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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/21/2016

Guests: Bob Woodward, Susan Page, Kellyanne Conway, Barney Frank, Dan Malloy, Tad Devine

Show: HARDBALL Date: April 21, 2016 Guest: Bob Woodward, Susan Page, Kellyanne Conway, Barney Frank, Dan Malloy, Tad Devine

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

As Trump storms toward the nomination, the question Republicans are asking -- Can he pivot? He spent the past year insulting his opponents, making extreme statements and boasting about his own polls. Can he now come across as more presidential?

Well, according to "The Wall Street Journal," changes are taking place in his campaign. He will deliver a policy speech on foreign policy later this month. He will start using teleprompters on occasion. He`ll even hire a speech writer.

Well, Trump told "The Wall Street Journal" quote, "The campaign is evolving and transitioning, and so am I. I`ll be more effective and more disciplined," close quote.

Well, today, Trump senior adviser Paul Manafort told NBC News that the campaign is moving to patch things up with the Republican Party.


PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CONVENTION MANAGER: We`re here really to let them know that we`re going to run a traditional campaign with them. When we`re the nominee of the Republican Party, you know, it`s going to be a Trump brand of the party, but it`s -- we are Republicans. We`re running as a team.


MATTHEWS: Well, some are skeptical. "The Journal`s" own editorial board wrote today in its editorial, "Miracles happen. He did control his political id on Tuesday night, but Mr. Trump`s inner hooligan has never stayed locked up for long." What a great phrase.

We got a taste, by the way, of the new Trump over the past few days. In his New York victory speech, he even refrained from using "lyin` Ted" to describe his opponent, and he focused on the issue of jobs. Let`s watch this new Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don`t have much of race anymore. Based on what I`m seeing on television, Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.


TRUMP: This country is great. We have such potential, Bill. And we`re not using it.


MATTHEWS: Well, it didn`t take long, however, for the old Trump to return.


TRUMP: You look at a guy like Kasich, he`s never been hit by an ad because nobody cares, frankly. And...


TRUMP: No, it`s true. No, no, so true.

We are going to beat crooked Hillary! I watched her last night during her speech. Honestly, I watched those two teleprompters out there. And we`re going to -- she goes, And we`re going to cover from north to south to east to west.

Honestly, do you think this happens with lyin` Ted Cruz? Then they`d start falling asleep, listening to this guy with dramatics. We will fight. We will -- oh, please.

We protect all of these foreign nations. We protect Germany. We protect Japan. We protect South Korea and Saudi Arabia!

I have no problems with -- except they get to pay it.

It`s called the Club for Growth. You ever hear of these losers?

Do we like the media?


TRUMP: Do we hate the media?



MATTHEWS: Michael Steele is the former chairman of that party, the Republican National Committee...


MATTHEWS: ... and an MSNBC political analyst. Kellyanne Conway is a Republican pollster and president of a pro-Cruz super-PAC. And John Feehery`s a Republican strategist -- just a Republican strategist.


MATTHEWS: Let`s have some fun with Kellyanne because...


MATTHEWS: Tell me about Donald Trump. And you know, we`re always told be who you are. They say just be yourself. Who`s the yourself here?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: The yourself is the person you`ve seen for a year who`s been talking at podiums at rallies in front of thousands of people Chris, with no notes and no net. And now he`s going to use a speech writer, teleprompters. They keep using the word "traditional" to explain the campaign changes. I think when some of the voters hear "traditional" and see some of the new team, they hear "establishment," exactly what he`s railed against...


MATTHEWS: ... entertainment here, without getting into depth. Michael, this is yours. OK.


MATTHEWS: If you go out to see a Trump rally and you`re one of the 10,000 people that shows up at a place like -- well, Harrisburg or somewhere else he`s going to be, and he does a sort of a speech out of the foreign relations council -- Council on Foreign Relations, you`re going to be so mad!

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: He wasn`t there!

STEELE: But he`s not going to do that. We`ll use that teleprompter that he`s getting and the speech writer...

MATTHEWS: Is it going to say "lyin` Ted" in the teleprompter?

STEELE: Well, it may not. But what he`s -- when he`s doing a more formal setting, so when he does -- like, he`s announced he`s going to give a policy speech on foreign policy, yes, he`ll use that. That`s going to be the traditional tools.

But what you saw the day afterwards, when he was in front of his peeps and he was doing his thing, he was riffing, he was doing the live shot...


MATTHEWS: I know people at home. A lot of people think you can`t laugh at Trump if you don`t agree with him. That`s not true. There`s something comical about him, even if you -- if you`re disgusted with him, it`s still ridiculous. You can`t just look at, like, I disapprove of that. Well, some people can (INAUDIBLE)

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I am not a Trump guy, as you all know, but when he did the AIPAC speech...

MATTHEWS: The only person who`s...


FEEHERY: He knocked it out of the park.

MATTHEWS: This guy is -- Michael, you`re moving to Trump, aren`t you.



MATTHEWS: ... sort of a conciliatory...


