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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/19/2016

Guests: Jeff Weaver, Christine Quinn, Montel Williams, John Batchelor, Gabe Sherman, Gay Talese, John Batchelor, Steve Israel

Show: HARDBALL Date: April 19, 2016 Guest: Jeff Weaver, Christine Quinn, Montel Williams, John Batchelor, Gabe Sherman, Gay Talese, John Batchelor, Steve Israel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: New York values!

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in New York, live from the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, where it`s very windy tonight.

In just two hours, the polls will be closed across the state of New York, and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are looking for big victories tonight.

Let me start tonight here with the Democratic race. The fight for this state has been the hardest fought of the Democratic campaign so far. For Clinton, a big victory will further clear her path to the nomination. For Sanders, an upset could prolong this race to the convention, buoying his national numbers still higher.

Secretary Clinton voted this morning, along with her husband, the former president, Bill Clinton, in their home town, acquired home town, of Chappaqua. And last night, Secretary Clinton said she hoped a win in New York would help her wrap up the nomination. That`s the key phrase, "wrap up the nomination" -- her phrase.

Take a look.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am hoping to do really well tomorrow. I`m hoping to wrap up the Democratic nomination.




CLINTON: (INAUDIBLE) I`ve got to quickly add that before anybody has the wrong impression.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Anyway, nobody got the wrong impression. They know what you meant, you`re going to got to wrap it up.

Anyway, Senator Sanders today greeted supporters on the streets of midtown Manhattan. Here`s what he said when asked about Clinton`s grip on the nomination and her reference to wrapping it up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, Secretary Clinton implied that she could wrap up the whole nomination today.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m afraid she`s going to be (INAUDIBLE) I think we`re going to do just fine.


MATTHEWS: "I`m afraid she`s going to be disappointed. I think we`re going to do just fine."

Anyway, the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls puts Clinton ahead with a comfortable 12-point lead in New York state over Sanders, the numbers going into tonight`s vote, 53-41.

While members of the Clinton campaign insist, quote, "a win is a win," whatever the margin, Politico points out that for Clinton, however, "a single-digit victory in the state that elected her twice to the Senate and where she beat Barack Obama by 17 points in 2008 would signal vulnerabilities."

I`m joined right now by former New York City Council speaker -- and it`s a big job up here -- Christine Quinn -- not every city has a speaker...


MATTHEWS: ... anyway, who supports Hillary Clinton, and Jeff Weaver, the aforementioned king of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Let me go back to you.


MATTHEWS: You guys are -- people can`t (ph) ask me -- why is this campaign getting so tough? You`re talking about her selling her soul. You know, you`re going after the speaking fees. These are very personal things. How do you take them back in Philly if you have to?

JEFF WEAVER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, look, it`s not about taking back. But let`s be clear...

MATTHEWS: No, you have to.

WEAVER: Let`s -- let`s be clear -- either candidate is far preferable to what the Republicans have to offer. Either candidate would be -- I mean, just head and shoulders...

MATTHEWS: Do you have any other bromides to share?


MATTHEWS: That`s what everybody says!

WEAVER: Well, it happens to be true.

MATTHEWS: But it`s not relevant. You guys are still fighting the race.

WEAVER: Of course we are. Number one...

MATTHEWS: Well, tell me why you`re still fighting it so tough?

WEAVER: Because Bernie Sanders is running for the nomination. Hillary Clinton is running for the nomination. Both...

MATTHEWS: But you`re trying to knock her head off!

WEAVER: Oh, that`s not fair, Chris. That`s not fair at all!

MATTHEWS: Well, when you say that she -- you, Jeff...

WEAVER: I did not say...


MATTHEWS: No, but you...

WEAVER: Deal with the devil is what I said.

MATTHEWS: You said she had to...



WEAVER: ... metaphor.

MATTHEWS: OK, she has a deal with the devil. Isn`t that pretty direct?


MATTHEWS: ... she`s bad?

WEAVER: Hillary Clinton`s campaign is funded by every special interest in this country -- Wall Street, the pharmaceutical companies...

MATTHEWS: That`s not what you hit hard. You keep hitting on the $200,000 per speech. You guys even put out the word it was only a 20-minute speech. In other words, it was -- it was a take. She grabbed the money and ran.

WEAVER: Well, look...

MATTHEWS: You`re saying that stuff!

WEAVER: She did not support $15 an hour for everybody else, and she takes $200,000 herself? I mean, that`s just the facts, Chris! The facts are tough!

MATTHEWS: And you`re hitting those hard.

QUINN: You know, look, I think --

MATTHEWS: This is getting rough.

QUINN: Look, this is a tough race, as all races for the Democratic nomination are and should be. No question. And Secretary Clinton said it very clearly when I was with her yesterday. She is taking nothing for granted. We are going to fight this election for the next two hours until the end and beyond.

MATTHEWS: You know, it looks (ph) like your accent...

QUINN: But look...

MATTHEWS: ... by the way.

QUINN: It`s a good one.

MATTHEWS: Your accent`s up here. Is it ethnic or is it neighborhood?

QUINN: Mine is Long Island and Chelsea all together. But if you say dog or coffee, it really comes out.


QUINN: But let`s not mess around. The Sanders campaign can`t throw the kind of statements that they`ve thrown out there, and your statements have clearly gotten more ratcheted up as the secretary gets more and more delegates.


QUINN: I think that after tonight, it`s going to be very clear, and it really was even going into tonight...

MATTHEWS: What`s your spread?

QUINN: ... that it`s mathematically...

MATTHEWS: What spread wraps it up, as Hillary said? What spread?

QUINN: A win...

MATTHEWS: Double digits?

QUINN: A win brings us...

MATTHEWS: You know, I watched you during my opening there. You think a narrow victory by Hillary, say in the single digits...

