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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/4/2016

Guests: Ron Klain, Heidi Przybyla, Tim Mak, Clint Hill, Scottie Nell Hughes, Anne Gearan, Carolyn Ryan, Jeff Weaver

Show: HARDBALL Date: May 4, 2016 Guest: Ron Klain, Heidi Przybyla, Tim Mak, Clint Hill, Scottie Nell Hughes, Anne Gearan, Carolyn Ryan, Jeff Weaver

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Love that opening. Anyway, good evening. I am Chris Matthews back again in Washington.

Donald Trump`s final opponent, John Kasich, suspended his campaign this evening, bringing to a close the Republican race for the White House. It`s over. Donald Trump, a reality TV star and businessman from New York with no political background, is the new standard bearer of the Republican Party, like it or not.

And with that reality comes a moment of truth for the Republican Party itself. Can they back him? A growing list of Republicans are saying yes, they can -- Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Mike Huckabee, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Senator Susan Collins of Maine all aboard now.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Senator John McCain told NBC, "As John McCain has said, he will support the nominee of the Republican Party, who is now presumptively Donald Trump. He is adamantly opposed to the continuation of the failed policies of President Obama that would occur under Hillary Clinton and have led to a world more volatile and less safe than any time since World War II."

But there`s also a number of conservative activists out there who say they refuse to back Trump, even now that he`s won the nomination. The two former Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George Herbert Walker Bush, both now say they will stay out of it. They will not endorse Trump.

In the last hour, Donald Trump told NBC`s Lester Holt his negative numbers will come down -- calm down, too, as well, as his campaign against Hillary Clinton kicks in.

Let`s watch the latest. This is a few minutes old.


LESTER HOLD, ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": The negatives are staggering. Disapproval, 69 percent women, African-Americans, 88 percent, Latinos 79, people under 34, 75 percent disapprove.

How much of that is self-inflicted by some of the rhetoric from the primary campaign, and how do you heal that while still respecting those who got you here?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the highly respected Rasmussen poll just came out and I`m 41 to 39 up on Hillary Clinton. It just came out. I haven`t even started on Hillary Clinton yet. So I don`t know what you`re talking about with the negatives.

Now, I will say I think I`ll do very well with women, and as you know, in the last seven states, which I won in landslides, I won in women, I won with African-American, I won with Hispanics. I won at every single level.

HOLT: So you discard all these numbers?

TRUMP: I don`t discard anything. I mean, I just started. I just got it not even 24 hours ago.


MATTHEWS: Well, Eugene Robinson`s a Washington Post columnist -- I had a sort of a hem (ph) in my voice there...


MATTHEWS: ... and MSNBC political analyst, after listening to that from Trump. Howard Fineman`s global editorial director for the Huffingtonpost and an MSNBC political analyst. And Scottie Nell Hughes is a Republican strategist and Trump supporter.

Let me go to Gene on that and just unpack some of that because the Rasmussen poll is -- is a robo-poll.


MATTHEWS: It`s, like, limited -- its limited in its accuracy, but it`s it`s also a Republican poll.


MATTHEWS: And there are a lot of other polls out there that show staggering...


MATTHEWS: ... a staggering gap between him and Hillary right -- 13 points in our poll...

ROBINSON: Poll after poll after poll after poll shows him losing to Hillary Clinton. I mean, that`s just the fact. He never acknowledges it, but it`s the fact.

You know, today -- we should just take a minute to think about what just happened in the last 24 hours.

MATTHEWS: It`s big!

ROBINSON: This is -- this is a cataclysm, and the Republican Party today is like Rome on the morning after the night when the barbarians came through the gate, right?




ROBINSON: The city has been sacked and people are -- there`s a lot of running around. There`s a lot of screaming. There`s a lot of wailing. And people are trying to figure out what to do.

And so, you know, it`s maybe not the best day to make confident predictions as to what`s going to happen two weeks from now, four weeks from now or whatever. Will the resistance manage to gather itself?


MATTHEWS: I was in Budapest at the end of the cold war, when it was about to end, and one of the more cynical people in the economic ministry said, The road to Damascus is very crowded these days.


MATTHEWS: There are a lot of converts! And I`m wondering if there are a lot of people...

FINEMAN: It`s not that...

MATTHEWS: Look at this, John McCain support for Trump is a surprise to some, given the very personal attack Trump leveled at him last summer.

Just to remind ourselves of how vicious it got early on, let`s watch Trump on McCain.


TRUMP: I supported him. He lost. He let us down. But you know, he lost. So I never liked him as much after that because I don`t like losers.


TRUMP: But Frank -- Frank, Frank, let me get to it. He hit me...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a war hero!

TRUMP: He`s not war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a war hero.

TRUMP: He`s a war hero...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five-and-a-half years...


TRUMP: He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren`t captured, OK? I hate to tell you.


MATTHEWS: But McCain`s on base, though.

FINEMAN: I think that`s very interesting. I agree with you that sometimes, the road to Damascus is very crowded. Right now, it`s sort of eerily sparse, I would say. Yes, there`s some Republicans who are creeping forward to say, I`m going to support Donald Trump. There`s an interesting locution coming out of New Hampshire, where Kelly Ayotte, the senator, said this morning in an interview that she would support but not endorse Donald Trump?

MATTHEWS: What does that mean?


FINEMAN: I have no idea.


FINEMAN: That`s almost like a Mideast peace accord!


MATTHEWS: The other women in the party who are high level, Nikki Haley...


FINEMAN: No, but...


