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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/16/2016

Guests: Josh King, John Brabender, Jay Newton-Small, Jeff Weaver, Heidi Przybyla, Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, Jay Roach

Show: HARDBALL Date: May 16, 2016 Guest: Josh King, John Brabender, Jay Newton-Small, Jeff Weaver, Heidi Przybyla, Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, Jay Roach

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump versus "The Times."

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in New York.

Donald Trump pushed back hard today against that Sunday "New York Times" front page story that looked at his treatment of women over the years. He called the story a lame hit piece and a joke. He also said it was malicious and libelous.

Well, according to "The Times" piece, interviews with dozens of women who knew him, quote, "reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women and an unsettling workplace conduct."

Well, a few of "The Times" examples -- a female Trump executive said he mocked her body, telling her, You look like -- "You like your candy." A female city official said Trump was dismissive toward her. "It was always `hon,` `dear,` things he wouldn`t have said to a man. It was designed to make you feel small, and he did that repeatedly," close quote.

Well, a Miss USA contestant told "The Times," "He kissed me directly on the lips, I thought, Oh, my God, gross."

But there`s also been pushback against the "Times" story. "The Times" quoted a former Trump girlfriend, Rowanne Brewer Lane, who said he asked her to change into a bikini during a pool party at Mar-a-Lago, and then told the crowd at the pool, That is a stunning Trump girl, isn`t it?

Well, "The Times" characterized it as a "debasing face-to-face encounter." Lane herself today disputed that characterization.


ROWANNE BREWER LANE, FMR. TRUMP GIRLFRIEND: I was not happy with the way that the article was written, and I was promised that it wouldn`t be done that way and it absolutely was. I don`t think it`s fair to me, and I don`t really think it`s fair to him. It seems to me like they must have some sort of agenda and they`re following it.

I never said that he paraded me anywhere, and that word keeps coming up. He said, Now, that`s a stunning Trump girl, and I was very flattered. It was -- indeed flattered, and I made that very clear to the writer, that I was flattered by that.


MATTHEWS: Well, this is interesting. Meanwhile, Trump says he will go on offense against Hillary Clinton. He told "The New York Times," quote, "Just getting nasty with Hillary won`t work. You really have to get people to look hard at her character and to get women to ask themselves if Hillary is truly sincere and authentic."

Well, according to "The Times," he plans to challenge her on Benghazi, on her e-mail practices and on her husband`s infidelities. Quote, "Donald Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton`s infidelities in Hillary Clinton`s face on live television during the presidential debates this fall, questioning whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women involved."

Well, Jeremy Peters is a political reporter for "The New York Times" and MSNBC contributor Jay Newton-Small is Washington correspondent for "The New York Times" and John -- no, I`m sorry. No you`re not. And John -- she`s with "Time" magazine and John Brabender is a former senior strategist for the Santorum presidential campaign.

Let me go to Jeremy. I know you have to speak for your newspaper. You`re not an ombudsman or anything like that. But how would you report on this back and forth -- he found a women who was not happy with the way the story was presented, who said she was not, by her terms, exploited or abused or humiliated, she says. She said the author of the piece said she wouldn`t be portrayed that way. She was. She`s not happy about it. And I can understand if she`s right, she would be.

Trump has also pointed out there were some 50 women interviewed, only four or five quoted in the piece, which he says suggests that the other women who weren`t quoted had good things to say about him.

Can you comment on that, as a reporter, or is that just for management.

JEREMY PETERS, "NEW YORK TIMES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`ll let this story speak for itself. What I will say is that...

MATTHEWS: Both sides of it?

PETERS: Trump did tweet something that was inaccurate about the women who were interviewed for the story. He did. And then the reporter, my colleague, Michael Barbaro, who did a fine job reporting this piece, pointed out that he did interview the women that the Trump campaign told them to talk to. And so that part of what Trump pushed back on was just not accurate.

But I think part of the beauty of this piece is that it is very nuanced and it shows how Trump was at times very generous and at times also very inappropriate.

MATTHEWS: Well, what about the portrayal of that woman who pushed back, Ms. Lane?


MATTHEWS: She said they got it all wrong and they told her they weren`t going to write it that way and they did.

PETERS: You know...


MATTHEWS: She was not paraded around, she said. I wasn`t paraded. I -- they kept saying "paraded." I wasn`t paraded around. Your thoughts.

PETERS: Well, you know, I didn`t report the piece, so I probably shouldn`t...

MATTHEWS: I know. No, but you`re doing a good job here.

Let me go to Jay Newton-Small. I want a woman to speak now clearly on this. The way it hits you, just the way the whole story hits you, all the story there, the fact (ph) that you can discern here as being true -- how does it hit you and what`s it say about the presidential candidate himself?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, I just don`t -- I mean, Donald Trump has a lot of inroads to make with women, and this is not the first story that has been controversial when he`s talking about women, whether it`s, you know, calling Rosie O`Donnell a fat pig or other women -- saying Megyn Kelly has been bleeding or calling, you know, Carly Fiorina ugly -- I mean, his approval rating with women is underwater, you know, he -- by anywhere, depending on the poll, from 50 percent to 73 percent, and so these kinds of stories don`t help him.


NEWTON-SMALL: And while they...

MATTHEWS: Do they hurt? Because -- are they worse -- do they -- if you`ve gotten through the thicket of public information about it, what he said about Rosie O`Donnell, of course, what he said about Megyn Kelly, the journalist, what he said about his opponent at one time, Carly -- this is all in our face already. I mean, people -- have they already sort of adjusted to that part of him and made their own discernment about what that means to them? And therefore, why would this stuff be any worse, I just wonder. I don`t know.

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, I just think he`s not winning women over with these kinds of stories. I mean, these stories -- he needs to be out there trying to win women over because he`s not going to win a general election without doing a lot better with women, and he`s, frankly, losing women enormously. And so he has to do much better, and this is his challenge, is to show how he would govern as a governor, as a president, how he would better represent women, better represent them than Hillary Clinton would.


NEWTON-SMALL: And you know, stories like this, you know, do not help at all. I mean, there are positive aspects to the story, and I`m sure we`re going to see his daughter, Ivanka, come out on the campaign trail and talk about, you know, how he`s a good businessman, how he`s empowered women in his -- in his work life, and certainly, there are aspects to this story where he does talk about how he was one of the few, you know, real estate moguls to actually hire and promote women in the `80s and `90s.

But that`s all kind of lost in what becomes the kind of -- you know, the worst aspects of his character, which is, you know, to debase and to sexualize, you know, every single woman, whether it`s a woman he`s working with or whether it`s women he`s considering dating.

MATTHEWS: John, you know, we`ve been through all this before, John Brabender. We all were in it with Clinton...


MATTHEWS: ... I mean, just Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones and accusations they made in his defense, for whatever it`s worth. It`s not that it`s similar. It`s -- everything is different, but each case is its own self, and it involves, you know, the humiliation of women or abusive -- and some, it`s just things like saying -- and I think just things -- I got to put it in perspective -- you call somebody "Hon" or "dear" 20 years ago, I`m not sure how that fit in. I`d have to be there to know whether that was courtesy, charm, niceness, or it was dismissive. It could well have been dismissiveness, according to the woman quoted. She felt dimissed, so it clearly had that impact. So we have to live with that, and even if it`s 20 years ago.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think one thing that worked in Donald Trump`s favor is that it was "The New York Times." And for Republicans to be unified, he needs to be attacked by Obama, Clinton, and frankly, "The New York Times." So in some sense, that works to his favor.

Number two, as you said, a lot of this is -- really people know these things about Donald Trump. And again, I`m not an analyst. I`m a strategist. And if I`m a strategist for the Trump campaign, one thing I do realize -- the more ugly I can make the race between both parties, the more it is to my benefit because people are saying, I`m sick of all that type of politics. I`m going with the agent of change.


BRABENDER: And the agent of change in this particular race is Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Jeremy, do you think that`s true? I was -- I wrote a close for the show tonight along those lines, but my sort of bottom line`s going to be at the end of the night, because I`m already there, which is this just turns people off to politics. They say, I`m not running for anything if this is what I`m going to be hit with. You know, this is just throwing garbage at each other, true or false. It`s just throwing past personal behavior against each other.

People either have to be pluperfect in their life or they have to enjoy this kind of thing. Trump seems to be able to enjoy it, this stuff thrown back and forth.

PETERS: Well, he does. It`s what animates him. It`s what sustains him every single day, getting in these fights on Twitter, hurling insults at his opponents, at journalists who cross him, who he believes have somehow wronged him.

But I do think that you`re right, Chris. People are voting, and the polls are showing this, that they are selecting a presidential candidate for the first time since polling began based on a negative. They`re voting against someone. You talk to Hillary supporters, they`re voting for her because they want to vote against Trump, and the same is true for Trump. They`re picking him because they want to vote against Hillary.

And that is really a striking and unsettling development in our politics.

MATTHEWS: You know, Anne Gearan, of course, in "The Washington Post," Jay -- Anne Gearan, in a piece with Dan Balz, the great veteran political guy, used all kinds of information in a new focus group on Hillary Clinton that once again puts it into the likability issue on her side again. It is the thing that Republicans unite about. They don`t like Hillary. They just don`t like her. They want to beat her, they`re afraid of her, whatever the instinct is.

And here we have people have all this stuff used against Trump now. There`s no good news out there for anybody right now, it seems. It`s all relatively bad news, depending how bad it is on either of them.

NEWTON-SMALL: It is, and this is -- it`s striking this is kind of like a non-ideological campaign. It`s not a campaign...

MATTHEWS: That`s for sure.

NEWTON-SMALL: ... about issues. It`s not a campaign about substance or policy. It`s all a campaign about who you like more, who you`d rather have a beer with more, who you`d rather kind of hang out with. I mean...

MATTHEWS: Who you`d like to throw a beer at?


NEWTON-SMALL: I don`t know if it`s, like, or versus, like who you want to, like, dislike...

MATTHEWS: It`s terrible.

NEWTON-SMALL: ... and scream at the TV more. And so it really is -- it`s all about character. It`s all about...


NEWTON-SMALL: And when you -- if you spend six months doing character attacks, who`s going to end up voting? I mean, nobody! It`s going to be really disheartening.

MATTHEWS: Well, this "Times" piece does put Donald Trump in the "Mad Men" category of course, in terms of behavior way back even earlier than his time.

Anyway, President Obama made a strong case against Donald Trump yesterday during a commencement address at Rutgers, although he never actually mentioned Trump`s name. But you know who he`s talking about. Let`s watch.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world is more interconnected than ever before and it`s becoming more connected every day. Building walls won`t change that. Isolating or disparaging Muslims, suggesting that they should be treated when it comes to entering this country...


OBAMA: It would alienate the very communities at home and abroad who are our most important partners in the fight against violent extremism.

If you were listening to today`s political debate, you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from.

In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue! It`s not cool to not know what you`re talking about!


OBAMA: That`s not challenging political correctness. That`s just not knowing what you`re talking about.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Let me go to John Brabender on this because I`m wondering -- pretend for a second -- you can -- I think your imagination will carry this far -- that you`re working for Obama right now. How far can he -- how far can he go in rattling the cage of Trump before Trump reaches out and pulls him into the cage with him?

BRABENDER: Well, not very far, is my guess. In fact, if we don`t hear something by tonight, I`d be shocked. I will say this, though. I think it`s smarter for Obama to do it than for Hillary Clinton to do it, for if no other reason, Obama`s much better at it...


BRABENDER: ... than Hillary Clinton doing it.

MATTHEWS: But can he stay coy -- can he stay distant from Trump when Trump reaches out and says, I know who you`re talking about, and gives him a nickname, and there we are back again with that stuff?

BRABENDER: No. And I think, ultimately, it may be a gift for Trump. First of all, it takes all the other issues off the table by this, and if Trump starts fighting with Obama, you know, things like middle income, blue color workers in Ohio, if it`s Trump versus Obama, they`re going to side with Trump on these issues.

And so I think that although it`s fun to watch and Obama can be creative, I think, ultimately, politically, it probably helps Trump more than it does Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: We shall see. Jeremy Peters, thank you. Jay Newton-Small of "Time" magazine and John Brabender.

Coming up -- Bernie Sanders continues to duke it out with Hillary Clinton despite, well, nearly impossible odds numerically right now. And now senior aides say they could make things messy at the convention come Philadelphia this summer. What is it that Bernie Sanders wants right now, no matter who gets the nomination? Who do his supporters want behind (ph) their party nominee? What do they want the nominee to do, whoever it is?

Plus -- after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson took the reigns of power and pushed through the historic Civil Rights bill that changed the course of American history.


LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I urge every American to join in this effort to bring justice and hope to all our people and to bring peace to our land.


MATTHEWS: Well, later in the show, quite magically, you`re going to see Bryan Cranston become that guy, Lyndon Johnson. It`s magical. Anthony Mackie, of course, playing Martin Luther King and director Jay Roach once again tells the story of Lyndon Johnson`s heroic role in bringing us to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That`s tonight on the show.

And inside Trump`s brash strategy to go after Bill and Hillary Clinton during debates this fall -- right in the middle of the debates, he says he`s going to do it, live on national television. That`s an all or nothing move that will either work for him or it won`t.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this election that looks to be a real-life "Bonfire of the Vanities." That`s what it`s looking like.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, the Supreme Court dodged a decision on a legal challenge from faith-based group`s to the Obama administration`s rules requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control.

NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams is at the Supreme Court with more -- Pete.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this was a compromise because they don`t have a majority here. It`s a 4-4 tie. So what the Supreme Court said is, We`ll send it back to the lower courts. But they strongly endorsed a possible compromise. This was about religious- affiliated organizations who said that even having to say they don`t want to provide contraceptive care for their employees would violate their religious freedom.

So what the Supreme Court said is this possible compromise would be this. The groups simply buy insurance and when they buy it, they don`t include contraceptive coverage in it. Then the insurance company takes it from there and provides the coverage to the employees at no cost.

So that`s why both sides are saying there`s something in it for them. But the other part of this is that, Chris, supporters of Merrick Garland are saying this fact that the Supreme Court wouldn`t get to the main questions in the case, punted on those, sent them to the lower court shows that the court can`t be fully functional with just eight justices.

MATTHEWS: Wow. That makes sense. You need five to beat four. Anyway, thank you, Pete Williams at the Supreme Court.

HARDBALL returns after this.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It is a superdelegate!


SANDERS: All right. Flying over the sky. All right. Nobody would have believed that we would receive well over 9 million votes at this point in the campaign!


SANDERS: This coming Tuesday, we`re going to win a great victory right here in Kentucky!


SANDERS: And by the way, I think we`re going to win in Oregon, as well. So...


SANDERS: And then on June 7th, we got California and a bunch of other states!


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, Bernie Sanders campaigning now in Kentucky over this weekend ahead of tomorrow`s primary there. Anyway, the Republican contest is all but wrapped up, of course, but the Democrats are still fighting until the end in Philadelphia this summer.

Joining me right now is Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver. Jeff, I`m trying to figure out -- let`s just try a little peace treaty between you and me for a second, just for a second.


MATTHEWS: Let`s forget -- put aside who will be the nominee. It doesn`t matter.


MATTHEWS: And talk (ph) principle because that is -- clearly, everybody knows Bernie`s not running out of ego, he`s running out of principle. He has things he believes in. So how hard can you fight, win or lose, or whoever wins -- I should out it positively -- what are you going to try to get done generally in Philadelphia so you come out of the Democratic convention with certain principles enshrined -- what would they be?

WEAVER: Well, I certainly think that the platform is going to be very important, Chris.

I think if you look at the issues that Bernie Sanders has been talking about and continues to talk about on the campaign trail, you know, unlike Donald Trump, who takes -- spends his time hurling insults, Bernie Sanders actually gives long speeches about substantive issues on things like raising the minimum wage to $15, things like universal health care through a single-player system, dealing with a corrupt campaign finance system, making sure that all the new wealth and income in this country stops going to the people at the very top, creating a new trade policy that benefits working-class people and not just people on Wall Street.


So, when you come out of the convention -- and you will be there, of course, and Senator Sanders will be, and Hillary Clinton will be there -- when you come out of that, will we have something that looks like a commitment to Health care as a right, something that like, health care as a right?

WEAVER: Well, we certainly would hope so.

And beyond the issues in the platform, I think there are a number of electoral issues, electoral reform issues that I think are going to have to be addressed at the convention. I think we have to deal with things like closed primaries, superdelegates, same-day registration, and a host of other issues that are keeping people from participating in the democratic process.

MATTHEWS: So, getting rid of -- bringing in same-day registration wherever we can, getting rid of the superdelegate deal.

What about state conventions and state caucuses, rather than primaries? Aren`t primaries the most democratic way to do something, if you get into electoral reform, primaries?

WEAVER: Well, we certainly need to look at that. One of the issues that we have seen in caucuses across the country, just from our experience in this campaign cycle...

MATTHEWS: Is that you win them.

WEAVER: Is that -- well, we do often win them.

But, in many cases, the state parties don`t have the resources to run them effectively. We have seen many cases where...


MATTHEWS: Well, why can`t these states have primaries? I don`t understand how cheap they are. Why can`t a state afford to have a -- primaries seem pretty basic as a part of our political system.

WEAVER: Well, I think certainly caucus reform is one of the issues that we will certainly have to put on the table.

For instance, in some states, you don`t even know how many people voted or who they voted for, right, at the end of the process?

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about the tough turkey one, the one you were -- it think your best one, besides Citizens United, which is awesomely a good issue. It`s one we all believe in, everybody on the progressive side or center, over where the progressives come. And everybody likes the idea of helping kids with tuition. They really need help with these deals -- the bills they have to pay.

These loans are outrageous, sometimes six figures. That`s a great issue.


MATTHEWS: So, what do we do about this deal about people like Hillary Clinton giving speeches for a couple hundred thousand bucks a pop? How do you stop somebody out of office from doing that? She wasn`t in office technically. Well, she was between offices, you could argue, but she was out of public office. How do you stop somebody from doing that?

WEAVER: Well, I don`t know you stop them from doing that, but certainly there is a political price to be paid.

And if we broaden the process, if we increase the base of the Democratic Party, so it includes more young people and more working-class people, people that Bernie Sanders is bringing into the process, then I think people won`t do those speeches because they know that the political price will be too high.

MATTHEWS: What happens if Trump hits that issue this summer and fall and starts nailing Hillary on that? Would you guys agree with him or would you just get quiet, because you were the guys who raised the issue? I don`t think he raised it. You did.

WEAVER: Well, no, certainly, it was an issue that was raised.

These speeches, I think this whole issue would have gone away if the content of the speeches -- the problem was Chris is that the speeches were given for large amounts of money and the substance of the speeches was withheld.


MATTHEWS: OK. This is where we get in. You know she wasn`t going to release those transcripts. I`m not knocking political gamesmanship.


WEAVER: No, I don`t think that`s true.


WEAVER: I think -- I mean, I haven`t -- obviously, I haven`t seen what is in the speeches, frankly, but given how much discussion there has been about them, it would seem to me that back then, if they had been released, there would been much less discussion about them than there has been.

MATTHEWS: OK. Just to have fun, like we always do, you can`t imagine Hillary walking into Goldman Sachs audience and saying, the minute I get elected to higher office, I`m going to kick your guys` butt. I hope you know that.

You know she didn`t say that.


WEAVER: Well, Bernie Sanders would have said that. I will just put it that way.


MATTHEWS: Well, he wouldn`t have gotten $200,000 either.

But thank you, Jeff Weaver.

WEAVER: And he didn`t.

MATTHEWS: You never miss a chance. Anyway, thank you.

"USA Today" -- by the way, thank you.

"USA Today"`s Heidi Przybyla joins us right now. She put out today in her story: "Hillary Clinton is considering a running mate who could make a direct appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders, bridging a generation of political divide, according to four people close to the Clinton campaign. Chief requirements for a V.P. for Hillary Clinton include a candidate`s resume and a fighter capable of hand-to-hand combat with Trump. The campaign`s vetting also prioritize -- prioritizes demographics over someone with a key state. And she seeks unify the Democratic voting base."

Among the names that fit that description, according to the report, are Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Heidi Przybyla joins us right now.

Heidi, I know you`re a tough reporter. And you impress me more each time we work together and I agree with the need to -- how do you show the discernment and how do you know they are not feeding you fish, just feeding you, oh, yes, we want this ethnic group, the Hispanics to be happy, we want the people really left on the left, they love Elizabeth Warren, and the people will set up for Sherrod Brown?

How do you know they are not feeding these names out to win the constituencies just by showing the name?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY": Because this is a snapshot in time of where we are right now, Chris.

I share you belief that in a perfect world, if Hillary Clinton had her druthers, she probably would choose someone like Tim Kaine, who is more of a swing state moderate who is simpatico with her on a lot of issues and who she feels she can work with.

But Hillary Clinton is not living in a perfect world right now. And if things still look that the way that they do today when we get closer to the convention, which we`re not expecting a decision for quite some time, then the biggest challenge she has right now is this generational divide in the party. And like Jeff Weaver said, this is a base election.


MATTHEWS: Who else besides Elizabeth Warren would meet that? She would be dynamite, of course, Elizabeth Warren. Everybody on the progressive side loves her, because she`s taking up Wall Street as much as Bernie Sanders has. But anybody else fit that?

PRZYBYLA: Well, there are a number of members of Congress, which is kind of they`re focused more there right now because, as you know, the ranks of governors have been a bit depleted in the past few cycles, but the labor secretary, Tom Perez, has done a lot on labor.

MATTHEWS: He`s never been elected.

PRZYBYLA: Right, exactly. Well, then you run into the resume problem.


MATTHEWS: It`s a hard job to be running for V.P.

PRZYBYLA: Well, someone who is also putting himself out there is Xavier Becerra, who is the chairman the House Democratic Progressive Caucus, also the Democratic Caucus chair and the highest ranking Latino.

MATTHEWS: OK. I have just been told in my ear he did get a job, a local office, a Montgomery County executive, so he had a position.

But let me ask you about Sherrod Brown. I have been pushing him for a long time as a perfect candidate from the left to help Hillary Clinton and also to deliver a state that Republicans absolutely need to win historically. And now that the name shows up on your list from the campaign tells me they are willing to sacrifice a Senate seat in a very competitive year for the control of the Senate in order to bolster their national ticket. And that`s impressive.

PRZYBYLA: That`s the perplexing problem, right, is that Sherrod Brown would be perfect on many levels in terms of being a progressive firebrand.

He`s right there on some of the big issues that Bernie has been hitting her over the head on, like trade and the industrial Rust Belt. But that is potentially a fatal flaw. And I was up on the Hill as part of reporting this story talking to sources close to Chuck Schumer.

And this is a big concern, and it might be a disqualifying concern at the end of the day. And so it all depends on really Elizabeth Warren to some extent, because she is the clearest proxy to Bernie Sanders.

Of course, there are some risks with going with her in terms of having two women on the ticket. But, Chris, when I talk to Clinton people, they said they think they can build a winning coalition by rallying minorities, and by bringing women out to vote in record numbers, both older women who Hillary Clinton is already getting and those younger Bernie women who they believe Elizabeth Warren could bring into the fold.

And again I stress, this is where they are right now. So don`t play this back on me if we get to the convention and it`s Tim Kaine, because...

MATTHEWS: I think that would be a remarkable decision for Hillary to do that. I think it would be extraordinary for her to do something like this, so out of the box.

But her husband, Bill Clinton, picked Al Gore, two Southern guys, and that doubling down worked wonders.

PRZYBYLA: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Heidi Przybyla. I take this all seriously.

Coming up tomorrow night, it`s another big night in election coverage here on MSNBC. Join me starting at a special time tomorrow, 6:00 Eastern, for complete coverage of the Kentucky primary, which comes in early. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a tough fight for the Bluegrass State right now.

And then starting at 9:00 p.m., I will be joining Rachel for her coverage of the Oregon primary. It all starts here tomorrow night at 6:00.

Up next, "All the Way" with LBJ. The new HBO movie stars Bryan Cranston as President Johnson himself fighting to pass the landmark historic civil rights bill of 1964. Cranston and fellow actor Anthony Mackie will be here. He`s playing Dr. King. And the director will be here as well, Jay Roach.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



BRYAN CRANSTON, ACTOR: Now, look here, either your people vote for this bill or you vote with the segregationists and the country goes up in flames.

We`re making history here, Everett, and you have to decide how you want history to remember you, as a great man, a man who changed the course of this country or somebody who just likes to hear himself talk?


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That`s award-winning actor Bryan Cranston playing President Lyndon Johnson in a scene from the new film "All the Way," which debuts on HBO next Saturday. Based upon the award-winning play by the same name, the movie portrays Johnson over the 11 months following the Kennedy assassination as he struggles to prove he`s more than an accidental president.

His historic achievement, passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed racial discrimination in restaurants, hotels and even gas stations and other public places, was a testament to Johnson`s leadership. He went on to win a landslide victory that November.

Here is a clip of Johnson negotiating with civil rights leader Martin Luther King played by Anthony Mackie.


CRANSTON: Every year, my best cook, Zephyr Wright, best damn chicken fried steak you ever put in your mouth, why, every year, she and her husband drive my Packard from Washington back down to the ranch for me.

Well, now, Zephyr, she can`t use any restrooms on that highway because they are all whites only. She got to squat in a field by the side of the road to pee like a dog. Now, that`s just not right. By God, we`re going to fix that.

ANTHONY MACKIE, ACTOR: Well, nothing in this country will ever change until Negroes can vote.

CRANSTON: The next bill will be voting rights.

MACKIE: After President Kennedy`s election, Eisenhower had publicly declared that his party had taken the Negro vote for granted. I would hate to see the Democratic Party make the same mistake.

CRANSTON: If you think Barry Goldwater is legitimate heir to Abraham Lincoln, you should vote for him.



I`m joined right now by the actors Bryan Cranston and Anthony Mackie, and also the film`s director, Jay Roach.

Bryan, how did you get ready for the part of -- I saw you back stage -- Kathleen and I were lucky to come back and watch you up on Broadway up here. And your Johnson, it`s even better in the movie. It`s the closeups. You look like Johnson. How did you do that?

CRANSTON: Well, thank you.

Well, I share a couple facial characteristics that the real LBJ has, beady eyes and thin lips, something every man wants to have.

MATTHEWS: God-given advantages in life.


But it was prosthetics that took two-and-a-half-hours of makeup, and they did something to my hair. They thinned it out and then cut it back. And it was just -- we knew we were going to come in very close, and so we wanted to make sure that you didn`t see any sign of it.

MATTHEWS: You know what is amazing? And you got that -- George Tames, the photographer of "The New York Times," really just caught it -- how Johnson talks right into your face. You can smell what he had for lunch or breakfast or whatever.

How close were you to Everett Dirksen`s face, the actor, when you actually did that scene? Nobody talks like that in this country, that face that close to somebody.

CRANSTON: Well, you know LBJ did.

Yes, a good actor, Ray Wise, and he plays Everett Dirksen. i get right up into him, nose to nose, just to hound him.


CRANSTON: And this gentlemen here is William Fulbright that I meet in the elevator. So, yes, there was those tactics.

In fact, they even gave it a name, called the Johnson treatment. And whether or not he was cajoling or manipulating or strong-arming, he used his size to try to intimidate.


Let me go to Anthony.

Anthony, thank you for joining us as well.

And I thought that you -- the scenes I have seen so far of really majestic movie, you capture King as a bit of a politician, a real politician, not a reverend or a man of history, but a guy who knows how to play the game effectively with hardball.

MACKIE: Yes, definitely.

Dr. King had many different facets to his personality. And I feel like one thing we have never really touched upon as actors or we have never seen is his ability to be the great politician. He knew how to work that angle when it had to be worked. And I think the true testament of that was his relationship with LBJ.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Jay on this question of deal-making.

When you put the script together, the final touches as a director, tell us how -- it reminded me a bit of Steven Spielberg and Lincoln and the way he talked about getting the anti-slavery 13th Amendment passed, and the way -- in the way that Johnson did it, what was the Johnson technique in terms of working Republicans and the segregationists, both of them?

Or he couldn`t really work the segregationists. He had to work the Republicans.

JAY ROACH, DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, I have to credit Robert Schenkkan, who wrote the play and won a Tony for it, and then did the adaptation for us, wrote the screenplay.

So, Robert`s great screenplay depicted a lot of these moments with LBJ as well as he had in the play. But I think one of the great things he would do with the Republicans was say, come on, you`re the party of Lincoln, don`t be associated with the segregationists. You got to get on the right side of history, as you see.

And he was great at putting people off-balance at first, pranking them almost, you know, really making fun of them or somehow making a really off- color joke. And then he would get to the serious stuff and flatter them a little bit. And then, by the end of it, they really didn`t know what hit them.

That was part of the Johnson treatment.

MATTHEWS: He used different words in describing African-Americans throughout that play. He didn`t use the really bad word, but he did use that sort of compromise word from the South back then. How did you decide about using that language in the play?

ROACH: Well, that was always based on the way real LBJ spoke. And he could figure out how to sort of be the guy he needed to be depending on the audience he spoke to.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at a conversation between President Johnson and his soon-to-be V.P. Senator Hubert Humphrey, just after signing the civil rights bill.


BRADLEY WHITFORD, ACTOR: Congratulations, Mr. President, on your glorious achievement.

CRANSTON: The Democratic Party just lost the South for the rest of my lifetime, and maybe yours. What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are you so happy about?


MATTHEWS: You know, I want to get back to Anthony Mackie on this.

As African-American yourself, it`s amazing how Johnson committed almost suicide here politically, because I remember digging it up, because a friend of mine from Georgia always reminds me of it. The strongest vote in the entire country for John F. Kennedy in 1960 was Georgia. The South was still the solid South for the Democrats.

They voted for Stevenson, the egghead, over the war hero Eisenhower. It was that good a vote in the South. Gone. Johnson had it right starting in `64. They could never do it again.

MACKIE: Oh, definitely.

I mean, I think that was one of the things he realized, what he was going to have to give up in order to make this work. But I feel like what is so great about LBJ and what he was able to do was, he sacrificed everything for what he believed in. There were many -- I always say there were many other men out there who could have done what Dr. King and LBJ did, but none of them stood up and did it.

And I think that`s the testament to the men that they were.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask Jay about Saturday night. Why Saturday night for a debut? What`s the thinking there? Tell me something about television I don`t know. Why would you take a major, historic film like this and open it on a Saturday night? Just a question. I`m just curious.

ROACH: Well, their Sunday nights are pretty busy, as you may have noticed, with "Game of Thrones" and "Silicon Valley," great shows.

And Saturdays are, for some reason, the nights they -- they did "Recount" and "Game Change" on Saturday nights. It`s their TV movie night. They hope people will -- they hope people will hang out.

MATTHEWS: And they are achievements.

ROACH: Yes. Thanks.

MATTHEWS: And you did them all. They were all fabulous.

I love "Game Change." I love "Recount." I have seen them many, many -- one thing about your movies, I want to see them over and over again, which tells -- like "Casablanca," you know? You want to see it again and again.



CRANSTON: You directed "Casablanca," Jay?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was an earlier --


MATTHEWS: Anthony, it`s great to meet you, because I`ve met Ryan before. So congratulations on another victory. I`m sure there`s an award coming with it.

Anyway, the film is called "All The Way," as in LBJ, "All The Way." It premiers Saturday, as we said, on HBO.

Thank you, Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, and the great Jay Roach.

Up next, the closer look at the strategy behind Donald Trump`s plan to bring up Bill Clinton`s infidelity right in the debate stage with Hillary Clinton. Is that going to turn off women, even Republican women, tilt the election to Clinton or will it go the other way? Trump has been lucky so far.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: You`ve said you`re willing to bring up Bill Clinton`s past with women if Hillary Clinton attacks you for being a sexist. So, is that a threat to her? Is that essentially what you`re saying is hey, you want me to go down that road? You go down that road, I go down this road? Is this a public threat?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wouldn`t say it`s a threat.

TODD: What is it?

TRUMP: It`s a threat.

TODD: But it is a threat.

TRUMP: Of course.


MATTHEWS: It`s a threat.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Donald Trump, of course, in January this year, foreshadowing tactics we`re now seeing him use against Hillary Clinton, and promising to use more of it.

Anyway, "The New York Times" reported on Trump`s strategy moving forward, quote, "drawing on psychological warfare tactics that Mr. Trump used to defeat `Lyin` Ted Cruz`, as he called him and `Little Marco Rubio`, as he called him, and `Low Energy` Jeb Bush in the Republican primaries. The Trump campaign is mapping out attacks on the Clintons to try to increase their negative poll ratings."

Joining me right now is Josh King. He`s author of "Off Script: An Advanced Man`s Guide to White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle and Political Suicide." That`s chockfull.

Also on tonight`s round table is NBC correspondent Katy Tur. He`s been following the Trump campaign wagon since it launched. And Howard Fineman, who knows it all. He`s MSNBC political analyst.

I don`t think I have to get much easy to global editorial director of "The Huffington Post" -- I don`t think I have to add much to this conversation to throw the ball out, the hockey puck. Here it is here right here. Who`s going to win this fight? Because it`s going to be like a hockey game. There will be fights.

JOSH KING, AUTHOR, "OFF SCRIPT": Well, I`d say Trump is already winning because without actually doing anything, he`s laid it out there and here we are in your set talking about it. It`s been talked about for 24 hours prior. He`s really leaving it up to others now.

MATTHEWS: How is throwing the kitchen sink or whatever, the bathroom sink, whatever to the other candidate work for him?

KING: Well, I don`t think you see it on the debate stage, Chris. You know, you`re a student of history. You remember "Operation Fortitude". Patton is pretending to invade Calais. This is all posturing. But when he actually gets on the blue carpet at that debate just by being a straight presidential character that night, he`ll win because --

MATTHEWS: You believe that`s his strategy?

KING: I think it could be a deception that we`re seeing right now.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I`m not sure he can do that, not sure. I think Hillary Clinton has so much policy depth that Donald Trump couldn`t possibly hope to get by that first debate. He`s not going to have much of a choice but to undermine her as a person, undermine her character.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk it out. She comes on, Hillary Clinton comes on, Secretary Clinton, and says, you know, we`re going to restore this country, the economic force it had back in the `90s, lower deficit, in fact, no deficit. We`re going to show growth like never had before. We`re going to give you the same eight year span of growth we had back then, which was eight yeas of growth. No recessions. I`m going to do that again, the name Bill Clinton is thrown into play.

What does Trump do? Does he say you`re right, he`s the greatest president ever, I`m not going to touch him?

HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I agree with Josh the strategy would be shrewd to be presidential, but we`ve been through this movie before and I agree with Katy. He`s not going to do it, because as Katy says, he doesn`t have the policy depth and the only way he knows to engage in politics is by attack. That`s all he knows.

"The New York Times" called it psychological warfare, here in New York, he`s street tough.


