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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/14/15

Guests: Jon Ralston, Michelle Bernard, Megan Murphy, Heidi Przybyla

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 14, 2015 Guest: Jon Ralston, Michelle Bernard, Megan Murphy, Heidi Przybyla

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump at his zenith.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Can you imagine someone predicting, say, a year ago that on this December, the eve of presidential voting, the poll numbers would stand where they do? Suppose I`d said that Jeb Bush, son and brother of presidents, would stand 41 percent and that Donald Trump, businessman who never held office was down at 3 percent? You`d say something like, Well, that sounds right. That makes sense.

But guess what? It`s not Bush at 41 percent, Trump at 3. It`s the other way around. It`s Trump 41 percent, the highest any candidate has gotten so far, and Bush, the son and brother of presidents, down at 3 percent, within the margin of error of nothing.

And that`s the big story this Monday night. Tomorrow night, we`ve got another big one, the big Las Vegas debate, where Trump might well be thinking knockout.

NBC`s Katy Tur and Hallie Jackson both join me now from Las Vegas, the site of tomorrow night`s Republican debate. Yes, this is a nightmare, by the way, for Republican establishment types. Donald Trump has broken 40 percent nationally, according to a new Monmouth University poll out today. Trump has opened up a 27-point lead over the field. It`s Trump, as I said, 41, Cruz down at 14, Rubio at 10, Carson at 9. And this is the highest level of support for Trump ever in a major national poll. So that`s the big news tonight.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, the other establishment-seeking missile, if you will, is rising in Iowa, with a 10-point lead over Trump in one poll and a virtual tie with Trump in another. But that`s just in Iowa.

Ahead of tomorrow night`s big debate, all the focus is on these two candidates. Trump is now sharpening his attacks on Cruz. And this is the big marquee matchup everyone`s going to be watching tomorrow night. On Friday night, Trump attacked Cruz`s faith and called him out of step with Iowa voters.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness. It`s true. Not a lot come out. But I like him nevertheless.

If Ted Cruz is against ethanol, how does he win in Iowa? Because that`s very anti-Iowa. I don`t know how he wins in Iowa. I don`t know.


MATTHEWS: Well, in an interview that aired yesterday, Trump escalated the attack, calling Cruz a maniac.


TRUMP: I don`t think he`s qualified to be president.


TRUMP: Because I don`t think he has the right temperament. I don`t think he`s got the right judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s wrong with his temperament?

TRUMP: Well, you look at the way he`s dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there like a -- you know, frankly like a little bit of a maniac. You`re never going to get things done that way. You can`t walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people. He`ll never get anything done, and that`s the problem with Ted.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s Donald Trump with the Brooks Brothers rules of gentlemanly conduct.

Let`s go right now to Hallie Jackson, but first to Katy Tur. Katy, thank you for Trump (ph). Is tomorrow night his knockout night? Does he go for the guy?

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: He could, potentially. But I think we said this in the past about Ben Carson, that this was his moment to knock him out for the last debate, when he was inching up on him in the Iowa polls, and he didn`t do that there. And I`m not sure that we`re see him knock -- take a real big swing at Ted Cruz tomorrow. I could certainly be wrong.

But historically in the debates, Donald Trump has kind of backed off into the background a little bit and not really taken those swings that we had expected him to, at least those swings that we saw him take in the first debate.

Also, we should note that he and Cruz are going for the same voters, so there is a risk of alienating the people who really like Ted Cruz by coming out swinging too hard.

But he is homing in on a few attack lines, Chris. One is the evangelical faith, saying that not many evangelicals come out of Cuba. We saw him do that successfully with Ben Carson, questioning his evangelical roots.

Not clear how successful he might be with Ted Cruz, also homing in on his Senate record and the fact that nobody likes him in the Senate, saying that he can`t get along with people. He won`t be able to get things done in the way that I`ll be able to get things done because I`m a uniter. I can bridge the gaps. I`ve worked with independents. I`ve worked with Democrats, and I can make them get along and agree.

MATTHEWS: Well, last week, Senator Cruz told fund-raisers at a private event that his approach to Trump is to give him a bear hug, to love him to death. After Trump attacked Cruz as a maniac, however, Cruz tweeted out the famous "Flashdance" video saying, "This in honor of my friend, Donald Trump, and good-hearted maniacs everywhere." So he`s being cute here.

Is this going to -- let me go over to Hallie on this one. Is this the lovey -- the rope-a-dope strategy, if you will, from Muhammad Ali, of just letting him punch away at him until he wears himself out? Is this the strategy?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Right, kind of letting him bring it. You know, you talked about that "Flashdance" tweet, Chris, that we`ve all been talking about today. There`s some talk -- OK, was this part of an elaborate social media strategy? Who thought of that?

Ted Cruz himself yesterday was, I`m told, sitting at home, tweeted it out, typed it up, sent it out. And he`s got to be feeling pretty good about the kind of play that it`s getting. But it gives you some insight now into where Ted Cruz is.

He`s loose. He`s feeling like he can do this and be kind of funny and turn the other cheek. Katy talked about Donald Trump bringing it to Ted Cruz on the issue of likability, which could potentially be a vulnerable for Cruz moving forward. And this is a way for Cruz say, Hey, I`m likable. Look, I`m funny. I`m relatable. I can talk about funny things in pop culture. So I would be surprised if we saw Ted Cruz go after Donald Trump tomorrow night.

