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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/8/2016

Guests: Tad Devine, Heidi Przybyla, Sabrina Siddiqui, John Stanton

Show: HARDBALL Date: April 8, 2016 Guest: Tad Devine, Heidi Przybyla, Sabrina Siddiqui, John Stanton


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

After a big loss in Wisconsin this week, Hillary Clinton went on offense and fired a shot across Bernie Sanders`s bow. Sanders hit back, showing he can more than defend himself. The fight kept up Thursday, when Clinton taped an interview for Friday`s "TODAY" show. She denied ever saying Sanders was not qualified to be president.

Friday morning, Sanders called a truce. After two days of slamming Clinton`s qualifications, he took back what he`d said about Clinton herself being unqualified. Here`s what he said on the "TODAY" show.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here`s the truth. I`ve known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I respect Hillary Clinton. We were colleagues in the Senate. And on her worst day, she will be -- she would be an infinitely better president than either of the Republican candidates.


SANDERS: Of course.


MATTHEWS: "Of course." Well, anyway, Hillary didn`t want to let it go there. She continued the war of words, campaigning in Buffalo Friday afternoon.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You may have heard Senator Sanders say I`m unqualified to be president. Well, seriously --


CLINTON: Seriously, I`ve been called a lot of things --


CLINTON: -- over the years, but unqualified has not been one of them. And this morning, he finally acknowledged that, of course, he doesn`t really believe that. This is all pretty silly. The question in this election should be who can actually get things done.


MATTHEWS: Well, shortly after that, in a gaggle with the press, Clinton, too, backed down, answering to reporters that yes, Sanders was qualified, is qualified.

Anyway, Tad Devine is senior adviser to the -- to the Sanders campaign, and Ed Rendell is the two-term governor of Pennsylvania, who`s supporting Hillary Clinton.

Governor, what`s Hillary Clinton -- she was a little snagged up there, unable to sort of end the war when it was over. It was like the War of 1812 and she`s still firing. Bernie stopped saying she was unqualified. She said, Oh, yes, he said, I was not -- no longer unqualified, but I`m going to keep fighting. And then something happened and she said, OK, we`ll call the truce.

What`s going on?

ED RENDELL (D), FMR. PA GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in fairness, Secretary Clinton said yesterday, Chris, that Bernie Sanders was infinitely better than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. She said that yesterday, which is essentially what Senator Sanders said about her today.

Look, both sides should understand that all they`re doing is -- by calling each other liars, by saying unqualified or things like that, they`re feeding the Republican propaganda machine, regardless of who our nominee is.

And they`re forgetting why they got in this race in the first place. They got in this race to have a progressive Supreme Court, to end income inequality, to do something about universal health care, to create jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure. Those are the things that matter, even more than who is the president going to be.

And look, we`ve done so well for so long compared to the Republican campaign. It was a shame what happened here. And the problem with Senator Sanders taking back that Hillary Clinton is qualified, saying now, that quote that she`s unqualified, those 30 seconds are there.

And if Hillary Clinton`s the nominee, and I believe she will be, that`s going to be used by the Republicans in the fall.



RENDELL: -- very tough quote.

MATTHEWS: Why did -- Tad Devine, explain why he went that far.

TAD DEVINE, SANDERS SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, because he did that because on Tuesday night, after he won a sweeping victory in Wisconsin, the Clinton campaign announced publicly through Jeff Zeleny and CNN that they were going to have a new strategy. The strategy was called disqualify Bernie Sanders to defeat him.

They pursued that strategy, with Secretary Clinton and all of her surrogates refusing to say whether or not Bernie Sanders was qualified to be president of the United States. They launched surrogates to attack him on issues like guns and foreign policy.

They thought they were going to come into the New York primary and blow him out. But Bernie Sanders, even though he comes from a small rural state, is prepared to play the politics of New York -- of New York primary.

DEVINE: Yes, Vermont.

DEVINE: So that`s why he did what he did.

DEVINE: A small rural state --

MATTHEWS: That`s exactly what -- exactly what Donald Trump said when he put out the picture of his wife against Heidi -- Heidi Cruz, "He did it first." This is 5-year-old stuff. He did it first, is exactly -- or she did it first is exactly the Trump defense, Tad.

DEVINE: Chris -- Chris -- Chris, they were going to run us over with a truck here in New York, OK? You know, I`ve been through New York primaries before. I know what it`s like. And that`s what they intended to do.

Now, listen, I`m very happy to hear Secretary Clinton has finally said the words that Bernie Sanders is qualified to be president, OK, because saying he`s better than Donald Trump -- listen, I`ve got a 28-year-old daughter. She`s better than Donald Trump for president, OK?

I mean, so that wasn`t good enough. Now, she`s saying it. He said it. Let`s talk about the issues. There are big differences on big issues. We should debate them in New York.

MATTHEWS: Governor, Hillary Clinton --

MATTHEWS: Well, I absolutely --

RENDELL: I have a theory here. Excuse me, my theory is pretty blunt. To really upset the Hillary campaign, I mean, to really turn this election around -- he began it this week by winning in Wisconsin. If Senator Sanders knocks out Hillary at home, she`s back on her -- on her backside. I mean, this is serious business. Losing at home is almost unforgivable in politics, more unforgivable than saying something you shouldn`t. You lose at home, you`ve lost.

Isn`t that why this campaign`s turned tough because Hillary Clinton`s worried about Bernie Sanders beating her in New York? Isn`t that why she`s gotten tough?

RENDELL: No, I don`t think so.


RENDELL: Because let`s assume Bernie Sanders were to win 51 percent of the vote in New York. He`s not going to pick up nearly enough delegates to have a real path to victory. Most observers agree there`s no path to victory for Bernie Sanders.

