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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/15/2016

Guests: Barbara Boxer, Ben Jealous, Megan Murphy, Michael Tomasky, Colleen McCain Nelson, Jim Rich, Ed Cox

Show: HARDBALL Date: April 15, 2016 Guest: Barbara Boxer, Ben Jealous, Megan Murphy, Michael Tomasky, Colleen McCain Nelson, Jim Rich, Ed Cox

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Bernie`s Roman holiday.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

With just four days until the New York primary, Bernie Sanders has taken his message overseas to the Vatican, speaking today at a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. You might say he`s traded Rome, New York, for Rome, Italy.

Using familiar themes from his campaign, Sanders slammed Wall Street, big banks and Citizens United, but he also reframed his message as a fight to restore the soul of this country.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But as both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have warned us and the world, the consequences have even been more dire than the disastrous effects of financial bubbles and falling living standards of working class families.

Our very soul -- our very soul as a nation -- has suffered as the public has lost faith in political and social institutions. As Pope Francis has stated, and I quote -- profoundly stated -- "Man is not in charge today. Money is in charge. Money rules."


MATTHEWS: Well, but as of late Friday Vatican time, as far as we know, no meeting has occurred between Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders. The pope is scheduled, by the way, to leave for Greece early in the morning, so it`s unlikely they`ll get together.

Joining me right now from Rome is NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson. Can you explain -- Anne, thanks for joining us over there. It`s late at night. Why did Bernie Sanders get -- did he get invited by the pope? How did it work? How`d he get over there?

ANNE THOMPSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: No. No. He got invited by the bishop that runs the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. This is not an invitation from Pope Francis. It`s not even necessarily approved by Pope Francis. The pontifical academy is one of 10 think tanks, Chris, that operate here at the Vatican. The first one was founded back in the 1500s. This one was founded in 1994.

It is basically a group of people from all over the world, some of whom are Catholic, many of whom are not, who come together to discuss big ideas, if you will.

And what they were discussing today is the 25th anniversary of an encyclical that Saint John Paul II wrote about the world`s economy after the fall of communism. And there were two questions the academy was trying to address today. First of all, what has happened in the world socially, economically and politically in the last 25 years, and then secondly, what has Catholic teaching done about the issues and what can it do in the future.

MATTHEWS: So this is like an Italian or Catholic Davos or Renaissance weekend, right?


MATTHEWS: It`s not anything to do with -- it`s not an audience with the pope.

THOMPSON: Exactly. That`s a really good way to think of it.

MATTHEWS: OK. It`s great having you on the show.

THOMPSON: But what is interesting is...


THOMPSON: What is interesting is that Pope Francis sent a hand-written message to the conference today, apologizing for not going.

Now, all week long, we`ve been told by papal spokespeople that the conference was not on the pope`s schedule. He in this hand-written note said today that he had hoped to stop by earlier this evening, but because he has got an early flight to Lesbos, Greece, tomorrow -- he`s wheels up at 7:00 AM Rome time -- he just could not fit it in.

And I think it`s unusual for two reasons. One, it`s a hand-written note. And two is, we didn`t think he was -- at least, we were told by his official spokespeople that he wasn`t going to this meeting at all. Now, note also that this letter was addressed to all the participants of the conference, and not just one individual.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Anne Thompson, reporting from Rome.

Anyway,the brawl for New York between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has been, of course, if you`ve watched it, the nastiest of the Democratic race to date. And last night`s debate was nastier still. Sanders repeatedly jabbed at Clinton on issues like the minimum wage and her three paid speeches for Goldman Sachs.

And now with their candidate overseas, the Sanders campaign is making its closing argument in a new TV ad that hammers home his attacks. Let`s look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wall Street banks shower Washington politicians with campaign contributions and speaking fees. And what do they get? A rigged economy, tax breaks and bail-outs all held in place by a corrupt campaign finance system. And while Washington politicians are paid over $200,000 an hour for speeches, they oppose raising the living wage to $15 an hour.


MATTHEWS: Well, this comes as a new NBC-4/"Wall Street Journal" Marist poll shows Clinton has widened her lead over Sanders. She`s now up by 17 points, 57 to 40.

I`m joined right now by Democratic senator Barbara Boxer of California, who supports Hillary Clinton.

You`d think somebody would tell the Bernie Sanders ad writers that U.S. senators and U.S. members of Congress are not allowed to take speaking fees for any reason. It`s against the rules for, what, decades now. And they act like this is the norm that`s responsible to what they call a rigged economy. It`s illegal!

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, absolutely. When Hillary Clinton took fees, it was legal. She was not part of the government. The whole thing is outrageous.

And all I could say about my friend, Bernie -- and boy, I`ve worked with him forever and I`ve worked with Hillary forever. Here`s a guy who promised to never run a negative ad. I just went through my notes. He promised it, all his people. "Bernie" -- he talks about himself in the third person. "Bernie Sanders has never run a negative ad." And here it comes.

So there`s only one thing worse than a negative ad, and that`s when somebody does it who promised they wouldn`t do it. I hope he comes back from Rome happier. He was so grumpy. I never saw Bernie this way. The minute Hillary just prepared to speak, he was looking at Wolf Blitzer -- Call on me! Call on me!


BOXER: I mean, I don`t -- I have never seen anything quite like it. It was, to me, the defining moment as to why, you know, let`s come together, let`s get behind Hillary. And I think just judging from some of his outrageous attacks on her, both personally and on television, his brand is being damaged, and I think the New Yorkers are going to choose Hillary very strongly.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you...