That said, remember their positions on stage, Chris. The two of them will be side by side. Will we have a moment where Donald Trump physically turns to Ted Cruz and attacks him and goes after him? I`m hard pressed to say that Cruz wouldn`t then respond to defend himself, particularly if it`s on policy and not on personality.

MATTHEWS: Do you think Trump`s going to use his height advantage? I mean, historically, before a television camera, height was the big thing. The tallest guy always won. And I`m dead serious about this. Until Nixon lost to McGovern, who everybody thought was shorter than Nixon -- maybe that`s the reason he lost, but he was definitely taller than Nixon.

Here you have a guy who` 6-2 -- that`s Trump -- and Ted Cruz is 5-8. I would think if they go head to head, it`s going to look interesting. It`s going to look interesting. Your thoughts, both of you.

TUR: He`s certainly a pretty imposing figure, Donald Trump, and he will look imposing certainly next to Ted Cruz. But it is unclear how hard he`s going to punch him. Remember, they are going for the same votes. And if he hits too hard and alienates Cruz`s base, he could alienate a base that could come over to him.

Donald Trump is trying to bring more into his fold. And when he hears Ted Cruz say he`s going to give him a bear hug, I think it certainly irks him. He wants Ted Cruz to attack him. He`s going to try to bait him into attacking him. But the idea of him really attacking Cruz hard first is pretty risky for him, so I`m not sure we`re going to see it tomorrow.

Good indicator, though, is what Trump`s going to say at his rally here in Las Vegas tonight. How hard he goes after Cruz will be an indicator of how hard he`ll go after him tomorrow night. But remember, he does tend to go after the other candidates, the other opponents much harder at his rallies because that`s where his supporters are...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. That makes sense.

TUR: ... than at these national debates.

JACKSON: And strategy...


MATTHEWS: Hallie, one last thought about...

JACKSON: ... politically, too, just to point out...

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

JACKSON: Well, I would just say politically (INAUDIBLE) who does a Trump/Cruz cage match benefit? The establishment, right? Candidates like Marco Rubio.

MATTHEWS: Yes, maybe.

JACKSON: Neither of them are particularly incentivized to do that.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of -- does Cruz have a response if Trump goes back to the birtherism thing and turns it on him? I know he`s been kind to him in the past, but the fact that he was born outside the country -- you know, could you argue, I guess, the strict constructionists like Scalia would say it means born here. If you weren`t born here, you weren`t born here. It`s simple. It`s on the books. It`s in the Constitution.

JACKSON: Yes, I think...

MATTHEWS: Why is Trump...

JACKSON: This is not something that...

MATTHEWS: ... going to give him a bye on that?

JACKSON: I think this is not something that Ted Cruz hasn`t heard about in his past, during his Senate run and during his political life so far. So yes, I think Ted Cruz will be prepared to respond to that if Trump does, in fact...

MATTHEWS: But it`s relevant...

JACKSON: ... go down that lane.

MATTHEWS: It`s not relevant until you run for president. That`s where there`s a prescription there, you should be natural-born.

JACKSON: I think you`re going to hear Ted Cruz come out and talk about the fact that he is, in fact, naturalized here in America, if that does come up from Donald Trump tomorrow night, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Katy Tur and Hallie Jackson. I love that picture of the bridge of sighs out there. You know, I first saw it today with you out there, Katy, I thought, Oh, my God, she`s in Italy. What`s she doing in Italy? And you`re at the Venetian. There it is, the bridge of sighs there.

TUR: From your lips to God`s ears, Chris Matthews!



JACKSON: This is our experience together.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. No, it`s a pretty place. Too bad you`re not in the real place. Anyway, thanks for joining us.

I`m joined right now by "Ralston Live," the star of "Ralston Live," who is, in fact -- who is, in fact, Jon Ralston. Jon Ralston, thank you. I was looking at the wrong cue there. And "The Washington Post`s" Eugene Robinson, who sits right in front of me and needs no introduction.

Gentlemen, first (INAUDIBLE) Vegas. This looks like a big fight tonight. It does have the elements of a Don King match. What do you think? Is that your bet, that it`s going to be the kind of thing that Jeff Zucker of CNN is looking for, one of those one-on-ones, where that makes the clips for the next 48 hours?

JOHN RALSTON, "RALSTON LIVE": Well, I don`t think that there`s any doubt that Donald Trump will make some comments about Ted Cruz, Chris. But I -- look at what Cruz did. You were talking about him putting out that "Maniac" clip on Twitter...


RALSTON: ... which he thought was funny -- some people thought was funny, others thought was kind of creepy. But he`s not going to take on Donald Trump in that way. That`s not what Cruz will do. He Cruz will either make a joke about it or he`ll pivot and attack the media for trying to create discord between Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Ah, yes.

RALSTON: That`s what he does.


EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree. I don`t see a cage match tomorrow because I don`t think it`s in either of their interests particularly. They`re both doing really well.


ROBINSON: Trump just has this huge lead in the national poll. Cruz has vaulted to first place in Iowa. From Trump`s point of view...

MATTHEWS: Is Iowa too obscure and weird to matter in Republican politics? I mean...



