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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 8/25/2016

Guests: Andrew Weinstein, Margaret Carlson, Paul Singer, Susan Milligan, Al Cardenas, Paris Dennard, David Nexon

Show: HARDBALL Date: August 25, 2016 Guest: Andrew Weinstein, Margaret Carlson, Paul Singer, Susan Milligan, Al Cardenas, Paris Dennard, David Nexon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Letting it rip.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in Boston.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have escalated their attacks. The weapon of choice, race. Hours ago, Hillary Clinton accused Trump of embracing racists and white nationalists.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He promoted the racist lie that President Obama is not really an American citizen, part of a sustained effort to delegitimize America`s first black president.

We all remember when Trump said a distinguished federal judge born in Indiana could not be trusted to do his job because, quote, "he`s a Mexican."

When asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would disavow the support of David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump wouldn`t do it. And only later, again under mounting pressure, did he backtrack.

Now, of course, there has always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, a lot of it arising from racial resentment, but it`s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it and giving it a national megaphone until now.


MATTHEWS: Earlier, the Clinton campaign put out a video showing KKK and other white nationalist speakers praising Donald Trump. Let`s watch the ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump will be best for the job.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a farmer and white nationalist. Support Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sending out all the illegals, building a wall, and a moratorium on Islamic immigration -- that`s very appealing to a lot of ordinary white people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Running against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.


MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump called Hillary`s ad a brazen attempt to distract from other issues. He said she was fearmongering. His campaign put out a statement from an African-American supporter, Pastor Mark Burns (ph), that said, "Hillary Clinton and her campaign went to a disgusting new low today as they released a video tying the Trump campaign with horrific racial images. This type of rhetoric and repulsive advertising is revolting and completely beyond the pale."

Well, meanwhile, Trump used some very harsh language of his own last night, calling Hillary Clinton a bigot. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton is a bigot...


TRUMP: ... who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future! She`s going to do nothing for African- Americans!


MATTHEWS: Well, Andrew Weinstein is a former deputy press secretary to Speaker Newt Gingrich. He has endorsed Hillary Clinton, and he`s come under attack from members of the fringe right-wing community on line. Michael Steele is the former chair of the Republican National Committee and an MSNBC political analyst. And Joan Walsh is national affairs correspondent for "The Nation" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Let me start with Michael. This campaign -- and you and I have been covering this for a long time with Joan and others...


MATTHEWS: ... has gone into a ditch.


MATTHEWS: Who`s leading the way into that ditch, Trump or Hillary?

STEELE: They`re holding hands at this point, as far as I`m concerned, in many respects. I think this -- this is one of my big concerns. When you start throwing around these terms -- and I`ve always said that bigot, racist, all of that -- it undermines the national discussion we still need to have on race.

When you bring it into the politics the way it`s been brought in, in such a demeaning way, in such a way that just, you know, makes your skin crawl, it`s offensive.

Look, both of these guys need to move off of this stuff. I mean, Donald Trump, you know, has I think learned the lesson of not repudiating those initially who`ve come out for him and support him who are racists and who are part of the KKK. He`s paying that price.

Hillary Clinton running campaign commercials sort of bringing all that into that space -- again, it`s playing that race card, and I think in a way that is undermining the body politic and certainly the country.

MATTHEWS: Andrew, what do you think of showing KKK images on television and associating that with Donald Trump? Is that fair ball?

ANDREW WEINSTEIN, FMR. NEWT GINGRICH DPTY. PRESS SECRETARY: Well, let me start by saying I think I bring a little bit of a unique perspective, at least in terms of this panel...

MATTHEWS: Well, now, just answer that question first.


MATTHEWS: Is that fair to say...

WEINSTEIN: Well, actually...

MATTHEWS: ... to say that Donald Trump is associated with the KKK?

WEINSTEIN: It`s 100 percent fair to discuss the ties that this -- that the Trump campaign has allowed and the growth that it has encouraged within the alt-right hate movement because there have been dogwhistles from day one of this campaign to those groups on issues large and small, from retweeting hate sites to not disavowing David Duke, to explicitly not repudiating the haters when they`ve been -- when Trump himself has been asked to do so.

So is it an issue that should be raised in the campaign? Absolutely. He could have made this issue go away if he hadn`t actually drawn all those ties and drawn these groups closer...


WEINSTEIN: ... throughout the course of the campaign.

MATTHEWS: ... historically, began, of course, after the Civil War and was engaged actively in lynching and killing people who were black. Is that a fair connection? A murderous outfit...


MATTHEWS: ... historically, to tie Trump into a murderous outfit -- is that fair? It`s your call.

WEINSTEIN: Absolutely! I mean, the KKK has endorsed Donald Trump in this. You have -- and the grand wizard of the KKK looks at Donald Trump and sees a sympatico character. He sees someone who is...