Look, I`m a superdelegate, and as a superdelegate, I will vote for the person who has the highest combination of popular vote -- and secretary Clinton has 2.4 million more popular votes than Bernie Sanders -- and the most elected delegates. And she has 240 more elected delegates. And that`s not going to change. It may go down, but it`s not going to change.

So the superdelegates aren`t going to change. She`s going to win the majority of elected delegates. So look, I think that`s all not necessary, and we shouldn`t do things that hurt us in the fall.

Look, if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, he`s going to need the Hillary Clinton supporters. If Hillary Clinton`s the nominee, she`s going to need the Bernie Sanders supporters. We should keep that in mind, or else we`re going to blow a golden opportunity that`s been handed to us by the Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at what -- at what Mr. Weaver, Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager for Senator Sanders, had to say just recently, in the last few hours. Here`s what he said because he`s keeping at this. He said Clinton`s made a deal with the devil. That`s Hillary Clinton has a deal -- a Faustian deal -- we all know what it means. You`ve sold your soul to the devil.

Here`s what he`s saying now. Let`s watch.


JEFF WEAVER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think if you look at her record, if you look at her campaign, you know, her campaign is funded by millions and millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests. You know, she`s really made a deal with the devil, and we all know the devil wants his money in the end.

So that`s the kind of campaign she`s running. You know, she supported these terrible trade deals, which have devastated American manufacturing in this country. She supported the war in Iraq. She continues to have a very, very hawkish foreign policy, which has led to the rise and expansion of ISIS throughout the Middle East.


MATTHEWS: He didn`t get the truce word, did he, Tad.


MATTHEWS: I mean --


DEVINE: That was early, Chris. That was early this morning.

MATTHEWS: -- she`s no good! That means he might as well have said she`s no damn good. I mean, what else has he got to say if he throws the kitchen sink at her? You said this isn`t going to be about a person. But you can say it`s about issues, but basically, he`s damning her.

DEVINE: Well, listen --


DEVINE: -- how you fund your campaign is an issue, and Jeff`s right about that. Hillary --

MATTHEWS: "Deal with the devil"?

DEVINE: Well, listen, I`m -- I`m -- I Jeff will speak for himself. He`s a former Marine. I`m a former altar boy.

MATTHEWS: No, he`s the campaign manager for Senator Sanders. He`s not speaking for himself. He`s speaking for the campaign.


RENDELL: That`s exactly right.

DEVINE: And then the point that Jeff made, I think, is -- is -- is a valid point, OK, how you fund your campaign. She has numerous super-PACs, OK, and in the last quarter, the biggest one raised $15 million from Wall Street. That`s a legitimate issue. She has a super-PAC that`s --


MATTHEWS: Did Barack Obama make a deal with the devil?

DEVINE: -- know where the money came from.

MATTHEWS: Did Barack Obama make a deal with the devil?

DEVINE: You know what? We`re not running against Barack Obama. She did.

MATTHEWS: But did he --


MATTHEWS: -- by the same standards?

DEVINE: And -- and --

RENDELL: Answer that question.

DEVINE: And -- and -- and --

RENDELL: Answer that question.

DEVINE: Sure, I`ll be happy to answer that question. The system of campaign finance in this country is corrupt. And fortunately now, Bernie Sanders can run a campaign by relying on small dollar contributions. I don`t think we could have done it -- President Obama could have done it in 2008. But technology now allows you to do it. And I believe if he was running today, he would probably not take a dime for super-PACs. He`d run outside the system, just like Bernie Sanders is.

MATTHEWS: Wow. Governor?

RENDELL: Well, Chris, first of all, I object -- as someone who`s run for office 17 times, 15-and-2 record. If I was a baseball pitcher, that would get me about $20 million a year. But as someone who`s run for office 17 times, I have taken money from businesses and interests, and then made decisions directly adverse to their welfare because I cared about the welfare of the people of Pennsylvania or the people of Philadelphia.

And that`s what Hillary Clinton did. Hillary Clinton was a strong supporter of Dodd-Frank, and Wall Street -- Dodd-Frank may not have been everything we wanted it to be, but Wall Street wanted to defeat Dodd-Frank. She had taken money as a senator from Wall Street, and yet she went ahead and did what was right for the people, to support Dodd-Frank and to get it passed.

You can take contributions. It doesn`t mean you`ve sold your soul. You don`t make deals with the devil. You say to people, You give me money, I`ll listen to you. I will not necessarily do what you want. I did that in 36 years as a public official. Hillary Clinton has done that. Barack Obama has done that.

And as to the trade deals, I assume that Joe Biden and Secretary Kerry also made a deal with the devil on trade because they supported those same trade deals.

MATTHEWS: Well, Tad, are they all guilty of deals with the devil?

DEVINE: Listen --


MATTHEWS: I mean, everybody supports the deal with the -- the trade pact with the Far East. Everybody that`s taken money -- or you don`t, by the way, take money from super-PACs, but you obviously allow them to help you.

By the way, this is -- you`re talking to the greatest mayor in the history of Philadelphia, OK?


MATTHEWS: Now, What are you making the point here, that he wasn`t --

DEVINE: No, listen --

MATTHEWS: -- Eddie Rendell --

DEVINE: I -- first of all --

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re (INAUDIBLE) Trump with his broad brush, and your guy`s using a broad brush against every politician around. And you saying technology has changed. Where did you come up with that one? That`s pretty good. Technology has changed in eight years. Go ahead. Your thoughts.

