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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 3/18/2016

Guests: Gov. John Kasich, Jay Newton-Small, Paul Singer

Show: HARDBALL Date: March 18, 2016 Guest: Gov. John Kasich, Jay Newton-Small, Paul Singer

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Dump Trump hits bump.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

The dump Trumpsters, led by partisans of Ted Cruz, are now out in force. Unfortunately for them, they have no idea how to do it. Mitt Romney, who backed John Kasich this week in Ohio, now says he`ll vote for Cruz in Utah. Cruz says Kasich has to quit or the game is over. Kasich says he won`t take VP from Trump or Hillary, then refused to say which he`d like least.

I just caught up with the Ohio governor out in Utah, where he`s trying to win the caucuses this Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Thank you for joining us tonight, Governor Kasich.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: There are now just three candidates for the presidency in the Republican Party right now, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and you. Today, Mitt Romney, the nominee last time, who campaigned for you in Ohio last week, said today he will vote for Ted Cruz in the Utah caucuses.

He said, "I like Governor John Kasich, I`ve campaigned with him. He has a solid record as governor. I would have voted for him in Ohio. But a vote for Governor Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail."

What`s your reaction to that news today?

KASICH: Well, I don`t -- I don`t agree with that. And you know, by the way, I`m running for president because I have, first of all, the best resume and record, and secondly, I`m the only one of the three that can win a general election and beat Hillary Clinton.

So we just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. And you know, I campaigned with Mitt, I like Mitt, and I just -- it`s a place where we just disagree.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s try to figure out what Ted Cruz is up to. First of all, there was going to be a three-way debate this coming Monday, a Fox debate. And of course, Trump pulled out of it, and then you did.

Why didn`t you stay in the debate and take on Ted Cruz mano a mano?

KASICH: Well, because I think, Chris, it`s three of us, and we ought to have all three in a debate. And take the front-runner and move him out of there I just don`t think makes any sense. And I can be in a position of (ph) campaign in a much more retail way, which I`m very happy to do.

MATTHEWS: You mean you`d rather be out in Utah than in a debate studio somewhere.

KASICH: I think that this is -- look, if Trump wants a debate, I`ll be there. If he doesn`t, I don`t -- you know, you got three people. It shouldn`t be two of the three. That`s the way it ought to be worked out. And I`ll spend this time doing a lot of things that I consider to be very productive.

MATTHEWS: Well, Ted Cruz is calling for you to drop out. He says you`re hurting the chances to stop Donald Trump. I`m sure you`re familiar with this, but let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I congratulate John Kasich on winning his home state, but it`s mathematically impossible for John Kasich to be the -- become the nominee. If you don`t have a clear path to winning, it doesn`t make sense to stay in the race. And I would note every day John Kasich stays in the race benefits Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What about this stop Donald Trump thing? I quote it all the time -- it`s something I heard from Pat Buchanan that Nixon once said, Richard Nixon once said, if you ever hear of a "stop X" movement, bet on X. I don`t know what a stop movement actually ever ends up looking like. What do you make of it -- decide that you`re going to team up with Ted Cruz, put together a ticket of some kind. I assume he wants to be on top of it. And somehow, that`s going to marshal enough support to knock Trump off his momentum.

KASICH: Well, look, nobody`s going to get to the convention, in my judgment, Chris, with enough delegates. And then we will pick the nominee through the process.

I mean, just because you don`t have somebody that has enough delegates doesn`t mean you don`t have the process. That`s why you have a convention. And so the convention will sit down and they`ll decide who can win in the fall and who has the record and who could run the country.

There`s just a big national story today saying we go to a convention, you know, they`re likely to turn to me because of the ability to win and the ability to bring people together.

So look, I understand. I just don`t think anybody`s going to get there with enough delegates, and so we`ll ultimately have somebody chosen for (ph) the delegates who will represent the Republican Party. Everybody just needs to calm down.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, you`re talking about the Republican Party, maybe the Democratic Party of the 1940s or earlier, but ever since the early `50s, nobody in the country is used to the idea of the candidate with the most delegates not winning. The guy coming in or woman coming in, potentially, into the convention is expected to win. Trump says there`ll be riots if he doesn`t get the nomination, if he has the most delegates.

KASICH: Well, that`s an irresponsible statement. You know, I was there in 1976, when Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford. I was a very young man, and it was a hard fight, but at the end, the convention came together. Reagan didn`t win and Ford did.

And you know, at the end of the day, it`s a very serious process. These delegates take it very seriously. I know because I worked to get delegates to support Ronald Reagan. And they take it very seriously. I think it`ll be a great experience and it will be good for our country.

MATTHEWS: So you can imagine a situation -- you must because you`re still in the race, Governor -- you get to the convention, and Trump`s a couple of votes shy, a couple hundred, perhaps, delegates shy. He doesn`t get the gimme. You have a number of ballots, which you haven`t had, basically, since the `40s -- or, no -- `40s, I guess, the 1940s. And you have number of ballots, and at the end of those number of ballots, you win. That`s your scenario?

