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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/9/2016

Guests: Jennifer Rubin, Matt Schlapp, Annie Linskey, Jennifer Jacobs, Rory Cooper, Michelle Bernard, Sidney Blumenthal

Show: HARDBALL Date: May 9, 2016 Guest: Jennifer Rubin, Matt Schlapp, Annie Linskey, Jennifer Jacobs, Rory Cooper, Michelle Bernard, Sidney Blumenthal

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Would Trump dump Ryan?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Carmel, California, where I`ll be speaking later tonight at the Panetta Institute for Public Policy.

Did Donald Trump just say, I`ll fight every man in the house for a dollar? Not yet, but he did say he`s ready to fight the speaker of the House and he`s not worried about party unity.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Does the party have to be together? Does it have to be unified? I`m very different than everybody else, perhaps, that`s ever run for office. I actually don`t think so. I have to stay true to my principles, also. And I`m a conservative, but don`t forget this is called the Republican Party. It`s not called the Conservative Party. You know there are conservative parties. This is called the Republican Party.


MATTHEWS: Republican leaders are split on whether to support Trump. Among those who have jumped on board are his former primary opponents Ben Carson, Governor Chris Christie, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Rand Paul and Rick Perry, together (ph) with the Trump group also includes Senator John McCain, Bob Dole, Dick Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus. They`re all with Trump.

There`s also a long list of Republicans who are not on board. It includes Senator Lindsey Graham -- no surprise there -- Jeb Bush, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mitt Romney. Two former presidents, George Herbert Walker Bush, George W. Bush have also declined to endorse. And the speaker of the House, the key man here, Paul Ryan, says he`s not ready to back Trump yet.

Well, Speaker Ryan`s also the chair of the Republican convention coming up in July, and this weekend, Trump didn`t rule out pushing to block him, Ryan, from being the chair.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": If he can`t endorse you, do you think he should be chair of the convention?

TRUMP: I don`t want to mention now. I`ll see after. I will give you a very solid answer if that happens, about one minute after that, OK? There is no reason to give it right now, but...

TODD: Well, it sounds like...


TODD: It sounds like I know what...


MATTHEWS: Well, today, Speaker Ryan told "The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel" he would step down as convention chair if Trump asked him to. Quote, "He`s the nominee. I`ll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention." Well, that`s definitive there.

Anyway, meanwhile, a key Trump supporter, Sarah Palin, went further against Ryan. She said she would back Paul Ryan`s primary opponent. Here she is.


SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: I think Paul Ryan is soon to be Cantored, as in Eric Cantor. His political career is over but for a miracle because he`s so disrespected the will of the people. And yes, as the leader of the GOP, the convention certainly, he is to remain neutral. And for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, Jeremy Peters is the political reporter for "The New York Times," been writing a lot about this. He`s also an MSNBC contributor. Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Jennifer Rubin is an opinion writer for "The Washington Post." It`s great group to have on to discuss this state of play here.

Jeremy, you`ve written about it all. I read your piece this morning. Well, actually, I failed to give you credit a couple days ago for another piece. I gave it to Patrick Healey. You wrote it, so back to you again.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this. It seems to me when most people get a job -- Jeremy, when most people get a job, they try to fit in, most people.

PETERS: Right.

MATTHEWS: They try to learn the rules, get comfortable, do what they`re told. Trump`s got this job. He`s the nominee of the Republican Party. It`s going to happen. Instead of sort of getting used to the situation around, seeing who the people are he`s got to deal with, he`s going to war again, this time against Ryan. Ryan won`t play ball, he says, I may not be able to keep you on the job, basically.

PETERS: Yes, exactly. And I think you hit it right on the head, Chris. Part of this is just Trump being Trump. He`s not exactly a modest, humble guy who`s going to go along to get along.

But part of this is also that there is a deeply held indignance on Trump`s part that the Republican Party establishment will not give him credit for being the nominee. They view him as kind of an illegitimate interloper.

And to a certain extent, I think it`s easy to see why that`s the case because he -- I mean, he was a Democrat not that long ago. He has not been Republican for very long, and all of a sudden, now he`s going to be the party`s nominee. So imagine, like, the horror of being, you know, Paul Ryan or Reince Priebus or any of these -- these -- these Republican leaders who now see somebody who has seized control of their party who may not be a true conservative.

And what they want is for Trump to validate the sincerity of his conservatism, and quite frankly, I think that`s going to be a hard thing for Trump to do in a lot of cases, on a lot of issues.

MATTHEWS: It`s a little -- Matt Schlapp, it`s a little late for a vetting process. He`s won the nomination. They`re asking questions that should have been asked a year ago. And by the way, Trump`s doing what I always -- we all know what Trump does. Jennifer, we all agree he stays on offense. He never goes on defense. He`s always attacking. Number two, he always wants to master his current opponent. He always wants to look like a bully or a master of that opponent, this time Ryan.

And also, he has to keep the role of outsider up front about himself. He never wants to look like one of the club. He doesn`t want to be in a back room...


