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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 3/23/2016

Guests: Henry Barbour, Michael Crowley, April Ryan, Jeremy Peters, Nayyera Haq, Anthony Roman, David Maraniss, Robert Samuels

Show: HARDBALL Date: March 23, 2016 Guest: Henry Barbour, Michael Crowley, April Ryan, Jeremy Peters, Nayyera Haq, Anthony Roman, David Maraniss, Robert Samuels

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: America reacts.

And this is HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

The terrorists who struck Europe yesterday morning are being answered by bugle calls here across the Atlantic. If the killers were hoping for a war of West against East, Christian against Muslim, they may have bargained with their lives for just what we`re hearing now.

In Brussels, a massive manhunt is under way for at least one suspect from yesterday`s bombings. Also today, we`re learning more about some of the men behind the attacks.

Prosecutors have identified two brothers -- there they are -- Ibrahim and Khalid Bakraoui, as two of the perpetrators. One of those brothers blew himself up in the airport, the other did the same in the city`s subway system about an hour later. NBC News has learned that the brothers are connected to November`s Paris attacks, as well, which they helped to facilitate by providing a safe house to come of the bombers.

Police are hunting for another man seen in this photo at the airport just minutes before the first explosion. The man in the lighter jacket on the right is thought to have fled the scene and is still at large.

This all comes as European and Middle Eastern officials tell the Associated Press ISIS is training hundreds of fighters right now to attack Europe.

Meanwhile, back home in the United States, yesterday`s attacks have shaken up the presidential race. Senator Ted Cruz has come under fire from President Obama, Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton, among others, for proposing police patrols of Muslim neighborhoods in response. President Obama call that proposal contrary to who we are.

Also today, Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech about terrorism in response to the attacks. She starkly contrasted her views on torture, foreign policy and immigration against those of Donald Trump and other Republicans.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Slogans aren`t a strategy. Loose cannons tend to misfire. What America needs is strong, smart, steady leadership to wage and win this struggle.


MATTHEWS: We`re going to talk about the latest from the campaign a little later, but we begin with the new developments in the Brussels investigation itself. NBC`s Chris Jansing joins me from the city.

Chris, thank you. You`ve been all around this story and on top of it today. Give us sort of the police story as it`s evolved so far.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, huge developments today, Chris. Look, for four months, police have been trying to put together the pieces of what happened in Paris. Now, and not in a good way, they`re finding out that there are all these ties to what happened here in Brussels just a couple of days ago.

You mentioned those brothers, involved, now we know, in both attacks. There`s also Salah Abdeslam. He was the one who managed to hide in plain sight in this city for four months before he was arrested on Friday.

Now we know not only was he involved in the Paris attacks, which is why police were looking for him, but they also believe and said today that they would -- that he would have been part of these attacks had he not been arrested.

In addition to that, there was a computer that was tossed away, owned by the older brother, where he essentially wrote what was a last will and testament indicating that they were feeling the pressure, that this cell, which is now much larger than police originally thought, knew that the pressure was on once Salah Abdeslam got arrested until they clearly may have moved up these attacks.

Not that they weren`t already in the works. Something like this could not be put together in a matter of days. It was probably already pretty far along. But they moved it up, knowing that police were breathing down their neck, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Chris, let`s take a look. Let`s hold that picture we had a moment there ago of the three -- of the three terrorists. On the hard left, I`m told -- the middle is Ibrahim, Ibrahim Bakraoui. Of course, he`s dead. He was the one that blew himself up right there in that airport terminal. His brother did the same in the subway. Khalid did the same, blew himself up in the subway, the metro.

The gentleman on the left, if you want to call him a gentleman -- you see - - do we know if he was the bomb maker? What is his role, the one -- of the three gentlemen, the one on the left?

JANSING: There is still a question about the bomb maker. When we say the bomb maker, what police want to know, and there have been reports about this, NBC News has not independently confirmed this, that he was a bomber. He was a suicide bomber, that he died at the scene, but he was also the bomb maker for the Paris attacks.

That`s another piece of this puzzle, Chris, that they have been looking for. They`ve been trying to figure out who made those bombs, and fingerprints and DNA have led them to suspect that it might be the person who was involved in these attacks. We have not independently confirmed this, but certainly, it`s something authorities looking at very closely.

MATTHEWS: So still on the loose right now, out there somewhere, is that guy on the right-hand side, in the light-colored jacket. Do we know who he is, anything about him?

JANSING: We don`t know who he is, and that`s one of the real puzzles here. They`ve put his picture up. They`ve done closeups of him, looking to see who he might be, particularly important because even as they`re questioning Salah Abdeslam, he`s the key person, right? If there are more attacks that are being planned, he`s the one they would like to question.

And why do they think there might be more attacks? There is that huge bomb-making factory that they found, indicating that there were either -- there was either a much wider plot that was originally planned, but again, if they speeded it up, it turned out to be these two locations, or that they have even more plots that are in the works.