KASICH: Yes. I mean, unless -- you know, if he`s close, maybe he`ll -- maybe he will -- he`ll get the delegates. But look, Chris, at the end of the day, what`s most important for me is I`m running for president because I have a record of success, a record of achievement a record of creating an environment for job growth and pulling people together, and the convention is just another vehicle that a political party uses to decide who they want to have as the standard bearer.

I`m very comfortable with that. I don`t think anybody`s going to get there. And by the way, you know, for these people to say I should drop out -- you know, they`ve been calling me for that for weeks, a lot of these establishment people. Had I dropped out, Trump would have the nomination because he would have won Ohio. So I mean, this is all just -- it`s just talk. It`s just chatter, political talk. That`s what makes it interesting.

MATTHEWS: Well, what about Glenn Beck? He`s one of the people you`re talking about who`s chattering out there. He`s accused you of you putting the very well-being of the country at risk by staying in this race. Here is the inimitable -- inevitable Glenn Beck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, THEBLAZE: Kasich -- I mean, excuse my language, but you son of a bitch. The Republican -- the republic is at stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know.

BECK: This is not -- this is not, like, a normal race. The republic is at stake!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Glenn Beck`s not usually on my dance card, so I`m not going to vouch for him. But what do you make of these people? They`re all out there talking like you`re the trouble, when, in fact, you`ve got the resume, you got the qualifications? And somehow, Ted Cruz and his troop have decided that you`re the problem, not Donald Trump.

KASICH: I`m not going to respond to that kind of vulgarity, personal attack directed at me.

MATTHEWS: OK.

KASICH: That`s just out of bounds.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk substance for a minute. They picked up the last -- one of the real key players, actually, in the terrible November bombings in Paris up in Belgium. I guess he was out in that area, which has always been a refuge for the terrorists.

What do you make of -- what does that tell us about the fight against international attacks by ISIS?

KASICH: Well, you know, Chris, what it brings to mind is the fact that when the intelligence community works with the local law enforcement, we can have success, which brings up the notion of really good intelligence, particularly human intelligence and everybody working together.

And that`s why we have to work together so carefully in terms of those people who may be migrating from places, you know, who joined ISIS or who went to countries that are really, really problem areas. We need to know who they are. We need to know what they`re doing. But it shows that when law enforcement and the intelligence community can work together effectively, we can have good results.

MATTHEWS: How about the relationships among countries? Back -- we had a terrible period back during and after the Iraq war, where we were told to eat Freedom Fries, not French Fries, changing the name because we`re so hostile to the French for not backing us in the Iraq war.

How do you bring the countries together? What brings us together that didn`t bring us together in the last big war, the Iraq war?

KASICH: Self-interest. I think now, clearly, people understand that radical Islam is an existential problem. So I think there is self- interest. You know, I mean, all the countries in the Middle East that are -- you know, the Egyptians, the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Gulf states -- they know that -- that they want to -- that these people want to destroy them. When we look at France or Great Britain or Germany or the crisis that we see with migrants or what we see happening in Belgium, we now begin to see that there`s an opportunity to bring people together.

And this idea of calling names and all that really doesn`t make sense when it relates to international affairs. And if you have a problem with a country, most of the time, nearly all the time, you express those concerns privately, not in front of a television camera.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Cuba. This weekend, the president`s breaking - - making history, I guess, for better words, going to Havana. Would you have done that (INAUDIBLE) the president right now? Would you have gone to Havana?

KASICH: No, I wouldn`t, Chris. I just think that it`s too much we give and they take. And I would like to see them give. Release these political prisoners. You know, they released some of them when the pope came, then they put them back in jail. They have to make some steps forward, as far as I`m concerned, as to how we treat Cuba.

MATTHEWS: OK, last question. This may hit you as a novelty because you`ve been under pressure and you`ve been out there fighting for the presidency. But should the situation develop differently than your hopes and scenario and Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, which looks pretty likely right, now and your party has Trump, and Hillary comes to you and says, Governor, I`d like to form a unity ticket, Republican vice president. That would be you.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK, there you go. I guess that`s your answer, OK?

KASICH: Yes, it`s my answer. That`s not going to happen.

MATTHEWS: Suppose Trump says...

KASICH: And Trump`s not going to be the nominee, so we`ll be fine.

MATTHEWS: OK, suppose -- I have to push you as you laugh. If Trump`s the nominee, would you accept a part on the ticket? Would you go on the ticket with him?

KASICH: Under no -- under -- under no circumstances. Zero. No chance.

MATTHEWS: What would be worse, you with Hillary or you with Trump? What would you like least?

(LAUGHTER)

KASICH: I`d have to reflect on that.

MATTHEWS: OK, well, I`ll give you some time. That`s a takehome. Thank you very much.

KASICH: Good question. There you go.

MATTHEWS: Enjoy your travels.

KASICH: All right, Chris, thank you.

MATTHEWS: Love that state. Governor John Kasich out in Utah.

KASICH: All right.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

KASICH: Thank you, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Coming up, inside the Republican effort to stop Trump at the convention in Cleveland. We`ve got new information tonight about what the party types are thinking of doing if Trump doesn`t have the delegates needs to win the nomination outright.

