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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript, 6/10/2016

Guests: Steve Reilly, Jeanne Zaino, Azi Paybarah, Anne Gearan

Show: HARDBALL Date: June 10, 2016 Guest: Steve Reilly, Jeanne Zaino, Azi Paybarah, Anne Gearan

STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: The Democrats come out swinging for Clinton, but where are Trump`s allies?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

And good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.

Hillary Clinton called it a big week for her campaign today. She picked up the endorsement of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren. This morning, Clinton met with Warren at her Washington, D.C., home, a source familiar with that meeting telling MSNBC that the two discussed how they could work together to advance a progressive agenda, also to attack Donald Trump.

And this afternoon, there were dueling speeches from Clinton and Trump full of red meat attacks for both of their bases, Clinton telling Planned Parenthood that women should ask themselves whether they really want to put their health, their lives and their futures in Donald Trump`s hands.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He actually said women should be punished for having abortions. Anyone who would so casually agree to the idea of punishing women, like it was nothing to him, the most obvious thing in the world -- that`s someone who doesn`t hold women in high regard.

But don`t worry. Donald assures us that as president, he`ll be -- and I quote again, "the best" for women. Anyone who wants to defund Planned Parenthood and wipe out safe legal abortion has no idea what`s best for women. And after all, this is a man who has called women pigs, dogs and disgusting animals. Kind of hard to imagine counting on him to respect our fundamental rights.


KORNACKI: Across town, Trump spoke at the Faith and Freedom conference.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton has jeopardized, totally jeopardized national security by putting her e-mails on a private server all to hide her corrupt dealings. She`s now under criminal investigation. That was announced yesterday by the White House. I mean, it`s criminal investigation! First time ever, by the way, a president of the United States endorsed somebody under criminal investigation. Interesting.

Bill and Hillary made $153 million giving speeches to special interest groups since 2001. That`s a lot of money. That`s a lot of money!


TRUMP: These donors own Hillary Clinton. They own her.


KORNACKI: And the difference between where the two parties are right now was on stark display this week, as we mentioned, Clinton picking up a series of major endorsements.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know how hard this job can be. That`s why I know Hillary will be so good at it. In fact, I don`t think there`s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody who thinks that whoever the next president is -- and God willing, in my view, it will be Secretary Clinton -- but whoever the next president is...


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States and to make sure that Donald Trump never gets anyplace close to the White House.


KORNACKI: That`s the Democratic Party. Now here`s where Republicans stand when it comes to their candidate.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Like many Americans, I`m struggling with the choices that we have this fall.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Mr. Trump needs to make some changes. And we`re under no obligation to support him.

SEN. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: I cannot support him because of what he said about the judge. That was too racist and bigoted for me.

QUESTION: That was the final straw for you?

KIRK: That was a big straw for me.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would like to support our nominee. I just can`t.

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Right now, the Republican Party is facing -- the plane is headed towards the mountain. I think the party ought to change the nominee because we`re going to get killed with this nominee.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, the divisiveness, the division, the name calling -- it just doesn`t go down well with me.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think he`d have a much better chance of winning if he would quit making so many unfortunate public utterances and stick to the script.


KORNACKI: That was Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, talking to Bloomberg. He was also asked in that interview for VP suggestions, and his answer speaks volumes about where the Republican leadership is when it comes to their presidential candidate.


MCCONNELL: He needs somebody highly experienced and very knowledgeable because it`s pretty obvious he doesn`t know a lot about the issues.


KORNACKI: Well, a new national poll from Fox News shows the past few weeks have done some damage to Donald Trump. He now trails Clinton by 3 points, 42 to 39 percent. That is a change from last month, when Trump was ahead of Clinton in that same poll by 3 points, so a drop of 6 points for Trump while Clinton`s support has remained the same.

Robert Costa is a national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. Anne Gearan is also a national political reporter for "The Washington Post," and Jonathan Capehart is an opinion write for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor. It`s the "Washington Post" show tonight here on HARDBALL!


KORNACKI: I feel like I should get some kind of contributor title to "The Post." Robert Costa, let me -- let me start with you. Mitch McConnell -- those comments from Mitch McConnell -- what`s most significant to me about them is the fact that he`s making them. This is a guy who is loath to speak out publicly, to get off -- to be saying anything negative about his own team, about his own party. The simple fact that he`s saying anything here seems to speak volumes.

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Most times in presidential campaigns, communications to the candidate from within the party -- they`re done via back channels. But in this campaign, especially with Donald Trump as the standard bearer, these communications are being done in public, through the media. And you see this with Senator McConnell and so many other party leaders. They`re trying to make their advice to Trump public so he hears it and perhaps listens to it.

