IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/22/2016

Guests: Eliana Johnson, David Catanese, Jay Newton-Small, Tom Daschle, Trent Lott, Anne Gearan, Steve McMahon

Show: HARDBALL Date: January 22, 2016 Guest: Eliana Johnson, David Catanese, Jay Newton-Small, Tom Daschle, Trent Lott, Anne Gearan, Steve McMahon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Stop the primary, I want to get off!

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, yesterday, we showed you the flood of establishment Republicans beginning to line up behind Donald Trump because they hate Ted Cruz so much. Well, today, we`re watching the other usual suspects -- neocons, war hawks and assorted right-wingers -- try to gin up a "Stop Trump" movement. Both sides -- the anti-Cruz and the anti-Trump groups -- are ignoring the sage advice of one Richard Nixon, who advised if you ever hear of a "Stop X" movement, bet on X.

Well, this is one hell of a way to pick a candidate. "The National Review" just put out its February issue entirely dedicated to thumping Trump, with an assist from 22 hastily deputized so-called editors, including neocon Bill Kristol, fellow hawks John Podhoretz, angry Glenn Beck and Tea Party Erick Erickson.

They slam Trump as, quote, "a philosophically unmoored political opportunist." They say that even immigration, Trump often makes no sense and can`t be relied upon. Their closing argument is that he is a reckless demagogue who is, quote, "a menace to American conservatism."

Wow. One consequence of this anti-Trump posse is the RNC has ended a debate partnership with the aforementioned "National Review." The magazine`s publisher responded by saying, "We expected this was coming. Small price to pay for speaking the truth about the Donald."

For his part, Trump reacted to the magazine`s assault his way.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "The National Review" is a dying paper. It`s got -- its circulation`s way down. Not very many people read it anymore. I mean, people don`t even think about "The National Review." So I guess they want to get a little publicity. But no, that`s a dying paper...


TRUMP: It`s pretty much (INAUDIBLE) it`s pretty much of a dead paper.


MATTHEWS: He`s so conclusive!

Anyway, NBC`s Katy Tur, who must laugh occasionally at this guy, is with the Trump campaign. Eliana Johnson here is with the -- she`s Washington editor again of the aforementioned -- that`s my phrase tonight -- "National Review." And Perry Bacon, my friend, who`s here is NBC News senior political reporter.

Well, this is Friday and a snow day, of course, as we say here. Let me ask you -- the archbishop of Philadelphia has already called off church for Sunday, at least saying you won`t have a sin if you don`t go. So it`s getting serious business here in town about the snow.

But in this snow world -- what are those things you turn upside down and it`s always snowing?



MATTHEWS: Snowball. That`s where we`re living right now.

What is going on here, Katy Tur, that -- that -- I think Trump must be on his way to winning because this -- this gang, I can call it that, posse has put together -- now you got Bill Kristol, the super-hawk, Podhoretz, another hawk, all the neocons are out there, all the people -- the real haters like Glenn Beck, what an assortment, a motley crew I`d call it!

Does he fear these people at all?

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I don`t think he fears anybody. I think Donald Trump sees himself as someone who...

MATTHEWS: Well, he fears you. I`m sure he fears you.


TUR: I -- well, I think he does fear me because who wouldn`t fear me, frankly, right?

MATTHEWS: Good point.

TUR: No, I think that Donald Trump is out there on his own, where he wants to be. I think he enjoys being the one that is being attacked by everyone. I think he revels in it. I think he uses it to his advantage, saying that, Nobody wants me to be in there so -- that`s because I`m fighting for you. These people are all part of the establishment. They`re all beholden to their donors. They`re beholden to higher powers. I am the one fighting for you. I am the outsider, and I can continue on.

But this is just so interesting, Chris. I mean, the establishment just yesterday, as you were saying, was starting to warm to him, embrace him. But now you`re seeing all these hard-line conservatives come out and say, Stop. Wait a minute. No, we don`t want this to happen.

I spoke with the RNC just a couple minutes ago and I asked them if they were doing Trump`s dirty work by banning "The National Review" from the Houston debate. They said that, no, they weren`t because they`re going to -- they`re not going to let anybody, frankly, who is against a candidate or for a candidate participate in a debate. They think that`s fair.

But now this is the second debate that has kicked off a paper...


TUR: ... or magazine because they`ve disparaged Donald Trump. Remember what happened in New Hampshire, as well.

MATTHEWS: Let me suggest to you a code breaker, if you want to be a cryptonologist (sic), or whatever. The code here is the word "Iraq," the Iraq war. Every one of these characters that signed onto this petition, this posse coming out of "The National Review" and now being joined by "The Weekly Standard," are all hawks who backed the Iraq war, including Rich Lowry, who has later on apologized and took it back.

But they all backed the Iraq war, especially people like Kristol and Podhoretz, all super hawks, neocons and the rest of that right-wing gang that thought the Iraq war was just a brilliant idea. They`re all scared to death of Trump because Trump thinks it`s the worst idea in history, going to war in Iraq.

Anyway, here`s the people who are going against Trump. They say Trump`s campaign rallies are orgies of self-absorption, that he`s a narcissist and a huckster, that he`s an opposition researchers dream, a non-conservative long-time Democrat. There`s much to like about Cruz -- well, God, I never heard of that before. He`s smart. He`s articulate. He`s a nimble debater. Well, who thinks that? Katy?

