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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 8/16/2016

Guests: Matt Schlapp, Susan Page, Steve McMahon, Jack Kingston, Hakeem Jeffries, Christie Todd Whitman

Show: HARDBALL Date: August 16, 2016 Guest: Matt Schlapp, Susan Page, Steve McMahon, Jack Kingston, Hakeem Jeffries, Christie Todd Whitman


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Eighty-three days shy of the election, and Donald Trump needs a game changer. Forget the talk of resets and pivots, he needs a new fact that makes it all different. A new NBC poll has Clinton with a 9-point lead now. She`s at 50, he`s down at 41, and the trend is downward. The candidates were running even before the conventions, but Clinton has pulled away and is holding her lead.

According to the latest Monmouth poll, Trump is also behind in Florida, where Clinton now leads Trump again by 9 points, 48 to 39. Without Florida, it`s hard to see how Trump gets it.

He`s also battling history. As Politico reports today, no candidate in Donald Trump`s position at this stage of the campaign has gone on to win the popular vote in November in the modern polling era.

Time is running short for Trump to reverse the trajectory of the race before voters` preferences become locked in. Well, Trump and his campaign face the need for a game changer to shake up the race if they can hope to win, and one target seems to be the health of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Here`s what Trump said about Clinton in yesterday`s foreign policy address.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Importantly, she also lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS and all of the many adversaries we face, not only in terrorism, but in trade and every other challenge we must confront to turn our great country around.


MATTHEWS: Well, this follows Trump`s charge of last week that Clinton needs to sleep for three days in between campaign speeches. Here he goes.


TRUMP: Her speeches are so short, though. They don`t last long. You know, they`re, like, 10 minutes, let`s get out of here. Go back home and go to sleep.


TRUMP: Three days later, she gets up and she does another one and goes back home and goes to sleep.


MATTHEWS: Joining me now are Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." Steve McMahon`s a Democratic strategist, and Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union.

There`s something in the air. I heard it this weekend out with a bunch of Democrats in Massachusetts this weekend. I`m reading something this morning, somebody`s got a $1 million bounty out for Hillary`s health records. Trump`s talking about -- Sean Hannity is ranting on this topic. What`s going on? Do you know? (INAUDIBLE) smell out there what the Republicans are up to on this health thing, Steve?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, they`re getting desperate and they`re...

MATTHEWS: Well, why are they onto this? Why are they onto -- what do they know? Is there something we don`t know in the health records, something -- something that could change this election around?

MCMAHON: No. No. There`s no indication that there`s anything like that. This was something that was thrown out there as a canard about a year or so ago, you know, that Hillary Clinton had somehow had strokes or something. And it`s ridiculous.

And what happens is, when a campaign appears to be failing, and they make charges that don`t seem credible at all, it actually reflects more on the person making the charge...

MATTHEWS: Well, is it smart to make a charge like this if they know it`s not going to be proven true? I mean, it`s smart if they can lead into something actually coming out or they can force some information out of her medical records. Why would they go into a wall on this? Why would they say something that will be demonstrably proven wrong within a matter of weeks?

MCMAHON: Because Donald Trump and his campaign...

MATTHEWS: Why do it?

MCMAHON: They don`t think beyond the next news cycle.


MCMAHON: And they`re just desperate and grasping for straws, and you can see it.



MATTHEWS: Why are they pushing this button because we`re going to show you Hannity here, who`s relentless on this.

PAGE: And Donald Trump actually has been pretty clever through the primaries in finding some weakness in an opponent, giving him a nickname that, in fact...

MATTHEWS: Low-energy Jeb.

PAGE: Low-energy Jeb is a good -- little Marco. But this one seems kind of outrageous, doesn`t it? She traveled a million miles as secretary of state. She...

MATTHEWS: Well, she to sleep -- a bed in the plane, you know. You`d like that bed. I`d like that bed!

PAGE: She keeps a perfectly full campaign schedule. I...

MATTHEWS: What`s this bounty of a million dollars? Have you heard this story?


MATTHEWS: What`s it about? A guy wants to drop a million bucks to find out -- obviously, she`s not going to give her medical records to this guy. But what`s it about?

SCHLAPP: Well, it`s fair in the sense that she`s pushing Donald Trump very hard on...

MATTHEWS: Tax returns.

SCHLAPP: ... his failure on tax returns. He`s going to push her back on her weakness. And the second thing...

MATTHEWS: Is it a weakness, or you just dropped that on us?

SCHLAPP: Well, I think -- I think what`s fair to say is, Look, when you sit in Green Rooms in TV studios, Democrats often say, people in the press often say, Hey, she`s awfully hard. She`s not very available. He`s very available. He`s too available. It`s hard to get her on our shows. It`s hard to get her...

MATTHEWS: Does that mean she`s hiding her ailments?

SCHLAPP: I don`t know, but she`s certainly behind some kind of veil. And I think there`s a little bit of a cynicism to that.

MATTHEWS: I like the way you drop this in there.

PAGE: You know what? Perfectly legitimate to say she doesn`t do news conferences. She hasn`t done a real news conference since (INAUDIBLE) That`s a perfectly fair line of attack.

SCHLAPP: (INAUDIBLE) asked the questions ahead of time.

PAGE: But saying that reflects ill health? I just don`t see the linkage. I don`t see the evidence.

MATTHEWS: When`s the last time she did that?

SCHLAPP: Did what?

MATTHEWS: Asked for the questions ahead of time.

SCHLAPP: She went to a grammar school and asked for the questions ahead of time. She did a press conference, but in front of a favorable press pool. Do a real one! Come on! If she`s so far up and this is such a cakewalk, go let it all hang out...


MATTHEWS: I know that there`s something to that, about asking for the questions ahead of time.

