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Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript, 6/16/2016

Guests: Colleen McCain Nelson, Michael Steel, Indira Lakshmanan, Cory Booker, Heidi Przybyla, Steve McMahon, Dianne Feinstein

Show: HARDBALL Date: June 16, 2016 Guest: Colleen McCain Nelson, Michael Steel, Indira Lakshmanan, Cory Booker, Heidi Przybyla, Steve McMahon, Dianne Feinstein


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, tonight, the man who will be the Republican candidate for president of this country stands on a mountain, high up there and alone. All around him is the open space normally filled by the new friends that show up for the spoils of victory. Is that because they see no victory coming?


ANDREW CARD, FMR. GEORGE W. BUSH WH CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, my fear is that Donald Trump is the head of the narcissist party, rather than the head of the Republican Party right now. I think that he`s being very selfish.

SEN. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: I do not support Hillary Clinton, and I told the public that I do not support Donald Trump, either. I think he`s too bigoted and racist for the Land of Lincoln.

REP. FRED UPTON (R), MICHIGAN: We`ve got a long way to go, but it seems to a lot of us that the train is off the track. Not a lot of happy campers in terms of how this race is proceeding so far.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s painful. You know, people even get divorces. You know, I mean, sometimes, things come about that -- that -- look, I`m sorry that this has happened, but I mean, we`ll see where it ends up. It`s -- I`m not making any final decision yet. But at this point, I just can`t do it.


MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump`s response to all that? Who cares. Yesterday, he told supporters in Atlanta Republican leaders need to be quiet.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The Republicans -- honestly, folks, our leaders -- our leaders have to get tougher. Our leaders have to get a lot tougher! And be quiet. Just please be quiet. Don`t talk. Please be quiet. Just be quiet, to the leaders, because they have to get tougher. They have the get sharper. They have to get smarter.

We have to have our Republicans either stick together, or let me just do it by myself. I`ll do very well. I`m going to do very well.


MATTHEWS: Let me do it by myself.

Perhaps the most troubling figure for Trump right now is the number 70. According to the latest "Washington Post"/ABC poll, that`s his national unfavorable rating. It`s an historic high for a major party`s nominee for president.

By comparison, Hillary Clinton is viewed unfavorably by 55 percent of voters, which is also her highest negative number to date. Can Trump turn it around?

Robert Costa`s national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. Michael Steele`s the former chair of the Republican National Committee and an MSNBC political analyst. And Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist.

Robert, I -- you`ve been covering this guy for an awful long time. And I guess my question -- is this the final plan of the Republican Party to basically say, You don`t like Hillary, vote for this guy, because all we got on the Republican side is a very high number, somewhere close to 50, of negativity toward Hillary, or more?

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, there`s a sense within the party that Trump is not of the party, that he is just running for Trump. And some of them are comfortable with that. They think he can rouse working class voters and his populism and celebrity could draw some people to the polls. But there`s not an embrace of bringing him into fold and of people trying to get into the Trump camp. There`s a sense that his is going to go on. They can`t stop him at the moment, but they have to just survive and endure.

MATTHEWS: What`s it feel like to be shut off from this guy? How`s the -- how`s the gag order working for "The Washington Post"? Does it work at all? Does it bother your reporting at all? I`m just curious because he`s shut out more and more. Everybody seems to be on this growing list of reporters that Trump says can`t come and cover him.

COSTA: My reporting continues. So does "The Washington Post." I`ve been talking to my Trump sources today. I spoke to Sam Clovis, the campaign chairman, on the record interview in the last couple days. And my sense is in Trump`s campaign, they`re going to with the candidate`s gut, and that`s to not care about warming up to Paul Ryan or to Leader McConnell in the Senate. This is Trump, and they`re going to continue to ride that train.

MATTHEWS: Let me go -- hang in there. Let me go to Michael Steele. There`s a sort of a Howard Beale thing catching on here, don`t you think?


MATTHEWS: You know, from that work (ph) -- a little scary because...


MATTHEWS: ... when you say things -- I don`t want your help, Go away, basically, Shut up.

STEELE: Well, he`s always been an independent actor. He`s been a lone wolf in business, certainly been a lone wolf in what he`s been doing in terms of national media. This arrangement now is such that you have all these other folks who have an opinion about what you`re doing and they have a way in which they want you to do it. And he`s rejecting that.

MATTHEWS: He needs five times the votes in November that he got...

STEELE: That`s the problem.

MATTHEWS: Does he know that?

STEELE: He`s still running a primary strategy in a general election, in which case, he`s...

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: How`s that going to work for him?

STEELE: It`s not going to work out well, and I think that`s...

MATTHEWS: That was a set-up...


STEELE: Yes, it`s a set-up for you (ph). Trying to make your job a little bit easier...

MCMAHON: Thank you.

STEELE: ... because it`ll become more difficult later...