STEELE: No, it`s not conciliatory. I just try to say...


FEEHERY: Most of the party is moving towards Trump because Trump is going to be inevitable. That`s the sad -- that`s the sad reality. That`s where the party is. He`s won the most delegates. He`s going to win -- he`s winning state after state. None of us like it, but we`re all trying to deal with it...



MATTHEWS: On the "TODAY" show this morning, Donald Trump explained why he couldn`t act presidential so far in the race. He was being attacked by his opponents, he said. Everybody gets attacked. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: I felt that I had to hit back very hard. And I think if I didn`t, if I acted very presidential, I wouldn`t be sitting up here today. Somebody else might be. It wouldn`t be me.

So I will tell you, it`s easier for me to be presidential than for me to be doing what I`ve been doing for the last really nine months. But at the right time, I will be so presidential, you will be so bored. You will say, Can`t he -- can`t he have a little bit more energy? But I know when to be presidential.


MATTHEWS: I know you`re on the anti-Cruz -- pro -- anti -- what is it, the...


CONWAY: ... pro-Cruz...

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s -- I want you to...


MATTHEWS: ... from that role for one second.



CONWAY: Yes, I know...


MATTHEWS: We have gotten used to something about Trump, the hair, the shtick, the whole look, his wife, Melania. There`s a whole kind of aspect to it that isn`t, like, normal to us. It isn`t like we`re using picking, you know -- you know, Mike Dukakis or George, Sr., or George, Jr. He doesn`t fit that mold. And people have gotten sort of used to the fact he`s a little out of line, and yet they cheer him.

CONWAY: But they like it, Chris. You know, the number one word still in branding and marketing for consumers is "new." People really like fresh and new. Nobody confuses Hillary Clinton as fresh as new. Nobody confuses a lot of the Republicans who ran as fresh or new.

And he`s just sort of -- you know, he`s a shot of whiskey in a white wine spritzer, you know, political discourse. And but what -- and again, that`s what`s sustained him. And this guy does not yet have a majority of Republicans with him. People may be leaning in to the inevitability, but he has to be careful. He`s threading the needle...

MATTHEWS: Would you go in this new direction, in the new Trump, or go with the old Trump?

CONWAY: If he goes (INAUDIBLE) direction, what I would do if I were Donald Trump is keep reminding people that that`s what his wife and his daughter have asked him to do because he needs to repair his relationship with women. His downfall in the polls among women is fairly new. He was keeping pace with Hillary Clinton...


MATTHEWS: ... the comments about abortion and...

CONWAY: The comment -- well, you`ve got...


MATTHEWS: He did it. He did it. But that`s all right. I think...

CONWAY: ... that he had four positions on abortion in one day. No, and I think that plus the riots -- you know, the quote, "riots" and that retweeting of Heidi Cruz. He can repair all that because in mid-December, Donald Trump was at his best (INAUDIBLE) before a single vote was cast. He took on Bill and Hillary Clinton. The base loved it. The Cruz voters loved it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, on the "TODAY" show, Trump was asked about several hot button issues, social issues, and his answers seemed to go against the grain of usual Republican talking points. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republican platform every four years has a provision that states that the right of the unborn child shall not be infringed, and it makes no exception for rape, for incest, for the life of the mother. Would you want to change the Republican platform to include the exceptions that you have?

TRUMP: Yes. I would. Yes, I would. Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do believe in raises taxes on the wealthy?

TRUMP: I do. I do. Including myself. I do.


MATTHEWS: Trump was also asked about that new North Carolina bathroom dispute. Here`s what he said about that.


TRUMP: North Carolina did something that was very strong, and they`re paying a big price. And there`s a lot of problems. And I heard -- one of the best answers I heard was from a commentator yesterday saying leave it the way it is right now. There have been very few problems. Leave it the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Caitlyn Jenner were to walk into Trump Tower and want to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses.

TRUMP: That is correct.


MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about that and the party because, you know, I don`t think -- well, who knows whether your party`s going to have debates about the platform because most people have gotten to ignore the platform over the years.


MATTHEWS: But my hunch is -- and I don`t want to be disrespectful of all the views that we all have here, different views. I think these exceptions for -- to the -- basically, the pro-life position are offered up not because they happen a lot, incest and rape, of course, but to suggest, I`m not absolutely against it. It suggests to me an open mind a little bit. It`s a very important cue, I think, to voters, why he`s doing that right now.

FEEHERY: Well, listen, the Hyde language has been the place where most Republicans have campaigned at...

MATTHEWS: Which is?

FEEHERY: Which is exceptions for rape and incest.

STEELE: And life of the mother.

FEEHERY: And life of the mother. And so the party`s actually gone further. Marco Rubio went further. I think Ted Cruz has gone further in a way that`s actually politically somewhat indefensible.

MATTHEWS: No exceptions.

FEEHERY: No exceptions. And so what Trump is doing here is actually smart politically. And the raising taxes on rich people, that`s also smart politically.


