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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/18/2016

Guests: Colleen McCain Nelson, Dana Milbank, Francesca Chambers, Barbara Boxer, Nina Turner, Tad Devine, John Stanton, Ruth Marcus, Ralph Nader

Show: HARDBALL Date: May 18, 2016 Guest: Colleen McCain Nelson, Dana Milbank, Francesca Chambers, Barbara Boxer, Nina Turner, Tad Devine, John Stanton, Ruth Marcus, Ralph Nader

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Whose party is it?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Bernie Sanders is on the attack against the Democratic Party. Last night, he went after the party`s leaders while a crowd of his supporters booed that leadership.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me also say a word to the leadership of the Democratic Party!


SANDERS: It can do the right thing and open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change!


SANDERS: I say to the leadership of the Democratic Party, open the door, let the people in!



MATTHEWS: Well, the insurgency of Bernie Sanders is for real. This weekend, the Nevada state convention descended into chaos when Sanders supporters shouted down state and national leaders. The chair of the Nevada party, Roberta Lange, told me the scene turned ugly.


ROBERTA LANGE, NEVADA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: There were chairs thrown. There was -- there were people calling for my death out in the crowd. There were scuffles. There were people that were going against the decorum rules that were set out by the attendees at the convention. It was pretty ugly.


MATTHEWS: Well, the party chair in Nevada also said her workplace received harassing calls, and she herself received death threats like this one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Robert Lane. This is a citizen of the United States of America, and I just wanted to let you know that people like you should be hung in a public execution to show this world that we won`t stand for this sort of corruption.


MATTHEWS: Should be hung -- anyway, correct term "hanged," if you`re going to talk like that, as gross as it is.

Anyway, in a statement yesterday, Sanders said, "Our campaign, of course, believes in non-violent change, and it goes without saying that I condemn and any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals. But," Sanders added, "if the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all parties treat our campaign`s supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned. Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Nevada convention."

One of the more disturbing scenes from the Nevada convention was Senator Barbara Boxer, a Hillary Clinton supporter and a liberal lion in her own right, being booed. Here.


SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: The future of the country is at stake, that when you boo me, you`re booing Bernie Sanders. Go ahead. You`re booing Bernie Sanders.


MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Barbara Boxer joins us right now. Senator Boxer, I`ve known you a long time, and I`ve always thought that the one great thing about -- two great things about you. First of all, you`re where you want to be politically. You`ve always been on the progressive side of things, consistently so, pretty hard progressive at times. And you win.


MATTHEWS: You put those two things together which seems to be fairly important in politics, to have a point of view and succeed with it.

Anyway, there they are. Did they even know who you were over the weekend? Do they know who Barbara Boxer is?

BOXER: Oh, sure.

MATTHEWS: Did they? Oh, sure. Absolutely. This was all planned. And it was -- it was -- you know, I talked to Bernie yesterday, and I told him, Bernie, the vast majority of your people were respectful. They were fine. They were sitting in their seats.

But 50 to 100 of his people were down at the base of the stage. You see it there. And I -- I -- it`s very hard to describe to you what the scene was because it was beyond chaotic. It was crude. It was gestures. It was words. It was awful. They knew exactly who I was.

And you know, I`ve been in situations that were difficult before and have always been able to calm things down. So what I did was tell them that I`m Bernie friend and Bernie had asked them to be civil, that Hillary had asked everyone to be civil, and that if they kept on booing, they were literally booing Bernie.

It didn`t matter. This was all planned. It was disruptive.

And you know, I -- Bernie says he has to be let into the party, his people have to be let into the party. Bernie Sanders has never been a Democrat, and yet we welcomed him into this presidential fight. So I find it really bizarre, someone who`s actually run against Democrats before, someone who`s never been a Democrat, now saying we`re not letting him in.

The fact is, whoever gets the most votes and the most delegates is going to win. That`s it.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re pretty good at interpreting crowds. What were those people looking you in the face? There`s apparently a lot of menace there among those 50 to 100 people up front in the -- right near the dais.


MATTHEWS: What were they thinking of you? What were the -- what was the message, they didn`t like the fact he was -- lost a couple of delegates or -- or that he`s losing the fight against Hillary? What is the menace about? What do you think the anger was about?

BOXER: I think it`s intimidation of those who are supporting Hillary Clinton. And I guess they don`t know us. She is the toughest person I`ve met. Look what the woman has been through. And yet she`s still standing. I`m still standing.

And if they want to be standing, they shouldn`t be fighting with us. Let`s all work together for the good of this country. This isn`t about a political party. This is about the America that we all love and making sure that Donald Trump, who has torn us apart and goes after everyone, doesn`t get into the White House. That`s what it`s about.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s assume that Bernie Sanders is able to stop this kind of tactic...


MATTHEWS: ... from showing its face again. Let`s assume that. Is there something on the table to negotiate between the Sanders faction and the -- and the perhaps victorious Hillary faction? Can you the rules, no more closed primaries? Can you get rid of some of these tactics like these questions of superdelegates? Is that all room for reform or not?

BOXER: I think everything is on the table when there`s a negotiation. And I wouldn`t take a thing off the table. But again, when Bernie says -- he starts attacking the Democratic Party that welcomed him into this primary, when he`s never run as a Democrat before -- I find it very odd.