STEELE: ... this November, when we start talking about other things. But -- we have to get there first. But the reality for Trump right now, I think, Chris, is, does he want to share at least a little bit of that space with the party and its leadership so that they can go into this convention and come out of it on a better footing than they are right now? They`ve got to bring that 70 percent number down. It cannot afford -- they cannot afford to have it grow more...


STEELE: ... nor can they have it stick. That -- that`s the reality.

MATTHEWS: I think they still have the big (INAUDIBLE) states like Pennsylvania, and I just wonder, Steve -- Steve, how do -- why wouldn`t you want to take advantage of the fact that a lot of people are born Republicans, they`ll end up being dead Republicans because this is the way they were brought up? Why wouldn`t you want all those automatic Republican votes if you`re Donald Trump?

MCMAHON: You would. And you need every single one of them in order to get close, and then you need to convert some of the ones who are Democrats last time in order to win.


MCMAHON: And he`s actually going in the other direction. As Hillary Clinton is consolidating her vote -- you know, Bernie Sanders is gracefully pulling...


MATTHEWS: OK, why is Hillary spiking to the highest negatives she`s ever had after the best week she`s ever had? I don`t get this.

MCMAHON: Yes. Well...

MATTHEWS: She had a very good week last week, a hell of a speech. She played it brilliantly. She stuck it to Trump, great sarcasm, great substance. Up to 55 percent negative. If it weren`t for Trump, she`d be - - she`d be breaking the record.

MCMAHON: So it`s very -- it`s very difficult, as you know, once you get a negative image...

MATTHEWS: But it`s going up.

STEELE: It`s going up.


MCMAHON: Once you get a negative...


MATTHEWS: Is Bernie doing it? Is he...

MCMAHON: Bernie`s -- Bernie`s done it a little bit. Donald Trump is doing it some. I expect the Bernie voter to start to warm to Hillary Clinton. It doesn`t happen...


STEELE: Good luck with that!


MATTHEWS: We`ll get to that...

MCMAHON: Structurally, this is still a 7 or 8-point race to Hillary`s advantage. You`re starting to see that now in the polls, and Donald Trump isn`t doing anything to reverse it. He`s actually doing something to drive the Republicans away.

STEELE: Which is a key point to understand, that this is still within his grasp to move it in his direction.

MCMAHON: But he`s moving it the wrong way.

STEELE: But he`s moving it the wrong...

MATTHEWS: OK, earlier today, Senator John McCain accused President Obama of being, quote -- his quote -- "directly responsible" for the attack in Orlando this past weekend. Here`s the senator`s reasoning.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria and became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama`s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq, thinking that conflicts end just because we leave. So the responsibility lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies.


QUESTION: How do you say he`s directly responsible?

MCCAIN: Directly responsible because he pulled everybody out of Iraq. And I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked and there would be attacks on the United States of America. It`s a matter of record. So he is directly responsible.


MATTHEWS: Well, Senator McCain put out a statement later in the day today, trying to clarify. Quote, "I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama`s national security decisions, not the president himself."

McCain`s comments quickly became political fodder. Senator Harry Reid`s spokesman said, "Senator McCain`s unhinged" -- well, that`s an interesting word -- "unhinged comments are just the latest proof that Senate Republicans are puppets of Donald Trump."

Anyway, meanwhile, Trump`s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, seized on McCain`s comments tweeting out the quote that the president was directly responsible.

Interesting. Let me go back to Robert on this. Robert, it`s great having you on. I`m trying to figure out this McCain thing. Is this primary politics, general election politics, because all afternoon, he was trying to pull it back, but he ended up saying the same thing, the actions of President Obama led to ISIS, and I guess, ultimately to this attack because it`s -- it was blamed on ISIS. It was scored in favor of ISIS, if you will, by the guy who did it.

And my question is, why are we getting back into that blame game again, where the Democrats can say the same thing to the Republicans for having taken apart the Iraqi army from top to bottom and sending them off to join ISIS? Anybody can play this game. Why does he want to -- why is -- what`s the -- what`s this partisanship getting vividly unpleasant about all of a sudden?

COSTA: When Senator McCain was up for reelection in 2010, we saw him ramp up his rhetoric on immigration. He`s in a tough reelection fight six years later, this year. And we see him, when it comes to terrorism and national security, doing the same kind of tactic and strategy.

I think what you`re seeing from McCain, though, is what you`re seeing from a lot of people within the Republican Party. Orlando has changed how they talk about national security, and as much as they`re uncomfortable with Trump, they`re starting to sound more like Trump when they talk about the threats abroad, when they start to talk about terrorism...


COSTA: ... and Islam

MATTHEWS: What is it about election that makes everybody turn into a partisan meatball? I mean -- I mean, people as smart as McCain, who knows the nuances, who knows all this.

STEELE: The voters do. The voters. The voters -- the voters are the ones that drive the...

MATTHEWS: What, they want simple?

STEELE: Well, yes, sometimes they do. But also, what they want is things to be less complicated than they`ve been. So they`re looking for the straightforward, you know, from-the-hip response to some very complex issues.

