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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/26/2016

Guests: Jennifer Rubin, Ken Vogel, Jay Newton-Small, Justin Bamberg, Penny Lee, Cecile Richards

Show: HARDBALL Date: January 26, 2016 Guest: Jennifer Rubin, Ken Vogel, Jay Newton-Small, Justin Bamberg, Penny Lee, Cecile Richards

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Fox trash talks Trump. Smart move or not?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Donald Trump just told reporters he most likely will skip the Fox News debate this Thursday night. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Probably, I won`t be doing the debate. I`m going to have something else in Iowa. We`ll do something where we raise money for the veterans and the wounded warriors. We`re going to do something simultaneously with the debate. But most likely, I`m not going to do the debates.

Now let`s see how many people watch. I was all set to do the debate. I came here to do the debate. When they sent out the wiseguy press releases a little while ago, done by some PR person along with Roger Ailes, I said, Bye-bye.


MATTHEWS: And this is what he`s talking about. Earlier today, Trump called FOX News moderator Megyn Kelly biased against him. Let`s watch that.


TRUMP: I don`t think she`s a good professional. I don`t think she`s professional at all. She`s very biased against me. I don`t think she`s a very talented person and I don`t think she`s a good reporter. I think they can do a lot better than that.

I love doing the debates. You know, I just do think they should get competent reporters. They shouldn`t use somebody like her.


MATTHEWS: And here comes the trash talk from Fox News. Quote, "We learned from a secret back channel that the ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings."

Well, that followed another goading statement from Fox just yesterday. Quote, "Sooner or later, Donald Trump, even if he`s president, is going to have to learn that he doesn`t get to pick the journalists. We`re very surprised he`s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly."

On Fox News just last hour, Bret Baier asked about the debate this week.


BRET BAIER, FOX ANCHOR: Mr. Trump, we`ll see you Thursday night, right?

TRUMP: We`ll be talking. Let`s see. I don`t like these -- frankly, I didn`t like the press releases that Fox put out. It`s like they`re playing games, I don`t like -- I don`t like it when people play games with me.

BAIER: We`ll all be there.

TRUMP: And they`re playing games.

BAIER: We`ll all be there and we`ll have a podium for you.

TRUMP: All right, you`ll be there. I`m sure you`ll be there.


MATTHEWS: NBC`s Katy Tur is covering the Trump campaign, as always, in Marshalltown, Iowa, and "The Washington Post`s" Robert Costa is an MSNBC political analyst.

Let`s start with you tonight, Robert. First, this a trash talk. It`s the kind of thing that goes on in sports sometimes. But in this case, it seems like that Fox -- and I`m not a media critic -- has escalated the level of vitriol, mocking, goading Trump for saying he has problems with Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: "The Washington Post," Chris, has spoken to the Trump campaign. They`ve confirmed that Trump is very much not likely to participate in the debate. And they believe they are on higher ground. Their argument is these press releases prompted Trump to take the action, and they think they can draw their own audience to their own event.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Katy Tur. I know that Trump is willing to fight, but why is Fox willing to give him the material now, these two pieces of trash talk, making him look like a chicken, saying he`s afraid to face Megyn Kelly and he ought to be more afraid to face Ayatollah Khomeini -- or Khamenei, rather, the new one, or Putin, Vladimir Putin?

I mean, this is just egging him on. I wonder why they chose to do that.

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: But this is the way that Fox has always operated when he`s decided to go up against Megyn Kelly. They`ve backed Megyn Kelly over their relationship with Donald Trump...

MATTHEWS: Yes, but this is making fun of him.

TUR: No, but he said -- he said a number of -- no, but they -- they have come at him and said that, You cannot take a question, what are you going to do if you are faced with other world leaders? So this is something that has happened in the past.

This is definitely, as you said, a step further than they normally do, but they`re banking on Donald Trump appearing at that debate, or at the very least, banking on the fact it`ll make him look worse if he does not appear at the debate, that he cannot take a question from Megyn Kelly.

The RNC says they do expect him to be there. Remember, the past few CNN debates, he`s demanded that Jeff Zucker pay veterans $5 million in order for him to appear at those debates..


TUR: And he has showed up to those debates.

MATTHEWS: But he wasn`t this far ahead before.

TUR: That being said -- that being said, Cory Lewandowski, who`s standing (INAUDIBLE) right over here, is telling reporters that Trump`s word is his bond and that he will not be participating in this debate. I`ve been talking with the...

MATTHEWS: Well, what...



TUR: ... while you`ve been talking, trying to figure out if they`ve heard this. But I will say he has threatened this in the past and he`s still shown up. We`ll have to see how it plays out, but...

MATTHEWS: Is this a threat or a statement? What is Lewandowski saying? What`s Cory saying, statement or threat? Why don`t you check with that.

Robert, I want to go to this. Who`s going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys? Who`s going to watch a debate between Rubio, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz? Who cares! Because you know they`ve been sort of fighting in this little inner (ph) league fight over who`s the hawkish guy or whatever.

Who`s going to watch that Thursday night? Maybe I`m building it up too much.