TUR: Well, I mean, I think that when you have a lot of good points and you`re talking about where these -- these...

MATTHEWS: Who thinks Cruz is likable?


TUR: But let`s -- I don`t -- I haven`t heard that very often on the campaign trail, except for...


TUR: ... except for people who are going to Cruz rallies. But I do think that there is a point to be made about what it`s like at a Donald Trump rally. I`ve been going to them now for seven months, and he likes to talk about himself a lot.


TUR: In fact, the majority of these speeches are all about how great he is and the deals he`s made and look at his poll numbers. And then he gets a little bit into making America great again and hitting President Obama or Bowe Bergdahl or immigration...


TUR: ... all the illegal immigrants or the refugees. But the vast majority of these speeches are all about Donald Trump. And he can really give it out against his opponents or anybody, frankly, that criticizes him. But he can`t take anything in terms of criticism on the way back.

Everybody that stood up to him...


TUR: ... has questioned where he`s coming from, he`s tried to insult on the way back. He`s insulting "The National Review." He insults journalists left and right. He insults his other candidates.

And I think that...


TUR: ... when it comes to Trump`s base of support, those that are attending his rallies, this sort of stuff works. But when you get out of that bubble and you walk around -- I was in Vegas yesterday. I went to the gun show in Vegas, and I asked people what they thought of Trump. And there wasn`t a lot of like for Trump out there. They were calling him an idiot. They were saying that he was full of hot air, that he was full of himself.

So I think we have to be careful in painting him as somebody who`s got all of the support out there because there is still a large portion of the Republican base that does not like him. The problem is, those people don`t have one candidate to go for. They have a number of candidates out there, and it`s really fracturing the support.


TUR: And I think that`s why we`re seeing Donald Trump lead all of these polls.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Katy Tur, for giving us the back and forth on Trump.

Let me go over to Eliana. I know you don`t write editorials (INAUDIBLE) but I want to remind you, since you work for that magazine, that Rich Lowry supported the Iraq war. What`s his name, Kristol, he did, too. These guys are all war hawks. That`s why they don`t like Trump because he`s the only guy on the right who`s actually said it was a stupid war, we should have never fought it.

And those people`s heart and soul is with that kind of war. They want to go from Iraq, they want to go to -- they want to go to Libya, which they`ve already done, and they want to then go to -- Oh, what`s next? Syria they want to go next? Regime change is in their bloodstream, and Trump`s saying it is stupid for us to play that role.

Go ahead.


MATTHEWS: Isn`t that what unites all these people (INAUDIBLE) Podhoretz, Kristol, all the -- Erickson? All these guys are hawks!

JOHNSON: I actually...

MATTHEWS: And Donald Trump says no. Go ahead.

JOHNSON: I actually don`t think that this was about a single issue...

MATTHEWS: Well, why do they all agree?

JOHNSON: I think this...

MATTHEWS: Why do they all agree on the war in Iraq?

JOHNSON: Well, just let me speak for a second...

MATTHEWS: No, no. Answer the question.

JOHNSON: I think...

MATTHEWS: Why is the one...

JOHNSON: No, no, no.

MATTHEWS: ... unifying issue the Iraq war?

JOHNSON: No, no. Just -- just let me speak for one second. I think this was about uniting conservatives of all different permutations...

MATTHEWS: But they`re all hawks!

JOHNSON: ... who disagree on many issues...


JOHNSON: ... including the war in Iraq...

MATTHEWS: Well, they don`t disagree.

JOHNSON: ... against -- against...

MATTHEWS: Who disagrees with -- who on that list...

JOHNSON: No, disagree on all different things, including the Iraq war, and...

MATTHEWS: OK, which one disagrees?

JOHNSON: ... and differentiating from Donald Trump`s crasser sort of populism.


JOHNSON: And by the way, Donald Trump supported the war in Iraq before he turned against it...

MATTHEWS: Which one of the...

JOHNSON: ... a couple of...

MATTHEWS: Which one of the...

JOHNSON: ... a couple of years later.

MATTHEWS: Which one of the people in that group that is now in the posse against Trump...

JOHNSON: And Chris, I...

MATTHEWS: ... is not -- was not a hawk...


JOHNSON: ... Democrats supporting...

MATTHEWS: I can only ask the questions.

JOHNSON: ... supporting the Iraq war.

MATTHEWS: I can only ask the questions. Can you answer me? Which one is not a hawk in that group?

JOHNSON: I think all of them are...

MATTHEWS: Name one.

JOHNSON: All of them are hawks, but...


JOHNSON: ... I don`t think -- on what evidence do you say that the opposition to Trump is based on the Iraq war?

MATTHEWS: No, I`m saying...

JOHNSON: I don`t think there`s any evidence for that.

MATTHEWS: The evidence is every name on the list supported the Iraq war, and Trump said it was a mistake. That`s all the evidence I need.

JOHNSON: Many of those people say the Iraq war was a mistake now, just like...

MATTHEWS: Which one? Which one?

JOHNSON: ... Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Name one. Name one.

JOHNSON: Many of those guys...

MATTHEWS: Name one.

JOHNSON: Many of those guys say they were mistaken...

MATTHEWS: Start with one name.

