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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 3/28/2016

Guests: John Stanton, Sabrina Siddiqui, John Kasich, Al Cardenas

Show: HARDBALL Date: March 28, 2016 Guest: John Stanton, Sabrina Siddiqui, John Kasich, Al Cardenas

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The third man.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington on this day after Easter.

Well, the Republican nominee for president will either be Donald Trump, who will win on delegates won in the primaries, or will be someone else who wins at an open convention. If it comes to it, that someone could well be Ohio governor John Kasich, our guest tonight.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by presidential candidate governor John Kasich of Ohio.

A Fox News poll shows you beating Clinton, Hillary Clinton, by 11 points, 51 to 40 percent, in a hypothetical general election matchup. Ted Cruz also beats Clinton, but only by 3 points, 47 to 44. It shows Trump, by the way, losing to Clinton by 11 points, 38 to 49.

So you`re also fund-rising off, I think, the low-level feud between Trump and Cruz. Your campaign sent out an e-mail today that reads, "Enough is enough with the mud slinging and the personal attacks. It`s time to get serious and select a Republican who can win in the fall. With your help, not only will we continue to deny Trump delegates, but we`ll also head into the convention with the man who (INAUDIBLE) need to win."

Governor, it seems to me there`s two ways the Republican Party will pick its presidential nominee this year. One, Donald Trump, because he won the 1,237 before he gets to the convention, or someone else at the convention.

How do you win at the convention, looking at it from this point?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, because, Chris, if you take a look at all the polls, that -- you know, Republican versus Hillary, I`m really the only one that consistently wins. I think the Fox poll may be an aberration for Cruz, but in no other poll does he win. And I`m up 11.

And look, you go to the convention -- I`m a conservative. You know, some of these talk show people, you know, try to run me down. Tell me who`s balanced more budgets, reformed welfare, cut more taxes, shrunk government, transferred power out of Washington or out of our state capital? I mean, nobody`s done all that. Who knows more about national security?

So I think at that point, they`re going to say, All right, who can win in the fall, which is me.

And secondly -- and this is a crazy, one, Chris -- who actually could be president and who could help fix the country? And I think both of those things are appealing to delegates. And you know who the delegates are. They`re the people you know. You know, they`re the local party officials. They`re former state legislators, former congressmen. These are people that will make good choices.

And this notion that it`s -- you know, everything`s going to be crazy over there I think is just -- is false.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about -- let`s try to GPS it. I`m sure you`ve got it figured out in your head to some extent. You get to Cleveland. You`ve got some delegates. Trump doesn`t have enough for the 1,237. Neither does Cruz. He`s well behind Trump.

So you get to the convention. It`s an open convention. And then you start making the rounds of all the delegations, and you start giving that pitch, which I think is a good pitch. Who are the leaders -- are there any leaders? Is Reince Priebus a leader? Do we have any of those guys with cigars, like Bob Strauss, who would sit in the back room, like...


MATTHEWS: And actually -- who`s going to broker the damn thing? Don`t you need leaders to say, Hey, come in here, we think we`ve got a deal that`ll work here? Now you -- you know, figure it out. Who`s going to broker it? Who are the brokers?

KASICH: Well, look, you`re going to have people like Haley Barbour involved. You know, on my side, you know, I`ve got Charlie Black. I mean, I was there with Charlie in 1976. You know, I was just a kid. Charlie was one of the most important people in the Reagan campaign, and he`ll be involved with us. And you know, Vin Weber is another one, John Sununu. These are people that really know how to do their -- do these kinds of things.

And in terms of how you broker it, this isn`t going to be a bunch of guys sitting in a back room with big cigars, I don`t think, because you know, we have so much transparency now. And if you start smelling that smoke coming from a back room, not just the guys, but the women, you`re going to be reporting it. So I think it`ll be the most open convention.

Chris, we`ve had 10 of them, and a person going into the convention who led in delegates was only selected 3 times out of 10. So at some point, people are going to get away from...


KASICH: Look, think about Brussels.


MATTHEWS: It goes way back.

KASICH: Think about Brussels. We got one guy -- look, we got one guy saying that we should ban all Muslims from coming into America. I have no idea how you would do that. We`ve got another guy saying we ought to be patrolling Muslim neighborhoods.

Now, you and I both know if you`re going to have intelligence and you`re going to be able to protect the country, you can`t alienate many of the people that you need to help us to figure out where the radicals are and where they live.

I mean, this stuff is important, Chris! We`re talking about electing a president, the commander-in-chief, not, you know, all this politics. Forget it!

MATTHEWS: I just wonder -- I agree with you, Governor. Some guy in New York deciding at Ellis Island, or wherever you have to decide this -- deciding at the airport, are you a Maronite Christian, or are you Islamic? I mean, I don`t know how you tell. You -- are you Sephardic Jewish? I mean, a lot of...


MATTHEWS: ... a lot of people have similar looks to them, you know, and backgrounds, you know, I don`t know how you decide on somebody`s religious beliefs. I agree with you on that.

What do you think about Cruz going out there going door to door? He`s got patrol cars heading through neighborhoods. I don`t know where he`s looking -- I guess neighborhoods in the United States he thinks are suspiciously Islamic, and he`s going to drive around in squad cars, patrolling them. What do you make of that one?

KASICH: Well, all I know is that -- all I know is Bill Bratton, who is the best expert on policing in America -- I only spoke to him one time. He is a brilliant guy, you know, ran Boston. I guess he ran the -- you know, whatever it is, the traffic side of Boston, the subways and all that, the metro system.

MATTHEWS: The T, yes.