COSTA: The national audience may be diminished without the celebrity of Trump, the front-runner at the center state. At the same time, you wonder how Iowans are going to react. This is a state that values retail politics, that wants to see its candidates up close.

And Trump`s -- he`s making an aggressive move here by skipping a debate...


COSTA: ... going against Fox News. But at the same time, he`s saying, I`m the front-runner, I`m going to dictate this race on my own terms.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, what about going for Wounded Warriors because we`ve all known about that situation. I was just watching one of their public service ads today that`s pretty tough. The people have been disfigured. The people have been -- lost limbs. They`ve had brain injuries, I mean horrible, lifelong handicaps given to them because they fought in the war.

And he wants to help them. That looks like a pretty good cause compared to showing up for Fox. What do you think? How`s that going to hurt him if he really follows through and does it Thursday night?

COSTA: Well, he`s been talking a lot about veterans ever since he made the comments about Senator McCain in the summer. And you`re going to see -- if Trump doesn`t show up at this debate, he`s going to be talking about veterans, talking about military personnel. He`s going to owning his own stage.

And he won`t be a target. I mean, that`s the key factor. A few days before Iowa, he`s removing himself from being a target. And a lot of these other rivals, they`re looking for the chance to take a hit.

MATTHEWS: Well, they may want to go after him when he`s not there.

Anyway, three new national polls, to set this thing up, show Donald Trump with a sizable lead now among Republicans. He`s up 16 points over Cruz in the latest ABC/"Washington Post" poll. look at this number, 37-21.

In a new NBC poll, Trump leads 39 to 17. That`s hard to believe, even. Look at that number, 39 to 17. And in the latest CNN/ORC poll, Trump has an incredible 22-point lead over Cruz, 41-19.

The numbers are closer in Iowa, of course, because it`s Cruz land, where Trump has a slight lead over Cruz in the latest Quinnipiac poll.

Perhaps even more telling, two thirds of Republicans now say Donald Trump is the most likely Republican to win the nomination. And back in November, fewer than 4 in 10 said that. And 56 percent believe Trump has the best chance of getting elected in November.

So Katy Tur, these two numbers loom. They`re usually a way for pollsters to find out how people really think. Who do you think`s going to win, who do you think`s the best candidate. He`s winning on both scores.

TUR: He certainly is, but I think that when it comes to an election cycle, no one`s really going to know how it`s going to pan out until the voting actually begins.

The polls have defied all of the odds, defied all the expectations, defied all past and precedent when it comes to election cycles. So I don`t think anybody truly knows if all these new caucus goers are going to show up and vote for Donald Trump on Monday. We`re going to have to wait and see for that.

But when it comes to Donald Trump, I think what he`s been doing is been playing this strongarm game now for...


TUR: ... the past seven months, and he`s gotten more confident in his stance as he`s gone along. He`s gotten more confidence to stand up to people that he doesn`t think are being fair to him. He doesn`t like when reporters ask him questions that he doesn`t agree with him. If he doesn`t like a question you`re going to ask him, he`s going to cut you off. He`s going to demand an apology or he`s going to ignore you entirely. And this is the way he`s increasingly been acting lately because his poll numbers keep going up and he keeps doing well in Iowa. And it looks like now that as -- even after attacking Ted Cruz, that he is going to be the winner here. He`s talking about Ted Cruz right now.

So Donald Trump is becoming much more confident in his ability to maintain voters. The other day, he said that he could shoot people on 5th Avenue and...

MATTHEWS: Well, yes, but...

TUR: ... still obtain (ph) the vote. And that...


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s hyperbole.

TUR: ... was a joke, yes, but...

MATTHEWS: Of course. Of course it`s hyperbole. He would be...

TUR: ... at the same...

MATTHEWS: ... arrested on the site -- on-site.


TUR: ... but it does -- it`s evidence -- I don`t think he means it either, but it`s evidence that he can say pretty much anything...

MATTHEWS: I agree. Well, let me...


TUR: ... and they`re still going to like him.

MATTHEWS: I`ll be back to you in a minute, Katy. Let me go to Robert on this one. Trump`s attacked Cruz as a jerk who won`t be able to work with anybody if elected. Let`s watch some of the attacks on Cruz, who is his number one challenger, and certainly is in Iowa.


TRUMP: It`s wonderful to say you`re a maverick and you`re going to stand up and you`re going to close up the country and all of the thing -- but you got to get somebody to go along with you. You know, you have lot of people.

You have system. The founders created a system that actually is a very good system. It does work. But it can`t work if you can get nobody to go along with you, and that`s the problem that you have with Ted Cruz. He`s a guy that nobody likes him, nobody trusts. And he is a nasty guy. He says things that are very nasty.


MATTHEWS: You know, Robert Costa, you know, it`s amazing. He keeps saying nobody likes the guy. He`s a Canadian. He`s an unlikable Canadian. He keeps saying this stuff over and over again. And you know what? I`m looking at these numbers, and it`s working. These are the new factors in the campaign, these assaults on him.

And you`d think somebody would come forward and say, I like Cruz. No senator has come forward, or member of Congress, and said, I like Cruz. It is a challenge for Cruz when you have nobody behind you, it seems to me.