MCMAHON: If I`m not mistaken, Hillary Clinton`s doctor put out something that addressed this some time ago.

SCHLAPP: Put out all the records!

MCMAHON: And I don`t think that there`s anything -- there`s nothing to see here, as the police would say...


MATTHEWS: I think Roosevelt`s doctor probably did it and Jack Kennedy`s. They always put out those records.

MCMAHON: Well, if people aren`t going to believe what a doctor says, then what`s the point of putting...


SCHLAPP: Well, put out the records, and then we can see...


MATTHEWS: ... it was reported in 2012 that Clinton suffered a fall in her Chappaqua home, conspiracy theories have been pushed about the former secretary`s health. Sean Hannity, as I said, of Fox News has invited doctors to try to speculate on Clinton`s alleged medical conditions based on video and photographs of the candidate. Here`s a clip from last week.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Was there a possibility she had a mini- stroke, a TIA? What do you think, Doc?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, the picture that you showed as she`s going up the stairs speaks a million words. So is she really fatigued? Is she dehydrated? One of the main reasons why she fell in 2012 and had the concussion was severe dehydration. They`re holding her and going up the stairs, so she may be really dehydrated. She may have arthritis. She may have back pain. She may have fallen again. We don`t know. So there are a lot more questions that`s unanswered.


MATTHEWS: OK, there`s a thing in the paper today, in "The Times" today, did called the Goldwater rule. Stop giving diagnoses about somebody you`ve never met.

Anyway, to counter the speculation, Clinton`s doctor, her own doctor, last year, as you say, gave her a clean bill of health, reporting that she`s in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as president of the United States. That`s a pretty strong statement.

So this isn`t real or this is real?

SCHLAPP: She should put her records out.

MCMAHON: She has.

SCHLAPP: Put her medical records out. No, not a doctor -- not your own personal doctor...


MCMAHON: Look, this is the way this conversation is going to go.


MCMAHON: This is the way the conversation`s going to go. And Hillary Clinton`s doctor has put out a statement about her health and her fitness...

SCHLAPP: As Chris said, John Kennedy`s doctor said...

MCMAHON: I don`t recall -- I don`t recall...

SCHLAPP: ... he didn`t have Addison`s disease.

MCMAHON: ... Donald Trump`s accountant saying he paid any taxes. And in fact...

SCHLAPP: Let`s see his taxes.

MCMAHON: ... people are saying -- people are saying Donald Trump didn`t pay any taxes. So why...

SCHLAPP: Let`s see it all.

MCMAHON: Let`s see it all. Let`s bring it all.

SCHLAPP: I love that. Let`s see it all.

MCMAHON: Let`s go.

MATTHEWS: So what are you hiding? Why do you want to go to the tax returns? Why don`t you just say...

MCMAHON: I don`t think Donald Trump paid a penny in taxes.


MATTHEWS: They could both be hiding something. Who knows? Anyway...

MCMAHON: We`re talking about transparency.

MATTHEWS: When people -- never mind. We`ll see...


MATTHEWS: Politico reports that the Clinton campaign is already preparing for the worst from Trump, especially when it comes to the face- to-face political combat of the presidential debates themselves.

Quote, "The person picked to be Hillary Clinton`s sparring partner in her upcoming debate prep sessions is expected to confront her about the death of Vincent Foster, label her as a rapist`s enabler and invoke the personally painful memories of Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers," close quote.

Trump hasn`t shied away from attacks, of course, like these in the past. Here`s what he said at his campaign rally this Saturday.


TRUMP: Her husband, Bill Clinton, who, by the way...


TRUMP: Remember what he said, he did not have sex with that woman? Then a couple of weeks later, Oh, you got me. Oh, I`m so glad they kept the dress! I`m so glad they kept that dress, all right? It`s great. You know why? Because it shows what the hell they are!


MATTHEWS: You know, Susan, there was a sense not too many years ago when you wouldn`t talk about the dress the way he just did, you know, because we`re really talking about DNA evidence and the whole routine. It`s hard to believe there`s a corner of the unpleasant he`s not willing to go into.

PAGE: Well, I think that you have to...

MATTHEWS: In these debates.

PAGE: ... assume that if we -- assuming we have debates, that he will bring up these issues. And I don`t think the attack by him is particularly perilous because we`ve had these attacks before. They didn`t even keep Bill Clinton -- get Bill Clinton...

MATTHEWS: The Clintons are very good at SDI. When they come in on those ones...

PAGE: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... they always make you look bad.

PAGE: But the question is could -- does -- her response. It`s not the attack. Can she respond in a way that is serious and thoughtful, doesn`t look too defensive, deals it and gets rid of it and makes him -- makes -- makes the issue him asking the question? That is harder than you`d think to do, and it`s not something she`s had to do in the past because this was not -- these are not issues that Democratic primary opponents were going to raise...


MATTHEWS: How would you play it if you were a debate challenger? If you had to play the sparring partner, how would you do it?

MCMAHON: I would -- I would...

MATTHEWS: Would you come in like that?

MCMAHON: Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: What would you say? What about Monica? Why -- you knew about it, didn`t you? You didn`t know about. You did know...

MCMAHON: I would say...

MATTHEWS: ... about it, you didn`t know about it.

MCMAHON: I would say...

MATTHEWS: I don`t think she knew about it myself, but (INAUDIBLE)

MCMAHON: I would say all of that. I would talk about, you know, all the scandals that we`re all very, very familiar with, and I would keep coming at it again and again and again because at the end of the day, he knows he`s not going to be able to throw her off on substance. She knows it so cold and so well. But these are the kind of things -- and it`s not going to be what he says. It`s going to be, as Susan points out, how she reacts.


MATTHEWS: I`ve never seen her blow up. Have you, in a debate or anything? She doesn`t tend to have that kind of -- I would be more likely to blow up. But she doesn`t seem like she blows up.

