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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/29/2016

Guests: John Brabender, Colleen McCain Nelson, Jeremy Peters, Heidi Przybyla, Sabrina Siddiqui, Dana Milbank, Neve Campbell, Josh Stamberg, Robin Bronk, Michael Kelly

Show: HARDBALL Date: April 29, 2016 Guest: John Brabender, Colleen McCain Nelson, Jeremy Peters, Heidi Przybyla, Sabrina Siddiqui, Dana Milbank, Neve Campbell, Josh Stamberg, Robin Bronk, Michael Kelly


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the most contentious in decades. Today in California, protesters swarmed around the venue of a Donald Trump speech. Protesters crashed through a barricade, reaching the doors of the convention hall where Trump was set to speak before the California Republican convention.

Well, today`s demonstration followed clashes outside a Trump rally last night in Orange County, California, where hundreds of protesters took to the streets, blocking traffic, smashing car windows. Twenty people were arrested by police last night.

It`s more evidence of the deep political divisions of the 2016 race, divisions fueled by candidate who`s willing to go where no one has gone before, at least rhetorically.

In talking about getting tough with radical Islamist terrorists, Donald Trump last night repeated a dubious legend, a myth, if you will, about American general John Pershing at the turn of the 20th century in the aftermath of the Spanish-American war.

Here`s how, according to Trump, Pershing put down an armed Muslim insurgency in the Philippines.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: General Pershing was a tough, ruthless general. He wouldn`t do well today because he was too tough.

They caught 50 radical Islamic terrorists! They caught them! They took the 50. They lined them up. They took a pig, and then they took a second pig, and they cut the pig open, and they took the bullets from the rifles, and they dumped the bullets into the pigs, and they swashed it around. And then took the bullets and they shot 49 of the 50 people.


TRUMP: And the 50th person, they said, Take this bullet and bring it back to all of the people causing the problem and tell them what happened tonight. He took the bullet. He brought it back, that 50th person, and for 42 years, they didn`t have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism, folks!



MATTHEWS: Well, the Web site Politifact rated Trump`s version of that story false -- false -- when he first told it back in February. But it again shows that while most candidates tread softly on delicate issues, Donald Trump marches in combat boots.

When it comes to his likely Democratic opponent, Trump is now trying to deny Hillary Clinton any credit for potentially becoming this country`s first woman president. Trump, who on Tuesday night said Clinton was -- well, has achieved her victories because of her gender alone, again attacked the former secretary of state for, quote, "playing the woman card" last night.

Here`s Trump on Fox.


TRUMP: I mean, it`s fact. She`s playing the woman card. It`s the only thing she`s got going. That`s it. And--


TRUMP: -- she`s playing it as much as she can. I mean, I`ve been watching it. I mean, all she does, every time she raises her -- if you raise your voice, it`s, like, Oh, look what he`s saying and look at the way he talks. Give me a break. I mean, she raises her voice much more than I raise mine, believe me.


MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump last night called Secretary Clinton an enabler of her husband`s infidelities and is threatening a similar line of attack again, tweeting, quote, "Crooked Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most dishonest person to have ever run for the presidency, is also one of the all-time great enablers." That`s his new word.

I`m joined right now by Republican strategist John Brabender, Colleen McCain Nelson of "The Wall Street Journal," and Jeremy Peters of "The New York Times."

John, what do you make of this?


MATTHEWS: Because I think he -- I -- I think Trump has a notion of what he`s doing. What do you think it is?

BRABENDER: He does, but here`s where I think the fall comes. What he`s doing is great for Republican primary voters, which is--

MATTHEWS: Red meat.

BRABENDER: -- small numbers that show up, red meat, to get -- he doesn`t have to get 50 percent, you just have to win the states. And he`s doing well at that.

The problem is, he has to start expanding that base if, indeed, he`s going to beat Hillary. And there problem -- there`s a lot of people who within the party that say, Look, I think he`s going to win. I want to sort of get on board. But every time this happens, all the press goes to them and say, Well, do you agree with this, and they`ve got to distance themselves.

And I think that it doesn`t help him politically, but then again, you got to give him credit. I don`t think he sits there and says, Is this the politically correct thing to do?

MATTHEWS: Colleen, he`s clearly targeting Hillary Clinton now and doing all the things that most Democrats are careful not to do. One is don`t blame Hillary for her husband`s misbehavior.


MATTHEWS: And he says she -- well, the word "enabler" is available to all of us. Usually, if you have an alcoholic spouse and you let them keep drinking all the time and you sort of encourage it -- he`s making that charge openly against Hillary without any real evidence. He`s just doing it.

NELSON: Right. And it`s an interesting question. Are voters actually going to blame Hillary Clinton for her husband`s transgressions?

MATTHEWS: For being cheated on.

NELSON: Right. Exactly. Is that her fault? Does that make her unqualified to be president? And I mean, Trump obviously has a couple different strategies with this. One, he wants to rattle Hillary Clinton. He wants to get under her skin. He also wants to remind kind of some of that ugly chapters of the Clinton administration and remind folks that when Bill Clinton was president, when the Clintons were in the White House, it was complicated.

MATTHEWS: Well, Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said on MSNBC today that thee`s more about the Clintons that Trump would be willing to bring up. So they`re teasing more material. They got more dirt. Let`s watch.


KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP SPOKESWOMAN: If Hillary Clinton or her team wants to go after Donald Trump as a sexist, then he will absolutely bring up that topic because there is a lot to discuss that was not brought out into the public.


MATTHEWS: I`m not sure what she`s talking about. Do you, Jeremy? Or do they even have to have something, or they just allude to something?

JEREMY PETERS, "NEW YORK TIMES": No, I think all this game that they like to play. It`s -- it`s diversion. It`s stirring up these -- these -- you know, these unfounded allegations. I think John is exactly right. What`s happening here is he`s trying to close the deal. He needs to win in Indiana and he needs to knock out Ted Cruz because this can`t go to second ballot--

MATTHEWS: How is this--


MATTHEWS: -- that he needs?

PETERS: It gets him the victory because I think -- well, look where he was. He`s in Indiana. He`s in a very red state. He`s perpetrating this dubious tale of Muslims being shot with bullets dripped in pig`s blood. He knows that the media is going to raise a firestorm about this, and that`s exactly what we`re doing now. We`re talking about it.

MATTHEWS: Well, like he says "America first." He knows these history -- I think he knows enough of history--


MATTHEWS: -- to know what that means. It means he was an appeaser back in the -- a person who didn`t want to get into World War II.

PETERS: Well, you`re exactly right when you say that he knows -- he knows what he`s doing. I think we need to dispense with this notion that Trump somehow stumbles into these gaffes. This is very calculated. He knows the buttons he`s pressing and the coded language that he`s using.

MATTHEWS: Well, Trump also said during that -- today, that that -- that beating Hillary Clinton would be easier than beating his Republican opponents so far in the primaries. Look at this.


TRUMP: And when I can focus on Hillary, as I say, crooked Hillary -- when I focus on Hillary, she`ll go down easier than any of the people we just beat!


MATTHEWS: So we got "little Marco," "lyin` Ted" and "crooked Hillary." Now, the thing about "crooked Hillary" which fascinates me is he doesn`t even have to point to case of her being crooked. He just says it. He just dictates the connection.

And you can free associate that with -- I guess with -- I guess with e- mails. That`s -- I wouldn`t call that crooked. (INAUDIBLE) something, misjudgment or something. I wouldn`t call it crooked. And he`s trying to find (ph) out where was -- he`s going back to Whitewater?

What is he talking -- and that was nothing. Where`s the crooked part? I mean, Hillary Clinton -- oh, she took the speech money. Does that make her crooked?

I mean, what is it -- the beauty of it is just start saying it. Just start saying it. And then I noticed that Peggy Noonan this week said she was a criminal. I mean, it`s amazing how it`s catching on!

BRABENDER: And you just said it.


BRABENDER: You repeated it. How`s that?

MATTHEWS: Well, I recited it.

BRABENDER: Right. Right. But we`re talking about -- I mean, this is the whole paradox of Donald Trump. And I sit there as a consultant, who`s done this maybe longer than anybody on the planet, and everything he does, I said, That makes no sense to me, and he goes up in the polls.

I mean, our home state of Pennsylvania -- he won every county last week. Now, this was--


MATTHEWS: -- every county in all five states he ran in.

BRABENDER: Right. Which, number one, tells you there`s a lot of closet Cruz -- or sorry, Trump voters.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that.

BRABENDER: And number two--

MATTHEWS: Why would -- explain why there would be so many wouldn`t tell a well-spoken, perfect English caller, Would you be for Donald Trump, or would you -- semi (ph) -- I always think if you talk a little more street corner language -- yes, I`m with that guy, Trump. Yes. Right. Are you with that guy, Trump? Yes, I`m with that guy Trump.

BRABENDER: But evidently--

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) on the phone--

BRABENDER: -- there`s people--


BRABENDER: -- with him but won`t say it.


PETERS: It`s, like -- it`s the classic example of asking, OK, well, would your -- a pollster asking, Would your friends do this? Would your neighbors do this?


PETERS: It`s a trick, and of course, there -- I think there are a lot more supporters. Somebody -- somebody said to me once, great analogy, the Trump voter is like the guy who gets drunk on a Friday and swears he`s going to go in on a Monday and tell off his boss but then doesn`t do it. The problem is, though, I think a of those guys are going in and telling off the boss now.

MATTHEWS: Well, you don`t have to actually confront your boss in the voting booth. Let me ask you -- you`re the only woman here of four of us. There should be more, of course. There always should be half.

But let me ask you about the woman thing. There`s old Marquess of Queensberry rules, well learned in the wrong way by Rick Lazio, Don`t go confront, go into somebody`s space, especially if they`re a woman. George Bush senior referred to, I`m going to kick -- I kicked her butt, talking about Geraldine Ferraro. We all know what sounds terrible afterwards.

Trump seems to break every one of those rules. He walks into the china shop and carries it around with him, basically, and smashes it up.

NELSON: Right. And so far, that`s worked for him. And you know, a lot of political strategists will say, Well, don`t go after someone`s weakness. You want to go after your opponent`s strength and make it into a weakness, and much like--

MATTHEWS: OK, two things. I always say I hate conflation. We fight about it all the time. Iraq was not 9/11, blah, blah, blah. WMD is not nuclear. But the right wing is particularly good at conflating.

Saying that Hillary Clinton is somehow running on her card -- now, there`s two ways that can be interpreted. I want you all to delineate what is actually a fair shot and now a fair shot.