COSTA: Well, when you talk to the Cruz campaign, they kind of like that he`s unlikable. They like that he`s seen as (INAUDIBLE) Washington.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but doesn`t anybody like him?

COSTA: He has Mike Lee, the Utah senator.


MATTHEWS: His Sancho Panza. Yes, I know that guy.

COSTA: OK, your words not mine. But I`ll say this about Trump and Cruz. Those evangelical voters, when you look at the latest polls, some of them are moving to Trump. You got Jerry Falwell, Jr., today going to Trump. If Cruz is losing evangelical support, that`s his core coalition.

MATTHEWS: Is Sarah Palin out on the stump, or was she a one -- one state - - or one-night wonder or whatever? Is she gone or --


COSTA: She`s back home. My reporting is she`s back home. But just having her name on the campaign door, that was enough for Trump to try to get some of those evangelicals over.

MATTHEWS: Katy, latest word before we break. Is it a no-go for him on the debate Thursday night?

TUR: Apparently. Cory Lewandowski just had a little off -- unofficial press conference, and he said Mr. Trump will not be participating in the Fox debate. It is not under negotiating (ph). He`s not going to be doing it. Instead, he`ll be raising money for Wounded Warriors...

MATTHEWS: OK. And he said...

TUR: ... possibly at the same time as the debate.

MATTHEWS: OK. He also said...

TUR: And (INAUDIBLE) protests going on right now.

MATTHEWS: ... a man`s word is his bond. Looks like he`s not going to show. Anyway, thank you, Katy Tur, and thank you, Robert Costa.

Coming up -- the very close fight between the Democrats now. New polls show Hillary Clinton -- looks like she`s finding her footing in Iowa. But we`re into a frantic hour on both sides. The attacks are getting tougher between her and Bernie Sanders.

And tonight, we`re going to meet an influential state lawmaker from South Carolina who just switched his support. He`s an African-American representative -- state rep who`s switching from Clinton to Bernie Sanders. (INAUDIBLE) is the lawyer for Walter Scott down there.

Plus, Chris Christie`s Jersey attitude just got him in trouble again. This time, he told off a woman who wondered why he was campaigning in New Hampshire rather than helping with flooding along the Jersey shore. He said he didn`t want to carry a mop or something.

Anyway, and a grand jury in Texas investigating those undercover videos of Planned Parenthood. They found the group did nothing wrong, but instead, indicted the anti-abortion activists who made the videos. What a turnaround.

Finally, with six days to go before the Iowa caucuses, the HARDBALL "Roundtable" will tell me something I don`t know tonight.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, our latest NBC News survey showed what issues matter most to voters and which qualities they find important in deciding on a 2016 candidate.

Well, a third of those surveyed say jobs and the economy is their number one issue right now. Terrorism came in second at 19 percent. Health care was third at 15.

Voters were split on which quality mattered most as they decide whom to support for president. 20 percent said willing to stand up for his or her principles, 17 percent cited being a strong leader, 16 percent said honest and trustworthy and 15 percent said shares my values.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary Clinton is struggling in Iowa with the very group that carried Barack Obama to victory there eight years ago, young people. 59 percent of likely caucus goers under the age of 45 support Bernie Sanders. 56 percent of likely caucus goers age 65 and up support Hillary Clinton.

At a town hall last night in Iowa hosted by CNN, Clinton was asked why she`s struggling so much with the younger generation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a lot of young people like myself who are very passionate supporters of Bernie Sanders, and I just don`t see the same enthusiasm from younger people for you. In fact, I`ve heard from quite few people my age that they think you`re dishonest. But I`d like to hear from you on why you feel the enthusiasm isn`t there.

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it really depends upon who you`re seeing and talking to.

They throw all this stuff at me, and I`m still standing. But if you`re new to politics, if it`s the first time you`ve really paid attention, you go, Oh, my gosh! Look at all of this! And you have to say to yourself, why are they throwing all of that? Well, I`ll tell you why. Because I`ve been on the front lines of change and progress since I was your age.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now for the latest on the Democratic race from Des Moines is MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt.

Well, that`s sort of a catchall response. If somebody -- although that kid was a bit audacious, I`d say, to say, My friends think you`re dishonest. I -- to say that about a major American figure is beyond my imagination I would ever do.

But anyway, he did say it. She did respond. But that response was very catchall. It was, like, Well, anything you hear bad about me, that`s badly motivated by people who are just no good.

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I have to say, as I`ve covered some of these events with students, I`m not sure -- you`re right about the dishonest thing, but I definitely hear over and over again that a lot of these younger people feel she comes across as calculated, that a lot of the things that she does are thought through.


HUNT: And if you think about how a lot of these millennials interact with the world, they`re, you know, much more interested in social media, they`re much more interested in what seems to be, you know, authentic moments. And they feel like they get that from Bernie Sanders.

And I think what you were hearing there from Secretary Clinton is -- you know, in some ways, it`s a conundrum for her, right? She wants to get away from all this stuff that the Clintons went through in the `90s, but she needs to convince people who -- you know, she went on to say in that clip that, you know, she couldn`t tell if he remembered when she fought for universal health care in 1993 and 1994. So she has to remind them that she has tried to do things that they say that they want now without getting into too much of the baggage.