MCMAHON: I think there`s a...


MATTHEWS: And the idea that one party`s responsible. I mean, I know how to do that, too. And I do think the de-Baathification program, where you took all the Baathist leaders of Iraq and threw them out without pay, without respect, and they`re going to find another army to fight with -- fight in.


MCMAHON: Yes. And there`s actually a somewhat more cynical explanation, as well, which is gerrymandering in the House makes Republicans fear only...

MATTHEWS: This is a Senate seat!

MCMAHON: I know, but in the Senate, it`s the same fear. If you look at all those guys who are vulnerable to Tea Party challenges both the last time and two years before that, they`re afraid of their right flank. They`re not afraid of the middle or the left.

STEELE: But we saw it in 2010 with Democrats on "Obama care." It was the same issue, only in reverse.


MCMAHON: You might be responsible for...

STEELE: I -- I...

MCMAHON: ... because you were party chairman...

STEELE: Absolutely.


MATTHEWS: Can we do that (INAUDIBLE)


MATTHEWS: Just kidding! (INAUDIBLE) a lot. Anyway, thank you. I do respect McCain for his war record and what he did for this country, and I do root for him all the time to say the right thing. He doesn`t do it all the time, by a long stretch sometimes.

Hey, Robert Costa, it`s good to have you back. We miss you. We like you here a lot. Anyway, Robert Costa, the star of the reporting team of "The Washington Post." Michael Steele, thank you, sir. And thank you, Steve McMahon.

Coming up, by the way, President Obama goes to Orlando today. And he`s once more -- and this is sad -- in the role of consoler. He has to go down as a president, to be the president in times like this, when tragedy strikes.

Back here in Washington, the Democrats` filibuster on gun safety worked, actually. They`ve successfully pressured the Republicans to at least hold votes in the Senate on stricter gun laws in the wake of the Orlando attack, and that`s coming up ahead. We`ll see if anything`s going to get done.

Plus, Hillary Clinton`s battleground blitz. She`s launching new campaign ads now, expensive ads, in the key states that will decide the election, looking to build her early lead and kick Trump when he`s down. That`s always smart. Get him on the sidewalk and pound.

Anyway, the HARDBALL roundtable previews what Bernie Sanders plans to tell his supporters tonight. That is a mystery, 8:30 tonight Eastern. Is tonight the night Sanders will endorse Hillary and get out of the race? I don`t think so, but we`ll find out if Bernie`s in or out sometime tonight.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the need to act -- and I believe it -- in the aftermath of tragedy.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: A bit of bipartisanship on Air Force One today as the president few to Orlando. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, joined President Obama on the trip to Rubio`s home state. Rubio has been reevaluating whether he`ll run for reelection in Florida after saying he wouldn`t run for both the presidency and the Senate this year. His fellow Republicans sound willing to step aside should he jump back into the race for Senate.

And we`ll be right back.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... our hearts are broken, too, and that we stand with you, and that we are here for you, and that we are remembering those who you loved so deeply. As a nation, we`ve also been inspired by the courage of those who risked their lives and cared for others.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, President Obama. He was speaking earlier today in Orlando. The president and Vice President Biden -- he was there -- both paid their respects to the 49 victims of Sunday`s nightclub attack. They also visited with the families of the victims and survivors of the attack.

For more on the visit, I`m joined right now by NBC correspondent Chris Jansing. Chris, thank you.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, I have to tell you,the skies have opened. It`s really a torrential storm here. Somehow, it seems like a metaphor for grief that the president described.

In fact, he said their grief is beyond description, talking about the family members he met with for two hours today. And afterwards, when he spoke for 17 minutes, he talked very much about what was lost, about an 18- year-old girl whose parents told him about how happy she was and how many dreams she had.

But it also turned quickly into the frustration. You could hear it in his voice, Chris. You could hear him when he talked about how something had to be done and saying that these family members pleaded with him to make sure that this doesn`t happen again.

And of course, then it turned to the politics. This is a president who has said before that the most frustrating thing, at least one of the most frustrating things about his presidency is that he has not been able to get anything done legislatively in the wake of these many attacks. Ten times - - this is the tenth time he has traveled somewhere in the United States to a scene of a mass killing, Chris.

So he has six months left. He knows that the clock is ticking. He also has the highest approval rating he`s had in a long time, and we heard determination in his voice even as he clearly was grieving and laid 49 white roses, along with Joe Biden, at a memorial to the victims, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Chris Jansing.

Anyway, yesterday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate mounted a nearly 15-hour filibuster led by Connecticut senator Chris Murphy and New Jersey senator Cory Booker.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: We cannot go on with business as usual in this body.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This individual could have been stopped.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Virtually every member of this body has probably stated or tweeted out their thoughts and prayers for the victims in Orlando. They want to see more than thoughts and prayers. They actually want to see us act.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If we fail to act, the next time someone uses a gun to kill one of us, a gun that we could have kept out of the hands of a terrorist, the members of this Congress will have blood on our hands!

