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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/28/2015

Guests: Paul Singer, Francesca Chambers, Clarence Page, Susan Milligan, Dave Weigel, Rebecca Berg

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 28, 2015 Guest: Paul Singer, Francesca Chambers, Clarence Page, Susan Milligan, Dave Weigel, Rebecca Berg

JOY REID, GUEST HOST: Trump throws shade at big bill.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, everyone. I`m Joy Reid, in for Chris Matthews.

And we`re awaiting a campaign rally in Nashua, New Hampshire from the man who continues to top the Republican presidential polls. Yes, you guessed it, Donald J. Trump. We`ll bring that to you live when it happens.

Meanwhile, let`s start tonight with what seems to be the front- runner`s attempts to vault right past the primaries and look to a general election matchup with Hillary Clinton. Case in point, Trump`s escalating attacks on the man who, legend has it, encouraged him to run for president in the first place, Bill Clinton.

According to Trump, the former president and his scandals are fair game for attacks today. Trump tweeted today, "If Hillary thinks that she can unleash her husband with his terrible record of women abuse while playing the woman card on me, she`s wrong."

On Saturday, he tweeted, "Hillary Clinton has announced that she`s letting her husband out to campaign, but he`s demonstrated a penchant for sexism. So inappropriate."

That followed Hillary Clinton`s own charge -- the Clinton campaign`s own charge of sexism against the Republican front-runner last week. Trump used a vulgarity last week to describe Clinton`s loss to Barack Obama in 2008, and here`s how Secretary Clinton responded.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I really deplore the tone of his campaign and the inflammatory rhetoric. This is not the first time he`s demonstrated a, you know, penchant for sexism, and so I`m not sure, again, anybody is surprised that he keeps pushing the envelope.


REID: Now, yesterday, Trump made it clear that he was ready and willing to go after the former president as a way of attacking Secretary Clinton.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he is fair game because his presidency was really considered to be very troubled, to put it mildly, because of all the things that she`s talking to me about. I mean, she`s mentioning sexism.

I turned her exact words against her from that standpoint. And she`s got to be careful. You know, it`s got to be fair. Now, we all have to fight fairly and we have to fight, you know, for the good of the country, for the good of the people, for the good of everybody. But we have to fight fairly. And she`s playing the woman`s card. And it`s, like, give me a break.


REID: All righty. And late today, the Clinton campaign responded, quote, "Though Donald Trump pushed around nearly all of his fellow Republicans, Hillary Clinton won`t be bullied or distracted by attacks that he throws at her and former president Clinton."

They also announced Bill Clinton will make his first campaign trip for his wife. He`ll visit New Hampshire next week.

Eugene Robinson is a columnist with "The Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst. Francesca Chambers is White House correspondent for "The Daily Mail." And Paul Singer is Washington correspondent for "USA Today."

OK, Francesca, I`m going to come to you. I`m going to play the woman card just a little bit.


REID: The idea and the irony of Donald Trump accusing Bill Clinton of being sexist and having a penchant for sexism -- respond. Your thoughts?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, "THE DAILY MAIL": Well, I think he`s trying to take the issue off the table. I think we all remember so well in that first Republican debate, when Megyn Kelly came in with some of the names that he`s called women in the past, and he didn`t like that very much.

And so what I think that Trump was trying to do here was say, Look, you know, if you want to call me a sexist, I`m going to bring up some of the things that your husband`s done. And I don`t think Hillary Clinton necessarily wants him to do that, wants to have that conversation during the presidential race all over again. So she could possibly back off on this issue.

REID: But you know, Eugene, my question is whether or not it`s realistic to expect this campaign to be litigated on the basis of the 1990s. For a lot of younger voters, they probably don`t even know what Donald Trump is talking about. Is that smart politics to use the sort of throwback strategy against somebody who isn`t even running for president?

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you`re right, it -- a lot of younger voters won`t respond. Trump`s base probably will respond. These are people who generally probably don`t like Bill Clinton very much. And so they`ll be, you know, egging him on, I imagine.

You know, if you`re Hillary Clinton, seems to me you have to think that you bring Bill Clinton along and so you bring Bill Clinton`s past along, and indeed, the whole Bill and Hillary Clinton past along. And that`s been litigated and relitigated. I can`t imagine that she`s unprepared to litigate it again.

REID: Yes, indeed. And you know, Trump is not -- of course, the first Republican to try this gambit, to try to rile up the Republican base by attacking Bill Clinton.

Earlier this year, some of you may recall Senator Rand Paul repeatedly took swipes at the former president.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that. And that is predatory behavior.

-- a predator, a sexual predator, basically, repetitive. You know, there`s dozens or at least a half a dozen public women who`ve come forward. Some of them did sue (ph) in the job (ph) place.

I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fund-raiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I think they should give the money back.