KASICH: You know, he`s police chief of New York City. He goes to Los Angeles. He figures out how to deal with the gangs. Now he`s back in New York again. He says this idea that Cruz has is just -- is crazy. And then his deputy`s saying the same thing. I mean, what are you going to do?


KASICH: If you want to get information on radicalism -- let me say one more thing. If you want to get information on radicalism within the Muslim community, who do you think`s going to find it out, Chris Matthews or somebody who`s part of the Muslim community?

MATTHEWS: I agree.

KASICH: I don`t think you`re going to be finding out squat, Chris.

MATTHEWS: How do you make this case, though? The last convention, where there was, like, three ballots, was the Democrats back in `52. They had a guy named Kefauver they didn`t like. They thought he was a drunk, whatever. They just didn`t like the guy.

KASICH: (INAUDIBLE) "Estes bestest."


MATTHEWS: Well, he didn`t make it to the -- all of a sudden, this well- spoken guy who talked like a Brit, Adlai Stevenson, the governor of Illinois, gives a welcoming speech, and by the third ballot, he wins. Now, that hasn`t happened -- and you`re laughing because nothing like that`s happened except for the movies in 60 years.


MATTHEWS: How do you -- give me the scenario where John Kasich rises up...

KASICH: How about Lincoln?

MATTHEWS: And -- OK, well, that`s a long time ago, before the tube and everything else.


MATTHEWS: How do you rise up on the third or fifth or sixth ballot? I just wonder how it works. Trump -- assuming Trump doesn`t get to 1,237, or anywhere near it. OK, they don`t like Trump. So the establishment says, We`re going to pick somebody else.

KASICH: Because, Chris, here`s how you do it...


KASICH: Well, I don`t know that the establishment, the delegates there are going to look at record. I`m going to stress that I can be the president to fix the country.

But secondly, I have the ability to get the crossover votes, to actually win. I mean, I beat Hillary soundly in every single national poll.

So I mean, either we want to win -- I mean, right? I mean, I assume we`re trying to pick a Republican who can win in the fall and somebody that can be president.

So you get around, you see the delegations -- look, I was with Ronald Reagan in 1976. I ran five states for him at the convention, and we came very, very close to defeating an incumbent Republican president.


KASICH: I mean, the delegates take this stuff seriously.


KASICH: And so we`ll have our people out there, they`ll have their people out there, and we`ll make the appeal. You know, it`s worked pretty well for me throughout my lifetime.

MATTHEWS: You`re doing great. Let me ask you about the strength between now and Cleveland this summer. Where are you going to win? Can you win -- you`re apparently pulling your ads in parts of Wisconsin. Are you going to win Wisconsin, or is that going to go to somebody else? Can you win Pennsylvania? I think you`re strong in Pennsylvania.

KASICH: Well, look, you know, we`re -- you know, in Pennsylvania, we`re in a dead heat with Trump, OK? And then when we head farther east, you know, we`re going to pick up delegates.

You know, I`m not going to make a prediction, Chris, but we`re going to pick up delegates in all of these places, and we`ll move forward. We`ll get some delegates here in Wisconsin.

But you know, Pennsylvania`s going to be -- like I say, we`re running -- you know, we`re doing very well there, but the key is not necessarily having to win, as much as it has to do with getting delegates.


KASICH: And by the way, you know, I`ve received, like, no bump, right? OK, I`m whining a little bit here. I win Ohio by 11 points, and what do people say, Ho-hum? I mean, the day before the election, they`re, like, it`s -- it`s -- it`s...

MATTHEWS: Yes, but it`s favorite son.

KASICH: ... you know, win or die for Kasich.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but it was favorite son.

KASICH: Well...

MATTHEWS: You should have won.

KASICH: Native son -- OK, well, let me ask you. Let me ask you this question. How many people who have ever run for president in the Republican Party got elected without winning Ohio? How many?


KASICH: I can give you the answer. Zero.

MATTHEWS: I know. I know.

KASICH: So it`s like a battleground state.


KASICH: It`s really critical.

MATTHEWS: OK, if Trump comes to you and he...

KASICH: I`m not going on any ticket.

MATTHEWS: If Trump cleans up his act and he says to you, It`s the only way the Republicans win the general, we`ve got to carry Ohio, we need you -- you say?

KASICH: No, I`m not doing that. I`m not -- I`m running for president...

MATTHEWS: Not for the party?

KASICH: ... Chris, not for vice president. For the party, or for the country -- listen, by the time I finish my second term as governor, if I don`t work out here, I will have been in public life for 30 years. That`s about as much service to the country as anybody can be expected to give.

And beyond that, for those that say serve your country, why don`t you serve your country and get behind me? You know -- you know, everybody says, The guy`d be a great president. He can win in the fall. Well, then, what are you doing? Get behind -- you know, serve your country and get behind me!

How do you like that, Matthews?

MATTHEWS: You talking to me?

KASICH: That`s pretty good.


MATTHEWS: That`s pretty personal...


KASICH: Yes, get behind me. Come on!

MATTHEWS: My vote is waiting for November, but thank you very much.

KASICH: No, I`m not talking about you. I`m talking all the -- you know what I`m saying.


MATTHEWS: ... the big people, the real people.

KASICH: Anyway, hey, good to see you. Thank you. Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I thought it was so personal in that appeal, I was getting nervous there. I thought you were trying to get -- you were retailing me for a minute.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Governor John Kasich of Ohio. Thanks for coming on. Thank you.

KASICH: It`s always great.