BOXER: I hope so.

MATTHEWS: The polls support what you said. She`s up well above double digits. But the question I keep reading today -- I read everything today, like you read everything. And it looked to me like people think that Hillary was damaged, even though he was a bit, you know, tough on her, to put it lightly, very tough. And it is his last chance. I think he does need to do well in New York. But he`s damaging her down the road.

Do you believe that, that he`s putting permanent wounds on her that the Republicans like Trump or Cruz will exploit?

BOXER: Of course, they`re going to exploit it. But Hillary`s going to stand tough and stand tall. And she`s gotten worse.

I mean, the bottom line is everybody`s attacking her, every Republican candidate and Bernie Sanders, who said he would not. It is stunning to see this happening to my friend, Bernie. And I just -- as I say, I hope he comes back, you know, having been in the Holy Land, the very -- in the Vatican. I hope he comes back with a different attitude, with a more centered attitude, with a more reasonable attitude.

She really held her ground, and I was just very proud of her. And you know, I can`t get over the fact that he said she was unqualified. I have to say rhetorically, does anyone think he would have said Joe Biden was unqualified if Joe Biden was running? Joe Biden supported the war. Joe Biden, you know, lived by the campaign finance system.

So it was just a terrible thing to say about her. And that kind of kept -- got the ball rolling downhill.

We need to come together. You know, we all want the same things, a better life for our people. We don`t have to attack people by income groups or whatever. Let`s just work together because when we do, you know, that`s what makes America great, to quote someone else.

MATTHEWS: Senator Barbara Boxer, the great senator from the state of California. It`s great -- it`s always great to have you on, Senator. Thanks for coming on tonight. Anyway...

BOXER: Oh, thanks so much.

MATTHEWS: Senator Barbara Boxer.

By the way, Hillary Clinton is making her closing argument herself in a positive TV ad. This is dramatically different than Senator Sanders because I think she thinks she`s head -- well, she is in New York. We`ll see who`s winning nationally as the days go on -- anyway, touting her endorsements from New York newspapers, like "The Daily News."

Here she is doing what politicians do. You get endorsed by a newspaper, you sell it on TV. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Tuesday, we`ve got a big decision to make, and "The New York Daily News" and "The New York Times" already made theirs. Both endorse Hillary Clinton for president. Clinton is supremely knowledgeable and results-driven. She promises to be a true Democratic champion.

New York`s choice for president, Hillary Clinton.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by the former president of the NAACP and visiting professor at Princeton. Princeton. My God. Anyway, Ben Jealous, who supports Bernie Sanders.

Let me ask you about these ads. Do you think they`re fair, going after Hillary, saying that she`s bought, that she...


MATTHEWS: You know, Jeff Weaver is out there saying she`s got a pact with the devil. There`s that other bad guy out there saying worse about her, that she`s a bought woman. I mean, how personal can you get in a campaign, except somebody`s been bought, on the take?

BEN JEALOUS, FMR. NAACP PRESIDENT: She needs to release the transcripts.



MATTHEWS: No, what do you mean "she needs to"?

JEALOUS: She needs to...

MATTHEWS: When is Bernie going to release all his tax returns?

JEALOUS: That should be done...

MATTHEWS: By the way...


MATTHEWS: ... My wife`s working on it, like -- it`s fair enough...


MATTHEWS: I know all about this. I know this is the weekend you`re supposed to -- or the day you`re supposed to bring in your tax returns. They`re talking about way back, `14, `13, `12. Is Jane Sanders still working on `12, `13, `14?

JEALOUS: She`s pulling together the files. It`s been an extraordinary year for this couple (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: You`re buying this? You`re buying that they couldn`t just Xerox their old tax returns?

JEALOUS: They`re the most normal couple that we`ve seen run for president...

MATTHEWS: What is complicated about showing your old tax returns?


MATTHEWS: What`s complicated about showing your old tax returns?

JEALOUS: I suppose it`s getting back and going through the files. But that`s not the issue. Let`s talk about the big issue here...

MATTHEWS: All you need is a Xerox machine!

JEALOUS: ... with these transcripts -- 225 bucks...

MATTHEWS: OK. I don`t believe it.

JEALOUS: And they -- and they...

MATTHEWS: I don`t think you believe it.

JEALOUS: $225,000, and they bring you back three times?


MATTHEWS: I know there...


JEALOUS: Who pays you $225 (sic) for a speech and then brings you back again and again unless they`re investing in something? And that`s why we need...


MATTHEWS: You accept this sold her soul?

JEALOUS: It`s not sold her soul...

MATTHEWS: Your campaign manager says...

JEALOUS: I just find that it`s very, very curious that she won`t release it. And then you get the bankers...


MATTHEWS: I`m a big believer -- I say it on the air whenever I think of it. If it is better than it looks, they`ll show you.


MATTHEWS: If it`s worse than it looks, they won`t. It`s very simple. If a politician`s keeping something from the public, whether it`s tax returns or it`s speaking transcripts, it`s because they know that putting it out will be worse than keeping it private. And they know the hit they take for not releasing it, the assumption that it`s worse. But that`s why they keep it because it is worse.

Let me ask you about this. Are you a Democrat?

JEALOUS: Of course.

MATTHEWS: You`re a Democrat. You`re not a socialist.

JEALOUS: I am a...