DEVINE: Chris, first of all -- first of all, let me -- first of all, let me say what a great mayor and what a great governor and what a great party leader Ed Rendell was, OK? Let me put that on the table.

Now, let`s -- let me also say that in 2016, we have a corrupt system of campaign finance. It began really to became rotten in 2010 when the United States Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision took all the boundaries off fund-raising and allowed -- and allowed corporations to pour as much money as they want into super-PACs. Now, the system is rotten right now. It really is. And it`s different from the system that we had in the past.

And Bernie Sanders is determined to end it, not by rhetorically talking about it, but by taking action. He has shown us a new way forward.

And listen, I hope the Democratic Party adopts what Bernie is doing. We can raise a lot of money, as much as the Republicans, not by taking super- PAC money, not by taking special interest money, but by relying on millions of people rising up at the grass roots and funding this campaign. That`s what Bernie is doing, and I`m very proud of him for doing it.

MATTHEWS: OK, good point. You made great points there, and I agree with all of them, by the way, Tad. I mean, I really do. And we talk about Citizens United here. That`s the devil, as far as I`m concerned.

Governor, your last word here.

RENDELL: I agree. Citizens United -- it was a disgraceful decision and it`s caused a lot of the problems. But Hillary Clinton has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who are going to get rid of Citizens United, just as Bernie Sanders would.

MATTHEWS: And if the Democrats don`t win this election this November, we`re going to have more decisions like Citizens United the rest of our lives. It seems to me that`s a reasonable judgment.

Anyway, thank you so much, Tad Devine, a great debate. You made great points. I love this technology thing of yours. That`s really brilliant.


MATTHEWS: Everything -- I love the latest in the state-of-the-art game of political argument. Thank you, Governor Rendell. And everything we both said is true -- coming up -- about you.

Anyway, coming up, the high stakes of this fight between the Democrats. It`s do or die right now in New York, as I said. Bernie`s got the momentum. He`s looking for a win in New York over Hillary Clinton, and if he gets it, look out, could be breakout time for Sanders.

Plus, what`s John Kasich up to? He`s on the attack against Cruz now. He`s making a play for number two in New York and perhaps number two on a possible Republican ticket with Mr. Trump. I think that`s what he`ll have to call him, Mr. Trump.

And the HARDBALL roundtable is here with something we don`t know about the fight between Bernie and Hillary. It`s the battle for Broadway, and it`s crossed the bridges now into the city itself.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with that wonderful phrase, which I actually like, "New York values." Wait`ll you hear me.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got new numbers on the grand prize this election year, California, which votes June 7th. Let`s go to the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a Field poll out there on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton`s up. She`s got a 6-point lead over Bernie Sanders. It`s Clinton 47, Sanders 41, not much of a lead.

On the Republican side, Trump`s ahead. The GOP front-runner stands at 39, Cruz is at 32, Kasich at 18. It`s close on that side, too. It all could change in a few weeks.

And we`ll be right back.



MATT LAUER, "TODAY" CO-HOST: When you looked at the calendar eight months ago, it`s April 19th, could you have imagined back then that this would be anything but a finish line, and it`s kind of turned into a firewall?

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Matt, I said from the very beginning this is going to be a tough contest all the way through. And I did it because I remember `08. You know, I went the distance with then Senator Obama. And that`s the way primaries develop.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary Clinton said she`s going the distance in the Democratic primary. Of course she is. But the race between Clinton and Bernie Sanders has gotten pretty tough in New York, where both candidates claim home turf, of course. The latest RealClearPolitics national average, by the way, shows Hillary Clinton with just a 4-point lead now, just 4 points across the country, after all the delegates she`s won.

But that will change if she gets a loss in New York. I really think so. If Clinton manages to lose the state she represented for eight years in the U.S. Senate, the direction of the Democratic primary will shift significantly, I believe.

We`re going to check that with our experts. Howard Fineman`s global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and Heidi Przybyla`s the senior reporter for "USA Today."

Heidi, I`ll let you start first. You start off with one question. It`s the Wednesday morning after the New York primary. Bernie has squeaked it. He`s one New York. The tabs go nuts. The national media, which is all in New York, goes nuts. She`s been beaten at home, and by then, the national numbers will have closed to probably nothing.

How will the campaign -- I`m just trying to talk about the stakes of this primary.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY": You`re talking about the national numbers --

MATTHEWS: Everything.



PRZYBYLA: Well, it`s a huge psychological shift, right, because then he`s beat her in Wisconsin, he`s beat her in Michigan, he`s beat her in New York -- huge psychological shift.


PRZYBYLA: He can then --


PRZYBYLA: The delegate math -- OK, I hate to say this, delegate math doesn`t change all that much. But you know what does change? Bernie can then go to the superdelegates --

MATTHEWS: Superdelegates and say, I`m the winner.

PRZYBYLA: -- right, and say, look, especially in the states that I carried, you need to come over and support me now.

So that then leads to a mathematical, an actual mathematical shift that he can carry into states, like you mentioned, California. Although, Chris, I did look at the biggest delegate states that follow, like Pennsylvania --


PRZYBYLA: -- Jersey --

MATTHEWS: Maryland.

PRZYBYLA: She`s actually ahead by way more there than she is in New York, so --

MATTHEWS: Yes, but he could pick up -- he could pick up Connecticut. And by the way, he`s reachable (ph). The national number, if that comes equal after New York -- I look at this as a big, big win for him and a big loss for her. And I think about -- the other way, it`s not as significant if she beats him. But it`s certainly significant if he wins.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, here`s the thing. She always starts out way ahead in these states, until you get to the states and it`s primary time. The problem that she has is that Bernie Sanders appears, and in fact, has all the momentum. He`s won seven out of --

MATTHEWS: Look at the crowds! Look at the kids!