So there`s a real urgency here. They`ve been doing raids throughout the day, and officials have said today that they`re going to continue to do raids. He is priority one, to find that one man who is on the loose, every big manhunt going on right now, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Chris, hold on for one second. I want to play right now for you, while we still have you, this translation, a Belgian prosecutor translating the -- sort of the last will and testament, if you will, of one of the terrorists. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In the garbage bin, we found the will of Ibrahim Bakraoui, in which he declares that he was in a bad situation, that he`d been sought everywhere, he`s no longer safe, and that if he dies, he may -- or he thought he may end up in a prison cell.


MATTHEWS: So Ibrahim Bakraoui -- what was he afraid of? Was he afraid of apprehension for what he`d done with -- with regard to setting up a safe house for -- or what did he do with regard to Paris? Why was he on the run?

JANSING: Well, he is the one who helped set up that safe house, for sure. And he rented that apartment that was used as a safe house there.

But in addition to that, it does seem to be an indication -- he doesn`t mention Salah Abdeslam by name. It`s really interesting. But authorities do believe when he said he didn`t want to be in a cell next to him, that may well be who he was referring to.

But really, it`s about that urgency, that what -- the bottom line that police officials read into what you just heard there, is the urgency they felt. They wanted to get this pulled off. And so they were going to do it very quickly, and they knew if they didn`t, they might go the way of Salah Abdeslam, that they might all come under arrest, Chris.

MATTHEWS: It`s amazing how this thing finally begins to come together after just 48 hours now, or less than 48 hours. Chris Jansing, thanks so much for the great reporting from Europe.


MATTHEWS: President Obama today said defeating ISIS was his top priority, that his administration is systematically and ruthlessly going after their networks, but he also said the group`s goal was to strike fear in our societies and said it`s important not to let them succeed.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Groups like ISIL can`t destroy us. They can`t defeat us. They don`t produce anything. They`re not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers who`ve perverted one of the world`s great religions.

We defeat them in part by saying, You are not strong. You are weak. We send a message to those who might be inspired by them to say, You are not going to change our values.


MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, as I mentioned, the Associated Press reports ISIS has trained hundreds of fighters to carry out attacks in Europe. So they`re training them now to come to Europe.

Nayyera Haq is a former State Department spokesperson. She worked on national security policy in the Obama administration. Anthony Roman is a counterterrorism and risk management analyst.

We don`t have much time, but you`ve heard the reporting there about the crime. It`s sort of a detective story. We`ve figured out the role of the two brothers, Ibrahim and Khalid Bakraoui, and the rules that Paris played in perhaps leading up this event.

How does it show a bigger -- what does it project to, in your eyes?

NAYYERA HAQ, FMR. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, this shows that ISIS has clearly moved outside of just the Syria/Iraq territory. And in fact, as we make gains against them militarily there, they`re spreading and trying to wreak terror in parts of Europe.

And what they`re taking advantage of is essentially a terrible storm of factors. You have relatively open borders. You have land masses and countries that don`t share -- that are close together but have terrible information-sharing mechanisms.

For example, these Brussels brothers were questioned by police. The Paris attackers were questioned by police. Information never shared with the French. You had people who were recently leaving Turkey after having fought in Syria, going back to Belgium. Again, information not shared across country borders.

If you ask anyone in the intelligence community, the sad thing is they`re not surprised that Brussels is the place where the next terrorist attack happened. So they clearly have to pull together their resources, counterterrorism measures, and deal with the fact that they also have a population that is 40 percent unemployed and at risk for radicalization.

MATTHEWS: Meaning Belgium.

HAQ: In Belgium.

MATTHEWS: Let me go -- let me go to Anthony on this question. How important is geographic territory? You know, we went into Afghanistan to remove a platform for terrorism from al Qaeda. I just wonder, is it really -- and you see pictures of people running -- climbing along monkey bars, trying to get in shape. And you wonder what has that got to do with planting bombs at airports? People can do that who are the least physically fit people on the planet.

What -- what`s the importance of physical (ph) going from one country to another, train somewhere in the Middle East and just simply having access to the Internet and getting the word out and the propaganda that hooks people?

ANTHONY ROMAN, RISK MANAGEMENT ANALYST: Well, you know, ISIS is really a multi-pronged organization. Think of organized crime. They`re money launderers. They`re a paramilitary group. They`re a military group. So they have different training bases for different purposes. They have intelligence training schools. They have bomb-making training schools.

And speaking about the bomb making, the bomber who was involved in this, in terms of he being a bomb maker -- if he was, he was a secondary bomb maker simply because master bomb makers are critically important to ISIS, and they`re not going to risk them by having them commit a suicide bombing.

But there`s so much going on behind the scenes, Chris. There are tactical teams hunting these guys down all of the time, intelligence operatives working and developing information.