QUINN: Yes, but you...


QUINN: You said you had to win.



QUINN: You said you had to win!


WEAVER: ... elected senator here twice! If she comes (INAUDIBLE) here with a single-digit win, my God, it`s an embarrassment!

QUINN: No, look, we`ve...

MATTHEWS: Bernie Sanders won Vermont with 86 percent of the vote!

QUINN: We`ve heard a lot...

MATTHEWS: So the headline in "The New York Times" (INAUDIBLE) tomorrow will be "Hillary wins, embarrassed."


QUINN: Now, wait a minute, Chris.

MATTHEWS: It`s not going to be that!

WEAVER: Jeff, you can`t...

MATTHEWS: It`s going to be...

QUINN: You can`t flip around on this. You and the campaign, and you personally, have said probably 25 or 26 times you need to win. You didn`t say you need to lose in single digits.

WEAVER: No, no, no, no, no...

QUINN: You didn`t say...

WEAVER: We have no "must win" statements.

QUINN: ... if you lose by 5, you...

WEAVER: You will not find me having said that even once!

QUINN: The campaign said it 25 or 26 times.

WEAVER: There are no must-win statements.

QUINN: So let`s not move the goalposts.

WEAVER: We got to win most of them, but we don`t have to win -- there`s no must-win states.

QUINN: The campaign...

WEAVER: And if we split delegates here, essentially, that`s a huge win!

MATTHEWS: Donald Trump...

QUINN: But how is it a win?

MATTHEWS: ... is (INAUDIBLE) you guys, and he`s -- like all politicians do, they take the shots from the other side and they use them. He`s already going after Hillary using what your guy`s been saying, what you`ve been saying, that Hillary Clinton`s crooked. Crooked!

WEAVER: Look, Chris...

MATTHEWS: He`s borrowing that from you.

WEAVER: Chris, come on!

MATTHEWS: Well, why...


MATTHEWS: You can say, "Come on," but why is he doing that?

WEAVER: Bernie Sanders has been -- Bernie Sanders -- this has been a really tame campaign compared to what`s going to happen in the general election. You know it! (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: But your guy`s (INAUDIBLE) he said, I don`t do this stuff.

WEAVER: We don`t do it. Wait until we get to the general election.

MATTHEWS: You accuse her of selling her soul to the devil! You said you don`t go negative!

WEAVER: It was -- look, the point was, is that when all these people give you money, they don`t give it to you for nothing. They want something in return.

MATTHEWS: Why did they give Hillary Clinton $200,000 a speech?

WEAVER: I don`t know. Let`s see...

MATTHEWS: Tell me! You keep raising it.


WEAVER: If we knew what was in the speeches, we`d know!

MATTHEWS: Tell me what it -- no, tell me...

WEAVER: What`s in the speeches?

MATTHEWS: Why is it an issue?

WEAVER: Why won`t she release the speeches?

QUINN: Look, let me just...


MATTHEWS: What`s the worst that could be in there?

WEAVER: I have no idea. Maybe there`s nothing. But you would -- leads you believe there`s something!


WEAVER: Leads you to believe (INAUDIBLE)

QUINN: Do you know what I think?

WEAVER: Let`s you to believe there`s something!

QUINN: I think the clear answer to your question came up at the debate. When Senator Sanders was asked to give one clear example of where he saw a campaign contribution leading to a policy position of Secretary Clinton`s, he couldn`t answer the question.

So we can go back and forth here, but that spoke volumes. That silence on the senator`s part spoke volumes. But let`s talk here about...

MATTHEWS: Argue with him, not me.


WEAVER: That`s not the way the pernicious -- that`s not how money works in politics.

QUINN: Your candidate...

WEAVER: People get access!

QUINN: ... couldn`t answer the question.

WEAVER: People -- people -- people...

QUINN: So give me an example.

WEAVER: ... go easy on...


WEAVER: How about the bankruptcy bill that Elizabeth Warren pointed out that Secretary Clinton flip-flopped on after she started representing Wall Street?

QUINN: There was no -- but let`s -- you want to talk about flip-flops? Let`s talk about Senator Sanders on this gun issue. There is probably no issue that is as critical...

MATTHEWS: Why do you think he`s pro-gun rights?

QUINN: I think he`s -- that`s a question he`s going to have to answer. But very clearly, he said for a very...

MATTHEWS: You think he`s on the take?

QUINN: No, I would never say that...

WEAVER: Hillary Clinton (INAUDIBLE)

QUINN: ... about Senator Sanders.

WEAVER: ... takes gun lobby money in this race, not Bernie Sanders!

QUINN: But Bernie Sanders is also the only one who said the gun lobby should not be up to be sued, as every other industry in America is! That is an issue that is a New York issue.

WEAVER: So why are they (INAUDIBLE) her?

MATTHEWS: Let me bring in some other voices.

QUINN: That`s ridiculous to say!

MATTHEWS: Secretary Clinton`s chief strategist -- that`s Joel Benenson -- today responded to charges made my the Sanders campaign that Clinton, Secretary Clinton, has broken campaign finance rules. In doing so, Benenson compared Sanders to Ralph Nader, who cost Al Gore the White House in the year 2000, suggesting that Sanders`s attacks could hurt the Democratic Party come November.

Here`s Joel.


JOEL BENENSON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: It is a desperate, false attack by a campaign that is on the brink of losing in a state that they said was a must win state for them. And I think the real challenge here -- is Senator Sanders going to stop delivering destructive attacks? Is he going to really try to support the party that`s in favor of protecting voting right, women`s rights, economic justice, or is he going to turn himself into someone who`s going to do what he said he wasn`t going to do and be a Ralph Nader and try to destroy the Democratic Party when it comes to defeating Republicans in November?