MATTHEWS: But why would that be a reason why people would call her dishonest? I still think it`s audacious to say to a grown-up, if you will, People say you`re dishonest. That`s a pretty strong charge, I think.

HUNT: It is a strong charge, Chris, yes. But he, at the same time, was pinning it on his friends. I think, you know, in some ways, it`s a shorthand...

MATTHEWS: I know. It`s a reporter`s...

HUNT: ... for saying politically...

MATTHEWS: ... trick, is what it is. It`s an old Nixon trick. Some people say you`re dishonest. I`m not one of those people!

Anyway, how is she doing? Is she getting into that mode I`ve been reading today, that she`s back into her sort of more human, if you will, manner, where she gets into that little more -- you can actually figure out as a person, not just as a candidate.

HUNT: I think she`s definitely -- I mean, you remember, Chris, too when she went into New Hampshire out of Iowa after that loss, and we saw...

MATTHEWS: Oh, I sure do.

HUNT: ... somebody who did come across as somebody who was, you know, more feeling, more authentic, but also in many ways more forceful, better at selling herself. And I think you saw that to a certain extent on that stage last night and you`re start to see it in these events in Iowa.

She`s very comfortable with who she is and what she`s selling, and she`s selling this idea that she has seen these fights, she`s done it before and she`s going to -- you know, she has an understanding. She

was just talking a few minutes ago here in Iowa saying, You know what? I fought for universal health care. I wanted universal health care, and I know that that`s a fight that`s unwinnable. I don`t want to start over. I want to build on the things that we already have.

So, I think you`re starting to hear her in these closing days making that argument in a more forceful way.

MATTHEWS: Well done.

And thank you so much, Kasie Hunt, from the campaign trail.

Back in 1984, Democratic nominee Walter Mondale said he would raise taxes.


WALTER MONDALE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Reagan will raise taxes. And so will I. He won`t tell you. I just did.



MATTHEWS: Well, Mondale was trounced by President Reagan that year and suffered one of the worst electoral defeats in history, winning only his home state of Minnesota and, of course, Washington, D.C., which is heavily Democratic.

Now, more than 30 years later, Senator Bernie Sanders, who is vying to become the Democratic nominee in 2016, says that he will raise your taxes.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Just to be clear, you are going to raise taxes to do this?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, we will raise -- we will raise the -- we will raise taxes, yes, we will. We may raise taxes but we are also going to eliminate private health insurance premiums for individuals and for businesses.

CUOMO: All right.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now is Democratic strategist Penny Lee, who supports Hillary Clinton, and South Carolina State Representative Justin Bamberg, who switched his support yesterday from Clinton to Sanders.

Representative -- let me go with you, Representative Bamberg.

How did you go about this shift? Did the Clinton people, person come to you, or did you just come up with the idea entirely on your own without any sort of solicitation by someone on the Clinton side?

JUSTIN BAMBERG (D), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, thank you so much for having me.

This was a decision that I made. I try to stay informed. And I follow the course of these elections and what people say. And I constantly evaluate how the policies they`re looking at setting forth are going to affect me, my family and my constituents.

So, it was -- I was leaning heavily towards switching to Senator Bernie Sanders. And then I had the opportunity to actually sit down with him most recently on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we had a very candid discussion. And, at that point, I knew that Senator Sanders was my candidate for president.

MATTHEWS: How did that meeting get about? Did you call upon the Sanders people or did they call upon you? How did they know you were ready to switch or open to switching?

BAMBERG: It was something that I brought up to them, you know, at this conversation.

We didn`t talk about -- I don`t even think that Senator Sanders knew that I had endorsed Secretary Clinton. We just talked about issues. We talked about things that he was passionate about and that I was passionate about.


BAMBERG: And after that conversation, I reached out to his team, and I let them know that, hey, I`m on board.

MATTHEWS: Let me go over to Penny.

The challenge of Secretary Clinton is obvious now. To a lot of young people who haven`t got careers started yet, you say we`re going to raise taxes, that doesn`t mean a whole lot, because they`re not -- they`re not making a lot of money to pay taxes on.

If you tell them they`re going to pay for a college tuition at all public universities, every nickel, that`s a hell of a deal.


MATTHEWS: You know, if you say I`m going to pay for your health from the time you`re born to the time you die as a right, that`s a hell of a deal.

LEE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: So, how does Hillary match those offers?

LEE: Well, she has to do what she did last night, was, you know, introduce the element of reality.

And what she was trying to say was, look, on the whole politics of being -- prose and poetic, that when she is going to be the leader, she`s going to be able to work with both sides to be able to get something done that`s realistic.

What he`s talking about, the whole notion, what we just saw was the number one ad from the RNC come the fall if he`s the nominee. They are going to run that 10 times more -- more times than sunshine, because they know that the American public does not stand for raising taxes right now.

And so the young people might be with him, but she also knows and is playing the longer game. That is not a winnable tactic.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, Representative? You have to deal with taxes at the state level. Do you think people would go for a candidate who openly says, openly says, I`m going to raise taxes?

BAMBERG: Chris, I`m going to be honest with you. Nobody really likes taxes.