MATTHEWS: ... coming out of a back room with Paul Ryan -- how we got along. We`ve reached some -- he doesn`t want any private deals privately agreed upon. He wants to be Donald Trump against these guys.

Let me go to Matt Schlapp on this. What`s this thing about it`s a Republican Party, it`s not a conservative party? What`s he up to saying an amazing thing like that in 2016?

SCHLAPP: You know, I kind of don`t know. I try to unpack that, but I do think that there`s a difference between -- I`m not -- for myself, I consider myself a conservative first and a Republican second. And I think part of him is saying, Look, I ran on conservative themes, but I ran under the mantle of a Republican. I didn`t have to run as a Republican. I could have run as an independent, but I ran as a Republican.

And then all of a sudden, you have all these Republicans that made him sign a pledge also not keeping their pledge that they would support the eventual nominee.

He`s the part that`s -- that really works for Trump, which is these are just elitists. These are people that believe that they should be able to overrule what the voters did. I mean, he`s gotten a million more votes to date than Mitt Romney got. He is going to break all the records on the GOP side for the number of votes in the Republican primaries. Our turnout is up over 60 percent.

So I mean, there`s a lot of facts here that people need to get a grasp of, which is a clear message is being said to these party elites, We want to try something new.

JENNIFER RUBIN, "WASHINGTON POST": Oh, that`s such old hat, Matt! Come on! You can do better than that! Listen, there are people who are elite, there are people who are grass roots, people, including your organization which is called the American Conservative Union -- a lot of your comrades, a lot of your members are appalled by this because let`s...

SCHLAPP: Jennifer, you`re the one who has comrades at "The Washington Post."


RUBIN: Oh, yes, right.


MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me -- let get back to Jennifer. Can I ask you a question.

RUBIN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: First of all, what is a Republican today? Are you a Republican?

RUBIN: You know...


MATTHEWS: OK, now is a Republican somebody...


RUBIN: I actually don`t know because what I am...


RUBIN: ... is a reformed conservative, so I don`t know the answer to that because I don`t know what the Republican Party...

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m...


MATTHEWS: The reason why this fight`s come up because Trump -- I mean, he does have an advantage here. Nobody knows because is a Republican is a free trader? I always thought Republicans of the modern era were free traders. He is definitely not. Apparently, the people who voted for him are not. That`s fair to say.

On hawkishness, generally Middle East, anywhere in the world but China -- he`s definitely talks a big game but he was against the Iraq war. He doesn`t like that sort of aggressive politics taking down those governments over there. Regime change -- against the whole thing.

So what`s a real Republican, for regime change as a foreign policy...

RUBIN: Let me...

MATTHEWS: ... or somebody who`s against it, like Trump? What`s a Republican?

RUBIN: Let me tell you what is not a Republican, and that is somebody who decides every day what he wants to say about anything. Listen, it`s not that he`s a Republican or not a Republican. He`s a lunatic. He wants to give nuclear weapons to...

MATTHEWS: OK, he`s a lunatic...

RUBIN: ... South Korea and to Japan. He wants to -- one day, he says he`s going not to stand by the sovereign debt of the United States. The next day, he says, Well, it doesn`t matter because we can print money. This is not a man with principle. This is a man who, as you say...

MATTHEWS: OK, so we know where you stand.

RUBIN: ... is on offense!

MATTHEWS: OK. OK, it`s not nuanced with you. By the way, I think he has been consistently against the Iraq war. He`s been consistently against trade.

RUBIN: No, he hasn`t!

MATTHEWS: I mean, those are positions...

RUBIN: He`s been fact-checked to death!

MATTHEWS: No, in this campaign.


MATTHEWS: In this campaign.

RUBIN: Well, he keeps saying he was against the Iraq war from the beginning, and it`s been fact-checked six ways from Sunday and it`s wrong. It`s a lie!

MATTHEWS: But for the voters who voted for him, the question is, What is a Republican? That`s all I`m trying to get to.

Let me go back to Jeremy Peters. This definition of who is`s in and who`s out has come down to a pushing match between him and Ryan, and the question is -- Ryan was so quick to say today, or very recently, in the last several hours, I`m willing to walk if he tells me to. I thought that was profoundly important, to acknowledge that the guy who won the nomination has won the nomination. Some of these other people aren`t willing to say that.

PETERS: I think it`s two things. I think it`s what you were just referring to, Chris, that Ryan is recognizing the legitimacy of these millions of votes that have been cast for Trump and -- and the true feelings in a lot of the Republican Party right now that they want to see change.

But it`s also Ryan creating distance, and that`s what he needs, distance from the top of the ticket so Republicans, if, you know, it comes to this, don`t get totally clobbered in November. And that`s -- if you`re Paul Ryan, if you`re Mitch McConnell, that`s what you`re worried about because some these numbers that they`ve been looking at show -- showed a Cruz ticket actually faring worse.

So right now, they`re -- you know, with Trump at the top of the ticket, they`re looking at a little bit better situation, but they`re still pretty spooked.

MATTHEWS: Well, right now, trump continues going after his detractors. This weekend, he attacked Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Senator Lindsey Graham, all of them. Let`s watch that attack.