It is not an easy life being in ISIS. Some of the kids that get involved in it and get recruited are really under a fallacy, thinking that they`re going to have this wonderful adventure. And my goodness, the Europeans are really behind the curve on this, especially in Brussels, allowing so many refugees to come onto the continent without proper screening.


ROMAN: ISIS of course looked at that opportunity and embedded operatives in there to do recruiting and training.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at how we responded. Here President Obama said today one reason the U.S. has seen fewer attacks is because its Muslim population isn`t alienated here. Let`s listen to the president.


OBAMA: One of the great strengths of the United States and part of the reason why we have not seen more attacks in the United States is we have an extraordinarily successful, patriotic, integrated Muslim American community. They do not feel ghettoized. They do not feel isolated.

Any approach that would single them out or target them for discrimination is not only wrong and un-American, but it also would be counter-productive.


MATTHEWS: I don`t -- you know, sometimes Cruz leaves -- Ted Cruz leaves me completely empty-headed because he brings nothing to the table mentally. The idea of patrolling a neighborhood, as if it`s a street crime neighborhood -- you know, a tough Philadelphia neighborhood or big city neighborhood where there`s a lot of street crime, muggings, et cetera, and dealing of drugs on the street corner. But this isn`t about that.

So what good would be driving cruisers, squad cars up and down the streets of a Muslim neighborhood in the United States, even if such a concentration of people existed, with the idea of somewhere in some basement, somebody`s cooking something? You wouldn`t see it from a squad car. Patrolling is the worst thing you can do because it would create a sense of unity and community and "omerta" and secret keeping.

HAQ: Well, and it goes against the entire idea of having integrated communities where people are friendly, open with each other. And the last thing the police in the U.S. need right now is another community...


MATTHEWS: We were talking beforehand, you`re from a Pakistani background. Is there a sense of ghetto -- I hate -- that word came back from -- Sanders brought it back. We don`t use it for a while -- ghettoization, separation, alien nation -- are those words that generally fit the South Asian experience in the United States?

HAQ: I would say writ large, the minority experience in the U.S. is not one of feeling immediately -- sorry, the immigrant experience is not one of feeling alienated in the United States. It`s quite different than Europe. You can come to the United States as an immigrant, and if you come legally, you sign up for the Constitution, you believe in certain freedoms, and you`re willing to accept those for other people. You have an American identity. It`s not...

MATTHEWS: Well, your accent changes in one generation.

HAQ: But it`s not like, for example, in France or in Britain, where these are hereditary titles, or you know...


MATTHEWS: It`s why all of us left Europe, OK?


HAQ: Well, and that is a common -- that`s in fact the common identity that Americans...

MATTHEWS: I am so glad -- you know, we need good news, Nayyera. We need good news in this country. Thank you for some good news, guy (ph). And thank you, Anthony. You`re agreeing with me. Good news is always better than bad news.

Anyway, still ahead this hour, we`re going to turn to new developments in the race for 2016, including another establishment endorsement. By the way, the losers` club, the first candidates` club, as my producer called it today -- the first candidates` club of losers are all getting behind Ted Cruz, a guy they really don`t like.

Anyway, plus, the attacks in Brussels become a focal point, of course, in America`s presidential campaign, as I said, as the candidates weigh in with their bugle calls against radical Islam and everything else.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, a day after the attacks in Brussels, eyewitnesses are sharing details of their encounter in terror. American couple Jeff Hoffman (ph) and Shireen Nirogi (ph) were at the airport when the bombs went off. This afternoon -- actually, this morning, they shared their chilling account in an interview with Matt Lauer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like a whirlwind. (INAUDIBLE) kind of like a tornado going off behind them, the stuff flying everywhere. And then that hit me. I felt it before I heard it. And I still didn`t know what was going on. I didn`t really understand what was going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the second explosion, it was actually dead silence. It was almost as if everyone was gone in a moment.


MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump continued his march to the Republican nomination last night with a decisive victory in the winner- take-all state of Arizona, where he captured all of the state`s 58 delegates.

But it was also a good night for Trump`s rival, Ted Cruz, who won Utah, taking all of its 40 delegates. Here was Cruz earlier today.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a huge victory last night in Utah. We were hoping to break 50 percent. If we broke 50 percent, we would get all of the delegates, and we ended up blowing past that with a landslide victory, 69 percent, nearly 70 percent.

That is just the latest manifestation of what we`re seeing all across the country, which is we`re seeing Republicans uniting behind this campaign, coming together and joining in unity because we recognize that if we nominate Donald Trump, it elects Hillary Clinton.


MATTHEWS: Just to put a little fact check there, Jack and the Beanstalk could have beaten Donald Trump in the Mormon community.

Anyway, Cruz is now becoming the Republican Party`s best hope of defeating Trump -- it`s not much of a hope -- or preventing him from reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. We know that story, 1,237.