FINEMAN: He has -- he has the kids. He`s got the enthusiasm. He`s got the energy. He`s got the crowd-sourced money, as Tad Devine was saying. They do have --

MATTHEWS: What`s the crowd source?

FINEMAN: Well, that`s the small donations --


FINEMAN: -- small donations, amplified by the power of the Internet and social media. And that`s where Bernie is strong. It`s not just --

MATTHEWS: He`s pulling --


MATTHEWS: -- 400,000 bucks a day or something.

FINEMAN: It`s not just that he has young voters. He has the young technology. He has the way to amplify the power of small donations. And that is a new paradigm in not only front-runner but in campaigning. And I would also --

MATTHEWS: So if he wins New York -- he wins New York --


MATTHEWS: -- to everybody who hasn`t maxed out, Now`s your chance to double down.

FINEMAN: Right, absolutely.

And, as you were saying, New York is the -- is the media capital, not only of the United States, but in many ways the world.


FINEMAN: You can`t overstate the megaphone effect of New York. So it`s a local contest in a global place. And if Hillary loses there -- by wait, I`m not sure she will. She still has got most of the Jewish voters in New York. She is going to have the loyalty of most, especially the older African-Americans. She`s going to a lot of Hispanic support.

But it`s going to be between that style of interest group by interest group politics and the general --

MATTHEWS: That`s New York.

FINEMAN: -- and, though, the generational politics of Sanders. And the thing is that Brooklyn is not the Brooklyn that we knew, Chris.

PRZYBYLA: That`s the question we skipped over, though, is it`s also a closed primary, right?

And so how has Bernie ridden to success in a lot of these states? It has been on the independent voters. But the other alternative to this that we need to entertain is that it is just a squeaker, it`s very close. And even in that case, Chris, I think it`s going to be a bit of a psychological blow going to her going into a general election.

She is going to be seen, perceived as a weaker candidate than if she had carried this state by a much bigger margin, which is what they were expecting.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You`re great. Talk about the new Brooklyn, because the new Brooklyn is not the old soggy ethnic --


MATTHEWS: Jewish and Catholic. It`s not the old clubs.

FINEMAN: It`s not like, OK, do you want the biali or the bagel? It`s not food by food necessarily. And it`s not the old ethnic groups.


FINEMAN: It`s now hipsters. It`s now younger people. It`s now the sort of knowledge workers, young people, 35 and under, who -- for whom a college education has in some cases been a boon, but not entirely.

And Bernie talking about free college education, the knowledge workers rights, health care, et cetera, et cetera, is powerful.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the other side. You start, Heidi.

If Bernie doesn`t make it, Bernie Sanders -- we call them first names, by the way, in the Democratic Party. It doesn`t seem to bother anybody.


MATTHEWS: It`s Bernie against Hillary.

Suppose he loses New York. I think it shatters him, because I don`t see how, if you lose New York, and then you go into Pennsylvania, and all those other states the following, Maryland and the rest of them, I think it`s kind of hard to say, I`m going to beat Hillary. I`m going to beat her.

PRZYBYLA: That`s why I think her campaign rightfully says this is a must- win, because --

MATTHEWS: And his campaign too.

PRZYBYLA: Right. Because then you will lose that critical component that I was talking about at the top, which is making any kind of case to the superdelegates.

That`s why you see Bernie`s people actually focusing on them more now, because they know it`s really not -- even -- unless they had really epic sweeps, like he can`t just win New York -- he would have to really sweep to win in terms of the --

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think, if he wins, it`s the headline. I disagree. I think the headline --


PRZYBYLA: It`s the math, Chris.

MATTHEWS: All they will do on "Saturday Night Live," all they will do in the newspapers, the next day on all the major networks, Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.

FINEMAN: Yes, here is the thing. He wins if you and Chuck Todd and company don`t call it by 11:00, OK? Bernie wins.

MATTHEWS: How? Explain.

FINEMAN: Because that means it`s a virtual tie, and it means he will have fought a two-term incumbent senator who is from New York to a standstill.

MATTHEWS: But you have got to beat the champ. Remember that rule?

FINEMAN: Yes, I do.

MATTHEWS: See, I got some rules.

Anyway, not above reminding people of Clinton`s vulnerabilities, Senator Sanders said on "Morning Joe" that he hasn`t run a campaign based on attacks. Well, Jeff Weaver, his campaign manager, just did on this show about a half-hour ago. And we showed it as tape. But here he is. Here is the senator.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How often have I talked about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails? Have you heard me? Not a word.

How often have I talked about the Clinton Foundation`s fund-raising? Have you heard me say one word about it during the campaign? To say that I am running a vitriolic campaign --

MAN: Why aren`t you?



MATTHEWS: OK. Explain how that was done. That`s a politician at work.

FINEMAN: That was Bernie channeling a little bit of Richard Nixon there, because Richard Nixon always would, well, I could discuss that, but it would be wrong.


MATTHEWS: Some people say the Supreme Court is loaded with communists.

FINEMAN: Some people say.

PRZYBYLA: Isn`t that what Trump does, by the way?

FINEMAN: But I would not do that.

MATTHEWS: But he mentioned every one of the erogenous zones, every one. He hit all the bad problems about Hillary Clinton and said, but I wouldn`t -- when I have talked about them?

FINEMAN: OK. The first time he did it in the debate where he said, I`m sick about hearing about your e-mails.


MATTHEWS: Can I say it again?

FINEMAN: Everybody --

MATTHEWS: When have I? Just a second ago.