JOHNSON: A lot of them. Erick Erickson says, in retrospect, the Iraq war was a mistake...

MATTHEWS: Or did he say it was the follow-up to the war wasn`t good? What does he say?

JOHNSON: No! Many of them say that.

MATTHEWS: OK, I don`t hear it. Go ahead.

BACON: I don`t know what Erick...

MATTHEWS: I think you`re wrong.


JOHNSON: Ted Cruz says that now!

MATTHEWS: Ted Cruz isn`t on that list!

BACON: (INAUDIBLE) Chris, I do agree that the issue is...

MATTHEWS: I`ve watched -- the reason why I have a strong view on this -- and you do, too, and you were right (ph), too, obviously -- you work for the magazine -- I have watched this petition-organizing stuff from Bill Kristol for 20 years. It`s always a petition. It`s always a group of people ganging up, Committee of this...

JOHNSON: This wasn`t Bill Kristol organizing a petition.

MATTHEWS: It`s always -- he`s always on the list. And so`s Podhoretz. They put together lists. They love lists. Then they announce a list, and then we`re all supposed to go along with it. Sometimes, it`s a full-page ad of lists. This whole method of politics, which is putting a list of people together, and then saying, You got to take that position.

JOHNSON: Well, I would submit to you, Chris, that it`s you who has the obsession with the Iraq war...

MATTHEWS: I am. I know.

JOHNSON: ... and not these people because there`s no -- there`s no evidence...


MATTHEWS: ... America loses 4,000 lives in a war that...

JOHNSON: ... defining conservatism as against populism.

MATTHEWS: When we lose 4,000 lives in a war that should have never been fought, when we kill 100,000 people, when we kill -- get ourselves involved with a situation we cannot get out of for years, we will not get out of that world for years that we got ourselves into, yes, it`s an obsession, if you want to put a mark on it.

Go ahead, Perry.

BACON: The challenge, I think, of today is that the establishment being opposed to Trump was not exactly news. I think this reinforced what we already knew, is that a lot of people in Washington do not like Donald Trump.

What I think would have been more helpful for "National Review" would have been to say, Who are you for? That`s the whole challenge here, I think is, We still have a movement.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

BACON: We don`t like Trump. We don`t like Cruz. When you get five other people...

MATTHEWS: But wait...

BACON: ... choose one of them...

MATTHEWS: But isn`t that...

BACON: ... and get behind them.

MATTHEWS: This group you have to defend here -- these people are all -- at the end of it, Kristol -- not you, but Kristol comes out and says, I`m for Cruz. So it`s clearly not just an anti-movement.

BACON: I don`t...

MATTHEWS: It`s not just anti-Trump.

BACON: (INAUDIBLE) this movement is unified...


BACON: ... behind Cruz right now. There`s people who...

JOHNSON: Yes, there`s a lot of...

BACON: ... are for Rubio in that group, people who are for Bush in that group. I think that`s the problem, is they need to figure out, like the voters -- there are a lot of people, like Katy said, who are not for Trump. They`re not sure who to be for. The Washington leadership could say, Be for this person, and that would help. But if it`s, Be against Trump, that`s not -- we know that already, the movement in Washington does not like Trump. They`re not -- that`s not -- Trump supporters, they appreciate that he`s not liked by people in Washington.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I have to go back to this about my obsession. Let me explain because I do have certain obsessions. When I looked at that whole list, I said, Who in this group served in the military? How on this list - - it`s easy to write op-ed pieces. It`s easy to play the commander of the war from an op-ed, knocking out on a word processor which wars we should fight.

None of them are military people! They send other kids to go fight -- other people`s kids to fight. That`s my problem. I think it`s hypocritical, and I cannot stand the neocon mentality, which is war after war after war, endless wars.

No, Rich Lowry, the editor of your paper, of your magazine, did say it was wrong later. And Bill Buckley said it was wrong and George Will said it was wrong later. But when the time came to go into the Iraq war, they all joined the parade. And they`re much smarter than the people that led us into the parade, like George W. Bush. And that`s what bothers me. Smarter people being led by dumber people is a bad way for democracy to work.

Do you want to respond to that? Go ahead.

JOHNSON: And you think Donald Trump is the antidote to smarter people being led by dumber people or -- I don`t understand the point, really.

MATTHEWS: On the issue of Iraq war, yes. And by the way, I think he is smart. I don`t think he wants to show it. Somebody said -- a congressman said, The trick I play is I have to convince people in Washington I`m not crazy. But out on the stump, I`ve got to convince them I am crazy because that`s what a lot of people want to hear.

JOHNSON: Yes, Donald Trump is not...

BACON: I think this is...

JOHNSON: ... exactly the military leader...

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re making...


MATTHEWS: I thought you weren`t on the editorial side.


JOHNSON: Well, you`re putting me in that position by denigrating my employer and then asking me to defend them.

MATTHEWS: I know. I`m sorry if I did that. But you know what? We disagree.

Anyway, thank you, Eliana Johnson. Please come back. Perry Bacon -- Perry Bacon, please come back.

Coming up -- Hillary Clinton`s attacks on Bernie Sanders are sounding eerily similar to the one she launched against Barack Obama in 2008. Remember the 3:00 AM phone call ad? Well, that didn`t work then. What makes her think that`ll work this time?