Plus, Bernie Sanders says he is not going anywhere. He`s vowing to fight on in the Democratic race, all the way to Philadelphia. But with Hillary Clinton tightening her grip on the nomination, what does he get staying in the race?

And a big victory in the war on ISIS. Belgium police -- Belgian police captured a top fugitive in the Paris terror attacks. We`ve got the latest on that tonight.

Finally, conservatives say they want a unity ticket to stop Donald Trump, but what if Hillary Clinton named a Republican running mate in an effort to unify the country? It`d be an unprecedented move, but could it be the ticket that keeps Trump out of the White House?

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We have new polling for Emerson College for next month`s New York primary, and it`s good news for the home state candidates. Let`s take a look at the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

On the Republican side, Queens native Donald Trump leads Ted Cruz by a whooping 52 points. It`s Trump 64, Cruz 12, John Kasich is 1.

On the Democratic side, former New York senator Hillary Clinton also holds an enormous lead. She`s up at 71 percent of the vote to 23 percent for Bernie Sanders.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the big news today, Mitt Romney`s announcement that he will vote for Ted Cruz in Utah. Donald Trump has responded via Twitter. Quote, "Failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the man who choked and let us all down, is now endorsing lyin` Ted Cruz. This is good for me." That`s Trump talking. And quote, "Mitt Romney is a mixed-up man who doesn`t have a clue. No wonder he lost."

Romney has made clear his number one goal is to stop Donald Trump, of course, even if that means fighting it out at the convention. In Politico today, one conservative leader warned that if the party tries grab the nomination from Trump at the convention, there could be open warfare. Quote, "You`re going to push the big red button and blow up the party, at least in the short term. It`s asinine. It really is."

I`m joined right now by "USA Today`s" Paul Singer and "Time" magazine`s Jay Newton-Small.

Jay, this thing about -- first of all, you`re out there reporting, so report. What is there to -- is there a cohesive group of people who actually have a conceivable plan to deny Trump if he`s, say, short by 100 or 200 delegates?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, "TIME" MAGAZINE: There is. There is a stop Trump group that absolutely is trying to organize opposition to Donald Trump, but they are coming -- I mean, they`re not very unified, and this has always been the establishment`s problem from the get-go, is that if they were unified, if they had just picked one candidate to go against Donald Trump, they wouldn`t be in this position to begin with.

And they`re having still the same problem even now, where you can`t -- you still have Kasich and you still have Cruz. You still have, you know, people who say it should be another candidate altogether, like, some other guy that`s going to parachute in at the 11th hour.

And so until they actually get all -- all get on the same page, they`re never going to be able to effectively stop Donald Trump, which is why they`re not being effective at stopping Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Paul, it seems like this one of the years they`re not giving out the Nobel Peace Prize. Like, maybe we don`t need a nominee this year.

PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": Yes. Well, I mean...

MATTHEWS: It`s almost like they`d rather have no nominee, you know, (INAUDIBLE) Hillary because they`re so negative on Trump, they have no counterbalancing hope.

SINGER: Look, I wrote a story today about some of the things that Donald Trump has said over the past decade or so that are basically not Republican positions. You know, he was pro-gay marriage. He was in favor of outsourcing. They don`t trust him and they don`t fundamentally trust that he believes that he is a Republican and that he believes the things they believe.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SINGER: The problem is, people are voting for him. And if they do pull one of these strategies in the convention, they`re going to have to turn around to their grass root supporters and say, You guys got it wrong. Let us pick the nominee. Don`t worry. It`ll all be good.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, one of the organizers of the anti-Trump group that met in Washington just yesterday, Erick Erickson, said if he had to, he`d support a third party candidate against Trump. Here he goes. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERICK ERICKSON, REDSTATE.COM: There`s a strong coalition of looking at going to the existing candidates, Kasich, Cruz, saying, You need to cut a deal, find a unity ticket within the Republican Party. The final fallback option would certainly be a third party. The consensus was everyone would rather settle this on the convention floor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Mike Huckabee, who dropped out of the Republican race just last month, said that would hand the election to Hillary Clinton and destroy the Republican Party, what Erick Erickson just said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: I thought we had voters! I thought that`s what we do. You know, look, I wanted to be the nominee, Gretchen.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Right.

HUCKABEE: That`s why I ran. But guess what? I`m not. So I`m not going to go start a third party. I`m not going to try to blow up the Republican Party because I didn`t get my way. I accept that in an election, voters get to make this decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: This is so crazy, Jay (INAUDIBLE) because back in that first debate, I -- must have been the Reagan library, one of them way early -- they asked who will -- will you all support the nominee of the party? And the only one that wouldn`t was...

SINGER: Donald Trump!

MATTHEWS: ... Trump!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Now anybody but Trump is talking about dumping the party nominee.