This is a party that`s grappling with someone who`s not an insider, someone who is reluctant to have their advice, but they feel a burden, because they want to keep their majorities and keep their party in line, to say it.

KORNACKI: So Anne, is there any indication Trump is getting that message and is adjusting in any way? He gave that speech today. He gave also a speech on Tuesday night, where he used a teleprompter. He had some sort of prepared talking points. There does seem to be. we haven`t heard any kind of an apology here for these comments about the judge, but there does seem to be publicly some degree of a shift here from Trump.

ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean, I think the Mitch McConnell view of this would probably be, you know, one step forward, two steps back, right? We did see Donald Trump use a teleprompter and not give an over- the-top speech on Tuesday. And then a little bit later in the week, he was back to calling Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas," which is exactly the kind of thing that makes other senators, her colleagues, cringe and makes it hard for the Mitch McConnells or even the Bob Doles of the world to feel good about the choice they`ve said they`ve -- they`ve publicly said they`ve made to support him, but they all sort of sound like they have a gun to their heads.

KORNACKI: You know, Jonathan, we put poll up a minute ago, Fox News, a 3- point lead now for Hillary Clinton, a drop of 6 points in the last month for Donald Trump. Look, obviously, the headline there not good for Donald Trump. But I also kind of look at this the other way. Look, for all of the grief that he`s brought on himself in the last couple weeks, he`s still only 3 points behind Hillary Clinton. It looks like a few people have moved away from him. Nobody`s moved toward Hillary Clinton.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right, but this is the first poll we`ve seen since the Judge Curiel mess has sort of, like, blown up the Republican Party. I`ll be curious to see the following polls that come out to see whether that 6-point -- that 6-point drop that Donald Trump has in that poll is consistent, and in other polls, it could be bigger.

I mean, this is -- this poll shows that we have moved away from the Republican primary season and now we are in the general election, when people now start looking at both candidates, both presumptive nominees, through the lens of, Well do -- how would they be in the Oval Office? People start to get more serious.

Yes, I know it`s June. The conventions haven`t happened, and people really start focusing in the fall. But what we`ve seen over the last week I think is so serious for a lot of people that they`re starting to think about things that they normally think in the fall -- think about in the fall. They`re thinking about it now.

KORNACKI: Robert Costa, take us inside Trump world. How are they processing this? Do they think there`s sort of a crisis playing out around them? Do they think they can just weather the storm here? How are they thinking about what we`re talking about right now?

COSTA: The most striking thing that I`ve heard from my reporting is the Trump campaign and its senior advisers are now working more closely than ever with the Republican National Committee to try to come up with a coordinated message, a more disciplined Trump.

I think an important moment may be this coming Monday, when Trump gives a speech that he`s already previewed publicly talking about the Clintons -- and that`s in the plural sense, talking about the former president and the presumptive Democratic nominee. And that`s something the RNC has wanted Trump to do for a long time, to coordinate with them an anti-Clinton message, rather than being more scattershot in his messaging.

KORNACKI: So that`s interesting, some coordination there between Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee. At the same time, you have these leading Republican voices who`ve been speaking out against him. And on the other side, meanwhile, in her fight against Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton now going to rely on the support of two key allies from within her own party, President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren, both of them now off the sidelines.

And last night, the president mocked Trump on the "Tonight" show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Mr. President, since you`re here I got to ask, have you been watching all the election coverage this week about Donald Trump?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, but I have been watching my new favorite show, "Orange Is not the New Black."


KORNACKI: And Warren meanwhile unloading a blistering attack on Trump last night.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and who serves no one but himself!

We will not allow a small, insecure, thin-skinned wannabe tyrant or his allies in the Senate to destroy the rule of law in the United States of America. We will not!



KORNACKI: Well, Anne Gearan, it seems like we might be at an interesting sort of test moment here in this campaign. Jonathan Capehart was just talking about this a minute ago, but you`ve got Donald Trump sort of taking on water right now. Meanwhile, you got the Democratic Party starting to unite. We`ve heard all this talk the last few weeks, when Hillary Clinton emerges, when the party unites, you know, will her poll numbers go up? At the same time, we have had -- it`s almost a cliche to say this, but for a year now, we`ve had predictions of Donald Trump`s imminent polling demise.

It does seem to be a test here. All the ingredients are in place for Hillary Clinton to open up a lead here in the polls. It`ll say something, I guess, if she does or if she doesn`t.

