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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 2/4/2016

Guests: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Sununu, Gail Sheehy, Ruth Marcus

Show: HARDBALL Date: February 4, 2016 Guest: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Sununu, Gail Sheehy, Ruth Marcus


Let`s play HARDBALL.

I`m Chris Matthews, live from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, the site of tonight`s MSNBC Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

We`re less than two hours away right now from the start of the big face- off, the first -- actually, the first one-on-one debate between Senator Clinton -- Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, their only debate before next Tuesday`s all-important New Hampshire primary.

We`ve got new NBC polling out late today in the "Live Free or Die" state. That`s up here in New Hampshire. It shows Senator Sanders holding onto a 20-point lead over Secretary Clinton after the Iowa caucuses. And that`s unchanged since late January, before the Iowa caucuses. So no big movement up here yet.

It`s all come down to this for Democrats, of course -- no more multiple choice. Now it`s between Hillary Clinton and the self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.

I`m joined here in New Hampshire by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- she`s the chair of the party -- NBC`s Andrea Mitchell and former DNC chair and presidential candidate Howard Dean, who is a Clinton supporter.

I love the way we brand people here, but we do it as hard as we can.

Let me go to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is a total nonpartisan -- looking great tonight.


MATTHEWS: St. John (ph) knit (ph). Dare I ask? My wife tells me all this stuff.

SCHULTZ: Not important.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about this debate tonight. Is there a philosophical difference, without taking sides, between Hillary Clinton`s regular Democratic -- Clinton Democrat and Bernie Sanders, who has also ran (sic) as a socialist, who now calls himself a democratic socialist?

SCHULTZ: I think the difference between the two candidates really boils down to that they are both supportive, as is our entire party of continuing to build on the progress that we`ve made under President Obama and Democrats in Congress.

And they might have differences of opinion on how to get to the same goals -- continuing to create jobs, continuing to help people reach the middle class -- but when contrasted with the Republicans, who obviously want to take us back to what they define as the glory days from President Bush`s era, there`s a dramatic contrast between either one of them.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a good point. By the way, I agree there`s a big contrast. My question -- how important is it to pick somebody who can win against those Republicans?

SCHULTZ: Oh, I mean, of course it`s important to pick someone who can win. And thing we have two strong candidates remaining in this race...

MATTHEWS: They both can win?

SCHULTZ: ... either of which will be elected the 45th president...


SCHULTZ: ... of the United States.

MATTHEWS: You think Bernie Sanders -- I don`t want to pin you down too much, but you believe both of them...

SCHULTZ: OK. I mean, it`s not my job to handicap this primary.

MATTHEWS: You believe both can win.

SCHULTZ: I am confident that either one of those two candidates, if they are our nominee -- because the American people agree with us and not with the Republicans, they agree that we should continue to create jobs, that we shouldn`t end Medicare as we know it, that we should not repeal health care and take it away...


SCHULTZ: ... from 19 million people -- either one of those two candidates contrasted with whoever the Republicans nominate -- and remember, the first -- the top four from Iowa on the Republican side are the rightest of right wing.


SCHULTZ: I mean, the contrast is very clear, and the American people are going to want to continue to...

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Howard Dean for a second (INAUDIBLE) I want to ask you a question here about looking for a fight. I think there`s is one endemic to this debate between the two of these people.

We had Webster`s dictionary. We just pulled it out a few moments ago for the definition of the word "socialism." Let me read to you what Webster`s calls a socialist. "Any of various and economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Number two, a system of society or group living in which there is no private property, or a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state." Third option. "A stage in society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done."

What definition is applicable tonight in considering the advocacy of your opponent in this debate, Senator Sanders? He says he`s a socialist. Does he go by those definition or not?

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`d be surprised if he went by any of those definitions. You know, I think what Bernie calls himself is a social democrat. Social democrats in Europe are essentially Democrats. They`re a little more to the left than the Democratic Party is in this country.

You know, 43 percent of Iowa voters identified themselves as socialists, so I don`t think they were thinking of those particular definitions in the...


DEAN: ... in the...

MATTHEWS: So you think we should...

DEAN: Look, does this make a difference? Yes. Here`s why it makes a difference. It makes a small difference. It doesn`t make a difference for anybody who`s going to vote in the primary tomorrow. It will make a difference among a very small number of swing voters that we have to have. That I worry about. I do worry about that.

But I don`t worry about Democrats voting against or for Bernie because he`s a socialist.


DEAN: I`m for Hillary because I think she`s the most qualified candidate and I think she knows more about foreign policy than everybody else in the race put together, particularly on the other side. So you know, I...

MATTHEWS: I agree...

DEAN: I like Bernie. He`s my home...

MATTHEWS: ... there`s a drastic choice between your party...

DEAN: ... state senator and...


DEAN: ... I don`t think the socialist stuff makes a lot of difference.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you -- I think Claire McCaskill was the toughest in this regard when she said the Republicans will bring out the hammer and sickle from the Soviet Union days and stamp it onto the Democrats if Sanders is the nominee.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: That was certainly what they -- what McCaskill and...

DEAN: They probably will, Chris. Oh, sorry.

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. Go ahead. Andrea now.

DEAN: I didn`t know who that...