MATTHEWS: Who is the grand wizard? Tell me. Bring me up to date on this. I don`t know anything about the KKK these days. Who`s the grand wizard today?

WEINSTEIN: I`m happy not to know his name, but I know that he`s been cited in news reports, as have many of the leading racist anti-semitic figures.

MATTHEWS: OK, so we`ll check that out, the fact that you say the grand kleagle, whatever the hell he`s called, has now called for Donald Trump to be elected president. I didn`t know that. I`m not sure that`s true.

Let me (INAUDIBLE) to my friend, Joan Walsh. Your view about this escalation and this imagery of racial hatred.

JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Chris, it`s powerful imagery, but I don`t think we can equate what Hillary Clinton is doing with what Donald Trump has done. I mean, yes, the symbolism of the hood is kind of shocking, but these people are.

She`s not making up their words. These are the people who are supporting him. They`re not the only people who are supporting him, and we`re certainly not saying that all of his supporters are racists because they are not.

But there is enough of a subtext to this campaign -- it`s not a subtext. You were one of the first people, in some ways the only person, to really hammer away, you know, in 2011 at the birther issue and to hear the dogwhistle in the birther issue. It didn`t start then.

I mean, I was very impressed -- I`m sure we`ll talk about Secretary Clinton`s speech. I was very impressed by the speech today, where she went back to the Trump Organization writing "C" on the applications of black residents to live in their apartment buildings, and they had to pay a settlement for discrimination. These have old roots.

And I think that a lot of the guys that are now supporting Trump, like Richard Spencer, a leading white nationalist -- he dresses like a hipster. He doesn`t wear the robes anymore, but he talks like one of them. He talks about black inferiority.

MATTHEWS: Well, in Hillary Clinton`s speech today, she also said Trump has pushed, quote, "discredited conspiracy theories" with racist undertones and tied he him to far-right radio -- or she did, to far-right radio host Alex Jones. Let`s watch.


CLINTON: It`s also what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs. He even said -- and this really just is so disgusting -- he even said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there.

Trump doesn`t challenge these lies. He actually went on Jones`s show and said, "Your reputation is amazing, I will not let you down."


MATTHEWS: Well, I think you`re right there, Andrew, about this. I`ve just heard that through my ear that (INAUDIBLE) the grand kleagle, if you listen to him, in the actual tape right there, he does endorse Donald Trump. So you`ve got that.

Let me ask you about your experience. You said -- you started the conversation tonight by saying you haven`t had experience with these alt- right people.

WEINSTEIN: Yes, I`ve had, actually, experience I never hoped to have with these groups. I helped organize a letter to the RNC last week that was signed by 123 Republicans urging the RNC to focus on saving the House and Senate, rather than the presidential race.


WEINSTEIN: And after that letter was sent, due to my last name and the fact that it`s a traditional Jewish name, the floodgates of hate really opened.

And it started with some of the hate sites, that they were posting my home address, posting my phone number, posting my social media contact information. And I started receiving tweets and images and voicemail that were both horrible and threatening, including images of me with my photo in a gas chamber and someone pushing the button to gas, including images of me -- or sorry, of a Jewish caricature being stuffed by a boot labeled "Trump" into an oven and with a headline on it that said "Get in that oven, Andrew," another one saying I would make a good lampshade. I mean, so there`s -- this is -- they`re truly horrific...

MATTHEWS: Who are "they"? Can you -- can you help us out because people watching (ph) know. We`ve all -- you know, historic anti-mitism has been with us for centuries, if not millennia.

But this thing that`s happening right now with this particularity of referencing...


MATTHEWS: ... the Holocaust, and you, because of your last name -- what -- who are they? Can you give us names of these organizations? Is it the KKK? Is it Citizens Council people? Who are these people?

WEINSTEIN: Well, so I`m not well enough informed of the shadowy networks behind them to know whether these are individual actors or whether they are part of organized groups. I do know that they are motivated to action through organized Web sites, Daily Stormer and others out there...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`ve heard of that.

WEINSTEIN: ... that are leaders of the hate group. But to be honest, they`s also actively used and supported by Breitbart...

WALSH: Right.

WEINSTEIN: ... which is part of the awful thing of...

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Michael you on this because this is regular politics. Michael, how do you -- how does Trump, or should he differentiate himself, if he wants to, or should, from these groups? But he already had brought in the Breitbart guy, Bannon, so he`s already got a guy from what might be called the alt-right...


STEELE: Absolutely. But I think even with Bannon on his team, Trump has to draw a very clear, bright -- I mean, a thick bright line between his campaign and potential presidency and these groups. There is no wiggle room here. You don`t get to pretend you don`t know someone. You don`t get to pretend to say, Oh, I just retweeted their tweet.