REID: And Republican leader Reince Priebus got in on the act, and he also attacked Bill Clinton, tweeting, "Remember all the Clinton scandals? That`s not what America needs again."

So Paul, I`m wondering if Republicans are so wedded to the `90s version of the anti-Clinton playbook that they really kind of can`t get off this page.

PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": Well, there`s no reason for them to get off this page. I mean, I think this is the double-edged sword that is the Clinton name. And this is something that Hillary Clinton knew she was carrying into the election, is that you have the successes, as the Democrats would phrase it, of the Clinton administration. You would have her successes, as the Democrats would phrase it, of being part of the Obama administration. But you carry years of baggage.

If it is a Trump-Clinton campaign in a general election, or in fact, anybody against Hillary Clinton in the general election, we`ll be hearing again about the Rose Lawfirm billing records, about what happened to Whitewater, about does Bill Clinton have illegitimate children hiding in Alabama someplace? This is going to be part of the conversation because it`s part of how you take down a Clinton in any election. It`s got to be on the table.

REID: The question I have to ask, though -- and I`ll come to you, Francesca, on this -- is that for women voters, the idea that you attack a woman who has her own credentials that she`s running for president on, and that your attacks are based on her husband, I`m wondering if you`re hearing any campaign operatives that it might not be such a good idea to not focus on the woman who`s running, but go after her man?

CHAMBERS: Well, another issue here that`s dangerous for Donald Trump is that he`s also on his third wife. He`s twice divorced. You know, this is sort of a topic that I don`t think that he would want anyone to be looking into his past and his past marriages and bring up his personal life.

In fact, when it`s come up on the campaign trail so far, he hasn`t taken every kindly to that and has really hit out at some of the reporters who have done that. So again, it comes back to the fact that, is this what Donald Trump wants to make this election about?

REID: Yes. OK, well, Donald Trump is, of course, not the first to do this, but Republicans are not all on board, necessarily, with the idea of getting Hillary by going after her husband. On Fox News today, Carly Fiorina was asked if Bill Clinton was fair game. This is what she said.


CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course Bill Clinton`s fair game. He`s a former president. But you`re not going to beat Hillary Clinton by attacking Bill Clinton. You`re going to beat Hillary Clinton -- I`m going to beat Hillary Clinton by attacking her track record and her lack of trustworthiness. Of course, she`s going to play the woman card. That`s what she does.


REID: And Mike Huckabee also seemed conflicted about the new Trump attacks. He said Clinton was fair game, but he also said attacking the former president could backfire.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., PRES. CANDIDATE: Nothing`s backfired on Donald Trump yet. I`d put my money on him. And I think the Clintons have vulnerability here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the mainstream media tells us that Bill Clinton`s an asset. Is he really a liability for Hillary Clinton?

HUCKABEE: He`s probably not because he`s still immensely popular with Democrats, and that`s what this process is right now. He`s still popular with a lot of Americans. Frankly, after seven years of Obama, a lot of Republicans would take Bill Clinton back, warts and all, just because at least he understood how to govern.


REID: And Eugene, I`ll come to you on that very point because if, in fact, you want to make this election about Bill Clinton, Republicans would then have to also remind the public of the parts of the Clinton administration that they frankly like, namely, the economy, no?

ROBINSON: Yes, they would. And people would bring that up if the economy did very well under Bill Clinton. And look, you know, Bill Clinton has an eight-year record as president. There are highs and there are certainly lows.

If you want to go back through all of that, I think it`s at best a wash for Republicans. And potentially, it does turn off, I think -- certainly turns off Democrats with whom Bill Clinton is -- remains popular. And I think it turns off a lot of independents, as well.

So I -- you know, I don`t know if anybody really wants to go down that road. But we`ll see. Donald Trump is expert at going down roads that nobody thinks he`s going down, right? So who knows? He might let loose with both barrels.

REID: And indeed, Paul, I`m wondering if it makes sense as a strategic matter for the party to essentially decide it`s going to go down the road of being the party that hectors a past president about sex. Didn`t Republicans try that playbook in the `90s and lose spectacularly doing that?

SINGER: Well, be careful not to conflate what Donald Trump`s strategy du jour is with what the Republican Party wants its strategy to be. In fact, be careful not to conflate what Donald Trump is saying today with what Donald Trump`s strategy is. I`m never entirely sure that he`s got strategy.

I will say that one of his top advisers is a guy, Roger Stone, who`s written an entire book about, you know, Clinton sex scandals of the past. So it`s it`s not unfamiliar territory for Trump.

But again, you know, Bill Clinton will be part of the conversation if Hillary Clinton is the candidate. She`s already said he will be an adviser. He`ll have a role in the White House. So it`s fair to say, Well, what are you going to call on Bill Clinton to do, and do we trust Bill Clinton, based on his record? I mean, that`s just going to be part of the campaign.