And when I spoke to Bernie, we had a very warm conversation. And I just said, Bernie, you`ve got to get control of the situation. I feared for my safety. If I didn`t have seven or eight security people up there, I don`t know who would have thrown what at me.

They knew exactly who I was. I was there to represent Hillary Clinton. Nina Turner was there to represent Bernie, and everyone knew we were coming. So this wasn`t a surprise.

MATTHEWS: So where`s this going to end up? We`re showing these pictures because video lasts forever. Is this going to still be going on in Philly when you get to the convention itself?

BOXER: I would hope not. I mean, I take Bernie at his word. Bernie said his main priority is making sure Donald Trump does not win. If he means that -- and I believe he is a man of his word -- then he`ll work with us for the good of the country.

This isn`t about political party. It`s about all of our people being able to reach their potential. It`s about freedom and justice and equality and -- and saving the planet and making sure there`s world peace. It`s all on the table, in addition to the rules that he`s interested in working on. Of course, we`ll work with him on anything he thinks is important to take a look at.

MATTHEWS: Senator Boxer, thank you so much for getting through that and for coming here tonight. Thank you so much.


MATTHEWS: I hope you feel better now. What an experience.

BOXER: I`m fine.

MATTHEWS: What an experience.

Anyway, well, last night, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, told me that Bernie Sanders needed to take personal responsibility for what his supporters did out there in Nevada.


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: As Democratic leaders, Chris, we are all personally responsible, absolutely, including Senator Sanders, for separating frustration over the process and the way it unfolds and ensuring that you condemn and prevent your supporters from engaging in violent intimidation. There is a way to deal with frustration over process.

But the fact that the Sanders campaign has issued a "but" in between condemnation of violence and frustration over the process seems to excuse their supporters` actions, which is unacceptable.


MATTHEWS: Well, there she was.

Anyway, I`m joined right now by Nina Turner, she was just mentioned ago (sic), the former Ohio state senator and a Bernie Sanders supporter. She spoke at that Nevada convention, as did Barbara Boxer. And Tad Devine is senior adviser to the Sanders campaign.

Senator, let me ask you this. Do you think, as a principle, that the candidate of the people there and the Sanders people is responsible for their behavior?

NINA TURNER (D-OH, FORMER STATE SENATOR: No, I do not, I mean, no more than the secretary would be responsible for the behaviors of her supporters. And you know, Chris, it`s just a total...

MATTHEWS: Well, who is responsible then?

TURNER: The individuals...

MATTHEWS: Who`s the leader?

TURNER: The individuals themselves. Look, Senator Sanders...

MATTHEWS: They don`t have a leader? OK, let me ask you this because there`s some particular things that I`m concerned about. When you find out where...


MATTHEWS: Well, don`t hem and haw. If a person`s a political leader and they have a job that they support their family with and people start calling up that place of work and start harassing the people that work there, threatening them, going around destroying their reputation and trying to bring down the business itself, that to me is beyond normal political argument. Do you agree?

TURNER: Chris, I would agree, but Senator Sanders condemned that behavior. But I will say this. Until they present the people`s whose voices was -- were on that e-mail -- which was totally wrong. You don`t attack anybody. You don`t threaten anybody. What happened to the chairwoman in terms of those voicemail messages were absolutely wrong.

But how do we know whose supporters those were? People calling those so- called Bernie Sanders supporters, we don`t know if those were Senator Sanders supporters or not, Chris.

And that is why -- I was in that room, and I have the utmost respect for Senator Barbara Boxer. They should have not booed her. Let me go on the record and say that they should not have booed her. Senator Bernie...

MATTHEWS: Who`s responsible for that?

TURNER: ... Sanders has been saying all along that you do not do that to people.


TURNER: You don`t do that. But also, I was in that room, Chris, before that happened and I was in that room after it happened. I was in that room for eight hours. There were no threats to anybody. Yes, people were emotional. It was tense in that room because, as you know, the chairwoman called for a vote -- a vote -- a vote by voice, a voice vote, and then the nos had it. And then she went another way and she stifled debate on the floor.

So people were upset. But Chris, those were nurses. Those were teachers. Those were blue collar workers. Those were students...

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let`s get to the heart of this, though.

TURNER: Those -- those were not outrageous people in that room, Chris!

MATTHEWS: I`m just tying to figure out this so we don`t have it happen again. I don`t like this as tactic, as a fear tactic. Oh, we`ll do this if we have to. If it gets to it, we`ll do it. I don`t accept that argument, do you?


TURNER: Who`s using that as a tactic? I don`t believe that it was planned. I absolutely do not believe it was planned. But I will tell you this. I was in the room. I`m not Monday morning quarterbacking this. And I guess what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas.

This is what I`m saying, Chris. Stephen Covey (ph) once said, First seek to understand and then to be understood. There has to be some understanding and acknowledgement...

MATTHEWS: OK, I`m asking you this...

TURNER: ... among the supporters of Senator Sanders that there`s tension and stress among...


TURNER: ... what is happening at the DNC and what happened in Nevada, by the way, which is the only state that something like this happened at a convention.

MATTHEWS: OK, I`m asking -- I don`t want to argue because you got a point of view and I have -- I`m trying to figure this out.

TURNER: We`re not arguing! We`re just debating.