MITCHELL: I think -- I think -- Chris and Governor, I think it was clear that surrogates like Claire McCaskill are saying that and trying to put that out there. Hillary Clinton is not saying that. She`s being very careful not to be that aggressive, and particularly, toning down her rhetoric after a Iowa because our polls shows that she`s got a problem with women voters. She is losing women voters -- first of all, she`s losing young voters by 52 points in our new poll, which is extraordinary. She`s losing women overall by 4 points, but young women by 29 points!

MATTHEWS: Up here.

MITCHELL: Up here.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but-...


MATTHEWS: Nationally, she`s about 65/27 among women. Let`s put that in perspective.

MITCHELL: Correct, but she...

MATTHEWS: Two thirds are for her.

MITCHELL: And only 4 -- you know, 4 percent of the delegates are decided by Iowa and New Hampshire. But there is a momentum effect, and they already have to worry about Nevada -- it`s also a caucus state -- and then South Carolina, where she would be normally a lot stronger. So...

MATTHEWS: Well, what -- I don`t get this exactly. We`re talking history here. Maybe we get bored in this country. You know, we talked about Hillary`s the first woman, and we had the first African-American, and now, Oh, yes, we talked about that before. We have to talk about something new. But a first woman president of this country would be amazing, Madam Chairman.

SCHULTZ: I mean, of course it would be. Again, I`m not taking sides in the primary but...

MATTHEWS: And most of your party are women, by the way.

SCHULTZ: And having the first Jewish president, which Bernie Sanders would be, would be amazing. I mean, we have...

MATTHEWS: Is he Jewish? (INAUDIBLE) but background, yes.

SCHULTZ: No, not just by background.


SCHULTZ: Bernie Sanders absolutely identifies as Jewish. He caucused with us in...

MATTHEWS: Oh, I didn`t know. I thought he was very...


MATTHEWS: ... agnostic or whatever.

SCHULTZ: He may be, but among the Jewish members when I served with him in the House, he certainly participated in our group of Jewish members.

But most importantly, I mean, our early primary window has four states that include Iowa and New Hampshire, yes, but Nevada and South Carolina, which were added later because making sure in that early primary window, we had the opportunity for -- to demonstrate our commitment to diversity across the country when it comes to the voters that weigh in early.

And so you`re going to have to look at the breadth of all four states and their participation and the results to really judge, you know, the mettle, of these two candidates.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go back to Howard Dean. Governor, I want you to -- you really have an advantage over us. You`ve been serving in Democratic politics, well, with or alongside, I should say Bernie Sanders because he`s never really been in the party.

What does it mean when you go up there near Burlington and you vote for a mayor who says, I`m a democratic socialist or a socialist? What do the voters who turn out for him get? What do they want and what do they get from him?

DEAN: What they get is a left-wing Democrat, basically. Look, I tell you why Bernie won, and I think this is why he`s -- what makes him a good politician and what made the Democrats not very smart.

We had a four-term incumbent mayor in Burlington who`d done a pretty good job, but he didn`t take Bernie seriously. He was very dismissive of him. And the public was fed up and they elected him by 10 votes. Nobody gave a damn whether he was a socialist or what the hell he was, they just -- they measured two different people.

Now, does the socialist tag matter in a general election in the United States? For a small number of people who are in the middle who we need to get, it probably matters. But I actually don`t think labels matter, partly because the Republicans have said so many outrageous things that nobody believes anything they say anymore anyway.


DEAN: I`ve seen people red-bait Bernie Sanders in elections, and it makes him stronger, not weaker.

MATTHEWS: I can imagine. But there`s a big -- let`s go to another set of labels, which is all over the debate tonight. I could predict it right now. I`m a progressive. You`re not a progressive. You`re a moderate. You said you were a moderate. I`m saying I`m a progressive. I`m more progressive than you are.

Andrea, I know that`s coming tonight because it`s been going on now for days. What`s "progressive" mean? It used to mean Teddy Roosevelt, moderate Republican, a trust-buster. Then it was hard left, the guy who`s opposed to the cold war, Henry Wallace in `48.

Now, lately, it means sort of liberal. It means liberal. I think that`s what it means.

MITCHELL: It means liberal, but you know, progressives -- Democrats started calling themselves progressives when they didn`t want the liberal label...


MITCHELL: ... that very conservative...

MATTHEWS: But Bernie`s a socialist who now claims the progressive label. You say you don`t care about labels. I`m sorry, Madam Chairman, Bernie wants the label progressive from your party. He wants the name.

SCHULTZ: You know, I can tell you that I firmly believe that both of these candidates are progressive. There`s no doubt that...

MATTHEWS: OK, what`s a progressive?

SCHULTZ: A progressive by my definition is someone who understand that we need to be inclusive, that we need -- egalitarian, that we need to focus on making sure that we have a government that fights for equal pay for equal work, that everybody has access to health care and that it`s a right not a privilege, that when it comes to education, you have an opportunity to get a high quality education and that that opportunity exists all across the country.

And that`s what it translates into when it comes to the issues...


SCHULTZ: ... contrasted with republicans, who don`t believe in any of that.

MITCHELL: But Bernie Sanders said very specifically that people who support TPP and the death penalty, as Hillary Clinton does in part...

MATTHEWS: You can`t be a free trade progressive? Is that the new rule?

MITCHELL: ... and that means that President Obama cannot be...


MATTHEWS: OK, well, let me tell you, there are a lot of progressives and liberals over the years...