One thing that was mentioned earlier that I think is extremely important here is that, you know, it was said that Hillary Clinton is selling herself to everybody. One thing about Bernie Sanders, and one reason why I think he is gaining so much support, even here in South Carolina, is, he is not selling himself. Bernie Sanders is being himself.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s offering an awful good deal, though.

BAMBERG: And there`s a very big difference.

MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. You say he`s not selling something. He`s going to people and he`s saying to them, look, I`m going to give you more Social Security benefits. You don`t have to have the -- you`re going to get a lot more benefits when you retire. I`m going to get your kids through state university, good universities, for free. You know, I`m going to give you health care from the day you`re born until the day you die free.

That`s a hell of an offer. You say he`s not selling himself? Those are sale pitches, and I`m not sure he can deliver on them, because there is question of arithmetic here. Like Ronald Reagan used to say, more military, tax cuts and everything, and he would offer it all, and we would end up with huge deficits, of course, because it didn`t add up.

BAMBERG: Yes, and I will respectfully disagree that I don`t think he is selling anything.

One thing about Bernie Sanders, and why people think he`s genuine, is because he believes in what he is saying. Chris, we put man on the moon. We put an African-American male in the White House.

You can`t tell me that providing -- and I say you, anybody -- you cannot say that in the greatest country on Earth that we can`t provide health care as a right to every citizen in this country. You can`t say that we can`t provide free public college education to students. We can. It`s a matter of whether or not we want to.


MATTHEWS: Who is we? I`m asking the question. Who is paying the college professor`s salary? Who is this we? Who pays the college professor`s salary? Who pays for the tuition? Who pays for the doctor and the nurse and the person working in the hospital?

Who is paying them? Who is this we? I just keep asking where the money comes from. Where does it actually come from. Who is writing the checks?

BAMBERG: Yes, that is a very good question.

And, quite frankly, I don`t have a specific answer for you. The beauty of the process we have is that it all starts with an idea, with an idea that can be made possible and collectively. It is going to require the work of every elected official.


BAMBERG: But I do want to answer the question you posed about taxes, OK.

And what we keep hearing are sound bites. Bernie Sanders is up front and blunt. That`s one thing about him. He`s bold with his statements and he sticks to his convictions. He said, yes, I`m going to raise taxes. But there is a second part to that. He is raising taxes, OK, but he`s also cutting costs for insurance premiums for American citizens.

So, it counterbalances. It`s not like there is just an extra hole in the pocket because of what he...


MATTHEWS: Yes, that doesn`t -- look, Representative, I don`t know you. I assume you`re taking this seriously, and I know you are.

And let me just tell you something. He can say that all he wants about, you don`t have to pay health care insurance premiums. But what about the cost of tuition, what about the higher benefits he`s offering in Social Security?

He`s making a lot of offers in a lot of different directions and coming up with this sort of quick answer, like, oh, it will just be cheaper in your insurance policies. You know, you can`t get a doctor in many cases to even take care of Medicare patients anymore. They don`t think it`s enough money. The money is not even there now for what we have in terms of our commitments.

I know this stuff too.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Representative Justin -- no, last thought. Go ahead. Last thought. Go ahead.


BAMBERG: All right. Yes, sir.

And I respect everything you said. And those are valid points. And that`s why we have this process.

But I will just end on this note. There was a point in time where everybody on this planet thought the Earth was flat. There was a point in time where man did not have the ability to fly. Now we can travel the country in just hours.


BAMBERG: Things can get done. Yes, it is something that is very, very complicated.

But, you know, I believe -- and Bernie Sanders has a lot of folks who believe in him. And I think he has a great chance of winning this thing.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think somebody once said there is no such thing as a free lunch, and that`s still true.

Anyway, thank you, Penny Lee.

And thank you, State Representative Justin Bamberg, for coming on HARDBALL and playing a little hardball.

Coming up: A grand jury finds no wrongdoing, in fact, no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood following undercover videos by two anti-abortion activists. Instead, the two activists themselves have been indicted for crime. I will speak with the head of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, up next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

What began as an investigation spurred by undercover videos of Planned Parenthood has now resulted in a Texas grand jury`s indictment of two anti- abortion activists who were connected with those videos.

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt each face a felony charge of tampering with a government record, in this case, allegedly fake driver`s licenses, which carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. The two are with a group called the Center for Medical Progress, and said their videos showed children`s organs being harvested at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Well, Planned Parenthood was cleared of any wrongdoing by the district attorney in Houston, a Republican who, at the behest of the Republican lieutenant governor of Texas, conducted the investigation of Planned Parenthood.

Joining me now is Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.

Ms. Richards, thanks for joining us.

And this has been a real topsy-turvy case. What was your reaction when you heard that the DA was going go after the people that made the video, not the people the video makers -- the video people were after?

CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Well, Chris, thanks for having me on.

And I will say it just felt like finally justice will be done. We have been -- these folks perpetrated this scam, took three years, as you have reported, used false government I.D.s, tried to entrap people. They were totally unsuccessful, but their whole goal was to smear the reputation of Planned Parenthood.

So, I was really glad to see that this Republican district attorney in Houston has now indicted them. And what I understand, I just heard that they`re about to turn themselves over to the authorities.