NEWTON-SMALL: And really, it`s the idea that you could parachute somebody in at the 11th hour. I spoke to Lindsey Graham about that this week, and he said that he would leave the party if that happened. I mean, it would literally just -- it would blow up the Republican Party. And there would be so much turmoil, right? You would spend the next month trying to unite a party, trying to stop Donald Trump from leaving the party. And that`s the month that you`re supposed to be running against Hillary Clinton. So when you actually run against Hillary Clinton -- I mean, they`d spend the entire general election trying to get their own base back, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SINGER: ... left of the part, at that point. Lindsey`s going to leave. I`m going to leave...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: MSNBC`s Ari Melber, our colleague here, interviewed 19 of the 56 members of the Republican Rules Committee. Most of those members said they opposed any rule change that would allow a new candidate, like Paul Ryan, to emerge at the convention.

One member told Melber, quote, "Change the rules drastically and you will have a problem. You want to have a world war and destroy the party?"

Here`s the question. I think -- I like Kasich, but you know, when they start talking about bringing in somebody, or they talk about this third or fourth ballot stuff, they`re talking, what, the 1940s most recently because ever since `52, the person coming in won.

SINGER: Right.

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And they won on the first ballot. This -- this -- even the Gerry Ford versus Reagan thing, first ballot. Now we`re talking about, Well, you don`t get the majority on the first ballot, so we go on and on and do like the 1924, you know, Windy City convention...

(CROSSTALK)

SINGER: And are you going to pick somebody who basically has gotten no votes from...

NEWTON-SMALL: No votes.

SINGER: ... from the Republican -- from the Republican voters?

NEWTON-SMALL: And didn`t even contest it, didn`t try to get any votes.

SINGER: Right.

NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, is that...

MATTHEWS: It would be like the Electoral College picking a new guy.

(CROSSTALK)

SINGER: Yes. Right.

I know, that guy, that guy.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about it from the partisan, Democratic point of view. If you are a progressive, you`re a Democratic, what do you want to happen? Let`s be cold-blooded here.

SINGER: What do you want to happen in the Republican Party?

MATTHEWS: How much chaos, how much disaster?

NEWTON-SMALL: For them, it`s like a win/win scenario. Right?

It`s like, if Donald Trump is the nominee, then he drives out Democrats enormously. Like, he drives out the Democratic base. But he also reimagines the map. Right. Like, the electoral map is redrawn and you don`t know whether Pennsylvania is in play or your home state or other places.

But if Cruz is the nominee, that`s even better for you, because he is only going to be in play in the same old Republican states that were play in 2008 and 2012 and he`s bound not do as well as Mitt Romney.

(CROSSTALK) But we all know what will happen. If Trump is the nominee, there will be a lot of people sitting on their hands at the convention, I mean, preposterously sitting on their hands like this, like no clapping, like Nixon made sure Pat never clapped for Goldwater.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And then all the women, women -- well, especially women who read the paper in the suburbs, I mean, sophisticated people, they`re going to say, I know that guy. He is the enemy of everything I stand for. I a not -- I don`t care how my husband votes. I`m voting against this guy.

Then -- but the working angry white guy, working-class guy who has been waiting for this chance for a lot to smack the system, he goes. The only question is, how does that balance out?

SINGER: But imagine -- for the Democrats watches this, imagine there is a challenge to Donald Trump, and then you have the Trump voter in the streets around the convention kicking up dust, and then you have the Black Lives Matters protesters, who you know are going to be in Cleveland, because they`re already there anyway, kicking up dust.

MATTHEWS: Who will they protest? Well, no, but they`re not going to defend Trump.

SINGER: Right. But you have this clash in the streets. You have arguments going on.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re amazing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, you have the Black Lives Matter people who have been waiting to protest Trump. They -- finally, damn it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What are we going to do now?

(CROSSTALK)

SINGER: The Democrats will sit back and watch this thing and say Cleveland is the chaos the Republicans are offering you.

MATTHEWS: Unbelievable.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You are an imaginative guy, Paul. I never thought of -- this is like those weird wars. We have got three armies fighting and changing sides.

SINGER: The X-Men against each other, whatever.

NEWTON-SMALL: No, it`s going to be like the Seattle, you know, trade protests all over again, total anarchy with anarchists coming in. It will just be insane.

SINGER: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Paul Singer, thank you. Jay Newton-Small, thank you both for joining us.

Coming up: Captured. Four months later, a key suspect in the Paris attacks of last November is caught in Belgium today. We will get the latest details, what it means for the case and the fight against terror, of course, worldwide.

HARDBALL back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully blasted off earlier bound for the International Space Station. There are three people on board, including American astronaut Jeff Williams.

The U.S. has requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council after another missile launch by North Korea.

The National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., has a new baby bald eaglet. It hatched this morning. One more egg remains, and fans can watch all the happenings in the nest at Eagles.org.

And a storm that has already dropped nearly a foot of snow in parts of the Western U.S. is barreling eastward. It`s expected to dump more than six inches of snow on areas across New England on Sunday, the first day of spring -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

After an international manhunt that last four months, Belgian authorities have arrested the most wanted fugitive from last November`s Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam. He was apprehended along with other terror suspects in a police raid at an apartment in the Brussels district of Molenbeek.