MATTHEWS: No, it`s a big word this year.

JEALOUS: Yes, you know, and...


MATTHEWS: What`s the difference between a socialist and Democrat? Because a lot of young people are voting and they`re hearing these words, not in a cold war sense, but what does socialist mean to you, because you`re not one?

JEALOUS: Well, in this race...

MATTHEWS: No, what`s it mean to you, the word "socialist," because Bernie...

JEALOUS: But Bernie`s not a socialist.

MATTHEWS: ... runs on that...

JEALOUS: He`s a democratic socialist.


MATTHEWS: I`m not saying he`s a tyrant.

JEALOUS: We`re both New Deal Democrats. We`re both New Deal Democrats.

MATTHEWS: No, no, no. Bernie...

JEALOUS: We`re both New...

MATTHEWS: Bernie was asked last night, Are you a Democrat, and he hedged it and he said, I`m running as a Democrat. Is he a Democrat? He still says...


JEALOUS: ... that`s why I`m running as a Democrat. Bernie is a Democrat.

MATTHEWS: He`s never run as a Democrat.

JEALOUS: He was -- he has...

MATTHEWS: He has never run as a Democrat.

JEALOUS: Jesse Jackson...

MATTHEWS: Why are you fighting this?

JEALOUS: Jesse Jackson in 1988 -- which primary did he run in?

MATTHEWS: `98, there wasn`t...


JEALOUS: In 1988. In 1988. Which -- which primary? He ran in the Democratic. Who delivered Vermont for him? Bernie Sanders.


JEALOUS: Why did Bernie Sanders stray from the Democrat (sic) Party? Because of the establishment, conservative Democrats in Vermont did not like what this young Turk, who was for Jesse Jackson, was about. You know, gets into real early fights...

MATTHEWS: And that`s when he discovered he was a socialist, when he was rejected by the party. I just want to know.

JEALOUS: That`s -- that`s when he started to run as an independent, was when he was running up against the establishment in his party. And this -- and this comes up for...


MATTHEWS: ... I`m raising this issue. If someone cares about the future of the Democratic Party, no matter who wins, they want unity come the fall, right?


MATTHEWS: I`m not sure -- I`ve been listening to radio and listening to Sirius -- watching (INAUDIBLE) today and listening to it, people are saying things from the Bernie side of things, Well, a lot of our young people are not really Democrats. They`re loyal to Bernie, per se. So we don`t know when they`ll come over and back Hillary if she wins the nomination. What do you think?

JEALOUS: The reality is with activists, and especially with young activists, you can lead them, but you can`t control them. You and I both (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: What`s your hunch about the people you`re working with?

JEALOUS: I mean, look...

MATTHEWS: Do you think there`s going to be a problem bringing Bernie people over to...

JEALOUS: Folks -- folks -- no, folks who I`m working with, you know, I think intend to support the Democrat come this fall. But when I talk to a lot of young activists, you know, they`re talking about Jill Stein and the Green Party.


JEALOUS: I mean, the reality is that we cannot command and control young activists. We need to respect them. And that`s why Hillary disrespecting them, Bill disrespecting them so many times is so harmful.


JEALOUS: And they got to stop doing that.


JEALOUS: Last week in Philly with the Black Lives Matter. But before that, it was...

MATTHEWS: Well, that guy was coming at him, too. He was playing a little defense...


MATTHEWS: I`m not defending his words.

JEALOUS: You`re the former president of the United States, you should be able to take it, right?


JEALOUS: And then the -- you know, Ashley (ph), right, the former -- you know, the Black Lives Matter activist who was down in -- a line (ph) that she was so dismissive of. And it cuts these young activists! And you can`t do that, especially...

MATTHEWS: I know. I know. I know. There`s also an older person/younger person thing going on.


MATTHEWS: And you can`t put down somebody because they`re younger than you. You just can`t, even though you were there and they weren`t.

Anyway, thank you, Ben Jealous.

JEALOUS: Thank you. It`s always good to see you.

MATTHEWS: A good conversation. I think you have case to make.

Anyway, coming up, democracy -- this is the good fight on the other side. It`s a better fight! Donald Trump makes his case against Ted Cruz and the delegate process. Come July in Cleveland, can the party nominate someone other than Trump if the Republican front-runner, i.e. Donald Trump, is still on top with votes and delegates? How do you fight the word "democracy"?

And tonight, also on this show, the Bill Clinton factor. He`s one of America`s most popular politicians. He`s been awful quiet in this campaign. Haven`t you noticed? He doesn`t want to make news. I think somebody said to him, Don`t make news. But he is out there.

Let`s take a look right now at the role of the former and possibly future occupant of the White House. You know, the first spouse gets to live there, too.

And on this Friday night, just four days out from Tuesday`s Empire State primary, the HARDBALL roundtable will tell me something I don`t know, which is always great. I always learn something.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, Ted Cruz made an appearance on the "Tonight" show with Jimmy Fallon Thursday night, and among the topics discussed were Cruz`s debating skills, and this.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST: One of your skills, I would say, is that you`re fantastic at debates. You`re very -- right? You would say you`re good at that. Now -- and which is all great. But my question to you...

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I`ll tell you, in college, that really attracted the women.

FALLON: It really did, yes.

CRUZ: No, it was...

FALLON: That`s -- yes.

CRUZ: You know, if you want to argue about NATO policy in a bar, I mean, that -- it`s just a great, great pickup line.