MATTHEWS: The trouble with the power of suggestion is, it`s very hard to get rid of it once it`s in your head.

And remember that there`s a -- before your time, your mother`s time, there`s a great movie, "Anatomy of a Murder." And the DA, who was played by James Stewart, said to the jury, don`t think of a blue cow. Don`t do that. And, of course, all the jury is thinking of a blue cow, whatever a blue cow looks like.

And so, this case, everybody in the Republican side especially and some Democrats who have to face the voters hear this terrible story told by this video. How do you get it out of people`s heads and say it was all hogwash?

RICHARDS: Well, I think what we have done, Chris, is we put our patients first and foremost and their health care and their well-being.

And even ever since all of this has been going on, and some of the heated rhetoric we have seen in the political season, our doors have stayed open. We provide health care to one in five women in America. And every day, thousands of people come through our doors. And I think the main thing we do is continue to provide high-quality care, and that`s why all of the national polling, even as all these smear attempts were going on, consistently showed support for Planned Parenthood.


Do you have much Republican support among what we used to call where I grew up the suburbs of Philly and around the city a lot of moderate Republicans? They`re still there. Maybe the voters aren`t -- do you have that kind of - - I would expect you still have pretty good support in those communities around Chicago, around New York, around Philly, those kind of places.

RICHARDS: Absolutely.

The irony is, of course, Planned Parenthood was started by Republicans all across the country, including even Arizona, the Goldwater family. We have Republican staff members. We have Republican board members. We have Republican patients, because people who come to us for health care are coming because they need high-quality, affordable care. They`re not coming to make a political statement.

It`s been really discouraging, Chris, to see every single Republican candidate for president take out against not only against Planned Parenthood, but against women`s access to all reproductive health care. I don`t think it`s actually in keeping with where most Republicans are.

MATTHEWS: Do you think young women -- I`m not talking about women who come to you for help or anything -- but just generally, do you think young women appreciate that you exist and that there was a time when you didn`t, and there was the back alley abortions 30, 40, 50 years ago, before Roe v. Wade, and there wasn`t an organization like yours?

Do they get it, that this is a better time in terms of their choices in life?

RICHARDS: I think that`s a really good point. What`s incredible to me -- and this actually happened as a result of that five-hour hearing that I sat through in Congress -- is that that really exposed young people, young men and women, to what`s going on, on Capitol Hill by some of the leadership that`s going out after Planned Parenthood.

And I think it was a real wakeup call. I hear from young people all the time who are saying, I can`t believe that they`re trying to end access to basic health care. And for them, that means includes birth control, STD testing and treatment that they get at Planned Parenthood.

I think actually it has had the opposite effect. I think it has woken up a lot of young people who probably didn`t know that those rights were at risk.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I hope you`re right. I have a feeling that, sometimes, when you win a victory, you forget how much it cost.

Anyway, thank you, Cecile Richards, for coming on. It`s great to have you on, always.

RICHARDS: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Trouble at home? Governor Chris Christie takes a pause from weighing into the crowds in New Hampshire, as he faces criticism in New Jersey for his handling of the winter storm. All politics is local, Governor.

And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening.

Donald Trump`s campaign manager says he will not be participating in the FOX News debate on Thursday. He says the GOP front-runner will instead hold a fund-raising event for wounded warriors.

Iran`s President Hassan Rouhani is in Italy, where he met with Pope Francis and the country`s prime minister as he seeks to deepen his ties with the rest. He heads to France tomorrow.

And some sad news to report. Actor Abe Vigoda has died. He rose to fame with a role in "The Godfather" and became loved for his character Detective Fish on "Barney Miller." He was 94 -- back to HARDBALL.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We`ve really done very, very well in this storm, and we have no concerns about flooding or damage from flooding any time soon.



Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Governor Chris Christie on Sunday morning saying that he had no concerns about flood anything New Jersey after the weekend`s snowstorm. Christie`s comments made after returning to his home state from the campaign trail enraged the residents of coastal town in Jersey that suffered from water damage and beach erosion.

The story got enough attention that a student in New Hampshire yesterday asked Christie why he was campaigning, instead of addressing the flood damage in his home state. Here`s what the governor said.


NEW HAMPSHIRE STUDENT: Why are you here in New Hampshire campaigning, instead of there helping, serving the damage that`s done by the coastal flooding from the storm?

CHRISTIE: Well, because it`s already done. It`s already done.


CHRISTIE: Well, tell me, why do you think it isn`t? What would you --

NEW HAMPSHIRE STUDENT: I have friends, family calling, send me videos and pictures all over the state of flooding.

CHRISTIE: All over the state? All over the state? Really?

There`s been one county that`s flooded in the state. One county. That was Cape May County. It`s the one county that flooded. So, I don`t know from where all over the state, since we have 21 counties where that happened.

Second, I don`t know exactly what you expect me to do. You want me to go down there with a mop?


MATTHEWS: My parents lived in Cape May County. I don`t know why he making fun of people for asking reasonable questions. Anyway, returning to New Jersey for an unrelated news conference, Christie was asked about his mop comment and here`s what he said.