CONWAY: Well...


MATTHEWS: Why is it important -- why is what he says seem to be important in the Northeast, where you have people who are pro-life but they have these exceptions? Why is it important? I think it`s to send a signal, I`m not a guy -- a yahoo from...

CONWAY: I think it`s also what he believes, Chris. I mean, Donald Trump has been very public.

STEELE: Right.

CONWAY: And I`ve heard it from him privately that he was pro-choice for a long time, or maybe didn`t think about it all that much. And then a friend was pregnant unexpectedly. She kept the baby, and he became pro-life. These are his exceptions so he`s not (INAUDIBLE)

However, let me say this. I hope the Republican nominee, whoever it is, takes the opportunity to have a two-way conversation on abortion. The Democratic platform is ridiculously extreme. Talk about no exceptions.

STEELE: Right.

CONWAY: I mean, it`s basically abortion anyone, any time, anywhere. There are no exceptions...

MATTHEWS: You mean it`s not Roe v. Wade.


MATTHEWS: It`s not Roe v. Wade.


CONWAY: And I hope somebody has the guts to at least ask Hillary Clinton, how about (INAUDIBLE) abortion? How about taxpayer-funded abortion? How about late-term abortion? How about pain-capable fetal pain abortion...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, the late-term would come up, I think.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Ted Cruz was quick to respond today to Trump`s comment on the North Carolina law. Let`s watch that.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald agreed with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in attacking the state of North Carolina for passing their bathroom ordinance.

Donald on television this morning said, gosh, he thought that men should be able to go into the girls` bathroom if they want to. Now, let me ask you, have we gone stark raving nuts? This is the political correctness. This is basic common sense.


MATTHEWS: No, it`s not. If someone is a transgender person who appears in dress and manner and makeup or whatever to be a female, were walking into a men`s room at National Airport here, it would cause a stir.

STEELE: It would cause (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: So in other words, if you obey this North Carolina -- you`re causing confusion. If, however, you come across to most people who don`t pay that much attention as a female or male and you go to the bathroom that that seems to fit, that would be OK to most people. They`d say yes.

This is why I think it`s a strange law. It`s, like, consequential. Why do people come up with laws that are going to create confusion?

STEELE: Well, again, you know...

MATTHEWS: And disorder!

STEELE: These laws -- these laws are playing to a particular idea or perception...


STEELE: ... about transgender individuals. So they`re playing to that. I think what Ted Cruz is doing there is a little bit of the same thing, playing to that. He`s in Frederick, Maryland, a very conservative part of Maryland, where that would play. He would not have that same conversation or reaction in Prince Georges County or Baltimore.

And so that`s what Donald Trump has done on abortion and all the issue (ph) like this, is take...


STEELE: ... trying to move the party back to where it once was on abortion and so forth.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s going to miss the mark with that one. Anyway, thank you, Michael Steele. Kellyanne Conway, it`s great to have you on, especially you. Especially you. I like (INAUDIBLE)

CONWAY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: ... you`re on the show because you`re a hard get.


MATTHEWS: Coming up -- Hillary Clinton`s on pace right now to win the Democratic nomination, and now the vice presidential running mate talk has begun. A report out today says Clinton will have a woman on her short list, and it could be Elizabeth Warren. Would Clinton really consider putting Warren on the ticket? I don`t think so.

Plus, with the growing likelihood that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, world leaders are worried, some terrified, they say, that the leader of the free world could be one Mr. Trump. We`ll get to that later on tonight.

And the great Bob Woodward will be joining us right now from "The Washington Post. Coming up, he joins the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. He`ll be here to tell me something I don`t know -- in fact, something about the presidential race. We`ll hear from Bob Woodward.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with young Jack Kennedy`s convention fight in 1956. It`s going to be great history there.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got five more primaries coming up on Tuesday night, with Pennsylvania being the biggest delegate prize of the bunch. New numbers from Franklin and Marshall show both party front-runners well ahead of their foes in the Keystone state. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton holds a huge lead over Bernie Sanders. Among likely voters, it`s Clinton 58, Sanders 31.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Donald Trump has expanded his lead over Ted Cruz and John Kasich. It`s Trump 40, Cruz at 26, Kasich at 24. That battle for second is close.

And we`ll be right back.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When three out of four are larger than they were when we bailed them out because they were too big to fail, today we have got to break them up!



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Bernie Sanders, of course, on Tuesday of this week delivering his signature line about breaking up Wall Street banks. It`s been one of the most hotly debated issues of the Democratic race. As Hillary Clinton made it clear last week, the current law passed under the Dodd-Frank legislation of 2010 is strong enough, she says, to keep Wall Street in check. Let`s hear her.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama led the effort to pass the Dodd-Frank bill. That is the law. Now, we`ve had -- this is our ninth debate. In the prior eight debates, I have said we have a law. You don`t just say, We`re upset about this. I`m upset about it. You don`t just say, Go break them up. You have a law because we are a nation of laws.