Look at this, guys. You`re not going to believe this. This is in your yearbook, right? And did you write this or they -- they wrote this about you?

CRUZ: No, sadly, that was me.

FALLON: Yes, you wrote this.


FALLON: I mean, really, I mean, this is fascinating. "Ted hopes to attend Princeton University" -- check -- "wants to attend law school, possibly Harvard" -- check -- "achieve a successful law practice" -- check -- "pursue his real goal, a career in politics" -- check -- "run for and win president of the United States."


FALLON: That`s unbelievable. That`s unbelievable!


MATTHEWS: It is totally, utterly believable, Jimmy. That`s what I thought of the guy the day I saw him.

We`ll be right back.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a rigged system. The Republican system is rigged, OK? It`s a rigged system. And you look at Colorado, where they`re having a big march later, or something`s happening. But the people are angry.

I would have done great in Colorado. The people didn`t know in Colorado that their vote was being taken away from them! And let me tell you, you have some angry people in Colorado right now. And if you want to know the truth, it`s a beautiful thing to watch because they`re 100 percent right.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back.

Donald Trump has come back with a rallying cry he thinks is a winner, democracy. On stage, on television, and now in the op-ed pages of "The Wall Street Journal," the New York businessman and Republican front-runner is rallying against what he calls the corrupt and rigged delegate process of the Republican Party.

He wrote -- quote -- "What we are seeing now is not a proper use of the rules, but a flagrant abuse of the rules. Delegates are supposed to reflect the decisions of voters, but the system is being rigged by party operatives with double-agent delegates who reject the decision of voters. The political insiders have had their way for a long time. Let 2016 be remembered as the year the American people finally got theirs."

Well, Trump`s opponents and Republican leaders countered that the rules are the rules.


SEAN SPICER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I understand that sometimes people may not like the process, but the facts are that the process was very open and very transparent for all to see and all to follow.

Now, if a campaign doesn`t stay up on that, then that`s on them, not on us. I understand that when you don`t get the outcome that you want in any circumstance, whether it`s a sporting event or a political contest, you immediately cry foul and blame the process. But the fact of the matter is that when the process has benefited them, they don`t seem to complain too much.


MATTHEWS: Well, Jim Rich is the editor in chief of "The New York Daily News." The paper`s editorial board endorsed Governor John Kasich this weekend for president, or for the nomination at least. Ed Cox, by the way, is chairman of the Republican Party of New York. And Colleen McCain Nelson is a correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal."

I want you all to sort of deal with this political question which Trump is raising. He is arguing the word democracy out there. And I sort of go along with him, which is it is very hard to tell the American people after years and years of watching the primaries decide who wins the nomination, even though it is technically decided by the delegates at the convention, after years and years of learning that, we now tell the American people, well, it`s actually done by the delegates at the convention, and unless you have requisite number, a majority of delegates, you don`t win, even though you could be well ahead.

Jim Rich, explain how the American people might have to be reeducated here, and how it`s easier to be Trump. That`s what I think. What do you think?

JIM RICH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, I think, for once, Donald Trump might have a bit of a point. And I think the same point extends over to the other side of the ticket, you know, with the superdelegate debate that`s been going on over the past few weeks there as well.

The problem with it is, it`s difficult to address what seem to be flaws in the system, you know, six or seven months out before the general election is about ready to take place. So, again, there might be some legitimacy there, but the time to have that conversation and the time to think about overhauling or tweaking the system is probably not now.

MATTHEWS: Ed Cox, your view as chairman. You`re not taking sides in this fight among the three candidates, but you`re going to deal with the fight afterward. Well, you`re going to deal with the fights as we approach the convention.

ED COX, NEW YORK REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: I will tell you, look, Donald Trump learned a lot from this. He learned that he needs to have a much better organization, a broader and deeper organization going forward if he is going to not only win the nomination, but unite the convention and particularly to win the general election.

MATTHEWS: Well, suppose you were in Reince Priebus` shoes -- they`re probably too small for you, but you were in Reince Priebus` shoes and you had to announce some time in Cleveland, a week before the convention, yes, Donald Trump has 1,100 blah, blah, blah numbers of votes, and he is very close to getting the 1,237, the majority, but we`re going to now have a vote. And if he doesn`t get the 1,237, all bets are off. Can you make that case?

COX: No, all bets are not off. The last time it happened, it was 1948. Tom Dewey, he was close. He got closer on the second and won on the third ballot. That could happen to Donald Trump very well. And that`s what the precedent is.


COX: If you want a really good precedent...

MATTHEWS: How many people know this? Ed, Ed, you`re great at this. I know you`re a pro at this now, but do you know that you`re the first person who has ever said that to me? I consider myself a bit of a historian.

So, you`re going back to `48. You weren`t born yet. And you`re telling me that with some casualness that, doesn`t everybody know this?


COX: If you want to -- as a historian, how about comparing this to the 1968 convention, which was my first convention, as a 21-year-old?

And I will tell you, it was almost the same. Take out the personality, three parties, one governor recently reelected coming in late, saying I got the polls, I can win. In the middle, someone says I got the silent majority, called it that later, and on the right, you had a really solid conservative named Ronald Reagan back then.

Now, of course, it`s Senator Cruz, very much the same if you take out the personalities. The result could be the same.

MATTHEWS: But all first ballots.

COX: That that person in the middle with the broad support could win on the first ballot.

MATTHEWS: But first ballots.