In recent days, Cruz received support from establishment types, including Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney. And today, the most establishment guy in the universe, Jeb Bush, announced he, too, is going back on the ship. It`s the first time in history, by the way, the rats have rejoined the ship.

Anyway, Bush said, "For the sake of our party and the country, we must move to overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee."

Anyway, the support from these establishment types is stunning, given the hostility we all know they share towards Cruz across the party itself.

As Chris Cillizza writes in "The Washington Post": "Cruz was and was hated by the Republican establishment party, who view him as grandstander with little interest in any of the niceties of politics. Cruz is the guy who doesn`t play well with others and whom others dislike a lot for that unwillingness to go along to get along. It seems only Donald Trump could turn the anti-establishment Ted Cruz into the new establishment leader."

Anyway, joining me right now is Republican strategist Henry Barbour, and MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid.

Joy, I know the Mormon community, LDS community. It has views about social behavior, obviously about religion and what a good person should look like and behave like. Trump is the opposite of that. He`s a showoff, he`s a braggart. He seems to mess around a lot in every way. He loves things.

I think the Mormon community is much more humble, much more prudent and nicer, let`s put it that way, nicer. It was easy for Ted Cruz to beat them. It was easy. I said Jack and the Beanstalk could beat him among the Mormons. For that guy though to go out and beat him drum and say I just did in Utah what I`m doing all across the country, try that number in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York.

The same number that worked in the LDS community will be of no value where there are a lot of people like Trump around us.

Go ahead. Your thoughts.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and, Chris, you know, the only surprise for me was that Kasich actually didn`t do better. He is a very evangelical guy, but he`s a lot more of the temperament that you hear coming out more of the LDS Church.

Look, I think that what you saw here was that Ted Cruz is the most ostentatiously evangelical of the candidates. He worked Utah really hard. There have been statisticians who have actually studied it and found that the biggest statistical indicator of not supporting Donald Trump is being a Mormon. Mormons have the most antipathy to Donald Trump. He never stood a chance in Utah.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Henry Barbour on this.

How does this race stand right now, when you have all the losers joining up? One of our producers, our producer, executive producer here actually referred to him as the first candidates club, like the first wives club. They are all the people that the voters have rejected now for months and they have all gotten together in this odd gang of -- well, it`s an odd gang. It`s a motley crew, to say the least.

I don`t know what they have in common, except they all lost, they all resent the fact that Trump beat them, and now they think that the whole is greater than the sum of their parts. I think the whole is smaller than the sum of their parts. I think Jeb jumping into this odd group of people makes him look smaller than he was when he left the field.

Your thoughts.

HENRY BARBOUR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, if you`re going to say losers, let`s remember that Hillary Clinton lost in 2008, and she hasn`t come out yet for Ted Cruz.

But I do think, Chris, that for the most part, endorsements don`t matter. It may help a little bit with fund-raising, but for the most part, Ted Cruz has got to go out and win this. And he`s got a long ways to go, but I don`t think this will be decided until the 1st of June, June 7, to be exact, when New York and New Jersey -- I mean, California and New Jersey will be voting.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think Trump did so well in the Deep South? If you look at the map now, we have got maps all the time now that shows his enormous strength in the Southeast, all across the Gulf of Mexico, starting in Louisiana, all the way over to Florida, he carried them all.

He carried all those states, very conservative, lots of Baptist people down there, evangelicals, if you will. And he won every single one of them against this guy Cruz. Why is Cruz now claiming to about Mr. Evangelical? I don`t get it. There`s no evidence of that. Your thoughts. I love the way I tell you my opinion and then ask you to challenge it. But that`s how I do it. Go ahead.


BARBOUR: There you go. That`s all good.

Look, I think that Donald Trump has done well in the South because people in the South are sick of what`s going on in Washington, like most folks in the country, and Trump is appealing to them. He is appealing to them, both on national defense, on the border, and they`re just sick and tired of the status quo.

Folks -- look, my county voted over 50 percent for Trump, which for me, I`m not proud of, but Donald Trump is going to have to grow as a candidate, Chris, though, if he wants to both close out this nomination, and certainly win the White House. He has got to show that he can bring people together and not just divide them.

MATTHEWS: How does he do that? How do you throw out the baby without the -- throw out the bath water? How do you keep the baby? How do you keep the part of him that`s attractive to many people, obviously, that is exciting, that is funny to some people, that turns them on, gives them a rise?

How do you keep that part and get rid of the scurrilous stuff?

REID: You don`t.

MATTHEWS: Well, Joy, you go in there.


REID: Just to jump a little bit on your previous question, Chris, if you think about it, the South is where Republicans have most solidly consolidated the white vote, particularly the white working-class vote.