WEAVER: It`s ridiculous. Bernie Sanders is running in a Democratic primary, pledged to support the eventual nominee of the party, whoever it is. That`s not -- Ralph Nader was running as a third party candidate. It`s ridiculous.

They don`t have anything to say about this whole campaign finance thing because they know it`s a problem. They had an emergency...

MATTHEWS: Can you explain it, by the way -- you got the podium...


MATTHEWS: ... because I don`t -- it had something to do with a joint effort by Hillary and (INAUDIBLE) campaigns and the Democratic Party campaign. They pooled their effort. The ran a big front-runner out there with George Clooney. What did they do wrong?

WEAVER: Well, this is what they do wrong. So in these joint front-runner agreements, they go to rich people, they say, Give us a big check. The first $2,700 goes to Secretary Clinton. The rest of it goes to the Democratic Party.

But what this group does is it hands out money to Secretary Clinton. They gave her $10 million. They gave the party $5 million. They retained all this money. And instead of running low-dollar front-raisers and because Secretary Clinton gets the first $2,700 of every contribution, she gets all of that money, even though it`s being funded with money that was given above the $,2700 limit! She`s either getting a loan from the DNC or she`s taking contributions that are improper. It`s one of the two. Those are the only two options!

MATTHEWS: Who pays for the food at these fund-raisers, and the booze?

WEAVER: Well, it`s supposed to be -- it`s supposed to be proportionate, based on how much money you walk out of the room with.

QUINN: This is another...

MATTHEWS: What a business. What a business.

QUINN: ... example of Sanders...

WEAVER: That`s the problem with the Democratic Party.

QUINN: This is another example of the Sanders campaign having nothing substantive to say and...

MATTHEWS: Weren`t you grossed out by that money they raised? Somebody paid $330,000 -- $330 -- that means you have to earn about $600,000 after taxes to sit down at the table with George (INAUDIBLE) Amal Clooney and Hillary Clinton. Doesn`t that -- doesn`t that bother you?

QUINN: There is no question -- and it was one of my biggest issues when I was speaker -- that we need to reform campaign finance. But the question here is, again, why is the Sanders campaign throwing out baseless attacks when...


WEAVER: ... or you can do it, which is what Bernie Sanders (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: OK, it`s July -- it`s July at the convention. Hillary Clinton`s got problems with indictments perhaps...

QUINN: That`s absurd.

MATTHEWS: No, if that happens. If that happens. Subjective here. Subjunctive -- if it happens. Should Joe Biden come in and replace Hillary Clinton as the nominee of the party?

WEAVER: I think that`s a crazy hypothetical.

MATTHEWS: I mean seriously!

WEAVER: I really do.


MATTHEWS: A lot of people are talking Joe Biden has to come in and save the party, that Bernie can`t win the general.

WEAVER: Bernie is the strongest candidate in the general election! (INAUDIBLE)


QUINN: Well, that doesn`t bear out in the polls, either.


MATTHEWS: Good luck tonight, both of you.

QUINN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Good luck tonight. It`s great race.

WEAVER: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Only in New York -- New York -- what county -- what borough is New York? Anyway -- anyway, we`re here...

QUINN: You need to work on the accent, Chris!



MATTHEWS: Anyway, Christine Quinn, a great pal of mine, and a future pal of mine, Jeff Weaver...


WEAVER: Maybe. Maybe.

MATTHEWS: ... a flatlander from Vermont!

Coming up, just as Hillary Clinton is looking to win big in New York tonight -- she is -- Donald Trump has a chance to take all the marbles tonight, all the delegates in the Republican race, inching him closer to the nomination in Cleveland -- not as cool a city as Philly. But the "stop Trump" forces aren`t going down without a fight, I guess.

This is HARDBALL, live from Brooklyn, New York, for the primary tonight.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, live from Brooklyn. As you can see, the bridge is right behind me.

And according to recent polls, New York state is set to give its hometown candidate -- that would be Donald Trump -- a major boost tonight. The New York businessman is leading by double digits right now in the polls and could score the lion`s share of the state`s 95 delegates by midnight..

Earlier today, he picked up the support of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Trump is clearly the best choice. He`s the best choice for New York. He`s the best choice for the country. And he`s the one who can beat Hillary Clinton.

Cruz is a straight overhand fastball for Hillary Clinton. She`ll knock him out of the park. Trump, she`ll have no idea what to do with. He`s coming at you like this!


GIULIANI: She`s coming at you -- Cruz is coming at you like this. And Democrats have been hitting very, very right-wing Republicans like Cruz out of the ballpark for years.


MATTHEWS: Pretty smart talk there from Rudy Giuliani, but one thing he didn`t do is completely admit (ph) himself as part of the Trump campaign. Why the differencing? Why the distancing? He said he wouldn`t endorse, then he`s endorsed, but he still says, I`m not part of the campaign. What`s he afraid of?

Anyway, another prominent New York City Republican, Congressman Peter King -- well, wait`ll you hear what he said. He voted for John Kasich today, he said, and he made it clear he wasn`t fan of the third man in the race. Listen to this language. This is what Peter King, in typical, well, Long Island fashion, said about Ted Cruz. You don`t hear this often.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: First of all, in case anybody is confused, am not endorsing Ted Cruz. I hate Ted Cruz. I think I`ll take cyanide if he ever got the nomination.


MATTHEWS: "I hate Ted Cruz. I`ll take cyanide if he gets ever the nomination." That is Peter King with a trademarked comment.

Anyway, Ted Cruz has derided New York values, of course, and tonight, New York will deliver its response.

Robert Costa is national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst, Montel Williams is former talk show host and a supporter of John Kasich, who`s looking pretty good up here today, and John Batchelor is a great radio talk show host.

