend it. And the Kochs, they just don`t want that fight.

MATTHEWS: Well...

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, it`s also not clear that if you take on Trump, it does you any good, right?

STEELE: Exactly.

PAGE: First of all, Trump hits you back, as he said in your lead-in.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: And secondly, maybe you just make the point that the establishment is against Trump. That helps him with the voters who are drawn to him.

STEELE: And they`ve looked and they`ve seen Bush spend $25 million out of his -- now, it wasn`t all directed at Trump, but he spent the money and he really didn`t move.

MATTHEWS: There`s nothing there.

STEELE: The base...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: But it`s less about Bush and it`s so much more about the base and where they are right now.

MATTHEWS: Do you know any Bush enthusiasts in your party?

STEELE: No.

MATTHEWS: Do you know any reporting?

PAGE: I think...

MATTHEWS: Have you met one?

PAGE: I think -- I don`t even -- people don`t even mention Bush anymore, frankly, right?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I mean, I think this is a profound reality.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: ... part of the -- part of the conversation.

COSTA: I`ve seen veterans in New Hampshire go to Bush, older voters in New Hampshire. Bush has some support in South Carolina, a military state. He has lingering support. The best thing that could happen to Bush is...

MATTHEWS: Lingering support?

COSTA: Support on the sides, not enthusiastic at the moment.

MATTHEWS: Yes (INAUDIBLE) Anyway, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, participated in a New Hampshire roundtable today discussing drug addiction. That`s very smart of him. It`s a big issue up there. When a reporter asked about Donald Trump, Christie showed some "atty-tude." That`s how you say it in south Jersey. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Donald Trump said you need to be careful what you say. What`s your response to him?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I really don`t have a response, you know? We`re sitting here -- we`re sitting here, talking about some really important issues of recovery and addiction that are ravaging families across the country.

And you all, quite frankly, should be ashamed of yourselves. All you do is ask about Donald Trump, every place I go. And then I have the press complain to me, Why do you think Trump`s doing so well? Well, hell, man, if you`re talking about him 24 hours a day, anybody can do well. Whatever Donald Trump has said for the day today is, quite frankly, nothing that I have any interest in responding to. I`m running for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t it nice to be talked down to morally by Chris Christie?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Does he think that`s going to win him support, talk down to us morally? I`d stay off that channel, if I were him.

STEELE: Well...

MATTHEWS: And by the way, wasn`t this the tactic of bullying that he used to get those Democratic mayors behind him when he ran for reelection?

STEELE: Well...

MATTHEWS: And isn`t that the bridge problem right there?

STEELE: That`s not -- if he were talking to a voter, that would be a different conversation, and you`re probably right.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: But talking to the press, the base kind of looks at that and they go, yes, that`s right, that`s the right "atty-tude" to have.

COSTA: Complicated...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You said it right, didn`t you. You got the Philly accent, too.

COSTA: I mean, Trump has a lot of properties in New Jersey. Christie and Trump were cozy in 2010, 2012, 2014, when Christie was doing the RGA work. These are guys who have tried to avoid a fight. You see Christie`s still trying to stay on the ropes, not get in against Trump.

MATTHEWS: So what`s he doing with this, I don`t want to talk about him, he`s below me, you press people should...

PAGE: Because he`s got a...

MATTHEWS: ... be ashamed of covering him because he`s the only guy saying anything? Go ahead.

PAGE: Christie`s got a plan, right? You know, he`s now got the nomination -- the endorsement of "The Union Leader." He...

MATTHEWS: What`s been their record?

PAGE: And their record -- well...

MATTHEWS: Two out of nine.

PAGE: ... in 2008 -- yes. Right.

MATTHEWS: Two out of nine.

PAGE: John McCain -- they`ve got one...

MATTHEWS: Two out of nine have won the New Hampshire primary, much less anything else. Go ahead.

PAGE: All right. But he -- that -- the endorsement still does him some good in New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS: He`s number seven up there.

PAGE: And -- right. I understand that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the rah-rah that he`s trying to create here.

PAGE: But he`s -- this issue of addiction, that`s been good for him. I think the Paris attacks are good for him because he talks tough. I mean, he looks confident on that. So I think he`s at least somebody worth watching. It`s not...

MATTHEWS: What is he shlumping down in his chair there for? Wasn`t that an odd sort of picture of him there, shlumping down behind the microphone? Wasn`t that weird for him? He`s (INAUDIBLE) dramatize himself more.

STEELE: He was just relaxed.

COSTA: You see him in the town halls...

STEELE: Very (INAUDIBLE)

COSTA: ... I mean, in terms of being a candid talent, Christie has it. But you`re right, he`s not...

MATTHEWS: What`s with the white shirts? That`s their uniform.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why does he always wear white shirts?

PAGE: What he wears...

STEELE: He`s a former prosecutor. That`s -- that`s the uniform.

MATTHEWS: And he always walks around with his coat off, showing just whiteness!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m just amused by it.

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: ... Lamar Alexander...

MATTHEWS: I mean, what is the...

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: ... Romney plaid? What do you want?