ROBINSON: Right, ask President Santorum or President Huckabee.

MATTHEWS: Does it really count anymore?

ROBINSON: And then -- you can lose Iowa and...

MATTHEWS: Well, doesn`t it run the risk...

ROBINSON: ... it doesn`t hurt you.

MATTHEWS: ... of almost being too bizarre for home schoolers and just not normal a state?

ROBINSON: Well, it is an odd state. It`s an outlier. And clearly, obviously, you can lose Iowa and win the nomination.



MATTHEWS: Can you win Iowa and win the nomination?

ROBINSON: That`s a good question, at this point!


MATTHEWS: I`m just -- I mean, I...

ROBINSON: I don`t know! I mean, maybe Iowa puts you in the twilight zone.

MATTHEWS: I think we`re looking at, you know, asymmetric warfare here. We`re looking at Donald Trump, who has this sort of nationwide appeal among people who are ticked off at the way things are. We all get why he`s popular. I do, I think.

And then you have Cruz, who just mystifies me. What`s the Cruz appeal? Help me out here, Jon. Why would people -- he`s not a particularly charming fellow. He has nothing in terms of personality that would appeal to anybody. Is it just that he`s hugged the right-wing rail and not gotten anybody let -- not letting anybody get past him on the right on any issue? Is that it?

RALSTON: Well, I appreciate, first of all, Chris, that you`re talking to somebody from a non-obscure and non-weird state out here in Nevada. I never thought we`d hear the day on that. But serious...

MATTHEWS: I think you`ve got a normal record out there of wins.

RALSTON: Exactly and...


RALSTON: Listen...

MATTHEWS: Although Hillary won out there last time, in `08.

RALSTON: Yes, but Obama actually won the caucus by getting more delegates, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but she got the popular out there.

RALSTON: That`s what happened. Yes, but have a -- we`re the melting pot anyhow, but that`s a different question. Ted Cruz is extraordinarily smart, whether you like him or not. And he has -- he says all the right things. He can pivot off of any question that is asked and get his talking points out there. He has run a very calculating, you know, tortoise versus hare race. His super-PAC has a lot of money. And he`s very, very good in those debates at getting his points out. He knows exactly the right buttons to push.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, after months of praising him, Rush Limbaugh is now going after Trump for attacking Cruz. Here`s Rushbo today. It`s always interesting to watch this guy in action. Here`s Rushbo.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: And so unlike Trump -- I mean, that`s a -- that`s huge mistake for any of you who are holding out hope that Trump is a genuine conservative. Genuine conservative, even in the Republican field, would not go after Cruz this way. So he`s decided to go after Cruz here in the way the establishment Republicans go after Cruz. He`s essentially put on his Jon McCain hat here!


MATTHEWS: So Trump attacked Cruz for being unworkable because he doesn`t know how to work with people. And that`s according to the Rushbo now the McCain model.


MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) there has to be a negative connotation to anything that`s reasonable.

ROBINSON: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: To Rushbo.

ROBINSON: And Cruz, indeed, has devoted his Senate career to alienating the entire party establishment.


MATTHEWS: He calls the top guy a liar.

ROBINSON: Right. He called the top guy a liar. John McCain called him a wacko-bird. I mean, it`s -- you know, he is -- and -- and he -- you know, he generates these mutinies among the House Republicans and leads them. It`s an odd way to seek the Republican nomination. Yet look where he is. He`s a smart guy...


MATTHEWS: ... both of you. Trump is a builder. He`s not a debater, he`s a builder. He`s a guy who`s spent his life putting up these big buildings. I mean, in New York -- I`m still impressed. I`m one of these kids that still looks at New York and goes, Wow, this guy built that, he built this, he built this.

The other guy`s a debater. Why doesn`t he run a paid TV ad in these states, Jon -- most people would be impressed with a guy or a woman who`s built a lot of stuff. And then say, Do you want the builder or the debater? And then you just sort of put down the Rubios and the Cruzes and say, This guy has done stuff with his life.

Why doesn`t Donald Trump spend some of his billions of dollars on a TV ad campaign and stop all this arguing for free TV? Your thoughts, Jon. Why doesn`t he spend the money?

RALSTON: Well, I think he thinks he doesn`t have to spend the money. And you`ve heard the old cliche about the richer they are, the cheaper they are.


RALSTON: And he has gotten what, tens of millions of dollars in free media. He`s at the top of the polls. You mentioned the Monmouth poll today. He must think, Why do I need to spend any money? I`m at...

MATTHEWS: To win Iowa.

RALSTON: ... the top of the polls. Yes, well, but that doesn`t...

MATTHEWS: Gene, to win Iowa.

ROBINSON: Well, but can Donald Trump win Iowa? I mean, before Cruz...

MATTHEWS: He can`t buy it?

ROBINSON: Before Cruz took the lead, Carson was in the lead. I mean, Trump...

MATTHEWS: So it`s all grass roots. It`s all (INAUDIBLE)

RALSTON: Iowa is a tough state for Donald Trump. He`s had -- he`s had staff there. He`s had people on the ground in Iowa. He`s been working the state, right, but it may be that Iowa is just not the right field for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Do people that home school not own TVs?


MATTHEWS: It`s like they`re immune to a TV campaign?