As a prosecutor told the Associated Press, he could have been staying there for weeks or even months in that place. Abdeslam, who is a French national, was among the gunmen who carried out the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people last November.

He managed to evade law enforcement and return to Brussels in the immediate aftermath of that attack. The raid today comes after authorities say that they found Abdeslam`s fingerprints in an operation in a separate neighborhood on Tuesday. Two additional suspects remain at large.

I`m joined right now by Richard Engel, of course, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, and MSNBC terror analyst Laith Alkhouri.

Let me start with you, Richard.

Give me a sense of how this guy got away from the terrible attack of November in Paris, after the people were -- 130 were killed, how he got away. He was supposed to commit suicide and all that. And how long it took and why so long to catch the guy?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, how we got away is, he didn`t go through with his attack. He was never supposed to have survived the Paris attacks.

The other attackers died while fighting against counterterrorism police, or while they were killing innocent people or detonating suicide vests. He had a suicide vest. He chose to dump it, and escape and was seen driving across the border, leaving France, entering Belgium.

So he got away when there was still an opportunity for him to get away. Why it took four months, critics will say it shouldn`t have taken four months, because, in the end, he went right back to where it all began.

He went back to the Molenbeek neighborhood. That is the neighborhood where he grew up. It`s the neighborhood where he met Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of the attack. And he went back to the place where he had contacts and friends.

And I think it also shows how isolated he had become. ISIS wasn`t talking about him anymore. If you are an ISIS commando, an ISIS suicide attacker, you are not supposed to survive. He couldn`t go to Syria or Iraq, and join the community of ISIS fighters again. He had to go back to the place that he knew.

And, perhaps, it shouldn`t have taken four months, but it did, and finding individuals is actually hard, even if you think you know where to look.

MATTHEWS: Let me bring in Laith Alkhouri here.

Laith, what does this tell us about this man without a country and what does it do to break -- does it hurt ISIS to have this whole embarrassment of a guy who was supposed to be a suicide killer not complete the job?

LAITH ALKHOURI, MSNBC ANALYST: I don`t think it is going to be an embarrassment.

Look, eight of the attackers carried out their plan. They killed over 130 people. So, in the grand scheme of things, if ISIS indeed orchestrated and directed the attack, it was a pretty major success in the heart of France in a major Western country that is part of the coalition to combat Iraq and Syria.

But I think that ISIS will be pretty silent, and they will not mention him, in my opinion, if you ask me, unless some ISIS supporters talk about him in the sense of lionizing him because he was captured, now he has to suffer jail, after helping his brothers or comrades in action earlier.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about intelligence gathering, back to you, Richard. What can you squeeze out of a guy who has nowhere to go? If he can`t go back and join ISIS, does that allow the Belgian and French authorities to get the information out of him about the whole networking of this terror group?

ENGEL: It probably does.

I think he, of all of the ISIS types, is probably one who is more likely to cooperate. He doesn`t have a whole lot to lose. Even his own family was divided about the issue of ISIS. There was one brother, one of his brothers, who carried out a suicide attack, was part of the Paris attacks.

He was supposed to be part of the attacks and allegedly drove some of the suicide attackers to the Stade de France, but then just choose not to do it. One of his other brothers went on television calling on him to turn himself in.

So now that he has been captured, now that he probably hasn`t been going outside for the last several months, or staying just in the confines of a couple of Brussels neighborhoods -- we will find out more exactly as he does talk where he has been -- one would expect that he doesn`t have much to lose.

Why wouldn`t he talk? Most people, once they`re arrested, do talk.

MATTHEWS: Well, here is the tough question, Laith, the tough question. This may sound uncivil. But if you have a population living within the borders of Belgium that are so loyal to protecting a guy like this, don`t have you a real problem of governance?

Is it still a country, Belgium, if they can`t prevent the building up of a neighborhood notorious for having so many terrorists live there, but refusing to go in there and clean it out, to use an old police expression?

Why -- it just seems to me, there`s something that`s become uncontrollable now about the terrorist threat, if you allow a whole neighborhood to be a terrorist stronghold, and don`t do anything about it, to the point where that guy could live there safely for four months after the horrible attack of last November in Paris.

ALKHOURI: You know, look, this is, I think, somewhat of a problem not only in Belgium, but across a number of European countries, including France and Germany and other countries, where some part of the population is left, I don`t want to say ungoverned, but pretty much marginalized from the rest of the community.

And maybe some of the services that are provided to the rest of society are not being provided there in a much more adequate level. But I think, in the grand scheme of things, I wouldn`t blame the authorities for the infestation of radical elements in that neighborhood.

The matter of the fact, that the authorities have had their eyes on that neighborhood for a very long time, well before the Paris attacks. Just, it is very difficult to be able to sift through the intelligence and zoom in on certain areas, instead of actually taking a whole neighborhood down.

MATTHEWS: Well, we will see. Anyway, thank you. I think that`s the kind of question Europe is going to be asking itself for the rest of our lives.

Anyway, Richard Engel, thank you, sir, and Laith Alkhouri, for that expertise.