First of all, she didn`t get to be a graduate of Yale law for being a woman. She didn`t go to -- well, Wellesley`s a girls` school -- a women`s school. I guess (INAUDIBLE) that`s one place where it`d help.

She -- every since the beginning of `91, when I first saw (INAUDIBLE) Regency Hotel on Park Avenue back in `91, they were running as intellectual and political equals. They walked out on the stage. She spoke for -- so the idea that Hillary became prominent because she`s a woman per se, that`s not true.

The fact -- but lately, she has been saying -- pushing the woman thing. This is chance to -- is one shot unfair in the way it`s been tugged (ph)? I mean, what he does is say she wouldn`t be here--

NELSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- if she wasn`t a woman.

NELSON: Right. Well, and I think it`s worth remembering that when Bernie Sanders suggested that Hillary Clinton was unqualified, that didn`t go well. I mean, people pushed back and said, Well, she`s clearly qualified--

MATTHEWS: Why did that hurt him? Because he`s -- he`s running in the Democratic primary--


MATTHEWS: -- where they`re more sensitive to that.

NELSON: But I mean, if you look at--



NELSON: If you look at her resume from a gender-neutral perspective, I mean, clearly, she`s qualified. But you can question whether she has done a good job, whether she has the best ideas. Clearly, she has necessary experience to run for this.

MATTHEWS: I think her star quality owes something to Bill. Bill was a guy -- I`ve always said Bill occasionally -- you get two and two, you get five.

NELSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Occasionally, you get three, too. With her, you get two and two and four. It`s not as -- no, it`s not as wild as Bill.

PETERS: Well--

MATTHEWS: Bill was a movie star politically.

PETERS: The strategy -- and John can probably speak to this some more, but the strategy behind this seems so shortsighted. Good luck winning the election without--


MATTHEWS: How about independent married women? Can he get that category of women?

BRABENDER: I mean, it seems -- it seems really difficult at this point. And even if he had them, it`s not clear to me that the Republican -- given the demographics, the Republican nominee could win in 2016. I mean, Mitt Romney lost by five million votes and he still won white women.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the -- (INAUDIBLE) strong here, but I think I got - - I opened the show, what we call cold open, "Bully`s pulpit." Can being a bully work in this country? Have we ever elected somebody who really does come across as a guy -- I`m going to shove back. I`m a -- I`m going to bully in (ph) the world. I`m going to be tougher than Putin.


MATTHEWS: Does that sell?

BRABENDER: Here`s what people I don`t think fully understand. The success of Donald Trump is not Donald Trump. It`s his supporters. I don`t think Donald Trump has figured that out, quite frankly. I think--

MATTHEWS: You and I are on the same page.

BRABENDER: Now, the reason I think that that`s so important is that he gets to play by different rules. We first saw that when he criticized McCain, a great American war hero--

MATTHEWS: You`re so right.

BRABENDER: -- and nothing happened. And everybody--


MATTHEWS: -- discounting the edge of the craziness and said, No, but I like the heart of what he`s saying, which is, I`m mad, like you are, or--

BRABENDER: No! They`re saying he has a big megaphone. He`s authentic. And boy, he`s going to say what he`s going to say and it`s got to be better than what we have today.

PETERS: And you liberal media elite are not going to tell me how to vote.

BRABENDER: Absolutely!

PETERS: That`s important.

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. Boy, we laugh at that because we think that`s a buffoonery.

PETERS: No, but it`s true. People don`t like--

MATTHEWS: When he says--


MATTHEWS: -- and those lying media people -- we laugh at him because that`s buffoonery, but the audience is cheering him.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, this is new. There are no experts.


MATTHEWS: I said you can`t be an expert at something that hasn`t happened since -- well, I don`t want to compare this to some other people, but in America, OK?

Thank you, John Brabender -- it`s great to have you back -- Colleen McCain Nelson and Jeremy Peters.

Coming up, there are poll numbers and projections out there that make Democrats optimistic about a general election match-up with Donald Trump, as we`ve been hearing here. They show Hillary Clinton with real shot to win big, picking up states Democrats didn`t win in `12, at least one state they haven`t won in 20 years.

For his part, Trump is hoping to put blue states like Michigan, Wisconsin, even Pennsylvania in play. Who`s got the edge heading into the general election?

Plus, this is a year you can`t tell the winning candidate from the loser on election night. That`s because the losers don`t make concession speeches anymore. They make victory speeches even when they get beat. So answer the question. Why do the losers always sound like they`re winning? I owe this question to Frank Bruni of "The New York Times."

And tonight, on the eve of the White House correspondents dinner, we`ve got actors Neve Campbell and Michael Kelly of "House of Cards" and Josh Stamberg of "The Affair" with us tonight. All three are going to play HARDBALL.

And coming up on Tuesday, MSNBC will have live coverage of the Indiana primary. I`ll join Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow for results and analysis starting at 6:00 Eastern. And then get ready for this. Stay up late. Have a coffee, 11:00 Eastern. Join me for a special edition of HARDBALL that night on Tuesday night as we marquee what now looms as the battle for November.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: After a surprise stop in Iraq to visit American troops, Vice President Joe Biden traveled today to the Vatican, seeking to focus the global community`s attention on cancer research.