TRUMP: I`m never going to get Romney`s endorsement. He choked. He blew the last election. I`m not going to get that.

You know -- but I won`t talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say -- I will not say he`s low energy. I will not say it. I will not say it!


TRUMP: And I won`t talk about Lindsey Graham, who had, like, one point. He fails with his campaign horribly. He then endorses somebody else, and then he endorses Bush and he endorses everybody. He`s, like, bad luck. As soon as he endorses, the people, they drop out.

I`m not a fan of Jeb, but he said he`s not going to come to the convention. Who cares. And -- who cares! You know how many votes I`m going to lose because of Jeb not coming to the convention?


TRUMP: I actually think I`ll gain votes, you want to know the truth.



MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Matt Schlapp and talk turkey here. It seems to me that if you -- whatever you think (INAUDIBLE) can call him a lunatic, (INAUDIBLE) fair to say, fair game. He does say things that don`t add up. I agree with that. And he isn`t a consistent ideologue of any political persuasion I can figure. But he does have all these votes.

And my question is, I think he`s going to get at least about 45 percent in the general, which means he`s gone 90 percent of the way he has to go -- 90 percent there. All he needs is 5 more percent and he`s won the thing.

So the question is, what`s going on here, and has it -- has he run his course? Is it your sense that he has another 5 percent out there that he could get and win the general election? Matt, can he be president?

SCHLAPP: Yes. Yes, I -- look, I think there`s a plausible path for him to be president, which is I think why you have many more Republicans coming on board than are staying away. And you know, I think if you look at the fact that he says -- look, about half of America doesn`t even vote. We`ve got a lot of people who somehow feel unplugged from the economy, they don`t feel hopeful about the types of salary and wages that they`ve had, they don`t feel hopeful about their chances in the economy, they don`t like where America is overseas, and maybe he`ll convince more of those to come back into the game and to vote.

And I think he also realizes that he can make inroads with voters who maybe even aren`t that ideological, that tend to be on the left, who just feel like, economically, they`ve been left behind. I think these are the voters Bernie Sanders are (ph) speaking to, and I don`t think they like Clinton incorporated. I think that`s their kind of candidate. And I think he feels like he can put states like Michigan and some of these Rust Belt states back on the map.

So I think he`s got a path. I don`t -- I wouldn`t say that he`s got a slam dunk, but he`s got a path.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much. Jeremy Peters, Matt Schlapp and Jennifer Rubin. Thank you, Jennifer, being crystal clear about your opinion of this particularly politician.

Coming up -- rather than trying to unify the Republican Party, Donald Trump is stepping up his personal attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton. The Clintons are fighting back a bit, not clearly -- not in the way he`s fighting. And new polls show Hillary Clinton running strong in states where Democrats don`t usually do well, like Georgia. She`s very close right there, to Trump -- imagine that, beating a Republican in Georgia.

Does Donald Trump always need to be at war with everyone to keep his campaign interesting? Is he worried people are going to tune out if he acts more presidential? I think that`s part of it. He wants to keep the show going.

And the HARDBALL roundtable is here tonight with three things about this general election matchup between Trump and Clinton that you might not know and I may not know.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with a guy who shoots the moon. We know who that is.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics, live from Carmel, California, tonight.

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m Milissa Rehberger with breaking news on tornadoes in Oklahoma. We`re getting our first pictures of the aftermath, homes flattened and trees destroyed.

NBC`s KFOR affiliate reporting at lest one suspected F-4 tornado with 200- mile-per-hour winds. And now there is another tornado on the ground in Oklahoma. Let`s go to our affiliate KFOR for more on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... got three trackers on it. Let`s take a look at it. Pick a stream (ph) there, control room. And who do we have?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s go to Mike Bennett (ph) here. Yo, Mike Bennett?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Mike. I`m not sure what road this is. I`m just north of Stillwater. We drove right up to it. It was within half a mile of it when it got to be the most violent, had a, you know, cone (ph) all the way down. You saw it, with the collar (ph) around it.

Right now, we`ve lost it in the trees and the hills. We`re en route to highway 177. We`ll be blasting north or highway 70 blasting north and we`ll be back on. (INAUDIBLE) cars pulling out in front of me. Bear with me here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Tell you what. Let`s briefly go here to the storm tracker. Let`s go back down to the southeast and let`s just get an update here. A large tornado on the ground near Atoka (ph). So we`ve had -- we`re getting an outbreak here going on. Large tornado on the ground near Atoka, and east of Durant (ph) and west of Hugo (ph), tornado there, as well. This is southeast Oklahoma.

Let`s go to Kevin and Linda at the news desk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much. We`ve been showing you great pictures from the sky as these twisters move through...

REHBERGER: That is our NBC station KFOR in Oklahoma City. We`ll keep an eye on this and bring you any more news as it develops.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In what`s considered to be a preview of the general election battle, Donald Trump launched a series of attacks against both Hillary and Bill Clinton at campaign stops over this weekend in Oregon and in Washington state.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And I`m saying to myself, but nobody in this country and maybe in the history of the country politically was worse than Bill Clinton with women! He was a disaster! He was a disaster! I mean, there`s never been anybody like this!