FINEMAN: OK. Everybody applauded him the first time he did it, but if you continue doing it, there is an obvious different reason for you to do it.

PRZYBYLA: He`s just irritated. He`s a kid who has been grabbed by the collar and said, why did you say I`m unqualified? Take it back.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me give you the bad news for the Democrats. Both of them have said in the last 24 hours the same thing you say when you`re not really confident of your message to the people.

They`re both saying the other guy I`m running against, or woman in this case, she is still better than Cruz or Trump. And is that all they can say? Because they both said that about each other. Is that the best you could do? As Tad Devine said a few minutes on this show, if all you can say about a Democrat is they`re better than Trump or Cruz, you`re really not making a case.

PRZYBYLA: Well, it shows that under the surface, there is actually a lot of irritation, not just by Hillary, but by Bernie.

And it goes back to his shouting remark when she screamed sexism and it`s been kind of building ever since then. And the question is, how much time are they going to have for him to decide that he is not -- he is going to say some nicer things about her and some things that are so nice that you`re not only go to have the women and the minorities who are behind him come over, but also the young people who are actually really --


MATTHEWS: You`re on the spot on that. You`re on the spot, because you`re the first woman on the show. You`re number four. You`re number three or four, OK? So, tonight, you have to get the answer.


MATTHEWS: Was there some sexism in Bernie Sanders` attack on her lack of qualifications? No one would say that about a former secretary of state if they were a male. No one would say it about somebody who has been a United States senator, because those are qualifications, by our standards.

PRZYBYLA: OK, ready to get flamed on Twitter here, but I don`t think so.


PRZYBYLA: I think he was just generally ticked off that she wouldn`t answer the question whether he was qualified, and he said, oh, you`re going to do that, I`m going to call you unqualified. And I don`t know if would have been any different if it were a male candidate.


FINEMAN: I think it was more schoolyard Brooklyn than it was sexist. Some people are interpreting it that way.

Bernie -- I think many months ago on this show, somebody asked me about it. I think Bernie Sanders is not a nice guy. And I got burned on Twitter for that.

Bernie Sanders is not a nice guy.


PRZYBYLA: He is crabby.

FINEMAN: He is crabby.

MATTHEWS: OK. I like the way you do that. I like the way you do that.

But let me ask you, would anybody say about a male secretary of state that they`re unqualified? By definition, that job makes you qualified.

FINEMAN: Well, if his opponent had gone around saying you`re unqualified, I might.

MATTHEWS: I like your courage.



MATTHEWS: Thank you, Howard Fineman and Heidi Przybyla.

If you want to get ahold of her, "USA Today."


FINEMAN: Twitter.

MATTHEWS: We will more on Bernie.

I love courage. Sometimes, it`s really great.

Bernie/Hillary fight, more with the roundtable tonight. We`re going to be back to this fight later.

But up next, John Kasich is going after Ted Cruz ahead of the New York primary. Could a second-place finish propel Kasich to a strong number two spot ahead of the contested convention, and could he position himself with a lot of delegates to demand the V.P. job if he wants it or be asked for it by Trump?

I notice Trump doesn`t hit Kasich. And I find that fascinating.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

The suspect wanted in connection with the Brussels attack was arrested earlier in Belgium; 31-year-old Mohamed Abrini was known as the so-called man in white seen in airport surveillance video. He`s also suspected with involvement in the Paris attacks last year.

SpaceX successfully launched a capsule bound for the International Space Station. It`s carrying supplies and experiments. The company was able to land the rocket`s booster on a floating barge off the Florida coast, something it`s never done before. Employees watching the landed erupted in cheers at SpaceX`s headquarters in California -- back to HARDBALL.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My goal is to win as many delegates as I can heading into the convention. And it`s important for me to continue to raise money, to build a political team. And I`m -- I have been playing from behind the whole time. And the reason why I have been playing from behind for the whole time is because I didn`t in the beginning, and I`m not now, going to take the low road to the highest office in the land.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was Ohio Governor John Kasich on the campaign trail this week.

After scoring zero delegates out in Wisconsin this week, Kasich is trying or continuing to fight, hoping for a better reception in Northeastern states like New York and Connecticut. His campaign is out with a pair of new ads exclusively taking aim at Ted Cruz.

Here is one.


NARRATOR: In Iowa, Ted Cruz sneered at our New York values.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think most people know exactly what New York values are. I got to say, they`re not Iowa values and they`re not New Hampshire values. Everyone knows what New York values are.

NARRATOR: Ted Cruz divides to get a vote. John Kasich unites to get things done.


MATTHEWS: And in another ad, the campaign cast doubt on Cruz`s ability to get enough delegates for the nomination, asserting Kasich has got a better chance of taking down Hillary Clinton in November.


NARRATOR: You have only one choice, one choice that will stop the Clinton political machine. John Kasich. Don`t be fooled. Ted Cruz can`t win the nomination outright. And he can`t defeat Hillary Clinton either.


MATTHEWS: Well, Kasich is the one candidate Donald Trump hasn`t lashed out, much at least.

So, what is the Ohio governor`s game plan? Is he looking to come into Cleveland with enough delegates to land himself on the ticket with Trump? Who knows? I`m thinking, though.

Joining me right now is the HARDBALL roundtable.

John Stanton, left of me, is the Washington bureau chief of BuzzFeed News. Sabrina Siddiqui is "The Guardian"`s political reporter. And "The Washington Post"`s Jonathan Capehart is an MSNBC political analyst.

Sabrina, this thought I have. It`s interesting, because, first of all, sneering is a great word. Cruz sneers. It`s a great word for him. And the fact that he is getting personal and exploiting the hell out of a stupid line, a politically a stupid line like New York values means he is going for number two, and I think he will get number two, which pushes the so-called Cruz machine right out of the game for the Northeast.