MATTHEWS: There`s a lot of liberals over the years of my lifetime who are pro-free trade, like Jack Kennedy, a lot of them.

SCHULTZ: I absolutely agree. You can be progressive and be for free trade.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much. Boy, that`s good news (ph). Write that down...


SCHULTZ: I`m sure it`s going to...

MATTHEWS: The unions will love that baby! Anyway, thank you, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who`s got a tough job trying to referee this whole thing and keep everybody in the inclusive political movement known as progressives. Thank you, Andrea Mitchell. Governor Dean, thank you, sir, for that down-home writeup baseball card on him, Bernie Sanders.

Coming up at 8:00 Eastern, Brian Williams is going to join me as we get ready for tonight`s big one-on-one debate. Actually, it`s the first and only debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders before the New Hampshire primary, which is next Tuesday.

By the way, this whole weekend up here`s going to be wild. Don`t count on the numbers we give you tonight. They`re going to be moving all weekend because they always do up here. The debates starts at 9:00 tonight and will be moderated by Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, and I`ll be back afterward, of course, for spin room with the candidates` reactions and the analysis of this big night here in New Hampshire.

This is HARDBALL, live from the University of New Hampshire for tonight`s Democratic debate.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No politician is going to solve it. No politician. These people -- I`d like to use really foul language. I won`t do it. I was going to say they`re full of (EXPLETIVE DELETED), but I won`t say that. No, it`s true. I won`t say it. I won`t say it. But they are.


MATTHEWS: Donald Trump, he hasn`t changed the act.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL, live from the University of New Hampshire -- beautiful place up here -- the set (ph) of tonight`s one-on-one, mano a mano debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. By the way, I learned what mano a mano meant today. It`s Spanish. It`s not man on man, it`s hand to hand.


MATTHEWS: Maybe you learn something in this job.


MATTHEWS: We`ll be watching the Democrats tonight. But on the Republican side, polls show Donald Trump continues to lead big up here in New Hampshire. The latest poll out today shows Trump ahead of his nearest rival by 11 points. Trump gets 29 percent. He`s down a bit in the CNN/WMUR poll. Marco Rubio`s in second. He`s moved up to second up here. He`s on the move, I think, a bit, 18 points, followed by Ted Cruz at 13 and Kasich at 12.

A lot (ph) of these guys -- in fact, a lot of them -- in fact, Trump has to win up here, I`m saying it now, to avoid a nosedive, a death spiral, and the other guys all need number two. Number two is going to be the hero up here.

Trump` been involved in an increasingly ferocious war of words with Mr. Cruz, who he has accused of stealing the Iowa caucuses. Cruz has spent the last several days pushing back hard. Here`s Cruz.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is very rattled right now. He told the entire world he was going to win Iowa, and then he didn`t win. and his reaction is he got very angry.

It is no surprise that Donald is throwing yet another temper tantrum, or if you like, yet another Trump-tantrum. It seems his reaction to everything is to throw a fit.

I wake up every day and laugh at the latest thing Donald has tweeted because he`s losing it!

We`re liable to wake up one morning, and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark!


MATTHEWS: Nuked Denmark? Anyway, is New Hampshire a must-win for Donald Trump? I think it is. Does the billionaire risk looking like he`s a death spiral if he doesn`t come out on top here next Tuesday? I mean, a win is a win is a win. He must win.

NBC`s Katy Tur covers the Trump campaign religiously. She joins us now from a beautiful city. Well, I have to say Donald Trump picked out the prettiest city in this state to give a rally in. How`s it going up there?



TUR: He was an Exeter a little earlier, and that`s also a lovely city. Portsmouth tonight not bad for the reporters who follow him on the campaign trail.

I got to say, Chris, I was talking to the campaign today, and I asked them what are they going to do if he loses in New Hampshire? Is that it? And they said, No, of course not, that they would move on. They`re doing a 50- state strategy. And that`s why they were in Arkansas. That`s why they`re going to South Carolina. They`ve done the legwork in a lot of these states. They`ve gotten on the ballot. There`s no reason for him to drop out after New Hampshire. It`s a delegate race, not necessarily a win race.

And they believe that the media basically is overhyping all of this. They believe they came in second in Iowa, and that was really good. They got a ton of votes. They came in just short of Ted Cruz in order (ph), in their words.

And here in New Hampshire, they still feel really good. In fact, what we`ve seen today is a real pickup in their retail politicking. This is the fifth stop he`s made today, which is unusual for Donald Trump. He hasn`t done this much on the ground work in one state yet, I don`t believe.

He talked to police at the Manchester Police Department during (INAUDIBLE) talked to local business leaders, two big rallies. He had a town hall, as well.

Will this be enough? Well, we`re going to have to wait and see on Tuesday. He`s on stage right now, rallying this crowd, who seem to be pretty happy wit him.

But I have say, earlier today in Exeter, about half the people who were there -- and it was jam-packed. About half the people were high school students, many of whom were telling me that they were there just to see the show. They were there for the irony of it all.

And it made me start to wonder how targeted his strategy has been in these states, specifically in the early stages. He`s having these giant rallies. He`s talking to thousands of people, certainly a lot of quantity, but what about quality? Who is he really speaking to? Are these people going to go out and vote for him?