Biden and his son, Hunter, received an audience from Pope Francis, and in a speech at the Vatican, the vice president touched on his personal connection to the fight against cancer and thanked the pope for providing him comfort in the face of family tragedy.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We experienced in my family what binds so many in this room together and all across the world, how faith can turn loss into hope and hope into action. Holy Father has given hope to so many people of all faiths in every part of the world with his strong words and humble ways.


MATTHEWS: Well, Biden declared a "moon shot" project to cure cancer after his son, Beau, succumbed to the disease just last May.

And we`ll be right back.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Republican Party in a presidential sense doesn`t win anymore! You pick your standard cookie cutters. I can tell you already, just give me the name of the person, and I`ll tell you exactly what states he`s going to win and what states he`s going to lose. I`m different because I`m going to win states that nobody else can.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. With the prospect of a Clinton versus Trump general election matchup looming for the fall, some numbers show Hillary Clinton with chance to score big in the Electoral College.

The latest national poll of a Clinton-Trump contest shows the former secretary of state with an 11-point lead. But Larry Sabato, a political expert from University of Virginia, says if the election were held today, Clinton would win 347 electoral votes -- you only need 270 -- to Trump`s 191. According to Sabato, Secretary Clinton would win all the states President Obama won in 2012 plus the state of North Carolina. A poll out of the traditionally red state of Arizona also shows Clinton with a seven- point lead there over Trump. And "USA Today"`s Heidi Przybyla broke the news today that Clinton plans to start shifting her staff, her campaign staff, to general election swing states as the fall contest starts to take shape, which it is. She`s hoping for a big electoral victory that looks beyond the Obama 2012 map.

For more on this, I`m joined by the aforementioned Heidi Przybyla, political reporter for "USA Today," and also Governor Dean of Vermont, the former Democratic National Committee chair.

Let me start with the author.

Let`s talk about how and November. It`s now beginning to be May. We`re getting into May. Then we have the summer months. Then we have September and October. So, it`s getting close. It`s less than six months.

How good can we project now what it will look like after six months of Donald Trump smashing Secretary Clinton personally, in terms of her gender, in terms of her marriage to Bill Clinton, really unusually vicious campaigning?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY": As you know, we can`t say what it will look like in four or five months. What we can say is what it looks like for certainty right now.

We have the polling data. And unless something really seismic happens, Chris, what you do and what Larry did and what I think is fair to do is you take that `08 map and you overlay it and then you assume, given the forces that we know are in effect, like Trump`s effect on suburban women who may come over and vote for Hillary--

MATTHEWS: Hispanics.

PRZYBYLA: Hispanics. The black turnout. Everybody is assuming that you can`t top what Obama did in `08 and `12. Wrong. There`s a possibility there.


MATTHEWS: Well, you`re laughing. I know exactly what you`re thinking about, which is the real October surprise is going to be President Obama campaigning like he`s never campaigned before for Hillary Clinton.

Let me go to Governor Dean.

Looking at the map, sir, we just heard Donald Trump suggest what we all heard he wants to do. I have referred to as the guys in the jobbers at NFL games, at Bears games, Lions games, Eagles games, Steelers games, big white guys, middle-class, not very well off, but tough, but an attitude. I think Trump is looking at them to shake up the map his way.

But Hillary Clinton has North Carolina, she`s got Arizona. She`s got Colorado, which is already there, but she could build a bigger map, according to what Sabato is pointing to. Your thoughts.

HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is really, really complicated stuff. I think Heidi is absolutely right.

First of all, I do think there will be a much bigger African-American turnout than most people expect, for a lot of reasons, one of which is there`s a lot of people in this country who respond really negatively to bullying. They are minority groups because they have been bullied plenty and we`re not just talking about African-Americans. We`re talking about Hispanics and we`re talking about Asian Americans who used to vote Republican but don`t anymore because of all the anti-immigration stuff.

There`s never been a president elected on the Republican side with less than 35 percent of the Hispanic vote. Trump is at 19. I think the closer this gets, as long as Hillary stands up and is a little Margaret Thatcher- like, I think she will do just fine and we could have a landslide.

MATTHEWS: How do you see it, Governor? You have been in debates yourself. What do you see as a debate? Trump, he is not stupid enough to make fun of her and call her an enabler of her husband`s transgressions to her face.


DEAN: I will bet you he does. I will bet you he does, Chris. Absolutely, I think he will. He won`t be able to stop himself.

MATTHEWS: What does she do? Give me example of her defense, because I have always thought in politics the best political maneuver there is, is the attack from a defensive position. There you go again, Mr. President. There you go again, Mr. Trump.

DEAN: That`s exactly right. Absolutely right. That`s exactly what you do.

You go, there you go again, Mr. Trump. I really believe in X, Y, Z and some foreign policy and whatever she wants to talk about her message. And then, Mr. Trump, you put several companies into bankruptcy. We`re not going to let you do that to the United States of America.

MATTHEWS: That`s an aggressive shot. That`s not a defensive shot.

But, anyway, let`s talk about women, different kinds of women, different -- not different kinds. Women in different situations. Stations of life. Independent women, do you have a sense that they`re willing to be a little more wild, a little more Wild West with this guy, Trump? Married women put up with a little more than single women?

Single women, I have seen politically, are very sensitive when some bully comes around and say you can`t have abortion rights or you can`t have this or that. They don`t like that at all, single women.