Your thoughts?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, I think that if you`re John Kasich, you don`t believe the establishment actually intends to rally behind Ted Cruz in the long-term. They`re doing it now to deprive Donald Trump of the nomination on the first ballot.

But when you go to a contested convention, that`s when he believes he is the one they`re going to turn to. He has the polling to show that he is the only one who can actually defeat Hillary Clinton. And he`s not an outside --

MATTHEWS: That`s consistent, by the way.

SIDDIQUI: And he`s not just someone -- it`s consistent. And he`s not someone who swept in from the outside like a Paul Ryan and -- quote, unquote -- "stole the nomination." He ran a full campaign and outlasted every other so-called establishment choice, whether it Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio.

MATTHEWS: Why do you see so little contention between Trump, the front- runner, the usual target, and the guy who is tagging last, lagging last? They`re not contention. They don`t trash each other.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, they don`t, because Donald Trump only attacks two people, the super, super weak and a threat.

And I bet you, any day now, Donald Trump will turn his sights on John Kasich if looks like he is --

MATTHEWS: Unless he wants him on the ticket.

CAPEHART: But, Chris, I don`t believe this. Chris, I don`t believe it.


MATTHEWS: What is the one state a Republican candidate for president must win historically, has to win? Ohio.

CAPEHART: It`s Ohio. But then that requires John Kasich to have a soul conversion to go on the ticket of a man he has slammed.


MATTHEWS: The road to Damascus has been very busy these days, very crowded.

SIDDIQUI: Chris Christie is a prime example.


SIDDIQUI: -- opportunist than John Kasich.

CAPEHART: But here, John Kasich, if he has an opportunity to really make a play and make a name for himself in this campaign and not be the third little weakling, it is here in New York. And that ad, talking about New York values, that`s his shot. That`s his shot to remind people --

MATTHEWS: For number two.

CAPEHART: To remind -- yes, for number two.

MATTHEWS: OK, John, what is he up to, Kasich? Those ads, what do they tell you?

JOHN STANTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, BUZZFEED: I think what Jonathan says is right.

To me, the whole question is, is, I don`t understand why he thinks that they`re going to turn to him eventually, because the person that the establishment they`re going to turn to is going to have to also get enough of these anti-establishment voters to come along.

And the guy -- John Kasich is nothing but an establishment figure. He has been in Washington forever. He`s a governor. Like, he is super establishment. And the idea --

MATTHEWS: Lehman Brothers.

STANTON: Yes, right? And the notion that he is going to be able to like pick up any of the Trump voters or any of the Cruz voters is just mind- boggling.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s what I have been waiting for, because I have always like to watch Peter King. He`s a neighborhood guy.

Here he is. Ready? Kasich isn`t the only politician with tough talk about Cruz. Here is Republican Congressman from New York Peter King taking a shot at the Texas senator.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Any New Yorker who even thinks of voting for Ted Cruz should have their head examined, to have some guy like Ted Cruz with his cowboy boots walking around criticizing us. So, listen, I hopes he gets the cold shoulder and other things from every New Yorker. Send him back where he belongs.



MATTHEWS: That sounds like Ed Koch, the mayor of New York, saying if any Jewish person votes for Jesse Jackson, they have got a hole in their head or something that like. That sounds so New York.

Your thoughts?

SIDDIQUI: Well, Peter King hates Ted Cruz. He was one of the most vocal critics of Cruz during the government shutdown in 2013.

And I think this actually serves as a reminder that it`s hard to really understate where the Republican Party is when Ted Cruz is --


MATTHEWS: Why does he hate Ted Cruz?

SIDDIQUI: -- as the alternative to Donald Trump.

Because Ted Cruz still represents the person who was willing to torpedo his own party to pursue his own agenda.

STANTON: Hurricane Sandy funding.


SIDDIQUI: Hurricane Sandy funding. It`s hard to -- he also torpedoed that. Go ahead.


MATTHEWS: What funding did he torpedo?

STANTON: He tried to block Hurricane Sandy funding.

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. Well, that`s home. That`s home.

STANTON: He has made -- this line about New York values is actually a thing that Ted Cruz has said throughout his career, especially once he got into the Senate, and really sort of used that a lot against people.

MATTHEWS: What does he mean? When he talks to the country folk, what is he saying to them?

STANTON: Basically, city people.


SIDDIQUI: Elitist. It`s actually elitist.

CAPEHART: Elitist. Liberals.

MATTHEWS: What does it mean? Does it mean --

STANTON: Also urban.

SIDDIQUI: Gun control.


SIDDIQUI: Supportive of same-sex marriage, not religious.


CAPEHART: Permissive, blah, blah, blah.

STANTON: Not really conservative. You don`t actually listen to country music in your pickup truck.

CAPEHART: And that line, as an exiled New Yorker here in Washington, that line about cowboy boots is a real sting, because New Yorkers, you see anybody walking down the street in cowboy boots, you do this.


MATTHEWS: You think "Midnight Cowboy," "Midnight Cowboy."

CAPEHART: I don`t know it goes that far, that far, Chris. But it`s like, cowboy boots, really, in the middle of New York City? Come on, man. Come on.

MATTHEWS: And that`s it. And you don`t like that?

CAPEHART: No, we don`t.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

CAPEHART: We don`t have enough time for that, Chris.


MATTHEWS: You gave me those looks, Jon.


MATTHEWS: I can`t interpret them.



STANTON: That`s country values, right? It`s the opposite way.

Like, people in New York look at people that are -- like oh, you`re hasty.