MATTHEWS: Coming up -- Trump versus Cruz. The battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is sounding a lot like two high school boys towel-snapping in the locker room. Today, Trump said of Cruz, "He started it." Will the two men ever end this thing?

Also, weekend with Bernie. Bernie Sanders got victories in all three Saturday contests, Alaska, Hawaii and the state of Washington. He`s stepping up his attacks right now on Hillary Clinton. Can he still win the Democratic nomination? Great question.

Plus, fresh off the weekend, the HARDBALL roundtable gives us access to the reporters` notebooks, and they tell me something I don`t know.

And finally tonight, "Let Me Finish" with what happened 100 years ago today, that day a terrible beauty was born.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, big things are brewing this week at MSNBC. Wednesday night, Republican front-runner Donald Trump will join me in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for an exclusive town hall at 8:00 PM Eastern.

It`s part of a huge Wednesday night lineup here on MSNBC. It starts at 7:00 PM Eastern. John Kasich will join Chuck Todd in Queens, New York. As I said, Trump will join me at 8:00. At 9:00, Rachel Maddow will sit down with both Democratic candidates. She`ll be one on one with Hillary Clinton and with Bernie Saunders -- I`m sorry, Sanders. It`s all on MSNBC this Wednesday night.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the Republican race seemed to reach new lows in the past week with the wives of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz coming under attack. And this morning, a conservative talk radio host out in Wisconsin, Charlie Sykes, called on Trump to apologize to Cruz for retweeting an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz.

Let`s listen to this.


CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I failed in my effort to introduce you to Wisconsin and our tradition of civility and decency by getting an apology from you for Heidi Cruz or for what you said about Scott Walker...

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, am I getting an apology by somebody that sent in -- sent out a picture of my wife to everybody (INAUDIBLE)

SYKES: And as we know, that was an independent group and you...

TRUMP: No, it wasn`t. No, it wasn`t.

SYKES: You don`t want me to hold you accountable for...


TRUMP: I mean, is he going to apologize? Is Ted Cruz going to apologize for starting it and sending out that picture?


TRUMP: I thought it was very inappropriate. I didn`t start it. He started it. If he didn`t start it, it would have never happened. Nothing like this would have ever happened. But he started it. So...

SYKES: Just remember, we`re not on a...


SYKES: Hey, we`re not on a playground. We`re running for president of the United States.

TRUMP: I agree with that 100 percent.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by NBC`s Hallie Jackson who`s out in Wisconsin and Al Cardenas, who`s a former senior adviser to Jeb Bush. Thank you both for joining us to try to figure this out.

We just had -- Hallie, we just had John Kasich on, and he`s hopeful -- of course, he has to be -- that he can be the third man, if you will, the one who emerges and maybe (INAUDIBLE) after multiple ballots up in Cleveland.

And I guess that`s what -- what is Cruz hoping to come out of this? How does he -- he wins Wisconsin, I guess. Isn`t that the plan? And then moves on to challenge on the numbers.

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that`s the goal. That`s exactly right, is to win Wisconsin and move on. And it`s not just a strategy about delegates, Chris, because, obviously, the campaign wants to try to lock up the nomination, if possible, before a contested convention.

That does seem very difficult for them. If you look at the map, it`s nearly impossible, or it is impossible for John Kasich to do, which is why he`s looking for a contested convention. But the Cruz team is planning certainly for a contested convention. They have strategies in place to do this, mostly when it comes to delegates.

You`ve seen what they`ve done in Louisiana as far as making sure that their delegate slates are stacked, that they`re picking up those unbound delegates, Marco Rubio`s delegates. They`re doing the same thing in South Carolina. Watch for them to do that, for example, in North Dakota this weekend and Colorado coming up.

So these are places where the Cruz campaign wants to play. Why does Wisconsin matter? Well, for Ted Cruz, it`s an opportunity to prove not just can he win another state, but that he can do it in the industrial Midwest, that he can do it...


JACKSON: ... and pick up, potentially, momentum, moving forward as the rest of the calendar moves east over to New York and New Jersey, places, Chris, where you`d think Trump would romp, but where the Cruz campaign is certainly not conceding. There is talk about playing hard in New Jersey to try to take that winner-take-all state from Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Well, if he wins Wisconsin, that does shake things up, I`ll admit.

Al -- I`m going to go back to Al Cardenas. You know, we were talking in that earlier segment with John Kasich. I said to him, Who are the -- who are the bosses in politics today? Who are the people in the back room, like the old days, like Bob Strauss on the Democratic side, who can actually broker a convention?

How do you have a brokered convention with no brokers? Who are they?

AL CARDENAS, FMR. JEB BUSH SR. ADVISER: Well, I`ll tell you, very few. And furthermore, Chris...

MATTHEWS: Maybe you are.

CARDENAS: Well, look, furthermore, there hasn`t been a successful one yet. I went back and looked to the 1820s with the anti-Mason convention, and I looked at 9 or 10 open or brokered or contested conventions. And not a single candidate emerging out of those conventions ever won a general election.

And here we have two guys, who as old comedians would say, Well, gee, who`s on first? And so both Ted and Donald Trump have to stop this thing. I mean, when people are laughing with you, that`s good. When they`re laughing at you, that`s not good. And so they better get this thing figured out, and we better get into the convention and figure out also how to heal the wounds that they`re getting deeper, the more personal this thing gets.

MATTHEWS: When you get to your families, it gets very dirty.

Anyway, here`s a bit of the back-and-forth between Cruz and Trump over the past 36 hours, just 36 hours.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He hasn`t campaigned for a week. He`s been hiding in Trump Tower. But late at night, he sends tweets attacking my wife, attacking Heidi. It is inappropriate. It is wrong. It is frankly disgusting.