He talks about veterans all the time. I don`t think he`s visited a VFW or a VA. He talks about Common Core. He hasn`t gone to a school that I know of to talk to teachers or students.

So the question is, will he be able to find the voters who believe in his message to come out for him on Tuesday?

MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll know very soon. Katy Tur, as always, it`s great to have you on to tell us what`s going on with the Trumpster. Thank you -- from beautiful Portsmouth.

Today, NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell asked Jeb Bush how he responds to Republicans who hope he`d just get out of the race so the establishment can get around to support one winning establishment candidate. Let`s watch.


JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would say, first of all, not a single delegate`s been selected. We haven`t even gone to the first primary yet. I would say, Take a chill pill. Let the democracy work. Let people go see who the candidates are, what their record is, what detailed plans they have. We got a long way to go.

I`m a conservative and I`ve proved it by doing it, by being a governor of a state where I applied conservative principles. Marco Rubio is a gifted politician, but his whole life has been around his own ambitions. And he`s gifted. He can turn a phrase really well, but what has he done?


MATTHEWS: Wow. He`s not the only Republican, Jeb is, jabbing at Rubio. Chris Christie has focused most of his attention on the Florida senator. Here`s Christie really cutting sharply here.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Senator Rubio gets here, when the boy in the bubble gets here, I hope you guys ask him some questions.

It`s time for him to man up and step up and stop letting all of his handlers write his speeches and handle him.

He acts like the king of England. He has a press aide next to him, and preselect which reporters will get to ask him questions.

Marco Rubio hasn`t accomplished one thing in his entire career.

He`s giving the same speech he has been giving for six years. His handlers surround him and coddle him.

The problem is, with someone like Marco Rubio, who, quite frankly has not proven he could ever get anything done, except to get up in the morning, you know, fix his hair, smile, and give the same speech he has given for the last six years. Even when he is leveling his insults at me, he has to read them from a piece of paper.


MATTHEWS: Well, according to "The New York Times" today, the Bush and Christie teams have opened a back channel to sort of discuss this stuff between themselves about how to take down Marco Rubio.

"Members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire" -- I love that word -- "to halt Mr. Rubio`s rise in the polls. The contact between senior aides in the two campaigns has drifted towards musings about what can be done to stop or at least slow Mr. Rubio. The aides have, for example, exchanged news articles that raise potential areas of vulnerability for Mr. Rubio."

John Sununu is the former governor of this state. He`s former of course chief of staff to Bush Sr. at the White House. And Howard Fineman is the global editorial director of The Huffington Post and an MSNBC political analyst.

Needless to say, I love this personal stuff, because I have never seen a thing as emasculating, as somebody said today. He talks about him combing his hair, about being a boy in the bubble. This is not about a manly guy he`s describing. He`s really putting him down as the cute little candidate. And that is Christie at his worst and best.

Governor, do you like this kind of politics?

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Well, I haven`t endorsed anyone.



MATTHEWS: Do you endorse that kind of politics?

SUNUNU: I don`t like that kind of politics.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you don`t, OK.

SUNUNU: I really don`t. I don`t mind going after guys on issues. I think the voters in New Hampshire...

MATTHEWS: He is making him into John Edwards, of course. You know what he`s doing.

SUNUNU: I heard that.


SUNUNU: The voters in New Hampshire, though, I think have five wild days in front of them. I think it`s a little bit different than in the past, in the sense, in the past, this was when they sorted out issues and philosophy.

They`re going to do that, but they`re also having to deal with style, the bluff and bluster. But in the last two or three days, as I go around the state, people are talking about casting a strategic vote, maybe not voting for their favorite, but voting for their second or third in order to stop Trump, because they think he`s going to be an absolute disaster for the party.

MATTHEWS: You mean go for a guy like Rubio or Cruz, somebody who is challenging him?

SUNUNU: Somebody else.

MATTHEWS: Do people vote like that up here, like they, where they do these bank shots, they don`t really shoot at the basket? They hit the backboard?

SUNUNU: They take seriously -- they take very seriously their responsibility to give the party a nominee that can beat Hillary Clinton and run the country.

MATTHEWS: OK. Two things happening up here. Vote for the guy that can beat Trump, but also stop Christie -- I mean, stop Rubio.


MATTHEWS: And remember the Nixon dictum. He gave it to Pat Buchanan. Whenever you hear of a stop-X movement, bet on X.


The shape of the race, having talked to people in almost all of the camps on the Republican side, is as follows. Donald Trump is like a tire with a slow leak in it, OK? He was as big as he was going to get, and he`s leaking slowly and steadily.

That number that you said is smaller than numbers previously.

MATTHEWS: Is that up here or across the country, the slow leak?

FINEMAN: I think it`s across the country. But it`s definitely here. And, by the way...

MATTHEWS: Do you buy that?

SUNUNU: Yes. And this is where it counts.

FINEMAN: OK. And this is where -- so that`s the first level. The second level is Ted Cruz, who shouldn`t do well here at all, because he is just in the evangelical lane and so forth.

MATTHEWS: Yes. He plays religion up here. You don`t play religious here.


FINEMAN: It`s not a state for that.

However, as in Iowa, he is superbly organized. They have brought kids from around the country.

MATTHEWS: Tell us about the dorms.

FINEMAN: No, they have got kids from around the country living in dorms to go around door-knocking on behalf of Ted Cruz.