FINEMAN: I mean, he walks down the street and he intimidates people. That`s what he did in real estate. That`s what he did moving from Queens to Manhattan. That`s what he does in politics.

MATTHEWS: Katy, does he go in the NBA game the third quarter and breaks the other guy`s arm? That`s what (INAUDIBLE) remember him?

TUR: Look at what he`s done.

MATTHEWS: Bill Sherman (ph). I mean, I just wonder, you pointed out that that`s the way he fights.

TUR: I think it is. I think that there is nothing that is off limits for him and he`s proven that and he already feels like he`s been attacked by Hillary Clinton, justified or not.

MATTHEWS: But she said sexist.

TUR: She said sexist so she said it whenever she said it and he`s going to use that now to continue attacking her in any way he sees fit and lands. And so far for him, the stuff that lands is a person.

MATTHEWS: What about his defense of that "New York Times" piece saying they interviewed 50 women and they got four or five witnesses, and what about the other 46? What about the women who comes and said they misplayed what I said to them, I told them I didn`t want it done that way. I didn`t get paraded around, I didn`t get abused, whatever she said, it wasn`t negative?

KING: Seventy-two hours ago, Chris, we were shocked, shocked he was impersonating a publicist back in `91. So, I think that 20 years ago, Trump that was real estate maven to try and do his deals in this town and that`s what he did. And frankly, the worst thing he`s done is belittle John McCain and McCain has now forgiven him and said he`s going to support the nominee.


FINEMAN: The worst thing he`s done in the campaign is the litany that we run at the bottom of every "Huffington Post" story which about him, which has to do with his racist comments, his sexist comments, his misogyny. All of that stuff is all there.

But what amazes me, this guy had hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars worth of negative free advertising run against him so far. Virtually everything has been said. That "New York Times" story on Sunday basically said nothing. It said nothing.

MATTHEWS: Well, it was a mixed bag. Some of it was stuff would that upset you if it was your daughter involved, your wife or certainly any of your sisters. But there`s other parts that I think 20 years ago to call somebody dear, I`d have to know who the person was, context. I need more information whether was that abusive or not.

TUR: I think there are two things that are really interesting about the article. And one of them was the complicated figure that it painted, somebody who might have said some things that were sexist, might have crossed the line in some areas but also somebody who promoted women and I think that`s fascinating because Donald Trump is not this caricature of a person as he might be portrayed. He is a complicated guy.

Number two, the stuff he said about women, nobody -- why go to the women and why not talk about what he`s said to Howard Stern? There is nothing that could be considered more controversial than that.

MATTHEWS: It`s already out there.

FINEMAN: Or what he said about Hispanics, or what he said about Muslims and all that other stuff. That`s much more --

TUR: About women, specifically.

FINEMAN: That`s much more controversial than this.


MATTHEWS: We have heard so much about other politicians that`s much worse than this so far. I`m not defending all of it. It all should be discussed by the people who are watching right now. What do you make of it?

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

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

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton is hoping to win some red states that haven`t voted for a Democrat since the days of, well, Bill Clinton. And new polling shows she`s making a fight out of one of them, Georgia.

Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard. According to a new poll from the "Atlanta Journal Constitution," Clinton trails Trump in Georgia by just four points, and that`s within the margin of error.

Georgia last voted for a Democrat for president in 1992 and in 1960 when Kennedy ran, it was the biggest state he had, 78 percent, like that. Shows how times have changed.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Josh King, tell me something I don`t know.

KING: Mark your calendars, Chris. July 17th is when you`re going to get Trump`s VP pick. I went back and look at every Republican pick going back to 1988. The average is 7.6 days before the convention. That makes his pick, July 17th.

MATTHEWS: That`s our son Michael`s birthday.

Go ahead.

TUR: Trump is meeting with Henry Kissinger tomorrow. A senior campaign source confirms to me.


TUR: Yes.

FINEMAN: If Hillary Clinton wins Kentucky tomorrow, and she`s got a good shot --

MATTHEWS: And you know Kentucky.

FINEMAN: It will be the unions in Louisville that do it, the Teamsters, because UPS has put its whole global system in Louisville. They`re all Teamsters and they`re all going to vote for Hillary.


Josh King, Katy Tur and Howard Fineman.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: the presidential election of 2016 set to hit full fury once the two-party conventions are through. What`s to be a real life bon fire of the vanities, Trump`s decision to bring Bill Clinton`s personal behavior into the mix guarantees a relentless spree of headlines, the bottom feeding press will push the stories and the critics will arrive (ph) to the basement of the public square.

The public will watch and hear it all. No one will be happy, everyone will have just enough to turn them off.

But in the end the country`s voters, the curious and the critical will have to find their way through the flying accusations, to a candidate they will back when they get into the voting booth. And this in the end is what will matter, who will look good enough after the grossest political fight in decades. Who will have a clean face, clean enough to want -- for us to want in the White House?

I think the real loser of a fight that strips candidates down to their skin, rips them back through their past will be democracy itself, because if good people don`t run, we`re left with those who want office so much they`re willing to expose themselves to what we`re watching right now on our national stage.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.