PAGE: I don`t think that`s his biggest problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think we`re going to get snow blind from...

PAGE: His biggest problem is bridgegate`s not a good...

MATTHEWS: Anyway, "The Hill" newspaper, which covers Capitol Hill, reports that many Republican donors say they could sit the election out if Trump gets the nomination. All of a sudden, the guy that couldn`t ever last until November, they`re worried about him getting the nomination.

GOP establishment donors have confided to "The Hill" that for the first time in recent memory, they find themselves contemplating not supporting a Republican nominee for president. Maybe their wives will push them to Hillary.

Meanwhile, the Republican establishment has reacted to Trump`s continued lead these past few weeks with a mix of denial, fear and -- here`s a great word -- loathing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s not going to be the nominee, Martha, because at the end -- look, he may have 20 percent of the vote, but he`s got 80 percent of Republicans who don`t support him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say he won`t get the nomination?

KASICH: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What if he does? Will you support him?

KASICH: I -- I don`t -- he`s not going to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But...

KASICH: So you know, we`re not even going to go there.

KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH SR. ADVISER: He`s got a high floor and a low ceiling. I`m not certain that he`s going to be able to consolidate much out of that 25, 28, 30 percent of the vote that he appears to have today.

I still think he`s unlikely to win it. I don`t want to say the chances are 0 or 5 percent, but I think it`s unlikely he wins the nomination.

BILL KRISTOL, "WEEKLY STANDARD": I regretted lumping Carson with Trump. I said neither was qualified to be president about two months ago. I think Trump is, in my -- I mean, I`ve really come to kind of loathe Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s sweet. By the way, did you ask Karl Rove who won Ohio last election?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t he still running around with Megyn Kelly, arguing that Ohio went Republican?

PAGE: What was interesting about...

MATTHEWS: I mean, I mean it. If you`re wrong after the election, you couldn`t be right before it!

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: You know what was interesting about what he said -- he had previously said -- in the summer, he said, Donald Trump will not be the nominee, period. He`s not saying that anymore. He`s saying it is unlikely that he`s the nominee. That`s a real change.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s -- the plausibility factor has gone way up on this guy. I mean, if you think -- I mean, maybe -- I don`t ask anybody here to agree with me. I think there are three candidates clearly in the running now. I think Rubio`s definitely in the running. I think Cruz because the South might go to him. I think -- I think if Donald Trump is still in this fight when we go south in March, I think he`s going to be there. And of course, Cruz -- Cruz, Rubio and Trump.

But it now has come to be a true thinking. I think the three have a chance. All three have a chance. Well, you`re the Republican.

STEELE: Yes, no, I think they do.

MATTHEWS: All three.

STEELE: I think they do, but I think Trump has more of a chance because the other two...

MATTHEWS: OK. He`s more plausible.

STEELE: The other two haven`t had a way...

MATTHEWS: That`s changed.

STEELE: ... found a way to take him out. So this is the deal. If Trump...

MATTHEWS: Is he the favorite now?

STEELE: Who, Trump?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: Yes. He is the favorite.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Michael Steele says Trump`s the favorite.

STEELE: He is the putative front-runner for the GOP nomination, period, end of sentence.

MATTHEWS: Wow!

STEELE: Go to the next paragraph.

MATTHEWS: So what is that changing among the big -- the big shots in your party?

STEELE: So some folks -- so folks in the establishment need to get their -- you know, their act together and figure out those two questions. Who takes him out? And when do they do it? And they`ve got eight weeks left.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: ... to February...

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry.

STEELE: ... with that wind in his sails, how do you stop him in the South? Alabama, Tennessee...

MATTHEWS: They`re to love...

COSTA: What`s going to stop Trump?

STEELE: What`s going to stop Trump?

COSTA: What issue is going to stop Trump...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`ve seen these numbers. And I`m not knocking anybody. The white voter, Republican voter who hasn`t gone to college, hasn`t had the break of going to college, tends to be a very big Trump voter, in terms of just numbers. I`m not making the elitist attitude. It`s just a fact. Down South, they`re going to find some people down there that meet that description and they`re going to like him.

By the way, Dick Nixon once told Pat Buchanan, my friend -- I dare say that -- that whenever you hear about a "Stop X" movement, bet on X.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And if we have a "Stop Trump" movement, bet on Trump.

PAGE: You know where -- you know where the money -- you know, the money -- the establishment money that wouldn`t go to Trump if he`s the nominee, that will go to Senate races...

MATTHEWS: Oh!

PAGE: ... because if Trump is the nominee...

MATTHEWS: To hold the Senate.

STEELE: You got to hold the Senate.

PAGE: You got to hold the Senate. And holding the Senate -- you look -- of the -- I think of the eight most competitive Senate races, seven are in presidential swing states. That means that...

MATTHEWS: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado...

PAGE: I can`t actually name them all, but yes.

MATTHEWS: They`re all right. New Hampshire, that`s four.

PAGE: Yes. So there`s a big risk for Republicans that Trump runs, Trump gets the nomination, they don`t think he can win the presidency, he could deliver the Senate.