MCMAHON: She can be a little stern, which is appropriate in some of these circumstances. I think how she plays it is going to be the most important thing...

MATTHEWS: She`s not going to do a Jack Nicholson, You can`t handle the truth, is she? She`s not going to do that, like...


MATTHEWS: That never seems to happen, those Perry Mason moments where you go, You can`t handle the truth! They always -- Oh, I have -- you know, they quibble, is what they do.

SCHLAPP: These questions of the scandals are very -- they`re...

MATTHEWS: They are relevant!


SCHLAPP: ... because if you look at the Bernie Sanders -- part of his appeal was she`s part of the past, she owns Washington, she`s scandal after scandal, everyone`s in her pocket. And I think the fact is, is this. Does it play into the now? What`s going on now with the Clinton Foundation? What`s going now with how she was secretary of state where she said there`d be a wall between the foundation and her being secretary of state?


SCHLAPP: Then we find out she has employees that are dual-hatted? That`s not really a very good wall and...

MCMAHON: You`re right about one thing...


MATTHEWS: ... red lines -- don`t draw a red line unless you mean it for yourself.

SCHLAPP: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Don`t give it to somebody else to...


SCHLAPP: That`s right. And -- and the fact is, is that it plays into the past. I don`t think Trump should hit on the past. He should hit into the present. We all know about the past, and it ain`t pleasant.

MCMAHON: What we also know about the past is...


SCHLAPP: You know what? It`s not just sex stuff. It`s all the question about everything she`s done in office, from the missing Rose, you know, Law Firm records to the $1,000 cattle futures...

MCMAHON: You said don`t talk about the past.

SCHLAPP: No, I`m saying don`t lead with it!

MCMAHON: (INAUDIBLE) talk about the past?

SCHLAPP: We all know this! We all know this!


MATTHEWS: ... and it was in the boxing (ph) room, the...

SCHLAPP: The $100,000.

MATTHEWS: I have one problem with her from the past. It`s not evil, necessarily, but it`s the part of politics I don`t like. It`s the fund- raising, the Motel 6 stuff, the using the White House as a fund-raising stunt, having these people come in (INAUDIBLE) you know, stay at the Lincoln bed and all the money they raised. It was to me irreverent...


SCHLAPP: What about the pardons on the way out the door? That wasn`t so great, either.

MATTHEWS: You mean Marc Rich? You got a problem with that?

SCHLAPP: There was dozens, dozens.

MCMAHON: But here`s the thing. Every one of these things is already reflected in the value of the stock. And by the way, the sins of her husband are not the sins of Hillary Clinton. And Donald Trump needs to be pretty careful here because he may offend women even more than he already has if he goes down...

MATTHEWS: She might splash (ph) it...

MCMAHON: ... the wrong path the wrong way.

MATTHEWS: ... to his personal life, too.

MCMAHON: She might just...


SCHLAPP: She should.

MATTHEWS: I`m not any more responsible for my husband`s behavior than you are -- than Ivana was for yours.

PAGE: She`s not going to -- she`s not going to -- she`s not going to...

MATTHEWS: How`s that for one?

PAGE: ... do that.

MATTHEWS: She won`t get dirty?

PAGE: No! I mean, if she has a standing here, it`s to say, How dare you? How dare you raise those issues? Let`s talk about what affects Americans. Let`s not...


SCHLAPP: That is old. We`re been doing this for 30 years. We`re tired of all that.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me tell you one thing that works in politics, was the attack from the defensive position. People do root for the person under attack, just...


MATTHEWS: And when somebody is seen going at you because you`re behind in the polls, they go, Wait a minute, let`s see what she has to say. And there`s a tremendous prejudice toward the person playing defense.

Remember Reagan? There you go again. We root for the guy that`s under attack.

Anyway, "The New York Times" today -- talk about a game changer -- reported that Roger Ailes, until recently, of course, chairman of Fox News, has been advising Trump and will play a role in his debate prep this fall. As "The Times" notes of Ailes, he is deeply familiar with the Republican lines of attack against Mrs. Clinton and with the controversies that have surrounded her and her husband going back to their days in the White House.

The Trump campaign disputes the story`s accuracy, which is always a way of not really disputing it, saying they are long-time friends but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign. OK, that -- Ailes has a long history of advising many successful candidates dating back to Richard Nixon. In 1998, he famously prepped George Herbert Walker Bush for an explosive confrontation with CBS`s Dan Rather on live television.

Let`s watch this moment in history.


VICE PRES. GEORGE H.W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I want to talk about why I want to be president, why those 41 percent of the people are supporting me.


BUSH: ... whole career -- it`s not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York? Would you like that?


MATTHEWS: That was called a show stopper. And that was Roger Ailes advising the vice president at that time, If you want to take on a sparring partner, take on the liberal Dan Rather, beat him in the preliminaries, and you`ll look very good taking on Jimmy -- taking on Mike Dukakis. It was brilliant politics.

PAGE: And you know it was planned.


PAGE: You know he didn`t think about that on the spot.

MATTHEWS: He had the sign up -- tennis match (ph). Roger was holding the sign up for Bush to go to. He also prepped Reagan on the, I won`t use my opponent`s youth and inexperience against him...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Great line.

MATTHEWS: ... in the Mondale debate. He gave Nixon the great idea to have those faux debates, remember, those hour-long sort of debates with people like Bud Wilkinson (ph) moderating it, the coach of Oklahoma, and Ed Brooke sitting in the first row, mixing up the audience? Matt...

SCHLAPP: Well, first of all...

MATTHEWS: ... is that going to matter here?

SCHLAPP: I think so...


SCHLAPP: The fact is, is this. Ailes...