GEARAN: Well, I mean, she`s got a lot of help at the moment that she didn`t have just a couple weeks or a month ago when the talk was on her side of the race all about, Can she unify the party? Yes, Bernie`s eventually going to be toast, but he`s such a drag on her. It`s an embarrassment that she is where she is nationally against Trump. It`s an embarrassment that Bernie is still around.

This week allowed her to change the conversation quite a bit, and the addition of President Obama and Elizabeth Warren into it also -- certainly don`t discount Joe Biden as surrogates for her -- I think really does give her at least the potential to start making a very, very strong red meat Democratic argument going forward and also to try to continue the part of that argument that she may be best at making, which is the appeal to independents, moderate Republican women, other people turned off by Trump that she can kind of say, Hey, you have a home here with me.

What you just heard from Elizabeth Warren is the opposite of that, which is, you know, just sort of the Donald Trump cannot be president and here`s why argument. And I think we`ll continue to hear her making that in similar forceful fashion.

KORNACKI: You know, Jonathan, things feel a little different right now when the subject of Democratic unity comes up. I know for the last few weeks of this Clinton-Sanders race, I was trying to draw comparisons between the final days of the 2008 campaign, when there was all this panic among Democrats that they`d never come back together after the Obama- Clinton campaign.

Here we are at the end of this week. It`s only been a couple days since California and New Jersey, and it already feels like the Democratic Party is -- is getting close to united, and the Bernie Sanders question is no longer, Is he going to fight this to the convention, it`s just about the terms of surrender now.

CAPEHART: Right. When you have the president of the United States, the vice president of the United States all basically saying to you, Look, it`s done, we got to unite, we have to do this, and that sitting president of the United States is popular with the core of the Democratic Party base but also is sitting at -- sitting above 50 percent in terms of national popularity, that`s a heavy thing for a candidate.

And then on top of that, you have Senator Elizabeth Warren out there who is -- like, folks wanted her to run, and she didn`t, and so they all rallied around Bernie Sanders. Now you`ve got all of these people who are behind the presumptive nominee, and yes, that took a lot of wind out of Senator Sanders`s sails.

And you know, Democrats, I think, are used to having this sort of quadrennial panic attack when it comes to party unity. But you know, I remember in 2008, and thinking, Wow, how`s this going to work? This has mended itself so quickly I think for the reasons that I just articulated, and especially since the other side, the Republican Party, is in such chaos that they actually make Democrats look good.

KORNACKI: All right, Jonathan Capehart, Anne Gearan, Robert Costa -- this concludes the "Washington Post" segment of tonight`s edition of HARDBALL.


KORNACKI: Thank you all for joining us.

And coming up, the road to 270. Now that it`s Clinton-Trump, we can game out and start to game out the Electoral College map. Which states are Trump -- is Trump looking to flip? Where can Clinton make inroads? That is coming up.

Plus, some bad headlines for Trump as a "USA Today" investigation finds he has a pattern of not always paying his bills. We`ve got the reporter who broke that story with all the details joining us tonight.

And after last night`s spirited attack on Trump, could Elizabeth Warren find herself on Clinton`s ticket? We`ll look at the best running mate picks for both Clinton and Trump, a little veepstakes talk coming up.

And finally, the HARDBALL roundtable is going to be here to tell us something about this general election that I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


KORNACKI: Muhammad Ali was laid to rest this afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky. Among those delivering eulogies, former president Bill Clinton.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all have an Ali story. It`s the gifts we all have that should be most honored tonight because he released them to the world, never wasting a day that the rest of us could see, anyway, feeling sorry for himself that he had Parkinson`s, knowing that more than three decades of his life would be circumscribed in ways that would be chilling to the naked eye. But with a free spirit, it made his life bigger, not smaller because other people, all of us unlettered, unschooled in the unleashing, said, Well, would you look at that?

Look at that. May not be able to run across a ring anymore, may not be able to dodge everybody and exhaust everybody anymore, and he`s bigger than ever because he is a free man of faith sharing the gifts we all have.

We should honor him by letting our gifts go among the world as he did. God bless you, my friend (INAUDIBLE)



KORNACKI: That was Bill Clinton just a short while ago.

And tonight, midnight Eastern here on MSNBC, you can catch a special presentation of the documentary "When We Were Kings" as former rivals pay tribute to Muhammad Ali.

We`ll be right back.


KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The general election is shaping up fast, as both nominees launch their battleground state travel. Next week, Hillary Clinton is going to head to the crucial states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. She will also end up in Wisconsin. That`s where she`s going to appear at a rally with President Obama by her side, the first time the two of them will campaign together.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is going to start tonight in Virginia. He`s going to continue his battleground state tour, heading to Florida, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

And so with the candidates getting into general election mode, we thought we would dust off the big board and give you a look at some of the demographics and some the things on the map to be keeping an eye on.