FINEMAN: I do think McCain is bored (ph). Everybody was making a big deal last night that Mark Salter, his former aide and speech writer, said he`d never vote for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Mark Salter.

FINEMAN: Yes, Mark Salter. If you`re Donald Trump, you`ll take John McCain over Mark Salter.

ROBINSON: Yes, over Mark Salter.

MATTHEWS: Mark Salter says he`s going with Hillary.

Let me bring in Scottie Nell Hughes. Give us a sense of how you think this is going to shake out within the reality -- within in the walls of Rome, if you will, to use that metaphor. How many people are going to scatter, how many are going to hide and how many are going to salute?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I`m sitting here shaking my head today, Chris, because the same people who told me that I was going to have to go and I was going to have to vote for Romney, I was going to have to vote for McCain, are now basically saying that they`re not going to vote for Donald Trump. And yet I still went in (INAUDIBLE) They`re not taking their own piece of advice.

Listen, today has shown the adults from the children within the Republican Party and the ones that actually put the party ahead of their egos. Those guys that are still holding onto, I`m not going to vote for him, a lot of them are probably just sour grapes...


HUGHES: ... and they`re having to face the reality that their word is not as strong as their mommy gave them credit for.

On the opposite side, though, you do see these guys going, You know what? I`m going to put the party, I`m going to put unity ahead because, ultimately, we`re going to have to go against this major machine that was created before Barack Obama that`s now going to be headed up for Hillary Clinton, and it`s going to be something that we`re going to take. Everybody`s going to have to be part of if we`re going to able to defeat.

MATTHEWS: Well, Reince Priebus agrees with you, acknowledged the problem facing his candidate, however, given his negative numbers.

Let`s watch Reince Priebus, the chair of the Republican National Committee.


REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: We got to unify. We need time to unify. And -- and we will unify. But this is what today starts, which is this unification process.


MATTHEWS: Well, in his interview with Lester Holt just a couple of minutes ago, Trump didn`t try to back way from his calls to ban Muslims from this country and deport 11 million people here illegally. Let`s watch him go at it again.


HOLT: Do you stand by them? Do you stand, for example, by the idea of a ban against foreign Muslims coming here?

TRUMP: I do. We have to be vigilant. We have to be strong. We have to see what`s going on. There`s a big problem in the world. You look at what`s happening with the migration in Europe.

HOLT: You`ve also promised to deport those in this country illegally? Do you stand by that?

TRUMP: And come back. Yes, they`re going to be deported. Look, we either have a country or we don`t. We have many illegals in the country, and we have to get them out and go through a process, go through a system. And ones that have done well and have really achieved, we want to bring them back in.


MATTHEWS: Back to where we started tonight. And join in here, Scottie -- the quickness with which this came. Up until last night, we had a sense that although Trump was going to win Indiana that Cruz was going to stick to the fight.


MATTHEWS: Kasich would even hang in there, that this thing would go on for a while.


MATTHEWS: I think that`s what stunned us last night, the end so quick.

ROBINSON: Right. It looked like Trump was going to win in the end, or I certainly thought he was going to win in the end, but certainly, Cruz was going to stick in for a while. Kasich was going to stick in for a while because their -- you know, how did their situation change? They -- you know, they...


ROBINSON: ... looked bad for them after.

MATTHEWS: Because there`s an anti-Trump faction in the Republican Party that has all of a sudden found itself with no contenders.

ROBINSON: Well, exactly. And so what do they do now? You know, you know, how do you -- you can`t beat somebody with nobody. They didn`t have much of a somebody in the first place...


ROBINSON: ... now they literally have nobody.

FINEMAN: What they`re doing...

MATTHEWS: Scottie, go in here. I want to hear Scottie`s thinking about this...

HUGHES: Here`s my...

MATTHEWS: ... because what happened so fast? Do you know why the opposition to Trump crumbled last night. Sometime early -- I guess early in the day yesterday, they got the word that the exit polls -- I don`t know how they got the exit numbers early, but they got some sort of polling out of the actual voting to say that Cruz was going to get hammered. And I guess Kasich already knew he was down in the single digits and it wasn`t going to happen for him ever. But they could have still fought for a while.

HUGHES: Well, sometimes, reality bites for presidential candidates, and we saw that yesterday. You know, I think the polling came back that in New Jersey, Trump was leading by double digits, West Virginia, California. There was truly no sense to actually be able to have a way of going through a brokered convention, where these ideas is actually resonating with the people that this is a rigged system that keep politicians in power.

And you have Senator Ted Cruz, who does still have a hopeful political future, and he wanted to sit there and cut off his losses while he can and see if he can still escape this unscathed.

But I do have to bring up one point. You played that clip. Why is it so surprising that Mr. Trump -- I mean, I guess we`re so used to politicians flip-flopping on what their position is. Those points that Mr. Trump made are the same thing he has said consistently all along. Why would he...

MATTHEWS: Fair enough.

HUGHES: ... flip-flop now that he`s the candidate? That right there would show weakness.

MATTHEWS: Because candidates tend to do that. After they say inflammatory things to win the left or the right, they tend to come back somewhere in the center to win the general. That`s why. I think you have a fair point there, but that`s the normal way politicians behave.

HUGHES: But people have -- that`s the one thing about Mr. Trump. Whether you might not like every word you (sic) say, you have trust that what is he is telling you is what he`s going to say and what he`s going to stand by. You might not like 100 percent of what he says, but you like some things. And what we`re missing in politics today...

MATTHEWS: Well, let me...