MATTHEWS: I forgot Nevada. These are all close ones.

COSTA: Think about super-Tuesday. March 1st, you got all these Southern primaries. The most telling moment I`ve had in this campaign is driving from Mobile, Alabama, through Mississippi to the Florida panhandle. They all have Trump signs on their lawns.

MATTHEWS: Here`s a theory I have, that the Republican Party isn`t anymore warlike than the Democratic Party when it comes to actual troop movements. You know, they talk tough about the Iranian deal -- No, no, no, we don`t like these people -- but the idea of putting a couple hundred thousand or even 50,000 troops somewhere and have a real war is almost a no-no now.

Look at this. Here`s Ted Cruz. He opened up an interesting line of attack against Marco Rubio this week. He said Rubio is too much for interventions. Cruz also called him out by name. He said he`s a neocon.

Here`s what Cruz said to Bloomberg. "Senator Rubio emphatically supported Hillary Clinton in toppling Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. I think that made no sense. If you look at President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and for that matter, some of the more aggressive Washington neocons, they have consistently misperceived the threat of radical Islamic terrorism and have advocated military adventurism that has had the effect of benefiting radical Islamic terrorists."

There you have a very hard right, probably the most hard right candidate in a long time saying, We are not a hawk party. Robert, that`s a dramatic statement.

COSTA: Cruz has been trying for years to balance between the McCain wing of the party and the Rand Paul wing, and he thinks...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Rand Paul now?

COSTA: He is because he sees Paul`s not picking up any momentum.

MATTHEWS: So there`s an opening there.

COSTA: There`s an opening.

MATTHEWS: And there`s too many guys on the -- on the -- who are pushing the hawk side. Everybody wants to be a hawk. Christie`s a hawk. Kasich`s a hawk.

PAGE: Because they want to go after Obama, right? They want to say, I`m not going to be like Obama. He`s been too reluctant to push -- use U.S. military force abroad. And that pushes you toward a position that gets you closer to a George W. Bush.

MATTHEWS: Any chance the Republicans will run somebody who`s to the dovish side of Hillary Clinton? In other words, Trump or Cruz?

STEELE: It`s a real possibility. And if you detach the name from that quote and just run that quote, who does that sound like, you know? And that`s -- that`s -- that`s where...

MATTHEWS: Who`s it sound like to you?

STEELE: It sounds like someone from the center left, I mean, in terms of...

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: ... Sanders -- It sounds like...

STEELE: It sounds like...

MATTHEWS: Where I live.

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, President Obama`s in Paris today with over 100 other world leaders trying to confront the crisis of climate change. Back home, the Republican candidates seem to agree he shouldn`t have even made the trip. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`d be uncertain whether I would attend a meeting like that that -- where it seems like the movement is towards policies that will hurt our economy.

CHRISTIE: Pundits are always changing, and we cannot say -- we cannot say that our activity doesn`t contribute to changing the climate. What I`m saying is, it`s not a crisis. The climate`s been changing forever, and it will always change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What scientists are you relying on to say it`s not a crisis?

CHRISTIE: That`s my feeling. I didn`t say I was relying on any scientists. I don`t see evidence -- I don`t see evidence that it`s a crisis.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president over there worried about climate change instead of worrying about nuclear weapons coming into the middle of our cities, OK? We are being run by stupid people. We do have weather that changes. You have storms and you have tornadoes and you have hurricanes. And you had them always.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Is the Republican Party against concern about climate change, Michael? I mean, that seems to be the line. We`re not concerned.

STEELE: They...

MATTHEWS: We`re more concerned about other things.

STEELE: I think -- I think Christie sort of sums up where the center of the party tends to be on this issue, and that is it`s not as big a crisis as everyone claims it is.

MATTHEWS: OK. Susan, do you read it that way?

PAGE: Interesting what President Obama said about this this morning in Paris, when he got a question about it at his news conference. He said, basically, they`re just posturing. One of them gets elected president, they`re going to see things my way when it comes to climate change.

MATTHEWS: Wow. That`s useful for the voter (INAUDIBLE) one thing during the campaign and have something to face them later.

COSTA: Most strategists for these Republican campaigns tell me they never want to bring up climate change. Everyone -- it`s only the press who brings up climate change. They don`t want to bring it up on their own.

MATTHEWS: Tough. That`s our job, bring up, you know, inconvenient truths, as Al Gore would say.

Anyway, Robert Costa, as always, brilliant. Thank you, Susan, as always. And Michael, thanks for the inside and outside game (ph).

Coming up -- with two months to go before Iowa, is there going to be a debate on the Democratic side, a real debate about national security and the power of Wall Street and the things that matter to the progressive left?

Thirteen of the fourteen women Democrats in the United States Senate are backing Hillary Clinton, as of yesterday, and we`re going to hear from one of them in a minute.

Plus, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is here to talk about his campaign and what, if anything, his party can do to stop Donald Trump.