Now, that may sound a little strange here, but it`s actually better, as Katy Tur was saying, than Donald Trump having a massive rally. I think, as the governor will say, big rallies like that aren`t what win it here in New Hampshire. It`s phone calls and door-to-door.

That is what does it. That`s not Donald Trump. But Cruz at least is punching up. You know how you always say, Chris, punch up.

MATTHEWS: Punch up.

FINEMAN: Cruz is the only one really punching up.

MATTHEWS: He has got a target.

FINEMAN: At Trump. The others are fighting with...


SUNUNU: That`s the biggest mistake the others have made.


FINEMAN: The others are not going after him.

SUNUNU: They should be going after Trump. They should be going after Cruz. And instead they`re trying to fight...


FINEMAN: They`re pulling each other down.

MATTHEWS: Who would rather have as the nominee, or least rather have as the nominee, Trump or Cruz?


MATTHEWS: Thank you.


MATTHEWS: Yesterday, Rick Santorum -- these are people that had something to offer, by the way. I`m not just saying this because they`re leaving the race.


MATTHEWS: He dropped out of the race, Rick Santorum. I have known the guy forever. Marco Rubio, he`s endorsed him.

And today on "MORNING JOE," he was asked to name a single accomplishment -- I love these questions -- who are you endorsing, what have they done? Here he is. Well, he couldn`t seem to come up with it. Let`s watch.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: He has been in the Senate for four years. Can you name his top accomplishment in the Senate, actually working in the Senate, doing something that tilted your decision to Marco Rubio?

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You know, here`s what I would say about that. My feeling on Marco is someone who has tremendous potential, tremendous gifts. If you look at being a minority in the United States Senate in a year where nothing got -- four years where nothing got done, I its guess it`s hard to say there are accomplishments.

SCARBOROUGH: The Republicans have actually been in the majority for the past two years. Can you name one thing that he has passed in the last two years?


SANTORUM: OK, Joe, Joe, look, the Republican have been in the majority in for one year and one month, of which, as you know, he was running for president primarily.


MATTHEWS: OK, you know, they teach you in infantry training -- were you in the infantry? I wasn`t.


MATTHEWS: They put the bayonet into the guy. If you get mush, you twist it around a little bit. They got mush there. He has no idea. He doesn`t have a list. He doesn`t have a word. He couldn`t say anything.


SUNUNU: He should have been prepared, but he was almost right. The fact is, is that very little legislation has gotten through.


FINEMAN: You need an answer, but the thing is that Marco Rubio`s main qualification in New Hampshire right now is that he is not Donald Trump, and for a lot of people, also, he is not Ted Cruz.

So that`s his lane. And that`s what he is pushing. Now, the first time you meet him, he is incredibly charming. And, as I said...


FINEMAN: Rubio. Small, person-to-person campaigning here, small groups and so on matter.

SUNUNU: He does well.

FINEMAN: And he does well in that kind of thing.

And in the Senate, which I cover when I`m not doing this, he is not thought of as a lightweight there. He`s thought of a guy who does take his brief seriously. It`s true what Santorum says. He hasn`t been in the Senate in the last year-and-a-half. But he is not thought of as Dan Quayle, shall we say.


MATTHEWS: But you`re in another part of town. You`re in another part of town.


FINEMAN: But the other thing that`s -- the other thing that`s...

MATTHEWS: You`re describing wabash (ph) again.

FINEMAN: Yes, but the other thing that is happening here, though, is that the pace of politics has picked up so much that a couple of cycles ago, Rubio`s bounce from Iowa would have lasted all week. It`s not now. So, he can`t -- I don`t think he can wabash his way.

MATTHEWS: Wabashing means put a lot of paint thinner.


FINEMAN: I don`t think he can wabash his way.

MATTHEWS: It rains...


SUNUNU: He has been here a lot.

MATTHEWS: OK. We got to go.

SUNUNU: He has spent some time. And I think just everybody thinks three`s only going to be tickets out of here. I think there may be four.

MATTHEWS: Four from the Republican side.

Thank you very much, John Sununu, the governor. Please come back. You`re kind of cranky, but you know your (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


MATTHEWS: I shouldn`t say -- have said that word. That was a Trump word.

We will be right back.

Howard Fineman, thank you.

Up next: Hillary Clinton is looking to make history as the first female president of the United States.

I have got to say I was sorry for that word. I really mean it.

Why? I heard Trump just say it. It`s a bad -- I`m sorry.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL live from the University of New Hampshire here, and the only -- well, actually, the only one-on-one debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders before next Tuesday`s New Hampshire primary in this state.

By the way, I have to apologize again for that word. I -- I don`t know how it got into my head in tonight`s broadcast. But it`s a four-letter word, a bad word, not a terrible word, but not a good word to be using on television.

But it`s funny, if there is irony in this business. Just a few moments ago, we blurbed out the candidate Donald Trump using the exact same word. But we blurbed it out. I wish I had been be able to blurb my own word out.

Anyway, we have got new polling on the Democratic race in New Hampshire and it has some surprising results about how the candidates are faring among women, who are, of course, the majority voters in this country.

Our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll shows that among women voters in New Hampshire, it`s Bernie Sanders with a lead among women, 50- 46, a marginal lead there among women, who you think would be going for Hillary normally.