HUGHES: ... is truth and trust. And that is why Mr. Trump is appealing to so many.

MATTHEWS: OK. Do you think it`s right to take 11 million people here who`ve been living here as Americans, even if they`re not legal, living as Americans, and send them to Mexico or anywhere else they came from? Do you think that`s a reasonable U.S. policy under the next presidency?

HUGHES: I think...

MATTHEWS: Is that reasonable?

HUGHES: I think we have a broken system, and Ronald Reagan thought...

MATTHEWS: No, that`s not what he`s saying.

HUGHES: ... that he was solving the problem when he passed it back in 1986. It did not solve it. So therefore, why are we going to repeat something that did not solve it? We need a reasonable -- we need to look at our immigration system. We know that. I think everybody agrees with it.

MATTHEWS: I know that, but that`s not what he`s saying. He`s saying send back 11 million people. Should we do that?

HUGHES: And let them come back legally so we know...

MATTHEWS: What does that mean?

HUGHES: ... who is here. We are living in a different age. We need to know exactly who is within our borders. The same thing goes with Muslims.


HUGHES: We need -- he`s not sitting here saying he`s going to ban all Muslims from America. He`s just saying all American Muslims are going to continue to flow back and forth freely. We just need know who exactly is in within our borders (INAUDIBLE) Every other country...

MATTHEWS: And how do we -- how do we tell...

HUGHES: ... has those rules. Why not the United States?

MATTHEWS: How do we tell the religion -- (INAUDIBLE) Scottie, but how can we detect, honestly and truthfully the religion of someone applying to come in the country on a visitor`s visa, a tourist, whatever, business deal, on any kind of entry into the country? How do you detect a person`s religion?

HUGHES: But we -- we`re able to -- at least we`re trying. At least we`re asking the questions that...

MATTHEWS: How would we do it?

HUGHES: At least we`re vetting, and...

MATTHEWS: Just how would we do it?

HUGHES: ... we`re not just letting them come in. Well, that`s the great thing about technology today. And we can sit there and look at it. You can ask them. There are screening processes we can use that are not in place right now. Our system is broken. All he`s asking for...

MATTHEWS: No, I`m just asking, can we detect through any electronic ability today -- can we screen for religion? I didn`t know we could. How can we do that?

HUGHES: No, we can`t -- no, but we can actually vet -- as American citizens, we do have the right to know who exactly is coming within our country, too. And I mean, I have to sit there and say, Chris, I`m going to defend America first, kind of like what his foreign policy is (INAUDIBLE) of these other countries. And I think most Americans would agree with that, regardless of what party you belong in.

I think that is only fair that we know who it is. Let`s get the system fixed...


HUGHES: ... and then we`ll be able to bring people in and out freely.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well...

HUGHES: But at least our American families are safe, something we can`t guarantee right now.

MATTHEWS: All right. Thank you very much, Eugene Robinson, and thank you, Howard Fineman. And we`ll get you back again. You got sort of pushed aside there.

FINEMAN: No problem.

MATTHEWS: Scottie Nell Hughes.

Coming up -- Donald Trump says he`ll focus on Hillary Clinton`s past, not her ideas for the future, as they battle for the White House now. Looks like a two-person fight. It`s going to be a scorched earth campaign, as well, like we`ve not seen before. Are Clinton and the Democrats ready for what`s coming from Trump? You just heard a bit of it there.

Plus, why can`t Hillary Clinton shake Bernie Sanders loose from her? He`s still on her -- he`s still chasing her. He beat her last night in Indiana pretty well, and he`s helping Trump actually by staying in the race that is virtually impossible for him to win, but he can still win primaries. Can Clinton battle Trump with Sanders still on her left flank?

And with Cruz and Kasich out of race now as of today, Donald Trump`s the presumptive Republican nominee. It`s a deal. He`s in. And given all he`s said and done, it`s an earth-shaking moment many people said could never happen, should never happen, a lot of people have said. The HARDBALL roundtable`s going to be with us. We`ll talk about some of Trump`s not so great hits.

Finally, Donald Trump`s false claim that he led -- well, that Ted Cruz`s father was connected to John F. Kennedy`s assassination. We`re going to speak to President Kennedy`s Secret Service agent tonight.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: President Obama visited Flint, Michigan, earlier today, his first trip to the city since it was hit by a tainted water crisis that sickened thousands of people. Well, the president met with local, state and federal officials at a food bank, where he was briefed on the ongoing response and recovery efforts. Toward the end of the briefing, Obama drank from a glass of water and proclaimed the tap water to be drinkable with the use of a filter. He had a filter.

The president delivered remarks to a crowd at the local high school, where he assured the people of Flint that the government has their back.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not rest, and I`m going to make sure that the leaders at every level of government don`t rest, until every drop of water that flows to your homes is safe to drink and safe to cook with and safe to bathe in...


OBAMA: ... because that`s part of the basic responsibilities of a government in the United States of America!



MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. With a general election matchup likely between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a new head-to-head poll out just today shows Clinton with a -- catch -- this is the one to remember tonight, this is the news -- 54-41. This is an election that will get closer, but it`s pretty wide apart right now. Clinton ties Trump with support among men and leads him by 26 points among women. Remember that number, a 26-point lead.

But in a preview of what kind of campaign we can expect, Trump says he hasn`t even started in on Clinton yet. He told "The Washington Post," "Her past is really the thing, her past, rather than what she plans to do in the future. Her past has a lot of problems." You like the way he phrases that? She`s got a past, to put it bluntly. That -- that`s Trump signaling where he`s going.