And how did they do that? From the time of the mid-1960s, they did it by spurning what the party used to stand for in terms of supporting the Civil Rights Act, supporting the Voting Rights Act. They did it based on promises, saying that they would enforce evangelical values, saying that they would enforce evangelical Christianity in terms oft law.

They promised and promised and promised for more than 40 years. And what they got was the South. What they got was, by 2014, all of the Southern states in the hands of the GOP, but they actually didn`t deliver any of that. And so that`s where you have the most angry people. The South is where Barack Obama in some states like Alabama, Louisiana got 10, 11, 14 percent of the white vote.

It`s the most antipathy to Barack Obama. So I think all that Donald Trump has to do essentially is just be the guy who is against the things that make them mad. Things like immigration. Things like trade. Just being against that is all he has to do in the South. The problem with Donald Trump has is the white vote is not consolidated anywhere else.


MATTHEWS: I agree with you, but there is a piece missing.

Henry, one second.

To me, what really consolidated it, wasn`t just the civil rights bill, which was -- and voting rights, which drove a lot of the conservative whites crazy. I know all that, but there was another thing down South. It was the idea you could go to public school, put your kids in public school, the neighborhood school, and you would have the King James Bible read at school.

There was a sense of prayer at school. And when that court decision came down and said no more prayer in school, no more organized prayer, a lot of people felt something had been shaken lose from their foundations.

And they did not like it. And I think that where is the -- isn`t that right, Henry? That`s where the whole evangelical love affair with the Republican Party began. The Democrats didn`t protect the King James Bible which they had grown up with and gone to school with all their lives.

BARBOUR: Yes, the Bill of Rights matters.

It certainly matters all over the country, but I think you`re right, Chris, that certainly here, people want to protect their freedom of religion. They want to be able to practice their faith, both at home and they want their kids to be able to pray at school.

And so when Trump appeals to that, that has resonated with people. And, of course, Ted Cruz has done a lot of that himself. And he has had strong showing in the South. But, you know, this race is moving beyond the South, and I think that`s where Trump has got to grow as a candidate if he wants to be able to win.

He is having a little trouble out West. He is going to have some opportunities in states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut coming up.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so.


BARBOUR: And it`s going to be really interesting, but, as I said before...

MATTHEWS: Yes. Where I grew up, the men are going to like him and the women are going to have a problem with him.

But we all know that.


MATTHEWS: Henry, please come back, you know. It`s great to have you on.

BARBOUR: Yes. Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS: Joys, as always, my dear, thank you so much for coming on.

REID: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You are so right. I think there`s a religion piece to this as well as the ethnic piece, though. We have got to keep that in mind. I really know the moral majority didn`t come from race. It came from the loss of the Bible in school.

Up next, tough talk, foreign policy once again becomes the focal point of this campaign, the hard line candidates are taking as they explain what they`re doing right now to combat the threat of ISIS. They`re all exploiting this, of course.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

The Supreme Court appears divided over the Obamacare birth control mandate. Religious groups oppose the measure which requires employer health plans to cover contraception. A split decision would leave conflicting lower court rulings in place.

A powerful spring snowstorm forced the cancellation of all flights at the Denver Airport.

And former "Today Show" anchor, baseball great and Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Garagiola has passed away. He was 90 years old -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, the deadly terror attacks in Brussels yesterday have provoked starkly different responses from the 2016 presidential front-runners. Donald Trump offered this dire warning Tuesday morning.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They`re coming into our country, and they`re coming into our country too. And we have no idea what`s happening. Our government has absolutely no idea what`s happening. But they`re coming into our country. They`re coming in by the thousands. And just watch what happens. I`m a pretty good prognosticator. Just watch what happens over the years. It won`t be pretty.


MATTHEWS: Well, polls shows Trump`s bombastic rhetoric gave him a bump with voters after the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino out in California in 2015.

But David Wade, a senior aide to John Kasich in his 2004 campaign, told Politico -- quote -- "If enough Americans decide this is about open borders and Islamophobia, then the ugly strain of populism that Trump has already tapped into may find some xenophobic traction. Islamophobia would be the vermouth that mixes one toxic cocktail alongside the bathtub gin of Trump`s immigration bombast."

Well, meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a more measured and perhaps thoughtful tone in a speech today on how to combat terrorism.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America doesn`t cower in fear or hide behind walls. We lead and we succeed.

Throughout our history, we have stared into the face of evil and refused to blink, whether it was fascism, the Cold War, or hunting down Osama bin Laden. And we will defeat ISIS, too.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is the HARDBALL roundtable tonight, Michael Crowley, the senior affairs correspondent at Politico. April Ryan of course cover the White House for American Urban Radio Networks, and Jeremy Peters is a reporter with "The New York Times."

Michael, I think you nailed today in your column for Politico talking about how Trump is going to exploit the hell out of this.