Anyway, let me bring in Colleen here.

History is there, but you will notice if you have to back history going back 40 or 50 years, you got a hard -- you know what people say these days who are in their 30s? That`s history. Like it`s a negative. Like, oh, that happened before I was thinking about it. Therefore, that`s history.


MATTHEWS: How do you make the case against democracy here if Trump yells democracy?

MCCAIN NELSON: Well, I think you`re right.

A lot of voters are surprised to learn that the person who gets the most votes doesn`t necessarily win, doesn`t necessarily get the most delegates. And so Trump is making a compelling argument here, saying you know what, I`m trying to win with the voters.

And in the op-ed, he wrote that Ted Cruz is trying to win kind of despite the voters. He`s now making the argument that Ted Cruz is trying to win...

MATTHEWS: He is not very likable. I mean, he just isn`t. In certain parts of the country, evangelicals sort of like him.

Anyway, last night, the three candidates who are in this race on the Republican side addressed a gala dinner up in Manhattan with the New York Republican Party. Trump brought up Cruz`s attack on New York values. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You say, what are New York values? Number one, honesty and straight-talking. It`s a work ethic, hardworking people. It`s about family.

New York, believe it, is about family, so important. It`s the energy to get things done. Big energy. If Jeb Bush came here, I`m telling you, he would have much more energy than he has right now. I`m telling you.




MATTHEWS: Anyway, Ted Cruz faced a far different reception. One NBC reporter snapped this video of the crowd during Cruz`s remarks, eating, talking, largely ignoring him. Let`s watch the scene.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To join our team to stand as one, to stand united. And let me know. The way we win a general election, right now, if you look at the national polls...


MATTHEWS: Ed, explain that disconnect, if you will. I have been in situations like that. They said, do you want to speak during dessert? OK, I will speak during dessert, so I can home earlier.

COX: That`s exactly...

MATTHEWS: But there you have a crowd basically not listening.

COX: Well, look, the Secret Service really messed it up. We didn`t have the right number of magnetometers to go through and delayed the whole thing for about an hour-and-a-half, so Ted Cruz ended up speaking not only at dessert, but after dessert.

And a lot of people were very inpatient by that time. And that`s what happened. He delayed -- he delivered an excellent presentation.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Jim Rich, because it`s great to have you on. By the way, you dress very well for a newspaper man. I must say. This is unusual in this world to see a snappy dresser..

RICH: All that credit goes to my wife. I take none of it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, well done. Anyway, a good switch there.

Let me about your news endorsement. Everyone reads "The New York Daily News." It`s the old Irish paper. We grew up with it. That was the paper you read. Regular people read it. But everybody knows what your wood is going to be, what`s the front going to be.

I learned the word wood, by the way. We were talking, Colleen, about the great movie "The Paper" about a tab. And I was thinking. You endorsed a guy who is basically running second in New York state, third nationally. And you know, doing it, it was an underdog position to take. Tell me why you made a move like that, knowing he is probably -- he is not -- he is plausible as their nominee, but not probable.

RICH: Well, first of all, as you stated earlier with our endorsement of Hillary Clinton, it was the editorial board, which there is a distinction.

MATTHEWS: I know. You`re the news guy. Yes.

RICH: But that`s fair, because I literally had nothing do with it, other than the decision to put that on page one, because it`s the most compelling story of the day.

But, anyway, you know, I believe that the editorial board endorsed John Kasich because the other two candidates at this point have stood for so many extreme, extreme values, and their positions on so many important issues have been so, you know, unpalatable that it would be impossible really to endorse anyone other than Kasich.

And you know, I have to say, he was impressive when he came in and spoke to the editorial board. He was...

MATTHEWS: What did you make of his comment the other day about, you know, sexual abuse on campus, basically saying that women should drink less?

RICH: Look, the -- I don`t think that any -- many people of "The Daily News" will agree on many social policy opinions of John Kasich, but when it comes to financial policy and when it comes to getting things done, I think he has a pretty decent track record, and especially when you juxtapose it to either Cruz or Trump.

MATTHEWS: Colleen, look at this. The Kasich campaign went into damage control today after Kasich was asked by a young college student how he would make young women on campus feel safe from sexual violence and rape.

After first talking about some initiatives in Ohio, Kasich added this:


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have two 16-year-old daughters, and I don`t even like to think about it, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s something I have to worry about, just walking...


KASICH: Well, I would give you -- I would also give you one bit of advice. Don`t go to parties where there`s a lot of alcohol, OK? Don`t do that.



MATTHEWS: Well, those comments were slammed by Democrats, of course, Planned Parenthood and other groups.

Kasich later tweeted: "Only one person is at fall in a sexual assault, and that`s the assailant."

And he told reporters he only meant people should be careful when alcohol is involved because it obscures the ability of people to seek justice.

Colleen, you`re gritting your teeth.

MCCAIN NELSON: That never goes well, to suggest...

MATTHEWS: Blame the victim.

MCCAIN NELSON: Right. The correct answer is that only one person is at fault. And he should have said that from the start. And I`m sure that...

MATTHEWS: I mean, rape is basically, from the old days, a capital crime. It`s not like, you know, a he said/she said. It`s a capital crime if somebody is guilty of it.


And he has had a few instances where he has had missteps with women. And we had a town hall where he talked about one of his early campaigns where he got the housewives to come out of the kitchen and help him. And so he keeps having kind of retro moments.