CAPEHART: It`s not sophisticated.


So we`re going to come back here in a minute.


MATTHEWS: We need to take a break right now, because I want to try to figure out this guy`s facial intonations.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us, as we go back to our top story tonight. It`s the New York -- it`s the Democrats` battle for Broadway right now ahead of the crucial New York primary. It is all going to happen. This is the blowout. Of course, after it`s over, I will try to think of another better story.

But I can`t think of anything as good as this fight for New York. This is great stuff. And it is going to reverberate around the world. They`re going to hear in Hong Kong who is ahead in this fight.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The round table is still with us, John, Sabrina and Jonathan.

Let`s go back to our big story of the night, and it`s the big one, the battle for Broadway, between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, which is going to be a hot one this weekend again.

Jon, I think this battle is one of those ones that truly is do or die. I mean, Bernie overtake Hillary has to start in New York. You blow it apart and break out. All things can happen. If he runs short by -- you know, a point or two, Hillary Clinton wins New York. She`s covered herself. She`s going to be the nominee.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. She can`t lose New York. She absolutely cannot lose New York. She is still ahead in the polls. Again, the longer Bernie Sanders is on the ground, the better he does. His economic message will play well downstate. It probably will play extremely well Upstate, which isn`t as --

MATTHEWS: Explain.

CAPEHART: Well, because downstate means the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester and long island, everything else, when you look a map of the state of New York, downstate is blue, upstate is red, with pockets of blue in places.

So, Bernie Sanders can get around the state and get his message out. He`s got 11 more days to do that. He could do very well in the state. But here is the problem, and it started on Monday, when "The Daily News" editorial board came out. It was a disaster for Bernie Sanders.

The New York media market --

MATTHEWS: What did you think of the politics of that decision, the way they handled it, "The New York Daily News"?

CAPEHART: What do you mean?

MATTHEWS: What do you think of the decision, they handled it?

CAPEHART: Which decision?

MATTHEWS: Like these kind of things, you think this is the way things happen. Things are made to happen. What do you think -- where is Zuckerman on this race?

CAPEHART: I don`t know. I don`t work there anymore. I don`t work there anymore, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I would like to know where he stands.


CAPEHART: The interview happened on April 1st.

MATTHEWS: They`re killing Bernie in papers.

CAPEHART: It came out on April 4th. And, look, Bernie Sanders has to survive the New York media market, the national capital of U.S. media. And if you can`t survive --


MATTHEWS: I`m trying to delineate the real politics behind this newspaper business. "The Post" is incorrigibly pro-Trump, and "The Daily News" is incorrigibly anti-Trump, which makes them Democrats. Are they regular Democrats, or, you know, new coming progressive Democrats like Bernie. I`d say they`re with Hillary.

So, I do figure out these tabs that way. You worked there.

CAPEHART: I worked there. No --


CAPEHART: I can tell you the choice between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, it`s clear. It`s Hillary Clinton. But Bernie Sanders didn`t do himself any favors by not being able to handle the interview.

JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: Going into the process like this sort of run up to the vote where he could have set his own agenda, he could have set his own narrative.

MATTHEWS: Could you read that thing? I read that thing a number of times. I couldn`t get (ph) the conversation -- one side, the editorial board is talking about the Fed, he`s talking about the Treasury Department, he`s talking about Dodd-Frank, the guys on the ed board simply should have said to him, name the provision in Dodd-Frank you will use to take apart the big banks. In fact, you go on Google and do it. Just point end this conversation.

Why didn`t they do that to him and have a reasonable conversation? They`re talking past each other.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: (INAUDIBLE) he doesn`t have a realistic plan to actually do what he --

MATTHEWS: Why didn`t they just say what provision in the bill, name it?

CAPEHART: But the onus is not on them to get the question right. The onus is on him to answer, as John said, set the agenda. You`ve been running on this Bernie Sanders for a year and a half, two years. This is the whole raison d`etre of your campaign, and you cannot put "The New York Daily News" editorial board in its place by telling them --


MATTHEWS: I think it`s always a bad day for Bernie.

SIDDIQUI: I think it was a bad week. He didn`t do himself any favors with his statement that Hillary Clinton isn`t qualified to be president. Which he so clearly reversed his opinion on today, recognizing I think the backlash that he received, where he has outright said, yes, she is qualified --

MATTHEWS: A pretty broad definition, in other words, I disagree with her on the issues. If you voted for the Iraq war, it doesn`t make you unqualified. It makes you somebody I disagree with.

SIDDIQUI: Somebody he disagrees with, and he opened himself up to attacks that the statement was sexist, he opened himself up to charges that he is feeding into Republican talking points. That`s their central argument against Hillary Clinton, that she is unqualified. And they`re saying it over things like Benghazi and emails and now, they`re going to cut that statement from Bernie and put it in attacks, that have nothing to do with the point that he`s trying to make, which --

MATTHEWS: Does he know that?


MATTHEWS: Does he know they`re going to use it in the fall?

SIDDIQUI: Well, I don`t think he was strategic. I think he was genuinely irked by what you`re actually saying, what you`re irritated, because I think he believes it was a concerted effort to try to get rid of him, to try and put him away. He, of course, is tying that to Clinton and her allies, whether --

MATTHEWS: Do you think ideologues really believe the end justifies the means? I think they do, ideologues. When you have strong philosophy that says, you know what, this may be a little tough, a little mean, a little unfair in the short run, but I`ve got a cause here, I`ve got to lead.

STANTON: Well, that`s -- yes, I mean, that`s what the basic definition of an ideologue, right, that they believe it. So, they`ll do whatever they have to do to get there.