Plus, snow politics. With a monster blizzard bearing down on the mid- Atlantic and the Northeast, it`s smart to recall that snow can bury a political career.

And Donald Trump says he`d be able to make deals and work with Congress. We`ll talk to two former U.S. Senate leaders, Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, who say Washington needs a big fix, and also whether Trump`s the guy to pull it off.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with a chance to end a major disease.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: I`m meteorologist Bill Karins.

We`re about to call this storm a nor`easter. It`s now beginning to move off the East Coast of South Carolina, and from here, it will really intensify and later tonight, we`ll probably officially be able to call this the blizzard of 2016.

Right now, blizzard warnings Fredricksburg to Washington, D.C., all the way up I-95 to Long Island. Now, the storm itself is coming off the South Carolina coast. It`s going to move up over the Outer Banks, tonight, already well ahead of it, snow already up to Philadelphia, heavy snow now from Richmond back up into Washington, D.C. So that`s going to the story tonight, the heavy snow falling and then the winds picking up and starting to whip that snow around.

Now, earlier today, we had a lot of ice in South Carolina, North Carolina. That`s going to continue this evening, a light coating. It`s going to continue to build up all night long. Power outages are very likely here, especially the Charlotte area back up to Raleigh, and then southward to the upstate of South Carolina.

And as far as winds go at the coast, this could do damage all by itself. We could easily see gusts during the day tomorrow near Cape May up to 70 miles per hour, 50 miles per hour down here towards Ocean City, Maryland, and even out towards Long Island up to 50 miles per hour. That`s why we have blizzard warnings all the way through this region.

Interior section, the winds will be a little bit lower, but we`re still going to have high impacts. We could easily see 50 mile-per-hour wind peak gusts New York City, Philadelphia and even areas like Washington, D.C. That`s why when you get these 24-inch snowfall totals in Philly and also D.C., you could see drifts up to five to six feet tall. That`s ridiculous for those big cities, and that`s why it`s going to be impassable for so long.

Let`s go take a look at how much snow is falling already. Let`s go to Luke Russert in Washington, D.C.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey, there, Bill. The snow is falling and it`s falling down hard. It`s been like that for about the last four or five hours. They expect the worst of the storm to hit here in D.C. at about 1:00 AM Saturday morning, which is a blessing because the hope is that folks will not be out on the roads, they will take the mayor`s advice and shelter in place.

And that was the direction, really, for folks since 3:00 PM today in Washington. The roads are bare. Usually, Friday night, nation`s capital, people are out and about, going to restaurants, going to bars. Well, they`re all staying home. That is because this has potential to be the most significant storm to hit D.C. since the 1920s, since the famous Knickerbocker blizzard which actually killed 100 people back then. People are taking this threat seriously.

The big worry here from officials is power. A lot of trees in Washington, aboveground power lines. If those trees are to fall on those lines, people could be without power for days because crews will not be able to get there because the roads will not be plowed. That`s the big worry. That`s what they`re hoping against tonight in Washington -- Bill.

KARINS: Look, it looks like a light, fluffy, pretty snow now, but 7:00 AM tomorrow morning, those winds are howling. It`s not going to look like that at all from D.C. up to Philadelphia. It`ll be a completely different scene at first light tomorrow when everyone`s checking out this storm.

So we`ll have more updates throughout the night here on MSNBC, and of course, right throughout the show here on HARDBALL.

We`ll be right back.



HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world.

In theory, there`s a lot to like about some of his ideas, but in theory isn`t enough. A president has to deliver in reality.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Hillary Clinton laying out her new attack on Bernie Sanders, that he doesn`t have what it takes to deliver. It is deja vu for some who watched Clinton make a similar argument eight years ago against Barack Obama.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I could stand up here and say, let`s just get everybody together. Let`s get unified. The sky will open.


CLINTON: The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.


CLINTON: Maybe I have just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be.


MATTHEWS: Well, as Hillary Clinton is squeezed by an insurgent challenger running to her left, collapsing poll numbers, and headlines of her campaign`s missteps, things are starting to feel a bit like 2008.

Politico`s Glenn Thrush writes: "Hillary has watched a sickening slow- motion sequel. Bernie Sanders is no Obama, the original anti-Hillary, but he is pushing her to the edge."

And even her latest TV ad feels like a rerun from her first presidential campaign.


NARRATOR: The world a president has to grapple with, sometimes, you can`t even imagine. That`s the job, and she is prepared for it like no other, a tireless secretary of state standing up against the abuse of women and girls, negotiating a cease-fire in Gaza, leading the diplomacy that keeps us out of war.


MATTHEWS: Well, it`s reminiscent of the famous 3:00 a.m. phone call ad.


NARRATOR: It is 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep, but there is a phone in the White House and it is ringing. Something is happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Who do you want answering the phone?



But according to our NBC News First Read team, there are three reasons why 2016 is not 2008. Obama had much more potential for expanding his base, especially among minority voters, back then than Bernie Sanders does now. Sanders, a socialist, doesn`t have Democratic validators and allies that Obama had in 2008, top surrogates like Ted Kennedy, Tim Kaine, or Claire McCaskill.

And Hillary has a huge lead with Democratic superdelegates, which means Sanders essentially starts out behind in a delegate math fight.

Anyway, meanwhile, the latest poll out of New Hampshire shows Sanders maintaining strong a nine-point lead over Clinton, Sanders at 50, Clinton at 41.