MATTHEWS: Well, earlier this month, Sanders`s opponents questioned whether he knew exactly how he`d break up the banks after he struggled to come up with a clear answer in an interview with "The New York Daily News." Well, here`s how Sanders later clarified his answer on "MORNING JOE."


SANDERS: You do it in a couple of ways. One is you use section 121 of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Number two, better, and I would prefer it, is pass my legislation. And with my legislation -- the legislation that I`ve introduced says that the secretary of the Treasury will have the authority to investigate and determine which banks systemic pose risk to our economy.


MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by the namesake of Dodd-Frank, former U.S. congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who supports Hillary Clinton.

Congressman Frank, let me ask you about your -- let me -- what does "too big to fail" mean to you? What does "We got to break up the big banks" mean to you in policy terms?

BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Well, I`m not sure what "break up the big banks" means. There is a contradiction. Actually, what you just heard from Senator Sanders is much more reasonable than his kind of rally line. He says, We got to break them up. They`re too big.

There`s a key problem in there. He doesn`t say how big is too big. You can`t say, We`re going to break them up so none of them are bigger than they should be, if you can`t tell me what they should be.

The key mistake that I think people make is this. This problem is not the size of the financial institution, it`s the size of the debts they run up. That`s what caused the problem in 2008. Institutions -- not the biggest, AIG and Lehman Brothers, incurred more debt than they could pay off.

The problem to the system comes when any institution has debts that it can`t pay off, and when it doesn`t pay off its debts, that causes other people financial problems.

So we`ve approached that in the law in three ways. And it`s interesting. Today`s "Wall Street Journal," hardly a fan of the bill, acknowledges -- and so did "The New York Times" yesterday, talking about Goldman Sachs, that the law is working.

Essentially, what it says is that the kind of risky deals they made with derivatives, they can`t make anymore.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of crowd, the populist aspect of this?

Because I get a feeling, watching those young people in their early 20s -- they`re not probably financial experts. I`m not one. They cheer like mad when he says let`s break up the big banks. It`s an applause line. Is that about the danger of a bank causing a 2008 coming again or is it just anger against big economic power in the hands of the few? Isn`t that what he`s arguing?

FRANK: Yes, although it`s not big economic power in the hands of the few, because they don`t have a great deal of economic power under our restrictions.

As these quotes I just gave said, what we`re basically saying is, no, you can`t go out and use your own money to do these things. You`re there to serve other people and be -- serve them. I think what you have is, this is, first of all, understandable resentment, which I shared, at the irresponsibility of those institutions that caused the crisis, which we had to do so much work on.


FRANK: And, secondly, they are the most visible symbols of the increased inequality we have had.

In terms of whether you`re going to have another crisis, once again, that`s a tough issue to deal with. But it has to take specific ways. And what we have done is three things. We have severely limited their ability to run up debts they can`t pay off in a number of ways. They can`t make the bad bets. And when they make bets, they have to have money to stand behind it.

Secondly, they have to submit these living wills. They have to tell the regulators how they would break themselves up if things got bad. And the regulators under the bill can say you haven`t done a good enough job. We`re going to tell you, you get rid of this. You get smaller there.

And then finally, if all else fails and they go out of business, they fail. This notion that we have -- that they`re still too big to fail, it would be illegal under our law for any federal official to advance any money to one of those institutions to pay the debts without first dissolving them.

And, secondly, under the law, the secretary of the treasury is mandated to recover anything paid out from the other big financial institutions.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go. Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, who is one of the names this the Dodd-Frank bill. Thank you for your contributions to our policy-making.

Anyway, Sanders -- Senator Sanders has been arguing that he, not Clinton, would perform better against the Republican candidate in November. That`s another big argument. Here is Senator Sanders today with Andrea Mitchell.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: If, after June 7, after California, if you don`t have a majority, if she has a majority and more of the popular vote, would you then concede, endorse her, the way she did of Barack Obama?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, if we do not have a majority, I think it`s going to be very hard for us to win.

The only fact that I think remains uncertain is if we continue to be running significantly stronger than she is against Donald Trump or whoever the Republican nominee will be. I think that`s a factor.


MATTHEWS: Well, David Corn points out in "Mother Jones" -- quote -- "Sanders has yet to face a true negative ad campaign aimed at destroying his public image. Were he to be the Democratic nominee, he would be confronted with hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads designed to rip him apart. And everyone knows what that pummeling would focus on. He`s a self-proclaimed socialist."

I`m joined right now by Tad Devine, chief strategist to the Sanders campaign.

Two questions, they are both related. If Sanders believes he`s a stronger candidate to beat Trump probably or Cruz in the fall, then he can do just about anything to get the nomination in terms of morality. People would say, well, if has to be the one to save the center-left in this country or the left, then, damn it, he has to do some tough stuff.

If, on the other hand, it isn`t credible that he`s a better candidate than Hillary, he should lay it down a little bit, tone it down a little. That`s the way I see it. Your views?