MATTHEWS: This is worse. I hate to say it. I hate -- I like John Kasich. This is worse.

And I think part of is that you have to talk all day long. You get fatigue. And when you get tired, you`re not as sharp.

MCCAIN NELSON: Right. Right. And he does a lot of town halls.


MATTHEWS: It`s the effort not to sound P.C., but sometimes sounding P.C. is the safest place to go.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

Jim Rich, thank you for joining us. Ed Cox, it`s great to see you again. I mean that. I do mean it when I say it`s good to see you again. I haven`t seen you forever.

Anyway, Colleen McCain, I`m rooting for your boy some day. Maybe he`s going to get elected to a big job next.

Anyway, up next, two men without a party, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, they`re both running as outsiders in an anti-establishment year. But does their lack of party loyalty help or hurt these two candidates? I`m thinking both of these guys are really unreliable loyalists to their parties, current parties, Republican and Democrat. If they don`t win the nomination, will they will be there to boost the one who does?

I wonder.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has released his federal tax returns for 2014. He and his wife, Jane, reported a total income of $205,000 and gave more than $8,000 to charity. The topic was brought up again last night during a heated Democratic debate with Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn, New York.

At least three people are dead after a magnitude-7 earthquake and several aftershocks hit Southwestern Japan. The quake came a day after a magnitude-6.5 quake hit the same area, killing nine people and injuring more than 800 -- back to HARDBALL.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Obviously, your priority is the nomination. But you raised Secretary Clinton there. She has been fund-raising both for the nomination and for the Democratic Party?

At some point, do you think, do you foresee a time during this campaign when you will start doing that?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we will see. Right now, again, our focus is on winning the nomination.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic nomination, saying he is unsure whether or not he will campaign for Democrats running for office in this fall.

Well, two people are running for president who have no love or loyalty for their party, Bernie Sanders and of course Donald Trump, both outliers in the past who could well be outliers again.

Last month, Donald Trump said he wasn`t sure if he would support the nominee of his party if it wasn`t him.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Do you continue to pledge whoever the Republican nominee is?

TRUMP: No. I don`t anymore.

COOPER: You don`t?

TRUMP: No, we`ll see who it is.


MATTHEWS: "We will see who it is." Magic number, me.

Anyway, earlier today, Sanders supporter and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner said Bernie backers are loyal to him personally, but not quite sure they`re loyal to the Democratic Party.

Here`s this.


NINA TURNER (D), OHIO STATE SENATOR: Especially with Senator Sanders supporters, a lot of the supporters or a great number of the supporters are not necessarily connected to a party. And I think that`s different from 2008, when we had the same thing with Secretary -- or Senator Clinton...

QUESTION: Do you think you can bring them over? Our recent polling shows 30 percent of them say, we would not get behind Hillary Clinton.

TURNER: Because a lot of them are not connected to the Democratic Party. They`re connected to Senator Bernie Sanders. So, I`m not so sure. I know a lot of folks are hoping that will happen, but I`m not so sure that it will.


MATTHEWS: Not sure that it will.

Sanders` campaign manager echoed that sentiment a few weeks ago, when he said he wasn`t sure supporting Bernie will even show up to support Hillary Clinton if she becomes the nominee.


JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Coming out for Bernie Sanders. Are they going to come out for Hillary Clinton? I`m not so confident about that, given how many times she has dissed them recently.



Well, Michael Tomasky is with The Daily Beast. Megan Murphy is with the -- she`s Washington bureau chief for Bloomberg. And Jonathan Capehart is a big opinion writer with "The Washington Post."

Megan, this question -- let`s talk with Bernie. They`re pretty open about it.

MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG: Oh, they`re nothing but open about it. They`re nothing but open about, will their young supporters come over to her? They`re nothing but open about saying this is going to be a challenge to unify the party.

But I do think if there is one theme that connects this election, it`s like, is this even something important? Is America really drifting towards a system where we have a fracture on both the left and the right and move closer to almost a European party system, with multiple parties?

I`m not sure we`re there yet, particularly on the left. But they couldn`t be more open about the fact that they are very -- that their voters are connected to him personally, not the party and certainly not to her.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s worse than I thought, because if that`s the case, Michael, if we break up our political parties, whatever you think of them, you need 270 electorate votes to be elected president or nobody gets elected by the people.

Then it goes to the House of Representatives, with a unit rule, absolute disaster, totally nondemocratic.

MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Totally changed political system. We will move to a parliamentary system. That could happen.

MATTHEWS: Well, that would be good if we have a parliamentary system.

TOMASKY: Maybe. Maybe.

MATTHEWS: Because then one party would govern. But as long as we have a presidential system, where the president has to work in concert with a political party, nothing gets done.

TOMASKY: Right. Understood.

But back to Sanders, I think that he will play ball in the long run. It will take him a while. He will have demands and this and that. But I think he will...


MATTHEWS: You know who didn`t come back? Gene McCarthy in `68 until the very end. It was too late.

TOMASKY: Yes, Gene McCarthy didn`t, but you know what?

MATTHEWS: And Humphrey got beat.

TOMASKY: Sanders has to go back to the Senate, Chris. And if I`m not mistaken, he stands a chance of chairing the Budget Committee if the Democrats take over. I`m sure Chuck Schumer has ways of reminding...


MURPHY: Do you think he is going to use the money to support other candidates? That`s really the big question too on the table.

TOMASKY: I`m surprised he hasn`t.