I want to go to Robert Costa, as I often do. I think the message coming out of New York state tonight, without getting into numbers, is that you can`t call a place Sodom and Gomorrah one week and then come back and say, I love it, the next. That is Ted Cruz`s problem.

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Cruz has already started to look ahead. He`s going to give his speech tonight in a few minutes and start thinking ahead of those April 26th states because New York has never been place where he`s really had an opportunity ever since the "New York values" comment in that debate. He`s had a tough uphill climb. This is Trump`s home state.

And Cruz`s organization is strong, but there`s just not enough of these conservative activist areas in New York to put Cruz over the top.

MATTHEWS: Well, last night, Donald Trump accused Cruz of hating New York. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow, we`re going to show Ted Cruz, who hates New York -- hates New York! When you look at that debate and you see the way he talked about us and "New York values" -- here`s a man that turned down sending money for this state and plenty of other money. We had lots of things coming into New York, and he voted against. No New Yorker can vote for Ted Cruz!


MATTHEWS: Well, as a reminder, here is what Cruz did say back in January about New York values. Let`s watch.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think most people know exactly what New York values are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m from New York. I`m...

CRUZ: You`re from New York, so you might not.


CRUZ: But I promise you, in the state of South Carolina...


CRUZ: ... they do. There are many, many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But every one understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media.


MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, Montel?

MONTEL WILLIAMS, FMR. TALK SHOW HOST: (INAUDIBLE) that`s part of the reason why so many people are so disenfranchised with the Republican Party because this is a party that`s left all of us.

I was a Republican until Ronald Reagan. But because of comments like that, that`s why I`m an independent today. If he really reached out and said, Look at the Republicans that are in New York -- we`re the guys that go around trying to get our soldiers out of prisons around the world, like Amir Hekmati and Andrew Tahmooressi. We`re also the ones who are working on traumatic brain injury for our soldiers right now. We`re the ones who are working on things like biofuel.

Who is he talking about when he talks about New York City values and blaming all Republicans that have some sort of misguided judgment? I`m a Republican. I live in the state. That`s part of the reason why...


MATTHEWS: For college, we had to read "Lonely Crowd," David Riesman`s book. And it explained how -- and it had -- let me -- I came to New York for the World`s Fair here in the early `60s, the fabulous World`s Fair out in Queens. And the cab driver (INAUDIBLE) How do you like our fair? How do you like it? Some (ph) prideful of this city, not just the sports teams, but the city itself. And for this guy to play to the yahoos out there -- that`s what he was doing. He was pandering to the country people, trashing this city as Sodom and Gomorrah -- payday tonight, huh?

JOHN BATCHELOR, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The story for me is not Ted Cruz. The story for me is Donald Trump here in New York.

I asked George Pataki, another Republican from New York, last week...

MATTHEWS: He`s for your guy. He`s for Kasich.

BATCHELOR: I asked him right after he endorsed Kasich, is Donald Trump a Republican? The governor said he`s what he says he is that day.

The story here is that there`s no trust.


MATTHEWS: But Pataki was pro-choice. Pataki was on that side of that culture fight when he was three-term governor here.

BATCHELOR: I`m following through with the governor. The doubt here -- this is a Republican primary. The doubt is the leader. And the doubt is not just in New York. It`s across the country.

MATTHEWS: But why is he likely to get a huge plurality here tonight, likely, based upon all the polling?

BATCHELOR: I heard him earlier today on WABC being interviewed by Rita Cosby. And she -- asked, how will you do tonight? And he said, I hope I do better than 50 percent.

And then he lowballed the delegate count. I was surprised by that, because I had heard in the 80s was going to be a good night. He said, if I do in the 70s, it`s going to be a good night.

This is about delegate count coming out of here for the 1,237 we`re headed to, Chris. You know that. This isn`t a New York story. It`s a national story.

MATTHEWS: I understand.

Let me go back to Robert Costa.

Robert, what do you think about the Republican fight up here? If Trump gets over 50 today, can he roll all the way to Cleveland?

COSTA: He`s going have a little bit of a speed bump perhaps in Indiana. That`s a conservative state. You got Mike Pence as the governor. It is a state that looks friendly to Cruz`s politics.

But he continues to roll through the Northeast next week, Chris.


MATTHEWS: He can win five for five next week.

COSTA: He could.


MATTHEWS: I think Kasich is more likely to come in second tonight, Pennsylvania for sure, probably in Delaware, probably in Rhode Island. I don`t see Cruz doing well in any of the Northeastern states.

Montel, you get in.

WILLIAMS: I agree with you. And also I think that he -- Donald Trump may not do as well here in New York. The split may not be...


BATCHELOR: I agree with that. I think Kasich can win.


BATCHELOR: Yes. Yes. And I think he can be number two in about 10 of them.

WILLIAMS: There you go. I agree.


BATCHELOR: Back to the 1,237, we`re looking at tactical voting by the Republican Party. Kasich and Cruz, they are not being viewed separately. They`re a package to deny the 1,237.

MATTHEWS: You think voters are strategic like that?


And that will happen in Pennsylvania. It will also happen in Indiana and California. The big fight, tactical voting in order to deny the 1,237 on the first ballot, because everyone tells me that unless Trump closes the deal in Cleveland on the first ballot, we`re going to someone else. And the someone else could be the governor of Ohio.

WILLIAMS: And don`t let the Kasich-Rubio pack come together. And that`s what is presented as the, I guess, saving grace, because, bingo bango, you pull in all of Rubio`s candidates.


I disagree with both of you guys.

But I want to get Robert.

Robert, who is most likely right, me or these two guys, John or Montel? They say it is not -- it`s going to go to a convention, that Trump won`t get it on the first ballot. I think he will. What do you think? What can you say objectively?