Pretty sure of the rest of the party is not all that interested in sort of again relitigating the Monica Lewinsky story. Lord knows I`m not interested getting back into that again. I`ve been down that road once before.


REID: Yes.

SINGER: But we`re going to hear about it. I mean, it`s going to -- it`s going to come up, no matter what, if Hillary Clinton is in this race.

REID: All right. Well, Donald Trump was greeted this morning with a scathing editorial in "The New Hampshire Union Leader" newspaper. Publisher Joseph McQuaid wrote, "Trump has shown himself to be a crude blowhard with no clear political philosophy and no deeper understanding of the important and serious role of president of the United States than one of the goons he lets rough up protesters in his crowds. He reminds us of the grown-up bully Biff in the `Back to the Future` movie series."

And in an interview with WMUR today, Trump called McQuaid a real low- life and he pointed out that McQuaid is backing Chris Christie.

Eugene, Donald Trump started off his remarks saying that, you know, we really ought to be talking about things that are for the good for the country.


REID: Is the proper deportment for a president calling people a low- life? And didn`t he essentially kind of prove McQuaid`s point?

ROBINSON: Well, of course, that`s not proper decorum. And of course, he did kind of prove the point. But that seems to be kind of beside the point with Donald Trump, at least at this point of the campaign. When he goes off the rails like that, it seems to embolden and encourage his supporters rather than turn them off. So I think he knows that.

You know, to go back to something that Paul Singer said which I think is absolutely right, Donald Trump may not have strategy, but he has instincts. And he tries things out and he sees how they play and he reads the room. And he -- and he comes to a decision about whether he wants to pursue this sort of line of attack.

That`s what he did with Jeb Bush and "low energy." You know, that got a response out of the crowds. It got a response out of Jeb Bush. And so he kept pushing it and pushing it and pushing it. And I suspect that, depending on the response he gets on going after Bill Clinton, he`ll decide whether or not to pursue it.

REID: Yes. Indeed.

And Donald Trump stepped up to the microphone. He`s at the podium. When he starts making his remark -- I think we`re going to go to him right now and see what he has to say. Let`s take a listen.

TRUMP: You know, I miss -- thank you. We have to get out and vote. Remember that folks. No matter what`s going on in your life, if you`re feeling miserable, if you`re depressed, if you`re down, if you`re -- whatever the hell, you lost your job, like everybody else is losing their job, you have to get out and you have to vote because, you know, I was watching today television. They say, Well, if Trump -- we get by far the biggest crowds. Like, it`s not even a contest. And they said, Well, if those people actually go out and vote -- but you know, the dishonest press back there, they say, But I don`t think they will.

I think they will. But they said -- they said no. They said, If they actually go out and vote, the people that show up, like, in Iowa, where we had massive -- the same thing -- Virginia, Dallas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Carolina -- we have these massive rallies. And it`s incredible. And they said, Well, if they vote, Trump wins. They actually said that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ba-ba-booey! (ph)

TRUMP: Ba-ba-boey.


TRUMP: And we have to get out. We have to get out. We have to vote. OK.

So you know, we`ve had some amazing news. I`ve missed this. You know, for, like, a week-and-a-half, we`ve sort of been in limbo, right? All I could do is tweet. It was driving me crazy because there were no, like, events or anything planned. But we all had a good Christmas, right?


TRUMP: Good. Merry Christmas. We say merry Christmas. Other people won`t say merry Christmas. They`ll say, Oh, happy holiday. Happy holiday. Merry Christmas, folks.


TRUMP: Merry Christmas. The polls have been fantastic. You`ve seen the polls that just came out, and today one came out, Rasmussen, where I`m tied with Hillary. But don`t worry. That`s going to end.


TRUMP: We`re going to be -- we`re going to be far ahead. And Fox came out a couple of weeks ago and we were leading. And another one came out, we were leading. We`re doing very well.

We haven`t started on her! You know, she says, Oh, we`d love to run against Trump. It`s her worst nightmare.


TRUMP: These people -- these people back here, they said, Well, the Hillary campaign said they`d love to run. Yes. She wants to run against me instead of somebody else.

I guarantee you -- you know, and I explained -- I tried to explain to Chuck Todd and all these guys. You don`t understand, Chuck. When they say they want to run against Trump, that means they don`t want to run against Trump. They don`t understand.

You know they report -- yes. But then tonight, somebody reported that they are absolutely going crazy and they are devastated over what Trump is saying!

Now we`re getting back to the basics, OK? Look at what`s happened with the Republicans. Every single person that`s gone after me is gone. They`re gone. They`re gone!


TRUMP: When I say gone, they`ve either left the race or they`re down in the very, very low portion. They`re low! (INAUDIBLE) you just said one (ph). But they`re low.