MATTHEWS: Let`s stick with this question. Will the Democrats unite if you have a guy there who is really not a Democrat? I`m not knocking him, the fact that he isn`t, but he isn`t a member of the Democratic Party.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: He`s not. No, he is not a member of the Democratic Party.

And to your point about fund-raising, will he use the money, I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago, jumping off that clip from Rachel`s show that you showed at the top of this segment, where he says "We will see" to the question of will you raise money for down-ballot races?

He is out there slamming Hillary Clinton for going to George and Amal Amal Clooney`s for an event next week, for two events which is going to raise a gajillion dollars, not just for her, but for the Democratic National Committee and state party committees, which will then use that money to help elect House and Senate candidates.

MATTHEWS: What is this knock on a Hollywood celebrity party?

CAPEHART: Well, he is saying, well, I`m not spending my time in the living rooms of billionaires and millionaires raising money.

TOMASKY: Not bad.

CAPEHART: Well, that maybe that is being raised hand over fist is for down-ballot races.


MATTHEWS: By the way, you catch his latest ad? He is accusing congressmen and senators of giving speeches for money and being bought and sold. They`re not allowed to do that.

Did anybody ever tell the ad writer, the copy writer we`re not allowed to give a speech? You get caught, you`re dead.

CAPEHART: Well, clearly not.


TOMASKY: I guess nobody ever asked him to.

CAPEHART: But the other point here...

MURPHY: He has been very clear on that.

CAPEHART: But the other point here, Chris, is Bernie Sanders` political revolution that he keeps saying he wants to lead and that will happen if he becomes president will not happen if he does not have a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate, which you won`t have if you don`t raise money for them.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you for thinking like I do.

You know, Megan, I`ve been thinking about this. It drives them crazy. Bernie Sanders last night, red faced, angry, flailing, vote for me, microphone back.

Suppose he is in the White House doing that, because he`s gotten elected. He`s just inaugurated. He`s been inaugurated, and he realizes that Mitch McConnell is still there. And they say, you got 60 votes, if not, shut up. We`re going to go to a restaurant how to destroy your White House, because that`s what we did before and it worked.

I`m just telling you -- when I said it to him, the trouble with you you`re inside the beltway. I`m sorry, that`s where they pass the tax laws, I tell him. How does he -- who would want -- Bernie Sanders` message is great, his agenda is great, but who would want him as president if he couldn`t do any of that stuff.


MURPHY: He can`t find his tax returns, but --

MATTHEWS: He said she has been working on it. I understand this is April 15th today. People are late getting them in. I understand. They`re working on deadlines. It`s like an exam, in college. I know that.

But what about 2014, 2013? Is Jane still working on those?

MURPHY: I know.

MATTHEWS: Go to the Xerox machine.

MURPHY: Jane is on TurboTax.

MATTHEWS: You know what tells me, he doesn`t want us to see them. Just like Hillary doesn`t want us to see the transcripts of her little missions to Goldman Sachs. Of course, she wasn`t tough on Goldman Sachs in the room with them.

MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: But back to this beltway and outside the beltway, he is campaigning, pretending as if Republicans don`t exist, as if Mitch McConnell doesn`t exist. Yes, he can do that in Vermont and he can do that to his audiences, but it creates a paradox for Clinton, because if Clinton tries to point out you`re going to have to work with Republican, his people say sell out, sell out.

MATTHEWS: How tired you are. So tired.

Anyway, thank you. Thank you for saying that.

Anyway, the round table is sticking with us.

Up next, the Bubba factor, the role of former President Bill Clinton who wants to be a future first spouse in the 2016 campaign trail. I think he has been a bit restricted in what he has been able to say. He doesn`t make news. And that`s purposeful. Why isn`t bill Clinton making news on the campaign trail?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, while campaigning for his wife in the Bronx today, former President Bill Clinton sarcastically suggested that Bernie Sanders supporters favor shooting a third of the people on Wall Street as a way of fixing the country`s problems. Here is Bill.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: One of the few things I haven`t enjoyed about this primary. It`s fine that all these young students have been so enthusiastic for her opponent and sound so good, just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine. But the truth is, there are 25,000, I mean 50,000 fewer people today. The Todd-Frank Act is working.


MATTHEWS: We have a clarification from Bill Clinton, here it is.


REPORTER: Do you want to clarify the comment about shooting every third person on Wall Street?

CLINTON: That`s a joke. It`s a total joke.

REPORTER: Total joke. Was it too dismissive to his supporters, Bernie Sanders supporters?

CLINTON: No, no. It`s meant to point out that that`s a unilateral explanation for everything that`s wrong with America.


MATTHEWS: See, the key today is to be a humorless journalist. Refuse to get the spin or the joke and just ask the guy to explicate it in a way that makes him look like a dummy.

MURPHY: But that wasn`t a very funny joke.

MATTHEWS: I know. But all you have to do is say, I don`t get what you meant. Do it straight. Are you talking about Bernie is going to kill people? Just play it dumb, right?

You get a guy like Bill Clinton, used to old school, cut some slack of the guy. He is former president of the United States and you would jump on him like that.

CAPEHART: And there in lines the difference between American politics when Bill Clinton was the big dog, the most brilliant political strategist we had seen in our lifetime at that point and that man today.

MATTHEWS: How about respect for leaders in those days?

CAPEHART: Well, yes, but in a media universe, where there is no respect for anyone, you say anything out of the ordinary, I`m sure by the time we get off this set, our Twitter feeds will be yelling at us for what we`ve said about fill in the blank person or the way we didn`t say it the way we should have said it.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that.