And here`s what he said on "MORNING JOE" today.


TRUMP: Look, Bernie Sanders said about Hillary Clinton she`s got poor judgment. He also said, by the way, she`s unqualified, but I won`t even go there. But Bernie Sanders said that she`s got poor judgment. And she does. You look at the e-mail scandal. She shouldn`t even be allowed to run. You know that. Joe knows that and everybody knows that. She`s only being protected by the Democrats. She should not be allowed to run in the election. She should not be -- she should suffer like other people have suffered who have done far less than she has.


MATTHEWS: Well, Team Clinton is already preparing for this kind of attack. Her campaign strategist, Joel Benenson, said Republican attacks go unanswered -- (INAUDIBLE) go unanswered, he said, would be a mistake. "When he does this, we`ll be aggressive," Benenson said.

In fact, the Clinton campaign`s already using the Republican`s own words against Trump. Here it is.


TRUMP: I am a unifier. We`re going to be a unified party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a con artist.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is the know nothing candidate.


ROMNEY: This is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter.

TRUMP: Oh, I don`t remember!

ROMNEY: Who attributed a reporter`s questions to her menstrual cycle.

TRUMP: Blood coming out of here wherever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency.

CARLY FIORINA (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A man who seems to only feels big when he`s trying to make people look small.

TRUMP: Don`t worry about it, little Marco.

CRUZ: (INAUDIBLE) the man is utterly amoral.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A sign of deep insecurity and weakness.

ROMNEY: The bullying, the greed, the showing off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs therapy.


MATTHEWS: Needs therapy! Stuart Stevens (ph), an adviser to Mitt Romney`s 2012 campaign said that Trump, quote -- "He`s about to walk into a $1 billion buzzsaw." I guess he`s talking about the campaign budget for the Clintons.

Anyway, Carolyn Ryan is senior editor of politics at "The New York Times" - - thank you, Carolyn -- and Anne Gearan is the national political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Well, Anne, you were here first. Let me -- what do you think, knowing what you know about the Clinton armor? How good is it? How strong is her armor, or SDI system, even, to be more advanced, to strike back at this incoming?

ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean, it`s -- I mean, it`s -- it`s two things at once, right? It is defensive and offensive. And it is built -- to continue the military, the martial analogy -- I mean, it is built that way.

It -- from the start, the Clintons, plural, have expected an assault on them, on everything about them, on the entire architecture of the Clinton political franchise, starting with Bill Clinton, good and bad, and continuing through Hillary.

So, they have designed ways, they think, are effective to protect that and project...


GEARAN: ... want to get through.

MATTHEWS: Well, they had the war room.



GEARAN: And they have a model of that now. Yes.

MATTHEWS: They had the war room back in `92 with George and everything there and James.

And what was great about that was instant retaliation. They would follow the news cycle the way Trump follows it, which is every second. They`re up against the guy who is in the news cycle. And they were able to hit back so fast. And they learned the lesson from Dukakis in `88, where Michael Dukakis didn`t respond.

GEARAN: Right. No, they did learn that lesson. The question is how Hillary Clinton as a candidate can fulfill the role.

MATTHEWS: Carolyn, how will she respond to it, based upon her track record? Will she -- smiling is a weird thing in politics today. People smile the most aggressive smiles I have ever since.

And it`s not like I`m happy. It`s like I can take it or you think you`re so smart, you`re not. Look, all smiles seem to say something about aggression these days. Anyway, how does she laugh her way through or chuckle her way through what looks to be a storm of attack?

CAROLYN RYAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think she feels like she`s got a pretty steely spine, in that she`s been through all kinds of humiliations, attacks, aggression throughout her career.

But, remember, she`s going to have a very interesting and powerful weapon at her side this time in Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

RYAN: Their campaign, the Clinton campaign want to unleash Barack Obama.

And if you recall, during the White House Correspondents Dinner previously, how much she enjoys going after Trump, almost ridiculing him. And he`s champing at the bit to get out there and to make the case. So, she is essentially going to have two presidents at her side sort of buffering her.

I don`t think the campaign wants her directly one-on-one going at Trump, but they want to create kind of a megaphone around her to kind of deflect and go after him.

MATTHEWS: Do you think Barack Obama is cool enough, because he has to be able to take these shots down? And when you shoot down, it`s dangerous, because that pulls you down into the fight.

How does he keep his dignity in a match with Trump, who is good at destroying the other guy`s dignity? How does he keep from being part of the problem?


RYAN: I think he`s master of it. I mean, almost to an extreme, he has an ability to sort of stay aloof.

And, remember, Trump went after his citizenship, his -- the birther campaign.


RYAN: It was very personal. And the way that Obama responded at that White House Correspondents Dinner was mocking, derision, joking, but he did not lose his cool, and he never really did over that issue.

But he`s very eager to be a part of this campaign. And he is very eager to make the case against Trump. The one area where I think the Clintons know they have a problem and they`re thinking about how to address it is social media and personality.

Trump has shown that that is a powerful platform in a modern campaign. And the Clintons don`t have anything that matches his eight million followers and the ardor that they have and the personality that drives social media the way that Trump does.

It`s not just on television anymore. It`s on Twitter. And they are kind of trying to figure out if they could create something to be a countervailing force there.

MATTHEWS: I think Trump is going to grab all the available stuff. He is going to start with the three speeches for Goldman Sachs. He`s going to trumpet everybody Bernie said, the hero of the left.