This story is garbage. It is tabloid smear. And it came from Donald Trump and his henchmen.

TRUMP: I had nothing to do with "The National Enquirer." I knew nothing about it. I just saw it yesterday for the first time.

I have no idea whether or not it`s true. But it`s likely -- he should try and blame me because he`s losing by a lot.


MATTHEWS: Well, according to "The Washington Post`s" Chris Cillizza, this has turned into an absurd race to the bottom. Quote -- this is Cillizza -- "This is the campaign that Trump wants, chaos, unpredictability, unseriousness. Ask yourself which of the three remaining three GOP candidates, Trump, Cruz, or Governor John Kasich of Ohio, will prosper, or at least not be damaged by that prurient focus. The answer is obvious."

Hallie, it seems to me that the -- according to Chris Cillizza`s thinking, Trump does well on a muddy track. When things get rough-and-tumble and people get personal and go after each other`s spouses, he always comes out better.

JACKSON: Because look at what`s not being talked about, Chris. We`re a few days removed, a week removed now, from a terror attack overseas. There was a shooting at the Capitol today. There are events happening here in the U.S. and around the world that the conversation has simply moved beyond because of Donald Trump largely continuing to bring this up when is in the public eye. He`s continuing to be asked about it, as well.

And this is a point that Ted Cruz made today. You talked about this idea that, should Donald Trump apologize to Ted Cruz, should Ted Cruz apologize to Donald Trump? I had the chance to ask the senator about this, and he kind of looked around and he said, hey, listen, I get the media`s fascination with this. But he unrolled a bit of a new line.

He said, who cares? He said, who cares if Donald Trump is sitting up late at night tweeting? Who cares? The American people deserve better this. We need to move on.

Now, what this does for Cruz, number one, it allows him to look like he`s taking the high road here, and, number two, it allows him to do what he and his campaign want to do in Wisconsin, which is pivot away from attacks necessarily on Donald Trump and instead talk more about two things, jobs and national security, much more so than we have seen from Ted Cruz over these last couple of months.

He`s moving towards that message, taking what you could call maybe a more populist tone. He`s talking about workers. He`s talking about economic security. He`s talking about foreign policy as it relates to keeping the U.S. safe, which is something he`s talked about before.

But it`s -- clearly feels designed for him to appeal to the Wisconsin conservative, as opposed to let`s say the Utah conservatives or the Iowa conservative, places where he`s been successful in the past.

MATTHEWS: I just don`t buy the fact that Cruz says, Trump has attacked my two children and family. He`s attacked -- he`s mentioned his wife. Why does Cruz talk about the two kids? Nobody else is talking about his kids. Why did he bring it up? I don`t get it. Maybe there`s no answer to this.

JACKSON: My sense would be that he`s trying to draw -- well, there might not be, but I think he`s trying to draw this idea of family, his family under fire.


JACKSON: I think there`s perhaps an idea that people can relate to that, right? People who have families, who have spouses can relate to their spouses coming under attack. And that`s what Ted Cruz is tapping into potentially.

MATTHEWS: Al, what do you make of this? what do you make of that? I guess you go way back to the late 19th century. They talk about candidates who had fathered illegitimate children, and they would, where`s my ma and where`s my pa, and all that stuff. We have had dirty campaigns before of this nature, but not recently.

This is -- the side-by-sides of spouses, this stuff is so high school. It depends what high school you went to, in fact. This is pretty rough stuff.

CARDENAS: Well, look, we have started appealing to our lower instincts in some of these primary commentaries. And it`s only gone downhill since.

At least in those early days, you had duels. And that kept most people from stepping out of line. Nowadays, it`s just a back-and-forth that Hallie has to cover. But, look, if they don`t get this thing resolved soon and we move forward with kind of the serious talk that she was just talking about, I think our party`s wasting a golden opportunity.

Look, the turnout numbers are great. I think that the front-runner for the Democrats is in a weakened position. But we keep stepping on it. And every day, I wake up and say, how much worse can it get? And we figure out a way to make it worse.

So, I`m hoping I wake up one morning and get all this behind us and start talking about real issues so we gain some momentum. But it`s getting -- time is getting short.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s try that now.

Donald Trump`s foreign policy views are coming under scrutiny after an interview with the "Washington Post" editorial board last week. "Post" columnist Eugene Robinson wrote it shows -- quote -- "He appears to know next to nothing about the issues that would confront him in the job."

In fact, here he is answering a question, Donald Trump, about ISIS. Here he goes.


QUESTION: If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want to use -- I don`t want to start the process of nuclear.

Remember, one thing that everybody has said, I`m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me when I said low-energy. He`s a low-energy individual. He hit me first, spent -- by the way, spent $18 million worth of negative ads on me. That`s putting...

QUESTION: This is about ISIS.


TRUMP: By the way, can I do one thing? This is a very good-looking group of people. Could I just go around, so I know who the hell I`m talking to?



MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump also sat down for a lengthy interview with "The New York Times" last week.

NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, had this stark assessment of that episode.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He would cancel defense treaties with Japan and South Korea against North Korea. He doesn`t mind, he would be OK if Japan and South Korea go nuclear.

American policy for decades, since World War II, has been trying to keep nukes out of that arena. He would stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia if they don`t pay to more for their defense. We need oil. We are not energy- independent. We rely on oil still for our daily needs.

