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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 9/1/2016

Guests: Jennifer Epstein, Jamil Smith, Jeanne Cummings, Paris Dennard, Jacob Monty, Stephanie Schriock

Show: HARDBALL Date: September 1, 2016 Guest: Jennifer Epstein, Jamil Smith, Jeanne Cummings, Paris Dennard, Jacob Monty, Stephanie Schriock

ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: Meet the new Trump, same as the old Trump.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening to you. I`m Ari Melber, in for Chris Matthews.

And after talk of potentially softening on immigration, Donald Trump last night, as well as today, doubling down on the hard-line approach that did help him win the Republican primaries, particularly when it comes to his trademark proposal. Here`s Trump at a rally today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUDIENCE: Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Don`t worry. We`re going to build that wall. That wall will go up. It`s going to go up.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We`re going to build the wall. Mexico`s going to pay for the wall. We`re going to stop drugs from coming in.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Late today, the Trump campaign also announcing the launch of what they call a new on-line store with new merchandise reading, of course, "Build the wall."

But after that conciliatory joint appearance yesterday, Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto now pushing back against Trump. He published a new op- ed -- you may have seen this -- saying, quote, "I was also very clear in my conversation with Trump on the border. Mexico will not pay for any wall," end quote. He later addressed Trump directly on Twitter, saying, "I repeat what I told you personally, Mr. Trump. Mexico will never pay for a wall."

Now, here`s what Trump had to say when asked about the diplomatic dispute this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Oh, it`ll happen at the right time. It`ll happen. I mean, this is just the beginning of a negotiation. If I win, if I become president, Mexico will pay for the wall. He, you know, rightfully said I know that position for a long time. They say they don`t want to pay for the wall. They`re not going to pay for the wall. And every negotiation starts that way. But Mexico will pay for the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s the explanation. I`m joined now by Jeanne Cummings, political editor for "The Wall Street Journal," Paris Dennard, a Trump surrogate and former adviser to former president George Bush, as well as Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post."

Good evening, everybody. Obviously, plenty to get into. We are in the thick of the real campaign, the general election, obviously, the international trips.

Jeanne, let me start from you, your perspective here. Did Donald Trump win or lose out of these two appearances together?

JEANNE CUMMINGS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I don`t think it went well for him at all. I think he lost ground in a very serious way. The campaign right now should be about adding supporters. He has people, high-profile conservative Hispanics who are leaving his campaign and making those kinds of headlines. That was the opposite of what he was trying to accomplish yesterday.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, some of those advisers resigning officially today. That made a lot of news. We`re actually going to have one on HARDBALL.

Paris, I want you to take a listen to sort of the two Donald Trumps you got in one day. Everyone understands diplomacy can involve nicer words or euphemisms, but this was head-spinning even, I think, for some diplomats to watch. And this was again the Trump campaign`s choice. They didn`t have to double-book that hard-line Arizona speech with the trip, but they did.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We recognize and respect the right of either country to build a physical barrier or wall on any of its borders. Cooperation toward achieving this shared objective, and it will be shared, of safety for all citizens is paramount. We did discuss the wall. We didn`t discuss payment of the wall. That`ll be for a later date.

Are you ready?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We will build a great wall along the southern border!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And Mexico will pay for the wall, believe me.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: They don`t know it yet, but they`re going to pay for the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Paris, as a campaign professional, why have those two messages run right into each other on the same day?

PARIS DENNARD, TRUMP SURROGATE: It`s the same message. The message is the same on both occasions. When you are president of the United States, you have got to be able to go in different circumstances, one, be diplomatic and have a Q&A or have a press conference with a fellow head of state, and then be able to go to a rally, then be able to deliver a speech to your base, to your supporters, all in the same day. And so...

MELBER: But you see the problem with that, Paris, is the speech to his supporters is not the exact same message because to the supporters, he said, I`m going to be so tough, I`m going to tell them how it`s going to be, they`re going to pay for it. That`s one message.

Then the very same day, he goes down there and doesn`t say anything, at least according to the Mexican president, about them paying at all, which seems like for something he`s been promoting for a year, that would have been the time to bring it up.

DENNARD: Well, I think we are getting down into the weeds about one particular part about this illegal immigration issue, about paying for the wall. The greater point is that he put out a 10-point plan to curb this issue about illegal immigration.

In addition to that, what we did not see on the diplomatic stage -- what we did not see was Secretary Hillary Clinton go down there and make herself to be seen as presidential. One would think that a former secretary of state would have jumped at the opportunity to go down and present her message to the Mexican people and Mexican government with the Mexican president. But yet and still, she did not.