ROBINSON: I don`t know. Maybe they just -- maybe they prefer Ted Cruz. I don`t know. But in any event, as I said, you can lose Iowa and you can go ahead...


MATTHEWS: ... Iowa (INAUDIBLE) go, go, go, guy. You got it made. Anyway, Jon Ralston, thank you. I will not call your state weird. I`ll be out there tomorrow and I`ll be seeing you. Thank you, Gene Robinson. I do like going to Vegas. I`ll be out there in Vegas tomorrow night, in fact, for the Republican debate. Join us here at HARDBALL at 7:00 Eastern for HARDBALL. And then after the debate, come back for two hours of post-game reaction and analysis. We`ll be here. Once again, they got me all night, which I do like.

Coming up -- as national security becomes the top issue in voters` minds -- and it is right now, 40 percent of people say it`s the top issue - - there`s pressure for the president to reassure the country that he`s taking the fight to ISIS. But what about the Republicans? Are we to hear some wild talk in tomorrow night`s debate as the candidates try to out- tough each other, out-hawk each other, out-neocon each other?

Plus, a lot of women love the idea of electing Hillary Clinton the first woman president, you know? But for their daughters, apparently, it`s not as big a deal. And HARDBALL, the roundtable tonight, picks up on Clinton`s generational challenge.

And the great filmmaker David O. Russell (ph) is with us tonight. His new movie, "Joy," is the "only in America" story of a divorced mother of three who builds a business empire. It`s quite a story.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the astounding number just posted by Donald Trump and the need for special care, especially by progressives, in who you root for among his rivals.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, two new polls out in the Democratic race in Iowa. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a new poll for "The Des Moines Register" and Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton holds a 9-point lead over Bernie Sanders out there, Clinton 48, Sanders 39, Martin O`Malley still down at 4. And a New Fox News poll has Clinton up 14. It`s Clinton 50, Sanders 36 and O`Malley at 5. Hillary`s still winning this thing.

We`ll be right back



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are hitting ISIL harder than ever. Coalition aircraft, our fighters, bombers and drones, have been increasing the pace of air strikes, nearly 9,000 as of today. Last month, in November, we dropped more bombs on ISIL targets than any other month since this campaign started. We`re also taking out ISIL leaders, commanders and killers one by one.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. After critics panned his Oval Office address no ISIS just last week, President Obama today sought to reassure the country that he`s making every effort to destroy the group. According to a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, however, out today, only 35 percent -- 34 percent of Americans say they approve of the president`s handling of ISIS and the Middle East -- that`s just about a third of the country -- while 60 percent clearly disapprove of the job he`s doing.

The poll also shows that terrorism now ranks, believe it or not, as the number one issue in the country. A total of 40 percent of Americans -- that`s two out of five -- say that terrorism and national security should be the top priority for the federal government. That is above economics, which is so strange.

When you look at those results by party I.D., however, the poll finds that terrorism is a bigger concern, far bigger, among Republicans than Democrats; 58 percent of Republicans say it`s the top issue, compared to 26 percent of Democrats. That is so interesting. Three out of five Republicans, but only one out of four Democrats think it`s the top issue. Well, in the weeks since Paris and San Bernardino, we have heard the leading Republican candidates attempt to outmatch each other with increasingly hawkish rhetoric. Some, like Donald Trump, have called for punitive measures against all Muslims, while others have called the fight against terrorism a clash of civilizations and even a world war. Take a listen.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we are involved in now is a civilizational conflict with radical Islam. They hate us because we have freedom of speech, because we have diversity in our religious beliefs. They hate us because we are a tolerant society. This is a clash of civilizations, and either they win or we win.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on."

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I am elected president, we will defeat radical Islamic terrorists.


CRUZ: We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion. I don`t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we`re going to find out.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are animals that we need to bring the fight to. This is the next world war and we have to confront it.


MATTHEWS: Well, it`s just a sampling there of what we can expect to hear in tomorrow night`s debate. Can you imagine when they outduel each other? Which Islamist first debate, by the way, since the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

I`m joined right now by MSNBC political analyst David Corn of "Mother Jones," as well as Michael Crowley, senior foreign affairs correspondent at Politico.

Let me start with David, then to Michael, same question.

Paris. Why was it so big? Why has it become so big in the American heart right now? People have been really affected by what happened over there.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think because it involved hundreds of people killed and injured in the middle of a major international...


MATTHEWS: In restaurants, in concert halls.

CORN: And it wasn`t -- not to diminish the tragedy of San Bernardino. San Bernardino was mounted by two, maybe three sort of outliers, people...


MATTHEWS: Who we know of.

CORN: So far as we know right now. The operation in Paris really looked like a more traditional terrorist attack that went over global borders, that was...

MATTHEWS: Simultaneous strikes.

CORN: And, if it was not ordered by the ISIS command, was somehow part of the command structure. And so that makes it much more emblematic of the type of terrorism that we fear, like 9/11 or the London attack.


Michael, is that fear that they can strike anywhere, is that somehow - - even though it was over in Paris, a city everybody wants to visit at least once in their lifetime -- it`s the most beautiful city probably anywhere. Why do you think it struck home to the heart of America politically, to make terrorism the number one national concern right now?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, POLITICO: Well, part of it, as you say, it`s that juxtaposition. It`s such a lovely city that people associate with all these warm and fuzzy feelings.