With all the millions that we`re spending and -- I mean, they`re spending, I guess -- so you saw the one where I`ve spent essentially nothing and Bush has spent $59 million. He`s down toward the bottom with 3 percent or 2 percent of something. And we have -- we actually had a poll come out 42 percent. We had 39 percent. Look at these polls. It`s crazy. We have -- we have numbers.

We have to go through them, right, go through them for a second. We have to.


TRUMP: You know, they always say, Why do you go through the polls? Because I`m winning! Honestly, if I wasn`t -- I have to be honest, if I wasn`t, I wouldn`t be talking about them, I`m telling you. And the other candidates -- He always talks about the polls, we don`t. Well, they shouldn`t because they`re not winning!

So we have a lot of good ones -- CNN, 36 percent. Think of it. Cruz is 16, Carson`s 14, Rubio`s 12, Christie`s 4, Bush is 3 percent. After -- how about this, you spend $59 million and you`re 3!

But you know what`s impressive is the economy -- Trump is 55 percent.


TRUMP: On the budget, Trump is 51 percent. How about this? And remember, that`s out of 15 people. You know, it was 17, now it`s 15, now it`s dropped, 14 -- it`s going down! It`s going to go down quickly.

By the way, one thing I have to tell you. New Hampshire will always maintain its place if I win, OK? Just so you understand. You know there`s a big movement...


TRUMP: There`s a big movement to put you at the back of the pack or the middle of the pack so it would no longer be the same thing. You`ll never see me again, but you will see me because I have so many friends. You`ll never see a lot of people again.

But there`s a big movement to put New Hampshire way back. I don`t know why. I don`t know, is it retribution? Is it they don`t want it? They don`t like it? Because you have a lot of power. I mean, you have a lot of power and...


TRUMP: Buy (ph) it.


TRUMP: We could -- yes, they have problems. I mean, they have a heroin problem that`s really incredible. I mean, I hear so much about that from the people up here. And you know, we`re going to wall. We`re going to have a real border.


TRUMP: That whole heroin thing -- I`ll tell you what. We got to get it under control. But I hear more about it from here than I do anyone else. You don`t think of it in terms of New Hampshire, but whenever I`m up here, I hear more about it here. And we`ve got to solve the problem and we got to help the people that are hooked because they get hooked and it`s not easy.

But on the budget, I`m 51 percent. That`s 51 percent with 14, and actually, when they did this, 15 people. See, 51 percent. I`d be happy if I had 51 percent with two people, right? OK? On illegal immigration -- listen to this -- 48 percent because they know I`m not going to play games.

I saw one of the people that I`m running against the other day. They came up and they said, We`re going to build a wall. First time he said that! My wife was listening. She said, Darling, he`s copying you. He said the exact same words. He said, It`s going to be a big wall. It`s going to be a great wall. And he said the same words! Listen to it. I listened to it. I said, What are we doing here? The guy is copying.

You know, if you remember, when I started, when I started this whole dialogue and we announced on June 16th at Trump Tower, and I said illegal immigration and we`re going to stop it. Everybody said, Oh -- and I went through and the papers and I was getting absolutely -- Rush Limbaugh, who`s, like, a great guy, said he`s never seen anybody receive so much incoming. I was getting -- these guys were killing me!

And then within two, three weeks, all of a sudden, it started, like -- and people were saying, You know, I think he`s right. And then you had Kate, beautiful Kate from San Francisco and had Jamil (ph) from Los Angeles, you had a woman, a female, a veteran, a wonderful woman, 66-year- old veteran who was raped, who was sodomized, who was killed by an illegal immigrant who was here, who was not supposed to be here, came in a number of times. Like, the Kate -- the Kate horrible person came in five different times, at least, that they know of. And all of a sudden -- and these are just -- these are three instances...

REID: All right, that was Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Nashua, New Hampshire.

I`ll come to you first on this, Paul. So Donald Trump doesn`t really make news in these rallies. It`s just about the people who like him being able to be in his presence. And I wonder if, when you`re doing reporting on this, whether or not establishment Republicans are concerned that this sort of minimalist approach is working and that nothing they`re trying to do to promote their alternative front-runner ideas is working.

PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": You know, we posted a story today at "USA Today" that we were counting up some Facebook data.

And in the week running up to Christmas, Donald Trump got 50 million interactions on Facebook, which basically doubled the amount of all the other candidates combined. That`s like likes, and shares, and posts, and comments; 50 million people in a week were talking about him.

And there is no way you could get any other message out over that kind of noise. So, for any Republicans concerned about -- particularly if you`re looking at the establishment Republicans of Washington wanting to hold onto the Senate, where there`s a bunch of more centrist races they are facing in places like New Hampshire and Colorado and Nevada, they are very concerned that a Donald Trump message that is this bellicose could really be detrimental to their efforts in those states. Now, the other question is, if there is a different candidate other than Donald Trump in the race, does that person get tarred with some of what Donald Trump has said?