Anne Gearan is a correspondent for "The Washington Post" and Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist.

Well, actually, Sanders, according to polling and CNN`s polling, is well ahead in both fights, but there is something -- there is a deja vu factor here, clearly. And if you are Hillary, how do you deal with that gradual drumbeat of, oh, my God, it is like before?

ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, the drip, drip, drip factor here is unmistakable, as is the echo of 2008, where she watched it just slowly peel away from her.

The great fear is that, yes, that does repeat in Iowa. They already were ready to lose in New Hampshire and had chalked that up to Sanders` next- door neighbor factor from Vermont, and considered that -- Clinton allies considered that a bummer, but a survivable loss.

If she loses in Iowa, that is a sucker punch, and it hobbles her campaign. She has basically bet the farm on Iowa. She organized the whole start of her campaign around, we get Iowa this time. We understand it and we are going to do it right. If she loses it, it raises a lot of questions about her as a candidate and the way she designed her campaign.

MATTHEWS: Steve, in fairness to Secretary Clinton, 43 percent of Iowa caucus-goers call themselves socialists. It is an unusually left group of people, to-the-left group.

I`m not saying they`re lefties, but compared to the rest of the country, 43 percent of Americans are not socialists or 43 percent of Democrats nationally are not socialists that I believe.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So, that is absolutely true.

And one of the things that undid Secretary Clinton eight years is probably the thing that they are pinning their hopes on today, which is, as you move from Iowa and New Hampshire, two very white states, to places that are more diverse, Bernie Sanders doesn`t look like he is moving at all really among African-American voters, among Hispanic voters, and among the older voters that Hillary has such enormous strength among.

If you look at his support and his lead in Iowa, it is based primarily on young people, on first-time caucus attenders, and on independent voters. That is not the profile of people who normally go to the caucuses. They tend to be older. They`re not first-time. They have been there before.

And so this is going to be a turnout battle. I think Bernie Sanders should be happy with his lead. The ad he`s running in Iowa is fantastic. But this thing is a long way from over, even in Iowa, because the people who support Bernie Sanders are not usually the people who show up at the caucuses.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see why. And the question I have, when you go to vote, what do you get out of it? You walk away from the voting booth -- or caucus group, and you go, what did I do tonight? Did I throw a firecracker into the room? Did I shake things up? Did I get something? Did I send a message?

With Bernie, you clearly do. You shake things up. I want to get those billionaires and millionaires. I want to get that Citizens United crowd. I`m going to get -- with Hillary, what do you get coming home? What do you feel like you have done? I`m just asking, what is the fix?

MCMAHON: So, I think what you get is -- her argument is a smart, rational argument. What you get is somebody who can win a general election.


MATTHEWS: So, you come home saying, I went in there to make sure we win the general?

MCMAHON: I think so. That is an argument that they are making. And, obviously, it`s an important argument for Democrats, because, otherwise, everything Obama did...


MATTHEWS: You`re a pro. You know as much as I -- do people voting in primaries and caucuses think like that? Do they think November?

MCMAHON: It is a difficult argument to make, because people want to be inspired. They want somebody who is positive, aspirational, forward- looking, like Obama was.

But, at the end of the day, they want to win. They want to protect the Affordable Care Act. They want the Supreme Court to be reasonable, and not reactionary. And there are a lot of important issues at stake here.

MATTHEWS: OK, last question. And I don`t know the answer to this.

Women running for office -- and there is EMILY`s List. There`s a lot of action out there on the women`s side, on the feminist side. Why isn`t that draw working for her, the way being African-American as the first worked for -- for Hillary? Why isn`t it working?

By the way, congratulations on getting Rezaian out? I want to think I have had a little part of letting you guys come on and make the case. That`s all I did. You guys really beat the drum. Congratulations on getting him out.

GEARAN: Well, it`s great news.

MATTHEWS: And thanks to the president.

GEARAN: Everyone is delighted.

MATTHEWS: And John Kerry.

Thank you, Anne Gearan. Thank you, Steve McMahon.

Coming up, unexpected moments can make or break a politician`s career, like weather events. And they are no exception. Look at how snow can bury a politician permanently.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MURIEL BOWSER (D), MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: We did not provide adequate resources at a time where it could make a difference in last evening`s commute. We should have been out earlier with more resources.

We are very sorry for an inadequate response.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That is Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser apologizing just yesterday for the city`s response to Wednesday night`s snowfall. Just one inch of accumulation brought all of Washington to a standstill this week, with commuters taking up to nine hours just to get home.

Even President Obama`s motorcade was stuck in traffic on his return from Joint Base Andrews. His trip should have taken 25 minutes. It took twice that amount, up to an hour.

Now, as millions hunker down in anticipation of a record-breaking snowstorm expected to bring up to 30 inches of snow, the question is whether this city, Washington, D.C., and others in its path can mount a more effective response.

It is just the latest example of how emergency weather conditions can test a politician`s leadership. In fact, snow has buried political careers. Case in point was the backlash that brought down Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic in 1979, when 20 inches of snow hammered his city`s streets and parking lots. They remained unplowed for days.

The public transit system was overwhelmed, leaving thousands out in the cold, and the mayor`s response proved too little too late.