You have to be very clear and emphatic. Certainly, when it comes to what we just heard, when these groups are saying and doing the types of things where it`s getting personal to people, the campaign has to be out in front of this because if you`re not, then you become part of that narrative in a way that you will not be able to extricate yourself from, period. It`s that simple.

WEINSTEIN: Can I jump in here for one second? Because I think...

WALSH: I think, too...

WEINSTEIN: I`m sorry, just one quick thing. So I think this is a really important point because Donald Trump was actually given the opportunity by Wolf Blitzer to repudiate these people who are issuing these death threats against another person, against another Jewish-surnamed reporter, Julia Ioffe...


WEINSTEIN: ... who also received, I mean, just a torrent of death threats and hate mail and attacks. And Wolf asked him, What is the message you have for your, quote, unquote, "fans" who are sending these death threats to her? And his response was almost verbatim, I have no message for my fans.

So even though now he`s said, Well, you know, I don`t really like these hate speech folks and I don`t want them involved in the campaign, he actually has been given the opportunity throughout this campaign to repudiate them and has turned it down.

And I`ll add -- and it`s important to note, these hate groups, it doesn`t go unnoticed. This is the Daily Stormer, one of the Web sites, and after he announced that he was going -- after he refused to repudiate the people attacking this other reporter, the headline is, "Glorious leader Donald Trump refuses to denounce Stormer troll army," and the text says, "Trump responded to the request with, I have no message to the fans, which might as well have been, Hail victory, comrades."


MATTHEWS: Let me go to Joan on this. Joan, I don`t want to -- I want to give you plenty of time on this. We don`t have much time left, but it`s yours.

I think you`re right. And I think, in the beginning, there was a seed of this racialism, if you will, with this birther thing, to take the first African-American president and nail him as an imposter, a usurper, someone who snuck -- the whole thing is so ridiculous...

WALSH: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: ... snuck into the country and sort of put an asterisk next to his name so he really isn`t a president to these people.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Maybe -- was that the beginning of this slippery slope to hell we`re looking at here?

WALSH: You know, I think we probably could go back even further, but that`s the beginning of a real paranoid, completely devoid of fact attack on the president. And you know, also remember, we never saw his college transcripts, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Whatever that meant.

WALSH: No one`s seen mine or yours -- whatever that meant. We know what it meant.

But I don`t think -- you know, you asked about and Michael talked about, you know, Trump drawing a bright line between himself and these groups.

You cannot do that when you have hired Steve Bannon to run your campaign! He`s the CEO of the campaign. He has deliberately made Breitbart -- he has bragged about it being a clubhouse for the so-called alt-right, which is just a term that hides white nationalism and white supremacy.

Once you`ve done that, you have brought them inside. They are very comfortable there. They are speaking their minds. And it`s embarrassing for Donald Trump that Hillary Clinton is calling him out, but she`s got every right to do it. This is what his campaign is.

MATTHEWS: Well, whether Trump was saying that his transcripts showed that he didn`t deserve to be admitted to Harvard law school, that he wasn`t deserving of being the editor of "The Harvard Law Review," which he was able to win, by the way, on a blind test, where there`s no reference to last name or ethnicity or race or anything -- he won that on merit.

And by the way, anybody who watches this president, whether you don`t like him because he`s too far liberal for you or whatever, he`s really smart. And that`s just undeniable.

Anyway, early in the afternoon, Trump said Clinton was trying to distract from other issues. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is going to try and accuse this campaign and all of you of being racists, which we`re not. It`s the oldest play in the Democratic playbook! When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument, You`re racist, you`re racist, you`re racist. They keep saying it. You`re racist. It`s a tired, disgusting argument. And it`s so totally predictable.


MATTHEWS: Michael, respond to that. Where`s this taking us, this back and forth, mainly led, I must say, by Trump, but this back (ph) about who`s the racist, who`s the Klansman, the whole thing. It`s pretty rough stuff.

STEELE: Well, that kind of goes to my -- that goes to my first point. I mean, when you start using these terms and throwing them around, they lose their powerful meaning.

Look, there is in politics that space that people feel comfortable sort of characterizing someone`s actions, words or personality in this vein. And I just think it`s a real problem. Look, you go out and you run your campaign. You associate yourself with people that are -- you know, that raises this flag, you`ve got to disassociate yourself. If you don`t do that, guess what? These charges start to stick.

On the other side of it, though, Chris, you do see and you have a history going back to Bush and others, you know, when the policy argument fails, these guys` policies are racist. So there is this dynamic that there`s some truth to what he says that this is a part of a history that we`ve seen in politics.