And he`s going to say just release the transcripts. And for whatever reason, Hillary doesn`t want to release it. It just would be bad -- chatter with people that sounds friendly. It could be totally harmless, but be used against her.

But they`re going to say, you took the 600-some-million bucks -- or $600,000. You owe us the truth and just keep pounding that. I can see him doing that because he makes her the incumbent that way.


Bernie is at the moment providing part of a script that Trump has already started to take up. I`m not sure he totally needs it. One of his great strengths so far, which one would expect to be a strength against him -- against Hillary going forward, is his ability to change the conversation.

Whatever it is that she wants to talk about or his Republican opponents until now had wanted to talk about on any given day could be immediately hijacked by, as Carolyn says, his effective use of social media, by his ability to call in to any radio station or television station anywhere on the planet, by his ability to do any number of things that suddenly made the conversation about him and about something that he wanted to say in the moment.

MATTHEWS: He can tweet, and that`s a news story.


MATTHEWS: Very quick, very quick, Carolyn. I`m sorry.

RYAN: One thing I would just suggest is that this campaign will also redraw the typical ideological lines.

You are going to have Trump going to -- campaigning to the left of the Democratic candidate on issues like trade, on issues like foreign policy, on issues like Wall Street. It is going to be this fascinating rescrambling of what we have come to expect from modern politics.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.

It`s interesting. He wants to be bully, but he also wants to make Hillary the hawk.

RYAN: Yes, exactly.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know. He is going to be -- have to do some real scrambling.

I think it`s great having you guys on, because this is terra incognita for all of us. I don`t think we have been here. And the days of the gatekeepers and the David Broders, well, I have been there, and Jack Germond, well, nobody`s been here before. Nobody.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Anne Gearan. Thank you, Carolyn Ryan.

Coming up: Bernie Sanders pulls off a win in Indiana, but what is his path forward in the nomination fight? He`s still fighting, but where is the way? I am going to ask his campaign manager next. Jeff Weaver is coming here.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

The Justice Department says North Carolina`s anti-LGBT measure violates federal civil rights laws. It`s sparked protest and drawn fire from entertainers and firms, including PayPal and Deutsche Bank.

A massive wildfire in Fort McMurray, Canada, has scorched nearly 25,000 acres; 1,600 structures are damaged or destroyed; 88,000 residents have been evacuated.

And the U.S. Attorney`s Office and the DEA are joining the investigation into Prince`s death. The music icon died on April 21. No cause of death has been determined -- back to HARDBALL.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand that Secretary Clinton thinks that this campaign is over. I got some bad news for her.


SANDERS: I think that while the path is narrow -- and I do not deny that for a moment -- I think we can pull off one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, Senator Bernie Sanders claiming victory over Hillary Clinton actually in Indiana last night, because he won. But while Sanders managed to net an additional seven delegates last night, the fact remains that he still has little chance, according to the numbers, of overtaking Clinton in the overall count for Philadelphia.

Anyway, Clinton now needs just 17 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination, which means that Bernie Sanders would need overwhelming margins in the remaining states, or he will need to persuade a lot of Democratic so-called superdelegates to change their allegiance to him.

Well, this comes as Clinton looks to the looming general election battle against Donald Trump, with Sanders still in the race, of course. She`s got to fight a two-front war right now.

Well, during the New York primary last month, the Sanders campaign ran its hardest-hitting campaign against Clinton, slamming her for taking money from Goldman Sachs for speeches. Let`s watch that ad.


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


MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump recently said he plans to recycle Sanders` attacks like that against Hillary in the general election. Here is Trump last week.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie Sanders has a message that`s interesting. I`m going to be taking a lot of things that Bernie said and using them.

I can reread some of his speeches. I can get some very good material.


MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Sanders` campaign manager, Jeff Weaver.

Jeff, this ad, I thought -- I was taken with it. It shows a picture of the U.S. Capitol and it says that Washington politicians, presumably those who work in that building, get $200,000 an hour for speeches, when they oppose the minimum wage going up to $15.

Well, you know as working -- you have worked on the Hill.


MATTHEWS: Senators, including Senator Sanders, know that they`re not allowed to take money for speeches. So, why would you put an ad out that says they take huge amounts of money for speeches, Washington politicians, when you know that`s not the case?

WEAVER: Well, look, Chris, you and I actually have trod this ground before, when we were in New York. So, we have had this conversation in the past.

MATTHEWS: Well, go on. Just explain it again then. Well, try.


WEAVER: We -- well, I`m happy to.

Well, Washington politicians include people who were in Congress or who have been in the government. Those are also Washington politicians.

MATTHEWS: Well, why do you show the Capitol? Why do you show the Capitol Building and say Washington politicians?


WEAVER: That`s in Washington, Chris. That`s emblematic of Washington.

MATTHEWS: Well, the Capitol Building -- two kinds of people work in the Capitol Building, members of Congress and U.S. senators, neither of which are allowed to take money for speeches. So, why are you saying that?

WEAVER: Yes, but former senators -- but former senators certainly are.

MATTHEWS: OK. Does it say that in the ad?

WEAVER: Well, you`re reading more into it than I think a lot of other people...


MATTHEWS: No, I`m not. Anybody watching this knows what I saw there. Washington politicians, picture of the U.S. Capitol, take $200,000 for speeches while opposing to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, simple fact claim, indicting Washington for taking money.

You know senators, including your boss, can`t take money for speeches. You know that is the case, and yet you run this ad, which you know Donald Trump is going to use.