ALKHOURI: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Democratic showdown. Hillary Clinton is marching toward the nomination, of course, but Bernie Sanders is not giving up without more of a fight. But does Sanders have a path to victory still? That question ahead, it`s a great question.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re moving West, where we think the terrain favors us.

The West Coast is probably most progressive region of the United States of America, perhaps winning California, state of Washington, Oregon, many of the smaller states, and winning New York state.

We think if we come into the convention in July in Philadelphia, having won a whole lot of delegates, having a whole lot of momentum behind us, and, most importantly perhaps, being the candidate who is most likely to defeat Donald Trump, we think that some of these superdelegates who have now supported Hillary Clinton can come over to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Bernie Sanders last night telling my colleague Rachel Maddow that he can take the fight for the Democratic nomination all the way to the convention in Philadelphia, where he would hope Democratic superdelegates would abandon Secretary Hillary Clinton for him.

But the leader of the Democratic Party, President Obama, right now thinks it`s nearing time for Democrats to rally behind Clinton. "The New York Times" reported yesterday -- quote -- "In unusually candid remarks, President Obama privately told a group of Democratic donors last Friday that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was nearing the point at which his campaign against Hillary Clinton would end, and that the party must soon come together to back her."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had this to say about "The New York Times" report at his briefing yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Obama made a case that would be familiar to all of you, which is that, as Democrats move through this competitive primary process, we need to be mindful of the fact that our success in November in electing a Democratic president will depend on the commitment and ability of the Democratic Party to come together behind our nominee.

But the president did not indicate or specify a preference in the race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Sanders himself also reacted. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Well, I don`t want to speculate on what he said or what he didn`t say.

In fact, I have heard there has been some pushback from the White House kind of indicating that he didn`t say that. But the bottom line is that, when only half of the American people have participated in the political process, with some of the largest states in this country, people in those states have not yet been able to voice their opinion on who should be the Democratic nominee, I think it`s absurd for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he makes a good argument.

Kristen Welker covers the Clinton campaign for NBC News. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones," and Beth Fouhy is a senior editor for MSNBC.com.

Beth, you first. What is Bernie -- I think, at his age, this is his last chance to be president of the United States, if it`s an outside chance. I can`t think of a good reason, just to switch the question around, he should quit. What does he get by quitting? He isn`t going to be ambassador to Britain. He doesn`t want any of that stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He`s got a better job now heading up his own political party in the Senate.

BETH FOUHY, SENIOR EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Listen, I covered the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008. And this is so similar to what we heard back then, with then Senator Clinton winning contests, going forward, saying, why should I quit, with party elders saying, no, no, no, you need to drop out; everybody needs to get behind Barack Obama, because this is the only way to power him into the general election.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FOUHY: So, now Bernie is making the same case that Hillary did eight years ago, that he should stay in, he`s winning contests. He`s got money. More than half the states haven`t voted yet, so why boot him out now?

It`s a compelling argument. She made it herself eight years ago.

MATTHEWS: What about his geographic argument? I`m not sure it`s a little out of date. You know, we also kid about the left coast in California. California is very pro-choice, Republicans can`t win on that issue out there. Washington state and Oregon are always guaranteed in the Democratic side.

You look at the picture of the United States, it`s always that part, ands the northeast is Democratic. But I`m not sure it`s still the case for example, New York he is getting killed. I`m not sure there is a California chance for him.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: What we`ve seen in this election that some states that behaved in untraditional ways. You know, he won Michigan, but then didn`t win the states last week that people thought --

MATTHEWS: He didn`t win Illinois or Ohio. Or Missouri.

CORN: And he mentioned New York state there, where Hillary Clinton was senator. So and also, you have to remember that every state in the Democratic contest is proportional. So even if he wins some of those states, depending how he wins, he may only pick up a few more delegates, and so she has a big lead. He has to start winning states with a big lead.

MATTHEWS: OK, what makes him a prince at the convention? Let`s be honest about this? What way to end this campaign would make him a shining star come Philadelphia. I would argue, he must be thinking, he winning California, he wins a gold prize out there, then it`s over, he goes to Philadelphia, having won California or something like that.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: A couple of these caucus states coming up, Chris. The campaign thinks he is going to win in the caucus states and pick up some momentum and that`s why Clinton campaign is focused on Arizona. They want to blunt some of that momentum heading to the caucuses. But look, he is fighting --

MATTHEWS: Han he win in Arizona? Who lives in Arizona?

WELKER: It looks like he`s got a shot in Arizona, but he is making a very strong push for Arizona --

MATTHEWS: Who are the Democrats in Arizona? Some Hispanics obviously.

WELKER: The Latinos.

CORN: Colleges few college towns.

WALKER: I think he`s got a shot in Arizona. But look, I think --

MATTHEWS: ASU.

WALKER: Your question -- but, Chris, to your question about what makes him a prince at the convention, I think he wants to fight this thing to the death, right? He said this is a revolution. You can`t fight until you can`t fight anymore and that`s critical for his supporters, because if he does take it to the convention, he can say to them, OK, now it`s time to back Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: OK. You`re Hillary Clinton, and you can say to yourself --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here`s the question: can he run a campaign about vigor that doesn`t get negative against her? In other words, doesn`t give the Republicans a knife to use against her in November.