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: It doesn`t take courage to stand here on the floor of the United States Senate for two hours or six hours or 14 hours. (INAUDIBLE) courage to stand up to the gun lobby when 90 percent of your constituents want change to happen.

Ask yourself, what can you do to make sure that Orlando, or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again. With deep gratitude to all those who have endured this very, very late night, I yield the floor.


MATTHEWS: Well, Democrats are asking for votes to be held on two amendments to ban those on the government`s terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses and whether to expand background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.

Joining me right now is an expert on these issues, California senator Dianne Feinstein, the chief sponsor of a bill banning people on the terror watch list from buying guns.

Senator, how do you reconcile keeping people from buying guns who are on the watch list with their due process rights?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, we provide due process rights. We provide an administrative appeal or a court appeal or both. So that can take place.

I think the problem here is -- and I think Director Brennan this morning addressed it when he said his assessment is that we will see increasing attempts at attacks.

Now, most of the people on these terrorist watch lists, the overwhelming number, are foreigners. So, either ISIL is selecting or they`re self- selecting themselves with no record to come into this country to buy a weapon and to engage in a terror attack.

So, now I can`t say that`s for sure for everybody. But it sure is for some. So, what we want is that those on the terrorists watch list have an opportunity to, when they get the background check, the Justice Department can review it, and if they have considered the evidence in totality and feel that the individual is a threat to our nation`s security, they can deny the purchase of a weapon.

Now, realistically, this is a small step. People who are felons, are fugitives, are addicts, who are misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, there are 10 categories for which you can deny a weapon, and no one is saying anything about those. But a terrorist is not included in those 10 categories. And that`s the problem. It should be. And that`s what we`re trying to do.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about this.

Suppose a suspect, someone on the watch list, goes into a gun store and tries to buy a semiautomatic rifle, an assault weapon. What would -- and just run through what would happen. They`re on the list. They`re still on the list. What would happen?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I don`t know what list you`re talking to -- about.


MATTHEWS: No, the watch list, the watch list.


They`re on the watch list, and they go in to buy a gun. And they have to do a background check. Well, what we provide for is, within the appropriations, a program to be set up whereby, by computer, the database can be checked on that individual and what they know.

And if there are suspicions, the ping goes to the Justice Department. The Justice Department can evaluate it. And if they see fit, they can stop the sale. Right now, Justice has no authority to stop the sale in this category. But in all other categories, it does.

MATTHEWS: How long can they stop it?

FEINSTEIN: Well, they can just stop it. That individual will not be able to buy a weapon in this country, period.

MATTHEWS: And how about the Republican option? Do they have something like this that`s more restrictive in terms of the administration and ability to do something like this?

FEINSTEIN: Well, yes.

As I understand the Cornyn bill, it is a 72-hour provision. And you have to have probable cause. Probable cause is the standard under which an arrest can be made, under which you can go in and search an individual. So, this will reduce the numbers to very small, and likely not be very efficient in really sensing out these people, because these are people that you don`t have that standard of information because you just don`t know.

But what you do have, we point out what has to be there in the bill, so the Justice Department can make the finding and stop the sale.

MATTHEWS: That would seem to be idiotic, because it would say you would have to go out and buy the gun first. Then you would be put on a probable cause list. And then you have already had the gun.

Anyway, let me ask you about Senator McCain`s comment today that President Obama is directly responsible, not personally, but directly, and then he said his actions are responsible by withdrawing troops from Iraq, for ISIS and for what happened this past weekend.

FEINSTEIN: Well, that`s not the John McCain that I know.

And I`m really sorry that he said that. I think what we need is more light and less heat on this subject. And I don`t think that`s particularly helpful. I have worked with John. I have a great appreciation for him. But I think he`s wrong.

MATTHEWS: Great. And I hope you run for reelection, Senator. That`s my view.

FEINSTEIN: Well, thank you. It`s a ways off.

MATTHEWS: I hope you run again. One more term for Feinstein.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much, Senator Feinstein from California.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And joining me right now is U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who helped lead that 15-hour filibuster overnight.

Senator, thank you for joining us.

I guess those of us who have grown up with gun control debates, yourself included, I`m sure, had high school debates over gun debate -- over gun control, gun safety.

How is this debate and this very impressive filibuster going to lead to an actual bill, something the president can sign?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, what I have been finding recently is how many Americans did not realize that you can be under investigation by the FBI, that you could have been put on the no-fly list because you were considered to be too dangerous to enter plane, but you could still go out and buy a trunk load full of weapons.

And so here we have this real war that we`re on, a war against terrorism. We`re basically telling our enemy, exploit this loophole. In fact, our enemy, al Qaeda operatives, have said, hey, we want you to use this loophole to attack and kill Americans.

So, most of us know we`re at war. We need to shut down that loophole effectively. We need to do it as quickly as possible, so we don`t see more of these horrific attacks like we saw in Orlando.