MATTHEWS: He`s got his own situation, but is he going to help with this?

SCHLAPP: Ailes and Trump are friends for decades. They talk a lot. I don`t care whether it`s formal or informal. This makes Republicans and conservatives very happy. He`s a shrewd operator. The fact that he might be talking to Donald Trump about how he handles this first debate is just music to all of our ears.

PAGE: You know, not only...

MATTHEWS: Who are you betting on the first debate?

SCHLAPP: Who am I betting on, with the largest audience in the history of politics?

MATTHEWS: Who you bet wins?

SCHLAPP: Trump needs it. I think he`s going to perform. I think he`ll have a good night.

MATTHEWS: Who wins?

MCMAHON: Hillary -- Hillary`s going to win. And Roger Ailes...


MATTHEWS: The challenger tends to win. The out of power guy tends to win.

MCMAHON: Roger Ailes is not going to make any difference for Donald Trump, just as every other parade of professionalism and...

SCHLAPP: Come on! Give him a break. He`s pretty good! You got to give him a break!

MCMAHON: Paul Manafort knows what he`s doing, and Donald Trump rejects every single thing that Paul Manafort...


PAGE: Not only does Ailes have a lot of expertise, he probably has Trump`s ear on this.


PAGE: He might be somebody Trump would actually listen to (INAUDIBLE)

SCHLAPP: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: You know, Ailes has been there. I`ll tell you...

SCHLAPP: He`s been there. He`s been there. He`s good.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) all the other stuff. I`m not here (ph) on that, but I`ll tell you, when it comes to prepping people -- anti- establishment mentality is the very heart of that guy. The chance to take down a Clinton is rich.

Anyway, thank you, Susan Page. Thank you for your partisanship...



MATTHEWS: ... for your reasonableness and some partisanship.

Coming up, Donald Trump -- that`s why you`re here -- says he`ll vigorously, viciously fight terrorism on U.S. soil. I don`t like that word. He wants an ideological test for all immigrants and something he called "extreme vetting."

But would any of Trump`s -- this is my question. This is the cutter, the acid test. Would any of his anti-terror proposals actually prevent a 9/11? Would anything have stopped -- anything he`s talking about, have stopped what -- the horror that happened here in 2001? Would any of it have worked?

My theory, no, it doesn`t work. You don`t ask somebody if they`re going to rob a bank before they rob the bank. Oh, I`m not going to rob the bank. Why would they say, I`m going to rob the bank? It`s an idiotic question!

Plus, talk about being for it before you were against it. Well, from invading Iraq to pulling out of Iraq to attacking Libya, time after time, Donald Trump has supported foreign policy decisions he`s now blasting away at, and we`ve got the video to prove it.

And can Hillary Clinton excite progressives with the prospect of actually running the government, of taking over with the prospect of taking the Senate, the White House and the House?

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the loss of John McLaughlin -- serious business. What a loss. There he is. It happened at midnight last night.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane resigned today after being convicted on nine criminal charges. Prosecutors argued that Kane leaked information about a rival prosecutor and then lied about it to a grand jury.

Once -- not too long ago a rising star in Pennsylvania politics and the first woman ever elected to her position, Kane had already lost her legal license but had refused to step down until today. Kane could face prison time. She`ll be sentenced within 90 days. What a downfall.

We`ll be right back.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.


TRUMP: In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Donald Trump, of course, yesterday delivering his plan to defeat ISIS, a plan that he says would use -- quote -- as he said, "extreme vetting," and a suspension of immigration from regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.

Well, here`s more of Trump.


TRUMP: In addition to screening out all members of the sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.


TRUMP: Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred will not be admitted for immigration into our country.



MATTHEWS: Strong words strongly delivered, but would these plans safeguard this country against future terrorist attacks, and would they have prevented, of course, 9/11?

If they hadn`t been able to prevent 9/11, I`m wondering what use they have?

Anyway, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is a Democrat from New York. And former Congressman Jack Kingston is a Republican from Georgia.

Gentlemen, I`m looking at a couple of the -- I look at Trump seriously. These proposals are meant to be serious. Let`s take them seriously.

He talks about how we are going to basically take people who come apply for visas or emigrate to this country from what he calls areas where there has been terrorism in the region, and not let them come to the United States. But the 9/11 people, four of them that were the masterminds came from Germany. OK?

I don`t think we would have kept people from Europe from coming here. And the other ones came from Saudi Arabia, one of our allies in the world. I don`t think we would have kept them out. And by the region they are talking about over there includes Israel. I don`t think it would have kept Israelis from coming to this country.

I`m not sure, Congressman Jeffries, that this makes any sense at all, just in terms of weeding it out by geography who gets in this country, who`s a danger, who isn`t.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, Trump continues to tackle a serious, complex problem with simplistic proposals. And extreme vetting is really just Trump talk for, let`s keep all of the Muslims out in a way that, of course, would be unconstitutional, counterproductive, and serves as propaganda for our enemies.

There wasn`t any serious proposal that he articulated yesterday, Chris, in his speech. And if you actually look at some of the things that he said all along the way, he wants to send tens of thousands of United States troops into the Middle East, getting us bogged down in another conflict that will result in the loss of life and further inflame the situation.

He`s talked about over the last several months bringing back torture in a way that will put our troops into harm`s way. He`s recklessly talked about using nuclear weapons in a way that should be frightening to every decent person, not just in this country, but across the world.

So, if you look at the totality of his package, not just the words yesterday, but the things that he`s talked about throughout the duration of this campaign, it is frightening that Donald Trump is so close to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, I have similar doubts, but I go back to the particular questions. Can you screen by region? I mean, Israel`s a region. What do we mean by the region? We are not going to keep people from Jordan out of our country or Egypt.

JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: But, remember, what he was also talking about, this is predicated on a radicalization commission. How do you keep people from being radicalized?

That`s part one.

MATTHEWS: Well, how do you? How do you do it?

KINGSTON: Well, I think part of what he was saying is, if you have some ties with terrorism, if you come with a country -- from a country that`s known to export terrorism...

MATTHEWS: Germany? They came from Germany for 9/11. Could we have kept Germans from coming to this country?

KINGSTON: Well, part of what he also said, the case of the Boston bombers, for example, the FBI brought them in for two interviews, and then released them. There have been other people who have been...

MATTHEWS: Chechnya.

KINGSTON: But there were chance -- there were opportunities.

MATTHEWS: But we are doing that. What`s he going to do that`s different?

KINGSTON: Well, I look at it, like, Jimmy Carter did his best to get the hostages out of Iran, but once Ronald Reagan was elected, they got out.


MATTHEWS: Well, I mean, they got out the day he was inaugurated. He didn`t have anything to do with it.

KINGSTON: Well, because they knew Ronald Reagan was coming, and he was a tougher president.

MATTHEWS: You think that`s it?


MATTHEWS: Let me tell you my interpretation, having been on the airplane with Carter. Admittedly, it leads to different perspectives.

I think they wanted to punish Carter. And so they held the hostages right until the end of his term. That`s all I think it was. You may be right, though. I will accept that. My view is different.


KINGSTON: See, what I think part of what we heard yesterday is somebody who was willing to say, you know what, I`m going to make a commitment, I`m going to show some leadership with our international allies, and I`m going to have some ownership in it. And that`s what I did.


MATTHEWS: And who ended up, by the way, in that whole saga of dealing with the enemy? Who ended up trading arms for hostages?


MATTHEWS: Reagan did.

KINGSTON: Yes, but not...

MATTHEWS: No, Reagan did. So, the guy that you say was the big hero of standing up to the Iranians, he ended up doing it.


MATTHEWS: No, but just stay on this subject. No, stay on this subject. He ended up giving them the TOW missiles to get the hostages back on his watch.

Carter never gave them anything to get the hostages back. So, why is Reagan tougher? I`m not sure.

KINGSTON: Well, because I think Reagan did not blink when he said, for example...


MATTHEWS: No, he didn`t blink. He sent them the TOW missiles.

KINGSTON: Well, he defeated the Soviet Union without firing a shot.

MATTHEWS: OK, that`s -- you changed the subject.

KINGSTON: But -- but -- but...

MATTHEWS: Why are you going after Jimmy Carter here again? You`re trying to pound the old guy.

KINGSTON: No, I`m saying a lot of this...


MATTHEWS: Anyway, and he`s in his 90s now, and you are going back again.

OK, look, I don`t think you`re right on Reagan. Reagan got caught. It cost him 20 points in the polls because he was caught selling arms, giving arms to the Iranians to get some hostages back.

KINGSTON: But, Chris, could we agree that...


MATTHEWS: OK. But just agree on the facts.


KINGSTON: The football coach of the worst team in the NFL does the same things, blocking, tackling, passing, that the winning Super Bowl coach does. There`s a difference in leadership. And what we saw yesterday was a leader.

MATTHEWS: I know, but Reagan went 180 on what he promised to do, not to deal with the enemy.

Anyway, in Trump`s speech yesterday, he blasted Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for foreign policy decisions involving Iraq and Libya. But, as it turns out, Trump was for all those actions before he was against them.

Everybody, watch this. Thank God for tape.

Congressmen, both of you fellows, watch this. Thank God we have tape. Let`s go to the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I was an opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning.

HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Are you for invading Iraq?

TRUMP: Yes, I guess so. You know, I wish it was -- I wish, the first time, it was done correctly.

I have been just as clear in saying what a catastrophic mistake Hillary Clinton and President Obama made with the reckless way in which they pulled out.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Is there a way out?

TRUMP: How do they get out? You know how they get out? They get out. That`s how they get out. Declare victory and leave.

Libya was stable. And President Obama and Hillary Clinton should have never attempted to build a democracy in Libya.

Gadhafi in Libya is killing thousands of people. Nobody knows how bad it is. We should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick. Ultimately, the people will appreciate it.


MATTHEWS: Simple question, Congressman Jeffries.

Do people in New York in your district care that Trump was 180 from where he says he is on all these issues that we all care about? Was it smart to go into Iraq, yes or no? He was for it. Now he says he was against it. Should we have taken on, knocked off Gadhafi? He was for knocking him off. Now he says he wasn`t.

He was for pulling out from Iraq early. Now he says, no, I wanted to stay with more troops. He says the popular, convenient thing now, but his positions at the time, in real time, were the opposite of what`s popular today. What should we look at here?

JEFFRIES: Well, Donald Trump has taken political inconsistency to a whole new level.

And he continues to operate, as the video pointed out in such a compelling way, in a fact-free zone. And it`s all predicated on just trying to attack President Obama and trying to attack Hillary Clinton, regardless of the facts.

He`s held different policy positions along the way that are inconsistent with the things that he`s been saying on the campaign trail, simply because he`s willing to say anything and apparently do anything to get elected.

Now, it worked in the Republican Party primary. I don`t think it`s going to work in the general election. The reality of the situation in the Middle East right now is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney took us into Iraq searching for weapons of mass destruction. There were none to be found

MATTHEWS: I`m with you, Congressman.

JEFFRIES: Saddam Hussein had...

MATTHEWS: You don`t have to sell me. I`m on that from day one, before day one.

Thank you for coming on. Please come back.

I want to ask you a question. Extreme vetting. You go to a bank -- I have said this the other day. You got a bank. The door to the bank, you walk in the door. Before you walk through the door, you have to promise not to rob this bank. I promise not to rob -- everybody, including the bank robber, says, I`m not going to rob this bank.