COSTA: All this chatter about a contested convention and having Kasich come in with a ticket or Cruz come in with a ticket, it`s before Trump has a likely big win in New York.

He`s going to sweep through the Northeast next week. And the question is, if Trump gets close, if he`s close to 1,237, but not close enough, and he`s close to that threshold, do some of these unbound delegates start to move toward Trump to try to avoid this kind of scenario where you have a second ballot and chaos on the floor?

WILLIAMS: Or if he gets close, do more of them move away from him to make sure he doesn`t get to 1,237?

BATCHELOR: Yes, yes, 1,237 is 1,237. It`s not 1,100. It`s not 1,200.

WILLIAMS: Correct.


MATTHEWS: What is the gimme?

WILLIAMS: Twelve thirty-seven.

BATCHELOR: Twelve thirty-seven.

MATTHEWS: Then there`s no gimme.


MATTHEWS: But you`re talking with your hearts.

BATCHELOR: These are sophisticated actors.

MATTHEWS: You think it`s a disaster if Trump is the nominee?

BATCHELOR: No, I think it`s healthy for the party. This is the most successful third party in the history of democracy. It goes through turmoil.


WILLIAMS: I say that, if Trump`s the nominee, it is going to be a disaster for the party for the next 16 years.

MATTHEWS: Are you with Hillary then? Are you with Hillary then?

WILLIAMS: I`m not with any other alternative.

MATTHEWS: What, are you going way in November?


WILLIAMS: No, I guess I`m going to have to really look really hard, because I don`t know who is going to come out of that.


MATTHEWS: Please come back again. John, beautiful radio voice, you got it. It`s so sophisticated.


BATCHELOR: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Just like me. Just kidding.

Robert Costa, Montel Williams, and John Batchelor, what a group.

Up next: Bernie Sanders is vowing to take his fight all the way to the convention in Philly. But in the meantime, is the Democratic duel between Sanders and Clinton hurting the Democrats running for lower offices? That should be interesting.

And this is HARDBALL live, the place for politics live from the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, for tonight`s primary.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a Democratic primary taking place in New York state.


SANDERS: Now, the polls don`t close there until 9:00 p.m., so we don`t know who is going to be winning or losing. But you know what? We`re going to do a lot better, I think, than people thought we would.



MATTHEWS: That`s so Bernie. "We`re going to do a lot better than most people thought we would" with the finger up there. It`s great stuff.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL live from the Brooklyn Bridge for the New York primary tonight.

And that was of course Senator Bernie Sanders just moments ago, by the way, at a campaign rally up in Penn State in Pennsylvania, of course. Next week is the Pennsylvania primary.

With the increasing likelihood of Donald Trump becoming the Republican nominee, believe it or not, Democrats see a chance for major gains in the House of Representatives and possibly taking back the U.S. Senate. They`re five votes shy right now.

But could the increasingly nasty tone of the Democratic race hurt the party come November, the way the tone is going?

Joining me right now is the former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the guy in charge of getting Democratic victories, New York Congressman Steve Israel. Keep going. Keep going. He`s supporting Hillary Clinton. And with me now is one of the great American -- leaders in American letters, the author and former journalist Gay Talese, a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Let me start with Steve Israel.

Steve, this has got a real New York flair to it up here. I have always said New York media needs to be refed every two hours. And they`re looking for raw meat, red meat.


MATTHEWS: Every two hours, you got to say something nasty about your opponent. And this debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has lived up to the need for red meat. It`s been a tough one.

ISRAEL: Well, you know, Chris, this a good old-fashioned New York street brawl that we have in this primary.

But, in a few hours -- I`m not going predict for you exactly what the margin of victory will be, but I will predict with certainty this. Hillary Clinton, who is already ahead by 2.5 million popular votes, will add to that. And Hillary Clinton, who is already ahead by more than 700 delegates, will add to that.

The thing to look for tonight, I think, on both sides of the aisle is, does Bernie Sanders overperform in the Hudson Valley, and does John Kasich overperform on Long Island, where you have moderate suburbs? If Sanders doesn`t overperform in the Hudson Valley, it means he doesn`t have appeal to suburban voters that he needs throughout the rest of the Republican (sic) primary.

And if Kasich doesn`t overperform in Nassau County, Suffolk County, where his sweet spot should be, it means Donald Trump is the nominee and will be running for president.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. That`s of more interest to some of the experts around here, who love this kind of stuff.

Let me just ask you the bottom line. You`re not running for reelection. I`m surprised and a little disappointed you`re not.


MATTHEWS: But what do your fellow members of the House -- who would they run on the ticket with, Bernie or Hillary? Yes or no, Bernie or Hillary?

ISRAEL: Hillary.

MATTHEWS: Who do they want to run -- why?

ISRAEL: Hillary, because having Hillary at the top of the ticket is a much broader appeal in the competitive districts that we have to win.

In those red to blue districts and those front-line districts, you want somebody who can appeal to a broader majority of voters.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Gay Talese, one of my heroes.

We just had Jeff Weaver here. He is one tough, rootin tootin campaign manager. He says things like Hillary Clinton sold her soul to the devil or he says -- whatever he phrases it. He phrased it like that. They go after Hillary for taking speech money. They say she`s basically on the take.

How do you reunite come Philadelphia in July, when they`re supposed to get together and hold each other`s hands in the air, when you have said that kind of stuff?

GAY TALESE, AUTHOR AND REPORTER: Well, I think you had me on the show. I don`t know why you had me on the show. I`m not a political junkie.

MATTHEWS: Because you`re Gay Talese.

TALESE: Yes, but I`m not a political junkie.

MATTHEWS: OK. Talk about this city`s culture and what`s going on in the city, Bernie with his New York, Brooklyn accent. Hillary, she`s an arriviste to some extent. Let`s face it.