SIDDIQUI: But it`s politics 101 when you`re running in the same primary, not to explicitly say something that you won`t be able to really walk back. He is going to have to come back and endorse Hillary Clinton and he essentially said by saying she was not qualified, they`re unfit to be president.

MATTHEWS: I want to hear from Bernie lately, this strikes me. I`m used to politics. I`ll talk bout Bernie now, politics.

I think he really is -- I don`t want to use the word negatively, but he is an ideologue. When he talks about what he calls the same for this country for not having a right to health care for life, he really sees it as a shame. Not something we can get towards a more perfect union that most liberals talk, I will get here, we`re working toward it.

No, he says it`s a moral shame that we don`t have health care. It`s a right. I believe it when he says it. That`s not campaigning.

CAPEHART: Right, no.

MATTHEWS: That`s deep belief. Maybe that`s something that social democrats around the world and all the other democratic countries believe it is a right. They take -- it`s a red right we call it. It is not freedom from the government. It`s something you demand of society.

I think we`re dealing with somebody who has true beliefs here.

CAPEHART: Well, here`s the thing: no one -- you will find no one that says Bernie Sanders does not believe 100 percent in what he is saying. No one will say that. The argument is, how then do you get to this universal health care? How then do you break up the banks and --

MATTHEWS: Beating Hillary Clinton.

CAPEHART: But here is the problem. But, you know, Chris, the problem that he had again with "The New York Daily News" editorial board, Wall Street is in New York. Wall Street is a big part of the tax base. Wall Street is a big part of the job base.

If you`re going to break up the banks, they want to know what happens to these people. He had no answer.

MATTHEWS: Do they still do advertising in big tabloids, the banks?


MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. Anyway, the Valery (ph) Bank, remember that from Red Buttons. Anyway, the round table is staying with us.

And up next, these people will tell you something I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, here is a key indicator of the mood of this country. More than seven in 10 registered voters say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Just 26 percent say it`s headed in the right direction. That`s according to a new McClatchy Marist poll. That number who say the country is headed on a wrong track includes 89 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of independents.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL round table.

Who I do start with? John, tell me something I don`t know.

STANTON: The Secret Service is using an executive order that President Obama signed in 2013 to exert a control over the credentialing process for the convention for reporters. They`re essentially saying that we all have to get background checks, that they will have a third party private company do. But they won`t tell us whether that will include people that have been arrested, covering protests in the last couple of years, if you did something in college. They won`t give us any of the criteria.

MATTHEWS: Who are they screening out?

STANTON: Well, that`s unclear. They won`t tell us who they are trying to screen out. And it`s an unprecedented exertion of control by the Secret Service over the press and raises some troubling First Amendment issues. It`s got a lot of folks here in Washington and sort of the media world very, very concerned.

MATTHEWS: So, what happened to that guy who put the guy in a chokehold?

STANTON: Well, again, nothing has happened to him, as far as we know. And, you know, we`ve already had at least one or two instances where Secret Service agents have gotten into confrontation with reporters. They are working to keep reporters in the press pen, which was not part --

MATTHEWS: Did you notice that the other day in Long Island how far the press was from the action?


MATTHEWS: It was amazing -- the protesters way back from the action.


MATTHEWS: Anyway. Sabrina?

SIDDIQUI: So, the district conventions are under way and Ted Cruz is by far outmaneuvering Donald Trump in the shadow race for convention delegates. My colleague Ben Jacobs who`s out in Colorado where that convention is underway, and Donald Trump is so unorganized that his campaign had the wrong names on the delegate slate cards. They also, in Iowa, where the convention process is about to get underway, they didn`t explain to their supporters how the delegate selection process works.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is so organized they have data modeling so that they could target and identify appropriate delegates for Ted Cruz.


MATTHEWS: It doesn`t move me.


MATTHEWS: No, I know. It`s just about Cruz, anyway.

CAPEHART: This isn`t going to move you. So, after Bernie Sanders bombed at "The New York Daily News" editorial board, I asked my former colleagues, you know, have you invited Hillary Clinton? They told me yes they invited her but they haven`t heard back from her, whether she was coming in.

I can confirm from the Hillary Clinton`s campaign that she will go to "The Daily News editorial board" before the primary and wait for that transcript to come out because it will --


MATTHEWS: She`ll be ready. She`s good at this. The brief -- she has her brief.

Anyway, John Stanton, Sabrina Siddiqui, and Jonathan Capehart, formerly of "The New York Daily News".

When we return, let me finish with New York values.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the phrase, New York values.

I thought we were past that, past all that talk from the country`s heartland about the moral infirmity of the country`s greatest city. I thought 9/11 ended all that. I thought the New York firefighters raising up the Trade Towers ended all that, ended that cheap aside that the people who grow up in cities like the right stuff, the inner strength to defend this country.

Didn`t we all see that they were the opposite with those towers burning and those firefighters from Staten Island and Brooklyn heading up the stairs? We got a much sharper picture of New York toughness. We saw what the people of Gotham were made up, we saw commitment to duty and courage to meet danger at its worse. We saw the guts of that great city.

I`m not talking about the movie stars and celebrities who flock to New York after making it. I`m talking about the people in the boroughs who make this amazing city what it is. And didn`t we always know that.

Remember that scene in Casa Blanca when that Nazi major is talking about Hitler`s army marching into New York and Humphrey Bogart`s character standing up to him saying, there are certain sections of New York I wouldn`t advise you, Major, trying to invade. Well, that`s the New York attitude, and yes, Senator Cruz, the New York reality, New York values.

I`ll take up any Mr. Country Mouse over what you`re out there selling.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.