ANTHONY BILANDIC, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: In the cold days of January and February, I took a hard look at our administration. A as a result, I am establishing a new commitment to the needs of the people.


MATTHEWS: Well, Bilandic defeated from renomination shortly thereafter.

There was also the 1969 snowstorm that nearly brought down New York Mayor John Lindsay. He faced criticism for giving Manhattan preferential treatment over the outer boroughs after the snowstorm left 42 people dead, crippled public transportation and trash collection for days.

And, today, after taking heat for planning to stay on the campaign trail, Governor Chris Christie decided to go home to take care of New Jersey during the blizzard. Earlier today, he tweeted: "I`m sorry, New Hampshire, but I got to go home. We got snow coming. I want to make sure the people of my state feel safe and secure. But I will be back because I am able to do both things. The fact is, you are never not the governor."

Well, I am joined right now by the HARDBALL roundtable tonight.

David Catanese, he`s a senior politics writer for "U.S. News & World Report." Jay Newton-Small is Washington correspondent for "TIME" magazine and author of "Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works." And David Corn is an MSNBC political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones."

David, you first, the political history. The big cities especially do not forgive mayors who are out of town, let`s start with that, during a snowstorm.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, thing is, this is something that what you call -- we call these days a deliverable.

You can see whether your mayor, the guy in charge of your town, performs good or badly in a situation like this when there is a storm. We saw this with superstorm Sandy in New Jersey and New York City. These are very metrics. It`s not about, are we winning the war on ISIS? How do we know? What is up with economic policy and all this stuff?

But sometimes people are forgiven. I think back to 1996. You and I remember the snowstorm here in Washington that brought several feet of snow. Marion Barry was out of town that week. I think he was at the Super Bowl. And his response was, snow melts. And he didn`t come back.


MATTHEWS: Marion Barry was a mixed bag of good intentions and problems. And he got away with things other people didn`t.


JAY NEWTON-SMALL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Well, snow can really make or break a career. Right?

You have the storm in -- December 28, 2010, that really made Cory Booker`s career. He was mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He was out there tweeting about how he was shoveling personally everybody`s drive. And he is now senator from New Jersey.

That same storm, Chris Christie was in Disney World in -- sorry -- in Florida, and Michael Bloomberg was in Bermuda, in New York. And they got so much flak for that. They really were perceived as sort of falling down on the job.

MATTHEWS: Is it a deliverable, David? Isn`t it something that comes with the territory? Get your butt home when there is snowfall.



MATTHEWS: Take your vacation a week later. Do what you have to do.

If you get three feet, I think a lot of rational people will say, wow, this is sort of a historic storm. And I think it is worse when you flub the one inch, two inch, three inches, like D.C. did. And the mayor was apologizing for that.


MATTHEWS: What happened with the mayor -- because everybody understands -- what happened the other night, we are leaving work here on Nebraska Avenue in Northwest Washington.

And you get out onto Nebraska Avenue, and it was what we call black ice. You couldn`t even see it. It was just barely covering the street. And buses were stopping, because they couldn`t even make that little grade down to Wisconsin Avenue. They couldn`t even -- because, in other words, they would be going all over the place, knocking cars out.

CATANESE: And that`s worse a lot of times than two feet, because two feet, nobody is going anywhere. An inch, you can still try to...


MATTHEWS: Anyway, back during the blizzard of 2010, I took then Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty to task over his slow response to the snow removal here in the capital. Let`s take a look at what was said then.


MATTHEWS: Washington is the city, as we all know, that commands the power of the world`s greatest country and the resources of the planet, but it`s a city that can`t plow its streets. They can`t work because they can`t get to work. Talk about a metaphor.

Why can`t a government town do a government job? Today, we had the weather of Buffalo and the snowplowing capability of Miami.

I have watched the big cities, where mayors lose their office because of this. This time around, we have got a very sophisticated mayor this time. Everybody liked him for a while. And I`m telling you, it`s time for a competition in the next primary around here. I think somebody has got to run. The city needs a little better effort right now.


MATTHEWS: Well, he did lose the next primary. I`m not sure he lost to a better guy, but he lost anyway.

We are going to come back. The roundtable, the HARDBALL roundtable, is sticking with us.

And up next, they are going to tell me something I don`t know.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Let`s give you some updates on our monster storm, now becoming a nor`easter up the coast later tonight, a blizzard already.

We`re only a quarter of the way through rights storm, 100,000 people without power in North Carolina. At the peak of the storm, that number could be half-a-million or maybe even million, if we really get these strong winds over interior sections of the highly populated areas in the Mid-Atlantic.

Let me show you a live shot, picture of Washington, D.C. Just got the first update. Four inches of snow already on the ground, only 20 more to go. Can you believe that? That is how much snow additionally is going to fall in D.C., our nation`s capital. Probably end up being our second biggest snowfall ever in our nation`s capital.

Now, here is the additional snow to fall. This pink shading here, that is 24 to 36 inches. The 18 to 24 is amazing enough from West Virginia almost all the way into areas like New York City.

Let me try to break down the timing of this storm. As we go through this evening, 11:00 p.m., the storm is going to be coming off the Carolinas. We`re going to watch the heavy snow in the blue here. And then as we go throughout the night, that`s when it becomes a blizzard, as it moves off the Delmarva Peninsula. That is when the winds are going to howl. That is when we`re going to get the blowing, the drifting, possibly thundersnow in the middle of the night.