MATTHEWS: What does that -- how does that measure up?

TALESE: Well, my attraction to Mr. Sanders is, he`s rather unconventional and courageous.

When he says that Benjamin Netanyahu is not right all the time, you would lose your job if you said that. There`s not a columnist in "The New York Times" would -- you can`t do that. This man does that.

MATTHEWS: Although Roger Cohen supported him today in "The Times."

TALESE: Oh, did he?


TALESE: Well, you`re more informed than I am, then. But I think that was -- that takes some moxie, but an interesting guy.

MATTHEWS: Does he strike you as a man of principle? Because that`s not a vote-getter, although it might be among some younger people.

TALESE: I`m struck. I think, in the city, it survives terrible politicians generation after generation. I think the American people, by and large, are people who come from bad governments to become Americans.


TALESE: And the bad governments they left to become Americans are not necessarily much better than what they left. Yet the people are survivors. The people are risk-takers.

Americans, by and large, are risk-taking people. They get on a little barge and come over, God knows, through the sharks and get over here. It`s a tribute to their fortitude, their personality, power.

MATTHEWS: You mean de Blasio, the mayor of this city, is not a little better than Raul Castro?

TALESE: I`m not saying he`s better or worse.

MATTHEWS: I mean, really? Of course he is.

TALESE: But I`m saying that he`s the representation of a lot of conflicting characters that are in his bloodstream.

This is an amazing city. We`re over here with the Roebling brothers looking down upon yes, the guys that took a risk to build this bridge. And we can see it probably in some of your films. People died to build this damn bridge.

People are so courageous in this city. And I`m not sure government guys are that much. Here we are, the great junkie political show, yours, but I don`t think the political system really gets down to changing the way people...


MATTHEWS: Let me go. Let me throw that at Steve Israel, who is a pro.

Steve, you`re a great writer, as well as this guy. Not in his league yet. But you have written a hell of a book.

Let me ask you this. Could a mayor of New York do this, build a Brooklyn Bridge, this fantastic structure built after the Civil War? It`s amazing to walk under it today. All day, we have been up here. Just the bridgehead at the Brooklyn end is amazing. And I think, do we ever do anything like this anymore?


MATTHEWS: Do they just sort of meet the current debt and survive?

ISRAEL: It`s the biggest failure that we have, is that this country has divested from infrastructure.

The reason that you`re in New York is because New York is considered a world capital. The reason New York is considered a world capital is because of the Erie Canal, which linked New York City to Buffalo, which was in the western shore there.

And so one of the reasons I`m supporting Hillary Clinton is that she has -- as a senator, she was on the issue of infrastructure. She thinks we have to go back into the business of building again. That is the foolproof recipe for economic stagnation. You build bridges. You build canals. You build roads. You modernize your Internet. And that`s why I`m supporting Hillary Clinton.

And I hope one day to sell just a fraction of the books that Gay Talese has sold, by the way.

MATTHEWS: Well, by the way, Pat Moynihan, the great senator from this state, once said you arrive in New York in Penn Station, not like a prince, but like a rat.

Penn Station is disgusting.

TALESE: It is.

MATTHEWS: Nice people that work there. And La Guardia Airport? Give me a break.

ISRAEL: All right, but there`s still great buildings going on. The city is just -- you can see the energy of the skyscraper builders, the ironworkers. This Twin Tower, for God`s sake, I was there the other day. And here`s a place that was destroyed in 2001. And today, it`s there.

MATTHEWS: Freedom Tower.

ISRAEL: The Freedom Tower, it`s an incredible building, incredible building. And we built it. It wasn`t built by Chinese labor. It was built by Americans of all kinds of backgrounds. Great story.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think that is the great story.

If Trump were smart, Steve and Gay, if he were smart, he`d stop talking about all this stuff he doesn`t know anything about and talk about building, because it is something he knows something about.

Steve, I hate to see you leave the Congress, but you`re headed towards greatness, I think.

ISRAEL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, U.S. Congressman Steve Israel from Rhode Island, and the great Gay Talese.

TALESE: Thank you, sir.

MATTHEWS: What more can I say? Like Ernest Hemingway, you don`t have put an explanation on it.

Up next, much more on the battle for New York tonight with a special Brooklyn roundtable coming here. They are all going to be speak regular American standard English, though. We`re all going to understand them.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics, live from Brooklyn, for the New York primary.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

From Broadway, to Brooklyn, and Palm Ridge to Poughkeepsie, New Yorkers headed to the polls today, also in Bay Ridge as well, and Sheepshead Bay, and all over the city.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump need more than a win tonight. They say they need to crush, Schwarzenegger, crushed. A big win for Clinton, her adopted home state, could thwart the momentum Sanders had been coming up to in this battle.

And on the Republican side, New York delegate sweep could put Trump closer to locking in the nomination ahead of the Cleveland convention. I still think he can do it.

Joining me right now is the HARDBALL round table, and what a roundtable it is.

Joy Reid, nation reporter for MSNBC, I love these titles. "The Huffington Post`s" Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst, and Gabe Sherman, the great national affairs editor of "New York Magazine".

I have to start with you, Gabe. "New York Magazine" is so impressive and you`re an editor.

So, give me the sense of this. It`s not mishegoss here. It`s not confusing. It`s very clear. You got two front runners who want to crush their opponents tonight and end this thing.


MATTHEWS: Yes, they want to end it.

SHERMAN: The symbolism for both Hillary and Trump is very important for them to stamp their status as the front-runner.

MATTHEWS: Is this like the schoolyard when you get the other kid down and bang their head into the cement?

SHERMAN: In your own backyard, yes.

MATTHEWS: In "Goodwill Hunting", remember that scene? Stop it, you`re killing the guy.

But isn`t that the idea, Howard?