And Ted Cruz goes on a bender about contraception. You`ve got to hear this one to believe it. And Donald Trump talks about a $5 million blackmail plan to appear in the next debate. He won`t come without the money. Cruz and Trump share the wheel of the clown car tonight.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the strange, unknown world of United States Senator Ted Cruz.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Some bipartisanship in Washington today on Capitol Hill. House and Senate negotiators announced an agreement on a five-year transportation bill that will increase spending for highways, bridges and mass transit. The bill will also renew the Export-Import Bank. A vote`s expected in the coming days, as lawmakers face a Friday deadline.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I can tell you that Hillary is going to win the New Hampshire primary!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can tell you this. Hillary Clinton is going to win Iowa!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: And I will be working my earrings off to elect Hillary. How about you?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Just like all of us, she still puts her pantsuits on one leg at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just have one question. Are you ready for Hillary?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, if you`re ready for me, I`m ready for you!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: God, she looks great there.

Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was an event last night here in Washington which turned into a rally for former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Thirteen of the fourteen Democratic women in the U.S. Senate officially threw their support behind her, behind their former Senate colleague and now their party`s 2016 front-runner.

But even though Hillary Clinton leads big in the polls, of course, the nomination is not in the bag yet, certainly. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is still mounting an aggressive challenge to Clinton and maintains that he`s the real progressive when it comes to standing up to Wall Street and opposing military action abroad.

Joining me right now is one of Bernie Sanders` Senate colleagues who is backing Senator Hillary Clinton. Barbara Boxer is a senator from California. She`s retiring in 2017, at the end of her fourth term in the United States Senate.

Barbara Boxer, Senator, it`s so great to have you on. You are a hero. You win. You`re a liberal. You don`t change. You`re a progressive. You don`t bring in your sails. You sail full force, and you win again and again and again, so -- and again, and one more again there.

Let me ask you, what is the argument, if you can discern it, that separates Hillary Clinton from Bernie Sanders? Is it important?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, you have three people running for the Democratic nomination.

And I think Hillary`s the standout. I don`t think you can look at anybody else who brings all that experience as a first lady, as a private lawyer, representing the Children`s Defense Fund, as a United States senator who went down to Ground Zero and fought for those first-responders, as a secretary of state who understands how to use soft power and hard power.

She`s just a unique person for this moment. And so it`s nothing negative about anybody else. And I think it`s healthy to have a primary. I really do think it is. And everybody`s ideas, I think, when Hillary eventually wins, will be melded into her platform.

I believe that. Bernie`s a great fighter for the middle class. He`s terrific. He`s passionate, and I think that he`s going to make Hillary a better candidate.

MATTHEWS: What about Hillary Clinton as a -- in terms of her foreign policy instincts? Do you -- when you look at her record going back to the Iraq War and going back all through her role as secretary of state and U.S. senator, do you see her as more hawkish than most Democrats or somewhere in the middle, among Democrats?

BOXER: I really -- I really don`t -- yes, I hear you.

I don`t think you can call her hawkish. I do think that she will take each individual case and look at it and come out with some strategy. Sometimes, it`s going to be using the threat of force. Sometimes, it won`t be. It will be doubling down on diplomacy. I think she showed her mettle when the decision was made to go after Osama bin Laden and she was in that room.

I think that she would look at each particular situation with that clear set of eyes that she has. But I will say, I didn`t agree with her on the Iraq War. I was one of 23, that`s it, in the Senate who didn`t agree with her. And she has since said those magic words, "I was wrong," and I give her tremendous credit for that.

A lot of people, like George W. Bush, will never say those words.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I get it. Well, maybe that`s family loyalty. I don`t know what that is. Maybe it`s stupidity.

BOXER: Whatever it is.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this stuff. And I know you`re a progressive and you follow all these issues, so I`m -- this is not going in the weeds. This is important stuff.

BOXER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The Brady Bill, it seems that Bernie Sanders is not a supporter, like most of us, of gun safety rules. He is a -- he holds back on it, he says, because of his more conservative rural state. What do you make of that?

BOXER: Yes. I think that`s a clear difference. And he talks about how, if we`re angry, we`re not going to get anywhere. I don`t quite get it, because he`s angry about a lot of things.

MATTHEWS: That`s true.

BOXER: But I think that Hillary has come forward very clearly. She represents the vast majority of people in saying we need those universal background checks. We need safety features on guns, and she said yesterday -- by the way, that clip was so exciting for me to relive what happened yesterday with that wonderful rally that we did have for her.

She basically is very, very clear and says, look, if you`re a terror - - if you`re a suspected terrorist on the no-fly list, you shouldn`t be able to buy a weapon. These are very commonsense measures. And Bernie has a hard time with them because he does come from a state that has very few restrictions, Vermont.

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Sanders has also attacked the former secretary of state for her ties to Wall Street. Let`s hear him and see what you think of this charge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why, over her political career, has Wall Street been a major, the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? Now, maybe they`re dumb and they don`t know what they`re going to get, but I don`t think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I`m not a politician, Senator, but I always wonder why -- I have thought about this -- why didn`t Secretary Clinton just say, I represented Wall Street for six years in the U.S. Senate, eight years; that`s part of my constituency; you may not like rich people, fine, but there`s a lot good people that work on Wall Street; a lot of them are good Democrats and progressives on most issues; why shouldn`t I take their money?