So, first, let`s look at that route that Donald Trump is trying to take to the White House, because it`s an unconventional one and it`s one that, after the last election, nobody thought any Republican would ever try to take again.

Let me explain. This is what the exit polling looked like at the end of the 2012 election. And you see here Mitt Romney had a giant advantage with Barack Obama when it came to white voters, a 20-point lead, nearly 60 percent of the vote.

And Republicans looked at this and they said, my God, he got nearly 60 percent. He clobbered Obama with the white vote. We can`t do any better than that with the white vote. And so if we`re ever going to win one of these again, the key for us is to expand to non-white voters, specifically to Latino voters.

Remember, Latino voters are a group that just in 2004 were pretty competitive. George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Latino vote. So, the thinking among a lot of Republicans in Washington was, let`s do immigration reform. Let`s show some -- let`s make some overtures to the Latino community. Let`s get that 27 percent up into the 30s, into the 40s, and then we can compete again.

Well, obviously, not the strategy Donald Trump is going after. Donald Trump`s strategy is this. He`s looking at that 59 percent that Romney got with white voters, and he says, I can move that up. I can move that up into the 60s. So, that`s his challenge. Can he get it to 63, 64 percent?

Well, we have some interesting numbers to tell you about on that front. Check this out. Our NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, we have looked at college -- these are non-college whites. These are whites who do not have a college degree. This is interesting, because, look, Donald Trump in our latest poll is leading with them by 27 points.

And, look, in 2012, Mitt Romney only won the same group by 25 points. So, already, just starting out, Trump is actually improving on where Mitt Romney did with non-college whites.

But here is the flip side of that. Check out whites with college degrees, and you see a tie right now, Clinton, 44, Trump, 44. Look, in 2012, Mitt Romney won this same group by 14 points. And so what you see going on are two different groups of white voters going in two different directions when presented with Donald Trump.

White college graduates, they are running away from him. This is a great number for Hillary Clinton, for a Democrat among this group. White non- college voters, they are going toward Donald Trump. You add that together, he`s not yet improving on the Romney total among white voters that he needed to.

Quickly, we can just show you the battleground map. Again, keep this in mind. If Donald Trump is going to get the presidency, he is going to have to win some of these Obama states. Look where Hillary Clinton is playing defense this week. Two of her first stops are going to be Ohio and Pennsylvania, Rust Belt states, a lot of these non-college white voters we`re talking about in these states.

Look, if Donald Trump picked up both of them, if he could pick up Ohio, if he could pick up Pennsylvania, it`s not going to get him to 270, but it`s going to get him closer. And then keep this in mind.

What was the closest state on the board in 2012? It was Florida. That`s the one of first states Donald Trump is going to be in. If he could it move it a few points in Florida -- that`s a big challenge, but if he could, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, look at that. Trump would be there.

So, a couple of things to keep in mind as we start to take a look at this map.

For now, I`m joined by NBC News political reporter Perry Bacon, former adviser to Rand Paul`s presidential campaign and MSNBC political analyst Elise Jordan.

So, Perry, I know you have been looking at some of the possible paths here for Donald Trump. When you look at the idea here of Pennsylvania, of Ohio, of getting that white working-class vote, do you see a path there?


I think -- we`re talking about this earlier, Steve, is there`s an -- there`s an argument to where you look at the -- we think the people of color are rising and the numbers are rising, so we`re going to have the most diverse electorate of all time probably in 2016.

But Pennsylvania and Ohio are not as diverse as the rest of the country are. And there`s an argument to be made that Donald Trump could win those two states while doing -- while not doing too well among minority voters if he can win more white voters.

And then in Florida, Florida has a big Latino population, but it also has a fair amount of Cubans who are more conservative. Also, if -- the white voters in Florida Obama did pretty poorly with in 2012, so you could see a path for Trump to win all three of those states, the challenge being to make sure he doesn`t do worse among, like you said, the white college vote and the white women vote.

He can`t do worse than Romney is. And the evidence so far is he`s going worse than Romney with both those groups right now.

KORNACKI: And, Elise, if you`re taking a look at the map, I will reset it back to what it looked like in 2012.

These were -- see, that`s Indiana. That was not what it was. I pressed the wrong state. Let`s try this again. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, going to reset into the Democratic column. This is what it looked like in 2012. If you`re looking at a scenario for Donald Trump, you`re looking at this map, where would you put the path?

ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I want to say what would be the absolute game-changer and what I think is a distinct possibility, I think Donald Trump could lose Texas, and then it`s really just game over.

And, yes, Romney carried it by 16 percent. It`s a very red state. But it has a large Hispanic population. And if Trump has more weeks like this week, I think that we`re going to really see his numbers crater even more among Hispanic voters. And it had been a steady upward trajectory with George W. Bush in the state, hugely popular among Hispanic voters, and Governor Perry and Governor Abbott.

But I think Trump really stands to lose a lot of ground there. I think that definitely Trump has to lock up the Rust Belt states. I think that he really needs to win Florida. And I think that`s going to be very tough for him.

KORNACKI: It`s interesting. You mentioned Texas. And that`s one of the states where Donald Trump is going to be having one of his early campaign appearances.

If he`s playing defense in three states, there`s going to be three early campaign appearances, one in Texas. He`s also going to be in Georgia. He`s also going to be out here in Arizona.

And you see, if Donald Trump were to lose those three states, what was a pretty solid victory for Barack Obama in 2012 would turn into an absolute landslide. When we talk about Donald Trump playing defense, it`s probably those three states.

But for right now, let`s move those back into the Republican column.

Perry, something else. You know what? I`m trying to talk and do this at the same time. And look what I do to myself. There we go. Now we`re back to 2012 levels.

Perry, the other thing here, the interesting challenge for Donald Trump as well -- and you were alluding to this -- is some of these states that we thought of as big battlegrounds in 2012, thought of as future battlegrounds, a state like Virginia, where Donald Trump is going to be, a state like Colorado, Colorado, which has a fast-growing Latino population, maybe Donald Trump is the worst man Republicans could put those states into play again.

BACON: Right.

I think Donald Trump, you can imagine him putting states like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania in play. Obama won New Hampshire. I think Trump is strong there. Pennsylvania, I can see the white working-class vote, him doing well. Those states, he could flip.

I would say, on the other hand, if you look at a state like North Carolina is one where I would particularly say you have a big minority population, a big college-educated population. That`s a state where you could see him losing that Mitt Romney won.

Also, another thing I wanted to note was, there`s a part of the Midwest where I think it`s really significant to watch is Obama`s going to Wisconsin with Hillary for his first stop. That`s not an accident. You have these three states in the Midwest, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan. Those are three states where the white vote is pretty large, but Obama and Democrats tend to do well there.

Obama`s numbers in Wisconsin and Iowa were really strong. And if Trump can`t win those states either, that again narrows his path. George Bush won Wisconsin, for example, in 2004, so Trump needs to broaden out his base a little beyond those three states.

And I`m not sure where he goes outside of Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania right now.

KORNACKI: Well, it`s interesting.

I just put these states right as you talked about them, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan. If Donald Trump -- this is a big if. Again, this is the biggest if we have put out there yet, I think. But if Donald Trump were to flip those, take a look. You talk about having a Rust Belt strategy, and add in Ohio, you add in Pennsylvania in there, and Donald Trump then would be north of 270 without having to win Virginia, without having to win Florida just in the Rust Belt.

But, again, that would require flipping five of these states up here.

Elise, does that seem at all plausible to you?

JORDAN: I think it`s not plausible at all that Donald Trump is going to win in Iowa. He didn`t win the caucus.

And I think that there`s just no way that he will carry that state. I think that the problem is, he`s looking for these so-called missing white working-class voters. And I don`t think that they`re actually missing from the polls.

In `92, Ross Perot managed to turn out more working-class white voters by about 2 percent. And that was because he energized that sector of the electorate. And I just don`t think you are going to necessarily see that this year.

You look at Trump`s strategy of the things he says might win over working- class voters, but then they make him utterly repellent to another sector, be it white educated women. I really think that Trump absolutely can`t count on white educated women.

KORNACKI: All right.

Elise Jordan, Perry Bacon, thanks for joining us for our first fun segment of many with this board as the fall campaign kicks off in June. Our thanks for that.

And still ahead, Donald Trump not fully paying his bills? We have got the reporter who broke the story for the "USA Today." He`s coming here next with all the details.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

Six U.S. airlines won approval to begin regular commercial flights from five U.S. cities to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years.

After a legal battle with Hulk Hogan and a $140 million legal judgment, Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy protection and is putting itself up for sale.

And a shooting at Dallas Love Field sent the airport into lockdown earlier. A man rushed a police officer after a domestic disturbance and was shot and wounded -- back to HARDBALL.

KORNACKI: And welcome back to HARDBALL.