TAD DEVINE, SENIOR BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think he`s a stronger candidate than Hillary for a lot of reasons.

And the biggest one is that he can attract support from independents and she can`t. We have seen that repeatedly in the nominating process from New Hampshire, where he beat her decisively, to Wisconsin, where he beat her decisively.

She won New York. Independents can`t vote. And they really keep them out. They put the limit months before.

MATTHEWS: You can`t switch. I know.

DEVINE: You can`t switch parties.

I think that is the reason. And also he can do something she can`t do with the voting population. He can bring young people into the process the way Barack Obama did in 2008. And those two factors, winning independents and bringing in large numbers of young people, are the reason he`s a stronger candidate.

MATTHEWS: What about the Corn argument? And Core is no man of the middle. He`s a man of the left.

DEVINE: Sure, I get it.

MATTHEWS: He`s arguing that Hillary has been pummelled since Whitewater, since she was first lady of Arkansas for having the wrong glasses, for having the wrong hairdo. She`s been hit since she was in national limelight. Every year, she is hit on something.

She can take it. She`s got scar tissue, but she`s tough. Can Bernie take the shots? And Democrats are not going to attack a guy for being a socialist, because 40 percent of the party says it is. They`re not going to be upset about it, Democratic socialist. But what about the center- right and the right when they start hearing in the suburbs, this guy is coming to get your money?

DEVINE: I don`t think it`s going to have any impact.

Let me tell you why.

MATTHEWS: Any impact?

DEVINE: Let me tell you why. Can he take the shot, OK?

MATTHEWS: Remember Mike Dukakis, what he took.

DEVINE: I remember it very well.

In 2006, I did Bernie`s Senate race in Vermont. And after six months of positive advertising from his opponent, the richest guy in the state, they launched the most vicious, negative campaign. Not just in that state, but in America. A series of tough negative ads. The worst you have seen.

And you know what it did? We lost no vote. We never ran a negative ad against the guy. He not only survived it, he thrived on it. The same will be true here. Democratic socialism, on November 19 of last year, he gave a speech for an hour at Georgetown University describing his political philosophy. This isn`t a state secret. OK?

MATTHEWS: I know the name is out there.


DEVINE: And I`ll tell you. One -- two words is going to defeat him? It`s not going to happen.


MATTHEWS: Let me give you a broader statement.

The other guy that does well in national polling in terms of a net positive is John Kasich.


MATTHEWS: And I think, similarly, they have not been the main target of all the vicious attack lines. Trump attacks his opponents. He doesn`t attack Kasich.

DEVINE: Yes, but the thing about Bernie...

MATTHEWS: And Hillary doesn`t really attack Bernie, except on these particular gun issues, which she`s focused on.

DEVINE: The fact that Bernie is honest about his political philosophy is one of the great proof points of his candidacy. It is central attribute as a candidate, his integrity.

I don`t think it will hurt him at all. As a matter of fact, we`d love to talk about it.

MATTHEWS: We may not find out, though.

Anyway, but thank you, Tad Devine.

Up next, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy is coming here just days ahead of his state`s primary. That`s coming up next Tuesday too.

Tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern, you got to watch this. Join me for an in- depth look at Hillary Clinton in my new documentary, "It Takes a Country." That`s tomorrow, Friday night, at 10:00 Eastern here on MSNBC.



HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not here to make promises I can`t keep. I`m here to tell you I will use every single minute of every, if I`m so fortunate enough to be your president, looking for ways that we can save lives, that we can change the gun culture. It`s just too easy for people to reach for a gun to solve their problems.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Hillary Clinton earlier today campaigning up in Connecticut. From day one of her presidential campaign, Clinton has slammed Americans` easy access to guns. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has mostly taken a more moderate position on gun control.

And in an interview today with my colleague Andrea Mitchell, he hit back against Clinton`s criticism of him on guns.


SANDERS: I would ask Secretary Clinton to tell us all about the legislation that she introduced when she was a member of the United States Senate on gun reform, on gun safety. I don`t believe there were any.

And ask her why, way back in 2008, when she was running against then Senator Obama, he referred her to as Annie Oakley, because she criticized him for not being sensitive to Second Amendment needs.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, who campaigned today with Hillary Clinton.

What do you make of that comeback by Sanders that Hillary Clinton has not been active on the gun safety of the issue as a legislator?

GOV. DANNEL MALLOY, D-CONNECTICUT: Hogwash, basically hogwash. He wants to cover the fact that he voted against the Brady Bill five separate times.

I think the most difficult thing he has to explain is, why can`t you just sue a gun company? If you can sue any other company in America, why can`t you sue a gun company?

And let me tell you what the result of that is. We know that we could manufacture guns that 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds could not shoot. If people could resort to the courts for the sale of guns that 2- year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds can shoot and kill their baby sister, or their baby brother, their mother, their father, then we wouldn`t have those guns being sold in our country any longer.