CHRISTIE: It was a joke. Charlie, it was -- Charlie, Charlie, believe me. I`ve been -- I`ve been hearing your questions for so long, because I know what the question is. No, it was a joke. So, no, I don`t think so. It was a joke, Charlie.

Next question.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, joining me now by the roundtable, Jennifer Rubin is a conservative blogger with "The Washington Post", Ken Vogel is a chief investigative reporter with "Politico" and Jay Newton-Small is a correspondent with "Time Magazine", author of a new book, "Broad Influence".

What do you make of Christie? We`re going to show you his greatest hits if you will, this -- what`s the right word, swagger, obnoxious, bad person, bad story, shut up.

JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, he had been on such good behavior for so long. This was almost like he finally broke. He had this reputation obviously for being a bully, from being rude.

MATTHEWS: Sixth place in New Hampshire where he must do well.

RUBIN: Yes. And now, it`s call coming together. He wanted it to be an example of his great executive skill, turned into mush.

MATTHEWS: Well, as I said, here`s the greatest hits, if you will, Casey Kasem style. Christie`s comment was reminiscent of his answer to a question from a New Jersey resident on public television in 2011. Here`s what he said when asked why he didn`t send his kids to public school.


CHRISTIE: What`s her name?

RADIO HOST: What`s her name, guys? Real quick, because the governor is talking. What is it? Gail.

Talk to Gail.

CHRISTIE: Hey, Gail, you know what, first off, it`s none of your business. I don`t ask you where send your kids to school. Don`t bother me about where I send mine.


MATTHEWS: Well, Christie also showed much the same manner, if you will, when he was asked about the closure about the George Washington Bridge in a 2013 press conference after his reelection.


CHRISTIE: I work the cones, actually, Matt. Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in oh overalls and a hat, so I wasn`t -- but I actually was the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question.


MATTHEWS: OK, explain, Ken Vogel, first of all, in our religion, we say, labora est ora, to work is to pray. You don`t make fun of anybody what they do for a living. Now here he is making fun of the guy who puts the cones out, the police, the traffic people. He makes fun of a guy with a mop as part of his job. It`s all put down stuff when you`re trying to get elected.

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Well, I think the bravado is sort of part of his appeal. It`s no nonsense --

MATTHEWS: But why putting down the girl, he calls a young woman, he calls him, say Gail --


VOGEL: I agree. In certain situations it does work well, for instance, brushing aside a question where his kids go to school. You know, that`s fine for him, and sort of sets him up as someone that doesn`t play the political game.

But when you get into a situation where people are legitimately suffering and you have an executive job that is really part of your whole political identity this competence and leadership, you apply this bravado to brushing off questions, I don`t think it plays well.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: I just think also, it`s really, you know, perilous for somebody who`s auditioning to be commander in chief, and the leader of the free world. I mean, what happens when Haiti gets hit by a mudslide, is he going to say, ah, what am I supposed to do, bring my mop down to Haiti?

MATTHEWS: To think of big decisions. Anyway, for his part, Christie has staked his campaign on as you say his executive experience as a governor. He has attacked his rivals for their time in the Senate. Here he is making fun of that. Let`s take a look.


CHRISTIE: I don`t care whether your name is Barack Obama, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, you have never run a thing of consequence in your life. You`ve never made an executive decision in government of any consequence. And all you do is essentially go to school. You go to the legislature when you`re supposed to be there, they tell you where to sit and then they say yes or no, say yes or no. Senator Rubio can`t even seem to get that done.


MATTHEWS: That`s a shot against Rubio. The Senate is filled with nitwits and do-nothings.

RUBIN: Right. Well, this unfortunate problem is that experience no longer matters to the American electorate, at least in this election. He`s obviously incredibly frustrated. I do something and these people don`t, gosh darn it.

MATTHEWS: But he`s also term limited. And if a Senate seat were open in New Jersey, he would be racing for it. Everybody knows this. He can`t go anywhere. He can`t. Corey Booker has got the seat. That`s why he`s running for president.


VOGEL: Instead, (INAUDIBLE) in New Hampshire, and that`s why, he was hesitant to leave the state where he has been effective retail campaigner aside --

MATTHEWS: Have you seen his job approval lately?

VOGEL: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: I`ll give it to you. According to a recent poll, Christie`s job approval rating in New Jersey stands at 31. And he`s making fun of Obama`s 46. Anyway, 59 percent say they don`t like the job he`s doing.

Here`s what he had to say about those numbers this Sunday.


CHRISTIE: That approval rating has gone down once I started to run for president. It should be no shock. You know, the fact is when you start looking for another job, your current employer gets miffed.


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s the truth. I can`t argue with that, right? They get a little miffed?

RUBIN: John Kasich has a high approval rating. So, that`s --

MATTHEWS: The good job you`re doing, I heard a long time ago. The roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these brilliant people tell me something I don`t know, which is not hard.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: As we head toward Iowa and New Hampshire, it`s coming soon, be sure to follow us online, search HARDBALL on Facebook, and find us @hardball on Twitter and Instagram. We`ll give you a behind-the-scenes look as we cover the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, both coming up quick.

Plus, top reporting and full analysis of the race for 2016.