And that is what everyone will wake up to just tomorrow morning from New York to Philadelphia down to D.C., just brutal conditions, people stuck indoors for at least a day, maybe even two -- now back to HARDBALL and Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

David Catanese, tell me something I don`t know.

DAVID CATANESE, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Chris, Bernie Sanders is on the march in Iowa. We know that. But this week, Iowa`s supporters of Hillary Clinton were telling me openly she could lose the state. Iowa`s attorney general, her top supporter there, the top elected statewide Democratic official told me, he was going to a rally to warn her, don`t worry, you can lose two but hang in there.

MATTHEWS: What would be the strategy of telling you, a journalist, that you`re going to lose or could lose?

CATANESE: Because it`s expectations game.

MATTHEWS: Lower the bar?

CATANESE: Lower the bar. They know this is closing. And they think if she wins, it`s still going to be close, but they`re saying openly, she could lose it.

MATTHEWS: You know what Bob Sheldon (ph) once said to me of "The L.A. Times" when I did the same number for Jimmy Carter, he said, I`ve heard people they`re going to lose and they still lose.



JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: -- comes from a my book and it is --

MATTHEWS: It`s true. You`re book, Broad --

NEWTON-SMALL: "Broad Influence", how women are changing the way America works and it`s about how women have to spend so much more time on their appearance, especially female candidates like Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina.

In this case, I interviewed Michele Bachmann and she talked about running for president in 2012. And how the hardest thing she could never sleep because she was afraid of her makeup and hair getting messed up. She never slept on the campaign bus.

After every summer event she had, she had all of her make up and her, took an hour and a half after every event.


DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: You and I don`t have to worry about that.

MATTHEWS: No. Actually, Michele Bachmann is an attractive woman. I mean, I don`t think that was a big problem for her. But, you know, I think that is true.

CORN: My something you don`t know is way different than that. We know U.S. weapons have been lost to ISIS in Iraq in the Syrian region. What we don`t know is what "Mother Jones" reported that the Pentagon has no way of tracking what weapons have been lost, they can`t tell you.

MATTHEWS: We don`t inventory?

CORN: We supposed to. We`re supposed to, and the Iraqis are supposed to, but there are no controls. We don`t know what of our weapons ISIS has gotten.

MATTHEWS: So, we can`t just say, how many we give you? And how many you still have and subtract.

Anyway, thank you to our roundtable. It`s not that easy. David Catanese, Jay Newton-Small and David Corn.

Coming up, two former Senate majority leaders take on Donald Trump and partisan gridlock. Trent Lott and Tom Daschle weigh in on the 2016 race. That`s next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.





BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s one of the few regrets of my presidency, but the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Obama expressing his regret over the state of partisanship in Washington. After years of gridlock, it`s no surprise that 80 percent of Americans say they disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. That anger is helping to fuel the campaigns of outsiders like Donald Trump who`s made Washington a frequent target on the campaign trail.

Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Washington right now is in total gridlock. People are fed up. They are fed up with incompetence. They`re fed up with stupid leaders. They are fed up with stupid people.

They are politicians. They`re all talk. They`re no action. They don`t get the job done.

Our leaders are stupid. They go to Washington and they`re not the same. They campaign and everything is fine and you are excited and you`re excited about them, and then they go there and they just become a regular cog and they raise their hand, yes, yes, yes.

I used to say we are incompetently led. I gave up the word incompetent because it`s really not good enough. What is the word we use? Stupid. Stupid.


MATTHEWS: Well, now, former Senate leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle crossed their respective party lines to address Washington dysfunction in a new book crisis point. They write, quote, "The center can no longer hold under such mindless and unprecedented partisanship. It is no exaggeration to say that the state of our democracy is as bad as we have seen it. The United States government is at a crisis point that requires significant changes in leadership and action and most importantly in mindset.

I sat down this week with former senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott.


MATTHEWS: Well, is Donald Trump -- ha! I`m already anticipating you guys` answers.

Is Mr. Trump the answer to our problems, Senator Daschle?

TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: No. I mean, would you ask somebody who has had no experience to perform a heart operation or fix your car or do anything? Experience matters and it is really one of the keys.

I mean, I think of some of the people who we have counted on to do the work necessary to run this country in times of crisis, whether it was a Dwight Eisenhower or a Franklin Roosevelt or Washington or Jefferson. They had experience in governance. They understood what leadership was about in driving this country. And I don`t see that with a Donald Trump or many of the others who are running this year.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s put up all those buildings, Senator. Look at those buildings in New York. He fights the unions. He fights the mob probably. He fights the politicians. He gets the job done. He`s a builder.

What do you say to that? He`s a builder.

TRENT LOTT (R-MS), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: In the White House, if we could add like eight more floors on the White House, just think how good it would look. Obviously, I don`t agree with him.

But we`d better listen to what is happening in the elections this year. There is frustration that people are angry. Of course, I don`t like angry politicians. I like people to tell me how we`re going to stop fighting the night and create a day. Give me a vision of what you`re going to do for America.

But, you know, bring in people -- we`ve had people come to Washington before. In fact, President Obama said we`re not going to have people that have worked in government or have been lobbyists. We`re going to have a different approach.