He is completely all over the lot on Iran. He believes -- he complained that Iran isn`t buying our planes. It had to be pointed out to him that Iran is still under sanctions and cannot buy American planes. He think North Korea and Iran are the biggest trading partners, when North Korea`s biggest trading partner is China. He is completely uneducated about any part of the world.


MATTHEWS: You know, Hallie Jackson, normally, when a candidate starts talking about using nuclear weapons, the opponent jumps on him, jumps on him, because we Americans or nobody in the world likes having their leaders talk about the use of nuclear weapons.

You just say no comment. I`m not going to talk about nuclear weapons. It`s not something you talk about.

And it`s astounding to me that Trump has discussed, even though he was poked into it by reporters who want to have him do this -- usually, you know what the reporters are up to, and say, go ahead, have some fun. I`m not talking about nuclear weapons in South Korea, Japan, or here, or certainly in fighting ISIS.

But he`s gone -- he`s accepted that bait, if you will, of the reporters. What do you make of it? Why doesn`t your guy, the guy you cover, jump on him?

JACKSON: Well, two points to make on this topic, Chris, when it comes to the question that you`re asking.

Number one is what his rivals are doing. Right? And I think you`re seeing -- you spoke with Governor Kasich. He was out today in Wisconsin campaigning. And he -- this is an area where Kasich and Ted Cruz both see weakness for Donald Trump.

And they see a real vulnerability because of exactly what Andrea is talking about and the clip that you just played. But the other part of it are the Trump supporters, right?

When you talk to these people out at Trump events, including even, by the way, at rivals` events, you still find Trump supporters. For example, a Cruz event we were at today, we spoke with a woman who supports Donald Trump. And it`s not about his policies and it`s not about his positions for a lot of these people. It`s about how he comes across and what he seems to stand for, as has been cited to us.

For them, they don`t mind that he`s talking about the Japanese-South Korean treaties with the United States. They like how he`s communicating his message. And that is what resonates to them. It`s been resonating to them. And it hasn`t changed so far, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, thank you, Hallie Jackson.


CARDENAS: Look, Chris, America can survive a Donald Trump on domestic policy. We have a Congress.

But, on foreign policy, I don`t want to be one taking that risk. And you have just evidenced it, yes.

MATTHEWS: And, you know, Al, you and I remember the fact that when Castro and Khrushchev had those intermediate range nuclear missiles aimed at New York City during the Cuban Missile Crisis, even then, Jack Kennedy, the president, was very careful about how he dealt with the whole thing and got us through that.

Thank you so much, Hallie Jackson.


MATTHEWS: And thank you, Al Cardenas, for coming on.

Coming up: Bernie Sanders is racking up wins big this weekend. He`s toughening his attack on Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, but can he get the nomination? Can he beat the front-runner right now? He wants to debate her in New York, apparently.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

Here`s what`s happening.

The U.S. Capitol complex was locked down earlier after a man pulled out a gun at the visitors center. Police shot and wounded a suspect. A woman was also hurt in that incident.

U.S. authorities have successfully accessed data on an iPhone that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The development ends a legal battle between Apple and the FBI.

And the State Department is condemning the deadly Easter bombing in Pakistan that left at least 72 people dead, including dozens of children. More than 300 others were injured -- now back to HARDBALL.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, we have a lot of momentum. We`re focusing on Wisconsin, New York state. We have a path to victory. We are going to win this nomination process.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, Senator Bernie Sanders after his big weekend, sweeping contests in the state of Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. He won all three this weekend.

Well, today, his senior adviser, Tad Devine, characterized Hillary Clinton as a weak front-runner.

Anyway, but President Obama`s former senior adviser David Plouffe, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, said Sanders doesn`t have a chance at winning the nomination -- quote -- Today, with data advancements and especially in races with clear demographic trends, there are fewer surprises. It`s easier to predict not just who is going to win states, but by what rough margin and what delegate allocation will occur based on those result. I believe Hillary Clinton has zero chance of not being the Democratic nominee."

Anyway, NBC`s Kasie Hunt covers the Sanders campaign right now and has for a while. And Eugene Robinson is columnist for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Casey, you`re out front here.

It appears to me that Bernie Sanders wants -- or somebody around him has decided not just a second breath. They have got a second wind here. But they`re going for the kill. They want to win this thing, beat Hillary Clinton, take the nomination away, not just get on the platform or win the argument on things like student loan payments and things like that, but beat her.

KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Look, if they wanted to beat her, they would be up on the air with all the kinds of negative ads that any super PAC that were running against Hillary Clinton would be putting on the air or that Barack Obama leveled at her in 2008.

There is -- there are no shortage of ways to go after Hillary Clinton. And the reality is...

MATTHEWS: Well, who`s talking about sharpening the knives? Because they are talking like that.

HUNT: There are people that are talking about sharpening the knives, but they`re still saying, it`s going to be about policy. It`s going to be about policy. I will believe it when they put the ad on the air.

MATTHEWS: And you`re such a veteran.


MATTHEWS: If it`s about policy, then they`re not serious, because...


HUNT: He has not named her in a single negative ad, not a single one.

MATTHEWS: Because he won`t go after e-mail, he won`t go after Benghazi and all that usual line of stuff Republicans use.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Right. Because he said he wouldn`t.

And part of the Bernie Sanders mystique, the Bernie Sanders thing is that he`s not a regular politician. He said he wouldn`t do negative advertising.


MATTHEWS: I think that`s right.

ROBINSON: And so now he can`t turn around and do it.

MATTHEWS: But he still could be -- but that makes the point. He should be going all out in the way he knows he has to, which is...