CAPEHART: So, you know, President Clinton can go out there and say something that was probably not exactly --

MATTHEWS: Well, how do you get trained, Megan, for today`s politics? You`re so PC, so careful, that nothing has a handle on it that can be grabbed.

MURPHY: I think he is particularly out of step this cycle, because I think he always wants it to be back the way it was frankly. This is why he was proven not the most effective surrogate this cycle. He`s had a couple of gaffs. Earlier this week, what he has shown is he has propensity for putting his foot in his mouth and not getting the cycle of instating a social media reaction, of Facebook, of everything immediately.

MATTHEWS: There`s no mulligans, to use a golf term.

MURPHY: There`s no mulligans.

MATTHEWS: In the old days, you could take a mulligan if your ball went into the tree somewhere. Now, your ball goes to the trees it`s a headline.

MURPHY: The problem is Hillary Clinton is picking the balls out of the trees, and I don`t think she wants to do that.

TOMASKY: I think he can still be helpful with white men in the fall.

CAPEHART: Yes. I mean, he`s not a total -- he is not a total disaster.

MATTHEWS: She just hangs around with Bill. That`s right. You`re right. You`re so right. We`ll talk about that.

The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, these three are going to tell me something I don`t know. Three brilliant bits of wisdom.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Tune in to your local NBC station this Sunday. I`ll be on "Meet the Press", just two days ahead of the critical New York primary. Chuck will sit down with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, both the RNC and DNC chairs. And I`ll join the panel along side Hugh Hewitt, April Ryan, and Kathleen Parker. It`s all on Sunday on NBC.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Michael, tell me something I don`t know.

TOMASKY: We all know general electorates tilt a little bit female, like 52-48, something like that. So, we think there`s a slight advantage there for female candidate.

I went back and looked. 2008, New York, 58 percent female, New York Democratic primary in 2008. Pennsylvania 2008, 58 percent female. California, 55 percent female.

Those are some big numbers that I think might make it a little tougher.

MATTHEWS: And they went for Hillary?




MURPHY: Talking women on the $10 bill, we know that Jack Lew and the treasury --

MATTHEWS: Why the ten? When you go to the ATM, you get 20s.

MURPHY: Well, this is the whole thing. There`s been a bit of backtracking that the woman is going to go on the back of the ten, maybe on the front of the 20.

MATTHEWS: The back of the ten?

MURPHY: In some bills, big consternation in the White House that maybe this isn`t being handled correctly by the Treasury and people worried about a real PR disaster on this one.

CAPEHART: Well, mine is completely --

MATTHEWS: Jackson was the Indian killer, right?

MURPHY: I think they want to get Jackson off.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s the smart move. Anyway, Hamilton gets the most celebrate in this entire history and they whack him.

Go ahead.

CAPEHART: Mine is President Obama is continuing to push for criminal justice reform and his My Brother`s Keeper Initiative to help young African-American men and boys by meeting with recording artists today at the White House to talk to them about all these things. And he met with Ludacris, Alicia Keys, (INAUDIBLE) Common and Busta Rhymes. So, these are huge people within the African-American community.


I think it should be on Roosevelt, do you agree?

MURPHY: Or Harriet Tubman.

MATTHEWS: OK, I think Roosevelt, because the more I read about, I`m more impressed what she role she played in the `30s.

By the way, today, Jonathan, I know this is the day that Jackie Robinson broke the color bar in Major League Baseball by joining and being an incredible player for the Brooklyn, everything is Brooklyn today, the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEW: We`re back with the roundtable.

Jonathan, right now, the latest news, believe it or not, is that Bernie Sanders is within two points of Hillary Clinton nationally. He may be passing her soon. What would that mean politically?

CAPEHART: Oh, politically, that would mean that she is -- she`s in big trouble. Remember a year ago, two years ago, for as long as we can remember, she was the Democratic nominee and that`s just not the case.


MURPHY: Huge enthusiasm gap in her campaign. You just don`t see the sort of support drifting. She`s got to shore up where she`s got it strong in minorities and among women and try and bolster it because every indication is her campaign is limping into the convention, not --

MATTHEWS: Michael, what do you say if every poll says you`re behind the other guy? He`s the people`s choice. How do you deal with that?

TOMASKY: It`s a tough one to deal with. He`s on a winning streak. He`s won seven in a row.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s going to pass her.

TOMASKY: You do? Even if she wins New York and if he goes on to win --

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think Bernie has got the bubble -- the bubbling aspect of his campaign.

TOMASKY: I think these are function of --

MATTHEWS: Millennials, I don`t think they -- I think not knowing who he is helps him.


MATTHEWS: I think it works both ways. Once they get to know me, not necessarily, the less you know. He`s a very good platform speaker.

Anyway, Michael Tomasky, Megan Murphy and Jonathan Capehart.

By the way, I`m headed to Brooklyn for the New York primary. We`ll be right there. That Woody Allen thing, that moon struck thing right at the Brooklyn Bridge, at the base. We`re going to be right there Monday night and Tuesday night.

Join me at 7:00 p.m., Monday and Tuesday night for two special editions of HARDBALL from the Brooklyn Bridge. And 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, I`ll join Brian Williams and, of course, Rachel Maddow for a full primetime coverage of the night`s results from New York, the town so nice they named it twice.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.