FOUHY: He`s been pretty negative. I don`t know that he continues to be negative. He`s a smart man. He sees the writing on the wall. It doesn`t help him to go negative and it certainly hurts her. There`s really no purpose.

I would argue he`s already a prince of the convention. He has pushed her so far to the left on issues like immigration that she is a different candidate than she would be if he had not run. That is a huge price for him.

MATTHEWS: But she still said in the interview I had with her this week, she`s still waiting to say there`s a difference between her and him. She`s not going all the way -- I`m not a socialist. She`s quite clear --

CORN: They had to fight over single-payer -- I mean, there are some real differences, but Beth is right. On Wall Street, on immigration, she is much more in tune with the Democratic primary electorate.

MATTHEWS: She is more in tune.

CORN: She is now because of Bernie. He can claim, and what does he care about, you`re right -- he doesn`t want planes to travel in, he doesn`t want ambassadorships, he actually wants to affect the debate and he has done that.

WELKER: That`s her big challenge I think at this point, not going too far to the left. I don`t think she is shifting on foreign policy at all. That`s always been one of the areas where she has been more consistent. I think that`s --

MATTHEWS: The party with, he`ll move her to the left on social, but leave her over there on the center right on foreign policy.

WELKER: Absolutely. I think to Beth`s point, he`s already made his mark there. She has already shifted, like TPP.

CORN: He can still run his revolution and call for the changes he wants without attacking her for being a toll of Wall Street. Now, he may still do that. This is his decision to make. He can take it all the way up to California. And run an Upton St. Clair-like candidacy out in the west coast.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: But and without attacking her. But depends whether he --

MATTHEWS: `36, right.

FOUHY: He can also affect the choice of a running mate, Chris, it could be him or it could be an Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s list them down out here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I just want to -- I refuse to vote when you have three people with a decision. Do you think it`s plausible that Hillary Clinton potentially and maybe likely the first woman president would have a woman running mate likely?

FOUHY: I think it would be difficult for her to choose someone who is as progressive as Senator Sanders. I think she`s going to go more of the Castro route for example.

CORN: I think it`s tough for her to bring Elizabeth Warren in without getting more diversity and without having her outshine her. That`s the other thing. She`ll outshine Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: You`re amazing. She would still be running.

Go ahead, Beth.

FOUHY: You know, we`ve been talking about the bipartisan unity ticket. She can run with Meg Whitman.

WELKER: Oh, that would be interesting.

CORN: No, no.

FOUHY: Republican who is roundly rejected Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: I`m overwhelmed by feminism.

Anyway, thank you.

The roundtable is staying with us. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Despite heavy Republican opposition in the Senate, the majority of Americans do not want Congress to delay voting on President Obama Supreme Court nominee. According to a new NBC News online poll, six in 10 people say Congress should vote now whether to confirm Merrick Garland to the country`s highest court. Thirty-six percent think Congress should wait until a new president is sworn in next January.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATHEWS: We`re back with Kristin, David and Beth.

Well, there`s increasing worry inside the Republican Party that traditional Republican voters might defect from the party in November if Donald Trump is the nominee. The latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll finds that in a hypothetical matchup, 12 percent, one in eight of Republicans, say they will vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump. On flip side, only 5 percent of Democrats say they would vote for Trump over Clinton.

While conservative leaders held a closed door meeting yesterday, as we said, to strategize a way to stop Trump. Among them was conservative columnist Quinn Hillier who`s told "Politico", quote, "The consensus was that we need a unity ticket of some sort and we`ll let the candidates workout who the unity ticket is."

Beth, good luck with that. The idea is oh, not you? Me? I thought it would be you.

I mean, it`s absurd that any candidate -- let`s talk about this problem. If you`re going to have -- we all sort of know, I think who the Republican people would be, who would flip over to Hillary. I would say women, start with that group. People little more educated, probably.

The white working class guy would probably flip the other way, hardly balancing it out.

So, here is an idea I want to focus on now. Is there any chance that Hillary Clinton would pick a Republican? Beth?

FOUHY: You discern me. I`m all about Meg Whitman. I think there`s a unity ticket, two women to which the Republican as well --

MATTHEWS: A feminist (INAUDIBLE) bipartisan.

FOUHY: And somebody who`s walked away from Donald Trump very forcefully and very publicly.

WELKER: I think the reality is she likely won`t, but if we`re going to entertain the scenario, I think a Rubio could be an interesting pick for her and also Kasich.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. Well, there is a history --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Franklin Roosevelt in `44, he`s going for his fourth term, was talking about Wendell Willkie, who he had beaten, but it was a very good campaign in `40. And Willkie ended up being his diplomat going to Europe, remember? I mean, they really got together.

Humphrey was talking about, joining up -- having Rockefeller joined him in `68. John Kerry was talking about John McCain joining. And most well- know, McCain talked about Lieberman. He really talked about, remember the move?