HARDBALL is coming back after this.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with our HARDBALL roundtable.

So, Jennifer, tell me something I don`t know.

RUBIN: Scott Adams who is the creator of the comic strip "Dilbert" has done what very few as done what very few if any political high paid consultants have done. He`s figured out Trump.

He`s not a buffoon. He`s not an idiot, says Scott Adam. He said he`s a persuader and everything he does is designed to show his top dog to muscle the other guys. So, read "Dilbert". Don`t read what the pundits say.

MATTHEWS: Advise (INAUDIBLE) persuaders.

Go ahead.

VOGEL: Well, our media tracker tells us that Marco Rubio in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina has reduced his advertising buys by about a million dollars. The Rubio campaign says that, in fact, all they are doing is making strategic decisions to swap 60 ads for 30 seconds. But I talk to --


VOGEL: Because they said they are better to respond to the attacks he`s under.

MATTHEWS: But why?

VOGEL: But I think potentially we could see some surprises when Rubio files his FEC report on Sunday night that maybe the fundraising isn`t there.

MATTHEWS: Wow. I`m still waiting for Sheldon Adelson to come through. He`s been playing Romeo to his Juliet for about a year now. It doesn`t seem to be working.

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, Chris, as you know, I covered the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks in Paris and also the November 15 attacks for "Time". And French authorities unfortunately tell me that they estimate that 2016 will be worse than the attacks in France than 2015. They are really embracing for a lot of security problems.

MATTHEWS: That`s too bad. I love that country. I mean, I do. Am I allowed to say that? You have to say "freedom fries".

Anyway, thank you, Jennifer Rubin and Ken Vogel and Jay Newton-Small. You`re going to stick with me. Tell me about your book when we come back, "Broad Influence", which explores out women are changing America`s political landscape.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Jay is staying with us to talk about her terrific new book "Broad Influence: How Women are Changing the Way American Works". It`s all about how women in leadership roles from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C. are influencing how we do work, vote and how we live.

Thank you so much for joining us.

The book is about the fact that most voters are women and increasingly they -- not as representative as they should be, obviously. Nancy Pelosi I think people have gotten I worked for Tim, of course, Pelosi is unbelievable. I don`t think people know why she`s so damn good.

NEWTON-SMALL: So, she`s got this amazing family history. When she was a little girl, she was the youngest and only daughter of Tommy D`Alesandro, who was mayor of Baltimore, Charm City. She used to keep the favors list on the weekend. All these people would line up in front of their house in Baltimore to ask the mayor for favors. She would write down their name and right now their favors, and she remembered so well.

So, today, when she`s speaker now, she still has like lists that people owe her, her favors. People who may know owe her. She owes some perhaps non- favors too.

And she`s got this very much -- she knows when you`re on a good side. She knows when you were on your bad side, she really manages so effectively that way.

MATTHEWS: I think -- what I like is the numbers. You have to have certain number in the House, 218. If you don`t have the 218 vote at 435, which is a majority, if you don`t have majority vote, nothing else matters. She had -- despite her minority status as a Democrat lady, she`s good at keeping the Democratic Party together on tough votes like the Iranian nuclear deal, which is tricky.

NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, the number of times that she bailed out John Boehner when he couldn`t have the votes for something was just unbelievable and he had to break the --

MATTHEWS: What`s her secret to keeping everything in line?

NEWTON-SMALL: She`s much more of a carrot than a stick person.

MATTHEWS: Look, here`s candy.

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, she has chocolates at every single session. She writes handwritten notes.

MATTHEWS: She`s feminine that way.

NEWTON-SMALL: It`s totally a feminine style of leadership. She`s done so much to recruit women to the House. For example, she`s grown in representation in the House from 19.5 percent when she became leader to now more than 35 percent.

As you know, your wife is running and hopefully will join her.



You know, Machiavelli said that the great leader is the person who is feared, but not hated. Because if you`re hated, you will be overthrown eventually. But if you`re feared and not hated, you can be there for an awful long time. I saw the other day that the Democrats want her to run again and again. Just stay there now. She`s in her mid-70s, right?


MATTHEWS: Just keep staying there.

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, because she`s so effective. I mean, everyone thought no way you`re going to get Obamacare passed. She got Obamacare passed. Just never bet against her. She always wins the votes. And she does it by --

MATTHEWS: Sixty votes, right, to kill Medicare -- Obamacare.

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes. She`s got this sweet sort of grandmotherly side to her and she really plays that up.

MATTHEWS: You know, when you`re with her, I`ve seen her a couple of times we`ve been near, I know Paul her husband, is you`re like when you`re with her, it`s that`s gone, that other thing is gone, the leadership. The Sam Rayburn and Tip O`Neill thing is gone and she`s back to being a neighbor.

Anyway, it is an amazing psychological ability to switch.

The name of your book "Broad Influence", I love the title. If you can read the book, you know where the word came from "broad".

And, Jay Newton-Small, I want to thank you for this. And really is, if you`re 20 years old and you`re a woman, you want to know what you have to learn about in the bigger world so you can actually do well in that bigger world. I think this is a book for -- a gift for somebody or for if you`re watching right now, for yourself.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.