I would have said it. Instead, she said it had something to do with 9/11. I didn`t buy that. Your thoughts?

BOXER: Well, I think she has said in the past that she, of course, represented in New York.

But it may surprise your viewers and you to know that I worked on Wall Street. I had an economics degree straight out of college. It was very difficult as a woman to work on Wall Street. It`s a whole other story. I won`t go into it. But what does that mean you work on Wall Street?

There are great people on Wall Street. There are people who I don`t like on Wall Street.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BOXER: There are progressives. There are conservatives.

The thing with Bernie is -- and I love him and I work with him and I enjoy him. I think he`s a terrific senator. He`s passionate. He gets so angry at groups of people and he paints them with a broad brush.

And I think you`re actually -- you`re absolutely right when you say Hillary represented New York. It`s like saying, I represent Silicon Valley and I help them. I do. I help the entertainment industry, you know, the tourist industry. This is my state. So...

MATTHEWS: Why -- I have got to ask you a question.

BOXER: You know, when you`re president, -- let me just say, when you`re president, you have got to represent everybody. You have got to bring everybody into a room.

You don`t want to leave people out of the room. I just negotiated that highway bill that you talked about.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Congratulations. We just talked about it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I just took a train ride across the country and I love anything on infrastructure.

BOXER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Personal question to you, Barbara Boxer. You look great. You`re youngish.

BOXER: Well, thank you.

MATTHEWS: I think I am too.

Why are you quitting?

BOXER: Young at heart. Young at heart.

MATTHEWS: Why are you quitting?

BOXER: I`m not quitting. I`m going to keep working, but I really want to go to California, Chris. My heart is there.

So I`m going to work. I`m going to be out there. I`m going to be involved. You`re going to see probably more of me. But I have so much pep and energy. And I`m not leaving the scene, but I want to go home. And, you know, I have given at the office. I have been in elected office for 40 years, when you add it all up...

MATTHEWS: Yes. It is amazing. It is amazing.

BOXER: ... from local government. And it`s been a privilege and an honor. And I leave with such a full heart and a happy heart.

And I think it`s time for me to do a few other things. And you will hear about them, I`m sure.

MATTHEWS: You have done pretty well for a Marin County activist on social issues. (LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re amazing. And you keep winning elections and you have not bent to popular opinion. You have simply been Barbara Boxer.

Thank you very much for coming on.

BOXER: It`s a big compliment. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: It`s all true.

Anyway, up next, presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be here with me live on set.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is brutal out there. If you`re a conservative and you`re running for office, it is not a fun thing. The other side hates what we want to do. And, unfortunately, they don`t separate what we want to do from us.

This is a beating. It`s a beating, running for president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum lamenting challenges on the campaign trail. As I said earlier, it`s just two months now until the Iowa caucuses are coming February 1.

Four years ago this week, Santorum, who`s with me right now, was trailing in the polls. He was only down at 4, as you see him there, but he went on to score a narrow victory. He was the top guy in the Iowa caucuses, coming right back in one month. Today, he`s polling near the bottom again, tied at 2 percent with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Governor Mike Huckabee.

Does he have what it takes for another come-from-behind victory in the Hawkeye State?

Former Senator Rick Santorum is with me here tonight.

Well, you did it once. In fact, you did it in one month. Now you have got two months to do it.

SANTORUM: Two months.

MATTHEWS: How are you going to do it, from 4 percent, from 2 percent to winning?

SANTORUM: You know, Nate Silver published an article just a few days ago where he said, look, what`s the hysteria going on here? According to all the polls, 80 percent of the people who are answering these polls are undecided.

And I can tell you, the "Des Moines Register" poll, the most recent one, 88 percent of Iowans are undecided. And that was the case four years ago; 50 percent of the people who voted for me in the Iowa caucuses decided the last five days.

MATTHEWS: What did you do? You must be going back in your mind and say, what worked for me last time?

SANTORUM: It`s going out and meeting Iowans, and spending...

MATTHEWS: One on one.

SANTORUM: Spending time.

And, you know, we`re building up our team right now. We have -- we`re ahead of our schedule of where we were four years ago in signing up caucus captains. And if you`re sitting at 1 percent or 2 percent in the polls and people are signing up to be your caucus captain, they`re not going to leave you.

MATTHEWS: Well, the bad news is, as in our business, in my business here, you succeed at something, people imitate you.

SANTORUM: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, you have got Ted Cruz out there trying to be you. You have got Dr. Carson, a complete newbie, trying to be you. They`re all trying to do what you did.

SANTORUM: Yes, but...

MATTHEWS: So there`s three, and Huckabee, all of you competing for the same conservative cultural vote.

SANTORUM: No, I would agree. They`re all competing in the conservative area.

But none of them are doing the work on the ground that we are. I have already been to all 99 counties in Iowa. I`m going to continue to work hard.