REID: Right.

And, Francesca, this bellicose, but also this content-free. He is not having to do or say anything to keep his supporters loyal. Trump said in that little path that we played there that the Democrats only pretending to want to run against him. In your reporting, they`re not pretending, right? They really actually wouldn`t mind running against this guy.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, "THE DAILY MAIL": Well, I don`t think that Hillary Clinton would necessarily mind running against him vs. a Marco Rubio, who is young, dynamic, Hispanic.

I think she would much rather run against someone like Donald Trump instead. And also listening to what Donald Trump was talking about tonight, one of the other things that he is very good at doing instinctively, as we were noting before, is that he hits the media a lot.

Tonight, again, he called them the dishonest media. This also goes back to what he did in New Hampshire today. Conservatives love hitting the mainstream media, the -- quote, unquote -- "liberal media." And Trump has really picked up on that and aggressively in his rallies hits the media over and over again.

If you have actually ever been to one of them or listened to it through, he spends a lot of his time actually hitting the media in those rallies. And it`s working for him.

REID: Yes. We`re going to -- I`m a big skeptic of what you just said about Marco Rubio. We`re going to unpack that a little bit more, Francesca, later in the show.

But I want to give you the last word on this, Eugene.

A lot of what you`re hearing, what Francesca mentioned about attacking the media, the sort of way that he goes after the crowd, does it remind you of Sarah Palin as much as it does me?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It`s kind of Sarah Palin, but he is frankly better at it.

Trump is -- look, he is, sort of in a weird way, an astounding political talent, if you look at where he came from, right, never having run for anything, never having been elected to anything, and look where he is now. And he has a way of sort of staging and conducting these rallies that has mesmerized a lot of people.

And so you can never say never with the guy at this point. I do believe that Hillary Clinton would absolutely love to run against Donald Trump, because she`s got to calculate that there are a lot of Republicans out there who just won`t be able to pull the lever for him, who just won`t be able to vote for Donald Trump and will just stay home.

And I think that is probably a good calculation. But we will just have to see if people vote for him when the caucuses begin and the primaries begin, and just a few weeks away.

REID: Yes, indeed, indeed. Eugene Robinson, Francesca Chambers, and Paul Singer, thank you all.

And coming up, a decision in Cleveland from the grand jury which was deciding whether to press charges against the two police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Plus, Mayor Rahm Emanuel changes policies on police shootings in Chicago, this after two people were left dead in a police-involved incident over the weekend.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We have got two big headlines tonight involving police shootings.

In Cleveland, a grand jury has chosen not to indict any police officers in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by police while carrying a pellet gun in November of 2014. Prosecutor Tim McGinty told reporters today that he and his team recommended no charges.

Rice`s family has been critical throughout of the prosecutor`s handling of the case.

And, tonight, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has cut his vacation short after more calls for his resignation following another police-involved shooting over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, Chicago police fatally shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier after responding to a 911 call regarding a domestic dispute. A statement by the police department says officers opened fire after being confronted by a -- quote -- "combative subject."

NBC`s Chicago affiliate is reporting that LeGrier`s mother says her son developed a mental illness this fall, but that he was not violent. IN a brief statement about the incident, police said that 55-year-old Bettie Jones, LeGrier`s neighbor, was accidentally struck and tragically killed during the incident.

The medical examiner has ruled both deaths as homicides. The city`s Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the shootings. In the aftermath, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered a series of police reforms. Officers involved in shootings will now be placed on administrative duty for 30 days.

In addition, he has directed authorities to conduct a review of the de-escalation policies, including how officers respond to mental health crises, saying -- quote -- "The changes we have made are just a beginning, not an end."

We are joined by NBC`s Sarah Dallof in Chicago.

All right, Sarah, so the mayor has said changes will now be made, putting officers on administrative leave. I`m wondering if the mayor explained why that policy wasn`t in place before, and what other changes is he proposing? SARAH DALLOF, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you mentioned the changes to put people on administrative leave for 30 days.

He doesn`t touch on why that wasn`t done before. He focuses instead on the future, saying that this will allow them to assess the officer`s training and if they are fit to go back to duty during that 30-day period.

Another critical change that he is looking at is an overview of the crisis intervention and de-escalation policies of the department. Those are basically guidance to officers on how to work with or deal with someone who is suffering from an emotional disturbance or any mental illness.

It`s interesting to note, Joy, that currently those policies that are in place, they don`t require any mandatory training. The training itself is in fact voluntary. And less than 20 percent of police officers here in Chicago have undergone that training.

Now, when the mayor said he was cutting his vacation short to come back here, he said that is to address and to continue to work on building trust between the community, law enforcement and officials. He is expected back here tomorrow. I asked his spokesman, will there be any press statement? Will he be visiting the family?