ROBINSON: Well, look, they just had a string of victories, right? They`re caucuses. By they`re minor states. Who knows. But they`re on a winning streak right now. And so why wouldn`t they...


MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk turkey. He wins Wisconsin on April 5, to get in this game again. He has to win April 5, right, to get back in this thing.

HUNT: I think that`s right.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s fair.

Anyway, he wants to win in New York, which would knock her right on her back. Look at this. This weekend, Sanders called on Clinton, Secretary Clinton, to debate him in New York before that state holds its primary on the 19th. Let`s watch.


SANDERS: I would hope very much that as we go into New York state, Secretary Clinton`s home state, that we will have a debate, New York City, Upstate, whatever, on the important issues facing New York.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Are you worried she won`t debate you anymore?

SANDERS: Yes, I do have a little bit of concern about that. But I certainly would like to see a debate in New York state.


MATTHEWS: That was a great question by Chuck, because he wasn`t quite ready for the tactical question. He`s listing the big philosophical thing.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, one of Clinton`s top advisers, Joel Benenson, responded today that there wouldn`t be another debate -- listen to this -- unless Sanders` tone changed. Let`s listen to this. This is like a nun talking. You have got to change your tone if we`re going to have a right to proper debate.

Here it is.


JOEL BENENSON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISER: There`s no risk. She`s done very well in the debates. The debates have been very good.

But Senator Sanders doesn`t get to decide when we debate, particularly when he`s running a very negative campaign against us. Let`s see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we will talk about debates. But we`re not going to talk about it...

QUESTION: So, no chance of a New York debate?

BENENSON: I didn`t say that. I said we`re not going to talk about it. We`re going to see what kind of tone he sets.


MATTHEWS: Tone? Tone? Politics is supposed to have a somewhat rough tone to it. He is saying, unless you clean up your act and get more nice to us, we`re not going to have a debate with you.

HUNT: With all due respect to Joel, who I love, if he thinks Bernie Sanders is running a negative campaign against Hillary Clinton, what does he expect from Donald Trump?

ROBINSON: Really. Really.

HUNT: Come on.

MATTHEWS: Is this a fake foul?

HUNT: It just -- it seems to me that if they can`t take the kind of punches that Bernie Sanders is leveling at her...


MATTHEWS: Can we step beyond the talking points? What`s Joel up to? He is saying no debate.

ROBINSON: No, he`s trying to back Bernie off. Right?

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t want a debate in New York.

HUNT: That`s what they want.

ROBINSON: He wants to make sure that Bernie doesn`t run a more vigorous campaign. But that`s a high-handed tone. Right. It`s kind of a high- handed tone.


MATTHEWS: OK. Hillary Clinton, to get a debate she wanted a few weeks ago, or a month ago, agreed to these two extra debates. Is she reneging? Is she reneging?


HUNT: No, she never wanted a debate in New York. This debate in New York was always a sticking point, because when they were in those protracted negotiations, one of the things the Sanders campaign was focused on was the location and the time.

MATTHEWS: Why does location matter?

HUNT: He thinks it matters because there`s going to be a primary in New York. She wanted a debate in Flint, Michigan, but the Hillary Clinton campaign wanted to put after the Michigan primary.

MATTHEWS: So he`s going to raise New York issues.

HUNT: He wanted it before. I think that`s right.

Now, Benenson also on that same call said that Sanders was going to campaign as a Brooklynite in New York, and Hillary Clinton was going to campaign as the senator who once represented the entire state.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s got the authenticity in his accent. That`s for sure.

HUNT: He, of course, from Queens.


ROBINSON: Sounds like a New Yorker. He`s from New York. She represented New York.


MATTHEWS: Have you seen the "Saturday Night Live" thing where she switches into a Brooklyn accent and says, when I was a boy in Brooklyn?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, is there going to be a debate in New York?

HUNT: I think the jury is still out on that. But the pressure has been...


MATTHEWS: Where does Bernie think he can win? Where does Sanders think he can win now? Big states. Wisconsin?


HUNT: I think they think they can win Wisconsin. New York, they are more confident about New York than you might think.

They think that their numbers look better there than in some other states where they were further behind and eventually won. So, I do think that`s a little bit of a wild card. They`re also looking at Pennsylvania.


ROBINSON: They have to win these states, if he has any hope of having...



ROBINSON: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: You guys are so smart. You are seeing beyond all this B.S.

Anyway, I think Pennsylvania is for Hillary. I think they have always -- the Clintons have always been popular in Pennsylvania across the state. I think -- I don`t know about the other states.

HUNT: Can she win white working-class voters in Pennsylvania?

MATTHEWS: If she can run against Obama again.

ROBINSON: Exactly. She did last time.


MATTHEWS: That`s too cute. I`m sorry I talk like that. But I do.

Anyway, Kasie Hunt, thank you. Eugene Robinson.

I think she does have some affinity. We will see. She`s from Scranton, remember, just like he`s from Brooklyn.

Anyway, these two Democrats could face the billionaire from New York, Donald Trump. I`m going to sit down with Trump in an exclusive town hall Wednesday night in Green Bay, the home of the Packers, Wisconsin. It will air at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC.

Anyway, the roundtable is coming here next for more on this Republican race.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



We`re back with the round table: "BuzzFeed`s" John Stanton, Sabrina Siddiqui from "The Guardian", and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, who`s the global editorial director, of course, of "The Huffington Post".

Howard, this latest high school thing has not changed. We`ve just got this hot off the wire, here`s Cruz -- Ted Cruz in the locker room, towel snapping again with Donald Trump. "Debate like a man. Why don`t you show up and debate like a man?"