He`s in essence given protection to an industry that`s designed to kill people. Connecticut has a long history in armaments. I understand that. But we also have a long history in pharmaceuticals. We have an industry that spends billions of dollars to make products to save lives and make lives better. You can sue them if they make a mistake. How come we can`t sue a gun company?

MATTHEWS: I think Senator Sanders said that if you do this in the broad way you describe it, not just going after a gun manufacturer who had some role in sending a gun to a criminal or likely criminal, that you would kill the manufacturing business of making guns. You would kill it because nobody could take that kind of liability.

MALLOY: Hogwash again.

Every industry has evolved, except for this industry. When someone wants to introduce a gun into this country that can`t be fired by someone other than the owner, and they try to sell it at the gun store, you know what happens? People stop going to that gun store, because people will boycott that store, because the NRA tells them to boycott it, because they don`t want safer gun technology sold in the United States, because it undercuts their argument.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s fair for Hillary Clinton to run her ad, which is very powerful, about what happened in Sandy, to -- with the terrible shooting up there, and not run it in Pennsylvania?

MALLOY: Listen, I would run the ad.

MATTHEWS: In Pennsylvania?

MALLOY: I certainly would run it. I would run it in Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia? Sure. We have kids dying on streets on a daily basis in American cities, because guns are being sold in other jurisdictions without universal background checks. That`s the number one thing we could do.

It`s also the number one thing that the NRA wants to make sure doesn`t happen.

MATTHEWS: If you`re seen as anti-gun in Pennsylvania, this goes all the way back to Joe Clark, a liberal reformer, way back in -- when he lost in `68 -- you`re dead in Pennsylvania.

MALLOY: We have Republicans who have supported universal background checks in Pennsylvania. And they`re still holding office.

Let`s not go too far. I understand that you know Philadelphia better than I do. But I understand that, if you have a discussion in Philadelphia -- and that`s a large percentage of the Democratic vote on a primary day -- you can actually talk about gun safety. No one wants to see another child kill their mother in a Wal-Mart.

MATTHEWS: It`s just so tough. It`s such a tough fight.


MALLOY: It is tough.


MATTHEWS: Governor, you`re on the right side. I think it`s a good fight. But I look at the culture of our country, and it just -- it`s always resistant to this.

MALLOY: All right.

MATTHEWS: Just there`s something in the country that`s cowboy still. It`s just cowboy about such things.

MALLOY: Let me say one other thing.

We do have to change the culture. But the culture that I want to change is that let`s stop thinking it`s a really good idea to take a person with mental illness to a gun range to teach them how to shoot a gun because it will make them feel better about themselves.

Let`s stop the culture that says, hey, we have got a friend who is really depressed and has suicidal ideations. Let`s take him to a gun range and get him happy again. That`s the wrong way to think about this. Let`s make guns stored safely in homes. Let`s make guns that can`t be fired by children. For that matter, let`s make guns that can`t be fired by anyone but the owner. That`s how you make America safer.

MATTHEWS: Governor, the only letter I ever wrote to a congressman was after Bobby was killed in `68. Please support gun control. That`s a long time ago and we keep trying. That`s all I`m saying. We keep trying.

Thank you, Governor Malloy.

MALLOY: Thank you. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: As I said, you`re on the good side.

Up next, global reaction to Donald Trump, how the world leaders are reacting. Well, they`re watching and fearing, some of them. They fear Trump. Are they right or wrong? Are they really that scared or they just have this sort of thing about America?

Anyway, the HARDBALL roundtable is coming up right now. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


GIGI STONE WOODS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. I`m Gigi Stone Woods with some breaking news at this hour.

Tributes have been pouring in for musical icon Prince, who passed away earlier today at the age of 57. The president calling him one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time. The star was found dead this morning at his home called Paisley Park in Minnesota. The cause of his death is under investigation.

NBC`s Blake McCoy is standing by outside Prince`s home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

What`s the latest there?


You need look no further than right here to know what Prince meant to this community and this country. Now the people have been getting off work. They have been coming by Paisley Park, which was his recording studio here.

And not only have they been coming. They have been bringing their little ones, who certainly were not around for the heyday of Prince, but know who he is and know the legacy that he leaves behind. It was 9:45 this morning that authorities got the call that Prince was unresponsive in an elevator here at Paisley Park.

He was declared dead just after 10:00 a.m. Now, we don`t know a cause of death just yet. But we do know that there have been reports that Prince had the flu over the last several weeks. In fact, his plane made an emergency landing last Friday so he could seek medical attention.

An autopsy is being done tomorrow. So, authorities are moving very quickly here to wrap up this investigation. They say there`s no sign of foul play, but they certainly want to learn a cause of death and give people closure.

This community is being hit hard by this. Prince was born in Minneapolis, and even when he reached superstardom, he could have gone anywhere, and he chose to keep his roots right here in Minnesota. He was Minnesota`s favorite son, and you`re certainly seeing that here tonight.

In fact, it`s raining a little bit. It`s been raining off and on, and I`ve been seeing a lot of Minnesotans on Facebook posts that today, this is purple rain falling in the land of Prince.


WOODS: Sad day for music.

Blake McCoy in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Now, back to Hardball.


President Obama is trying to reassure world leaders, he says, that Donald Trump will be defeated if he`s the Republican nominee. But according to a report in "Politico", his assurances aren`t working.

According to "Politico", "Trump terrifies world leaders and has become the starting point for what feels like every government to government interaction. In meetings, private dinners, and phone calls, world leaders are seeking explanations from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and trade representative Michael Froman on down." Everybody wants to know about Trump and not to be afraid of him.

"American ambassadors are asking for guidance from Washington of what they are supposed to say about Trump."

The report also says Obama hears world leaders` fears about the Republican frontrunner so often he`s developed a speech meant to ease their nerves for him to use.

Anyway, President Obama spoke about his discussion with world leaders earlier this month.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m getting questions from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made. We`ve got big issues around the world. People expect the president of the United States and the elected officials in this country to treat these problems seriously, to put forward policies that have been examined, analyzed, effective where unintended consequences are taken into account. They don`t expect half baked notions coming out of the White House.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by HARDBALL round table tonight. Bob Woodward is associate editor of "The Washington Post", Susan Page is Washington bureau chief for "USA Today", and Perry Bacon is senior political reporter for NBC News.

Bob, what do you make of this?


MATTHEWS: Do you believe world leaders are worried about this guy, Trump?

WOODWARD: Well, I think everyone is scratching their real hard and they`re unsure, but the story in "Politico" didn`t support itself. It quoted the Latvian ambassador --

MATTHEWS: That is, by the way, ladies and gentlemen, this is "The Washington Post", one of its fearless leaders describing what they think of "Politico".

WOODWARD: No, "Politico" is great.


MATTHEWS: Susan, do you think there`s a world leader tenor negatively about Trump --


SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Putting aside the question of whether this story was popularly sourced, I`ve heard from U.S. officials they are getting lots of questions and concerned especially from world leaders who may not be as familiar with our electoral system who may look at this and think that Trump in the end won`t be elected. I think there`s concern.

I think there`s concern that Trump either would change some fundamental policies that have been bipartisan in their nature for decades or that he doesn`t know what the policies are now and still kind of wanders into making statements that strike foreign leaders as being dangerous.

MATTHEWS: Perry, he wouldn`t rule out, when I interviewed him a while back, couple of weeks ago, he wouldn`t rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe. Most leaders don`t talk about nuclear weapons. They don`t have rules of engagement for bombing people into smithereens. But he did.

PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And when he talked to Bob, I believe, he questioned the value of NATO. He`s made comments that are pretty unusual.

I would say, my guess is Donald Trump, world leaders are afraid of them. He probably likes this story. He might bring it up tomorrow. It`s the kind of thing he likes.


BACON: That people afraid of him, right?

WOODWARD: But to say they are terrified -- look, look, they`re always -- when Barack Obama was elected, talk to world leaders and they say who is this guy? What`s he doing to do? What are his failures?

It`s natural. And so, who is not mystified? You`re mystified by the American political system now.

MATTHEWS: But I`ll tell you, if you look at our history like the French, nobody wants to believe that we`re so parallel to French. We always go to the true mean. We always go to the middle. We don`t have right wing governments. Reagan modified, we don`t go right or hard left with the governed.

We generally go to that true north like the French do, we`re a bourgeoisie country, a middle class country. We tend to be in the middle.

Why would they, all of a sudden, think we`re doing this is the question?

WOODWARD: Well, but the question is there`s something going on with Trump. It`s bigger than those of us in this little bubble in Washington understand. I was talking to CEOs the other day, how many are for Trump. It was four.

They walk out and say, by the way, I`m really for Trump but I don`t dare raise my hand in that group. I think there`s a lot of --


MATTHEWS: I think there are a lot of Republican women who say I won`t raise my hand and cross the aisle and go to Hillary.

PAGE: You know, there is I think something that is also a concern to some foreign leaders and some foreign governments and that is the core that Trump that struck with the American public on issues when he says build a wall, ban all Muslims. What good is NATO to us? Even he`s gotten a -- there`s a receptive attitude for it.

MATTHEWS: It`s nationalism.

BACON: Also, a lot of European countries are more liberal than we are. They didn`t like George W. Bush. It seems much more radical on some issues.

MATTHEWS: I want to lighten this up as we close. What is this talk up in "The Boston Globe", the main gist is Elizabeth Warren is this play to be Hillary`s running mate? Is this to be taken seriously?

PAGE: I don`t think so. I mean, you talk about "Politico", "The Boston Globe" says, oh, maybe our own senator is on the short list. It`s hard to picture. They don`t really like each other. They don`t have a relationship with each other.

Putting another woman on the ticket when you`re going to be the first woman elected president --


MATTHEWS: Does sink the (INAUDIBLE) vote?

PAGE: I`m not sure it sinks it, I`m not sure it does what you want to do in your choice for running mate.

WOODWARD: Maybe Bernie Sanders. I think not.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you. We`re all guessing here. I think it`s Tim Kaine. I think he makes perfect sense. Virginia is a good get.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.

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

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: You`ll want to tune in tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC. I`ve got a special look at the Democratic front-runner in a new documentary. "Hillary Clinton: It Takes A Country." It`s a look at Clinton`s rise in politics from Arkansas to the White House, the U.S. Senate, to the State Department and now the top Democratic in the race for presidency.

Take a look.


MATTHEWS: In February of 2000, she formally declared and ran against a formidable foe, Rudolph Giuliani. It showed real guts. He critics would have loved it if she`d lost. But in May, the former New York mayor dropped out due to medical problems.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: This is not the right time for he to run for office.

MATTHEWS: Rick Lazio, a little known Republican congressman from Long Island ran against Hillary Clinton. In a debate, Lazio got aggressive.

RICK LAZIO (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I want your signature because I think everybody wants to see you signing something you said you`re for.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s dangerous to get physically aggressive in appearance toward a female politician if that politician is as shrewd as Clinton.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: If Trump is smart he`ll watch the tape of that debate because she won that election when Rick Lazio tried to crowd her.


MATTHEWS: You`re going to love it. That`s 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night here on MSNBC. And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Perry, tell me something I don`t know.

BACON: So, we focus on Donald Trump getting 1,237. Other number to watch, Ted Cruz`s staff believes if they get over 800, that`s their target number, they can make the case to the delegates, we can now overturn the popular vote.

MATTHEWS: Where do they pull that number?

BACON: The number is interesting to me. I think it`s crazy. But that`s the number they`re talking about.

MATTHEWS: Eight hundred is the goal.

PAGE: So, Republicans are worried about a lot of things. Haley Barbour is now warning that bounce you should get out of the convention is going to be a dip after this next convention because it`s going to be so contentious that --

MATTHEWS: Either way.

PAGE: No matter who`s nominated --

MATTHEWS: The Republican convention will be a failure.

PAGE: -- it`s going to make the Republicans dig a little deeper hole to get out of if they`re going to win --

MATTHEWS: You know, I find him off-camera, and off the record, one of the smartest Republican briefers on facts. I always find him great.

Bob Woodward?

WOODWARD: Yes, I think things abroad can affect our election and it`s not just terrorism but this vote in Great Britain about whether to stay in the E.U. is a big deal politically. And if for some reason they don`t stay in the E.U., the political impact, the economic impact, will be giant. And it may infect us in a way that will affect our politics.

MATTHEWS: I`m sure still be top of the fold.

Thank you to our roundtable, Bob Woodward, Susan Page and Perry Bacon.

When we return, let me finish with young Jack Kennedy`s convention fight in the 1956.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

There`s lots of talk right now about what a contested convention would look like. You know, with candidates battling each other for delegates right up there in the arena. Well, the last time either party went through something like that with a live balloting with none of the delegates pledged ahead of time was in 1956, that was the year when a hesitant Adlai Stevenson, having won the Democratic nomination, declared he wouldn`t pick a vice presidential nominee, he`d leave to it the delegates.

Well, Stevenson made the announcement at 11:00 on Thursday night, the balloting was set for Friday afternoon. Well, the man who made the most of it was a young senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. As Tip O`Neill recalled, Jack went to Chicago prepared for lightning to strike.

On the first ballot, Kennedy trailed the Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, 483 delegates to 304. Al Gore Senior earned 178. New York`s Robert Wagner, 162. Hubert Humphrey 134. No candidate had a majority.

On the second ballot, Kennedy started to gain. Arkansas shifted to Kennedy, then Delaware, then New York.

Then came a loud voice heard to the convention hall, Texas proudly cast its vote -- for the fighting senator who wears the scars of battle. It was Lyndon Johnson.

And then as Bobby Kennedy would charge, something fishy happened. Speaker Sam Rayburn who was chairing the convention refused to recognize the delegation shifting to Kennedy, instead, he called on Oklahoma which went to Kefauver. From then on, the tide turned. Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri, all went to Kefauver.

Kennedy who would come with 39 delegates of the majority now saw his moment in one of those iconic moves that marked his career. He started pushing his way through the convention floor, arriving at the podium, he grandly conceded the race to Kefauver. And that impulsive race to the podium made Kennedy a hero in the party, made him look the victim to fellow Catholics, who saw a bias hand in what had happened. To them, it was another case of prejudiced politicians killing the chances of a Catholic who dared to reach too high.

Instead of going down on a losing ticket that fall, Kennedy would loom thereafter as the front-runner for 1960. He would not have done better, he could not have done better, that afternoon in Chicago if he`d wired the entire episode himself. And that`s the legacy of the last contested political convention of either party.

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

Join us again tomorrow at 7:00 Eastern for HARDBALL and tomorrow night at 10:00 eastern for our premiere of our documentary on Hillary Clinton, "It Takes A Country."

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.