Earlier today, we heard more from a scripted Donald Trump, who spoke to a gathering of people at the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition, a gathering in Washington, D.C.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Freedom of any kind means no one should be judged by their race or their color and the color of their skin, should not be judged that way.


KORNACKI: But the true test of whether Donald Trump can stay on message will probably come tonight. That`s when the presumptive Republican nominee will speak to throngs of supporters in Richmond, Virginia.

And for more, I`m joined by NBC correspondent Kelly O`Donnell. She`s inside that Trump rally in Richmond.

So, Kelly, that speech Donald Trump gave today, the one he gave the other night, on Tuesday night, really seems like something he`s not necessarily comfortable with. He likes being off the cuff, he likes being spontaneous. Now he`s trying to be more of a scripted, traditional candidate.

Do you think he is going to be able to continue that when he steps into that room tonight with thousands of people egging him on?

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Steve, first of all, the national anthem is being sung right now, so I`m going to try to speak softly to not being disrespectful about that.

But from sources I have been talking to, when Trump is going to do a planned big event speech that`s a policy speech or before a specific audience, you will see more of the scripted Donald Trump, the teleprompter Donald Trump.

But at rally like this at the Richmond Coliseum, this is the area where he derives so much of his energy from a crowd and loves to riff with some of his more colorful jabs at opponents like Hillary Clinton.

So, for Donald Trump, this is the kind of thing where he`s trying to stir the crowd to be excited about his candidacy. Here in Richmond, Virginia, we`re turning toward that battleground state part of the campaign.

And one of them told us that Donald Trump understands that he`s had a very difficult week based on the reaction to the comments he said about Judge Curiel. He knows that it`s been a rough patch. And so you will see him trying to turn the page, to not talk about the judge any longer.

That doesn`t mean he won`t be the Donald Trump we have come to know, where he is very tart with his assessments of opponents like Hillary Clinton, and he will try to push forward. Now, we know that he`s told us that early in the week he will deliver a speech that will be aimed at Hillary Clinton and some of his sort of opposition research, if you will, all in one shiny bow.

But here tonight in Richmond, I`m struck by a couple of things. Outside, limited number of protesters. Not a big crowd. And inside we`re close to the time Trump is supposed to be on stage, and he -- I`m sorry -- somebody is jeering me right now, so bear with me.

Near the time he`s supposed to take the stage, and yet it`s not a full room. So, we will have to see how this goes tonight and what happens with him. There`s definitely a crowd here, probably thousands, but not as big a crowd as we have come to see on the trail with Trump.

So, when he gets to the stage, we will have to measure, is he the Donald Trump of the more polished environment, or will he be the rally Donald Trump that lifted him to the nomination, Steve?

KORNACKI: All right. We will be watching.

Kelly O`Donnell at that Trump rally starting to get under way in Richmond, thanks for that.

And on the subject of Trump, yesterday, "USA Today" published an exclusive investigation that they say shows that various Trump organizations have a history of not paying small businesses and individuals in full for their services.

The story, parts of which NBC News`s Hallie Jackson was able to confirm, was uncovered after reviewing nearly 4,000 lawsuits from the past three decades.

When asked the allegation, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks directed NBC to comments Donald Trump made earlier to the paper. He defended the tactic, saying -- quote -- "Let`s say that they do a job that`s not good or a job that they didn`t finish or a job that was way late. I will deduct from their contract, absolutely. And that`s what the country should be doing."

I`m joined now by "USA Today" investigative journalist Steve Reilly, who reported the story.

So, Steve, thanks for joining us.

Take us through the basics here. Small businesses, individuals, give us an example of somebody you`re reporting on here. What did they do for Trump, for his organization? And what did they get in return? STEVE REILLY, "USA TODAY": Well, thanks for having me.

One example that we looked at is a cabinetry business that was based out of the Philadelphia area. Went to work for the Trump company in 19 -- the 1980s at the casino they were building in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

And the story of the person we talked to was that the Trump company failed to pay the last payment. It was about $83,000 on that contract. And that was damaging to obviously that small business of about 20 employees at the time, and eventually they went bankrupt.

KORNACKI: Was there an explanation from Trump? I`m assuming the company spent a lot of time trying to collect it. What were they hearing back?

REILLY: Well, what is interesting, the small business person said Mr. Trump told them he`s not going to make the final payment. However, they are welcome to come and do work in the future for future Trump projects.

And so that`s inconsistent with Mr. Trump`s statement when I spoke with him for this article that he would only make payments -- only skip on payments if the work was late or deficient in some way.

KORNACKI: Right. I mean, I saw -- that`s what I`m kind of curious here.