This is what`s going on now. This is all about finger size, digital -- whatever, appendage size --


HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What`s going on in their own race to the bottom. There`s a two-man race between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump to see who can get to the absolute bottom of American political rhetoric and they`re both doing it.

I think Cruz thinks he can win by chesting it out with Donald Trump, I think he`s making a mistake, because that`s -- ultimately, that is Donald Trump`s turf. If Ted Cruz is going to win, he`s going to have to do it a little differently than that.

JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: It also comes off like a slap fight, right? I mean, neither one of them looks particularly tough, they just seem like terrible people yelling at each other.

MATTHEWS: What kind of reference is that slap fight?

STANTON: Like slap fighting. It`s terrible.

MATTHEWS: That doesn`t sound like a heavyweight division.s

STANTON: No, no.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: What Ted Cruz is also going to learn is that you can`t out-Trump Trump. You saw that with Marco Rubio. The moment that Marco Rubio really, his campaign died or begun its course is when he laid into the gutter politics with Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Could he be stepping on it right now, Donald Trump? We know from the polling now every time we faced an international crisis, we had Brussels, which is horrendous to everybody, so we all can identify with people, you know, in subways and airports. That`s where we live, too, in this country. These Europeans look like they live the life with we do in many ways and exposed as they are. We`re just as exposed there.

Trump is benefiting from this. Why does -- doesn`t he want to get off of this nonsense, to get back on this security? And I`m going to bash them and I`m going to do that kind of thing.

FINEMAN: Right, and that`s what he should be doing because that`s where his ultimate appeal is. And having attended Trump rallies all over the country, I know that in some ways, he`s regarded as our -- to Trump supporters, he`s regarded as our bad guy, our guy who talks threateningly. He`s our guy in a tough fight.

I compare him almost like to a kind of pesticide that`s banned. OK? You don`t want to use it because you know you`re going to inhale a cloud of it, but you really want to get off those pests. And that`s Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: That`s, by the way, his nuclear program.

FINEMAN: That`s a little problem, yes, exactly.

MATTHEWS: I`m just thinking, Trump -- look at this new number, he`s 49 percent, which is a hell of a high number -- there`s only three candidates now, compared to Cruz`s 28 percent nationally, to Kasich`s 10 percent. I mean, he`s riding high on the security question.

SIDDIQUI: He is riding high on the security question, because people are not looking -- Republican primary electorate, they`re not looking for a set of nuanced proposal. They just want assurances. And he`s playing to their worst fears.

That`s why, you know, his proposal to ban Muslims actually really polls well among Republican primary voters. He knows it. He`s taking advantage --

MATTHEWS: How do they stop the Muslims at the gate, by the way? I`m going to probably ask him that, but I do think it`s a good question. People would say, no, I`m Christian. What would you say?

SIDDIQUI: But it`s not without accident, though, that Ted Cruz this time tried to be the one to come up with the Trump-like proposal to say, we should be patrolling Muslims.

MATTHEWS: What does that mean? Give me a visual of that. Describe that with words. Describe patrolling neighborhoods with --

SIDDIQUI: Presumably, what`s unclear is how you would decide. You just go to a place where there`s large Muslim population and have police doing --


MATTHEWS: Drive around with the light coming off the roof of the car and pointing into the windows? Are they planning anything in there?


SIDDIQUI: If Europe does have an assimilation problem that America does not have, that will create an assimilation problem.


FINEMAN: Sabrina`s right, Ted Cruz did it in order to somehow get to the right of Donald Trump on this question. With that poll number as strong as it is about the temporary ban, Cruz is looking for some way to get to the right of him.

STANTON: Cruz doesn`t have the ability to come off like a tough guy. I don`t think Donald Trump comes out like much of a tough guy, frankly, but at least he can somewhat mic it, you know, aped it a little bit. Whereas, you know, Ted Cruz is like a lawyer in a suit and weird sort of like cadence.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, I spoke with Governor John Kasich earlier on the show, as you know, and he had tough some language for Trump and Cruz on their Muslim proposals. Now, let`s watch him go after these proposals the way you did, Sabrina. Let`s watch. Here`s Kasich.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ve got one guy saying we should ban all Muslims from coming into America. I have no idea how you would do that. We`ve got another guy saying we ought to be patrolling Muslim neighborhoods.

Now, you and I both if you`re going to have intelligence and you`re going to be able to protect the country, you can`t alienate many of the people that you need to help us to figure out where the radicals are and where they live. If you want to get information on radicalism within the Muslim community, who do you think is going to find it out? Chris Matthews or somebody who`s part of the Muslim community?


MATTHEWS: Well, Sabrina, it seems to me with 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, a lot of them from Indonesia, Pakistan, not the Middle East, a lot of them from Europe, they`re all over the world, a lot of them are dealing as victims with ISIS. They`re the ones that faces these killings.

SIDDIQUI: Absolutely. ISIS has killed more Muslims than anyone else around the world, but also, what`s important about John Kasich is, he`s trying what Jeb Bush it, and even what Marco Rubio did toward the end of his campaign, but unfortunately for these so-called establishment candidates, or those who fit that mold, that`s not what Republican voters want to hear.

John Kasich, with that, is not going to appeal to the Republican primary voters, you only appeal to the general electorate. And it says something that the Republican Party has reached a point where it`s considered politically courageous for -- to depend a proposal, or to, sorry, push back against a proposal to just --

MATTHEWS: Is there a kind of crude arithmetic in people`s minds who are like, Trump, who are saying, yes, if we kick 10,000 people out of the country, there might be one in that group. Peggy Noonan was getting these numbers this week. One might be a troublemaker. But I`m willing to keep 10,000 people. Just to keep that one -- the trouble with that is, everybody knows about it.