WEAVER: But former senators -- former senators can and do. And we know that`s true.

MATTHEWS: That`s not what you wrote in the ad.

WEAVER: Former senators can and do. We know that`s the case.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s move on.

WEAVER: Former presidents do.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that. But that`s not what the ad says.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Trump using your guy`s stuff. You think he will?

WEAVER: Look, Trump will do whatever Trump will do. Who knows?

Look, he has an oppo book a mile thick on Secretary Clinton. A lot of this stuff, we would never even go near with a 10-foot pole, but certainly the Republicans will. And they will anyway, Chris. You know that. You know Donald Trump will say and do anything.

MATTHEWS: Do you think Trump has the advantage in that department of oppo?

WEAVER: No. I`m sure there`s a lot of oppo on him. So, the Clinton people are very good at oppo. And the Democratic Party is very good at oppo. And we`re very good at oppo, frankly.

But we try to keep the campaign on the issues, frankly. And that`s what we have done in this campaign.


MATTHEWS: What has Hillary used ever against Senator Sanders?

WEAVER: What is that?

MATTHEWS: What has Hillary ever done in developing negative information on Senator Sanders in this campaign that is about to end at some point? What has she used against you guys?

WEAVER: There`s been plenty, Chris.

I get calls all the time. And I know you get a lot of off-the-record stuff all the time too from Correct the Record and David Brock. Those guys are pumping out stuff day and night, believe me. I talk to reporters. I know it`s all off the record, and you`re not allowed to talk about it or acknowledge it. But that`s the truth. And you know it`s the truth.

MATTHEWS: So, Brock is for Hillary?

WEAVER: David Brock is for Hillary. Yes, David Brock runs Correct the Record, an affiliated super PAC with Hillary`s primary campaign fund. Yes. And they acknowledge that they coordinate.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this endgame.

How do you see it going? Let`s be very optimistic for your candidate, for Senator Sanders, who has lot of fans watching right now. What would work for him? I mean, outside factors could come in. Something terrible in terms of this perhaps investigation of e-mail might break. Things could happen.

But if they don`t happen from outside the process, I watched Senator Sanders last night very affirmatively saying this is going to go on. How does it go on here to Philly in July? And I think Jane Sanders has been great. There`s a lot of spirit in your campaign.

WEAVER: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: But how does that spirit carry you to victory in Philadelphia?

How does it work? Just tell -- explain it to your own people right now.

WEAVER: Look, this is how it works.

As we go ahead, the number -- there`s a number of contests. In fact, most of the contests are very favorable to the senator, frankly. The largest state in the country is coming up, California, with 475 delegates. Over the course of the next few weeks, the rest of the process, Bernie Sanders will substantially narrow Secretary Clinton`s lead in pledged delegates.

When we arrive this Philadelphia, neither candidate is going to have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. So, when you get there, nobody has won yet.

And, as you know, the superdelegates, during the course of the convention, can -- are able to weigh in on this. Now, I know you`re talking about this 18 percent or whatever it is, it`s all she has to win.

Well, that`s assuming all those pledged or those unpledged superdelegates stay with her. There`s no guarantee of that.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

WEAVER: And I -- what`s that?

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about -- I agree with you. I understand the numbers and your hope that you will be able to win over those superdelegates. I understand it. I have heard Senator Sanders make that point rather sharply.

But here`s the question. What`s the difference down the road, say, between now and November if you guys -- and I think you can do this -- won in California? Because that`s going to be the cherry on the sundae, if you will, of your whole campaign. If you can in California, the biggest state -- and it`s a state that Democrats care about and always need in a general election.

If you can win there, what does that give you going into Philly you wouldn`t have if you lose a squeaker out there? What does it give you in terms of platform, perhaps participation in the campaign message Hillary Clinton delivers further down the road? What does it give you if you win California?

WEAVER: Well, I think if we win California, it gives the senator certainly a lot of momentum going into the convention to talk to the superdelegates about the need to nominate the candidate who can best deal with Donald Trump, which the polls, as you know, consistently show the past few months Bernie Sanders does better than Donald Trump than does Secretary Clinton consistently now.

There`s no -- almost nothing that`s contrary to that. And so that`s one element to it. And he`s going to go to the convention. Win or lose, he`s going to go in. We`re going to talk about the platform. He`s very interested in the platform and very interested in electoral reform, so that the Democratic nominating process becomes more open and inclusive.

That`s certainly something that he feels very, very strongly about. So, on all levels...

MATTHEWS: How about a trade? I want to recommend a trade. Get rid of all the caucuses, get rid of all the conventions in states and get rid of all the superdelegates.

What a great trade. That would be a grand bargain. It would hurt the left on some places, like the caucuses, but it would get rid of the damn superdelegates. Wouldn`t you like a deal like that? Wouldn`t that be great? Clean it up. Make it democratic, lower case-D. Wouldn`t that be great? Every vote counts.


WEAVER: The senator will be advocating for a package of reforms.


MATTHEWS: Isn`t that a great deal? But isn`t that a great deal, Jeff? Isn`t that a great deal?

Make one person, one vote really matter in the Democratic Party? Wouldn`t it be great?

WEAVER: That`s very important.


MATTHEWS: No more caucuses, no more conventions. Every vote matters, and those superdelegates -- I think it`s a deal.

What do you think? (CROSSTALK)

WEAVER: OK. Well, we hope you will be there at the convention advocating for it.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re going to be there. I`m trying to work you already, Jeff. I would like to see it. I want to clean up the party process.