Now we`re in a space that we`ve never been in before, where it`s a daily charge. And I think it really does undermine our process in a big way. Both sides just need to cut it out, focus on how you`re going to solve the problems of this country, stop playing to the fringes and play to the people who are actually about moving the country forward.

MATTHEWS: Can`t agree with you more, as often. Anyway, thank you, Andrew Weinstein, for that terrible first person account of what you`ve been through.

WEINSTEIN: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Boy, everybody, I hope, heard that and just regales (sic) against it in their hearts.

WEINSTEIN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Michael Steele, sir, again, and Joan Walsh, as always.

Coming up -- Donald Trump makes his pitch to minority voters, but what`s his goal here, to make headway among these men and women, or rather win over moderate white Republicans who haven`t liked Trump`s tone? That`s next.

And speaking of Trump, will his changing stance on immigration policy pay off? Can the businessman renegotiate his policy plans with actual voters? The roundtable`s coming here to talk about that.

Plus, what happens in January of 2017? I keep focusing -- where`s this election taking us? Look at what we can get done in Congress. Can we get something done, no matter who wins? If Hillary wins, how is she going to put it together? We`re going to hear from a biographer of someone who knew how to get things done, Senator Ted Kennedy, even when he was in the minority in Congress.

Anyway, finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with where the campaign`s headed. I think I know, and I don`t like it.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: U.S. Senator John McCain appears well positioned back home in Arizona in his re-election race. A new poll has the Republican -- that`s McCain -- earning a majority of likely voters 52 percent, well ahead of his Democratic opponent, U.S. Congresswoman Anne Kirkpatrick. She`s at 39 percent. McCain has served in the U.S. Congress for 34 years.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With Donald Trump`s poll numbers among minority voters in the low single digits, he`s continuing his purported outreach to those voters. It started early today, when Trump headed up a roundtable with African-American and Hispanic Republican activists tied to the Republican National Committee.

He invited all of them to Trump Tower to meet with him. And during that event, he accused Democrats of taking minority voters` support for granted. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Talking about the little work that`s been done by the Democrats for African-Americans. They have done -- they have been very disrespectful, as far as I`m concerned, to the African- American population of this country.

And we are making it a very important part of our speeches and of our thought process, and it`s had a tremendous impact.


MATTHEWS: And just this afternoon at a rally up in New Hampshire, Trump continued his appeal.


TRUMP: You see it all the time, the inner cities, parents walking with their beautiful child, and they get shot. They`re shot. Their child is shot, often killed.

Folks, what do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? Donald Trump will fix it. We are going to make it better.


MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Republican strategist and former senior adviser to Jeb Bush Al Cardenas, and Paris Dennard, adviser to the National Diversity Coalition for Donald Trump.

Well, gentlemen, I want to hear your both views on this and what you think its effectiveness will be.

You first, Al.


Well, it used to be that Democrats couldn`t take Hispanics for granted when we were at 40 percent. Now that Trump`s got us to about 15 percent, they might. So he might be right in his statement, but he probably got us way down there in the process.

And I wish we could play today that Mitchell interview on MSNBC with Jeb, what he said a couple months ago. You can`t build a wall, and you are not going to deport all these people. And they ought to read Jeb`s book.

It sounds like Trump`s campaign has adopted hook, line and sinker all the conclusions in it. And we will see if he can make some progress in the last 75 days.

MATTHEWS: Paris, your thoughts about the meeting today? Was it fruitful? Is it going to bring about a better atmosphere between the Republican candidate for president and the African-American community?

PARIS DENNARD, NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITION: Well, you know, Chris, first off, I`m glad to be here tonight.

I will just to say this. What you saw today in New York with the Republican Leadership Initiative that is going on there is a continued effort by Mr. Trump, since he has been declared our Republican nominee, to actively and deliberately engage with the black community.

And so he did do some of this outreach or engagement while he was running for the GOP primary. But now you have seen a demonstrative uptick in his efforts. And I think it`s going to be effective. You saw him at 0 percent in one poll back before the convention, went up to 1 percent. Now you are seeing 3. I have seen reports of anywhere between 4 percent and 16 percent.

So, if Mitt Romney got 6 percent in November, with Donald Trump at around 3 percent today, I think he has nothing but opportunity to increase those percentages and go up. And by the time he gets to November, he will have at least 6 percent, if not more, of the black vote.


MATTHEWS: Have you, Paris.

Al, you first, and then Paris.

what do you make of Trump`s language? He talks in pretty raw language about tough neighborhoods. He makes them sound pretty frightening. And some are. But he uses, I think, a generalizing way of saying it. He talks about the tough neighborhoods, the terrible schools, the trashy environment, basically, that all African-Americans and Hispanics dwell in.

I don`t know how it`s coming across. Some people don`t like it. Your thoughts, Al.