So everybody gets that attitude backlash is Muslim around the world. They don`t want us there. I`m not applying for a visa. I`m not going to school there.

STANTON: It`s an thinly coded racism is what it is. I mean, because like then, they`re not going to be able to determine who`s a Muslim or who`s not. What they`re saying is we`re going to keep Arabs out of the country, right?

MATTHEWS: There are a lot of Christian Arabs.

STANTON: But that`s what they`re saying. The average Trump voter doesn`t know --

FINEMAN: The powerful thing here is, don`t forget, Donald Trump began with the immigration issue, who begun by talking about building a wall. So, he was already there on immigration, if you want to call it racist, you can, or nativist fear, you can, if you want to call it economic fear, you can.

But he was there on that ground. Then Paris happened. Then San Bernardino happened. Suddenly, the immigration issue became a security issue, and he`s at that intersection in the Republican Party where 80 percent of the voters want to temporarily ban 1.6 billion people from coming into the country.

MATTHEWS: Don`t let Danny Thomas in the country. Don`t let Casey Kasem in the country. Don`t let Helen Thompson in the country. You know, a lot of people we know are from that background.

Anyway, the round table is staying with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: The biggest prize in the election season is fast approaching with Californians heading to the polls on June 7th. And we`ve got new numbers from the USC/"Los Angeles Times" poll.

Let`s take a look at the HARDBALL scoreboard. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has a double-digit lead over Bernie Sanders right now among likely voters. It`s Clinton 47, Sanders 36. That is close, however.

On the Republican side in California, the race is a virtual tie at the top, it`s Trump 36, Ted Cruz, I can`t believe Cruz is that good in California, 36. John Kasich is down at 14.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We are back.

And, John, tell me something I don`t know.

STANTON: This week, Representative Rod Blum from Iowa, Dubuque, has been catching it in the teeth a little bit from Washington, D.C. Last week, he put out this tweet highlighting some cranes over Washington and said he hoped it would be a recession in Washington because he thought we were rebuilding our city based on federal taxpayer dollars, which is actually not true.

The irony is as a private businessman, his company three quarters of a million dollars in federal state contracts. And so, Congressman Blum --

MATTHEWS: Without complaining.

STANTON: Yes. So, he`s a little bit of a hypocrite there.

MATTHEWS: That doesn`t shock me.


SIDDIQUI: We spend a lot of time talking about the vulnerable Senate Republicans who are up for reelection this year and the kind of impact Trump could have on Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and Rob Portman in Ohio. Well, the recent polling is actually showing a number of states, if current projections were to hold, that could turn blue like Arizona, like Georgia, like Missouri, and North Carolina, which has swung away from Democrats in recent cycles. All of them also have Republicans up for re-election.

MATTHEWS: You`re talking like 10-seat shift. This is big time.

SIDDIQUI: This is big time.


SIDDIQUI: John McCain in Arizona, and where, you know --

MATTHEWS: What would cause this to happen, this big shift towards the Dems?

SIDDIQUI: Well, there are a number of things and one of them is changing demographics, just like across the country. Arizona is a prime example of a burgeoning Hispanic population. If Democrats can turn out their base in Georgia, you would see the same thing.

MATTHEWS: Is this if Trump is nominee?

SIDDIQUI: If Trump is nominee, because there was a recent poll in fact showing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied in Arizona.


FINEMAN: I would also say that in some cases, the Republican or the establishment of the Senate like in Missouri, Roy Blunt, he`s very establishment.


FINEMAN: Yes, I do have one because when you talk about California, look to New York on April 19th. That is where Donald Trump is hoping to make his slam dunk statement because he`s got clout there and he`s got real friends there. Inside politicians like Tom Galasano of Buffalo, who`s a billionaire, who`s leaning with his money and his contacts on every Republican in the state to support Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: And he`s running by the New York standard against a yahoo, a guy way out in the country.


MATTHEWS: It`s not their kind of guy.

Anyway, thank you to my roundtable tonight. John Stanton, Sabrina Siddiqui, and Howard Fineman.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight this: a hundred years ago today, Easter Monday, 1916, the people of Ireland rose up for independence after holding off the British army for six days, they surrendered. Fifteen of the leaders were executed by firing squad. And even those who didn`t support the rising were shaken by the British brutality. And soon, Ireland was fighting for its independence.

And thanks to Michael Collins, they won the Irish Free State. Eventually, the republic today, the arrangement of the Good Friday accords that would someday bring Irish unity peacefully once and for all.

In marking the Easter rising about hundreds years ago, I offer some lines from Easter, 1916 from William Butler Yeats.

I have met them at close of day, coming with vivid faces, from counter or desk among grey, eighteenth-century houses." This man has kept a school. He might have won fame in the end. So sensitive his nature seemed, so daring and sweet. This other man I had dreamed a drunken, vainglorous lout. He had done most bitter wrong to some who are near my heart. Yet I number him in the song. He, too, has resigned his part in the casual comedy. That`s heaven`s part.

Our part, to murmur name upon name, as a mother names her child when sleep at last has come and limbs that run wild. What it is but nightfall. No, no, not night but death. Was it needless death after all? For all is done and said we know their dream enough to know they dream and are dead.

But what if excessive love bewildered them until they died? I write it out in a verse, McDonagh and MacBride and Connolly and Pearse. Now and in time to be, wherever evergreen is worn, are changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born.

Well, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.