Anyway, MSNBC`s political correspondent Steve Kornacki is with us now.

Steve, is a -- I look at the national numbers, just before you report this, 65-25 among women for Hillary Clinton over Sanders. Why is it different up here?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, part of it is just a function if, you`re in New Hampshire, you`re in what looks to be Bernie Sanders` strongest states or one of his strongest states, so everything is going to be skewed.

What you are seeing in those numbers you just put up on the screen, though, is there is a gap. There is a gap between how he`s doing with men. He is way up with men, 70-25, and he`s marginally ahead with women. If you look back to Iowa, there was a gap there too in the Iowa results last week.

Clinton won by double digits with women in Iowa. Sanders won by double digits with men. The interesting thing about this gap, though, is if you look back to 2008, if you look back to the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama race, you weren`t seeing a gender gap nearly as pronounced as the one we`re seeing. And I think the reason for that has to not to do as much with gender as it does with age.

And we can tell you what we mean by that. When you look at women under the age of 45 in this New Hampshire poll, under the age of 45, Bernie Sanders is beating Hillary Clinton by 29 points 64-35. Women over the age of 45, Hillary Clinton is leading by nine points.

So, Clinton has got a comfortable edge with older women. sanders is blowing her out with younger women. The gender gap seems to come from age in this race, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Well, thank you so much, Steve Kornacki.

And I want to go back to ask our other guests about what they think about that, your reporting there.

Anyway, it is sure as hell accurate. We got to deal with its implications. Nationally, one of Hillary Clinton`s rallying cries on the campaign trail has been that it`s time to put a woman in the Oval Office.

But in a recent "New York Times" column, author Gail Sheehy questioned whether baby boomer women will back the former secretary of state. She wrote that Hillary Clinton -- quote -- "has always counted on women of her generation as her rock-solid base. Polls don`t quantify doubts, but anecdotally, enthusiasm for her is anemic. Ambivalence is seeping in about her authenticity and the power of her symbolism as a woman. Once again, she has been caught coasting on inevitability by a grassroots idealist with a universal health care plan."

In 2008 by the way, 57 percent of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters were women, so the fight for women`s support is pivotal here in the Granite State, the live free or die state once again.

Joining me right now from New York is from New York, Gail Sheehy, author of that 1999 biography "Hillary`s Choice." And here with me in Durham, New Hampshire, is "Washington Post" columnist Ruth Marcus.

Gail, what is the -- as your evidence -- what is your evidence? What are you hearing about Hillary Clinton? Because our numbers are overwhelmingly, 2-1 among women, 65 percent nationally for Hillary among Democrats.

GAIL SHEEHY, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think Andrea Mitchell already said on your show that, recently, Hillary has been losing among women overall, and even among some older women. And those are the women in her generation that have always been the bedrock of her voters.

And as I have spoken to them over the last three months, they`re kind of private about this, because they would like to support her, but it`s been ebbing, ebbing, ebbing. And what they -- they recognize that she is the most experienced, that she`s the smartest one in the room, but some of them shot back at me, there is nothing more sexist than wanting Hillary Clinton to be president because she`s a woman.

And that has flipped. That used to be the rallying cry in 2008. And now it`s not enough. It`s -- the problem that they find is they`re not sure that she is true to herself. They find a problem with her authenticity, with her reality, with her with lying, and also, with, you know, stonewalling.

I mean, going way back, stonewalling is what brought on a special prosecutor. Stonewalling of Hillary around -- about Whitewater brought us a special prosecutor.

This time, it`s the e-mails. Stonewalling has brought her an FBI investigation. And so these kinds of things really worry people and women, women of her generation, and that she can`t actually express feeling, express heart. It`s more head.

You are getting this head vs. heart argument. And I can tell what you the problem is for Hillary, because going back to her father and mother, who talked to me way back in `91, her father was a Patton, General Patton kind of a guy. And he taught her Hillary you must -- there is nothing more that shows weakness more than showing emotion.

And the fact that Hillary internalized that came out in a letter she wrote to her high school friend from college, which she showed me in which she said, there is nothing more pitiful than unthinking emotion.

So, she does it by action. She doesn`t show it, but she shows it by what she does, by representing and defending women and girls from all the way through, right up to the point where she was asked to be secretary of state by Obama, and she negotiated and said only if you allow me to put into the foreign policy of the United States of America empowerment for women and girls in countries around the world.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, Hillary Clinton spoke last night about what is guiding her during her quest for the White House. Here she is.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I read a treatment of the prodigal son parable by the Jesuit Henri Nouwen, who I think is a magnificent writer of spiritual and theological concerns.

And I read that parable and there was a line in it that became just a lifeline for me. And it basically is practice the discipline of gratitude.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Ruth, in your column this morning, you wrote -- quote -- "Clinton`s response was also, and I mean this in the best possible way, quintessentially female. And imagine Donald Trump, the ultimate alpha-male candidate, engaged in that degree of self-reflection and self-questioning."

You know, I -- I mean, Gail is a great writer, and these are great questions. But it seems to me these, Gail and Ruth, should have been talked about a year ago. We`re down to two candidates in the Democratic Party. So, to go into nuance and some of this psychobabble stuff at this point seems to be something that`s a bit beyond its fresh date.

Your thoughts?

RUTH MARCUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, a couple of quick things.