MATTHEWS: And the opponent.

FINEMAN: Yes, it`s the idea. However unrealistic or irrational it may be, given the opponents they face. But yes, Hillary has to maximize it here to try to somehow tell Bernie that no, he`s not the revolutionary success story that he thinks he is.

MATTHEWS: Does he have a set of ears that can hear that?

FINEMAN: No, he does not. He absolutely does not. So, no matter how much Hillary wins by, Bernie is not going to stop.

And as for Donald Trump, yes, this is his town. He`s got Trump Tower. He`s got to crush everybody especially Ted Cruz criticized New York values.

By the way, Ted Cruz, you couldn`t find him with the police squad -- the entire police department.


FINEMAN: He got booed in the Bronx or wherever, get the hell out of town. You have not heard from Ted Cruz since.

MATTHEWS: Joy, young lady, great wisdom, the knowledge. You know when I was growing up, Howard, you could tell the difference between a concession speech and a victory speech. It was great. The guy would cry a little bit and he`d lose. He would say, "I lost".

Now, I know we`re going to hear from Cruz. It will not be a defeat speech. What is he talking about? I just -- is that going to be a problem with Bernie? Is he going to take crushing defeat at Penn State tonight?

JOY REID, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that what they`re going to do is they`re going to chalk it up to the establishment. If they don`t win here tonight, you`re going to hear a lot about the closed primary process. You`re going to hear a lot about --

MATTHEWS: Only Democrats can vote?

REID: Only Democrats can vote and millions of people were disenfranchised. You saw him previewing that message as he walked --

MATTHEWS: If only Democrats could run, he wouldn`t have been in the race.

REID: It is a good point. But I think what they`ll do is they chuck it up to his being locked out and people were disenfranchised. I don`t think that Bernie Sanders will be down because he`s got the money to go on.

MATTHEWS: Yes, he is.

REID: And I think what will be proved her that Hillary won her home state. I don`t think they will take that as a rebuke to his message. And if he does better than expected, he can get the close to ten or even under ten, I think they will spin it as a victory.

MATTHEWS: You know, there`s three races going on. New York primary tonight, we`ll get actual numbers on that. The national numbers, Bernie is in the passing lane. He`s moving ahead of Hillary. He closed a month ago from nine a month ago to two now. At that speed, acceleration, he`s going to go right past her.

The money game, the third fight. He`s making more money than her with small donations, he wins nationally. She wins state to state, in the northeast probably. This thing doesn`t end, does it?

SHERMAN: Well, for Bernie, it doesn`t. I think the super delegates will decide when it ends. And there`s no sign they are moving in his direction.

So, he can keep running. But at the end of the day, he`s going to persuade that wing of the party that he`s their guy. He`s not making that case.

FINEMAN: Chris, his whole aim here is to prove the system that might reject him in the end to be corrupt and bankrupt, which means as Gabe says, if all the super delegates stick with Hillary and it`s by in good measure the super delegates who provide her the margin, he will declare the thing illegitimate.


MATTHEWS: I accept that -- does he have a shot of beating in the pledged delegates?

REID: No. That`s got to be no. You remember that at this point in the race in 2008, Barack Obama had a lead that`s half of what Hillary has now. The math is not on Sanders side. But I think to Howard`s point, he`s setting the stage to discredit the process, to say that the process itself is corrupt and that what the demand will be at the end is to ultimately change the process, including super delegates.

SHERMAN: I think for Trump, he`s going to make the message to the national party that he has grown ups in charge now, as I reported today. Paul Manafort, who is his convention manager is basically -- hiss campaign manager now. Corey Lewandowski has been --

MATTHEWS: And he decides where the money gets spent.

SHERMAN: He controls the budget. He controls hiring. He`s driving that bus. So, Trump needs to say --

MATTHEWS: Is Lewandowski out?

SHERMAN: He`s not going to be fired. But he`s out -- he`s the advanced guy now.

FINEMAN: He`s been layered.


FINEMAN: And the thing is that Paul Manafort, who is of our bent, I mean, he`s a baby boomer. He`s been around for 40 years. I`ve covered him for my entire career here. He`s an experienced guy at three conventions.

But now he`s been given a job bigger than any he`s had before, which is basically to run the whole campaign. His last big campaign was running the guy, the pro-Putin guy in Ukraine. I mean, he`s a global political consultant.


MATTHEWS: There`s a big PR firm in Washington, consulting, Black Manafort and Stone.

REID: That is correct.

MATTHEWS: Who is Black with now?

FINEMAN: He`s with John Kasich.

MATTHEWS: Where`s Manafort?

FINEMAN: Manafort is on the inside.


MATTHEWS: Is this what change looks like?

FINEMAN: They`re other good buddy back then, one of them who`s still alive is Karl Rove. And Karl Rove was tight with those three.

MATTHEWS: Who is he with?

FINEMAN: Well, he`s trying to play some kind of Mark Hannah figure long after the idea of a Republican king maker.

MATTHEWS: Is he still walking down the aisle with the hallway with Megyn Kelly trying to prove who won Ohio?

REID: I think it must say something about the new guard that his other clients included (INAUDIBLE) and Ferdinand Marcos before he came on with Trump.


FINEMAN: Good practice for revealing what --

REID: I would say.

MATTHEWS: Well, (INAUDIBLE) was a mixed bag. He was a damn good Cold War ally, I`ll tell you that.

REID: Indeed.

MATTHEWS: Any way. The roundtable is staying with us. He used to start with a huge bag of currency and he would divvy it up among the tribal leaders.

They`ll be back to tell me something I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL roundtable here below the Brooklyn Bridge.

Joy, under the bridge, tell me something I don`t know.

REID: Well, not only is New York one of the most restrictive voting states in the country in 49 --


REID: No early voting, none of the other things that make it easier.