MATTHEWS: Well, not to make the case for the gun guys, but they do have the argument that getting on an airplane is not a right. Owning a gun under the Second Amendment is a right. So, how do we deal with the due process problem, or don`t you see one?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I do see one, actually. I really do.

First of all, you and I both know First Amendment, Second Amendment, none of these are absolute rights. I don`t have the right to slander. I don`t have the right to run into a crowded theater and yell fire.

There are understandable restrictions on those rights. And even in the Heller decision, conservative justices of the Heller decision in the majority opinion, said the same thing. This is not an absolute right. There are reasonable restrictions for the safety of all Americans.

Americans understand that if you have a person bent on terror who is already under investigation, we should do what`s necessary to prevent them from getting a gun.

And, by the way, if mistakes are made, because we know they are, there should be a process by which a person can grieve that complaint. And that`s what we have in the bill that is going to be voted on next week.

MATTHEWS: Do you think an administrative arm of the government, not a judicial arm, has the right to restrict your rights?

BOOKER: Do I think an administrative arm of the United States government...

MATTHEWS: Like the FBI. Can the FBI say, you can`t get on an airplane, you can`t buy a gun? You think -- or do you have to go to a judge to get that kind of ruling in any particular case?

BOOKER: I think that there are reasonable law enforcement -- and I have seen this in local police departments -- for -- when you`re under certain suspicions, I can stop somebody and have a field interview with them, under certain conditions.

And I feel like, if those conditions are met that have triggered an FBI investigation where a person has been interviewed, where people -- there`s a reasonable suspicion that this person is involved in terrorist activity, we should put a pause on their ability to buy a gun.

That`s perfectly understandable. And law enforcement does these kind of things in the United States every single day. There`s rules and barriers that been actually meted out by the Supreme Court that they have to obey. And I have no problem with that, as long as there`s a due process ability for a person to grieve that complaint.

MATTHEWS: So much of lawmaking is balancing. Of course you know that, sir.

And I was wondering. The people in New Jersey have talked it. Is it time now to recognize that the terrorist threat is dire and we have to take steps now to deal with that threat primarily right now? Do they see the need to deal with restrictions in this case because of the terrorist threat?

BOOKER: Yes, Chris, I think when people see these horrific mass shootings, the worst one we just had in our country`s history, I think people understand that we`re in an ongoing war, where there are people who are every day plotting at ways to try to attack and take away our way of life.

And so this is not crazy, though. This is not a radical step. This is not a major abridgment of people`s rights. This is simply saying that, hey, if our FBI has an ongoing investigation where they have a lot of evidence building, reason to believe that you might be involved in terrorist activity, let`s put a pause on your ability to buy a gun.

It`s as simple as that, and not give those terrorists back doors with which to avoid those background checks by letting them go to the Internet or gun shows. Let`s create a real wall against terrorists getting weapons. We, by the way, would not, against the Japanese or the Germans during World War II, we wouldn`t have given them arms.

But in this country, we`re basically saying, hey, terrorists, here is a massive loophole you can go through to get armament that often is seen in war zones.

MATTHEWS: Yes. In fact, during 9/11, or prior to, we gave them flying lessons. That`s the most astounding thing.

But thank you so much, Senator Booker, for common sense, for coming on this show too.

BOOKER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, 17 years ago, Donald Trump told me that Oprah Winfrey would make a great running mate. He told me that personally.

But, today, Winfrey is coming out in support of Hillary Clinton. We`re turning back the HARDBALL clock when we return. We`re going to show you some of the old stuff.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

Officials say three babies have been born in the U.S. with birth defects related to the Zika virus. And three more were lost to either miscarriage or abortion. All the cases were associated with travel outside of the U.S.

The cockpit voice recorder has been recovered from the EgyptAir jet that crashed last month. It was will be handed over to investigators for analysis.

And Disney says it is reviewing its use of warning signs after a toddler was dragged off and killed in an alligator attack On Tuesday -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Hillary Clinton is punctuating a strong week for her by spending $7.3 million on three brand-new TV ads she`s running in eight battleground states. And two of those ads, all airing today, will highlight a softer side of Clinton, which is a not-so-veiled attempt by her campaign to boost her low favorability numbers in the polls.

Well, earlier this week, ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, in that poll, it showed that 55 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of Secretary Clinton. But here is one of the new ads to fix that problem.


NARRATOR: It`s in the quiet moments when you see why she does this. For Hillary, it`s always been about kids. And when millions couldn`t get health care, this first lady worked with Republicans and Democrats to fix it, creating the Children`s Health Insurance Program.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So that every child gets the health care that child deserves to have.

NARRATOR: Now eight million kids are covered. That`s the kind of leader she is and the kind of president she will be.

CLINTON: I`m Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.


MATTHEWS: Well, earlier today, Secretary Clinton got two important endorsements. These are biggies, by the way, first from the AFL-CIO, the largest conglomeration of unions which represents more than 12 million workers from Rust Belt states. That`s where the battleground is, I think.

Anyway, the second endorsement came from super celebrity Oprah Winfrey. And here is what Winfrey, Oprah Winfrey, told "Good Morning America" today.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": I`m with her. I have to say, I`m with her.

And I would also say that regardless of your politics, you cannot be a woman in the world and not see that this is a monumental time for women breaking the ceiling.



Well, this comes as a boomerang blow to Donald Trump, who saw a different course for Oprah Winfrey back when he was mulling a presidential run back in 1999. We`re going into the way-back machine here.

Listen to what he told me back then.


QUESTION: Would you consider a woman for your running mate, and if so, who?

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: Well, I would consider. And, as Chris can tell you, I threw out the name of a friend of mine who I think the world of. She`s great. And some people thought it was an incredible idea. Some people didn`t, but Oprah.

I said Oprah Winfrey, who is really great. And I think we would be a very formidable team.


MATTHEWS: Well, for more, I`m joined right now by Heidi Przybyla, the senior political reporter for "USA Today," and Jeremy Peters of "The New York Times." He`s an MSNBC contributor.

Well, let`s talk about a couple things here.

First of all, ads to make you seem nicer. I thought it was interesting about the ad -- and we all know who have been Hillary Clinton -- you have been with her -- how nicer, to use a word generally used about her, when you`re with her than when she`s out on the stage necessarily.

But that was an ad that seemed to be aimed at, this is the Hillary you don`t see.


MATTHEWS: And it`s much more favorable. You might have a favorable view.

PRZYBYLA: And that`s what they know they need to do right now.

Look, Chris, they have been doing great job of beating up on Donald Trump and saying, look, he`s way worse than I am. But that`s not good enough looking at her structural problems. And her main structural problem is the likability about issue. People still say she is the most famous woman that people really don`t know.

And so there is a heavy push. And it`s not new that they know that they have this problem. They have sent a video crew around with her through the whole primaries trying to capture these spontaneous moments and put them out there and turn them around into ads.

So, this, they see a new opportunity. They`re going into a general election and they`re going to try to introduce her again.

MATTHEWS: Jeremy Peters, what do you think about these ads? Because, clearly, we would all like to have one done about us. I don`t know about you, but I would like somebody to run ads about how nice I am, that I care about good...


JEREMY PETERS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You have a TV show that does that for you every day.

MATTHEWS: Oh, no, not necessarily. But $7 million to run an ad campaign about how nice -- you know, the real quiet Chris Matthews, whoa, is he good with kids. Is he good with kids.

Anyway, your thoughts?


PETERS: I`m not convinced that that exists.

MATTHEWS: Well, maybe not. Your thoughts?

PETERS: I think there are two things about these ads.

Number one, I don`t think it`s a coincidence when they started running. It`s perfect juxtaposition, Hillary, very warm, open, responsible, thoughtful.

Compare that with Donald Trump, who has been shooting his mouth off for the last six months. And it always ends up with his foot right in it.

I think the other thing there, when you look at these ads, what do you see a lot of? White women. Republicans usually win white women. Romney won them by about 14 points. If Hillary chips into that significantly enough, which she has already -- she`s either tied with white women Trump in some polls or Trump is slightly ahead. If she chips away at that, she wins the election.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I wonder.

Do you think appearing to be Marian Wright Edelman there, appearing a good principled liberal in terms of treatment of children, does that help you with white Republican women, looking like a progressive?

PRZYBYLA: Well, it can`t hurt, right?

So, she`s already making that appeal on several other fronts, including to security moms on foreign policy issues. She`s letting him kind of walk his own way with the more incendiary things he`s made about women`s faces and whatnot. So, that`s something that unites all women is the experience of motherhood and children.


PRZYBYLA: And so of course, it can`t hurt her with Republican women.

And when you talk to Republican women, that`s the main problem, Chris, that they have. They never cite like policy differences with her. It`s more they find her personally not likable. So, it can`t hurt.

MATTHEWS: I think many years in politics makes a very tough shield around you.

Jeremy, let me ask you, why do you think went up, spiked up in the negative even after a really great week? It didn`t make sense to me.

PETERS: These polls tend to be pretty noisy. I wouldn`t read too much into that.

I think the person who should be really worried about negatives is Donald Trump. He has a 29 percent favorability rating, according to the latest polls. That`s astonishingly low. That`s like George W. Bush level low at the nadir of his presidency. So, I think whatever Hillary`s negatives are at this point in time, that they pale in comparison to just how rough a time Trump has had these last few weeks.

MATTHEWS: Jeremy, you have just explained to me why every commentator who takes the right-wing position shifts to Hillary the minute I ask them about Donald Trump.

Now, let`s talk about Hillary. No, no, let`s go over and talk about Hillary. Let`s talk about Hillary. No matter what you ask, the default position is, let`s talk about Hillary. She`s 55 percent negative. We don`t need a candidate. Just run against that. Unbelievable.