WEAVER: I can see that.

MATTHEWS: I can`t stand these conventions. I don`t think they`re democratic at all. And caucuses, they are great for people like us who love politics. But so many people don`t show up.

Anyway, thank you, Jeff Weaver, who loves caucuses and hates superdelegates.

WEAVER: Glad to be here, Chris. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next, the roundtable is coming here to react to the day we all thought wouldn`t happen so quickly certainly or even at all. Donald Trump is now, look like -- well, he is -- the presumptive nominee for president of the United States. It`s done.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Wild day today after a wild night.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump has done it, what very few people thought he could do. He`s won the nomination of the Republican Party after nine months of hurling insults to immigrants, other politicians, journalists, of course, even the pope, even Pope Francis.

And here for your recollection, some of the most unbelievable, I think, moments of Trump`s campaign until now.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best. They`re bringing drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapist.

He`s not war hero. He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren`t captured.

You can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

The pope says something negative about me. Now, it`s probably going to be all over the world. Who the hell cares, OK? I don`t care. I don`t care.

I watch this lightweight Rubio, total lightweight. Little mouth on him. Bing, bing, bing.

I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that in place like this, they`d be carried out on a stretcher. I`d like to punch him in the face, I`ll tell you.

His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up.


MATTHEWS: You know that was just yesterday. This is all fresh meat, by the way.

Joining me right now is the HARDBALL roundtable, Ron Klain, Democratic strategist, who supports Hillary Clinton, Heidi Przybyla writes for "The USA Today", Tim Mack, senior correspondent for "The Daily Beast".

Tim, every once in a while I get the feeling the door has been slammed in this guy`s face. He can be president of the United States, accused his opponent of his father killing Kennedy. And yet, that`s just another day in the life of Donald Trump.

TIM MAK, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, I think every step along the way, a lot of pundits, a lot of journalists said this can`t happen. Either the gaffes would eliminate or when the field became smaller, that he`d be eliminated, or the contested convention would eliminate him. And today, here we are with a lot of egg on our face.

MATTHEWS: So, what`s happen to our zeitgeist, the way we look at things in popular culture, do we just dismiss everything? I used to say that New York radio was every two hours, had to be refreshed, because it`s always moving. It`s like every ten minutes, it doesn`t matter what happened ten minutes before, Heidi.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: I don`t know, Chris. I mean --

MATTHEWS: We have a memory for day, for two days.

PRZYBYLA: Honestly, part of it is just the jujitsu that Donald Trump was done that was referenced earlier. He`s able to quickly pivot off these more nefarious statements.

And, frankly, I think when this is all over, we the media, also need to take a critical look at how we dealt with Donald Trump and the statements he`s made that have not --

MATTHEWS: We tried to nail him down. I tried. I nailed him down a couple of things.

Look, I just think, serious, yesterday, vehemently, he said on "Fox and Friends", on Fox, that Rafael Cruz was pictured with Lee Harvey Oswald before the killing. This is a horrendous thing. It`s like an alarm. Today when asked about it, he said I just mentioned something in the papers.

This is the weird part -- the ability to skip away from something as if he didn`t say it.

RON KLAIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, I don`t want to underestimate the success Donald Trump has had, but I don`t think we should overestimate it.

MATTHEWS: OK. What can he say that would kill him? What can he potentially say --

KLAIN: The point is, what he has said has taken a toll. Maybe not with Republican primary voters, minority but sufficient plurality of voters for him to make their nominee, but he is the at least popular person in American political life. I think what the voters who haven`t really had a chance to weigh in, people who aren`t voting in Republican primaries start to vote in the general election, this has taken a toll. And I don`t think the American people are going to make him their next president.

He may be -- he is the nominee of the Republican Party but that doesn`t mean he will be president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that. What about the Republicans who are backing now? Like John McCain is backing him. Nikki Haley has backed him. Susan Collins, Kelly Ayotte, a lot of who most of us consider very main street, regular people, not zealots, not crazy people, solid political leaders.

One theory -- his authenticity, his ability to speak against political correctness, this stupid term, but just say awful things, somehow makes him authentic. That gets him away -- you know what I mean.

PRZYBYLA: Well, yes, but the other industry he`s blowing up is the D.C. advisors because he hasn`t listened to them from the beginning. You see that in a lot of comments he`s made.

He didn`t come out and say -- try to hide the fact that he`s a billionaire. He said I`m a billionaire. I`ve been inside this system. It`s corrupt. I can go in there and rework it for you from the inside.

So, he didn`t try to misrepresent himself. I think his message also, you know, coming back to it`s always about the economy, he made it very simple. He said I`m going to get in there, I`m going to call up those executives and tell them if they keep shipping jobs overseas, I`m going to slap them with taxes or fines or whatever. And it was very simple message that spoke to people.

KLAIN: Yes, but again, I think that message is being heard from good and ill, and I think there`s a lot of ill there. He may be authentically hateful towards Hispanic people, towards women, towards the pope. But, you know, a lot of people like Hispanic people, women and the pope. He`s going to pay a price for that.

MATTHEWS: A lot of people don`t believe he believes it.

KLAIN: Well --

MATTHEWS: That`s helped him, too. They think it`s a show. They think it`s a con to some extent. Anyway, certainly, a pitch.

The roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, these three are going to tell me something I don`t know, which is easy.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: You can play hardball with us all week long. Follow us on @hardball and Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook. You`ll find the show`s best interviews, exclusive behind the scenes photos and the smartest take on politics and this race for 2016 which is about to be propelled.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Ron, tell me something I don`t know.