And she was a total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives! I mean, have you ever read what Hillary Clinton did to the women?

She`s married to a man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of politics. She`s married to a man who hurt many women. And Hillary -- if you look and you study, Hillary hurt many women, the women that he abused! She`s married to a man who got impeached for lying!

Bill Clinton was the worst in history, and I have to listen to her talking about it? And just remember this. She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful! So put that in her bonnet and let`s see what happens, OK?


MATTHEWS: "Let`s see what happens." Hillary Clinton`s press secretary, Brian Fallon, released a statement saying, quote, "In a week in which Donald Trump casually suggested destabilizing the entire U.S. economy and cited his attendance at the Miss Universe pageant in Russia as proof of his foreign policy experience, of course he wants to try to change the subject. Hillary Clinton doesn`t care what he says about her. She will continue to call him out for his outrageous positions and divisive comments."

But Hillary Clinton herself said she`s not going to fight on this line. Let`s watch.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to run an ugly race. I`m going to run a race based on issues and what my agenda is for the American people. I don`t really feel like I`m running against Donald Trump. I feel like I`m running for my vision of what our country can be.


MATTHEWS: Well, Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer, of course, with "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst, and Annie Linskey covers the Clinton campaign for "The Boston Globe."

Annie, thank you for joining us. Let`s talk about tactics and strategy. Clearly, it is probably going to be part of the strategy of Donald Trump to bring the Clintons together, two for the price of one, the whole Clinton era of the 1990s. I think he wants people to think of them as incumbents. I think that`s the most important -- it`s not about sex, although he`ll use that and all those things.

The main message I think he`s trying to get across is, They`re in, I`m out. Let`s change the picture. I`m the change candidate. They`re what`s going on and has been going on for 20, 30 years. What do you think of the strategy, that that`s it?

ANNIE LINSKEY, "BOSTON GLOBE": Yes, no, I think that`s right. I think that`s right. But I think that Donald Trump does really well what he`s the outsider in an outsider year and Hillary Clinton is sort of the consummate insider. And it`s a reminder when you talk about the `90s that, oh, my goodness, these Clintons have been around for 20 years, for 25 years, and what has changed?

I mean, this is the argument Donald Trump makes, that she has -- she has had power. She`s had her hands on sort of the levers of power in Washington for so long, and we`re still in this, what he would describe as a mess. And so I do think that`s sort of the -- the effort he`s trying to make.

And Hillary Clinton, you know, she was asked about these accusations today in Virginia, and she just says she`s not going to talk about them, which I think is clearly a really smart move on her part.

MATTHEWS: Well, we will see.

Let me go back to Jonathan Capehart, because she has used that -- his opponents have used that before. I get the feeling that he`s not stupid.. I never thought Trump was stupid. And everybody makes mistakes. This may be a mistake.

But I think he knows that to win this election, he`s got to change it around from -- sort of the moderates and liberals, progressives like the Clintons. Women generally like the Clintons, if you look at the numbers. He`s got a problem with women. He has to do something radical to shift that around, and I think this is his salient to do so.

What do you think he`s up to?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: But, Chris, in order for him to win, he`s got to open up -- he`s got to open his base of support beyond the people who already don`t like Hillary Clinton.

That riff that you just showed is stuff that his crowd has been feeding on for probably the entire 30 years that the Clintons have been in public life, and certainly since the impeachment days. So I don`t see what it buys him.

If Donald Trump wants to become president of the United States, he`s going to have to start talking in a way and putting policies out there that appeal to people who aren`t white male and angry.


MATTHEWS: OK. But that`s the Hillary argument, I know. They don`t like this topic area.

I`m asking you politically. The topic area of going after Hillary Clinton by Trump, what is it about? What is he trying to do here , blaming her, not Bill, her?

CAPEHART: Right. Right.

Well, look, he`s trying to tear her down. And what I don`t think -- this is the reason why I don`t think it`s going to work. This worked very well for him when he was in the primaries and he was up against 16 other people, when his one-liners and zingers...

MATTHEWS: Republicans.

CAPEHART: Republicans.

And his one-liners and zingers and putdowns could be the only thing that he says from the debate stage, and he`s not pressed on other key, pressing issues. Can you think of a debate that all of -- of all the debates that we watched during the Republican primary season where there was -- where more than 50 percent of the debate -- or, shoot, even more than 80 percent -- wasn`t just a series of one-liners and invectives from him and between the candidates?


MATTHEWS: I know. The question is, they worked. Why won`t they work now?

Because the Republican Party sits around talking about how much they hate Hillary and they hate everything about her. Right. I agree with that. But the question is, I guess..


LINSKEY: I don`t know. I think it could work.


MATTHEWS: Will any Republican -- will a moderate Democrat say, you know what, I never thought about that, do I want another 10 years of that, another eight? I don`t know. Actually, he thinks so.


LINSKEY: No, Chris, I think that we have to sit from a position where it could work, because, quite frankly, it has worked for the last nine months.