I think that, look, Trump is an emotional candidate. He speaks from the gut. It`s heart, not head. And when people are afraid, if we have this constant drumbeat of terror, I think they get irrational. And I don`t think they`re thinking about our network of alliances. They`re thinking about who is going to kill the bastards. Who said that recently?

And I think that plays into Trump`s hands. But a lot of Democrats I talk to expressed high confidence that it`s not going to play out that way. They say, no, when people are afraid, they`re going to turn to somebody like Hillary Clinton, who is a steady hand on the wheel. You saw her speech today.

She`s talking about the NATO alliance, intelligence sharing, diplomacy. And they say people are going to want a cool, steady hand on the wheel. I just think they may be underestimating the degree to which emotion takes over when people are really afraid.

MATTHEWS: But Hillary is no dove.

CROWLEY: Hillary is absolutely no dove.

MATTHEWS: So, she is pretty well positioned.

Jeremy, I think Hillary Clinton -- every once in a while, you`re time comes.

I will get to you in a second , April.

But the time has come. Hillary is a centrist, basically, on foreign policy, maybe a little more center-right. She voted for the Iraq War. When you talk to her, she doesn`t get squeamish when you talk about even knocking off foreign leaders. She is ready to go after the bad guys.

And we all saw her in the Sit Room, you know? I think she is ready to be there as commander in chief right now, in a way that Bernie Sanders -- it`s not like he is a dove or anything. He is just not focused on it. He`s focused on social inequality right now.

JEREMY PETERS, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": And lined up next to these guys, Trump talking about banning all Muslims and knocking the hell out of ISIS, and Cruz talking about carpet-bombing them into...


MATTHEWS: How many Muslims live in the United States, Mr. Cruz? He had no idea.

PETERS: Yes. Right.

Hillary looks very reasonable and levelheaded about this. I mean, so her rougher edges on this are kind of rounded out by their extremism. But the thing about Cruz is a guy like that knows that this is unconstitutional.

Here is somebody who fancies himself to be one of the most preeminent constitutional scholars of his generation, and he is proposing going in and policing Muslim neighborhoods. This is totally unconstitutional.

MATTHEWS: Patrolling the neighborhoods.

April, it`s like he`s going to patrol a tough neighborhood where there`s a lot of street crime. No, someone is in a room somewhere plotting something. Driving up and down the street in a squad car is not going to do anything to that person, except keep it quiet. That`s all. Your thoughts.

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: I don`t know if it`s going to keep it quiet.

What kind of society would we be with that if that were to happen? And I`m going to go back to something that the NAACP said a couple of months ago when President Obama made that statement in the Oval Office, talking about terror, and assuring the American public that he is doing all that he can.

Words mean something, number one. Number two, the NAACP said Muslim Americans here in this country are really trying to make a life for themselves. They do better here than they do anywhere else in the world. And, therefore, because of that dynamic alone, that they are the ones that are really upset about what is happening.

They`re saying, don`t put us all in a pot with these crazies. And the problem is, is that all people in the Muslim community are being blanketed and told, you know, we`re going to watch you, when it`s a few, not all. And that`s a problem in this country.

MATTHEWS: And it serves the purposes of the terrorists, because it creates an East-West war. That`s what the whole thing is -- it`s not about knocking off 30 people in Brussels. It`s about igniting something.

BROWN: The great power against their...


MATTHEWS: Yes. And they become the heroes to all of Islam and they knock all off the moderate governments in the Middle East because they can`t withstand this East-West polarization.

CROWLEY: And to April`s point, in these communities, if you have a sense of division, if you have a sense that the police are here, they`re out to get us, we`re being persecuted, you don`t get the kind of cooperation that you need.

If you talk to counterterrorism experts and people who have experience in what they call countering violent extremism, CVE, they say you really need to have -- you know, you need to have almost personal relationships with these communities. You have to be seen as a friend, not a watchman, not somebody who is looking for them to stand on the wrong side of the line and smack them back.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.

Let`s talk about Hillary Clinton, because you have said it well. I think you`re all -- Hillary Clinton is known as more hawkish than most Democrats. I wouldn`t say she is Scoop Jackson, but she is at least Hubert Humphrey. She supported the Iraq War.

And you know what? It`s almost like one of those indelible facts. You can say later it was a mistake for political reasons, but you all know, same situation, she would probably do the same thing. And it`s a reasonable position. She is actually in a pretty firm position now, April, Hillary, as not being a dove.

BROWN: Well, you say she is more hawkish, but I`m still looking at something that we haven`t talked about. She was secretary of state, the woman of peace. So, she can play...


BROWN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

MATTHEWS: She wanted to bring in the air fire in Libya.

BROWN: But wait a minute. In that department, it was about diplomacy. In that department, it was about diplomacy.

But she also knows, when it`s time for war, you have to have war.


MATTHEWS: I remember when we had the plane get shot down over China, she was ready to rumble. And I`ll tell you...