That spokesman said that: We will lay out what he plans to do in the next steps when he arrives back here in Chicago.

REID: All right, thank you to NBC`s Sarah Dallof in Chicago. Appreciate it.

Now, this latest incident comes after the release of police dash-cam video showing a Chicago police officer shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. The fallout resulted in first-degree murder charges against the officer and it also prompted the resignation of the city`s police superintendent, as well as the chief of detectives and the head of the Police Review Authority.

The fallout from that incident evoked an emotional reaction from Mayor Emanuel. Here he is addressing a special session of the city council earlier this month.


RAHM EMANUEL (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO: One young man asked me a simple question that gets to the core of what we`re talking about. He said, do you think the police would ever treat you the way they treat me?

And the answer is no. And that is wrong. And that has to change in this city. That has to come to an end and end now. No citizen is a second-class citizen in the city of Chicago.



REID: Clarence Page is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Chicago Tribune," and Ron Reagan is an MSNBC contributor.

Clarence, I want to come to you first for your knowledge of Chicago.

That was a lot of emotion that you saw out of Rahm Emanuel about a month ago. But one wonders whether actual procedures were changed between the Laquan McDonald, the huge blow-up over that incident, and two people being shot, one of them purportedly by accident?


One thing you see there is in that video clip is Mayor Emanuel trying to change the conversation, trying to change his previous stance, which had been one of passive almost indifference, as far as most people were concerned, when the Laquan McDonald case first broke, before the video came out. This was over a year ago. The mayor says he never saw the video, even though he knew about it.

And, of course, the head of the state`s attorney`s office didn`t act on it. You didn`t much action at all until the video came out. And then, suddenly, we had a national controversy. And now Mayor Emanuel is trying to turn things around to show that he really does care, he really is trying to do something to change the department and change the culture, because there is an old-time Chicago police culture and political culture I shouldn`t have to go into detail on, frankly, that any mayor has to contend with.

And Mayor Emanuel didn`t think it was that important until the Laquan McDonald controversy blew up and there`s talk about him quitting or being impeached if they can get a bill through the state legislature. And so, obviously, there is a great concern now, and including from Mayor Emanuel`s office, about changing that atmosphere.

REID: And, Clarence, knowing what you know of Rahm Emanuel, how likely would it be that either he or, quite frankly, Anita Alvarez, who is facing the same call that she ought to step down, how likely it would be that either of them would fold and leave office?

PAGE: Well, you will see Donald Trump step down before Emanuel will.

He was reelected last spring, and while people had not seen that Laquan McDonald video yet. And people find that to be suspicious. No one is charging him directly with a cover-up. There is no knowledge of anything like that. But the coincidence is just too great that the mayor`s office and the state`s attorney`s office seemed to be sitting on the case, rather than moving ahead with it.

Now, state`s attorney Alvarez, that is a different story. She is facing a primary in March. And she`s got some stiff opposition. And she is in political trouble right now, mainly because of this issue.

REID: Yes.

And, indeed, Ron, I want to broaden this out, because, today, you did have the Cleveland prosecutor, Tim McGinty, also say that there would be no charges, that his office recommended the grand jury not indict in the Tamir Rice case. So, this is not just a Chicago problem, obviously.


REID: Do you see the portent of political problems for prosecutors like McGinty, like Alvarez, who are Democrats in these big cities, based on these cases?

REAGAN: Well, the problem with the prosecutors that you see, whether they`re Democrats or Republicans, is that prosecutors don`t prosecute when -- most of the time, it seems, when police are the target of their prosecution.

McGinty`s remarks after the grand jury came back refusing to indict the officer in Cleveland were in defense of the officer. And, in fact, he put expert witnesses on the stand who in fact defended the officer. That`s not what he, as a prosecutor, is supposed to be doing there. He is supposed to make the case for prosecution, and let somebody defend the officer, as I understand it.

REID: I mean, and, Ron, you know...

REAGAN: But this is -- you are right. This is a much bigger problem than Chicago.

We have got a problem in this country with police violence and police gun violence. We have a problem in the country with violence and gun violence in general, so perhaps that is not surprising. But too often now, we have seen videos where, at the very best, you can say that the police officers in question, as in the Tamir Rice case, exhibited flawed tactics and too, too quick a resort to violence there, indicating a lack of training on their part.

And then there is the accountability issue, which we have already touched on with the prosecutors who don`t prosecute cops.

REID: Yes, indeed.

And, very quickly, Ron, what would a process look like to change that, because if -- if -- I mean, dash cams won`t change that, right?

REAGAN: No, it`s got to start -- a main element does have to be retraining of police officers.