MATTHEWS: You going to that motorcycle place again? Remember that one?

SANTORUM: The -- no, that wasn`t...

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, it was. It was some kind of a Harley place we went to. Oh, yes, I said, what are we doing here? Oh, yes.

SANTORUM: Oh, OK. Well, I don`t remember. Well, I did a few -- I did almost 400 visits in Iowa.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I always say, this guy will do the smallest...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Well, no, we did a lot of small...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, yesterday, you toured a gun factory in South Carolina...

SANTORUM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... and were asked about the killing of a police officer and two others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and whether anti- abortion rhetoric contributed to the shooting.

Here was your response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Whether it`s killed on -- a gun or killed in an abortion mill, we should -- we should find that a tragedy in this country. And the idea that somehow or another guns are responsible for this is just like saying surgical equipment is responsible for abortion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know why that doesn`t work with me, but -- because abortions are always a function of the mother, potential mother, saying, I don`t want to have this baby. So, she makes the decision, whereas guns are all over the place. Anybody can get a gun and use it.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: The point is, you`re ending an innocent human life.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SANTORUM: And the inanimate object is not the person ending the -- you can say, well, it`s legitimate or not legitimate. I don`t think either should be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But do you think we would have mass shootings if we didn`t have guns? How would we have them? What would they be?

SANTORUM: We have mass shootings in cities where guns are banned.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but they`re not banned really, because you can get a gun anywhere.

SANTORUM: Well, you can get a gun anywhere. You can get a gun anywhere in this country. There are hundreds of millions...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We don`t have mass shootings all over Europe.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: What do you mean? We just had a mass shooting in Paris.

MATTHEWS: These are terrorist attacks, OK, but they`re not locals.

SANTORUM: Well, the bottom line -- we just had two mass shootings.

MATTHEWS: You`re missing -- you`re just challenging... SANTORUM: I`m not missing anything.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: America is a violent society because of guns.

SANTORUM: America is a violent society because of the culture, because of, I would argue, the breakdown of the family.

I would argue there`s a lot of reason why people are resorting -- we have a scourge of mental illness in this country, where for a lot of reasons that we aren`t dealing with and dealing with responsibly. There`s a lot of issues...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What was your reaction -- and I know you care about life, and I -- you`re a true believer in that. What was your reaction when you heard the guy said no more baby parts?

SANTORUM: It...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What did you think?

SANTORUM: Well, it sickened me, but it didn`t sicken me anymore than when the guy broke into the Family Research Council last week and tried to shoot people. And he was being motivated by rhetoric on the other side.

People with mental illness grab on to sometimes very, very legitimate arguments and twist them, because that`s what mental illness does. I think that`s really the focus here. We shouldn`t be saying, well, you can haven`t a legitimate debate about these issues, when, in fact, there are legitimate debates about abortion.

MATTHEWS: Well, six parent -- six children lost a parent in that shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic out in Colorado.

"The New York Times" editorial board writes: "Since no amount of dead bodies seems enough to spur lawmakers to rein in access to guns, let`s focus on the living, the children gun violence leaves behind. Here`s a thought for lawmakers who refuse to consider any meaningful legislation to reduce the daily carnage of gun violence across America. Thanks to your single-minded defense of unfettered gun rights at the expense of all reason and respect for life, there is an endless supply of children to be consoled."

SANTORUM: I would say this, that if we had people at that scene who had guns, that wouldn`t have happened. And, in fact, there are...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You mean -- you mean...

SANTORUM: People who could defend themselves.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... at a Planned Parenthood clinic should be having arms?

SANTORUM: People have conceal/carry, and carry all over the place.

MATTHEWS: But, seriously, do you really want people in a clinic to have guns?

SANTORUM: Why wouldn`t they have -- why wouldn`t -- I believe people should be -- should have the right to carry guns wherever they want to carry guns.

MATTHEWS: You mean a doctor and a nurse in an operating room?

SANTORUM: Those are law-abiding people who...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: ... protect themselves.

MATTHEWS: Why would -- but, seriously, functionally, you say we could prevent this tragedy if we had people armed.

Do you expect people to be armed in a doctor`s office?

SANTORUM: Where do you think these people commit crimes? They go to places -- these people who are ill, they go to places where they know no one`s going to have a gun.

If you have a -- I know that sounds somehow foreign to certain ears, but the fact is, they don`t go to places where people are armed. They go to places where people aren`t armed.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I don`t think -- no, I don`t think it sounds foreign.

What I think is weird is, when we grew up with Matt Dillon, they would say, keep your guns at the city limits. There were always ordinances about guns. It`s not un-American to think that you have some limits on access...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We don`t have guns all the time.

SANTORUM: The problem is, the bad guys -- the bad guys have guns. That`s the problem. And there`s no way around that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you support the NRA all the way when it says they want guns in bars where people are getting drunk, they should have a gun with them?

SANTORUM: Again...

MATTHEWS: You`re not for that, are you?

SANTORUM: I believe that responsible people carrying weapons actually reduces crime in America and saves people`s lives.