LOTT: By the way, that was the beginning of problems that we`ve had. But it`s not just the president --

MATTHEWS: Get to that point, because people on the outside will disagree with you. I don`t disagree because I know people who`ve worked in business, they`ve worked in legislative, worked in law firms. They end up being good public servants. So, he probably doesn`t like to look at that - -

LOTT: My partner since I retired from the Senate is John Breaux from Louisiana. Great senator, congressman. He was chairman of the Medicare Commission.

So, they were having a meeting at the White House on health care. He was invited and was going to go. They found out that he was a lobbyist and they disinvited him. One of the smartest people in the city in terms of health care, Medicare needs and solutions.

MATTHEWS: So you think the president`s a goody two shoes approach hurt him?

LOTT: I do. And, you know, look, there`s a lot of blame to go around. It`s not just the Democrats --


MATTHEWS: Let`s start this administration.

LOTT: It is the culture.

MATTHEWS: I hear both sides. President Obama is not a schmoozy kind of guy. He doesn`t like to hang out with other politicians. If he sat two hours at dinner with you guys, he`d say I want to hang out with the daughters. I can just imagine him saying that.

But great presidents have hung out with politicians. Roosevelt used to play cards with senators all the time and make friends across party lines. But then again, on the other side, Senator Lott, you had people like Mitch McConnell, your ultimate predecessor, successor, who`s now a leader, saying I`m going to get that guy, the number one thing I`m going to do is get him out of office. And guys like Newt Gingrich having meetings at that restaurant downtown with a bunch of people week, going to get rid of this bastard.

I mean, this is the mentality, kill him in his crib was the Republican strategy. And Obama didn`t want to hang out with you guys. So whose fault is it? Both or what?

LOTT: Everybody. There`s plenty of blame to go around. And we`re not focusing on trying to blame people.

The reason why we did this book, we are worried about where we are in Washington, across the country. The purpose of the book also is not to say, oh, look how we got things done working with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The purpose of the book is to say look, we`ve got some problems. Now, what are the solutions?

MATTHEWS: The Tea Party seems to be very organized. And if you`re a member of the Senate or the House you`ve got to go home to the next town meeting and at that town meeting, there will be a guy in the back room with something to say. And he`ll raise his hand and point to you and say you sold us out, I saw you on TV with the president.

I mean, isn`t that the way that the leadership over this city has been switched around from the leaders like you guys were back to the grassroots where a lot of these Tea Party members are more worried about what they`re saying back home at a meeting than they are about what the leadership thinks of them? Isn`t that why they`re not voting?

DASCHLE: They`re not only worried about the town meeting. What they`re really worried about is who`s going to vote in the primary because the primary`s become the most important election --

MATTHEWS: That`s all there is.

DASCHLE: -- for a lot of these members now. And that`s really one of the key problems is we`ve got to change the way we nominate our --

MATTHEWS: In big cities, you can`t lose a general election.

DASCHLE: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: And in rural areas, you can`t lose a general election. If you`re in the Black Caucus, you can`t lose in general election. If you`re in the Tea Party, the only way you lose is somebody younger and to your right.


MATTHEWS: Or in the big cities someone younger than you and to your left.

DASCHLE: We`ve driven people to the extremes. And the other part of it is they don`t spend any time in Washington anymore. They leave on Thursdays, they come back on Tuesdays, try to run the countries --

MATTHEWS: Once you take away the air travel --


DASCHLE: When I got elected we had four trips.

MATTHEWS: Four trips in a year. And now, they have every weekend.

DASCHLE: Every weekend.

LOTT: But one of the things we advocated in this book is bring their families so they get to know each other, socialize together, and they work five days a week, three weeks --

MATTHEWS: Newt told his people, he said keep your wife at home.

LOTT: And that`s a big, huge mistake.

MATTHEWS: The name of the book is "Crisis Point", Trent Lott, Tom Daschle. You know, you`re going to change things with this, right?

LOTT: We hope so.

MATTHEWS: You`re going to make sure they get on the desks of the right people?

DASCHLE: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: You have to go put them there. You`ll have to demand a book report from these guys, make sure they read the book, like in high school.

Anyway, it`s great to have you. You two guys are institutionalists. And I like institutionalists. Thank you.

HARDBALL back after this.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a mission President Obama set in his state of the union address. It`s to end malaria. Now, this is a rare bipartisan mission that began with his predecessor, President George W. Bush. It`s about saving children -- poor, many in Africa, from being killed by an entirely treatable disease.

I know about malaria personally, not just from my two years with the Peace Corps in Swaziland but to a later trip we took to Zimbabwe.

Let me just say that it`s quite an experience of real misery. I can`t imagine what it`s like for a 5-year-old lying on the ground in a hut with the heat of the disease competing with the air all around.

I was fortunate to have a great doctor here in Washington and access to the life-saving drugs. I survived. Millions of others, especially African mothers and children, aren`t as fortunate.

So, I agree with President Obama and the Congress in continuing what President Bush started. This effort needs to be funded and pushed. Thanks to American leadership already, there`s been a huge decline in malaria deaths. Six million lives, believe it or not, have been saved since 2000. Six million.

Our generation can be the one to actually end the disease altogether. Who`s ever the next president, boy, that`s in doubt right now, I hope this country continues to lead the world in making sure that a child never again dies from a mosquito bite.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.