They don`t de-escalate. Look at what happens in England. Recently, just a week or two ago, there was a man in a tube station in England attacking people with a knife, and eventually lunged at police officers who responded with a knife. Did they shoot him? No, they didn`t. They eventually subdued him, de-escalated the situation, and subdued him without anybody being harmed, except I think one person was cut in a minor way by - - in the initial attack.

Here, that man would have been shot and killed instantly by police officers... REID: Yes.

REAGAN: ... as soon as he made a move for them.

Why can`t we teach officers here to de-escalate situations, and not resort to often fatal violence over trivial offenses?

REID: Yes, and particularly since, as is the case in Chicago, the training on de-escalation at the moment appears to be optional.

REAGAN: Exactly.

REID: Clarence Page -- Clarence Page and Ron Reagan, thank you both so much for being here.

PAGE: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Yes.

And we are back with much more HARDBALL right after this.


ERICA HILL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I`m Erica Hill. Here`s what is happening.

At least 43 deaths in seven states are being blamed on a massive storm moving through the middle of the country, that storm also causing widespread flight delays and cancellations during this busy travel week. At least 1,400 flights have already been canceled.

And the rain that caused flash flooding in the south is expected to turn to snow, sleet and freezing rain as it moves into the Northeast. Officials say power outages are likely in some areas.

HARDBALL is back after this.


REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina is expected to offer his full support to Marco Rubio at a campaign event in Iowa tomorrow. Best known for his role as chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Gowdy revealed some of what we can expect to hear tomorrow in a statement over the weekend. "Marco is a rock solid conservative and a strong leader we can trust. I look forward to campaigning in Iowa with him, and introducing my good friend to voters across the state." Now, while it`s sure to be a big moment for Rubio, the expected endorsement comes as establishment candidates are struggling to gain traction against Donald Trump and other Washington outsiders. According to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Poll the combined support for outsider candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson represent 67 percent of the Republican electorate right now, 67 percent. While establishment candidates Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush garner a combined total of 18 percent. Donald Trump was quick to go after Gowdy today, slamming him for his handling of Hillary Clinton during her 11-hour testimony before the Benghazi Committee in October. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He hopes he does a better job than he did at the Benghazi hearings, because they were a total disaster. He didn`t win with those hearings. It was a total, not good for Republicans and for the country. I mean, beyond Republicans, it was very bad for the country. So, I hope he does a lot better for Marco than he did for the Benghazi hearings. (END VIDEO CLIP) REID: I`m joined now by the HARDBALL round table. Susan Milligan is a political writer with "US. News and World Report", Dave Weigel is a national political reporter with "The Washington Post", Rebecca Berg is a national political reporter with "Real Clear Politics". Rebecca, I`m going to come to you first. In any political universe, is it a good thing for Marco Rubio to have the backing of an establishmentarian like Mr. Gowdy? REBECCA BERG, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Maybe in an alternate political universe, not in the one we are currently living in because -- here`s the thing: in this election cycle, Republican voters have been drawn to Donald Trump because he is not a Republican elected official, because he represents the exact opposite of what we consider the Republican establishment. And, Trey Gowdy, though well respected among conservatives and was one of the first elected officials to come of the Tea Party wave, the fact is he is an elected official. So, it doesn`t do Marco Rubio a lot of good in terms of getting votes from some of these Trump supporters to have Trey Gowdy backing him. What it does do and what it might do is help Marco Rubio establish himself as the natural moderate or moderate to conservative alternative to Donald Trump. It`s a really crowded lane right now and he might need that report. REID: Yes, and again, 18 percent -- all the national moderate Republicans 18 percent. Now, even if an establishment like Marco Rubio manages to win in New Hampshire, the primary calendar appears to favor a conservative like Trump or Ted Cruz. Among the 12 Super Tuesday states that hold their contest on March 1st, there are more deep red in southern states than past election cycles. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Ted Cruz`s home state of Texas. And, Dave, I`ll come to you on this -- there are a lot of establishment people who love Marco Rubio, who want to put forward theories of how Marco Rubio could become the nominee. Explain given that map and that math, where does Marco Rubio win, even if he wins New Hampshire? Where else could he possibly win? DAVE WEIGEL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I`m not trying to dodge the question, but I think all Republicans would tell you that they don`t really know what his path is until after Iowa, after New Hampshire. There is an expectation if he gets the ticket out of Iowa, he moves up to New Hampshire. If he`s second or wins New Hampshire, then maybe one of the other alternatives drops. But a lot of his fate depends on how long Jeb Bush wants to stick in this, whether Chris Christie outperforms in New Hampshire. Factors like that, everything I mention is a momentum factor. And the Trey Gowdy endorsement is another one of those, frankly. This is somebody who famously and rather proudly does not get that involved in grassroots machine-building politics, but is behind Rubio because his nomination makes the most sense from his perspective rebranding the Republican Party. That sort of the argument Rubio has throughout. He needs other people to punch each other out in order for him to fill that role. He is not filling it himself or building the kind of campaign that wins in Alabama himself. REID: Dave, I love the mustache, but you kind of did dodge the question but you still didn`t name a state that he can win. When we come back, I`m going to go to Susan first. And the roundtable is going to stay with us. And up next, if Trump voters can be won over by another candidate, is that candidate maybe Bernie Sanders? The socialist from Vermont thinks he can lure Trump`s populist supporters who are fed up with the status quo. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: Gallup released its poll today naming the most admired men and women. Not surprisingly among the men, President Obama came in first. But look who is tied for second place, Pope Francis and Donald Trump. On the other side, for the 20th year in a row, 20, Hillary Clinton was named the most admired woman. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: And we are back with the roundtable. Now, this weekend, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made an appeal to Donald Trump supporters in an attempt to persuade white working class voters to back him over the Republican front-runner. Sanders is saying that his message, much like Trump`s, addresses middle class anxiety over jobs and the economy. Here`s Sanders yesterday on "Face the Nation." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many of Trump`s supporters are working class people and they are angry. And they are angry because they are working longer hours for lower wages, they`re angry because their jobs have left this country and gone to China or other low wage countries. They`re angry because they can`t afford to send their kids to college and they can`t retire with dignity. So, I think four years, working class and middle class support, I think we can make the case that if we really want to address the issues that people are concerned about, why the middle class is disappearing, massive income and wealth inequality in this country, that we need policies that bring us together. (END VIDEO CLIP) REID: And Trump responded on Twitter this morning saying, "Strange, but I see wacko Bernie Sanders allies coming over to me because I`m lowering taxes while he will double and triple them, a disaster." All right. Susan, I promise to come to you, so you drew the short straw, you`re going to have to talk about this one. SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Everything is a disaster. REID: Exactly. Well, I wonder because in New Hampshire, Susan, there`s such a huge percentage of that voting population, more than 40 percent, that are independent. So, it makes sense for Bernie Sanders to go for any independent. Some of them could be Trump people. But in your view, which is more likely -- independents who lean towards Trump deciding to vote for Bernie Sanders because they have more influence in that primary or hard core Trump supporters somehow deciding in Alabama that they`re OK with Marco Rubio? MILLIGAN: OK. Well, those are apples and oranges here. I don`t think you can look at Alabama until we`re done with Iowa and New Hampshire first of all. Secondly, I don`t agree that Cruz has that much of a natural regional advantage in the South. I think his advantage is mostly among evangelicals. But when it comes to Sanders and Trump, it`s actually not as crazy as it sounds at first that Trump would be appealing -- excuse me, that Bernie Sanders would be appealing to Trump voters because sometimes when you`re on the opposite end of the spectrum, they meet together behind the curtain. And, you know, there are also anti-Hillary people who are supporting Trump. So, it is possible he could get some of those independents to come over. I don`t see people going the other way. I don`t see would-be Sanders supporters voting for Trump. So, you know, look, he`s not going to get Clinton people to come over to his side, or determined Clinton people. I don`t think it`s out of the question he could pick up some Trump voters in New Hampshire. REID: And we don`t have hardly any time at all, but I want to come back to you quickly, Dave, because the reason I ask the question is because the idea you can get a Trump type voter to vote for Marco Rubio seems to be more absurd than the idea that a working class person who like Donald Trump might consider Sanders. Is that question insane? Let`s say South Carolina, not Alabama? WEIGEL: Not in the same question. There are people who hate what they see as the political system. Even though Bernie Sanders has been part of it for half of his life, they just don`t see him as dishonest. That`s one -- a strategist who worked for Romney last time was telling me with amazement, what sound like general amazement that Bernie Sanders is the most popular, most well liked candidate running, and that`s pretty transferable. There are voters who are not going down a checklist of policies who want somebody attitudinally, culturally, who seems to be anti- Washington and both of those guys fit the bill. So, more voters than you might think. REID: All right. I feel more sane. We`re going to have more HARDBALL after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: We`re back. Quickly, tell me who`s going to win New Hampshire, D and R. Starting with Rebecca. BERG: Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. Donald Trump by a lot for Republicans. REID: All right. Susan? MILLIGAN: I`m going to say Clinton on the Democratic side, although Sanders is going to do respectively. I think on the Republican side, I`m going to say Rubio. REID: All right. And let`s go to Dave Weigel, with the great mustache. WEIGEL: I think Clinton narrowly on the Democratic side and Trump in New Hampshire, but the race for second place will all pronounce the guy who comes close to Trump as the real winner, the real comeback kid. REID: All right. Thank you very much to the roundtable, Susan Milligan, Dave Weigel and Rebecca Berg. That does it for me and HARDBALL. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.