And we have sat here time and time again saying, oh, this is something that, you know, he has a ceiling with Republicans. He can only -- and now it`s turned to, oh, Trump can only win Republicans, he can`t win independents and he can`t make an impact on this coalition that Hillary seems to have to win the White House.

But I think that that is sort of a Washington way of looking at the electorate. And it is -- and Trump is coming at it from a different perspective. And I think we have to be very careful sitting in Washington and dicing up the electoral the way that we have been for the last year and assuming that certain groups are going to react in a certain way that we expect to his comments, because the bottom line is it hasn`t worked that way.

And it`s worth thinking about, hey, maybe we`re wrong and need to understand exactly what he`s getting at here.

CAPEHART: The reason why it hasn`t worked out that way is because we have been looking at Republicans fight amongst themselves and Republicans talk amongst themselves.

Now the race -- now that he`s the presumptive Republican nominee, now the race has gone general election. And Donald Trump in the course of nine months, since June 16, has put down, belittled and disrespected women, Muslims, Latinos, the disabled. We could go on down the list.

Those people are Americans and those people vote. And so that`s why I keep saying -- and I`m not talking from some Washington bubble. I`m someone who is looking at the numbers, looking at his poll numbers and looking at his disapproval rating and, quite frankly, cannot see how -- if the way the race is going right now, how he can expect to become president of the United States and certainly how he can expect his message against Hillary Clinton to actually resonate.

MATTHEWS: Well, to make Jonathan`s point -- look at this -- to make your point, Jonathan, polling out of two that states that typically support Republicans, they`re red states, show Hillary Clinton looking strong at this stage of the campaign.

In Georgia, which hasn`t supported a Democrat for president since 1991, Trump is up by a single point. A single point, that is that margin of error. He`s very close, dead even basically, in a very conservative state. He should be way ahead.

In North Carolina, Clinton has a nine-point lead over Trump. That`s a state that if she would have a very good election result come this November, she would win North Carolina and there she is nine points up.

So, Annie, it looks like he has got to shake this -- to rock the world with this attack on the Clintons. And that`s probably what he`s trying to do, to shake it up the other way.

LINSKEY: Yes, but, Chris, if you look at that Georgia poll -- and I think it`s a really interesting poll, you look at it for us and you think, oh, my goodness, how in the world could Georgia be a swing state? It`s insane.

But look at -- if you look at the crosstabs, you will see that that poll also shows one in five voters haven`t made up their minds yet. There is a huge swathe of independents here and independents are the ones who kind of have boosted Donald Trump and moved him along through this primary process.

He`s had unbelievable support from independents in states like Massachusetts and across the country. I think that Georgia poll, if you look at it a little bit more deeply, actually could be good news for Trump. It`s just he`s building a different coalition that we`re not used to seeing. North Carolina... MATTHEWS: I agree with that.

LINSKEY: I mean, look, North Carolina is a state...


MATTHEWS: I think you`re both right now.


LINSKEY: Go ahead.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re both right now.

Jonathan, you`re right. The attacks on the Clintons` personal life has never worked from them. It cost the Republicans the `98 election. It`s never gotten anywhere. I agree with you.

But I also agree there is something that Trump is up to. What I want to know is what he`s up to. I don`t think he`s stupid. I think he knows what he is doing.

The state I`m looking at is Pennsylvania. I think we all agree, if he pulls Pennsylvania, and pulls that kind of voter, he can win the general election. But he has to do that, because that means he can win Ohio, he can win Wisconsin. You know, he can really change the whole way to look at the Northeast.

I don`t think it`s going to be about the South. I think in the end the South will go to Trump. The question is can he break through in that Northern industrial tier?

Jon, last word on that. I think that`s what we all agree on.


Every one -- every election year, if Pennsylvania goes for the Republican, then the Republican can win, and then Pennsylvania always goes for the Democrat. So, yes, if Pennsylvania does indeed go for Trump, then the election might be over.

But in terms of Georgia and North Carolina, one thing we`re not talking about and one thing I would like to see is, there is a large African- American vote in Georgia and a large African-American vote in North Carolina. Do not underestimate their desire to ensure the legacy of President Obama. And that constituency could make both Georgia and North Carolina not just toss-up, but could be a win for Clinton.


And I can add a point too, Jonathan. I can add a thought too. And I agree with you said. The African-American vote is going to be 99 percent, probably. But here is the question. The last time the Republicans won Pennsylvania was when they ran that rotgut campaign, a really, really negative campaign against the Democratic candidate that year, Michael Dukakis, and it worked. They won Pennsylvania that way.

So you can run a really nasty, macho campaign, like even though George Sr. wasn`t a macho man, Lee Atwater sure was. They can run the same kind of Willie Horton campaign that worked in Pennsylvania last time. So who knows. I like your assuredness, Jonathan.

Thank you, Jonathan Capehart, and Annie Linskey.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Everybody who comes on the show knows more than I know.

Coming up, the incredible man on Mount Rushmore. Author Sidney Blumenthal is out with a new biography on Abraham Lincoln and he`s coming here next.

And this is HARDBALL the place for politics.


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

One death has been reported after a severe weather system spawned tornadoes across parts of Oklahoma. Funnel clouds were spotted in numerous locations. The dangerous weather began just after 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. It is not clear how many homes may be damaged. Some of the twisters were multivortex storms. Tornado watches are in effect until 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

At least one tornado spotted tonight measured a mile across. We will continue to monitor this dangerous situation -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A new examination of the life and career of Abraham Lincoln hits the bookstores tomorrow. It comes at a time when some ask if the Republican Party, often referred to as the party of Lincoln, still is.

Well, Sidney Blumenthal is a longtime journalist and former senior adviser to both President Bill and Hillary Clinton. He`s the author of the new multi-volume book "The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man." The first volume is out tomorrow. That`s the pub date.

And Sidney joins me now for his first interview.

Sid, thank you.

Let me ask you about the question that Jack Kennedy said was the reason we all read biographies in general. What was he like? What was Abe Lincoln like?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL, AUTHOR, "THE POLITICAL LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A SELF- MADE MAN": Abraham Lincoln was not this monumental figure who looms above us on Mount Rushmore.

He was a very real politician. He was of the first generation of political politicians in America. And what I described is the formative years of Abraham Lincoln, the man who became Abraham Lincoln, who became a skilled politician and used those skills to become the great emancipator.

There was not a great politician and a great emancipator as two separate things. They were one and the same. And the politician made the emancipator possible.

MATTHEWS: Could he have made it in the age of television?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, he was a master of newspaper in his day, even owned a newspaper surreptitiously in order to promote himself.


BLUMENTHAL: And he used telegrams the way the way people use the Internet today.

They were like T-grams. And he was -- he wrote articles under other journalists -- under journalists` bylines. He had very close relationships with journalists of his day all the way through. And his private secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, happened to be journalists he brought with him from Illinois. So, he was very, very close to the press and had a very keen sense of it. He -- as a boy, he was known as a news boy because he -- part of his self- education was that he just absorbed newspapers.

MATTHEWS: Was he Honest Abe?


BLUMENTHAL: Was he Honest Abe?

Well, some people said he got the name because he was a referee at horse races. He was Old Abe before he was Honest Abe. He was -- he was a politician who was devoted to his core of principles and who understood that 1,000 small political acts were required to achieve a great goal.

And he was as honest as a politician was in those days, and he was completely clean. There was nothing corrupt about Abraham Lincoln.

MATTHEWS: I love to hear that. I love to hear that. Thank you, sir.

We have got to ask you about the Clintons right now. And I guess the first question is, have you been interviewed by the FBI for this e-mail investigation by the FBI? Have you been interviewed?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, thank you, Chris.

My feeling about this is that I`m as eager as anybody for this to be resolved. And what I would like for this to -- is for this to be completely transparent and for the Department of Justice to finally issue its report.

I have been urging transparency. I urged that my deposition before the Benghazi committee be made public the second I walked out. I wanted it to be a public hearing and not a private one. So I`m in favor of complete transparency in this process and a very quick resolution, so that we can see that, in my view, in my understanding, there`s no...


MATTHEWS: I think most people want that.

Have you been -- however, have you been -- but, Sid, have you been interviewed by the FBI yet on this matter?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, I`m -- you know, I really don`t want to talk about an ongoing inquiry right now.

MATTHEWS: You can`t say whether you have been interviewed or not? Why not?


Well, my feeling about it is that let`s wait and see at the end and see what happens to everybody involved in it, and see what the resolution is. And then I would like to see the Department of Justice issue a very transparent report.


Well, Sid Blumenthal, the author of the book is "The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln." I`m sure it`s going to be a hell of a book. It comes out tomorrow. You got to read it, "The Self-Made Man."

Coming up, Donald Trump takes on the world, what his recent moves mean for the general election fight going forward. Apparently, they mean a lot because he`s already doing it. The roundtable will be here.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump is launching his campaign as the presumptive nominee, pretty much the way he started the attack, on the attack. While Trump promised to heal old wounds with his former rivals, it didn`t last long.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won a landslide. I won them all in a landslide, if you want to know the truth. I will not criticize my competition anymore.

Lindsey Graham, it`s almost like he didn`t run. He gets on, I don`t like Donald Trump. I don`t think -- he`s not a conservative. He goes, he`s not a true conservative. Who the hell cares?

Remember Jeb? He`d always say he`s not a true conservative.


MATTHEWS: Well, instead of attacking Hillary Clinton on policy differences, Trump claims she`s playing the woman`s card. Here he was this morning.


TRUMP: She`s playing the woman`s card to the hilt. She`s going -- I mean, I watched over the weekend and everything is about the woman and Donald Trump raised his voice. You know, it`s all non-sense. Ands you know what, women understand it better than anybody and watch how well I do with women when it counts, when the election comes.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now is the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Jennifer Jacobs is a reporter with "Bloomberg Politics", and Rory Cooper is a senior advisor to the NeverTrump PAC, and Michelle Bernard is a "Roll Call" columnist, oh, president of the Bernard Center.

So many portfolios, my dear.

Anyway, thank you for coming on. Again, let me go to Jennifer, just very quick news analysis. What did you make of Sid Blumenthal not saying he`d been interviewed by the FBI or not?

JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: He seems like a guy who wished he could say more, didn`t he? I mean, he didn`t seem like he was trying to be dodgy on purpose. It seems like he`d been instructed not to say something.

MATTHEWS: Could be.

But let`s go right now to Trump and the way he seems to be playing. Sometimes you figure, is it just Johnny one note. He has to be on the offense and he has to be bullying or pressuring someone and he has to be the outsider. Jennifer, is that what he`s doing now? He just continues in this new mode as presumptive nominee the same way they got here.

JACOBS: Right. I mean, maybe he`s thinking why fix it if it isn`t broken? So, he`s following the exact same M.O., which is the big rallies using his celebrity to draw big crowds, dominating cable television, the insults to eviscerate his fellow opponents. And, you know, that has worked for him so far. The trouble is, you know, at some point people are going to really demand he get off that reality TV show script.

Maybe it`s exciting for his audiences but other people, you know, serious people are waiting to see if he can behave for a week like, you know, someone who can behave itself and speak rationally.

MATTHEWS: I wonder if it matters at this point. What is this stop Trump movement now? I mean, he`s there. You don`t stop somebody from getting there once they are there. So, what are you up to? What`s your plan?

RORY COOPER, SR. ADVISOR, NEVERTRUMP PAC: Yes, well, it was the never Trump and it is the never Trump movement because we believe it`s important to separate Donald Trump from conservative ideology as a whole. He doesn`t represent it and we believe that`s important for down ballot candidates and for other members of the Republican leadership to draw a distinction on.

There`s actually a famous Alexander Hamilton quote that`s kind of become the mantra, which is that if you have an enemy as the head of state, it should be someone you can oppose and who doesn`t drag your party into the foolish nonsense. And that`s where we are with Donald Trump. You know, look, we`re talking about --

MATTHEWS: But he is the nominee. I don`t understand never Trump. It`s Trump. So, when could saying never at this point. You sound like Baghdad Bob.

I mean, you can keep saying it but why call it never if it`s already happened. It`s happened. He`s the nominee.

COOPER: No, November hasn`t happened and what this says is that there --

MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re going to oppose also -- you`re going to oppose Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton?

COOPER: Never means never. We`ll oppose both of them. Listen, I don`t support --

MATTHEWS: What does that mean?

COOPER: Well, listen, I don`t support Hillary Clinton. It gives me no pleasure to be here trying to say that the Republican nominee is not someone I can support. But listen, right now, it`s a choice basically between somebody whose a crooked liar and somebody who`s -- somebody with very low character not fit for office.

MATTHEWS: But you say it`s binary. It`s binary. It`s a seesaw. If she goes down, he goes up. You`re not confusing yourself. You know what you`re doing.

If you`re against Trump at this point, you`re for Hillary. Why don`t you say so? Why don`t you say please Hillary instead of never Trump?

COOPER: Well, first off, I`ll never say please Hillary. What I will say is we don`t know what the ballot looks like right now. I don`t know if there`s going to be an alternative suggestion, and I don`t know what happens between now --


MATTHEWS: Come on. Hillary definitely wins, Rory. Why do we play these games every four years?

COOPER: It`s a game I never played before, Chris. In fact, if you look at the map, Hillary has already won. She puts states like Utah and Mississippi on the map. She`s up in Utah, one of the most Republican states in the country.

So, listen, I -- this is not about who`s going to win in November. If it`s a binary option, that decision is already made. It`s Hillary. Trump is underwater 75 percent with women. If you look at other demographics, especially married women which Republicans have taken since 1996, it`s even worse. Listen, I think --

MATTHEWS: I get it now. I get it.


COOPER: And the Republican platform from what he says.

MATTHEWS: Rory, remember the bumper stickers after the `72 race and map of Massachusetts that said, don`t blame us. You`re in the "don`t blame us" campaign. In other words, he`ll win but -- he`ll lose, but it won`t be your fault.

I know, but history is part of our lives. If past is prologue, you can`t blame that on that.

COOPER: Right. And if you look at 1960, there was a large concern of opposition to Richard Nixon in that election. So, it`s also not, you know, unprecedented for conservatives to say this nominee does not reflect, you know, what the values or the principles of the opposition of our party.

MATTHEWS: What did you get out of that, Goldwater in `64? That worked out well.

COOPER: Well --


MATTHEWS: Let me go, I`m sorry. I`m just jousting with you. I`m just jousting.

I think never Trump is funny button at this point.

Let me go to Bernard Center for Women president, again, Michelle Bernard, and also now, "Roll Call", congratulations on that.


MATTHEWS: That new diamond in your crown.

What do you make of this fight now about -- why do you think Trump is saying to Reince, I`m not joining your club? I wouldn`t accept the club that would accept me as a member? He`s saying Trump, you`re not the boss. I`ll drop you in a minute as chairman of the convention and Reince says, yes, you can.