Well, when you go to a barrio -- when you go to a barrio, they like to talk about the problems internally. And everybody is pretty frank about the challenges you`re facing.

But people don`t necessarily appreciate an outsider saying it. Almost sounds like an insult on their way of life. And so it`s a thin line. He can say it if he wants to. My sense is what they have been saying about each other, one`s a racist, the other`s a crook, pretty soon, it is going to be the first presidential election in history where you can`t have your children watch it on TV.

DENNARD: Well, I would just say this, as somebody -- all due respect to Al -- someone who is part of the African-American community. I was director of black outreach under the Bush administration for four years.

When I look at my community and look at -- I have lived in Detroit for eight months at one point in time. When I had to live in D.C. -- D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee, these cities, where a majority of them are African-Americans, we are suffering.

So, we need to have blunt talk. We need to talk about them in raw terms, so that we can wake up this country and really highlight what my community is going through under this Obama, the -- President Obama`s administration and under Democrat rule for so many years, even decades, if you look at it.

So, jobs, unemployment, high crime, education, things of these natures are important and they are real in our communities. So, I appreciate the fact that he`s raising awareness and talking about these issues.


MATTHEWS: Keep talking. Keep talking.

CARDENAS: I agree with Paris. His point is very good.


CARDENAS: I grew up poor. I grew up in a poor neighborhood in my community.

And I will tell you this. I got it. We talked about it in the community.

My only point, Paris, that, if you are going to talk about what`s going on in a minority community, you have got to have some credentials to talk about it. And I was questioning whether Mr. Trump did. But you are absolutely right. It`s a matter that needs to be brought up.

DENNARD: But you know what, Al? I don`t know that Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton have any credentials to talk about...


DENNARD: ... of the black community.

CARDENAS: Well, I don`t disagree with you there. I don`t disagree with you there. I don`t disagree with you.

DENNARD: And when you talk about, let`s have a -- let`s give it a chance, what do you have to lose, yes, when you look at the fact that -- when you look at Chicago and the crime, that`s President Obama, Secretary Clinton. That`s Arne Duncan. That`s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, their hometown.

The presidential library is going there. And they are on par, within -- there are about 30 people short of hitting the crime rate or the shooting rate that they had last year. Violence is out of control in that city.

D.C., why wasn`t that -- Eleanor Holmes Norton and President Obama were against the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which is supported by the Democrat mayor of the town.


MATTHEWS: Can I point out something to you?

DENNARD: Yes, you can.

MATTHEWS: I want to point out something. Paris, I`m with you on the Opportunity Scholarships. I have been so for years now.

DENNARD: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: I`m totally with you on that one.

You need opportunities and choices for kids coming up in tough neighborhoods in Washington.

Thank you so much, Al Cardenas. And thank you, Paris Dennard.

DENNARD: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Will this Trump changing immigration stance help him with voters? Or will they reject what looks a flip-flop to some?

The roundtable is coming here. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

Brazilian police are recommending charges against Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte for filing a false robbery report. He`s being ordered to return to Brazil for a hearing.

Moderate aftershocks are slowing rescue efforts today, as the death toll climbs to 250 killed in Wednesday`s earthquake in Italy.

And drugmaker Mylan is promising to make its lifesaving EpiPen more affordable for patients without insurance. The company has come under fire for raising the pen`s price more than 400 percent since 2007 -- back to HARDBALL.


TRUMP: Remember what I say. Mexico will pay for the wall, believe me.


TRUMP: I will never apologize for making it my priority on immigration to protect American citizens above every other single consideration.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Donald Trump this afternoon in Manchester, New Hampshire, talking about Mexico paying for that wall to keep out illegal immigrants from this country.

But in a FOX News town hall last night, Trump seemingly shifted his stance on one aspect of immigration policy, those deportations.


TRUMP: They will pay back taxes. They have to pay taxes. There`s no amnesty, as such. There`s no amnesty.

But we worked with them. Had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me. And they have said, Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it`s so tough, Mr. Trump.

Who wants to work -- by the way, no amnesty, no citizenship, et cetera.

Who doesn`t want them thrown out? Who does not want them thrown out?




MATTHEWS: But that softer line he suggested there is new. Take a look back at Trump`s candidacy.


QUESTION: Are you going to have a massive deportation force?

TRUMP: We are going to have a deportation force, and you are going to do it humanely.

QUESTION: If you are president, what will you do for members that are -- of the fabric of our country that have been here for 25 years undocumented?

TRUMP: They are going to go, and we are going to create a path where we can get them into this country legally. OK? But it has to be done legally.

QUESTION: Oh, you will deport them first, correct?

TRUMP: They are going to be -- and they are going to come back and they are going to come back legally.

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": So, you are going to split up families? You`re going to deport children?

TRUMP: Chuck, Chuck, no, no. We are going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together.

TODD: But you`re going to keep them together out?

TRUMP: But they have to go.

TODD: What if they have no place to go?

TRUMP: We will work with them. They have to go.

We either have a country or we don`t have a country. We are a country of laws. Going to have to go out. And they will come back, but they are going to have to go out, and hopefully they get back.

I`m very strong on illegal immigration. We have to be. We have no choice.


MATTHEWS: So, can Donald Trump held on to the right wing on this issue, as he moves to the center?

Joining me is tonight`s roundtable, Margaret Carlson, political columnist, contributing editor Bloomberg, Paul Singer, Washington correspondent for "USA Today," and Susan Milligan, senior writer at "U.S. News & World Report."

Let me start with Margaret. And everyone else jump in here.

It seems to me that he`s softening his position. He`s not talking about mass deportations or a deportation strike force, whatever it is. He`s talking about case by case. He`s talking about throwing out or deporting people who are criminals, felons, but on the rest of it, it begins to sound like the later versions of Jeb Bush.

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Jeb Bush was ridiculed for calling his immigration policy -- he talked about immigrants coming to this country to help his family as an act of love.

And Trump used the word nice multiple times last night: Well, I want to be nice to these people. Let`s treat them nicely.

When he was talking to Chuck Todd, he was basically saying, I want to keep families together. I`m moving them all out of the country together.


CARLSON: Trump just walked down Fifth Avenue and shot himself.

You can`t -- you know, you can`t make this radical a departure and lose Rush Limbaugh, who called what he was saying amnesty, no matter he -- no matter what Trump calls it. Rush Limbaugh is calling it amnesty.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not amnesty by the definition of the red hots, because amnesty means turning -- taking a person who came here without paper, illegally, if you will, and making them a citizen. I don`t think he`s going that far.

By the way, just a little object lesson about the difference between what I do here, what Limbaugh does for radio, and has a huge audience, is that your audience is one-sixth on a good day what you need to be elected president. So, don`t take your political advice from Rush Limbaugh if you are a Republican.

Anyway, Paul Singer, jump in here. I went over the numbers. It takes over 60 million votes to win a presidential election. Limbaugh is lucky if he gets one-sixth of that on a good day. You cannot listen to Rush Limbaugh if you want to win.

But here he is. I want to give this to you. Rush Limbaugh started off his show today laughing, supposedly uncontrollably, uncontrollably, at Trump`s shifting position on deportation. So, let`s take a listen.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: First, they tried Marco Rubio. They tried the gang of eight. They tried Jeb Bush. They tried any number of people to convince. They tried me. They sent emissaries to the EIB southern command. They tried everybody they can think of to try to convince the Republican base to support some form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.



LIMBAUGH: I`m sorry. I`m sorry.


LIMBAUGH: Who knew...


LIMBAUGH: I know it frustrates you to hear me. I`m sorry. All right, regain my composure.

Who knew that it would be Donald Trump to come on and convert the GOP base to supporting amnesty?


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s an attractive performance.

Paul Singer, who is the "they" he`s talking about? They went to Jeb Bush, they went to this candidate, they went to them. They got to the -- they got to Trump. Who are the "they" he`s talking about? This conspiratorial posse of people, who are they?

PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": We can`t be focusing all our time talking about Donald Trump`s changing of policy issues, because, remember, Donald Trump is running as a brand.

He`s running as a passionate speaker of the truth who says, I can fix it, I`m the strong guy, I can fix it. He doesn`t worry much about the details of the policy, hasn`t all along. And it hasn`t bothered his base.

Now, what Limbaugh is arguing is that the sort of Republican establishment has been trying to make this case all along to a more, you know, friendly approach to Hispanics, and let`s talk about amnesty. And Limbaugh is suggesting that, well, the establishment has somehow now gotten Donald Trump to toe their line.


SINGER: But I also believe that Donald Trump is still -- it`s still Donald Trump. We are not sure exactly where he stands on the policy. We are not sure exactly what he`s proposing. And I`m not sure he really cares.

He`s still, I`m Donald Trump, and that`s what you are voting for.

MATTHEWS: That`s what Jeb said today, that he basically does what he thinks will work that day.



I think that this sort of underscores what one of Trump`s major problems is as a candidate, which is that he`s approaching this campaign as though it`s a business deal and as like he`s a CEO, and not a candidate.

So, he thinks he can come in at this point, change the terms of the contract, like, OK, I will throw in another $100,000 and give you two months` free rent, and then get the voters to vote for him.

It`s not going to work. You cannot walk back some of the personal insults that he`s made. It`s like worse than Ryan Lochte`s apology. It`s not going to work.


MATTHEWS: Yes. Susan, he threw that up to the crowd today, and he thought they would give him a -- they would support his softer line. It sounded like they didn`t like his softer line. They were still red hot against anybody coming in this country and ever staying if they don`t come in with paper.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

MILLIGAN: Right. And you`re not going to win over anybody else either. So...

MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us.

When they come back, the three will tell me something I don`t know.

We will be right back. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We`re back with the roundtable.

Margaret, tell me something I don`t know.

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: So, Chris, we know that Trump is a during on many down ballot races but I have a state where actually, he`s dragging down -- he`s dragging down an incumbent. And that`s Governor McCrory in North Carolina where Trump is running way ahead of him.

He`s the one who famously passed the bathroom law which is, you know, for LGBT, you have to have your birth certificate with the right gender in order to go into a bathroom. He`s fallen 15 percent because Bruce Springsteen, the NBA, PayPal have all fled North Carolina. It`s cost a lot of money. Now he`s running behind Donald Trump. He`s down about nine points.

MATTHEWS: Yes. There are some modern elements in North Carolina.

Anyway, Paul?

PAUL SINGER, USA TODAY: Something you might know if you read "USA Today" . Yesterday, in the Hillary Clinton donors from the Hillary PAC in 2014, we found a guy who the Turks are now hunting. There`s a manhunt for this guy in Turkey. They claimed he was the on the ground organizer of the coup attempt there in July.


SINGER: But upon a time, he was a Hillary Clinton donor with a bunch of other Turkish money that we think may be suspect.

MATTHEWS: And who is this guy? Is he Turkish-American, or is he -- what`s his connection to our country?

SINGER: He`s Turkish. It looks like he`s lived in the United States at one point and had a company here. Not clear the company did anything. We can`t quite figure out whether he in fact is an American citizen or the contribution was even legal. We are still trying to figure it out.

MATTHEWS: Wow, great story. Anyway, thank you.


SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: If this election is close and I don`t think it will be, the issue that will decide it will be the Puerto Rican debt crisis, not because the candidates are paying attention to it because tragically, they`re not, but because Puerto Ricans are fleeing the island to move to the I-4 corridor in Florida.

All they have to do is change their address, their citizens. And while they like Clinton, they will drag their grandmothers off life support in the hospital to vote against Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m not surprised.

Thank you, Margaret Carlson, and thank you, Paul Singer and thank you, Susan Milligan.

Up next, what could happen in Washington come next January? January 2017? After the inauguration of the new president where we can actually find our way to govern ourselves. Do we have any guide for that?

Let`s talk about Ted Kennedy as a guide.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got new numbers from the Industrial Midwest. A new poll out of Michigan, let`s check it out. Let`s check out the scoreboard.

Hillary Clinton has a seven-point lead among likely voters in Michigan. That`s a seven-point lead. She`s at 44 percent. Trump is down at 37.

And we`ll be right back.



LATE SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Our opponents tried to enact the largest education cuts in American history and to end direct student loans for college. You cannot improve schools by attacking teachers, but that is the unacceptable and unworthy tactic of Dole, Kemp and Gingrich.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

And, of course, that was late Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, often referred to as the "Lion of the Senate". He`s one of the most gifted lawmakers to serve in the Senate. You hear that from both sides.

Kennedy`s former longtime staffers Nick Littlefield and David Nexon have written a new book called "Lion of the Senate: When Ted Kennedy Rallied the Democrats in a GOP Congress." It`s a portrait of Kennedy`s resistance to the Gingrich revolution of the mid-1990s.

The book started from all the notes that Littlefield took during all of Kennedy`s key meetings in those days with President Clinton and others. He was stricken with a degenerative neurological disease during the writing of the book at which point his colleague David Nexon took over and completed the project.

Co-author David Nexon joins us now.

David, thank you so much. We`ve got about four or five minutes. I want you to use this time to tell us about why Ted Kennedy, who I always looked up to, was a good -- a great legislator. He knew how to deal with people who disagree with you and how that might be relevant today going into the next Congress, assuming Hillary wins, if Trump wins.

Let`s assume Hillary wins, how does it get done? How does the rules of Ted Kennedy serve as a model?

DAVID NEXON, AUTHOR, "LION OF THE SENATE": Well, Ted Kennedy, as you said, Chris, he was the greatest legislator of his generation, probably of all time. And he was really the complete package. He could be both highly partisan, and he could reach across the aisle and be breathtakingly bipartisan. He could be idealistic. He was idealistic, but also very pragmatic.

In the period he talked about in the book, it`s very much like the current day. And what Kennedy did was really two great accomplishments. He rallied the Democrats who were very demoralized, very inclined to concede, to stand up against the Newt Gingrich, right-wing revolution.

And the second thing he did, when the Congress was highly polarized, just as it is today, very highly partisan, he was able to pass really important progressive social legislation. He passed an increase in minimum wage. He passed -- the Kennedy (INAUDIBLE) the health reform bill and he passed the Child Health Insurance Program which today covers eight million children. And I should mention that Hillary Clinton was a key part of that last achievement.

But the things that he did are terribly relevant today, because we have Republicans in Congress, if you look at the Ryan budget, it`s exactly the same agenda that Newt Gingrich was trying to put forward. And it`s an agenda that is really against everything the Democrats stand for. And it`s the same agenda. If anything, it`s more extreme.

On the other hand, people look in the Congress and say it`s gridlocked, how are we going to get anything done, Ted Kennedy showed how it could be done.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the future and how this book might have played. Of course, we have to speculate. Let`s speculate the following. Let`s say Hillary Clinton wins this election by 5 to 10 points, a decent, if not strong victory. And say the Senate turns slightly Democrat, 52-48, something like that, 51-49, very close advantage for the Democrats in the Senate.

But the House stays Republican because of all kinds of reapportionment and things like that, gerrymandering and just the way liberal Democrats tend to bunch in the big cities. I know what goes on.

So, how do you govern like that? Democratic president, Democratic Senate, but not 60-vote majority, not enough to break a filibuster.

NEXON: Right.

MATTHEWS: How does -- who takes the lead? How would Ted Kennedy as a senator or Chuck Schumer, his modern equivalent as leader, how do you get something done against those forces?

NEXON: Well, let me talk about what Ted Kennedy did, for example, in passing the child bill, when we didn`t have any House or Senate. We were the minority.

First of all, Kennedy, whenever he was trying to pass legislation, he knew it was best if you could start in a bipartisan way. And he established personal relationships with practically every member of the Senate, so that he started out with a base of goodwill.

Once he`s done that, he had an issue that he thought he could make some progress on. He looked for a counterpart who shared the same goal. In the case of the child bill, he and Senator Hatch both agreed that something should be done to help poor children get health care.

Now, they have very different approaches. You know, they were great friends, but on opposite sides of the political fence. In fact, Senator Kennedy used to joke that if he and Oren were on the same bill, it meant that one of them hadn`t read it.


NEXON: Of course --

MATTHEWS: He was a conservative Mormon senator from Utah, and Ted Kennedy`s a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, pretty different.

NEXON: Absolutely. So, when he went around and talked to a number of senators really to find a Republican partner on this bill, Senator Hatch said he was interested, but they had very different views how to approach it, given their different background. So, they went through an intensive, two-week process of negotiations, three weeks process of negotiations. Staff worked very hard. Members met.

Finally, we get down to the last issue that we need to resolve. We have a climactic meeting in the Senator Hatch`s office. And I should say that Senator Kennedy showed deference to Senator Hatch and to show that he really wanted to work with him. He would always go to Senator Hatch`s office. He`d never ask Senator Hatch to come to him.


NEXON: And Senator Hatch, similarly, would show his affection for Senator Kennedy. Senator Hatch, as you probably know, his avocations is writing songs. He writes --


MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, I know that. We have to go, David Nexon, but I get the picture. It`s about courtesy. It`s about collegiality, it`s about respect and finding common ground.

By the way, the Mormon community is very much big on, as you know, on welfare society, and relief society, looking out for people in the community. They`re very good at that.

Anyway, thank you, David Nexon. David`s book, you got to read. This belongs on your shelf. One of the ones you keep on your shelf, "Lion of the Senate," and buy the paper version of it. Don`t go online. Get "Lion of the Senate," the book. Here it is, right it is.

When we return, let me finish with where this campaign of 2016 is headed.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with where this campaign`s headed.

So, one candidate calls the other a bigot and chuckles as his fans yell "Lock her up." And the other candidate compares her rival to men in hoods and sheets, members of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, just to put our feet on the ground here, this is still August. We haven`t even gotten to Labor Day, and this is what the combat has descended to.

I hold Trump responsible. This is his M.O., making up nicknames, trashing the person of his rivals is how he got this far, Little Marco, Low Energy Bush, Lying Ted, now Crooked Hillary. Well, that said, the Democratic presidential candidate holds not just a great record of public service. Looking at the number, she has a chance to come into the American presidency with positive support to put the wind at her back when she starts to govern, to move the Congress in a progressive, positive direction.

Accusing Donald Trump of ties to the Klan will not do justice to this. I liked her speech today, but not the online video with pictures of men in white sheets with hood, because those images have a history, a history not of words or even burning crosses, but of lynching, of murder, of an historic American horror.

The best way for Hillary to win this election is to make sure the people sees the difference between her and him, not her ability to match him in nastiness.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.