BROWN: Yes. When it comes time to do it, she...

MATTHEWS: But I don`t want to fight with China, OK?

PETERS: Compared to Trump, though, she still trounces him in every major general election poll done by a reputable organization, Bloomberg, CNN, "Wall Street Journal," every one done lately. She crushes him by at least 10 points.

MATTHEWS: Well, it will be a clear-cut election. It will not be a hard election to vote in. It will not be difficult.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these three folks are going to tell me something I don`t know tonight.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



Michael, tell me something I don`t know. Michael Crowley, who wrote a hell of a piece today from "Politico", about what Trump is going to do to exploit this thing.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, POLITICO: Well, in my reporting on that piece, I spoke to someone who served a senior level both the Pentagon in the intelligence community, who said that --

MATTHEWS: What is her name?

I`m just kidding.


CROWLEY: Who said --


CROWLEY: That nonpartisan professional technical expects in the military, uniform military and intelligence communities are freaking out about Donald Trump. There is not a sense that, you know, maybe there is a way we can reach an accommodation with this guy, maybe he`s not so bad --

MATTHEWS: You mean as commander-in-chief, if he wins.

CROWLEY: As commander-in-chief, they don`t see it.

RYAN: I talked to Harry Belafonte this week.

MATTHEWS: How is he doing?

RYAN: He is doing great, 89 years old.

MATTHEWS: He looks good.

RYAN: He looks good and sounds great. And he`s not always supportive of everything President Obama does, but he is -- he is someone who is now supporting President Obama in this Cuba effort. He says it was a great effort.

MATTHEWS: I bet he would like it. He is a proud man of the left. Come daylight and they want to go home --


JEREMY PETERS, NEW YORK TIMES: With all of the talk of the Republican establishment coming around for Ted Cruz, there is an interesting subplot developing. And that is Republicans talking about the idea of nominating him as somebody who would break the fever on the right of we have to nominate the most conservative Republican, because that`s the only way we win, because if Ted Cruz gets nominated, chances are, Republicans are going to lose 35 states and some of them want to get it out of their system.

MATTHEWS: Let them have McGovern this time, let them have Goldwater. I know that argument.

Anyway, thank you to the roundtable. Everybody here, Michael Crowley, April, as always, the star of the show, and Jeremy Peters.

RYAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, "Looking for America". To speak to two "Washington Post" reporters who travel the country to hear the concerns and longings of everyday citizens as we choose a president. This is going to be great.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Residents of Brussels are coming to grips with the city forever change by yesterday`s bombings. Evan Lamos, American living in Brussels, was riding the metro directly behind the one attacked. And despite his close brush with horror, Lamos was stoic in an interview with NBC this morning.


EVAN LAMOS, AMERICAN LIVING IN BRUSSELS: We`ve been under high security alert for some time and that had kind of become normal and part of everyday life here. I think life will eventually go on. You have to get used to things as they are. I think it`s good to trust the authorities, to the extent that we can, about what to do to be safe. And life will go back to normal eventually, I`m sure I`ll take the metro to work once it`s running fully again.


MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

For 35 days, "Washington Post" reporters, David Maraniss and Robert Samuels traveled the country of ours, interviewing scores of American voters, as they came to the side which candidate to support this year. The final product, a four part special report called look "Looking for America," it`s the first mosaic of stories about why ordinary citizens choose to engage in politics and what it means to be an American this year.

Collectively, this story has illustrated a growing discontent in this country, but opinions varied about how to fix it.

Here`s a bit of what they found.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The baseline of this country, the heartbeat of this country is no longer there. I know so many people that have given up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so few jobs out there, and the economy has become stagnant, it has forced you to stop looking for work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a lot of work that needs to get done. I know a lot of people don`t feel the same type of encouragement. They see stuff as broken.



Well, the authors also note that for every disgruntled person out there who felt undone by this system and threatened by the way the country was changing, caught in the bind of stagnant wages or longing for an America of the past, we found someone who had endured decades of discrimination, hardship and yet still felt optimistic about the future and had no desire to go backward.

I`m joined right now by the authors of "Looking for America," "Washington Post" associate editor David Maraniss, and political reporter, Robert Samuels.

Robert, why don`t you start because, you know, there are a lot of theories out there. What`s going on? What`s driving people the way they want to think and vote right now?

ROBERT SAMUELS, NEW YORK TIMES POLITICAL REPORTER: I think what`s driving a lot of people is they feel the idea of the American dream, what makes people upwardly mobile is no longer there anymore. It`s no longer working in the way that they had expected it to work, when they grew up. And how people envisioned that at first varied depending who they are and where they are from.


DAVID MARANISS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You know, I think that what`s going on is a culmination of 20 or 30 years of a dissolution of institutions, of a growing disconnect between the two parties, a division between the two parties, and a lot of people just feels unsettled about where they are right now. But one of the central threads of what we`re trying to do is find out people view America.