What does extreme vetting mean? "I don`t believe in Sharia law. I don`t believe any of this stuff." And then you blow up the World Trade Center. Of course they`re going to lie. How do you vet liars?

KINGSTON: Well, of course they`re going to lie. That has to be part of the equation.

But you also can find out who they`re affiliated with, what are some of their beliefs, what are some of their statements?


KINGSTON: Take the case of the Orlando shooter`s dad. He`s pro- Taliban. Maybe there was a red flag that we missed. And I`m just saying, you know...


MATTHEWS: Look what that case involved.

There was a gay club. There was so much going on there with that guy. He used to go to the gay club. We don`t know. You don`t even know the motive yet.

KINGSTON: You don`t know. You don`t know. But that`s why you got to keep asking questions.

One of the San Bernardino shooters was here on a fiancee visa. Maybe there were some questions...


KINGSTON: Again, the two Boston bombers, FBI brought them in twice, and did not follow up on it. That`s what he`s saying. And I don`t know why we couldn`t come together as a country and say, you know what, maybe we should ask a few more questions.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you.

The danger, of course, you know, and the other congressman knows, too, you start harassing an ethnic group, you start bothering them, you start hovering over them, you start playing helicopter mom to them, they get mad at you. And you start to get possibly some people going the other way.

It`s all about treating people like Americans who are Americans. And I`m second-generation. I`m not so far away from this first-generation guy you`re talking about.

So, I mean, I got to tell you, the idea that a lot of people watching this show right now are second-generation, maybe first-generation. Their parents came here, their grandparents came here. They don`t want to hear, because of that, they`re being tailed.

Anyway, thank you, Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Up next: taking the plunge. Some Republicans are so turned off by Trump that they are willing to cast ballots for Hillary Clinton. I know a few. But not all Republicans are willing to do this. I want to ask Trump critic Christie Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey, if she`s willing to jump ship all the way and swim to that other ship, the big one called HRC.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

The death toll from the historic floods in Louisiana has risen to 11. Authorities have conducted 30,000 rescues.

A Southern California brushfire that began earlier today has exploded in size to 6,500 acres, or more than 10 square miles. Mandatory evacuations are being ordered in some areas.

And the man accused of gunning down a New York City imam and another man has been ordered held without bail. He faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder, but has not yet entered a plea -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, today, more than 100 Republicans signed on to a letter urging the Republican National Committee to shift resources away from the top of the party`s ticket, in other words, away from the presidential campaign. The request asked Chairman Reince Priebus to -- quote -- "immediately suspend all discretionary RNC support for Trump" -- close quote -- and instead allocate resources to House and Senate races in order to -- quote - - "save the Republican Party."

It`s that desperate.

Late today, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that Trump is about to go up with his first television ads of the campaign in the key battleground states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. These ads are set to begin this Friday, three days hence.

Joining me right now for more is former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman. She is also the former EPA administrator under George W. Bush.

There you are, Governor. There you are on national television. And I have the honor to bother you a little bit. And I`m going to bother you because I like you.

CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: So, what`s new, Chris? Come on. What`s new?

MATTHEWS: No, what`s new, pussycat?

Here`s the question for you. Who are you rooting for to be the next president of the United States, you rooting for?

WHITMAN: Well, I was a John Kasich delegate, so I`m still there.

MATTHEWS: Right now.

WHITMAN: But, no, you know, these two candidates are each running against the only other person they could possibly beat.

I`m waiting to see. I`m worried about what more might come out on Hillary Clinton and the foundation and the relationship with the State Department. I`m waiting to see what more happens with the Libertarian tickets. I served with both those governors. And they are good solid people.

So, there`s a lot more to happen.


WHITMAN: I`m not going to vote for Trump. And I am going to vote.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see. That leaves open to Hillary.

And the question that Adlai Stevenson used to say, that great mean, said, it`s the duty of leaders to lead. So, lead us now. Who should we vote for, for president, Governor?

WHITMAN: Not Trump. You have to vote your conscience, but not Trump.

MATTHEWS: OK. That helps. But what about Hillary Clinton? Is it better that Hillary Clinton become president or Gary Johnson? I don`t think you want Gary Johnson to be president of the United States. That`s my suggestion here. You don`t want him -- you might vote for him, but you don`t want him to be president.

My question is, why would you vote for somebody you don`t root for to be president? My question.

WHITMAN: Actually, you know what? That`s not entirely true.

Yes, it`s a little troubling that Gary said that he gave up smoking pot a couple months ago, so he would have a clear head.

MATTHEWS: No, for the election campaign.

WHITMAN: For the election campaign. That`s a good thing.

MATTHEWS: He says he will drop it for the campaign, OK, but not forever.

WHITMAN: That`s a good thing.

But Bill Weld is a really solid citizen, and Gary had a good record. It would be interesting to see what...


WHITMAN: ... has to say.

MATTHEWS: For president of the United States, Gary Johnson?

WHITMAN: You know, we have -- unfortunately, what we have is, as I said before, some very flawed candidates.

The thing I will say about Hillary is...

MATTHEWS: Including all these guys.

WHITMAN: But the thing I will say about Hillary, she has some very deep flaws, but at least they are within the parameters of flawed presidents that we have had before, whereas Trump is way outside those boundaries.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s my problem, and it`s not you, Governor. I respect you a lot. You have always been very independent and a moderate. And I very much like pretty much everything you have done.

But here`s the problem. People come up to me after Carter gets beaten by Reagan and say, oh, don`t blame me, I voted for John Anderson. Oh, I do blame you. Or they come after, you know -- they vote for Ross Perot, who was pretty much certifiable when they voted for him. He was talking North Vietnamese running across and ruining his daughter`s wedding and really wacko stuff.

And it`s fun, it`s frisky to vote third party. But you`re not really picking a president. You are doing something else. You are doing something else altogether. You`re not making a judgment.


WHITMAN: Well, you are voting your -- you are voting your conscience if you really can`t vote for either of these two major candidates.

At the end of the day, I don`t know. We are going to wait. I`m going to wait and see. It`s a -- fortunately, the ballot is a secret ballot.

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: When can you come back and tell us? Will you come back before the election? Will you come back before the election and tell us...

WHITMAN: Of course I will come back before.

MATTHEWS: ... you voted for Hillary Clinton?

WHITMAN: I will come back.

MATTHEWS: You got a problem with a woman being president?

WHITMAN: No, not at all.

MATTHEWS: I`m just teasing.

WHITMAN: Not with a woman.

MATTHEWS: I`m just teasing. I`m just teasing.

WHITMAN: You know that, Chris. Come on.

MATTHEWS: I`m just teasing.

You were a governor. You were a great governor. Thank you. You almost beat Bill Bradley. You got him shaken up.


WHITMAN: Came close. Came close.

MATTHEWS: Almost knocked that guy off.

Anyway, thank you so much, Governor Christie. You are like a lot of people. I have got some family members like you. They are turned off to Trump right now, but they are not ready for Hillary. So, it`s interesting.

Anyway, thank you.

One guy is.


MATTHEWS: Thank you.


MATTHEWS: Coming up: Hillary Clinton widens her lead over Donald Trump, but Democrats are warning voters, don`t get -- I`m not even going to say the word -- don`t assume it`s won.

Well, here`s my question. Why don`t they get excited on the left and the center-left about maybe, maybe, maybe getting to run the government for four or eight years, winning the House and the Senate, winning the White House, and getting bills passed, and making things happen?