MATTHEWS: I`m trying to figure something out. Was it the responsibility of the people running the convention out there, Roberta Lange, the party chair and the others who were running it, and the way they called that vote? Is that the cause of the 50 to 100 people treating Senator Boxer the way they did? Is that the cause of it? Or is it the manner of the people -- that they were disrespectful to her and that in itself is wrong? Which is -- what`s the cause and effect here?

TURNER: They should -- there`s a lot of cause and effect here, Chris. They should not have done that to Senator Barbara Boxer. But at the same time, that chairwoman of that convention has a responsibility to run that convention in a very transparent way. That did not happen.

Chris, quite frankly, I believe it`s all bigger than what happened in that room on Saturday.

MATTHEWS: What`s that?

TURNER: That what happened on Saturday is a build-up of tension that has been happening all along this contest. And it`s funny to me that you would have the chairwoman of the DNC without even trying to get the other side of the story immediately take on the side of the Denver...

MATTHEWS: Well, no, that`s not fair.

TURNER: ... of the Nevada convention.

MATTHEWS: Last night...


TURNER: That`s exactly what happened.

MATTHEWS: No, we had Angie Morelli on last night, who was on before or right at the same time as we had Wasserman Schultz. We had them both on last night. We have you on tonight. We`ve got Tad on tonight.

TURNER: Chris, I didn`t say you. What I`m saying is that our chairwoman has a responsibility to say, You know what? I`m going to get all sides of this story. Yes, you condemn those voicemail messages. There is no doubt...

MATTHEWS: Yes. Good.

TURNER: ... that whoever did that, they were cowards, Chris. No doubt about that. But at the same time, as the chairwoman of the DNC, you don`t take one side over the other and then you condemn all of Senator Sanders` supporters? Everybody is violent. It`s a convenient narrative, Chris, and I guess...


TURNER: ... what happened in Vegas didn`t stay in Vegas this time.

MATTHEWS: OK, well, lets -- here`s Angie Morelli, by the way. She`s a Sanders supporter, as you know, who was there Saturday with you.


MATTHEWS: She explained what happened in the room. Let`s hear her account and see if you agree with it. (INAUDIBLE) in here, too. Let`s watch.


ANGIE MORELLI, NV DEM. CONVENTION FLOOR ORGANIZER: This is what happened, is we had 4,000 of the most passionate people in this valley who got in a room together, and you put them in this confined space for 15-plus hours and you -- who have little access to food and had three bars outside of the convention center that were put there specifically for us. And I don`t know in what other situation where that wouldn`t have created high emotions.


MATTHEWS: Tad, I`m not sure what to make of that. But if you put...


MATTHEWS: I mean, lack of food I can understand is frustrating. And too much alcohol is obviously -- can be a problem. But the idea that somebody did that on purpose to create -- that -- just -- that cause and effect, as I was just talking with the senator -- I don`t believe the cause and effect there is clear at all. Your thoughts.

TAD DEVINE, SENIOR SANDERS CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well, I don`t -- I don`t think that`s what she was trying to say. I think she was trying to say that -- and as Senator Turner is saying, too -- you know, there was a lot of hostility in that room. And I think we can all try to figure out what the causes are.

But let`s put this in perspective. You know, we`ve had state conventions all across this country. We`ve worked with officials at the national level of the party, and we`ve had very good relations with them and very good outcomes. You know, we`ve had some great events.

Unfortunately, on Saturday in Nevada, a lot of bad things happened. Barbara Boxer is a great leader of our party, you know, and she was disrupted and booed. And that`s unfortunate when that happens.

And Bernie Sanders has condemned, you know, any threat of violence or an act of violence. He totally is against that. That`s the opposite of everything he stands for.

So I think we should all take a step back and just understand. I think this is a one-off situation.

MATTHEWS: Let`s hope.

DEVINE: It`s unfortunate that it happened.

MATTHEWS: Let`s hope.

DEVINE: But you know, we should -- we shouldn`t let it hang us up and think that this is going to characterize the Democratic Party. I don`t think it will.

MATTHEWS: Good. Anyway, according to TalkingPointsMemo, Josh Marshall -- he said Senator Sanders is the person personally responsible for upping the tension and acrimony of this campaign.

Marshall wrote, quote, "The burn-it-down attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself, right from the top. What I understand from knowledgeable sources is that in the last few weeks, anyone who has tried to rein in -- or rein it in is has basically stopped trying and just decided to let Bernie be Bernie."

OK, there`s a charge that Bernie Sanders is angry about the way things are going, embittered, if you will, the way this campaign has ended up or is ending up, and is responsible for the anger of the people out there being unleashed. Your response, Tad.

DEVINE: My response is he is not bitter. He`s not angry. And he`s the same person at the end of the campaign as he was at the beginning, someone determined to fight for fundamental change in this country, someone who understands that when you take on the establishment, the economic establishment, the political establishment of a country, there`s going to be a lot of blowback, OK? He gets it.

But you know, I think what Bernie is fighting for is exciting people. Listen, we`re registering literally millions of people...

MATTHEWS: I`m with you.

DEVINE: ... in California right now.


DEVINE: And they`re going to be part of the Democratic Party because of Bernie Sanders.