But, also -- David touch on this, this sense of the infiltration. How so many of those guys have been there? How could they have planned something like this so sophisticated, so many actors, and have it get by the intelligence services?

So, in a way, it was a wakeup call to say, you know, we have been hearing for months now that the intelligence services around the world, particularly in the U.S., the FBI, everyone you can think of, the NCTC, they`re monitoring these guys all over the place. They`re watching them as best they can.

And then you realize that they can miss a group of that size in one of the world`s largest cities. It`s pretty easy to imagine something like that jumping over here, although, fortunately, there are reasons why it`s easier for them to do it in Europe than there are -- than it is for them to do it is here.

MATTHEWS: Yes, because you have homogeneous communities over there that are not penetrable by perhaps the outside community.

Let me ask you about this sense we have that Republicans now say it`s OK to hate Muslims. When you hear carpet-bomb, there`s no way to hear that from Cruz without knowing a lot of regular people that just happen to live in those geographical areas will die because you are carpet-bombing. You are not going after the bad guys. You`re killing everybody that is there.

And, also animals, call them what they are, bad people, but what is this animal thing that Christie is throwing around?

CORN: The Republicans have a tough job, because they want to bash Obama. They also want to sound tough, tougher than the other Republicans if you`re running for president.

And they also don`t want to sound, most of them, like they are going to start another war with American troops in going over there.

MATTHEWS: So you kill them with hatred?

CORN: So, they keep upping the rhetoric, which is pointless. None of them have a plan to do anything really about ISIS.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, is hatred their plan?

CORN: Anything different.

So, they`re really competing with each other. So, this -- we are going to nuke the north of Iraq and that`s going to make a difference? Carpet-bombing did not work in Vietnam. It didn`t have a lot of benefits for good parts of World War II. You know that. So, it`s really not a plan. It`s just being emotional and visceral.


MATTHEWS: Well, Marco Rubio, who is the hawkish of the hawkish, has tried to plot a course, middle course, between Trump and Cruz on the issue of terrorism.

On "Meet the Press" just yesterday, Rubio portrayed Trump`s proposed ban on Muslims as being too heavy-handed.


RUBIO: If you look at the statements he made this week, obviously, I think he made them partially to recapture the limelight after having lost it, it`s offensive and outlandish, in the sense that, for example, it`s not going to happen, number one. I think it violates a lot of things that we think about our country, but also the practical reality that in order for us to identify homegrown violent extremism and prevent it or root it out before it takes action, we are going to need the cooperation of Muslim communities in this country.


MATTHEWS: But he also went after Ted Cruz for being soft on national security, calling the Iowa front-runner an isolationist.

And here`s Rubio again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: He talks tough on some of these issues. For example, he`s going to carpet-bomb ISIS. But the only budget he`s ever voted for in his time in the Senate is a budget that cut defense spending, by more than Barack Obama proposes we cut it.

He voted against the Defense Authorization Act every year that it came up. Each time he`s had to choose between strong national defense and some of the isolationist tendencies in American politics, he seems to side with the isolationists.


MATTHEWS: Michael, what are we going to get if we vote Republican next November in foreign policy in terms of fighting ISIS? What will it actually be based upon what they have been saying, anything different?

CROWLEY: I think it would be a little more aggressive than what President Obama is doing now. It might not be that different from what Hillary Clinton has said she would do.

Some of these guys like Rubio and Bush, for instance, they have put forward -- they do have plans. You might not think they are going to work. But they do want to set up a no-fly zone. They want to directly arm the Kurds. They want to have forward spotters and special forces embedded with the Iraqis near the front lines, which is significant, because it`s a much higher risk to U.S. personnel actually being killed or, God forbid, captured by ISIS in battle.

Now, is that likely to completely turn the situation around, to crush ISIS, to do what their emotional, hot rhetoric suggests it will? Probably not. But I think that is what you would see. But it`s actually not that different from what Hillary Clinton is proposing.

So, in other words, particularly with a guy like Rubio, I don`t think there is this stark choice in terms of the approach to ISIS between Rubio and Hillary Clinton.

Who knows what Donald Trump would actually do? And Ted Cruz, I would just say, I spend a lot of time reading the opinion of counterterrorism experts and people in this field. I have never heard anyone suggest that carpet-bombing is a good idea or that it would work. So, maybe Cruz is the one guy who thinks that it will.

If you elect Cruz, you may actually get that. It`s sort of hard to tell with him. But Bush and Rubio, for instance, I think the establishment center of the Republican Party, it`s a little more aggressive than Obama. It`s actually not that different from Hillary, though.


All this talk about aggression and putting guys in forward positions, the minute we have a guy grabbed or a woman grabbed over there and tried and on the verge of being beheaded, all bets are off in terms of this country. So, I think they ought to be awful careful about putting our troops out there.


CORN: Or do you think that would lead to popular demand for more intervention?

MATTHEWS: More, more. Just bomb the hell out of them at that point. The American people -- that`s why it`s dangerous to put ourselves in a position where we know we could be brought even deeper when we know it`s not smart to go any deeper.

CORN: Yes. It`s hard to find smart parties...

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, you have got to be careful about what we expose.

Thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Michael Crowley.

Up next, the writer and director of the new movie "Joy." What a movie. I have seen it. It`s coming out for the theaters on Christmas Day. And what an appropriate time to come out for a movie that is a real wow of an American movie. It`s the American story today, better than a lot of political stories.

It`s Academy Award winner David O. Russell`s latest. He keeps winning awards. I think he`s going to get one for this one, "Joy," coming up here in a minute.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



ISABELLA ROSSELLINI, ACTRESS: You are in a room, and there is a gun on the table. And the only other person in the room is an adversary in commerce. Only one of you can prevail. Yet you have protected your business and (INAUDIBLE) money. Do you pick up the gun, Joy?

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: That`s a very strange question.

ROSSELLINI: There is nothing strange about this question at all. This is money. Do you pick up the gun?

LAWRENCE: I pick up the gun.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That is a scene from a new movie, "Joy" opening Christmas Day. It stars Jennifer Lawrence. And it`s based on the real-life story of Joy Mangano, a divorced Long Island mother who hits it big after inventing the Miracle Mop. The product became a sensation after Mangano insisted on selling it herself on QVC.


BRADLEY COOPER, ACTOR: I`m in a meeting with our lawyers.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What do you think you`re doing?

LAWRENCE: Go home, Joy, and watch the numbers roll in on television. Make 50,000 mops, borrowing and owing every dollar, including your home.

COOPER: It could have been handled better. I will let Todd have another shot.

LAWRENCE: I don`t want Todd or anyone else to try it. It should be me.

COOPER: We don`t have regular people. We have celebrity and spokesmodels do the selling. I told you this.

LAWRENCE: Who showed you the mop? Who sold it to you? Who taught you how to use it and who convinced you that it was great after you thought it was worthless?

COOPER: Excuse me. Can you give us a second?

Come with me.


MATTHEWS: The movie`s been nominated for two Golden Globe awards already, including best actress for Jennifer Lawrence and best picture.

David O. Russell wrote and directed "Joy." He joins me now.

David, you have done it again. I want to tell you something. I never would have thought in a million years you could make one of the great movies of our time about home shopping, about a housewife, about regular life, and with this compelling theme, which I have been telling my kids for year -- forever. The first answer`s always no.

You got to go for the second answer. And that`s what Jennifer Lawrence does in this. She`s seen pounding away and says, I`m going to make the American dream. It`s a hell of an American movie, especially for Christmastime.

Congratulations. DAVID O. RUSSELL, DIRECTOR, "JOY": thank you, Chris. Thank you for having me back. It`s a story that I found very inspiring, because, for me, something that seemed simple and ordinary turns out to be very extraordinary. It`s a story. I have seen strong women behind men in movies, but I have rarely have seen strong men behind a woman who is the leader.

In a way, she becomes the leader of a family business that has over a record 100 sitting patents. She created a whole business. And her family all works with her. She is loyal and loving to all of them.

MATTHEWS: You have a way -- I have watched and loved all your movies, "The Fighter," "Silver Linings Playbook," "American Hustle."

And it always seems people living in complicated lives. Maybe you know about that, but lives that are not simple. They are not "Leave It to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best" families. They are always mixed up, divorced, people fighting with each other, people living in a house that probably shouldn`t be living in a house, pandemonium, almost like writers live in houses like that.

I was thinking Mario Puzo spending nine years writing "The Godfather" in this crazy place. Your thoughts? That seems to be something that you`re comfortable with and believe that that`s more like the audience than the audience is used to being told it`s like, that that it is really American life, it is more complicated and more noisy.

RUSSELL: Well, I think that, to me, it`s about love and loyalty. And it doesn`t only take one shape.

One of the reasons I wanted to make the movie, Chris, is that it`s the best divorced couple in America. To me, a family life doesn`t end after a divorce. If the parents can stay best friends, as they do in this story, they can have actually a greater love that`s almost in many ways very inspiring.

The fact that her parent, her father and his girlfriend, Isabella Rossellini, support her endeavor is a major boost from her family. They also then become adversaries. That happens in many a family business.

And part of that makes it like a fairy tale, because to make yourself arrive where you have to be true to yourself and the magic you once knew and you were born with, you have to go through a lot of obstacles and a lot of monsters. And sometimes those are the people who tried to help you are right in your -- right next to you.

MATTHEWS: We talk a lot about America and what it stands for on this show. And this movie, I think, is about that, what this country can be like.

Here is another scene from the movie, as Joy prepares to appear on QVC. Melissa Rivers plays her mother here, Joan Rivers.


COOPER: What? (INAUDIBLE) did the whole thing.

LAWRENCE: This is me.

COOPER: This is you? You have got the exact same outfit you had when you came in here.

LAWRENCE: I wear a blouse and I wear pants. That`s who I am. I want to go on as me.

COOPER: Want to go on as you. Then I hope you make it back.

Joan, Cindy, say good luck to Joy.

MELISSA RIVERS, ACTRESS: Wow. You look great. Good luck today.

LAWRENCE: Oh, thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That`s her. That`s how she is.

RIVERS: Well, she should be in a skirt. She`s got nice long legs. Show her legs. Good luck.

LAWRENCE: Joan Rivers wants me in a skirt, but I`m going to do pants.