CORN: That was a big deal. I would say the chance --

MATTHEWS: What stopped him, Beth? Does anybody know why --

FOUHY: He`s a Democrat. The Republicans aren`t --

(CROSSTALK)

FOUHY: They wanted a hard core Republican, not a squish.

CORN: Republicans thought McCain --

MATTHEWS: So they would pick Sarah Palin.

CORN: Yes. Republicans thought that McCain was barely a Republican, so he couldn`t do that. I think the odds of Hillary picking a Republican are about 3 percent or less. But if she were, maybe Colin Powell, except, he was wrong on the Iraq war but you have to have someone who`s pro-choice.

MATTHEWS: Not very happy with it.

CORN: Maybe he can get around that.

But it`s really hard. The parties are so at odds on some key issues. How can you pick Marco Rubio who said that you should go to jail for Benghazi to be on the ticket. He shouldn`t be on the ticket if he believes that.

MATTHEWS: I guess, because I`m throwing out ideas like this because I`m afraid what will happen is this -- we have a presidential election. It could be wild and woolly and we think it would be. It could be crazy.

If it`s Trump against Hillary, it`s not complicated to vote for. People figure that one pretty soon. I think the vote will be hardened by late July. People will know who they`re going to vote for.

But we`re going to come into Washington, hopefully we`re sitting here January, January 21st, Senate will continue Republican -- couple seats, maybe not.

CORN: Well --

MATTHEWS: It will be so close nobody will get 60 votes to pass anything. You can beat on that. No party will have a mandate.

And the House probably still Republican but it`s not going to be any good for a Democratic president.

So, Hillary walks into a wrong House, a divided Senate, and nothing gets done and we`re back into this mishegoss, this anger, you taught me that word, this confusion and anger. What good is all this attack and excitement and dirty naming and everything, we end up back in the same slaughter house we started with? That`s what I don`t want to happen.

WELKER: I think to that point, Chris, one of the things that Secretary Clinton should consider whether she picks a Democrat or Republican is potentially someone who reaches out to that outsider anti-establishment surge that we`re seeing right in the country.

MATTHEWS: You think she might pick a Joe Manchin.

WELKER: I think she would consider. I mean, I think she should consider it. That`s what -- that`s something that`s missing --

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: the Bernie people will hate that. The Bernie people will hate that.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: So I mean, that`s really --

FOUHY: She can`t move this far left in the campaign only to go back to being that conservative with her running mate. No way. Impossible.

CORN: I don`t think a pick of a vice president is going to solve the issue that you rightfully just pointed out. I think basic country has to make a decision over the next, two, four, six, eight years about which side it wants to give a chance to, like they do in a parliamentary system.

MATTHEWS: I agree. We need a government, and we don`t have a government if we go in there with Hillary with a Republican House and split Senate. We don`t have a government. We have this war that goes on.

By the way, I think you`re right but we don`t have the parliamentary system.

CORN: Gerrymandering.

MATTHEWS: But we need a mandate. I would like to see any new president come in with six months.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Just six months.

FOUHY: Chris, you don`t buy the notion that it would be a wipeout if Hillary Clinton was elected over Trump and she would bring with her a Democrat Senate?

MATTHEWS: She could bring a Democrat Senate and with 55, she is in business.

FOUHY: And a lot more house members.

MATTHEWS: You`re an optimistic person on this thinking. No, I think it`s possible, by the way. I wish the American people would make up their mind. That would be interesting. At least every four years, change their mind, but at least have a mind.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the round table is staying with us. Up next, these great three people will tell me something I don`t know. They`re already doing that.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the round table.

Beth, tell me something I don`t know.

FOUHY: Hearing that the Republican convention is having trouble raising money, lot of corporations very uncomfortable getting behind a Trump at the top of that ticket, so they may be in a hole getting that convention off the ground in Cleveland.

MATTHEWS: Non-dazzling convention for Donald Trump.

FOUHY: He`ll pay for it.

MATTHEWS: A cheap one.

David?

CORN: My turn? Trump has been saying if he is the nominee he can put states into play that aren`t otherwise into play for Republicans in the general election, he points to New York state, his home state. Now, Hillary Clinton, it`s her home state in a way. And the latest poll out of Emerson College has her beating Trump in New York 55 to 36. So, not even close at this moment.

WELKER: Epic battle in New York.

MATTHEWS: And you?

WELKER: OK. Clinton campaign getting closer to actually have a strategy to take on Donald Trump. I`m told they have been considering three different things: ignoring him, which is what the Republicans did which backfired. Meeting him on his level which is what we saw Rubio and Jeb Bush do, which backfired. So, they`re not doing either of those things.

I`m told she`s going to go after him on policy issues. She`s going to draw sharp distinctions with him.

MATTHEWS: I mean, take him seriously. When he says that stuff, say I disagree with you.

WELKER: Exactly. They say the Republicans haven`t been able to do that because it would alienate the Republican base, but she can do that.

MATTHEWS: That`s reporting. That`s a great -- that`s gold stuff. That`s gold.

WELKER: All right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. Thanks to the roundtable, Kristen Welker, David Corn, and Beth Fouhy.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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