Forget about this loser mentality. Think about winning big.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: -- on the left and center left about maybe getting to run the government for four or eight years? Winning the House and Senate? Winning the White House and getting bills passed and making things happen? Forget about this loser mentality. Think about winning big. Hillary Clinton`s got a very good chance right now of winning very big and running the table and actually getting to set U.S. policy on a progressive side of things. Get excited about that. If that doesn`t get you to vote, don`t vote. You`re watching HARDBALL. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Don`t be complacent, my friends, because even though we`re doing fine right now, I`m not taking anybody, anywhere, for granted. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That`s Hillary Clinton, of course, in this case riling up voters or trying to in Philly. It`s been three weeks since the Republican convention and Donald Trump continues his free-fall. With just 83 days left, Clinton is on track to win I think a powerful mandate. So, I would go differently than that appeal. I would say let`s go for the roses. Anyway, last night at a DNC fund-raiser in Martha`s Vineyard, President Obama told fellow Democrats there`s still a lot of uncertainty out there and if we are not running scared until the day after the election, we are going to be making a grave mistake. But instead of making the safe call, I say shouldn`t Hillary Clinton motivate Democrats by going for the gold? The roses? Pushing, say we actually can control the House, the Senate and the White House if we win a big one. For more, I`m joined by that argument with our roundtable, Anne Gearan, national political reporter for "The Washington Post", Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC contributor and columnist for "The Post" or opinion writer, and Megan Murphy, Washington bureau chief for Bloomberg. Megan, I`ll start with you. It seems to me in terms of enthusing people, enthusing -- making people them enthusiastic, especially Bernie people, hey, this party, the Democrats, has a real chance for the first time since LBJ of actually being able to govern this country, running the Congress, running the White House, passing bills or tax equity, reducing the polarization of wealth in this country, building things again, infrastructure, all kinds of good things, solidifying Obamacare. Win big. That`s what -- tell young people, you can be part of a mandate. Don`t say oh, don`t get complacent. It just seems like a loser`s way of talking to people. In football games, you don`t go, don`t get complacent. You say roll it up. Roll it up. That`s what you do. MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG NEWS: That`s not in her nature to run that kind of campaign. She`s gone this entire campaign without creating that kind of enthusiasm behind her except in her core base. MATTHEWS: You`re putting her down right now. MURPHY: I think the Senate is well within reach. I think the House is a tough -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: When will they ever get the House if not with this type of opportunity with Trump blowing it? MURPHY: But her campaign now is still quite conservative in terms of the goals they are setting out. I think there is still concern about the kind of personal brutal war we will get into in September in these debates and how much damage he could still inflict. JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s interesting that she -- well, not interesting. It`s important she said what she said to this audience in Philadelphia. She needs -- the Democrats need a huge turnout by African-Americans -- MATTHEWS: You`re doing that by trying to damp her down complacency? CAPEHART: No, if you tell them, we need to -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Have you ever been to a political rally in your life? CAPEHART: Yes, I have. Not in a while. MATTHEWS: You come out of there so excited, you think you have been in a revival meeting. You`re so excited, you can`t wait to go door to door. That`s what you want. CAPEHART: Well, I mean, you can`t get that from that clip. I wasn`t there. But what I`m trying to tell you -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Don`t give up yet. Don`t give up. (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) CAPEHART: That`s not what she`s saying. She`s saying, you have to come out and vote. And right now, the focus is on winning the White House and then after we go through the first debate, if there is a first debate, you see how brutal this battle is going to be, then she can go for the roses or swing for the fences or -- MATTHEWS: Whatever metaphor you like. CAPEHART: Yes ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: And I think she would say there`s time for metaphors later. They are worried about being -- MATTHEWS: Truly worried or feeling worry? GEARAN: No, I think worried. MATTHEWS: You think John Podesta doesn`t believe these polls are real. GEARAN: I think John Podesta says what he means, which is that he doesn`t expect there to be a double-digit wins and he expects the polls to close. MATTHEWS: He doesn`t expect that. So, when there is, he`ll be wrong. He`ll be a political fool. GEARAN: He`ll be a happy fool. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s the old trick of voting. Always betting on, my mother did this, the worst is coming, the worst -- and when the worse -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Then at least you`re right. GEARAN: Do you remember how she was criticized for counting her chickens before they were hatched? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Getting people excited about winning the House, we can beat Paul Ryan. Go ahead. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: She`s govern -- MURPHY: She`s been criticized of her announcing a transition team in terms of she`s getting ahead of herself. CAPEHART: Which she legally has to do. I mean, that`s a law. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You guys are all right. Hillary is brilliant. Everything she does is brilliant. I`m wrong. Dare I sit here. The roundtable is -- I know I`m right. The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these people tell me something I don`t know. Listen to me, Hillary. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, if it`s Tuesday, it`s primary day. It`s certainly that in Wyoming where they decide whether Liz Cheney, that`s with two E`s, wins the Republican primary for the state`s one seat in the U.S. House. That`s all they got out there is one seat in the House. She is up against seven other Republicans which means her name I.D. should be good enough. This is Cheney`s second race to represent Wyoming in Congress. She ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014 before withdrawing from the race. We`ll be right back. I`m betting on Liz. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Back with the roundtable. Anne, tell me something I don`t know. GEARAN: OK. So, earlier in the show, you mentioned Kathleen Kane, the Pennsylvania -- her downfall is well known, but her rise is less so. And it`s due in part to her ties to the Clintons. She was -- she worked for Hillary Clinton in 2007, resigned her district attorney job to do that. And then Bill Clinton went all in for her in 2012, in large part because her primary opponent had backed Hillary -- excuse me -- had backed Obama over Hillary and Bill never forgave him for that. (CROSSTALK) GEARAN: Yes, exactly. He did a fund-raiser, an ad, and some -- MATTHEWS: So, Bill backed the wrong horse here. I have nothing against Kane, but I like Pat Murphy. CAPEHART: So, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon is seizing on Donald Trump`s unfounded and incorrect accusation that President Obama is the creator of ISIS. MATTHEWS: The founder and the father. CAPEHART: Yes. He says, "This is an American presidential candidate who saying this. What he says is based on facts and documents." MATTHEWS: So, is this guy anti-or pro-ISIS when he says Obama`s leading it? CAPEHART: I have no idea. MATTHEWS: By the way, if Obama created ISIS, why did he keep calling it ISIL? Anyway, let`s go -- Megan. MURPHY: Trump likes to say he likes to put his money where his mouth is. But for people who actually have money in the market, they`re becoming suspicious of him, and his economic policies and his plans. They`ll be numbers out tomorrow showing just how suspicious they have become and how they are turning people with significant money in the market how they`re turning -- MATTHEWS: Why does Trump keep talking down the market? MURPHY: It`s baffling. And guess what? If people de-invest from the market, this country is headed to recession. MATTHEWS: I don`t know he keeps doing it. It`s not good. Anyway, Anne Gearan, thank you. Jonathan Capehart, thank you. Megan Murphy, thank you for the information. When we return, let me finish with the lost of John McLaughlin. It just happened last night at midnight. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the loss of John McLaughlin, who died last night at midnight. John spent a good part of his life as a Jesuit, a New England Jesuit, a force of nature and a personality type of which I became acquainted with in Holy Cross. He was of the old school, the kind of Jesuit professor who would dictate, dictate what was true, what was important to know, who was right, who was a good student, and who got an A. There would be graded exams never to be returned to a student. Not even a pop quiz. You never knew your grade was until you got it. As I said, it was all quite dictatorial. And what you saw on television, on "The McLaughlin Group" all those years was the perfect exhibition of what it was like to sit in a Jesuit classroom back in the `60s working backward. I got to know John as a guest panelist. He would get the word to me early in the week, and this was back in the late `80s. And I`d get up for the Friday taping, including coming up with a prediction for the show. But the best time I had with John McLaughlin was when we are in Berlin together during the time the wall came down. We bumped into each other at (INAUDIBLE) its headquarters which happened to be on the site of Joseph Goebbels` house right there on that leafy drive over Lake Bogensee (ph). We spent a day driving through East Germany, which was still behind the Iron Curtain. We stood over (INAUDIBLE) watched the British soldiers serve coffee out of giant cans to the desperate East Germans coming through the wall for the first time. I heard John at that moment pretending to be one of the obliging British officers feeling sorry for the Germans. Poor devils, I heard him say. Well, that day, we also toured the Berlin suburb where President Roosevelt and Churchill met after V.A. Day. We went to (INAUDILBE) ended up where the peace movement had begun in the Lutheran Church where the move to bring down the East German regime was warming up. Well, the major stop was Buchenwald, the concentration camp, where the old communist let us in after dark regaled us with propaganda about how the true victims of Buchenwald there were the Russian officers. John said, "Any Jews killed here?" He interrupted the guy. It was the perfect question for a guy who however clownish his act, always knew what the argument was all about. Well, that day, we visited Wittenberg, the cathedral on whose giant door Martin Luther nailed those 95 theses challenging the power of the Roman Catholic Church. In that dusty old German church, I lost track of John for a while, only to find him standing over the tomb of the great reformation leader who had risked burning at the stake by standing up to the European order and yet had succeeded in creating the Protestant revolution. And there was John McLaughlin, the old Jesuit, standing in that old cathedral, asking the question, as he stood on Martin Luther`s tomb, a question only he had mind, not so much whether Luther was right on the theology, but how he knew he could get away with saying it and doing what he did. "How did he know?" John asked as he stood there. "How did he know?" Theatrical, pyrotechnical, a firecracker of a man -- John McLaughlin, you were damned good company. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END