MATTHEWS: I`m overwhelmed by Jennifer Lawrence as an actor. And I don`t know. She has played all these different parts for you and everything else, "Hunger Games."

And every moment seems interesting. And Bradley is now becoming like a Sean Connery, this sort of majestic presence that shows up. He`s princely when he arrives. My God, Bradley Cooper is on stage. It`s like you want to applaud. It`s something else, these two guys. And you have been with them all along. You have been with them. You have bet them all along in all these movies.


RUSSELL: Jennifer, we have watched her grow up.

She walked on in "Silver Linings Playbook," she was 20 years old. "Hunger Games" had not come out yet. And she was sort of just a very pure, innocent talent. And I have watched have her to take on and deal with all the responsibilities that come with attention of success and having to stay true to herself and be protective and stay true to those she loves.

And that`s not easy, Chris. That`s not true -- it`s not easy in any business. I have watched her become a young woman. Bradley made a film with Clint Eastwood, a very beautiful film. Everywhere we go, veterans come up to us and shake his hand.


RUSSELL: That made him a man. He lost traces of boyhood.

And here he plays a man who reminds me of my own father, a salesman who was surrounded by salesmen who supported their families. And it`s not a joke. When you`re selling things, you must be serious and believe in it. And he starts this little network at a cable station in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

That became sort of a precursor of the Internet. And he takes a chance on a woman who later becomes in a way more successful than him. I wanted to make a picture with a woman at the center of it and men who were strong enough to be part of her journey.

MATTHEWS: And it`s a Christmas picture. I think this is a perennial, David. I think it will be back again and again. "Joy" opens on Christmas Day, appropriately, another great success, really a wonderful American movie by David O. Russell.

Thanks for joining us, David. And thanks for the movie.