Anyway, they make her into a scarecrow for the right wing. She`s the scarecrow. They`re scaring everybody to vote Republican. Don`t mess with the crops.

Anyway, thank you, Heidi Przybyla. Thank you, Jeremy Peters.

Up next, the primary season is over, but Bernie Sanders hasn`t dropped out. Is he planning -- and he is planning a big address to his supporters tonight around 8:30. Is he in or is he out? Remember that in the screen door? Are you in or you out, your parents would always out.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, Democrats are anxiously awaiting now Bernie Sanders` next move. And tonight, Sanders is set to deliver a live streaming video address at 8:30. In an e-mail announcing the speech, the Sanders campaign called this a critical moment, saying, "In order for the work to be long lasting for years to come, we must continue our political revolution." It signed, by the way, "in solidarity." That`s the phrase by campaign manager, Jeff Weaver.

His spokesman told "Reuters" Sanders does not plan to concede the race even though Hillary Clinton has effectively secured the Democratic nomination.

I`m joined right now by Indira Lakshmanan, opinion writer for "The Boston Globe", as well as Republican strategist Michael Steel, his the former aide to John Boehner, and Colleen McCain Nelson, White House correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal."

Well, first of all, let me start with Colleen about this.

Where is Bernie Sanders right now? Because a lot of people think, when you a lose a race, you sort of concede normally.


MATTHEWS: He has a lot of delegates, a lot of strength. He has a movement. What`s he going to do with that between now. It`s obviously going to be unconventional between now and Philadelphia.

NELSON: Right. Well, he wants a couple of things. He wants to maximize his leverage. He wants to see a path to keep his movement alive. He wants to feel like he got something from the Clinton campaign.

So, he`s asking for ideas of his to be reflected in the Democratic Party platform. He`s asking for rule changes to the primary process. He`s asking for Debbie Wasserman Schultz to be replaced. But he`s probably not going to get most of those things.

Clinton advisers are saying they`re not going to major concessions. And so, they`re not going to suddenly turn around and say, OK, we`ll be for a single payer health care system. So, he`s in danger of overplaying his hand if he pushes this too far.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, I just wonder, if you`re Hillary Clinton and you want to look at it, you want to look good by being magnanimous and giving Bernie what he wants. Or do you want to look strong by saying, Bernie, nice try, but I won. Where do you want -- how do you position yourself on that baby?

MICHAEL STEEL, FORMER JEB BUSH ADVISOR: I think Sanders and his supporters are in danger of overplaying their hand. I think they are overestimating their leverage because as you transition from this primary campaign where progressives or the battle within the Democratic Party, suddenly she`s facing Donald Trump who is going to unify Democrats the way no other character in American political history has. She doesn`t need to worry about her left flank in a fight against Donald Trump. So, I think there`s real danger here that they think they have more leverage than they actually do.

MATTHEWS: I have a mixed opinion here. I`m not totally unsentimental. I look at Bernie Sanders and I`m not far over usually. When I look at him and go, he`s had this crowd cheering him now. He`s 74-year-old man. He`s had a crowd cheering him like a rock star for a year now.

To walk away from that is going to be very hard. So, he doesn`t want to give up the gun and say I`m out of this fight. He does -- I guess it`s about balancing.

He`s not going to get all the social stuff he wants. If Hillary gives him the social stuff he wants like the $15 and she gives him Social Security benefits way beyond what people are paying into it, which turns it into a welfare program and health care as a right. I`m not sure what that means exactly, by the way, as a right. You force people to go to medical school or nursing school and administer hospitals because you have to do it because we made this commitment?

I mean, how does that physically work, that right thing?

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, THE BOSTON GLOBE: OK, just back to the question of what does he want and what he`s going to get.

MATTHEWS: Health care as a right I go, I know right to the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press. I get that. Freedom from search. But what`s a right to something? I`m not sure how that works because somebody else has to give it to you.

LAKSHMANAN: Well, the Obama administration would argue they have given the right to health care through Obama care. Well, requirement.

But I will say about Bernie. I think some of this is about his ego. I mean, you were alluding to that, by saying, you know, a 74-year-old man, most of whose followers are under 45 years old, who are fairly --

MATTHEWS: Who never heard of him a year ago.

LAKSHMANAN: Who never heard of him a year ago, but they are still the future of the Democratic Party.

MATTHEWS: Right. Are they in the party? Are they Democrats?

LAKSHMANAN: See, that is the thing.

MATTHEWS: Is he a Democrat?

LAKSHMANAN: Remember he still is an independent. He still is a socialist.

MATTHEWS: Some Democrats have voiced their frustration with Sanders already right now, and one of them is Joe Manchin of West Virginia. And they`re saying he`s putting the party`s interest after his own.

Anyway, as Senator Joe Manchin told "The Washington Post" this week, "Bernie is not a Democrat. Can people get that through their heads? I think his mission right now is whatever he can to move the platform further left from his socialist ideas. I like Bernie." Well, they always say. "He identifies the problems, but his solutions don`t work."