Are you finding that this is a series of sort of events where Trump, where his company turn to their vendors and say, look, you guys didn`t get the job done, you didn`t deliver us what you promised you would, we`re not happy, therefore, we`re not going to pay?

Or is this just blanket, not payment, no explanation, sort of just a strategy?

REILLY: The allegations that we looked at, and you mentioned we looked at about 3,500 lawsuits in total involving Mr. Trump as a plaintiff or a defendant or one of his companies. So, the subset of lawsuits and other documents, in which it`s alleged the Trump company failed to make proper payment allege that the contractors and employees did the work they were contracted to do, and did it according to the -- whatever agreement was in place and were not paid fairly for the work.

KORNACKI: All right. Steve Reilly from the "USA Today," it`s an interesting story. Thanks for joining us.

REILLY: Thank you.

KORNACKI: All right. And coming up, she`s currently the number one attack dog in the fight against Donald Trump. But could Elizabeth Warren also be a vice presidential contender? We`ll break down the possibilities for the number two slot on both the Clinton and Trump tickets. That`s coming up next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Do you believe you would be capable of stepping into that job and doing that job if you were ever called to do it?



KORNACKI: And welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren last night, talking to Rachel Maddow about the prospects of becoming Hillary Clinton`s running mate if Hillary Clinton invites her on to the ticket. Clinton met with Warren this morning at Clinton`s home in Washington, D.C. That fueled plenty of V.P. speculation.

Warren hasn`t been shy in voicing her opinions about presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. She`s had some pretty potent attacks against him, including this one just last night.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Trump also whined that he`s being treated unfairly. Donald Trump shows racism as his weapon. You, Donald Trump, are a total disgrace.


KORNACKI: Now, Warren has been called Clinton`s secret weapon. But is it enough to earn her a spot on the Democratic ticket?

Joining me now is tonight`s HARDBALL roundtable, Joan Walsh, MSNBC political analyst and national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", Azi Paybarah is a senior reporter for "Politico", and Jeanne Zaino is political campaign professor at NYU.

Joan, this meeting today, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, they sit down. I`m remembering at the start of this campaign when Joe Biden was thinking about getting in, he called Elizabeth Warren to a meeting and he did talk to her about potentially running with her if he became the Democratic nominee. Do you think that subject came up in this meeting today?

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it had to come up, even as a joke, because it`s present and top of mind for everyone. I don`t know if that`s -- I don`t think that`s what they were doing, I really don`t. I think they were having a getting to know you, thank you for your endorsement, came late in the process, but it really matters.

And -- but perhaps feeling out how compatible are they? How close together are they on the issue of banking regulation, which is huge.

KORNACKI: And Warren has been critical in the past of Hillary Clinton.

WALSH: She has. She`s been critical once or twice. She`s also been supportive.

But I think that there`s got to be some -- both personal and political exploration of whether this makes sense.

I think she`s got to be considering it. I know I`m on record as saying I don`t think it`s a great idea, as a feminist, I`m worried about the men, which I feel really bad about. I worry that it is too much change, too fast. But on the other hand, I`ve been kind of warming to it in the last week, was so many men think it`s a great idea. And there`s something so -- there`s nothing else like it on -- as far as I can see, on the horizon, as a possible pick.

KORNACKI: Jeanne, what do you think? Does it make sense from a political perspective, if you`re Hillary Clinton, if you`re her brain trust, you`re looking at this, what are the pros you see, what are the cons?

JEANNE ZAINO, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: You know, I think it depends a lot on what they think her biggest weakness is, right? So, if they think they need independents and moderates, I agree with Joan, it`s going to be too far to go to Elizabeth Warren, not just because of her gender, but because she`s going to be seen as too lefty.

If they, however, feel that this election is going to be won if and only if they get out the progressive left, the really energetic part of the Democratic Party, then it makes sense to consider an Elizabeth Warren, it makes sense a Bernie Sanders, although I don`t think they`re going there.

So I think it`s going to depend in part on where they see their biggest weaknesses. She comes with a lot of plusses. She has been great in terms of attacking Donald Trump, that`s what you want. She is beloved by the Democratic left.

But she also comes with some negative. You know, she is still a freshman senator from Massachusetts. She is inexperienced, by many people`s estimation, in particular when it comes to foreign policy. And there`s the female issue. Do you want two women on the ticket?

We`re just celebrating this historic moment with Hillary Clinton, is it too far to say we`re going to add Elizabeth Warren now? So, I think there are some negatives there they`re going to have to tangle it.