BERNARD: Yes. Trump is doing it because all along we have seen, you know, Trump seems to be this macho man constantly demonstrating bravado that people like. One of the reasons I think he has been successful all throughout this period and when Trump comes out and he says things, for example, like what he said about Paul Ryan or saying it doesn`t matter, it`s the establishment backs him, he doesn`t want the establishment to back him, doesn`t matter. He can win without them.

There are, you know, his constituents believe that. They like it. It gets them out and going and I believe he thinks it is going to help him with this get out the vote efforts in November.

MATTHEWS: Michelle Bernard not speaking for the Bernard Center. Just for yourself. Who are you going to vote for, Hillary or Donald?


BERNARD: Do you really have to ask that question. Bernard Center --


MATTHEWS: Look. Go ahead, go ahead.

BERNARD: Let`s put it this way. I`m going to vote for the candidate who likes women, who likes African-Americans, who likes Latinos, who believes in America`s promise for all Americans and who has never uttered the words that Mexicans are rapists.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think I got your drift. I got your drift.

Anyway, thank you. The round table, including Michelle, is sticking with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got a double edition of HARDBALL tomorrow night as West Virginians head to the polls. That`s Tuesday night tomorrow. Tune in from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time for complete coverage of that election as well top analysis of where the national race stands right now headed into the general election. It`s all here tomorrow night on a double edition of HARDBALL, the place for politics.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Jennifer, tell me something I don`t know.

JACOBS: Anti-establishment Republicans who back Donald Trump, I since that their frustration is growing and growing that the establishment will not back their candidate. They pointed out over and over, the establishment said, OK, you guys, even though you don`t like our candidate, you need to rally around this person and they did. They`re saying the establishment needs to really pay attention now.

Republicans missed something. They made a big mistake. There`s a huge pocket of frustration about free trade possibly hurting jobs, about illegal immigration possibly undercutting businesses and they`re saying, listen to us.

MATTHEWS: Do you notice there`s a pattern for those up for re-election this fall tend to be open with the idea they have to live with Trump because they`re on the same ticket, whereas the people who are not running again, like Bushes, for example, the Marco Rubio, people finished for a while at least are willing to say, I`m not on board, easier for them.

JACOBS: Very much so.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Michelle, your thinking tonight, stun me with something I don`t know.

BERNARD: I`m going to stun you by letting you know that this past weekend, President Barack Obama spoke at my undergraduate alma mater. He was the commencement speaker at Howard University. He has been speaking at HBCUs throughout his tenure.

He told the students from the university that gave us Zora Neale Hurston, Thurgood Marshall, Doug Wilder and other greats, that he basically gave a very unapologetically black speech. He`s told the students, be proud of being black, be proud of who you are but he also said you have to get out and vote. He said that if the youth had come out and voted in large numbers in 2012, he would not have had the Congress that he was stuck with and that hashtags are not enough, you`ve got to vote.

If you want the Criminal Justice Reform Act to pass, if you care about Voting Rights Act, if you care about healthcare, get out and vote.

MATTHEWS: I think that must have been a wonderful moment out there, Michelle. Thanks for that.

Let me go to Rory, tell me something I don`t know.

COOPER: Right. Well, I don`t know if you know no Republican candidate for Congress has lost their primary this cycle so far, not one. So, when we`re talking about the discord at the top of the ticket, if you actually look, the Republican Party for several cycles so far has actually been really, really strong.

We`ve won hundreds of seats in the state legislature. So, we`ve won -- we dominate control of governors. And so -- and the majorities in the House and Senate are quite strong as well. What Donald Trump does do in November is potentially threaten what has generally been a strong showing in down ballot races.

And also, I think speaks to this sentiment that there is somehow an anti- Republican sentiment within the Republican race. In fact, most keep sending the Republican member of Congress back to Washington. What the national -- what the national debate seems to be saying, it`s a little bit disconnected and what we hope to do is make sure it remains disconnected from those down ballot races.

MATTHEWS: Yes, and a lot of people get re-elected because they had the position to start with and they have name ID and money. Anyway, I`m not a big fan of everybody getting re-elected every year.

Thank you, Jennifer Jacobs. Thank you, Rory Cooper. And thank you, Michelle Bernard, and that was great at Howard.

When we return, let me finish with a guy who shoots the moon. You`re talking HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: Donald Trump is shooting the moon. Play close attention to what he says and player doing precisely what the other players are not. They discard the politically incorrect, he collects those cards. They show reverence for certain taboos like not talking about a rival`s spouse, he hones in on the guy.

In a business sense, we`re looking at a shrewd investor. He spots the market`s direction and heads the other way. The market bets on the establishment candidates, Jeb Bush, Trump mocks Bush as a person, as a candidate, as a favorite of the Republican establishment.

What you`re not supposed to do, Trump does. You`re supposed to talk about the new global world. Trump talks as old time nationalist. It`s America against Mexico, China, Russia, you name it.

My sense is this is Trump that`s made it all these years. He`s the guy who shoots the moon, who bets against the market. Yes, we`ll fight any man in the house for a dollar.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.