There are very different definitions of what it means to be an American, what a great America means and that divide is just growing.

MATTHEWS: You know, I`ve heard people of color say to me, when you say make America great again, you mean before we had rights?

SAMUELS: Yes, one of the most interesting parts that happens in the series is the first group we hear about making America great, they`re evangelicals who live in Iowa and they talk about, you know, when we talk about how great the `50s were, people think we`re talking about bigotry but what we`re talking about is people honoring the Constitution and the idea we have God-given rights.

And then later in the story, we meet African-Americans who say, when people say that, do they mean when segregation existed?


SAMUELS: And what we`re seeing there is there`s an unspooling of the thread, that we haven`t recognized what our past has been. And because we haven`t recognized what the past meant to us, I think that predicated some these issues we`re seeing in this election and in the future.

MARANISS: One of the starkest contrasts I saw in that way in Michigan, I went to Macomb County where --

MATTHEWS: You`re always writing --

MARANISS: Well, Wisconsin even more, but yes, I`m a Midwestern guy. I went to Macomb County where all the Reagan Democrats started, where they`re now Trump Democrats and where trade is a huge issue and a lot of the labor people started out as Democrats have gone to Trump.


MARANISS: And they were talking about essentially, you know, focusing back on America and not, you know, the world so much. And, you know, we want people to -- Trump to make America great again back here.

And then I went to Detroit and found an Arab-American woman who`s doing that very thing. You know, she`s an American. She`s working in Detroit on the neighborhoods focusing on this country.

So, you have these two groups that couldn`t be more divergent yet they`re sort of talking about the same issue.

MATTHEWS: Explain Bernie versus Donald Trump.

SAMUELS: Well, I think --

MATTHEWS: Why do people go to one guy who promises more government --


MATTHEWS: Basically if you want to be positive about it, more responsibility from the government to help people in need, health care and that kind of thing, and then the other guy saying that government`s not going to help you at all.

SAMUELS: Right. I think what people are drawn to are the radical solutions of both, right? So, you have people who are in the same camp who are either drawn to Bernie or drawn to Donald Trump. And I think the reason you see that happening is because there`s a sense of idealism that Bernie Sanders exudes.

You know, he`ll say, the system`s bad, but we can all fix it together. We can all do it collectively. With Donald Trump, you know, you saw people who wanted someone in charge, who wanted a boss. You know, who says we have a problem and I can fix it. So you just trust me, and I will be that great president.

MATTHEWS: We`ve seen these histories before, authoritarianism, the appeal of the man on horseback, in American history. The guy who`s going to come and save it all because of him?

MARANISS: Well, we`ve seen it not just in America but around the world.


MARANISS: It often leads to --

MATTHEWS: It`s the socialist promise, by the way.


MATTHEWS: Which often turns out not to be as good as promised like in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Anyway, I got to go. Great reporting. How do they get a copy of this? How do they read this now?


MATTHEWS: They get the whole series?

MARANISS: Totally, yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s one of the great papers ever.

Thank you, David Maraniss. Thank you, Robert Samuels.

When we return, let me finish with this connection between the terrorism over in Belgium and the elections held here in America.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this connection between the terrorism over in Belgium and the electioneering here in America.

Well, it`s certainly a real connection. As soon as the word hit of blasts at the Brussels airport and metro, the candidates here all put out statement, all quick to show they were on it. Some were keener than others.

Trump shows -- well, he knows what side the bread`s buttered on, he knows his brand, that brand is strength. Yes, big talk, but with it the promise, threat of action -- build a wall, ban Muslims, torture the terrorist, go after the families. What happened yesterday morning in Brussels he`ll say backs up everything he says, we need to be tougher. Trump tougher.

Cruz`s line of political work is showing how cruel he can be, call him the carpet bomber. Hillary Clinton`s seen as a hawk, herself, is on the firm ground, on firm ground when it comes to this kind of situation. People know she did vote for Iraq. saw her in the situation room when Osama bin Laden got his desserts. Heard her here on HARDBALL, refused to back off even when the topic turned to regime change and knocking off the bad guys.

I don`t think Senator Sanders is that enthusiastic talking about terrorism. His concerns lie with fairness of society here at home, of social justice. Not the discussions, the horror at Brussels would naturally ignite.

So, here we are again in the aftermath of an event, the deaths of 31, the injuring of another 200. In the European capital, it looks a lot like here, the scare and injured people we can imagine of ourselves. There but for fortune, there but for the quality of our defense, the strength and smarts of our leaders, and like it or not, the heights of fashion of those who promise to protect us.

When threatened, countries lurch right. When threatened, countries lurch right. When scared, people look to those who harken most gamely to the sound of battle. And that`s history talking.

And since yesterday morning, we`ve once again become an impassioned part of it, for better or for worse.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.