KLAIN: Everyone`s all upset that Hillary Clinton lost last night. Barack Obama lost nine of the last 12 contests in 2008 and went on to become the Democratic nominee and the next president. I don`t think these late losses have any impact on how she`s going do in the fall.


PRYZBYLA: Chris, we in D.C. --

MATTHEWS: That was the same with Jimmy Carter too. He won the nomination and losing all the (INAUDIBLE)

KLAIN: It doesn`t matter.

PRZYBYLA: I feel like we in D.C. have a bit of caricature of the average Trump voter. He`s this kind of angry, racist, white guy who sucker punches people at rallies. But I was in West Virginia this past week, and I saw a different side. West Virginia, by the way, is Trump country. He`s leading by 27 points.

I saw a different side of this, which is sympathetic. This is the state that has some of the highest overdose rates, drug addiction, babies born on drugs. There`s a sympathetic side to this, too, that we have the contention to.

MAK: Trump claims to have raised $6 million for the veterans charities, right before the Iowa caucuses.

MATTHEWS: I remember that.

MAK: I talked to his senior veterans advisers. They don`t know where that is. He needs to be held account to precisely where that $6 million has gone, how much of it they actually raised and whether or not it`s going to be distributed --

MATTHEWS: Who is looking at this besides you? Anybody?

MAK: I think there had been a lot of outlets have been trying to track it for a long time. I`ve been hammering it. A lot of other newspapers --

MATTHEWS: Keep it up.

Thank you, Ron Klain. Thank you, Heidi Przybyla. And thank you, Tim Mak.

HARDBALL is back after this.


MATTHEWS: OK. You`re going to be on the beach this summer and you`re going to be in airplane soon and you want a book that you want to actually read every page of because you can`t resist it.

Well, here it is. Our next guest has served an amazing career as a U.S. Secret Service agent, from 1958 to `75. He worked under and protected personally five presidents and his new book "Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford", the great Clint Hill reflects into some of the most important and, of course, tragic times in our history. And we know what we`re talking about.

Mr. Hill, this is the kind of book that everybody wants to read because it`s the inside that you lived. You were protecting the president with you life. I have to ask you the question, that Kennedy always said there`s a reason people read these kind of books.

And I`ll start with Kennedy. What was he like?

CLINT HILL, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Oh, a great guy, very personable, knew all the agents by their first name, call them by their name, knew if they were married or had children, took a real definite interest in each of every one of the agents that were involved.

MATTHEWS: What about Ike, the great war leader that won the Second World War in the West?

HILL: We were kind of like his troops. He didn`t know our names, but he said, "Hey, agent" whenever he needed anything from one of us, and we`d respond. But he was a wonderful guy to schedule because if we told him we had to leave at 9:30, he was there at 9:29, point 30.

MATTHEWS: Military man.

OK, let me ask you about Johnson? What was he like because he was kind of gross at times? I`ve heard stories. Tell me what Johnson was like.

HILL: Very unpredictable.


HILL: You`d never knew what he was going do. His thought was that surprise was his best defense.


HILL: So if he didn`t let anybody know what he was going to do, then he was better off.

MATTHEWS: Yes, if somebody announced they were going to be named by him for some big job and they put it out, they didn`t get the job.

HILL: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Nixon, a strange guy most people think. I`m not a Nixon hater. So, maybe I`m unique. I thought he was troubled. I thought he was very smart. Kennedy thought he`s really smart. What did you think?

HILL: He was smart but he had a split personality -- public personality and then a private one. He was a loner. (INAUDIBLE) established the private office at EEOB.

MATTHEWS: Why did he go with the EEOB, the old building and not use the Oval Office? Did you know?

HILL: He used the Oval Office, but most of the time, he`s at EEOB because he wanted to be in that office alone and nobody would bother him there.

MATTHEWS: He had a pullout bar in his closet we found in the Carter administration. We were going like, there`s Nixon`s pullout bar and it was kind of strange.

HILL: Very strange. He had was a different kind of guy.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the assassination of Kennedy and you hear today, this candidate today, Donald Trump saying that Cruz`s father had something to do with. I mean, for me, it`s an iconic tragic event in our history and I don`t like thinking about it. But, what do you think of it being used?

HILL: Well, you know, apparently, this came from a photograph that was taken in which somebody alleges was Cruz`s father in this photo.


HILL: Well, I think you and I have been in many photos where they could make all kinds of allegations. There are people in a photo you probably didn`t know who did some pretty horrible things probably at some time. So --

MATTHEWS: I`m with you. I think it`s a joke.

Let me ask you about the changing status of the president. When you went in there as a young guy for Ike when Ike was there, the presidency was so high to me. It was like the guy won World War II in the large extent, and then he came in after Roosevelt and Trump, the presidency was to me awesome. Is it still awesome?

HILL: In a sense, but it`s lost its kind of flavor. It`s not as -- the respect isn`t there like it used to be. With Eisenhower, it was worldwide, the respect is just enormous, and I don`t think that`s the case today.

MATTHEWS: That`s too bad. That`s too bad, five presidents. My extraordinary journey with -- this is the kind of book you actually read every page of because you want to know what these guys were like, protecting them, and thank you for your service.

HILL: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You`re a great man to do this, Clint Hill.

It`s called "The Five Presidents." So, this is HARDBALL. And that`s it for tonight. Thanks for being with us.

Join us tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES", of course, comes on right now.