One is that the kind of emotion that Gail was talking about that she says Hillary Clinton is -- temperamentally finds it difficult to show, look, we saw that in 2008 at a pivotal time, and I think we saw it last night, in this answer that she gave, which was really remarkably personal, kind of sincere answer.


MARCUS: But I want to go back to -- I don`t doubt that Gail has met a lot of women and talked to a lot of women in the baby boomer and up age who have frustrations with Hillary Clinton.

But the polls are the polls. And it`s absolutely clear that if -- you know, look, think about it this way. If women did not have the right to vote today, Hillary Clinton would be in a lot more trouble against Bernie Sanders than she is now.

And if you look at the demographic split among women, she is so strong in women in Gail`s age range, in my age range, 45 and up. She -- yes, she has a problem among younger women voters, but the numbers are very strong nationally among women voters generally.

MATTHEWS: Gail, thank you so -- I have great respect for you. Thanks for coming. We`re all going to do -- you did what everybody ought to do with a column, get people talking. You have got us all talking.

Thank you so much, Gail Sheehy, who once again has got us into a controversy.

Ruth Marcus...

MARCUS: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: ... you`re my friend. I know you.

Up next, we`re about 80 minutes from the start of the Democratic debate. The first one-on-one debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, mano-a-mano.

Much more ahead from the University of New Hampshire after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. I`m broadcasting live from the University of New Hampshire. Up here in the balcony in Durham, where the Democrats vying for the party`s nomination faceoff tonight in a debate hosted by MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow and also moderator of "Meet the Press", Chuck Todd.

In a town hall last night, Hillary Clinton showed a candid display of humility in response to a question about her faith. She acknowledged that it`s more difficult for her to speak about herself than it is for her husband, who she called a natural.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is hard for me. You know, I never thought I would be standing on a stage here asking people to vote for me for president. I always wanted to be of service. I met my husband, who was such a natural, knew exactly what he wanted to do. I was happy to support him while I worked in the children`s defense fund and legal services and taught law and, you know, had our daughter. I never thought I would do this.

And so, I have had to come to grips with how much more difficult it often is for me to talk about myself than to talk about what I want to do for other people.


MATTHEWS: Let`s go back. Hillary is back on stage tonight with her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, where they`ll meet for the only time one- on-one before the all important New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.

Joining me right now are two experts, co-authors of "Game Change" and the host of "WITH ALL DUE RESPECT", which airs weeknights at 6:00 here on MSNBC. It`s my lead in. I love these guys, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Let me ask you both. You know, sometimes the simplest thing becomes the Achilles heel. To me, I would call it the $600,000 question.

Bernie has found something here. She took money, not for a good cause, not for children, not for anybody else, for her pocket. She took $600,000 from Goldman Sachs. She has to now explain that was a good night of work. It`s hard for people to get it. How good are you to get 600k?

They always think there are strings attached. If you take that money, you`ll owe.

JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-HOST, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT: Yes, and that`s the implicit thing. You know, the Clinton campaign is trying to say that if Sanders wants to raise this issue, he has to make an argument about how she must -- what she has done that`s wrong, in order to get that money. The Sanders campaign I think says --

MATTHEWS: Is not accusing of bribing --


HEILEMANN: Right. We`re not accusing of you anything, we`re just trying to say, most normal Americans don`t get paid that kind of money, and it`s so much money, $600,000 speech or whatever it is, that it raises the question of why. Why are you doing this? What quid pro quo tacit or explicit was going on there, it`s up to you to answer that question, Hillary Clinton. And she has not found a good way to answer it yet.

MARK HALPERIN, CO-HOST, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT: In both parties in this nomination, for a lot of voters, you`re one of them or you`re one of us. Bernie Sanders comes off in his rhetoric and his issue positions and in his lifestyle as, quote/unquote, "one of us".

MATTHEWS: He`s a moderate living guy.

HALPERIN: But he`s also someone who, if you`re angry at the system, if you`re angry at the man, if you think the system is stacked against the wealthy, you might be a Bernie Sanders supporter, you might be a Ted Cruz supporter, you might be a Donald Trump supporter, but you`re somebody who`s not for the establishment. And there is nothing more redolent of the establishment than the notion of taking hundreds of thousand of dollars from the symbol of the establishment, Goldman Sachs.

MATTHEWS: You know what the proof of that is, the U.S. Congress, years ago, there was no so much gnashing ever teeth of this, because of these guys didn`t have a lot of outside -- they didn`t have any wealth, they would give a speech to some group for $10,000, and they were totally outlawed. They all agreed they had to get rid of all of it.

In our business, in our network you can`t do it. You can`t go out there and make money on a speaking tour. You can`t do it.

So, everybody assumes in institutions like ours, or the Congress, there`s a bad smell to it.

HEILEMANN: Well, yes. It raises all kinds of questions. And those questions themselves are problematic politically.

You know, on this point of what you`re saying about the kind of modest living guy. You look at Bernie Sanders. The suits are cheap. The shirts, he doesn`t have a lot of them. He is not flying private ever. He had never been a Gulfstream 7. I think at this stage, still hasn`t.

The Clintons have been flying around in those planes for a long time. And it just, there is nothing wrong with it inherently, but it`s politically problematic, especially the populist vote that Mark Zuckerman (ph).