Well, Manchin is on the very moderate to conservative end of the Democratic Party, and West Virginia.

LAKSHMANAN: But what he`s saying is exactly right, that Bernie wants to be the ideas king maker. He didn`t get to be the kingmaker of, you know, deciding who the nominee was going to be. But he wants to now decide the platform. He doesn`t have any illusions.

MATTHEWS: What are his ideas?

LAKSHMANAN: Well, as you were alluding to, you know, income inequality, free college --

MATTHEWS: How`s that an idea?


LAKSHMANAN: A great idea.

MATTHEWS: In California years ago, but the idea, it`s not an original idea. It`s just a big demand.

LAKSHMANAN: His demands.

MATTHEWS: Every state university will get a check for everybody that applies to these universities.

LAKSHMANAN: Well, we need to have an entire other conversation about whether any of this is realistic. All the followers he stirred up --


MATTHEWS: They will get a check from the government larger than their own tax payment.

NELSON: That`s not happening.


STEEL: Historical memory is so short that socialism seems like a new idea.


MATTHEWS: There is a Christopher Lloyd aspect to this, back to the future aspect to this.

STEEL: Absolutely, and a physical resemblance.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s smart to do all these things, and I don`t think they`ve been thought through at all.

Your thought?

NELSON: Well, at this point, he`s testing even the Democrats who are on his side patience, because they were willing to give him time and space to work through this, but you see his own supporters saying I`m ready to endorse Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Ask Hillary Clinton on your next interview with her, are you a socialist, and see how fast she says no. She`ll say no fast that your head spin.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.

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

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Yesterday, we showed you Secretary Clinton`s 9-point lead over Trump in Wisconsin. Well, today, we`ve got a look at Virginia.

Let`s check out the HARDBALL scoreboard.

According to a new PPP poll, Clinton has a 3-point advantage. It`s Clinton 48, Donald Trump 45. One bit of good news for Trump, he`s leading Virginia independents, 42 to 29.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Indira, tell me something I don`t know.

LAKSHMANAN: People may not know the Saudi crowned prince, son of the new king, is in the United States right now lobbying the White House, trying to smooth over relations, and here as sort of a proponent of this new muscular Saudi foreign policy. My column in today`s "Boston Globe" is taking the Saudis to task over what they did at the U.N. recently, where they essentially threatened to cut off funding for the U.N. or even pull out of the world body entirely if they weren`t taken off a black list.

MATTHEWS: Maybe we`ll pull out of Saudi Arabia someday.


STEEL: I was going to say, I`ve been back off the campaign trail for a couple of weeks now, I keep going to meetings where people ask, what is Donald Trump going to do as president? And the conversation almost immediately switches to Hillary, either because people here don`t believe Trump is going to win or they simply have no idea what on earth he`d actually do.

NELSON: Hillary Clinton and her advisers are working on culling their list of V.P. candidates. Bernie Sanders is not on the list. Elizabeth Warren`s on the list, other familiar names -- Tim Kaine, Tom Perez. There are a couple of wild cards on the list, too. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is one of the contender --

MATTHEWS: Do you believe all of that stuff? Salting the mine. Every ethnic group in America gets a little taste.


MATTHEWS: I don`t believe any of this stuff. I don`t ever it`s ever going to happen.

Anyway, thank you, Colleen McCain Nelson, for giving us the long list. Michael Steel and Indira Lakshmanan, thank you for joining us.

And when we return, let me finish with the need to act in the aftermath of tragedy.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a paradox.

Gun rights supporters argue that gun control or gun safety supporters exploit tragedy. They exploit the horror of mass shootings to exact the Bill of Rights. Of course they do but why shouldn`t they?

One thing I`ve learned watching American politics is that nothing gets done unless it`s necessary that it get done. One classic example was the deal President Reagan made with Speaker of the House Tip O`Neill back in 1983 to save the Social Security Fund. What made that bipartisan effort work was money was running out in the system and Republicans were getting whacked on the issue and whacked hard.

Well, given that we have to imagine what urgency would trigger a bipartisan push to restrict gun purchases. The one in hand right now might be just the one the doctor ordered. Can you think of any politician in the country wants to protect the right of suspected terrorists to easy access to semiautomatic weapons, to buy them, and once again faced with a terrorist mass shooting is there really a majority in the Congress truly opposed to keeping guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists?

Well, the fact is there are politicians in the Congress who believe no one should be denied his or her Second Amendment rights without due process of law. They don`t want to see a police agency like the FBI holding the authority to deny such rights. They want to require something like a search warrant to enforce such rulings.

Yet, the real obstacle is the resistance by a large number of House and Senate members to do anything on gun safety for fear of incurring the wrath of the NRA. That is the real American fact of life that keeps guns of all kinds out there for anyone who wants to buy one. Even in the aftermath of this tragedy.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.