KORNACKI: And you`re mentioning it there. One thing Warren does seem to do well is get under Donald Trump`s skin. When Warren gave that speech last night, Trump tweeted this, "Pocahontas is at it again. Goofy Elizabeth Warren, one of the least productive senators, has a nasty mouth. Hope she is V.P. choice."

So, yes, we`ve seen this back and forth before. She seems to relish this role, Azi. If we put ideology side, this question, is she too liberal or is she too progressive for the ticket. The idea of just having somebody who relishes attacking the opponent that much and is that good at it, is that a strong argument to put her on the ticket?

AZI PAYBARAH, POLITICO: Well, you saw how effective Joe Biden was in that role. Obama had trouble debating with Hillary Clinton. You get to the general election, and Obama stumbled in the first debate. Joe Biden comes out and has an amazing performance.

I mean, before he became, you know, America`s Uncle Joe and a parody on "Saturday Night Live," he was a slugger. And he actually helped turn the tide and reenergize Obama so he was able to go in for the second and third debate.

And having that ability for someone to sort of mix it up with Trump, if Trump is debating Elizabeth Warren, the undercard, really, you free up Hillary Clinton to make a more direct appeal to voters. And we`ve talked about it before. That Clinton seems to want to make this election about Donald Trump. And at some point, she has to articulate an argument for why people want to elect her, and not just not be Trump.

KORNACKI: What do we think? The flip side of this, Trump, who`s he going to go with? Any thoughts here? This is the ultimate question in politics these days, right? Who would go with him?

WALSH: Exactly. I love the way Mitch McConnell talked about it because he`s got so many deficits, he doesn`t really know anything. Like, maybe they`ll change the rules and he`ll get to have three vice presidents with, because he`ll need, you know, military, domestic, whatever -- a vice president of insults.

ZAINO: He invites three people --


KORNACKI: I can`t think of an example where -- we always ask, you know, who would be lucky enough to be chosen. But who would actually want it?

WALSH: Chris Christie would want it. I think he`s a terrible choice, but he would want it. I could still see that happening.

ZAINO: I think the best choice is a Bob Corker. I think that would be a really smart choice.

KORNACKI: But he falls into that category, would he take it?

ZAINO: I think you would really have to work on of it. But to the establishment folks, that would say a lot. And that would balance the temperament and experience issue.

KORNACKI: People laugh at me when I say this, and I`m still trying to figure out why I`ll give you who I think it`s going to be. I`m not even kidding. Scott Brown.

I think Scott Brown falls into the category of would take it, would be compatible with Donald Trump, would like it. And by the way, a Scott Nrown/Elizabeth Warren debate. They`re looking at me again.

ZAINO: We are --

KORNACKI: Roundtable is staying with us.

I was kidding. I know why they laugh. But I say it anyway.

Up next, these three are going to tell me something I don`t know, which is not hard to do.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


KORNACKI: Play HARDBALL with us all week long online. You can follow HARDBALL on Twitter and Instagram and like HARDBALL on Facebook. You`ll get an all-access pass to show videos, behind the scenes photos, and the best political analysis of the 2016 campaign.

We`ll be right back.


KORNACKI: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

And, Joan Walsh, tell me something I don`t know.

WALSH: Bernie Sanders had an Election Day rally in Green Bay for the Wisconsin primary. So I think that`s really an interesting choice for President Obama and Hillary Clinton. They`re going after the Sanders voters. They`re going after the Green Bay packer fans.

But I also wonder, and this is something I don`t know. Could it be possible that Bernie shows up in Wisconsin on Wednesday? Just throwing that out there.

KORNACKI: Just don`t tell John Kerry, because he`ll call it Lambert Field again.


PAYBARAH: OK, you were talking about North Carolina, and there`s 1.5 million more white voters than non-white voters. But give Hillary a reason for hope. There`s 600,000 more Democrats and Republicans and as the person who`s trying to be the first woman elected, 500,000 more women registered voters than men.

KORNACKI: All right. Jeanne, with ten seconds on the clock.

ZAINO: Ten seconds to go, 87 days, Merrick Garland will be in the top ten nominees waiting the longest as of tomorrow and he will match Louis Brandeis when the Republicans meet for the convention in July as the longest nominee to sit without a vote for the Supreme Court.

KORNACKI: I did not know that.

Jeanne, Azi --

ZAINO: See, I told you, Steve!

KORNACKI: But I knew Joan`s. No, I didn`t know that.

WALSH: You`re so mean.

KORNACKI: Thank you for joining us. I don`t know anything.

HARDBALL`s back after this.


KORNACKI: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

We await Donald Trump at his campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia. Full coverage coming up next on "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES."