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Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript, 8/3/2016

Guests: John Feehery, Arne Carlson, Jay Newton-Small, Eli Stokols, Mark Sanford, Steve Cortes, Arne Carlson

Show: HARDBALL Date: August 3, 2016 Guest: John Feehery, Arne Carlson, Jay Newton-Small, Eli Stokols, Mark Sanford, Steve Cortes, Arne Carlson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Rogue elephant.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.

Time to panic? Look at the Republican leaders as they watch an unraveling of support for Donald Trump. His campaign seems to be imploding like some decrepit piece of real estate. Reports are out there now that campaign staffers are suicidal, that Republican leaders are apoplectic, even that Trump allies are planning some sort of intervention.

Well, standing amid the tumult, like Baghdad Bob himself, Trump at a Florida rally today said that his campaign is doing incredibly well. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I just want to tell you the campaign is doing really well. It`s never been so well united. We started on June 16th. I would say right now, it`s the best in terms of being united that it`s been since we began. We`re doing incredibly well.


MATTHEWS: Well, the latest point of worry for Republicans is Trump`s refusal to even endorse Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for reelection in his primary. According to NBC`s Katy Tur, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is apoplectic. That`s the word.

Meanwhile, Trump has been described as unmanageable -- isn`t that an amazing word for a presidential candidate, as if somebody`s got to manage somebody. Anyway, one ally of Trump campaign chairman of Paul Manafort give this dim portrait of the campaign to CNBC`s John Harwood.

Quote, "Manafort not challenging Trump anymore, mailing it in. Staff suicidal."

Well, NBC`s Chuck Todd and Hallie Jackson are reporting, quote, "Key Republicans close to Donald Trump`s orbit are plotting an intervention. Reince Priebus, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days. They also hope to enlist Trump`s children in this effort to intervene."

Well, today, Manafort said he hadn`t heard of any effort at an intervention, and he said the campaign is doing just fine.


PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The candidate is in control of his campaign. That`s number one. And I`m in control of doing the things that he wants me to do in the campaign. The turmoil -- this is another Clinton narrative that she put out there and that the media is picking up on.

The campaign is in very good shape. You know, we are organized. We are moving forward. And the Clinton machine may not like it, but we`re prepared for the fight.


MATTHEWS: Well, how dire is the situation? A brand-new Fox News poll -- and this is to be taken seriously, these numbers -- just out tonight shows Clinton -- Hillary Clinton`s lead over Trump is now double digit. Look at this number now, 49-39, and this is the stuff that makes people get very worried.

NBC`s Hallie Jackson`s in Jacksonville, where Trump minutes away from taking the stage at a rally down there. John Harwood`s at CNBC, the aforementioned guy who broke this story. He`s chief Washington correspondent for MS -- or NB -- CNBC and political writer for "The New York Times," of course. And Chuck Todd is moderator of "MEET THE PRESS" and political director for NBC. So we`ve got the heavyweights here.

Hallie, give us a sense of what -- is this just Baghdad Bob just denying it, no problem here, we got it made?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It is kind of a tale of two campaigns, Chris, when you think about it. On the one hand, you`ve got the campaign insisting that these stories of panic are really overblown. The stories of dissatisfaction inside the campaign are simply not true.

On the other hand, you have people close to the campaign pointing to real problems, dissatisfaction within the Republican Party, people who are trying to, as Chuck and I and John have been reporting, do a course correction here and make sure that`s its not too late, just a few days into the general election after the worst couple of days that Donald Trump has had, when you look at his fights with that Gold Star family, the Khans, when you look at his refusal to endorse Donald Trump, (sic) which I`m told by several people has been really the breaking point.

Let me just (INAUDIBLE) we`re here at a rally in Jacksonville, this conservative part of Florida. Trump supporters don`t care. I had somebody say to our team today -- they said Trump`s problems are with the Republican elites in Washington, not with the regular Republicans like me. And that`s the sense (INAUDIBLE) again and again.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Hallie Jackson down there in Jacksonville. You know, you know how to report, and you got some good stories here. I think the general rule would be those who speak to you on background are telling the truth and those who are speaking on the record are saying, No problem.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Yes, and I think this was a purposeful message that was sent through me to Donald Trump by...

MATTHEWS: Oh, you mean they`re using the media to try to...


HARWOOD: These are -- these are friends...

MATTHEWS: Friendly.

HARWOOD: ... of Manafort who are frustrated, as he is, with the way Donald Trump`s been behaving. No rational candidate would pick a fight with a Gold Star family, would trash talk Kelly Ayotte and make problems for Paul Ryan. It makes no sense.

And so we thought that Manafort, Tony Fabrizio (ph), Jim Murphy, all the people who were grafted onto that campaign for the general election were going to turn it into a campaign that we would recognize as a general election campaign. It hasn`t been that. Donald Trump`s got to add voters, and he`s doing the opposite right now.

MATTHEWS: So what`s Manafort doing in denying there`s any trouble publicly, just -- and saying -- I think -- I think the fact that he`s saying that Donald Trump`s in charge -- well, that`s not exceptional. Everybody knows he`s in charge.

HARWOOD: Well...

MATTHEWS: The problem is, he is in charge.

HARWOOD: Well, precisely. I thought that was a very honest statement he made. He said the candidate`s in control, and I`m in control of the things he wants me to control. That is, to me, an acknowledgement that some of the things that have been happening are things that he`s been unable to prevent.

MATTHEWS: What is going on with him? I mean, really, Trump...


MATTHEWS: ... a mixed bag. He`s always been a mixed bag. He`s a genius at some things.


MATTHEWS: And why is he picking on a family -- a Gold Star family? Why is he picking on this old fight with the speaker of the House? Why would he do that?

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Because he keeps -- look, I think he keeps score. That`s something -- what has been consistent about him? He keeps score. The thing with Ryan to me...

MATTHEWS: But that`s like kids in the back seat of the car...


TODD: You`re asking me, What is this about? Look, this is not about -- but you know, people -- he has not changed who he is.


TODD: The most remarkable thing about his hit on Ryan is he wanted to make sure he used the precise language that Ryan used against him when Ryan wasn`t ready to endorse him.

MATTHEWS: "I`m not there yet."

TODD: "I`m not there yet." And literally, he sets up Philip Rucker over at "The Post," and said, Oh, so you want that -- you`re looking for a quote on Ryan. Well, let me get it -- let me get it for you, right? And he wanted to make sure he had it exactly. So look, he`s a score settler, for better or for worse.

MATTHEWS: Who`s his stabilizer, day to day? Is it Ivanka? Is it one of his kids? Is it Eric? Who normally says, Hey, Dad, cool it? What are you doing?

TODD: Well, it`s Ivanka is the one that...

MATTHEWS: Who`s at...


TODD: Ivanka is the one that everybody will tell you he listens to the most, he responds to the most.


TODD: So when -- you know, some people in Trump world hate the word "intervention," but essentially, what these folks want to do is do the same thing that worked before, in their mind. When they didn`t like how Corey Lewandowski was running the campaign, they went to the kids, pushed really hard, said, Go to Manafort.

When they were worried that Trump was going to go a little off the reservation with his running mate pick, they said, No, no, no, no. We need Mike Pence. They made the case to the kids for Mike Pence. The kids said, OK...


TODD: So now they`re trying to do the same thing, hoping...

MATTHEWS: Anybody knows you don`t attack the parents of a kid who died in battle. You just don`t do it.

TODD: Of course.

MATTHEWS: They`re immune. You can`t win this argument!

HARWOOD: It`s -- it`s...

MATTHEWS: Because in the end, they have a right to speak their mind, even out of anger and sadness.


HARWOOD: But to Chuck`s point, you know, I talked to Vin Weber...


HARWOOD: ... former congressman that we`ve all known...


HARWOOD: ... for a long time. He said that he thought -- this is a former ally in the House of Newt Gingrich -- said he thought that the Republican Party had made a mistake of historic proportions in nominating Donald Trump. He was not going to vote for him. He wouldn`t say he was going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

But when I asked him about the intervention, he said, Come on. It`s pointless to have an intervention with Donald Trump. We know who he is.

TODD: Nothing`s going to change. Look...

MATTHEWS: Of historic proportions? This sounds like "Phantom of the Opera"!

TODD: No, I think what this is about...


HARWOOD: He said he thought the markets would collapse, that the world...



TODD: You know what I think this is really about, this attempt? I think, somehow, there`s -- and I think it`s fantasy, but somehow, I think there are Republican that have in it their head that maybe they can talk him into quitting. And I don`t believe that that`s true.

MATTHEWS: But there`s no alternative except Paul Ryan. Who could step in now? It`s the same old -- you can`t stop somebody with nobody.

TODD: Well, that`s the -- look, that`s the problem, right? You alienate...


TODD: You alienated supporters, and what do you do? Look, I`ve heard a scenario of you, basically -- Pence becomes the top of the ticket.


TODD: They somehow convince Nikki Haley and all is right in the world.

MATTHEWS: Pence is going to beat Hillary Clinton?


TODD: Is Donald Trump?

MATTHEWS: Well, it doesn`t look likely this week, but at least there have been better weeks. There`ll never be a better week for Trump -- for Pence. What week would that look like?

TODD: How do you know that?

MATTHEWS: Because he doesn`t have the pizzazz to be a...


TODD: There are many people in the Republican Party who actually think no -- generic R -- there`s one person who said take any two people in the white pages, make them the ticket, put Rs next to their name, and put them on a desert island and not say anything...


TODD: ... and they think that that candidate gets 47 percent.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think somebody who`s been elected and people like. Anyway, today -- you and I can argue about that...

TODD: No, I...


MATTHEWS: All I know is the old Nixon argument. If you ever hear of a "Stop" X movement, bet on X.

Anyway, today, Trump`s running mate, Mike Pence, the aforementioned, broke with his nominee and endorsed Speaker Ryan. This is a big deal! He`s -- it`s a news story that he`s endorsed his party`s leader in the Congress for reelection and for renomination!

Here he is.


GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRES. NOMINEE: I think what Donald Trump said is he`s not there yet. These are two men that are building a good relationship. It takes time to have relationships together. You know, I`m -- strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his reelection. He`s a long-time friend. He`s a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States.


MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Pence said he spoke with Trump this morning about his decision to endorse, and Trump, quote, "strongly encouraged" him to do so.

John, this is -- this is crazy. They`re doing this for public consumption. They`re trying to make it look like -- but there`s one guy in a rowboat going like this, seeing if he can get the boat wobbling, and one guy in the back seat -- Stop doing that.

HARWOOD: It`s absolutely ludicrous. The idea that you -- a vice president would try to offset a gaffe by the top of the ticket...


HARWOOD: ... by endorsing his friend and former colleague in the House, the House speaker -- it`s -- it just shows how outside the norms and expectations of rational presidential campaigns (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go back to Hallie Jackson. Thank you, Hallie, for holding on there. Give us a sense of more of what you were saying before, a few moments ago, about the crowd`s still with him. Now, you`ve been watching these crowds since day one, since the genesis of this campaign.

Is it the same crowd he had in primaries? In other words, has it grown to include more women, any minorities, or is it the same old core he started with (INAUDIBLE) It wouldn`t be a very good test of how he`s doing with the general public.

JACKSON: Right. No, OK. So we`ll talk about that first, then I want to make two quick points to jump in on the conversation that you and Chuck and John are having.

When you look at the crowd -- it`s funny, I just had a Republican operative text me yesterday night and ask, Hey, what are his crowds like? Are they the same crowds that you saw during the primaries? And I will tell you, largely, they are. And it`s the same kind of rhetoric that you hear from Trump at the podium, the same kind of language that you hear from his supporters.

What`s been new? Those chants of "Lock her up." I will tell you I`ve heard that I think at every campaign that I`ve been too since the Republican convention, the week before, when this first started becoming a thing. Trump`s response to that has changed a little bit, although his surrogates have picked up his line. When they start chanting, "Lock up her up," some of the surrogates have said, No, no, we want to beat her in November. That`s our goal.

So demographically, I think the makeup is, at least at first glance, it`s much the same.

I want to talk about two more things, though, the Pence thing and then this issue of what Chuck was talking about, the wildly remote possibility that Trump would consider withdrawing.

On Pence, I will tell you this (INAUDIBLE) Pence (INAUDIBLE) listen, the fact that he split with the top of the ticket on endorsing Paul Ryan. This is the spin. They say it`s actually not a bad thing. They say it shows the dynamic of the relationship between the two, the positive personal chemistry, that when Pence said to him, Hey, I want to support my long-time friend, in roughly a 40-minute conversation this morning, Donald Trump said, basically, Hey, man go for it. Do what you got to do. You do your thing. Of course you would support Ryan. You know, I`m not -- I`m not going to do it.

(INAUDIBLE) Listen, I`m just telling you that that is sort of indicative in their view. There was no big strategy session. There was no huddle in New York about whether Pence would endorse Trump. (sic)

The other part of it, though...

MATTHEWS: You know that it sounds crazy...


MATTHEWS: That sounds lunatic because one guy`s saying...


MATTHEWS: ... if you have to act rationally, I understand your situation. I can act irrationally. So let`s work that way.

JACKSON: So let me just make one other point (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump is going to come out here in a second or two, but the idea that he would even think about dropping out of this race. Listen, having covered not just Donald Trump but basically every Republican who`s been in this campaign for the last year and change, here`s a couple of things that you know about Donald Trump.

Number one, he loves to talk about polls. Even when he`s not doing well in them, he`ll find polls that he is doing well in. He`ll bring them up, will mention them to the crowd.

Number two, everything he does comes from what he perceives and what he hopes is a show of strength. That is the sort of impetus and foundation of his campaign.

And number three, he refuses to back down. He doesn`t back down.


JACKSON: (INAUDIBLE) for the last 13 months now. So why in the world any Republican would think there`s even a remote possibility...


JACKSON: ... they could convince him to withdraw is difficult to comprehend.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s start with you, Chuck, then to John, then back to Hallie for our conclusion of this segment. What is he going to do when he picks up the -- somebody walks in the door and says, You`re 10 points down in the Fox poll? It`s a good poll and you`re down and you`re sinking. Will he adjust to that and react and fix this wagon of his with a confab?

TODD: The individual poll? No. He`ll go and attack the pollster. But...


TODD: ... here`s what`s coming. Here`s what`s coming because I know anecdotal private polling in congressional districts, in different states. And now we have the national polls. And they`re all pointing the same way.

This horrible six days for Trump has been noticed by voters. I know of swing district places in Iowa where, suddenly, she`s up 13 in a district that Republicans have to carry in order to win that state for the presidency. It fits the 10-point move there. You see this other stuff.

By next week, when more polls, we come out at the end of the week. We have our own NBC/"Wall Street Journal" -- you`ll have a whole bunch of state polls. That could add a new level of panic if the polls start matching what appears to be...

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, John, if he gets up in the morning and says, I got to get Pennsylvania, I got to get Ohio and Pennsylvania and hold North Carolina and then pray for Florida -- that`s in his head all the time, something like that. What`s this do to it? When he says, My God, I don`t have a chance at any of those states.

HARWOOD: Well, I don`t think he thinks like that. But look, his problem is that 39 percent in the Fox poll -- he`s been right around 40, 41, 42 for quite a while. He does not seem to recognize that and he certainly hasn`t responded to it with his behavior.

So is he capable of absorbing a strategy that requires him to do something different than he is temperamentally inclined to do?


HARWOOD: That`s the test. I haven`t seen evidence of it, so I`ll be surprised if I see it, but...


MATTHEWS: ... reaction to the polls showing that he`s losing his base, he`s slipping down into the 30s and losing the chance to win those swing states. Will he go on the attack tonight against, Hillary, try to open up another front and hope that this one fades? Is that what he`s up to?

JACKSON: Yes, I think he will go on the attack against Hillary Clinton tonight, and I think that is partly because of the influence, at least a little bit, of some of the people you`ve been talking about, his advisers and people close to him saying, This is the message you need to hammer. Talk about the GDP. Talk about the economy. Talk about Hillary Clinton.

I`ve been told by people close to Trump that we can expect to hear more of that from him on stage. And I`ll tell you, we have over the last few days. He brought up the GDP on Monday. We didn`t hear about it when the numbers came out Friday...


JACKSON: (INAUDIBLE) so there are signs that he`s doing that. Here`s the other thing, though. To Chuck`s point, the number that I keep hearing is 10 percent 10 points. If he starts to get below that number -- I think there`s a sense that even if Trump were to lose by, you know, 6 points, 7 points, 8 points to Hillary Clinton, it wouldn`t have the dramatic impact on some of these down-ballot races, some of these vulnerable down-ballot races...


JACKSON: ... that Republicans fear, that some Republicans fear. If it`s more than 10 points, I think that is...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well...


JACKSON: ... real concern from the GOP about these -- about these folks like...


JACKSON: ... Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio and Rob Portman.

MATTHEWS: and also, psychologically, Trump doesn`t want to be a loser, a loser. The worst thing on the planet, according to him is a loser. It was fun for -- you know, for Bobby Riggs to take on Billy Jean King. That was fun. But it was not fun to get his ass kicked. And that`s the last thing he wants is to walk away with a 55-45 number confronting him the morning after the election. I don`t think he wants to see that because not only would he would lose all the swing states, he`d cost the Republican Party so much, they`d never let him forget it.

HARWOOD: Unless the election is rigged.

MATTHEWS: Oh. You offer a moment of humor here...


MATTHEWS: ... or ludicrousness. Anyway, Chuck Todd, sir. Thank you, John Harwood, for great reporting there at the heart of this discussion. Hallie Jackson, you`re out there again. We`ll be keeping an eye on Trump down there in Jacksonville for the rest of this hour.

By the way, coming up -- so what do you do if you`re a Republican and you`re watching your party`s nominee seem to be self-destructing? We`ve got Congressman Mark Sanford coming here, from South Carolina. He`s going to join us next. He knows what it`s like to weather a political crisis.

Plus, the list of Republicans coming out for Hillary Clinton keeps growing. The latest big name, California`s Meg Whitman, who ran for governor, heads up Hewlett-Packard, she`s voting for Hillary.

And Trump`s allies don`t seem to know what to do. His campaign manager (sic) is blaming President Obama and Hillary Clinton for Captain Khan`s death -- figure that one out, I can`t figure that one out -- even though he was killed in 2004 when George W. Bush was president.

And former Trump top kid (ph) Corey Lewandowski is going back to the old birther charge, saying that Obama doesn`t tell you his transcripts from Harvard because he said -- well, he implies this -- that he filed his application as a foreign student applicant -- a foreign student applicant. So he wasn`t even the son of his mother. Now, that`s really carrying birtherism all the way. He`s not the son of his mother.

And roundtable with three things.

Anyway, finally, the HARDBALL roundtable will be here to tell us three things that I don`t know about this wild week in politics.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, yesterday we saw Donald Trump receive a Purple Heart medal from one of his supporters. Trump joked that he always wanted to get a Purple Heart, and that getting it from a supporter was -- quote -- "much easier," his words.

U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is running for the Senate in Illinois, was awarded the Purple Heart herself after she lost both her legs when the helicopter she was piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade over in Iraq.

Well, Duckworth tweeted a photo of herself receiving the Purple Heart on her hospital -- or in her hospital room. She sent to it Donald Trump, saying, "This is how one actually or usually looks when you are awarded the Purple Heart. Nothing easy about it."

Good for her.

We will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, it`s crisis time for Republicans, of course, right now. Right now, Donald Trump`s poll numbers are slipping. He is down to double digits against Hillary Clinton. His campaign seems to be in disarray at the top. There`s a growing anger among top Republicans that their nominee -- that would be Trump -- appears to be at war with his own party, at least the party he`s been running in, after he declined to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain in their upcoming primaries.

This is amazing. On Ryan, Trump yesterday told "The Washington Post": "I`m not quite there yet." Now, that is cute, which is, by the way, meant to be cute, which is nearly identical language to the language that Ryan himself used last spring when he expressed hesitation about a Trump endorsement, saying at that time, "I`m not quite there yet," which is exactly what Trump is now playing back at him.

This is as childish, as I said, as kids fighting in the back seat of a car, Ryan, the speaker of the House, the leading Republican in office right now, against the guy who wants to be president.

NBC News is reporting that, in an attempt to right the ship, Trump confidants plan to stage an intervention with the candidate this weekend. And as NBC News also reported -- quote -- "Some Republicans are quietly considering the arcane mechanics -- it`s called Rule 9 -- of what would happen to the party`s ticket if Trump was to leave the presidential race."

And here`s how Mike Pence today responded to the news of that intervention. Here he is.


GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I talk to Donald Trump just about every day.

And, look, you`re always going to hear these inside baseball discussions. I have never heard about anything of a meeting of that kind. This campaign is totally focused, totally focused on strengthening America.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what you would say, of course. No problem with that. You have to say what you have to say in politics.

I`m joined right now by Republican U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

What do you think, Congressman, accounts for this almost childish back-and- forth between the president -- presidential candidate Donald Trump and the leading Republican in the Congress, in the United States government, Paul Ryan, saying, "I`m not quite there yet" in terms of a primary which is going to be like an 80-20 victory for Paul Ryan? Why is he messing with the guy?

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Sure, old dogs don`t learn new tricks.

And so what he`s learned over life and certainly in this primary process is to remember names, remember, insults and to pay back in kind.


SANFORD: And that may have served him well in the primary. It is disastrous in a general election.

MATTHEWS: Somebody I talked to last night told me, a very smart politician -- I can`t report it because -- who he was, because it was at an event. But -- and it was actually at a funeral, a wake.

And he said smart politics dictates that you only attack your opponent. You don`t have much attack capability, so you attack your opponent. And you keep the focus on the negative of your opponent, which he calls of course crooked Hillary.

Why is he scattering his attacks? Because it just -- it just diminishes them. You can`t attack with more than one person with much effect, because it looks like you`re just Groucho Marx.


SANFORD: That`s what is perplexing -- right.

MATTHEWS: Yes. SANFORD: That`s what is perplexing to everybody. And that`s why we`re sitting here talking about it.

I don`t know. If he would just shut up, quit attacking and responding to everybody that says anything even partially negative toward him and focus on the economy and focus on Hillary Clinton, the race would be done. But he is not doing that.

And, again, I go back to, I have been in a 16-person primary. And just trying to break out becomes very, very difficult. And so, again, that served him very well in a primary. Again, it turned off a number of different folks. But it at least gave him oxygen in that primary process.

Doing what he is doing right now turns off the independents. You`re in a race for the hearts and minds of the independents, the middle, and this doesn`t do it.

I`m perplexed as you are. I don`t know why he is doing it, other than, again, it is what he`s been doing for quite some time. And old dog indeed don`t learn new tricks.

MATTHEWS: People on your side of the political world and my side covering it both get into trouble. We have both been into trouble. You have to say something and you have got to correct it.

And your advisers say to you, you`re in a hole. Stop digging. Apologize on. Move on. Get as much truth out as you can handle. Get it out and move on, because usually that does take the steam of it, it takes the poison out of it.

This thing with the Khan family is not going away. I wish somebody would tell -- it`s not my job to tell him. But why isn`t somebody telling Donald Trump, you can`t fight with a Gold Star family? You can argue with anybody else. They just have a moral option here. They just have it. It comes to them from God.

When it happens in your life, you have the right because of fate or whatever you want to call it, the way that things turn, to be angry about losing your kid and to strike out. And that`s what they did. They went what they thought was a bad...


SANFORD: That`s right. And it is the First Amendment. You or I can say what we feel like we need to say.

So, again, I don`t get it. Again, I have learned firsthand. I have experienced it firsthand the incredible grace that`s out there in human terms, the power of forgiveness. I have experienced it. People respond to, look, I messed up and I`m sorry. And I think one of the things I have heard in interviews about Trump is, he`s not sorry for anything.

I think that`s a profound mistake. I think he would profit mightily from simply saying, I`m sorry.

MATTHEWS: I remember New York Mayor La Guardia, the guy who said, I could run a laundry ticket and get reelected in this city.

He once said -- after he made a mistake, he said, I don`t make many mistakes, but when I do, it a beaut.

And something like that seems appropriate right now, because then people say, God, he knows he screwed up.

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford, for coming on.

SANFORD: Pleasure.

MATTHEWS: We`re joined right now by Steve Cortes, who is a Trump campaign surrogate. He works for the campaign.

And you`re loyal to Mr. Trump. OK, what do you think about all this, sir?

STEVE CORTES, TRUMP SURROGATE: What I have to say, Chris -- and it won`t surprise you, probably, that I have a very different take on this.


MATTHEWS: Go ahead. That`s why you`re here.

CORTES: That`s right.

I think this is largely a media-created diversion and a media-created narrative.


CORTES: I think media elites in newsrooms in New York and in Washington, D.C., have reached a point of almost desperation.

They can`t believe that Donald Trump has actually gotten this far. So they`re trying concoct a controversy that really doesn`t exist. And I thought Governor Pence really spoke well to this when he talked about inside baseball. This is truly inside baseball that most Americans simply don`t care about. It is a very big deal inside the Beltway.

It might be a big deal on Madison Avenue, but...

MATTHEWS: But why are so many Republicans raising hell about this? They`re all coming out with statements, Republicans, not media people.

The media of course is following this story, some with delight, obviously. I don`t challenge that. Some people find this fascinating.

CORTES: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: But you got a lot of Republicans out there.

Look, here, here`s Scott -- here`s an operative. Scott Reed, we know him. "A new level of panic hit the street. It`s time for a serious reset."

Newt Gingrich: "Trump is helping Clinton to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is."

CORTES: Right.

MATTHEWS: The Mississippi strategist Henry Barbour, he`s a party leader down there: "He is not driving on the pavement. He`s in the ditch."

These are Republicans of some importance.


MATTHEWS: So, it`s not the media alone. I agree the media is riding this story, but you say it is a media concoction? It ain`t.

CORTES: Well, I believe it largely is. But, listen, I will concede...




MATTHEWS: Mr. Khan wrote an article. It came to the attention of the Clinton people, and they grabbed it. They didn`t create the story, nor did they ask this guy to speak out. He had already spoken out.

CORTES: The story about dissension within the campaign is absolutely a media-created -- you just had John Harwood on. He cited an anonymous source that the campaign is suicidal.


MATTHEWS: Well, of course it is anonymous. Nobody is going to come out and attack...


CORTES: And that Paul Manafort is mailing it in.


CORTES: Well, I`m telling you, as someone in the campaign, that`s not true. The campaign is unified.

MATTHEWS: So, there is nobody concerned -- there is nobody concerned about Trump`s behavior with regard to picking fights with Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Paul Ryan, and picking a fight with the Gold Star family?


MATTHEWS: They`re not -- you`re not concerned about that?

CORTES: Of course I`m concerned about certain things.


CORTES: Picking a fight with the Khan family was clearly a mistake. We had a bad weekend. I think we`re having a very good week now.


CORTES: And I think as long as Trump -- and in confident and hopeful that he will -- as long he doesn`t major in the minors, and as long we now focus on the big macro issues -- and for us, there`s two of them.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you, brother.

CORTES: National security and economic growth.

MATTHEWS: Steve, you`re a surrogate, and I`m covering this campaign. There is nothing that would be smarter for Trump than to go back to his bread and butter, which is jobs, economic development, growth, infrastructure, spending, anything that tells the working guy and woman out there, if I get elected, your life is going to be better. That`s the message.

CORTES: Right. And he`s been doing it this week.

And he`s been having -- here`s the other thing.


MATTHEWS: He`s been doing it in the quiet of the night, because what he`s really been doing is getting into a pissing match with all these top Republicans, which is crazy.

CORTES: I want to push back on that.


MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, yes. Paul Ryan. "I haven`t gotten there yet." Why is he refusing to not -- to back for renomination in a primary who is the top Republican in the country? Why is he doing that?

CORTES: Because, with one tiny race exception, he has not gotten involved in primaries at all. He simply has not made primary endorsements.

MATTHEWS: He won`t back John McCain for renomination. He won`t back John McCain.

CORTES: I don`t think that is significant.

Well, you say the top Republicans. The list of Republicans who have actually told us that they are going to vote for Hillary Clinton includes Meg Whitman, who is a significant CEO, but irrelevant politically, a losing California candidate, and a congressman from New York whom I have never heard of who is retiring. So, there is not this impressive A-list of Republicans who are turning...

MATTHEWS: I didn`t say there was an impressive A-list of people that are voting for Hillary. I said there`s an impressive A-list which are raising hell about the performance of your candidate.

CORTES: Yes. And...

MATTHEWS: Now, you`re a loyalist. You`re a surrogate. That`s why you`re on.

But there are a lot of other people out there who are not restricting themselves on what they`re saying. And, by the way, you have said a lot on this show about the problem. You have agreed he shouldn`t have gone after the Khan family.

I think you have agreed he would be better off to go focus on economic issues.

CORTES: I concede when we make problems. He should not have engaged with them. That was a mistake.

But we`re moving upward and onward. And I think part of it, too, part of what`s going on here is the establishment, whether it be Democratic or Republican. You used apoplectic a few times earlier in the show.

The establishment is apoplectic at the idea that Donald Trump may come in and truly transform Washington. And that`s what the American people want, because they know we have a rigged, crony system in Washington, D.C., that is making their lives less prosperous and more dangerous. And we have to reverse both of those trends. Donald Trump is the man to do it, and he will prevail if he sticks to that message. And I`m confident he will, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I want to make a point with you, sir, about this media thing of yours.

One thing you have got to say about me is, when I have been unpopular about my opinions, when I was tough on Bill Clinton for his cover-up of that thing back in the `90s, and I have been tough on Al Gore because I thought he ran a terrible campaign, and I didn`t like the message of fear, I have been pretty tough on these guys.

And I`m pretty tough on all of them. I was not exactly a best friend of the Clintons in the 2008 campaign.


MATTHEWS: So, I don`t run with the pack. All right?

CORTES: Sure. Hey, Chris, I will concede that.


MATTHEWS: So, when you`re going after the media, you better not be talking about me, because I don`t fit in the pack. I`m not in the pack.

CORTES: I will concede that, and I will applaud you.

But when I look at the broad mainstream media, for example, Hillary Clinton on Sunday morning, while admittedly, Trump was having a very bad weekend, but on Sunday morning, she went on FOX News and effectively said that FBI Director Comey exonerated her. And he said the exact opposite. And that got almost no news coverage compared with Donald Trump.


MATTHEWS: There`s a difference between acquittal and innocence.

Anyway, thank you so much, Steve Cortes. Please come back on.

CORTES: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: You`re a loyalist.

Up next, what Steve just referenced, there is a growing list of Republicans who do say they will support Hillary Clinton, not a huge list, but significant names on it. And that`s a big deal to jump the tracks and go to the other party.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The list of Republicans jumping ship this November continues to grow. I mean jump the ship to another ship. Meg Whitman, an influential Republican donor and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is now planning to endorse Hillary.

In a public Facebook post, Whitman explained her decision last night, writing -- quote -- "Donald Trump`s demagoguery has undermined the fabric of our national character. Trump`s unsteady hand would endanger our prosperity and national security. His authoritarian character could threaten much more. I urge all Republicans to reject Donald Trump this November."

Well, in an interview with "The New York Times," Whitman went further. She should she would use her financial resources, which are big, and provide a substantial donation to Hillary Clinton`s campaign.

Then, this afternoon, more Republican support for Hillary Clinton, admittedly limited, but significant. Matt Higgins, a former spokesman for New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, announced he`s backing the Democratic nominee. It come on the heel of a similar announcement by Maria Comella, also a former spokesman for Giuliani, as well as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

They, along with Whitman, now join the ranks of other Republicans, including U.S. Congressman Richard Hanna of Upstate New York. Bush administration officials include former Treasury Henry Paulson, the guy who did the bailout, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who was number two to Colin Powell, also an adviser to Ronald Reagan, and former Bush 41 National Security Adviser -- and this is a top guy -- Brent Scowcroft, who was the first Bush`s number one guy.

Joining me right now is former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, a Republican who supports Hillary Clinton, and Republican strategist John Feehery, our friend here.

Governor, what makes you want to be for Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, even though you`re a Republican?

ARNE CARLSON (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Well, I think you have to put the interests of the nation first.

And what is going to happen after the election is where I think we should focus more of our attention. We are going to need somebody in the White House that can frankly heal the divisions that we currently have in our country.


MATTHEWS: Do you think Hillary is the one to do that?

CARLSON: Absolutely.

You look back on her record as a U.S. senator -- and, as a Republican, I can tell you, the number of Republicans who commented so favorably on her ability to cross the aisle, work with people.

Well, what I think is missing from the dialogue today is that Hillary Clinton is essentially a policy wonk. She is not a political person as much as she is into public policy. And, frankly, we need that kind of intelligence and that kind of focus and that kind of an ability, if you will, to work across the aisles.

MATTHEWS: That`s my hope, no matter wins. My hope is that whoever wins...


MATTHEWS: ... do that.


No, you`re absolutely right. There has to be some kind of a reconciliation. You`re absolutely right.

The other thing I would hope that Hillary Clinton would do, and do it during the campaign, is, one, stay away from criticizing Trump. As you have mentioned often, he is busy digging his own grave. But focus on a very positive vision for America, in terms of job creation and in bringing together Americans, in terms of financial equity.

But also, start to talk about more of a bipartisan approach to governance. For instance, look at the talents of Mitt Romney. Why not use him to re- create the Hoover Commission to get barnacles off government focused on efficiency and productivity in government, and that I think will build more confidence in an administration.

The second part is, embrace John McCain. He is the elder statesman of the Republican Party. Bring him in as an adviser.

It`s not necessary that everybody always agree with you but it is necessary that view points be at the table and he would be a good addition and send off the right signal to America.

MATTHEWS: You know, the problem, Governor, and I`m for that, I wrote a whole book about Tip and Reagan when they did get together in urgent matters.

CARLSON: That was -- yes, you`re absolutely right. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the problem. The problem is, now talking policy for a minute. Republicans are I think more trusted with money. They think they`re tight we are a buck. They`re not going to throw it away, give it to union leaders with (INAUDIBLE). They`re not going to give away with politicians or set asides.

But they don`t want to do infrastructure. Democrats want to do infrastructure like a bandit. They love that, but they don`t necessarily get all the money to building stuff. It goes to local pals. They get their sticky fingers on it.

And by the time it comes, the money doesn`t get anything done. And that`s a problem, you know? What are you going to do with that problem?

CARLSON: It is a problem. Well, first of all, I think we have to be historically accurate. The last Republican president to submit a balanced budget was Dwight Eisenhower. All the people who talk about balancing the budgets are the ones who frankly grew the deficit.

MATTHEWS: Well, actually, Bill Clinton has a couple of years.

CARLSON: That was replaced by political rhetoric.

I want to see, and the last Democrat to balance a budget was frankly, Bill Clinton, working and forming a partnership with Newt Gingrich. And that was a productive partnership. I would like to see Hillary Clinton do exactly the same thing.

MATTHEWS: Well-said, thank you so much for joining us, Governor -- Governor Carlson of Minnesota.

CARLSON: I`m delighted. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: A reasonable state, Minnesota, so many moderate Republicans out there.

John Feehery, this jumping ship thing. What do you make of it? These guys coming out like Meg Whitman, they`re basically kissing their party goodbye?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think what you see is a lot of insiders, a lot people who have been part of the political establishment saying I can`t vote for Trump. If Trump wants to win, he has to get more outsiders. I mean, while all these insiders are saying, we`re not going to -- we have no way we can do this.

MATTHEWS: What is the heart of darkness, to use my favorite phrase I come up with, that makes people like Murphy said, he knows nothing about foreign policy and he can`t elect a president, can`t do that job.

What are you hearing is the chief obstacle? Republicans, is it this crazy thing with the Khan family? What is it?

FEEHERY: I think that`s part of it. I think his lack of discipline. I think people are worried about his sanity. Does he have what it takes to actually have the temperament to be president? A lot of people are worried about. I think a lot of people are just upset that he is a complete outsider and they have no idea what he`s going to do, the hack of ideological purity or ideological consistency, I think, makes people very nervous.

And so, you know, you have a lot of these Republicans we can`t do this.

MATTHEWS: Does the Republican nomination carry a sanity clause?

FEEHERY: I think it does. I don`t necessarily agree with all those people. I think that Trump is running a campaign.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he has the temperament to be president of the United States?

FEEHERY: I think -- I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: OK, great. We`ll be right back. We`re going to Donald Trump down in Jacksonville.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Serious. I wish the press would report the crowd like it is.


You`ve got thousands of people outside trying on get in and they can`t get in. This is one hell of a big stadium. I`ll tell you. Thank you. Thank you very much. A great honor.

Jacksonville, a great place. How is your football team going to be? Good? Good? I hear good things.

So, I want to start by saying that early this morning, I turned on the television and I saw that our country took $400 million in cash, but different currencies, different places, different representatives representing those places. Took $400 million, put it in airplanes, and flew it over to Iran.

And --


How stupid are we? How stupid are we? What`s going to in this country, how stupid are we?

And then you say, I wonder what happens with that $400 million? I wonder who ends up getting it, right? I wonder who ends up getting it. So sad.

And people tried to stop it. And a lot of people -- you just wonder. Who is making decisions like this where you take $400 million, they put in it small containers, and probably pretty large containers, actually, and they bring it over to Iran.

And you say, whose making these decisions? Whose decision is that? That is all emanating from one of the worst deals ever made in this country. The deal we`ve made with Iran and that was probably hostage money to get hostages out for $400 million, but it was exact timing.

Our leaders are incompetent.


And that`s why we have these crowds. That`s why we have these crowds. That`s why we fill up the stadiums. No matter where we go. We have unbelievable people in our country. We have great, great people in our country.

MATTHEWS: We`re back. That`s Trump on the counter attack. He`s launched an offensive there about the money that was unfrozen. It has been sitting in banks. It`d been held up. It has to do with some old arms dispute between the United States and the shah back before there was a revolution over there.

What do you make of it? He`s saying it was a quid pro quo with getting the hostages back?

FEEHERY: Well, the timing is perfect for Trump, because you release the money ask the hostages come back.

And for Trump, this is manna from heaven. He gets to pound on it. He gets to talk about the Obama administration, the essential corruptness of the status quo. And he`s going to keep pounding on it.

MATTHEWS: And by the way, just to explain, why would that be corrupt?

FEEHERY: Well, I mean --

MATTHEWS: If we unfreeze money which we were supposed to do anyway.

FEEHERY: I`m not saying it is corrupt. I`m saying that`s what he`s saying. It goes to the natural distrust that people outside the beltway have of the beltway. This deal, this Iran deal that people dislike instinctively, you have this arms for hostages. Except it is money for hostages. This is what Trump will say and he will be very effective at it.

MATTHEWS: OK, great, thank you very much, John Feehery. And Governor Arne Carlson was great a moment ago.

Up next, the round table is coming here next to talk about what`s going on in the Trump campaign. Let`s look at it all together with our group.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s been a crazy week and a roller coaster ride that is the Donald Trump campaign. Just when you think you`ve seen it all, here come the old retread conspiracy theories.

First up tonight, former campaign manager and Trump ally, Cory Lewandowski, dredged up the oldie but goody President Obama`s birth certificate last night on CNN and asked to see President Obama`s Harvard transcript.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Did he ever release his transcripts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the way, tell me about those tax returns, while you`re at it.

LEWANDOWSKI: You raised the issue. Did he ever release his transcripts or his admission to Harvard University? You raised the issue, so just yes or no?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boy bad, you so out of line right now.

LEWANDOWSKI: Don`t raise the issue if you don`t want to address it. That`s what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two words, tax returns.

LEWANDOWSKI: Harvard University transcripts. You raised the issue. Did he ever --


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s advancing the conversation. It`s a rehashing of his former boss`s old previous statements before the 2012 election. The father of the birther movement called on Obama to release his college records. And this week, Donald Trump begun laying the ground work for questioning the results of this general election coming up in November.


TRUMP: And I`m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.

It`s a very dishonest media. The media is very dishonest -- very, very dishonest.



MATTHEWS: For more right now, I`m joined by a roundtable, my friend, Howard Fineman, global editorial director for "The Huffington Post", Jay Newton-Small, of course, Washington correspondent for "Time", and Eli Stokols is national political reporter for "Politico".

I want a deep dig on this. This is something strange. Cory Lewandowski, who may not know anything about anything for all I know, has dredged up the craziest of birther theories that the Harvard application that Barack Obama put in to become a student in the law school there somehow said that he was a foreigner, a foreign student, asking for a special break, as a foreign student.

Now, that takes it further than anybody -- in other words, he`s not the son of his mother, he`s actually an illegal immigrant. Because if he`s the son of his mother, an American from Kansas, he would be maybe not eligible for the presidency, but certainly an American. So, now, he`s going further and saying he`s not his mother`s son. Because when he applied to Harvard, he said, I`m from Kenya. This is brand-new, this one.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I spent a lot of the last day reporting on what`s going inside the Trump camp, the turmoil, the frustration of the people running it, who areal actually running it. Corey Lewandowski was kicked out of the campaign and he thinks he`s helping the situation by doing that.

MATTHEWS: Trump hates the birther issue now. He doesn`t want it brought up.

FINEMAN: My point is, I haven`t heard and I talked to a lot of top people, I didn`t hear from the inside, I didn`t hear about the birther issue. I didn`t hear the people working for Donald Trump saying that the election is rigged.

You`re not hearing the people around him, who have some sense saying the kinds of things that the candidate himself is saying. They`re not saying it`s rigged. They`re not talking about the birther issue. Their goal is to try to get their candidate, number one, to be quiet, and number two, get on message. Neither which they`re capable of doing.

MATTHEWS: What`s the rigging thing based on, the fact if you lose -- this is third-world stuff. You know what they said in the third world countries? If you lose, it was rigged. They all say that. Number two, then they arrest. If they win the election, if they lose they say it was rigged. If they win, they arrest the opponent, like Bhutto in Pakistan, hanged him.

This is crazy, third world politics.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: And they`re laying the ground work about a fictional letter campaigning about when the debates are. They`re just laying the ground --

MATTHEWS: Has anyone found this letter?

NEWTON-SMALL: No one has found the letter. And so, I mean, but a lot of this is like --

MATTHEWS: Is he going to say the debates were conflicting with NFL games, so the debate commission is out to get him?


FINEMAN: He`s already basically said.

NEWTON-SMALL: He`s already said that, essentially, which isn`t true.

FINEMAN: It could be they just screwed up. By the way, there are NFL games almost every night.

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, these debates have been set for months, though. But what`s more of it, is it`s like here`s the shiny story over here, here`s new thing, this crazy, other thing. Don`t look at that train going off the cliff. Just don`t worry about it, look at this crazy, crazy thing.

FINEMAN: You know what captures your imagination? Tim Russert used to say it. Numbers, numbers, numbers. When you start to fall down in the 30s, as he did today in the Fox poll, it`s hard to blame somebody besides yourself. You`re losing.

ELI STOKOLS, POLITICO: Yes, he is, but that`s what he`s doing when he`s talking about everything is rigged, he`s explaining. He`s already planning the seeds of a narrative to explain why he`s going to lose.

MATTHEWS: Why is he at 39 now, when he was higher?

STOKOLS: Well, because he had a negative convention. I mean, they have not started speaking beyond their base --

MATTHEWS: Who is he blaming for that?

STOKOLS: He`s never going to take the blame himself. But what he`s saying is in a rigged system, he`s blaming the media. I mean, he`s undermining people`s faith in institutions, whether it`s the media or American democracy itself.

MATTHEWS: Late breaking now, moments ago, Donald Trump told his supporters in Jacksonville, that he had met today with Gold Star families. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: And just a little while ago, I met with the gold star families. I met with six families that were just like incredible people.

And a gentleman handed me a check, and he said, "You know, Mr. Trump, this is for your campaign." And I said, "You don`t have to do that." He goes, "I do." He said it`s more money -- and I haven`t even opened it yet. I don`t think I`ll tell you how much it is, actually. But he said, "It`s more money" -- wow. He said, "It`s more money than we can afford. But I want you to have it for your campaign."

And I think it`s incredible. Where is he?


MATTHEWS: So does that work, Howard? Does that get him off the cliff?

FINEMAN: No, it doesn`t get him out of it. But it`s an example of what`s left of some kind of campaign structure around him, trying to get him to do something positive to dig out of the situation.

In other words, that wasn`t spontaneous Donald Trump. That`s not tweeting Donald Trump. That`s not self-destructive Donald Trump.

That at least shows me that somebody in the campaign is trying to put one foot in front of the other, which is very difficult to do based on all the reporting that I`ve done.

NEWTON-SMALL: No one is going to be happier than Donald Trump`s staff that the Olympics are starting on Friday.



NEWTON-SMALL: Because it`s going to be -- everyone`s going to focus on the Olympics. Everyone is going to focus on other stories. And they`re not going to focus on all this stuff.

MATTHEWS: You`re running an uphill campaign for president as Donald Trump is, every day has to produce a headline, or a TV headline or a Twitter note that talks about creating jobs and economic hope for the working class people who desperately do --

NEWTON-SMALL: That`s what they`re doing now.

MATTHEWS: He`s not getting those days. He`s got 90-some days left. He`s wasting them on this crap.

STOKOLS: He`s undermining his own message too. If that were the only message, if he could get off stage without shooting himself on the foot talking about other things and relitigating past controversies, then maybe that would be the headline he gets.

But, you know, he goes to Pennsylvania, tries to appeal to blue collar folks there, and the next day he flew into Virginia, and he`s saying, oh, I flew in to Pennsylvania the other day, boy, is Harrisburg a hell hole? So, they add another controversy to the list. He just can`t leave it there when he can follow instructions but then he doesn`t --

MATTHEWS: Yes, his advantage is to be an outsider and disadvantages.

Anyway, Howard Fineman , Jay Newton-Small, and Eli Stokols, thanks for joining us.

We`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for now. What a week it`s been. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.