Married women seem to be a little more conservative, more traditional historically. Where do they stand in this fight once he gets tough, once he bullies her?

PRZYBYLA: I have talked to married Republican women who will not vote for Donald Trump.

They`re on the record saying that. I guess you have to make the assumption that since they make up a larger portion of the electorate than men do, that they are going to change their minds. But then you drill down and you look at the polling, Chris, that shows they don`t just have a unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump. You know in poll-ese speak, they have a very unfavorable view of him, which is a whole new level of persuasion that it would take on his behalf to persuade them to vote for him.

I think it`s a very high bar to move those female numbers.

MATTHEWS: Governor, I think one thing. I`m not a woman, but I do try to observe how people behave. I would think -- somebody once said to me, people don`t mind being used, they mind being discarded.

That`s about life too and relationships, obviously. You can think about how obviously no one likes to be dumped. The idea that Trump I think has with him is it`s not that he makes fun, not just makes fun, he seems to dismiss them. He talks about women in terms of looks only, when he when after Carly Fiorina, thereby dismissing any woman who is not the latest model from Europe, that kind of dismissive behavior, like I`m not interested in their minds, their thoughts, their souls, who they are personally. I`m not interested them. I want to see them on a runway.

Really, that`s the way he`s come across. And he`s attacked women on their looks. And I just wonder whether that is particularly stupid politically. Just a thought, because it`s the only time he`s had to pull back in the whole campaign.


DEAN: Yes, no, I think it is particularly politically stupid.

There`s two things that are interesting. One, this isn`t over yet. Cruz I think by now has Mike Pence`s endorsement in Indiana, although Bobby Knight is a much better endorsement than Mike Pence any day.


MATTHEWS: For the guys, I think so. Yes.

DEAN: Right.

So, let`s see. It`s not over yet, but I agree that Trump is likely to be nominated. Now, you will get a kick out of this, because this is your area. The collar counties of Philadelphia, that`s where all these elections are won and lost.

I knew that Obama was going to beat the daylights out of McCain in the collar counties of Pennsylvania. If you do that, those are the classic Republican married women who are mostly pro-choice who swing on exactly the kinds of things you and Heidi are talking about.


DEAN: I think you`re absolutely right.

MATTHEWS: Where you have the train stations where the Broadway plays are advertised on. They`re very sophisticated. They`re big East, not in basketball terms, but sophisticated. They read the paper every day. And they know who Trump is.

PRZYBYLA: And it`s not just women.

You guys can weigh in on this here. It`s the Reagan Democrats. I think this is overhyped, Chris. That`s why they are called Reagan Democrats, because they switched a long time ago.

MATTHEWS: Yes. We will see. We will see. Anyway--


DEAN: The guys you`re talking about, Chris, these guys have not voted Democrat for years and years and years and years. So, this is nothing new.

MATTHEWS: I think of the guys with the red faces, it`s so cold out, and they`re rooting for a team that is going to lose most of the time. But they have got that sort of attitude, attitude.

And I think they may be the Trump target.

DEAN: Right. Well, Trump`s got that.

MATTHEWS: He`s after them.

Thank you, Governor Dean. Have a nice weekend. Heidi Przybyla, you`re getting to be really good on this show. And you`re a great writer and reporter. And it`s very hard to do everything right. And you have been doing it.

Up next, the art of losing. Why this year`s concession speeches have sounded a lot more like the speeches of winning candidates. Can you tell the difference? Why can`t anyone lose gracefully anymore? Frank Bruni of "The New York Times" wrote a great column on this today.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger with breaking news.

As we have been reporting, protesters clashed with police outside a hotel where Donald Trump spoke to California Republicans earlier. The candidate had to take an alternate route into the building because of the situation. He acknowledged the tensions boiling over outside the venue in his remarks.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That wasn`t the easiest entrance I have ever made.


TRUMP: My wife called. She said, "There are helicopters following you." And we did. And then we went under a fence and through a fence. And, oh, boy, it felt like I was crossing the border, actually.


REHBERGER: Trump left the hotel with a security detail shortly after his speech ended.

The demonstrators remained on the scene long after the candidate left the venue. Police in riot gear eventually moved in to disperse the crowd -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Why can`t anyone lose gracefully anymore? With more than 20 presidential candidates at the outset of this 2016 battle and most state contests completed now, we have heard quite a few concession speeches this year, but often the losers sound a lot like they just won. Let`s take a look.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: This is the moment they said would never happen.

For months, for months, they told us we had no chance. Tonight, I thank you here in Iowa. I thank you because tonight we have taken the first step, but an important step towards winning this election.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The votes are still being counted. And the exact results are unknown.

But right now, it appears that we are effectively tied for third in state of New Hampshire.


CRUZ: That was the result that all of us were told was impossible. Together, we have done what the pundits and the media have said could not be done.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The wind is at our backs. We have the momentum. I believe that when Democrats assemble in Philadelphia in July at that convention, we`re going to see the results of one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States.



MATTHEWS: Well, all of them were unbelievable. It started there with Marco Rubio and his third-place finish in Iowa, Ted Cruz, who came in behind Trump and Kasich in New Hampshire, and of course Senator Sanders after a Nevada loss, loss that was to Hillary Clinton. In fact, often, the losers this year don`t actually concede.

They get angry. Frank Bruni wrote this week about the cult of losers, describing -- quote -- "All too often, contests don`t yield accepted conclusions and a grudging acquiescence by those who didn`t get their way. They prompt accusations of the very cries of illegitimacy and a determination to neuter the victor, nullify the results or reverse them as soon as possible."

It hasn`t always been this way. What is about 2016 that everyone who is a loser sounds like a winner?

Here with me is Dana Milbank, the satirist and brilliant columnist of "The Washington Post." I think it`s satire. And Sabrina Siddiqui of "The Guardian."

Let me start with you, Dana. It seems to me that it really does start with this ridiculous inability to just say, OK, bad night, bad night.

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think it starts -- first of all, we have to blame America in general for the culture.

MATTHEWS: We`re all guilty?

MILBANK: We raise our children where everybody gets a trophy.

MATTHEWS: Oh, I know. I know.

MILBANK: It doesn`t matter what happens there.

And, of course, as usual, the media are to blame here. It`s not whether you win or lose. It`s whether you beat expectations or not. We set these expectations. In a way, Rubio and Cruz are right to say, they said this couldn`t be done. I couldn`t come in tied for third place. MATTHEWS: You can say that about we because it`s a collective statement.

But, Sabrina, I grew up in politics as a kid watching wonderful concession speeches. I saw it later as part of history. Stevenson`s, who lost to Ike, saying -- he quoted Lincoln saying, I`m too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh. And wonderful lines like Ed Brooke of Massachusetts saying, I didn`t cry in the mountain, I will not cry in the valley.

Emotion moments that were honest and the end of the night. You know kit was over when the guy conceded.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": I think Dana has a point.

When it comes to the modern kind of 24/7 environment, so much of campaigning, as these elections are increasingly nationalized, has to do with controlling the media narrative. And if you can create the sense of momentum, then the idea is--


MATTHEWS: Are we that stupid, that you can just give a victory speech?

SIDDIQUI: Well, the media certainly played along I think with Marco Rubio a great deal in the early states.

But also on the Republican side, there`s just been this deep-rooted denial from the outset that Donald Trump will be the nominee.

MATTHEWS: It`s still there.


SIDDIQUI: A lot of this has to do with there`s no way that Republican voters will choose Donald Trump to represent our party and we have to remain relevant and seem like we have chance to actually defeat him.

MATTHEWS: A bit of this is theater review. And that`s OK. I enjoy it.

But there`s serious business here. One thing we notice, those of us who read the papers, in developing countries, there`s a pattern. If you lose a election, it was stolen, it was corrupt, it was rigged. You never admit you lose. This is all over. And if you win, you arrest the guy you beat.

Trump says I`m going to arrest Hillary if I win. I`m going to put her in jail. And he also says, every time they lose -- Bernie now this in New York and Brooklyn, oh, irregularities. People -- nobody says, I lost fairly. That`s not healthy.

MILBANK: I`m not sure, Chris -- I`m not sure it`s that nefarious, nor is it necessarily that new.

Remember, go back to the comeback kid speech, Bill Clinton, a long time ago in New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS: He lost by eight.

MILBANK: He didn`t win the New Hampshire primary.

MATTHEWS: That was media manipulation.

MILBANK: But the problem is in the primaries there is not finality.

You will see these -- John McCain gave a great concession speech when he lost the general election. Remember Al Gore saying it`s time for me to go.

MATTHEWS: Good speech.

MILBANK: That was a good speech.

I suspect you see that when there`s finality. The problem with the primaries is, we don`t get finality. It`s entirely ambiguous, so they can get--


MATTHEWS: You`re right about the Gore speech. That was one of the good ones. I think -- I don`t know who helped him with it. He gave it finally. But that was a wonderful way to end. I`m not sure the other side would have been as wonderful about it.

MILBANK: It was an ugly episode.


SIDDIQUI: And you also have to think about fact that the entire premise of Donald Trump`s message, as well as that of Bernie Sanders, is that the political system is rigged against the American people.

They can kind of use this line that this is rigged, because that is what driving a lot of their support, an idea that the political system is corrupt, that establishment is trying to cherry-pick candidates and nominees.

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I do like the idea of civilization, though.


MATTHEWS: I think it works.

Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank. I think there`s a certain quality to the guy or the woman who says, you know what? I got beaten. I got beaten.

Sabrina Siddiqui, great having you on.

Dana, you`re always read well around here.

Still ahead, we have got a special Hollywood roundtable tonight here ahead of this weekend`s White House Correspondents Dinner, actors from the hit shows "House of Cards" and "The Affair" are coming here next. This is going to be fun. that show "House of Cards" is something else.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald. And that`s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing?




It got worse there. That was President Obama getting the better of Donald Trump in 2011. Well, it`s that time of year when Hollywood royalty crosses the other coast to hang out with journalists and politicians at the White House Correspondents` Dinner. It`s tomorrow night.

And the game change for the dinner came back in the 1980s when a journalist brought Oliver North`s secretary, Fawn Hall, to that event. What was unusual back then has become an annual event where actors mingle with the Washington elite, such as it is, for the evening, and not only is Hollywood descending on Washington, but they seem to be drawing more influence and more story material from their work from their re-imagined drama within the Beltway.

Think about the TV show on HBO, "Veep," hilarious, "Scandal," it`s great stuff, and one of my favorite, the "House of Cards," which I`m mostly through the latest series.

Our special White House correspondents` weekend HARDBALL roundtable is here to talk about the cult intersection between Tinseltown and Washington.

Joining me right now is Neve Campbell from "House of Cards," right. Leann?


MATTHEWS: Actor Josh Stamberg currently stars in "The Affair," talk about Murky, and also Robin Bronx, CEO of the Creative Coalition makes all of this possible.

Now, I`ve got to talk to you guys about this Hollywood thing.

Tell me, you`re part of this. You grew up here.


MATTHEWS: What makes a town, for years, I would hear movie directors say, you can`t sell a move that says it`s about politics. You have to say, it`s a romance set in Washington or it`s a thriller! You can`t say, but today, anything about politics is something. They`ve got Nixon and Elvis? Who would have believed that? That`s opening up this weekend here.

STAMBERG: Inherent drama, right?

MATTHEWS: If you want to know what it was really like. A 15-hour photo op and an hour and a half movie. Explain that.

STAMBERG: Tough one. I don`t know. What do you think?

MATTHEWS: What did you bring to Hollywood when you came out here? Your mom`s Susan Stamberg.

STAMBERG: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And we share the same Starbucks, so I know her well.

STAMBERG: I think the thing growing up in D.C., it`s not actually, the people working in D.C. are not the people who are necessarily going to this dinner, right? The people who are making the wheels spin. I think there`s interesting, but I don`t know how intense that interest is, you know? I think the Hollywood piece of it is, how do we take the really interesting and dramatic world that is Washington, D.C. and turn it into even better drama?

MATTHEWS: When I bring people here, I take them on my midnight tour. The only thing besides money I can give people, because it`s easy to pay for dinner if you`ve got some money, but hard to get them to stay out after midnight on a weekday night. So, I take them on my crazy tour.

Do you know what I take them on? I show them the exorcist steps from the movie. Where the priest fell down, right at the end.

CAMPBELL: That`s great.

MATTHEWS: That`s my idea of showing Hollywood what Washington`s really like. So, Neve Campbell?


It`s fascinating. You know, I`ve only, here -- this is my third time in Washington, and each time`s only been 24 hours, and today, actually, I was up on the Hill with the Creative Coalition.

MATTHEWS: With Robin.


MATTHEWS: What was her pitch?

CAMPBELL: Trying to raise some more money for the arts.

MATTHEWS: Federal government money.

CAMPBELL: Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: OK, Robin, make your pitch.

ROBIN BRONK, CEO, THE CREATIVE COALITION: We`re trying to make this the last arts advocacy day, because why do we have to be this special interest group that advocates for more money for the country so we can be a better country, more competitive country, and get our kids ready for the workforce. And Neve and about 20 other leaders from Hollywood were with us. We went door-to-door, literally in Congress, you`ve been walking around since 8:00 a.m.

MATTHEWS: Did you meet any interesting congressmen? You had all senators, right?

CAMPBELL: No, I wasn`t on the team that had the senators. I was supposed to be. I was on the orange team and none of the senators showed up.

MATTHEWS: Here`s a sample of Neve`s actual work, plotting as political strategist, Leann Harvey. There`s a nice name, willing to do pretty much anything to notch a win for the Underwoods in the "House of Cards." It`s a very dark story. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a stranger to us.

CAMPBELL: He`s the top data scientist in the country, maybe the world. He was exploring behavior adoption and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop. We are talking domestic surveillance, Leann. And the only theory I`m interested in is risk versus votes.

CAMPBELL: And he gets us the votes.


MATTHEWS: So, he`s trying to pass a gun safety bill and he wants to identify voters like leads, leads that would tell who to make a phone call to, who would then phone a congressman or senator, right?

CAMPBELL: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And that`s illegal, apparently? I don`t think it is, but in the movie it is.

CAMPBELL: Yes, in the movie it is, exactly. Now, she finds ways to manipulate things, to make things happen for the people she`s working with.

MATTHEWS: You look pretty good in the movie, because you come out as like a gun for hire, but you don`t seem bad.

CAMPBELL: Well, we`ll see.

MATTHEWS: You don`t come off as bad.


MATTHEWS: Josh, "The Affair" starts with an affair, obviously, and all I kept thinking about, this is the best argument against having an affair.


MATTHEWS: It is so complicated, it gets so bad.

STAMBERG: My married friends --

MATTHEWS: He has to really love this new young woman, because everything in his wife is going away.


MATTHEWS: Let`s watch that, because he seems to have a really nice wife. Here you go. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever been left before? Have you ever been dumped?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have. Many times, and I can tell you from personal experience that people leave for lots of different reasons.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Philosophy.

STAMBERG: Yes, right? Deep, politics of friendship. You don`t see it a lot between two guys, right?

MATTHEWS: Well, but you`re messing with his --

STAMBERG: Sleeping with his wife. And paid -- it`s not great.

MATTHEWS: It`s not an act of friendship. It`s a smoky story. Smokey.

Robin, thank you. Good luck with the cause.

BRONK: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Kevin Spacey and others, friends of ours who come around here. And we really do believe that it`s good to back our arts.

The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. I cannot wait. This is the first time we`ve tried it with civilians.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: You want to tune in on Tuesday night this week. I`ll be back with my colleagues Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow for complete primary coverage. That`s 6:00 to 11:00 Eastern Time Tuesday night.

And 11:00 p.m. that night, a special edition of HARDBALL. Full complete Indiana results and a look ahead toward the general election. That`s going to be our topic at 11:00.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Neve, tell me something I don`t know about the correspondents` dinner tomorrow night.

CAMPBELL: Well, it`s my first time, so I`m very curious. I`m curious to see what Obama does with the roasting, because it`s his last year.

MATTHEWS: He`ll take a shot at trump, don`t you think?

CAMPBELL: I think so. But I don`t think he`s going to be there.

MATTHEWS: He`ll be there in absentia.

CAMPBELL: I think so.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, tell me, Josh.

STAMBERG: White House correspondents` dinner president, 1975, Helen Toms. 1973, any idea?

MATTHEWS: Susan Stamberg?

STAMBERG: No, Edgar A. Poe. No idea who that is. But a pretty good name.

MATTHEWS: Well, that was a stumper. But has good news value.


MATTHEWS: But go ahead, Robin.

BRONK: Never discount being a bystander at that dinner. My greatest moment was I got to be -- watch Lori David and Sheryl Crow teach Karl Rove about global warming. I swear, Lori David had a whiteboard in her evening bag. She pulled it up, Sheryl had the statistics and I saw Karl doing that -- hmm.

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you something, I can tell you with authority, he`s uneducatable.

Thank you, Neve Campbell, Josh Stamberg, and Robin Bronk.

Still ahead, we knew him as White House chief of staff Douglas Stamper. Actor Michael Kelly is coming here. Beware.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



MICHAEL KELLY, DOUG STAMPER: Where are we with Leann?


KELLY: I refuse to believe that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doug, if our campaign manager bites the dust, that hurts us.

KELLY: I gave you a task.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I`ll keep at it.


MATTHEWS: Scary stuff.

We`re back. His role as Doug Stamper, that`s a great Dickensian name, Stamper, on "House of Cards."

Actor Michael Kelly plays a ruthlessly efficient political operative whose Machiavellian tactics often run afoul of the law, through four seasons of the show now, we`ve seen how his loyalty to President Frank Underwood, that`s Kevin spacey, knows no bounds.

I`m joined by Michael Kelly of "House of Cards".

Now, I have to -- you have to explain to people that you`re not that guy. You`re not Doug Stamper when you walk down the street. Are they scared of you?

KELLY: Certainly in D.C., no, it`s pretty crazy. Never -- I don`t think I`ve ever taken more selfies than here in D.C.

MATTHEWS: Do you ever when you read a script, before an episode, think, my God, how bad am I going to get? Because you`re killing people one after another. And it`s always done with great deliberation. There`s nothing impulsive about it. You decide, this person must be eliminated.

KELLY: Yes, it`s bad for the greater good. He`s just got to do his job. That`s the way he looks at it.

MATTHEWS: Have you figured out what -- because I`ve always liked loyalty in politics, to a point. And you carry it beyond that, of course. Because I like the old idea that you serve the boss, get him elected, and unless he`s doing something actually criminal, you cover for him.

KELLY: Right. You know, obviously, we take it to a criminal level on our show, but I love it too. And I actually understand my character. I understand Doug Stamper. It makes sense to me.

MATTHEWS: What do you make him so almost dog-like loyal?

KELLY: I think it`s a lot of things. Addiction. A lot of it`s addiction for him, you know, the alcohol addiction, the job addiction. He wants to be the best he can be at his job.

MATTHEWS: And he wants the approval and administration of boss.

KELLY: Of course. Some of the loyalty is a bi-product of him being so focused on what he does. But, yes, he definitely wants the approval of the boss.

MATTHEWS: So, you`re up in Baltimore doing this incredible series and there`s another year coming up. It just keeps going.

KELLY: Season five.

MATTHEWS: Do people come up to you and say, I just watched three of your episodes last night.


MATTHEWS: Rob Reiner, I know a bit of, he said, the first series, the first year, he watched the whole thing on a rainy weekend.

KELLY: Yes, yes, I`m amazed sometimes. I mean, as soon as the season comes out, someone`s tweeting, 13 hours later, done. I`m like, oh, my gosh, you just watched the whole thing, straight through. I can watch two episodes of something. That`s about it.

MATTHEWS: Well, last night, Kathleen and I were watching it and I had fallen asleep, because we had been doing this week of politics, and I said, she`s going to bed, she looks back through the door and says, want to watch another one? I`m like, I`m exhausted! I got to get up early today.

I think you`re responsible for a lot of people being up way too late at night.

KELLY: That feels good.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about -- is this going to encourage people, young men and women, to run for office, if they see Frank Underwood`s lust for power?

KELLY: You know, I hope so. I hope it encourages people to get informed in politics and learn more about politics. That`s certainly a nice by- product of our show. But really, at its core, the show`s about power, right?

MATTHEWS: It`s about the husband and wife who have -- don`t seem to have a real loving relationship anymore. They have something, but when they go to the window and they share the cigarette, it`s like an old 1930s movie, you know, Betty Davis and Paul, having a cigarette, to sort of represent their love making, to celebrate their conniving.

KELLY: They`re definite sex scenes.

MATTHEWS: It`s all simulated.

Hey, Michael Kelly, I`m a really big fan of this guy.

KELLY: What a pleasure.

MATTHEWS: Because there`s no doubt when you watch him, you think, it`s him, it really is him that`s doing the killing.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.