MATTHEWS: Well, I had a proposal last night for party reform, and I hope we can see it get somewhere because a lot of this stuff doesn`t strike me as democratic, upper case of lower case democratic. There`s a lot of things that happened herd. Superdelegates should be gone. I agree with that. There`s no reason why somebody should have an automatic ticket at a convention where they actually have a vote they never earned, OK?

Number two, I don`t like caucuses because in the end, they`re just a few people percentage-wise showing -- it`s not one person, one vote.

Why don`t you make a real compromise that Bernie Sanders can have his name on, the Sanders deal (ph) reform. You get rid of all the superdelegates. You get rid of caucuses and state conventions. You have to vote to pick a candidate for president. Every Democrat should be allowed to vote in every state, and every vote should count, period, and they only should count once.

What`s wrong with that as a compromise? Get away some of this stuff that the more passionate people like, like caucuses, but get rid of the superdelegates, screw the conventions that work only for the insiders. What`s wrong with that a compromise? Just do it, one person one vote.

Nina, Senator, what do you think of that idea?

TURNER: Well, Chris, I don`t necessarily disagree with that, especially when it comes to the superdelegates. But we`re not...

MATTHEWS: But what about the other end? You got to compromise here. Get rid of these stupid caucuses.

TURNER: Well, the caucus process is long, let me tell you, and God bless anybody on either side that stays all day. That is something we`re looking into, but we`re not at that moment because Senator Bernie Sanders is still in this race!


TURNER: And he`s still running!

MATTHEWS: Well, he`ll be at the convention, though.

TURNER: Why are people trying to discount that fact?

MATTHEWS: I`m not trying to discount it. I`m saying either one way or the other, win it or lose it, he`s going to be at that convention, at that bargaining table over rules. He can fix this and make this a democratic Democratic Party.

Anyway, thank you, Nina Turner, Senator Turner, and thank you, Tad Devine. You`re so calm, Tad.


MATTHEWS: Coming up, a stunning ignoramus, a chimpanzee`s level of understanding, reckless -- those are just a few of the words veteran Republican strategist Mike Murphy has used to describe his party`s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. Trump`s trying to make over his image, meeting today with Henry Kissinger and releasing a list of people he`d consider for the Supreme Court as he looks ahead to the general election.

Plus, Dana Milbank warns that Bernie Sanders could be the 2016 version of Ralph Nader, that Sanders is now campaigning against the Democratic Party itself, much as Nader did in the 2000 general election against Al Gore. I`m going to ask the man himself, Ralph Nader, tonight about that comparison.

And remember this exchange I had with Donald Trump in our HARDBALL town hall?


MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.


MATTHEWS: Well, now Trump says he didn`t mean what everyone heard him say about abortion. We`ll dig into that in the HARDBALL roundtable tonight.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a test of leadership for the Democrats.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We have got new polling on the general election matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Let`s check the HARDBALL Scoreboard.

In New Hampshire, one of the key battleground states, Clinton starts off with a two-point lead over Trump in a new poll from WBUR. It`s Clinton 44, Trump 42 in the Granite State.

In Arizona, a red state that could be in play in November, Trump leads Clinton by four points. It`s Trump 45, Clinton 41 in a new PPP poll.

And we will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, Donald Trump released the names of 11 prospects he would consider for the United States Supreme Court in order to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia.

He`s put the names and faces out there. The names consist of six federal appellate court justices and five state supreme court judges.

John Stanton is Washington bureau chief for BuzzFeed. And Ruth Marcus is a very opinionated opinion writer for "The Washington Post."

We were in the makeup room here, and you were hot to trot. Tell me about - - what is the impropriety that you feel is gross here by Trump in putting out these names?


Trump put out these names for a clear reason, which is, there are lot of conservatives who aren`t sure, for good reason, that he`s one of them. And one of the things they care a lot about is the Supreme Court. So, therefore, feed the beast, give them some names that will calm them down.

I don`t think that the Supreme Court should be a sort of bargaining chip in this way. It`s one of the most serious things that a president does. What does Donald Trump know about any of these 11 people?

MATTHEWS: Well, do you know? Do you know they are all hard-right people? Are they hard-right justices?

MARCUS: No, there`s a bunch. There`s a range. And there`s serious people. But has he studied them?


MATTHEWS: I thought he might have grabbed it off the American Bar Association list or something.

MARCUS: There`s a Heritage Foundation list that he got a bunch from, OK?


MARCUS: And that just shows what his aim is.

MATTHEWS: You`re saying he is as bad as Ted Cruz.

MARCUS: I think he`s putting these judges in a bad position, because now everything they decide they will get attention as, oh, potential Supreme Court nominee ruled this way on this case, this way on this case. Obviously, he or she did it because he or she wants the job.

MATTHEWS: Does this grab you, John?



STANTON: One of them actually has spent quite a bit of time on Twitter trolling Donald Trump for being clownish in his policy positions, the guy from Texas.

MATTHEWS: That`s the way you get attention from Trump.


MARCUS: So, they gave a lot of attention to it, yes.


MATTHEWS: We`re not going to have a Supreme Court justice until, what, next March or April or something at the earliest, whoever gets in?

MARCUS: Unless Merrick Garland is confirmed in a lame-duck session after Hillary Clinton is elected.

MATTHEWS: It`s fascinating, because it`s the best the right will do.