MATTHEWS: Do responsible people walk into a saloon wearing a gun?

SANTORUM: Many people do. Of course they do. Of course they do. Not everybody who walks into a saloon, Chris, gets drunk.

MATTHEWS: Well, some do.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Well, some do.

MATTHEWS: And those guns are loaded.

Thank you, Rick.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Again, you`re not necessarily...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You have got to be pro-life about some of this stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: I am pro-life about it.

MATTHEWS: Carrying -- guns and booze don`t mix.

SANTORUM: Well, again, all I`m saying is... MATTHEWS: Do they?

SANTORUM: Again, all I`m saying is that the more people that we have responsibly carrying, the less -- the less violence we are going to have in this country.

MATTHEWS: Moderation in all things.

Rick Santorum, thank you. Good luck. I do root for you personally, although, politically, we`re not too close.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: We will be right back with the HARDBALL roundtable after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Sex, violence, blackmail, and birtherism, we`ve got an action-packed clown car Tuesday right now, led by Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Let`s get right to it with the HARDBALL roundtable. Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer with "The Washington Post". Molly Ball is a political writer for "The Atlantic". And David Corn, of course, is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones". We begin tonight with talk of condoms -- that`s the first time I think I`ve ever said the word on television -- on the campaign trail. But nonetheless, yes, condoms. At a town hall in Iowa, Ted Cruz was asked about his thoughts on making contraception available to women. He responded with a tirade, if you will, a tear against the Democratic Party`s, quote, "war on women," which included some colorful details about his own sex life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I noted, Heidi and I, we have two little girls. I`m very glad we don`t have 17. Jiminy Cricket, this is a made up, nonsense example. Last I checked, we don`t have a rubber shortage in America. (LAUGHTER) But -- look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in, voila! You`re Hillary Clinton, and you`re trying to think, how do I run? So what do you do? You go, aha! The condom police. (LAUGHTER) I`m going to make up a completely made-up threat and try to scare a bunch of folks that are not paying a lot of attention into thinking someone`s going to steal their birth control. What nonsense! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: OK, he had a point to make, but what a strange way to make it. A little TMI? Too much information? DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Yes. MATTHEWS: "No glove, no love" is his slogan now? JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Jiminy Cricket, Chris! MATTHEWS: Jiminy Cricket! CAPEHART: Look, Chris, here`s the thing that I found -- MATTHEWS: Jiminy Cricket was Walt Disney, 40, 50 years ago. MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: Sounds like Mitt Romney with Jiminy Cricket. CAPEHART: I know, right? BALL: Golly gee darn! CAPEHART: Here`s the thing I`ll say about what Senator Cruz said. Did you notice the example he used? Rubbers, condoms, birth control is not just the province of men! The question was about reproductive health, about the so-called war on women. You know, it`s -- to make a baby, it requires two people. To have sexual relations, it requires two people. MATTHEWS: So was Hillary referring in her comments about pills, about IUDs, what was she talking about, Molly? BALL: You know, look, this is an ongoing pet peeve of the Republicans, though -- MATTHEWS: What form of birth control was she referencing? BALL: I don`t know a form of control that she was referencing. But this pet peeve the Republicans have, the Democrats are routinely accusing them of trying to take away all forms of birth control when they were trying to do away with abortion and certain forms of birth control that they consider to be tantamount to abortion. And so, this -- that`s not untrue, right? So Republicans are sick of being accused of this. MATTHEWS: I understand. So why did he go into detail about his use of condoms and that whole personal thing? BALL: To get attention. CORN: Because his mind is warped. But the thing -- there is a war on some forms of contraception, as you mentioned, and so, if he just wants to make believe that IUDs and hormonal therapies, you know, that stop pregnancies once there`s consummation, if he wants to pretend that`s not part of it, he`s wrong, because they all support -- most of them, personhood bills that would outlaw a lot of major forms of contraception. MATTHEWS: Contraception prevents conception, OK? So it`s after the fact it`s abortifacient, or whatever the term is. So, clearly, abortion versus contraception is the debate. CORN: And IUDs, where they fall. MATTHEWS: Well, because they fall -- a lot of pro-choice people say 99 percent of -- CORN: But we can get into the details, but it still is contraception. MATTHEWS: See how expert we all are? Anyway, here`s more from Cruz. Here`s what Cruz told Hugh Hewitt`s radio show yesterday, when the topic turned to the attack on Planned Parenthood that killed three people out in Colorado Springs. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) CRUZ (via telephone): You know, every time you have some sort of violent crime or mass killing, you can almost see the media salivating, hoping, hoping desperately that the murder happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemy. Now, listen, here`s the simple and undeniable fact -- the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn`t report that. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, David, in an NBA game or college basketball game and they pretend to be fouled, no one is ever accused a mass killer of being a registered Republican. It has never been done, I think it`s fair to say. CORN: And no one`s saying that the guy who blew up, you know, who`s alleged to have shot up those people in Colorado is a Republican. They`re talking about, he may have been listened to some conservative talking points, that demonized Planned Parenthood. And like -- MATTHEWS: I like the way you`re so careful to say "alleged". You can say the shooter occasionally. CORN: That`s what you have to say, because we live in a country where people are innocent until proven guilty. Chris, you believe that. You know that. MATTHEWS: You believe your lying eyes? CORN: But Democrats are the ones who commit the most crimes? In anything, most crimes are probably committed with Democratic neighborhoods with Democrats being the victims. MATTHEWS: OK. You know what, I`ve never done head count on partisan labels, either for street criminals or for mass shooters. CAPEHART: I think it`s interesting that a person in a party that constantly complains about being singled out and blamed for this, that, and the other. The president`s divisive and others are divisive is actually using language that is actually divisive. MATTHEWS: He`s also playing victim. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I`m a victim, too. Next up, Donald Trump is talking about charging CNN an appearance fee to show up to the next Republican debate come December 15th. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How about when we do this for CNN? I won`t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or goes to vets. Truth. Truth. (APPLAUSE AND CHEERS) I would love to do it. If I do it, I have to a feeling I could face repercussions in the polls. Should I do it or not? I don`t know if I want to take the chance. I don`t know. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Molly, it`s interesting, he`s out there having this public, you know, discussion. If I do this little gimmick, will that be bad for my polls? That`s an odd thing for a politician to admit to, that`s how he judges decisions. BALL: Well, I mean, he`s not like any other politician, he`s fixated on polls. It`s like half of his stump speech is polls and the other half is bashing the media. MATTHEWS: Any chance he`ll skip the CNN debate in -- BALL: Zero. Last time, CNN debate, and he said, look, how much money they`re making on these commercials. I want them to take that money and give it to the Wounded Warriors. CORN: Why doesn`t he just give the $5 million to the vets and not take it out on CNN? MATTHEWS: I think we`re making a point here, pushing a point. It`s obviously a PR stunt and it works because we`re talking about it. The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three are going to tell me something I don`t know. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: All today, MSNBC`s been celebrating Giving Tuesdays, actually a global day dedicated to giving back, doing something good for the people who need it most. Well, here`s a thought about the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation out on Staten Island, New York. It`s run by a very good guy, Teddy Atlas, whose father treated the people there for over half a century and was very much loved. Well, Teddy`s (INAUDIBLE) families year round with real needs they can`t meet themselves. It includes a lot of people who are hit hard and are still feeling the damage of Hurricane Sandy. To donate to this great cause, just go to DrAtlasFoundation.com. And for more information on Giving Tuesday, visit GivingTuesday.MSNBC.com. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable. Molly, tell me something I don`t know. BALL: Well, you talked earlier about the slow motion establishment freak-out over Donald Trump who I really hear the Republican establishment freaking out about right now is Ted Cruz, because they see him being very strategic, they see his rise and fear Trump is making him look reasonable to a lot of people. MATTHEWS: Smart. BALL: And, you know -- MATTHEWS: They think he`d be a terrible nominee. BALL: They fear him just as much as Trump. The Trump people like him. MATTHEWS: That`s smart. CAPEHART: Yes, there are problems with the Affordable Care Act but there are two nuggets out that show that it is indeed working. The first one is that we are at the lowest point of uninsured ever, since they`ve been keeping numbers, 10.4 percent uninsured in 2014 and in the early part of 2015, it`s down by 2 percent -- MATTHEWS: Who are the people that aren`t benefiting? Who is left out in the cold? CAPEHART: People who are living in states where Medicaid hasn`t been expanded. And the second thing is, the 80/20 rule where insurance companies have to rebate, have to spend 80 percent of their money on care. MATTHEWS: OK. There`s an op-ed page or an unsigned editorial so I can use it as commentary, go ahead, because I like it. CORN: In England, a group of activists put a petition on an official government Web site that says Donald Trump should be barred from entering England because of his hateful speech. This is an official process. If it gets passed through the committee and 10,000 people sign this, the government has to respond. MATTHEWS: We fought the revolution over there. That`s a bill of attainder. That goes back to a law, you can`t do it. You can`t attack people for crimes that weren`t crimes before they committed them. That`s why we had the revolution against the British. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a strange unknown world of the United States Senator Ted Cruz. Is there a world where the media and now it include me, speaks about the party membership of mass killers? Is this something we do when a mad man sprays bullets into a zoo room or movie theater, we cite the suspect`s age, something about their known behavior beforehand, what the neighbors could say about the person. Do you ever remember me or anyone else in the journalism world saying, oh, yes, the alleged killer was a registered Republican or Democrat or whatever? Did we ever even say whether they were a frequent voter or not? Did we? Or did you ever hear, say, in a program on prisoners in penitentiaries what number of those in the pen were Democrats or Republicans? No. Rubio`s right on this one, we don`t. But why should we? Is there something to be learned in conducting a partisan roll call in Sing Sing or San Quentin or Folsom prison? I can`t think of it right now any more than I can imagine the need to report on the voting habits if they were publicly determinable of a mass killer. There`s only one place on this planet where people wish to inquire to the voting habits of either mass killers or street criminals -- that`s in the mind of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. 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