RUSSELL: Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Should Hillary Clinton be worried about a generation gap? Younger women don`t seem to have, well, maybe the same enthusiasm for the candidacy of the first perhaps, well -- perhaps, well, the first woman president as their parents` generation.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWSBREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary Clinton is maintaining a commanding lead over her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. Our new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll has her at 56 percent over Sanders` 37 percent. On the trail, Clinton is hammering home that she`d be the first woman in the Oval Office with a 2016 victory. Younger women voters may need a nudge to see that. "The New York Times" notes that, quote, here it is, as her chances of becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major political party improve, many women are considering how much gender could or should play into their decisions to embrace Mrs. Clinton`s candidacy or not. Well, the good news for Clinton today in a head-to-head matchup, she beats Donald Trump by ten points and edges out surging Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson with a slight edge over Clinton. Bad news, her toughest GOP challenger has a lot of millennial appeal is Senator Marco Rubio. He beats her by three points, 48-45. Joining me right now is the HARDBALL roundtable, all women on this topic, Michelle Bernard of Bernard Center for Women, Megan Murphy of Bloomberg, and Heidi Przybyla from "USA". Heidi, you first on this. What is -- what are the numbers, the data out there that suggests there`s a difference between millennials and boomers and older voters on how they look at Hillary Clinton`s candidacy? HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Well, the data is based strictly on generational lines. Chris. It`s not necessarily women, like there is absolutely an older woman enthusiasm that you can`t recreate in these older demographics, what I call the shoulder pad vote. These are the women who were at the forefront of the equal rights movement. They remember the battles. They`re very intimate and they feel strongly about Hillary Clinton. However, in every other demographic, you see a generational split here in terms of voting for Hillary Clinton. Older voters are just more motivated. And I think that, you know, as the percentage of younger voters, the percentage of younger voters who are actually engaged and paying attention has fallen from the last election, that`s also a key issue here. MATTHEWS: OK. Influences here of, will the older woman voter, a mother perhaps, an aunt or a cousin or something -- MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Or grandmother. MATTHEWS: You missed the boat here. There is no other woman candidate that rising right now, that`s going to get it if Hillary doesn`t get it. If not Hillary, there won`t be anybody who`s a woman president. We`re not going to have a female president. And, by the way, we fought a long time to get suffrage back in the beginning of the 20th century. And certainly, equal treatment is still a way off. But we want to win this. Won`t there be encouragement by one woman to another or father to a daughter even? MURPHY: This is a two-fold question for her campaign. One is how they branded her and how important it has become. And one of the things she`s been successful doing is branding women`s rights issues, things like paid leave, things like maternity leave, things like, you know, access to health care, access to affordable childcare. Not only it`s women`s issues, but it`s economic issues. It`s fairness issues across the population. But the other issue for her is this is just a cohort that she needs to grab. If you don`t have enthusiasm among younger voters, they are not going to turn out to vote like they did for Obama. So, she faces it on two fronts. It`s a challenge to her brand, number one, but it`s also a challenge to just getting people out and getting that enthusiasm that has been lacking for her campaign throughout. MATTHEWS: Michelle, you and I have talked a lot of times on a lot of things. But this country has -- you can call it sexism, because that`s probably what it is. But it`s a fact that men have dominated American politics. MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Yes. MATTHEWS: That`s a fact. They talk more politics, probably the women historically. They get involved in clubs more. It`s changing dramatically. But do you think it`s normal and healthy less than one in five members of Congress is a woman? If you look at Europe, the Germans is like 37 percent. We`re less than 20. Are we behind women catching up to being just a decent percentage of those making the calls? BERNARD: We are absolutely behind. If you ask millennials, though, this is how they see it. They see themselves as more than 50 percent of the students in college, in graduate school, women, millennial women. And from their perspective, the country has so much more to do in terms of women, but this is a group of women who the feminism is the F-word they don`t like. They`ve got Facebook. They`ve got Twitter. They have all of these things. Think about all the social movements we`ve seen by young women. I am Jada, bring back our girls. Hillary Clinton does not fit that type of dynamic and that kind of feminism where women can pick up a cell phone and start a social justice movement on their own. So, she -- I read articles of young women who say, for example, they have gone to events for Hillary Clinton and had no enthusiasm for her, but love Huma Abedin and the energy -- (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: Because they say that she is everything that Hillary Clinton isn`t. She is young, she is Muslim, she seems to sort of open up and almost talk to you about everything that it is to be who she is. MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton went up the way you could go up. I mean, there`s number of ways to go up, but she was first lady in Arkansas, first lady in Washington, and she then had the guts, the cojones, to go out and run for U.S. senator from New York, which took amazing guts because her critics would have laughed at her if she lost. Then she did a pretty good job as secretary of state. We haven`t heard much about that. We should hear more. But I think Benghazi`s gone for a while. Who else has credentials like that? MURPHY: This is the issue, is that she -- the problem I think is so many younger votes identify her with the controversies instead of that record you just rightly explained. I have questioned the campaign`s lack of reliance on the achievements they have, particularly identifying her with the next set of voters who isn`t as familiar as all the struggles she`s overcome, all the stuff she`s had to deal with -- (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: What it will look like if a Republican wins, like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump and what they`re going to do to the Supreme Court. MATTHEWS: One of the things she was most impressive about was the stoic way in which she carried ago after Bill got embarrassing to us. And you can`t really run with him and it takes a tricky thing to say, "Yes, he`s my husband, I love him, but one of the ways I showed my strength is how I dealt with him." It`s true. It`s somewhat laughable, but it`s also the way we got to know her through a lot of tribulation. She showed herself strength. She showed her strength. Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. Up next, the hard part of the show and my favorite -- I don`t have to do anything except listen and be discerning, sort of like "The Apprentice", don`t you think? Tell me something I don`t know. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: A big reminder, tomorrow night, I`ll be out in Las Vegas with full coverage of the Republican presidential debate. It`s going to be a hot one. Join me at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for HARDBALL as we preview the debate. Then come back at 11:00 Eastern for two hours of reaction and analysis. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the inimitable HARDBALL roundtable. Michelle, tell me something I don`t know. BERNARD: So, tomorrow night and going forward, look for what I believe is going to be the new mantra of the far right, which is that political correctness kills. There has been so much news that`s come out in the last day about the fact that the San Bernardino terrorists had many postings on Facebook and social media declaring her allegiance to jihadism. The Obama administration said immigration officials may not look at your social postings. MATTHEWS: Really? BERNARD: Yes. MATTHEWS: You`re sure of that? BERNARD: I`m absolutely positive. MURPHY: Not only is Trump at a high in national polls but our own polling shows that nearly half of Republican voters say not only that they think he`s a serious candidate but they always thought he was a serious candidate and that`s nearly double what it was in June. PRZYBYLA: Ted Cruz is rocketing to the top of Republican polls, and it`s because -- MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. You`ve got him at 14. The other guy`s at 41. PRZYBYLA: In Iowa, he`s on top. MATTHEWS: In Iowa, yes. (LAUGHTER) PRZYBYLA: Taking up my 20 minutes, 20 seconds. MATTHEWS: Iowa ain`t normal. Go ahead. PRZYBYLA: It`s on evangelical support. Evangelicals think that he`s a fighter on same-sex marriage, he`s a fighter on abortion. But he hasn`t always been. When he was Texas`s top courtroom attorney, he took a critical pass on stopping the same-sex marriage movement in its infancy. In the Lawrence v. Texas case anti-sodomy laws, he took a pass. MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Michelle Bernard, Megan Murphy and Heidi Przybyla. When we return, let me finish with the astounding number just posted by Donald Trump and also be careful who you root for against the guy. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the astounding number just posted by Donald Trump. For him to get 41 percent, he needed to fight off all the forces in the Republican party who fear his nomination. And we should consider that list. It begins if you wish to put a positive look at it with those who cannot endorse Trump`s proposals, the wall on the southern border, the banning of people of Muslim faith from entering the country. The things he said about women`s looks. The things he said that aren`t true like that President Obama is of foreign extraction and therefore not eligible to sit in the oval office. You can also put on the roster of Trump rejectionists the hawks in the Republican Party, the folks who took us into Iraq and forever have handy another country they`d like to invade. Trump is shrewd enough to know and feel this country`s bitter memory of sending the U.S. army into Iraq in 2003, a military campaign that spelled stupidity, arrogance, and ideological overkill. Who else is on the anti-Trump list? How about those who like hiring illegal immigrants at cheap wages? How about those who want the trade deal to go through, the one Trump is totally opposed, to the one he says will cost American jobs? So, if you`re going to root against Trump winning the Republican nomination, be careful who you`re rooting for. 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