MARCUS: Correct.

MATTHEWS: And they will give him 60 votes.

Anyway, Donald Trump says he wants to rehabilitate his image and publicly explain his recent behavior. That`s according to a reporter in "The Washington Post."

"The Post"`s Robert Costa and Phil Rucker write that Trump will do this by publicly addressing head on some of the most controversial episodes of the campaign. "The presumptive Republican presidential`s nominee strategy is fueled by a desire to persuade voters that he`s nothing like the monster he believes his political adversaries and the media have portrayed him to be."

This is great stuff. Trump started last night with an interview with FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly, with whom he feuded with for months.

Let`s watch this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You would be amazed at the ones they don`t retweet.


D. TRUMP: Well, that was a retweet, yes. Did I say that?

KELLY: Many times.

D. TRUMP: Ooh. OK. Excuse me. Over your life, Megyn, you have been called a lot worse. Is that right? Wouldn`t you say? You have had a life that`s not been that easy. And...

KELLY: It`s not about me. It`s not about me. It`s about the messaging to young girls and to...


D. TRUMP: It`s a certain amount of fighting back. It`s a modern-day form of fighting back. It really is.

KELLY: You going to stop that as president?

D. TRUMP: Well, I`m going to stop it about you now, because I think I like our relationship right now. So, I`m certainly not going to do it with you.


MATTHEWS: So, he`s vetting journalists. I like you right now.

Trump`s daughter Ivanka was on CBS this morning refuting some of the negative stories about Trump, her father`s behavior toward women. Let`s watch that.


QUESTION: There`s another woman who was quoted in the article that says that Donald Trump groped her at a meeting, at a business meeting.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD D. TRUMP: Well, yes, look, I`m not in every interaction my father has, but he`s not a groper. It`s not who he is. And I have known my father obviously my whole life. And he has total respect for women.

QUESTION: He`s called women crazy. He`s called them crooked. That`s what he calls Hillary Clinton. He has even used the words bimbo. Do you ever look at those tweets and say, dad, tone it down?

I. TRUMP: I have certainly thought that certain things should be toned down, but not necessarily in relationship to that.

When I think about myself as a feminist, it`s important that women are treated equally. And he treats women and men equally.


MATTHEWS: I just wonder about pure politics here. A little bit of good and evil is all right occasionally. We do that here too.

Ivanka, a businesswoman, daughter, smart move, right?

STANTON: I guess, to a certain degree.


STANTON: Have her go on to say, he`s not a groper, it`s like his wife going out and saying, he`s not Hitler. Those are things that you shouldn`t have to go out and say.


MATTHEWS: What do you think of this renewal? What is this, what do you call it, remedial effort? Do you think it`s smart to be remedial or just stick to who he is?

MARCUS: No, it`s crazy.

MATTHEWS: He can`t be remedial.

MARCUS: I think, if you`re explaining, you`re not campaigning.


MATTHEWS: That`s my father-in-law. Never explain, never complain.

MARCUS: I`m not a crook. He`s not a groper.

Honestly, if your father were a groper, you probably wouldn`t know he was a groper.

MATTHEWS: OK. Groper was in the question, OK, from Norah. So, she couldn`t avoid that maybe, but go ahead.

MARCUS: Well, she could have avoided it.

STANTON: Do you really think -- it doesn`t sound like -- the way he talks. He says, oh, I`m going to address this head on and explain it, but then it`s basically by doing the same thing he`s always done.

He`s always said, I`m a good guy.

MATTHEWS: Did you read Maureen this weekend, Maureen Dowd this weekend? We all read her. She says, are you going to change? And then he says, Elizabeth Warren, Pocahontas.

MARCUS: Pocahontas.

MATTHEWS: He didn`t change. That stuff comes out of the synapses. It doesn`t go through some deliberative process.

STANTON: No, not at all.

He`s just doing the same thing he`s been doing, just saying he`s now going to explain what he was doing.

MATTHEWS: OK. Last question to both of you. Smart people. You first.

With all the problems he has, 30 percent of the country are minority, and he`s almost X`ed them off as people he`s got in his constituency, a lot of them. And he`s still running roughly even in the national polls.

Who are these people? Women are mad at him, supposedly. Minorities are mad at him. Hispanics are mad at him. And yet he is running roughly even. Is he like sweeping the white male vote like 75 percent? How do you do well as he`s doing in these polls?

MARCUS: He`s sweeping a lot of the white male vote, especially the less educated white male vote.

MATTHEWS: He loves the less educated. He said that.

MARCUS: Indeed. And he will keep explaining that too. There`s a lot of unhappiness out there, Chris. I don`t need to tell you that. And people want a vehicle for their anxiety.

MATTHEWS: I like the way you smile when you say unhappiness.

MARCUS: Anxiety and anger.


MATTHEWS: Columnists Gene and you of "The Washington Post" are the people I almost boringly agree with when I read your columns.

Yes, John, why does he still do among white males -- somebody is voting for him in these polls?

STANTON: Because they look around themselves and they see a world that is completely different than what they want it to be. They have this sort of idyllic notion of a past that never existed, but that they were on top. Right? And they`re no longer on top.

MATTHEWS: Were they? Were these guys on top?


STANTON: No, they never were. But they think that they were.


MATTHEWS: Rust Belt guys?

STANTON: No, they weren`t. They never were.

But they have been told at one point you were on top, and now you`re not, and it`s because of these people.


MATTHEWS: I think there is something going on here. It`s fascinating. Or else people are lying to pollsters. But I think a lot of people are denying they`re for Trump, too. A lot of women who are Republicans are not going to vote for Trump that may say, yes, we`re Republicans.

MARCUS: There`s some evidence of that in the polls.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think it`s going to be fascinating.

Anyway, John -- there`s going to be people going to the polling who don`t even have their partners or spouses voting, although I think we will figure that out in my family pretty soon.

Anyway, thank you, John Stanton and Ruth Marcus.

Up next, is Bernie Sanders willing to see the Democrats lose in 2016? I`m going to ask Ralph Nader next.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I`m going to shun him, and any good Democratic, any good progressive ought to do the same thing. Don`t be rude to him. Don`t do anything. Don`t -- he`s an egomaniac. He`s self- absorbed. He obviously cost us the presidency. I will not speak this egomaniac`s name.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was of course James Carville 16 years ago speaking about third-party candidate Ralph Nader just after Al Gore appeared to have lost the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

Well, many Democrats feel that Bernie Sanders might have the same effect on the outcome of 2016. Sanders ramping up his attacks on the Democratic Party itself, accusing the party of allowing Trump to capture the votes of the working people of this country. Here is Sanders just last night.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A party which, incredibly, is allowing a right-wing extremist Republican Party to capture the votes of a majority of working people in this country.


MATTHEWS: Well, columnist Dana Milbank of "The Washington Post" today points out -- quote -- "The Vermont socialist is now running against the Democratic Party."

And of his recent attacks on the party, Milbank writes: "This was Ralph Nader`s argument in 2000. There isn`t much difference between the two parties. It produced President George W. Bush."

I`m joined right now by former third-party candidate and consumer advocate and my personal hero Ralph Nader, who is host of "The Ralph Nader Radio Hour" and is host of "Breaking Through Power" to mark the 50th anniversary of his landmark book "Unsafe at Any Speed."

Ralph, thank you.

Tell us about this 50th anniversary of "Unsafe at Any Speed," your book about auto safety.


Well, it`s succeeded in making cars safer. It put into motion a lot of new citizen groups. And that`s why we`re at Constitution Hall next week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We call it the Super Bowl of citizen action.


NADER: And a lot of these leaders brought us safer food, safer cars, protected pensions. Look at Sid Wolfe. He took all kinds of dangerous drugs off the market.

These are the experts, movers and shakers that are off limits to the election. Nobody wants to know their names.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me hear about it, because I knew a lot of them back then. I knew them back -- Mike Pertschuk and...


MATTHEWS: ... Magnuson and Frank Moss and all those guys in the U.S. Senate and the staffers who worked with you on truth in packaging, truth in labeling it, all kinds of that good stuff, so you can eat a can of tuna fish and it`s safe.

NADER: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: And get on a plane -- anyway, what happened to all that, that reform? Is it still there?

NADER: Well, it`s still in place.

The Republicans tried to unravel some of it with their so-called deregulation. The point is that elections today, the commercialization of elections leaves democracy off limits. It`s like there`s a quarantine with these citizen groups. Nobody asks their opinion. Nobody asks for their involvement. Yet they`re the experts, movers and shakers who have actually helped to change this country.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about this choice people face now.

Bernie Sanders still has got a lot of zealotry behind him, a lot of passion behind him. He`s losing in the numbers. It may be almost impossible at this point for him to win. How should progressives end up this campaign? How should it work to win the election against Trump?

NADER: Well, first of all, I think it`s going be fairly easy to win the election against Trump, because he`s not only uncontrollable, he`s self- uncontrollable.

It`s like a dust-up or an eruption around his ego every day. If you run for president, it`s not all about you. It`s about the people. So, I don`t think that`s going to be that difficult a victory. However...

MATTHEWS: But you don`t want to vote for Hillary, I heard, because that`s...

NADER: No, not a corporatist and a...


MATTHEWS: OK. So, how do you beat Trump if she`s the only alternative?

NADER: Well, she or Bernie could beat Trump. Bernie is ahead in the polls against Trump. You know that.


MATTHEWS: But you -- I know it all. But what about come to July when you have to choose? What do you do? What do you decide?

NADER: My vote is one of conscience. I don`t disclose my vote. But I never vote for somebody I don`t believe in. Obviously, I don`t believe in Hillary`s militarism.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think she`s more hawkish than Obama, certainly.

NADER: Yes. She scares the generals.

MATTHEWS: How far -- do you think she`s more hawkish than Trump?

NADER: Trump is unknown quantity. First, he says he wants to negotiate with adversaries in North Korea and Russia. And then he says he wants to smash anybody who challenges us and threatens us.

It`s an extremely unstable situation, which is why the business community is going nuts. They don`t know what to do.

MATTHEWS: Let`s deal with this, because you have been at war with General Motors in the beginning 50 years ago and this corporate thing. Explain to people who are not on the serious left here what is it about corporations that are inimical to a democracy? What is the problem with corporations?

NADER: Because they measure their progress by the monetized yardstick of profits, et cetera.

First, they want to control everything. Everything is for sale. They strategically plan our elections, our military procurement. They plan our tax system. They even commercialize childhood to sell kids things that aren`t good for them.

In other words, they don`t know boundaries. Every major religion in the world warn their adherents not to support heavily the merchant class. Beware, because they don`t know boundaries that protect other values. You see?

On this situation, we got a corporate state. The first thing corporations want to do is control government and turn the government against the people, because the government is the only counterweight now to these giant global corporations who have no allegiance to any community or country, other than to control them.

MATTHEWS: Yes. But what about the people? What do we to cheer on people like Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, people like that?

There are still people like you in this government.

NADER: Yes. Well, they need infrastructure of active citizens.

That`s what is all about. Want to come -- people come to Constitution Hall. They will see success. And they will say, look how small these groups are. They improved our country over the years. What if we were more engaged?


MATTHEWS: I want to give you the ad here.

Breaking Through Power next week in Washington at Constitution Hall.

NADER: Right.

NADER: Come one, come all. If they can`t pay the ticket, they get it free on a scholarship.

MATTHEWS: Ralph Nader, thank you, sir.

NADER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: There`s only one Ralph Nader. Thank you.

Up next, fortunately -- just kidding -- the HARDBALL roundtable on Bernie Sanders` war with the Democratic Party, plus Donald Trump`s latest attempt to gloss over the missteps of the primaries, including what he told me about punishing women for having abortions.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



Time for the HARDBALL round table tonight.

And joining us tonight, Colleen McCain Nelson, she`s White House correspondent with "The Wall Street Journal", Dana Milbank is the political columnist with "The Washington Post". Francesca Chambers is the White House correspondent with "The Daily Mail".

And as you all just saw in our last segment, we spoke with Ralph Nader, and I asked him about Dana Milbank`s piece in "The Post" today that Sanders may end being the Ralph Nader of 2016.

Dana, you wrote this, "This was Ralph Nader`s argument in 2000 that there isn`t that much difference between the two political parties. It produced President George W. Bush. Sanders said at start of his campaign that he wouldn`t do what Nader did because there is a difference between the parties."

Dana, where does it stand now, because that speech last night by Senator Sanders was pretty much fox on both their houses?

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. I mean, I spoke with him before he started this campaign, and he said there`s a difference between two parties. He wasn`t going to do this.

I suspect in his heart he doesn`t want to do that. I think he can`t get out of his own way right now for the moment. He says repeatedly, the top priority is not having Donald Trump become the next president.

So, what he`s doing is contrary to that. I mean, he`s not going to be a Ralph Nader in the sense of running independently. It`s too late for that kind of thing. All he needed to do is say I`m not with her and you have a president.

MATTHEWS: He must be thinking, Francesca, now what fairness means. In the end, it`s not about procedure. It`s about whether he got the votes he deserves, if he got the numbers he got, based on delegates, based on the number of voters who voted for him, right? And it`s a weird system to start with.

They have caucuses. They have conventions. They have superdelegates. I would just get rid of all these mishegoss, to use a great word, and just have one person, one vote.

Sorry, no more caucuses. No more conventions. No more superdelegates. You got to be voted anyway.

What does he want? Is it rule changes? Is it about open primaries so independents can vote, like his people? Or is it particular things about health care, student loans, whatever?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, THE DAILY MAIL: I think it`s all of those things.

MATTHEWS: But if he loses, can he dictate the platform if he loses?

CHAMBERS: Well, he`ll have a lot of -- he`ll have a lot of sway at the convention because he will have a lot of delegates there. But to go back to what you`re saying, I think it`s all of these things. I think he wants to get rid of the super delegate process that was a problem for him this time and for Clinton a last time around.

MATTHEWS: Is he willing to deal on that?

CHAMBERS: Do what?

MATTHEWS: Is he willing to deal?

CHAMBERS: I think --

MATTHEWS: Get rid of the caucuses, along with the superdelegates. Caucuses are not democratic.

CHAMBERS: Caucuses have been helpful to him. That`s the irony of this entire thing.

MATTHEWS: That`s why he has to give up something that`s been helpful to him.

CHAMBERS: Have been helpful to him.

I think that he thinks the super delegates are undemocratic. I think he wants to push out the convention. The thing he said about Medicare for all and free college tuition for everyone. I think he wants all of those things, too. He wants it all, Chris. He doesn`t have to give up anything.

MATTHEWS: But this word "fairness" is an interesting word, but it doesn`t mean anything. Fairness means I get what I want, is that fairness? Then you might as well win.


MATTHEWS: If you care about the progressive unity of, say, people a bit to the left and far to the left agreeing so they have chance of beating the other people in the country politically, what`s that deal look like?

COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I mean, Sanders definitely has a laundry list of things that he wants to have in the platform. And beyond that, I mean, he`s kind of coming to terms with this in real time. I mean, he`s been riding this wave of momentum and he`s still held on to the beliefs that he could actually win.

And so, he`s trying to decide what that might look like. He wants his movement to live on in some form beyond the convention. But I`m not sure even he knows what that looks like. And Clinton advisers say they`re willing to give him stuff at their convention.

MATTHEWS: Is this all rational now? He seems angry. I mean, always get angry when you lose. There`s nothing weird about him.

NELSON: They`re running out of options.