MATTHEWS: OK. The weird thing is, we`re telling you about stuff we probably should have talked, like with (INAUDIBLE) with some of this psychological stuff a year ago. Now, there`s two people on that stage. If you vote for -- against Hillary on an issue like this, you get Bernie Sanders as the nominee of the Democratic Party. I mean, there`s only two guys up there now. I mean, we`re having a debate about existence of these candidates on these kinds, what might be called sideline issues.

HEILEMANN: Yes. Well, except for if you believe that, you know, that the stark contrast in the stark choice facing the Democratic Party right now is what Hillary Clinton is openly saying, which is I`m a reformer, I`m not a radical, I`m not a revolutionary, I`m an incrementalist. Bernie Sanders is saying, I want to dream big --

MATTHEWS: Radical revolutionary changes.

HEILEMANN: I want to tear the system down and build a new one in its place.

MATTHEWS: And he`s shouting it when he says it.

HEILEMANN: And your lifestyles I think in some ways are reflective of the difference of their political philosophy. So, it`s legitimate.

MATTHEWS: OK. You guys are both pros. Maybe I`m been around too long to get this. The word socialist, to the sophisticates almost meant, in many ways, into an anticommunist, because in Europe, everywhere, the socialist party is the number one enemy of the communist and communists hated socialists. And then you have guys, (INAUDIBLE) who was our best friend against the Russians and Soviets.

So, we all know that, where people are less focused on politics in their lives, socialist sounds a little bit too close. Union of Soviet Socialist Republicans, all those Eastern European countries, which are all dictatorships, all call themselves socialists. How do you sell that here in America, with Bernie?

HALPERIN: Every other industrialized democracy has a party that represents --

MATTHEWS: Social democrats.

HALPERIN: It`s a kind of aspirations that Bernie Sanders had. Universal single payer health care, more worker rights, more environmental regulation, every other industrialized country, in Asia and Europe, has that.

We`re the only country that doesn`t because we have a two-party system. Sanders is speaking to the aspirations of tens of millions of people. He`s more successful than Ralph Nader, electorally, as a national figure, than Dennis Kucinich. Those guys have the same ideas.

And Secretary Clinton is running unfortunately for her at a time when she`s got the legacy of being a new Democratic like her husband, and when the party has moved fundamentally to the left.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk more about. Mark and John are sticking with us.

Up next, these two experts will tell something, I don`t know, tell me something I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. Live in Durham, New Hampshire, ahead of the big debate tonight, MSNBC Democratic debate.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the University of New Hampshire now with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Gentlemen, tell me something I don`t know.

John, first.

HEILEMANN: Well, this morning, we have Robbie Mook and Brian Fallon for breakfast at Bloomberg.

MATTHEWS: The Clinton people.

HEILEMANN: Robbie Mook, the campaign manager, the Brian Fallon, the press spokesman, they both ended up backing into an argument about what they called Bernie bro syndrome. It`s about this notion that they have that many of the critics of Hillary Clinton launched by people around Senator Sanders, his supporters, and to some extent Senator Sanders himself, are painted with a little bit of sexism. I think that`s going to become a meme going forward. You might even hear it tonight on the stage.

MATTHEWS: Would you call that a fake foul or real foul?

HEILEMANN: There is a little something there in some of the tone. A little something.

MATTHEWS: OK, interesting, where he said, you can`t shout about getting rid of guns. Remember that, and she called him on that. I`m not sure that was a real foul.

HALPERIN: Democrats have this debate tonight on MSNBC. The Republicans have a debate Saturday night. Three other campaigns, one Democrat, two Republicans, had endorsements that they`re planning to unveil after New Hampshire. They`re now thinking, maybe they move them up, maybe they move before New Hampshire, because they`re thinking they need something to breakthrough before the primary.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`m not sure endorsements. Anyway, thank you, Mark Halperin. You guys got a great show. Thank you, John Heilemann.

When we return, let me finish with the time when New Hampshire was the face of political romance. Not that long ago, not for me.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics, just a little over one hour to go until tonight`s MSNBC Democratic debate.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a time that New Hampshire was the face of political romance and the snows of New Hampshire in 1968, Senator Eugene McCarthy carried the banner of those hoping to end the Vietnam War policies of President Lyndon Johnson. At the time, the Minnesota senator was the only hope, and there was an excitement about the McCarthy campaign that offered something new in politics, a soft spoken academic political figure ready to stick his neck out against the war that was picking off our classmates one at a time.

Again, Team McCarthy was the only one who was sticking his neck out for us. I was in grad school at Chapel Hill that fall of `67 and the winter of `67 to `68. I felt a zest in the air as we watched Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid report in comment on the news from snowy New Hampshire, where McCarthy for a time didn`t look like he was making headway. Then came the primary itself and the rocketing news, Senator Eugene McCarthy had won more than 40 percent of the vote, giving Lyndon Johnson such a shaking that he withdrew from the race rather than face an actual beating in Wisconsin. We all, if we were fortunate, get to savor a good election our lives when someone, someone we rooted for with all we have, stuck their neck out and change history and it wasn`t the snows of New Hampshire that it happened where history gets made by candidates with the courage to make it.

Right now, we`re just one hour away from the first one and only, or only one and one debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders before Tuesday`s New Hampshire primary.

And right now, Brian Williams join me from New York as our special coverage of the Democratic debate continues.