MATTHEWS: No souls to the polls.

REID: Nothing, right? But it also is a state that`s unique if in that for the Democrats not only do the candidates run in the primary, but the delegates also do, too. So, when you get your ballot as a Democrat, you actually get six to seven Democratic options, one set of Bernie, one set of Clinton. So, people have an opportunity if they want to maybe vote for Hillary Clinton but vote for Bernie delegates or some Bernie and some Hillary delegates and game the convention.

MATTHEWS: Can we make a message, a public service announcement here, if you want to vote in a primary, register in that party. OK? Because being an independent voter sounds really great, Ralph Nader and all, but you don`t get to vote in primaries.


FINEMAN: Well, some of these Brooklyn districts here, right near where we are, very important to Donald Trump, primarily because they`re virtually no Republicans in them.


FINEMAN: And he can win three delegates with almost a handful of votes.

MATTHEWS: What we used to call Ruttenbergs (ph).

FINEMAN: And I can also tell you that the rumors we have earlier this morning that some of these heavily Democratic precincts had no Republican ballots because they weren`t used to having any Republicans vote.


FINEMAN: Well, that turned out to be apocryphal. They did eventually get ballots --


REID: And the Bronx.

FINEMAN: I wouldn`t just put it to hipsters but all over. But it turns out they did get the ballots there and some Republicans trickled in, but small numbers.


SHERMAN: So, tonight, we`re talking about Trump and Hillary and Bernie. But I think tomorrow morning, Kasich is going to have a toughest morning to wake up to because if he doesn`t have a good night tonight, how does he make the argument to go on? In the cradle of Rockefeller Republicanism, as a moderate, as an establishment candidate, if he can`t turn out any votes here --

MATTHEWS: That can help him or not?

SHERMAN: But it has to be a convincing second. I mean, if he gets one or two delegates what`s the point?

MATTHEWS: You got the hot hand, let me ask about this, did you notice the two most popular or at least unpopular candidates running for president are the least really well known? He and Bernie Sanders.

And I said that about Bernie Sanders, although his name`s out there, he hasn`t taken a lot scar tissue. People have not hit him on the right because they`re waiting for him. On the left, they`ve been a little nervous about hitting him.

SHERMAN: Yes. And so, you know, Kasich`s unfavorables are good, but he just can`t -- has no name ID.

FINEMAN: His unfavorables are good primarily because nobody knows who he is.

MATTHEWS: What`s he running for?

FINEMAN: He`s running on the desperate hope there will be an open convention and that the good people of Ohio where he`s governor will rise up like the fans in the dog pound at the Cleveland Browns games and make him the nominee.


FINEMAN: And Gabe asked the right question. Tomorrow morning, what the heck is he going to say?


MATTHEWS: If he stays in this fight, and he picks up a few delegates here, a few delegates here, comes in second all over the Northeast, doesn`t he basically own the VP nomination if he wants it? If he wants it?

SHERMAN: I don`t think so. Because what is he going to bring? Other than Ohio?


SHERMAN: Yes, but Trump did well. Trump told me that he would have -- if he had several more days, he would have won Ohio.

MATTHEWS: I think he brings --


REID: And I think he`s going to have to wrestle Chris Christie to a mat to get that, I think Chris Christie`s going to fight for it.

MATTHEWS: You think two Northeasterners?

REID: I think they do anything. I don`t think you count anything out. Chris Christie is desperate for it.

FINEMAN: I don`t think geography means anything, I don`t think necessarily voting record, you know, how many votes he gets means much. I think what your point is the right one, which is that he would somehow -- Trump would somehow attempt to reassure people nervous about a Trump presidency in the same way, ironically that people thought that George W. picking Dick Cheney would bring sober judgment to the Bush administration.

SHERMAN: No one would think that Trump will listen to Kasich the way Bush was run by Cheney.

MATTHEWS: Somewhere in Texas right now, George W. is thinking, why did I pick Dick Cheney? Oh, I forgot, he was the head of the selection process.

Anyway, Joy Reid, Howard Fineman and Gabe Sherman, what a group. We`ll be here all night, though.

When we return, when we do, let me finish with a correction of fact. Watching HARDBALL, the place for politics live from New York.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a correction of fact. Bernie Sanders is running a TV ad right now that basically accuses those he calls Washington politicians of taking $200,000 in speaking fees while opposing a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Well, the fact is and Senator Sanders knows it`s a fact is that Washington politicians, members of Congress, U.S. senators, are not permitted to accept speaking fees to any amount. No member of Congress, no U.S. senator, let me repeat, is permitted to accept a dollar or a cent for giving a speech. That is the fact.

Now, listen to the Bernie Sanders ad.


AD NARRATOR: While Washington politicians are paid over $200,000 an hour for speeches, they oppose raising the living wage to $15 an hour. $200,000 an hour for them, but not even 15 bucks an hour for all Americans.

Enough is enough.


MATTHEWS: It even shows the U.S. capitol where congressmen and senators work.

So, if it`s not true, if Washington politicians, the people we elect to send to Washington, don`t get money from corporations for giving speeches, not even a dollar, much less in the hundreds of thousands, which is what Hillary Clinton collected on a trio of occasions after leaving the State Department, why on God`s earth did Senator Sanders paint all of Washington with that brush?

I think what he`s doing here is attacking all other politicians with a broad brush of corruption, while crowning himself as the one honest person in national politics. Now, why would he do that? Why would we not just run against Hillary Clinton? Why run against everyone else who`s been elected to serve in Washington?

You`re as good a judge as I am. What I know is what he`s doing is saying something that is simply not true. And that enough should be reason to ditch this TV ad before it sells another citizen on something that is simply not a fact.

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

Our special coverage of the New York primary continues now.