CHAMBERS: I think he is angry, Chris. I do think he is angry. This was talked about earlier in the show. He`s not angry. He`s not bitter.

Absolutely. How can you watch that speech last night and say he`s not angry about the way he perceives he`s been treated which is unfairly?

MATTHEWS: Well, it could also be he`s disappointed and that comes with life. He said he was going to lead a political revolution and the turn out has not grown. I mean, the younger people are voting but the poll turnouts are not there.

MILBANK: I mean, he`s angry about one thing and that is that he`s not going to be the Democratic nominee. He has every right to be unhappy it didn`t happen. But he didn`t get the largest number of votes. He didn`t get the largest number of votes in Nevada either, so which is what we`re all having this kerfuffle about right now.

MATTHEWS: Why is he mad about Nevada if he lost there?

MILBANK: Well, and the whole thing is -- even if he had his way, he was going to get two extra delegates. He`s not getting the nomination no matter what happens.

MATTHEWS: I`m never going to forget the phrase you said last night. The reason they were angry is they gave him too much booze.


MATTHEWS: Am I watching an old cowboy movie here?

Anyway, Donald Trump is further distancing himself from some controversial comments he made in March to me here on HARDBALL about punishing women for having abortion if the procedure were it made illegal. Here is that conversation from the town hall and then you`ll hear what he`s saying.


MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.


MATTHEWS: And now, Donald Trump says he meant that women punish themselves. In a piece today in "The New York Times Magazine" that comes out this weekend, Trump tells Robert Draper, the writer, "I didn`t mean punishment for women like prison. I`m saying women punish themselves. I didn`t want people to think in terms of prison punishment and because of that, I walked it back." Well, I feel like Carly Fiorina, every woman in America knew what he meant.

NELSON: Exactly. Exactly.

Well, and he did -- he`s already walked it back seven times. I mean, he walked it back one way. He walked it back a different way. I mean, this is just the latest revision. This is the revision as he pivots toward the general election.

I mean, he was trying to establish himself as a pro-life candidate when he was still running against the Republican field.

MATTHEWS: He sounds like this kind of pro-lifer.

NELSON: Exactly. But now that he`s pivoting to the general, we`re hearing yet another walk back from Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: The round table is going to stick with us.

And up next, these three are going to tell me something I don`t know, which is normal here.

And this HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie set another new low in approval in his home state. And what`s worse? Jersey voters don`t want him on the Republican ticket with Donald Trump. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, two-thirds of New Jersey voters disapprove of the job Christie is doing as governor and nearly three quarters, 72 percent, say Trump shouldn`t pick Christie as his running mate versus just 18 percent who say Christie should be on the ticket.

Well, that`s a big vote of confidence.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

And, Francesca, tell me something I don`t know.

CHAMBERS: Well, in 2008 around this time, everyone was saying Hillary Clinton also needed to drop out when she was running against Barack Obama. In the end, she won 23 contests that year. Already, Bernie Sanders has won 21. So, he`s on track to meet her or exceed her in the number of contests he`s won.

MATTHEWS: So, he`s on the ticket?


MATTHEWS: Secretary of state?


MILBANK: What you may not know is we still have a Congress and it`s functioning now but you might wish it weren`t functioning because this week, the House is voting, and next week, the Senate is voting to send $500 million to Putin so that he can give us some Russian rocket engines to send our Pentagon satellites into space.

MATTHEWS: That`s cooperation. It`s detente.


NELSON: A growing number of Democrats say they`re nervous that they`re the ones who are going to have the disorderly and divisive convention in Philadelphia. And part of the reason is if you poll the permits of people who are applying to protest and demonstrate at the convention in Philadelphia, there are a large number of Bernie Sanders supporters who have applied for permits who are already organizing buses and rallies, and promising a revolution at the convention.

And Sanders aides say they`re not sure that they can control what their supporters do in Philadelphia.

MATTHEWS: We`ve been hearing that.

Anyway, Colleen McCain Nelson, Dana Milbank and Francesca Chambers.

When we return, let me finish with a test of leadership for the Democrats.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a test of leadership.

We`ve all watched elected Republicans fail that test. We saw Speaker Boehner let Donald Trump pipe up that birther theory of his. We saw Republicans host a tea party all these years, letting them yelp and filibuster and even stop the government. And we saw what all this appeasement of the hard right has done. The party of Abraham Lincoln is now the party of Donald Trump.

And all this happened because the elected officials of the party stood back and bought peace at whatever price they could get it and the price has been the Republican Party itself, now in bondage buried in the basement of Trump Tower.

The Democrats now face a similar test as the nominee battles those she defeated. Does she accept of the agenda of the candidate she`s beaten and act as if his positions are her positions? I think we all know the answer. As the great Democrat Adlai Stevenson once said best, "It`s the duty of leaders to lead", and that`s the test Republicans failed. It`s what happened to the people who could have, should have been setting the course the past half dozen years rather than buckle and snuggle up to the Tea Party, rather than shrink before the birthers and the wild ones, they could have made their case for what could -- what should be done. Rather than pander, they might just have led.

Well, the battle of the Republican Party is over. The party has lost. Trump has won.

The battle of the Democratic Party has begun between now and Philadelphia. The question is whether it`s likely nominee has the fight to lead it.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.