Mr. Trump showed great leadership, great diplomacy and great judgment in going and doing that speech and then going to the American people directly in Arizona, my home state, and speaking to them about his 10-point plan to fix this issue of illegal immigration.

MELBER: Gene Robinson, how about that. Does Hillary not have enough frequent flyer miles here?

(LAUGHTER)

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Hillary Clinton has met a whole lot of world leaders, and you know, she`s done a whole lot of summits. So I don`t think we need to worry about that. I don`t think she has to convince anyone that she can perform in that setting. She obviously can.

But back to your original point, no, those were two totally different messages. The tone was completely different and the content was different, as well. There was this sort of "hands across the Rio Grande" aspect when he spoke with President Pena Nieto. He spoke not really in terms of America first, but the hemisphere first.

MELBER: Right.

ROBINSON: In fact, he talked about hemispheric trade and keeping manufacturing in this hemisphere. None of that in the Phoenix speech, that`s for sure. It was, you know, the Mexicans were bad again and they`re going to have to pay for the wall, they`re too dumb to know it yet. And by the way, Mexican immigrants are committing crimes at just a historic pace and have to be kicked out. I mean, it was -- it was a hard-line speech. And so that`s -- you know, he`s -- those are his cards. That`s the way he`s decided to play this hand.

MELBER: Well, and one of the funny parts about that is there is sort of this macro, meta conversation about what he`s doing. So in the absence of policy details, which he himself, Donald Trump, has said aren`t the most important thing to him, there`s a lot of talk about whether this is hard or soft, tough or weak and all the rest.

Here he was in an exchange with Laura Ingraham about whether this hard speech, according to him last night, will have more softening later. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The line last week, you were softening on immigration. Then you come out with a very specific, very pro-enforcement plan last night. Where`s the softening?

TRUMP: Oh, there`s softening. Look, we do it in a very humane way, and we`re going to see with the people that are in the country -- obviously, I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out. I want to get the drug dealers out. We get a lot of people in this country that you can`t have, and those people will get out. And then we are going to make a decision at a later date, once everything is stabilized. I think you`re going to see there`s really quite a bit of softening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Jeanne Cummings, I mean, I cover this stuff. I know a little about immigration law. I have no idea what he`s saying there. And I don`t mean that rudely. Politicians sometimes are deliberately vague for various reasons. Diplomacy, as well, can be vague.

But what is he talking about? And do you see a softening after what was such a hard-line speech?

CUMMINGS: Well, I also am confused about precisely what is his policy now because he`s said so many different things over the last few days.

One thing I think is clear, and that`s the overall message that the Hispanic community heard, based on our interviews with many people today, and that is he may call it soft, he may call it hard, he can describe his speech and his rally any way that he may wish to, but to them, the message is, Every one of you that`s here illegally could now be deported.

And we may not get to you first. We may not get to you until the end. But we`re coming.

MELBER: Right.

CUMMINGS: That`s the message that the Hispanic community got. How you characterize it, that`s up to them. But I think that that was -- that`s a message that has driven Hispanic advisers away from his campaign, and it could narrow his path to victory, making Florida much harder than it might have been.

I mean, this is a significant moment for his campaign and how they manage it going forward.

MELBER: Yes. And to your point, the policy balance you strike has got to happen in real time. You can`t say, Oh, we`re going to do massive deportations on a scale this country has not seen in decades -- that`s the current proposal on the table -- and then later, I promise there`ll be something humane after that. I mean, that just doesn`t necessarily make internal consistent sense.

Paris, I want to give you the chance to respond and also take a listen to Corey Lewandowski here and his view of who this speech was really targeting. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FMR. TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Look, I think Donald Trump`s message tonight was the message that he started with back on June of 2015, which was America first. That`s what he believes and what he is playing to. And if you look at the polling data, he`s had about an 18 point lead in the demographic of white males who are voting in this election. They have a high propensity of voting. And so he`s got about an 18-point lead on Hillary Clinton in that particular demographic.

This speech is clearly geared at those individuals right now to make sure that they`re there. He`s locked them in for the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Lewandowski saying the key is locking in white males. Another demographic would be white female conservative pundits. I could show you Ann Coulter, very happy with this speech, saying, "I think I`ll watch this speech every night before going to bed so that I will sleep like a baby."

Paris, does this do enough, if those are the only groups it`s speaking to?

DENNARD: Well, I just disagree. I believe that Mr. Trump was speaking to the American people. He was speaking -- listen, Corey was the campaign manager. He did a good job getting Mr. Trump to and through the primary. Manafort came on. Kellyanne is now there.

And since they`ve been on, there`s been a deliberate effort to have specific engagement with the African-American community and especially the Hispanic community. I will say it was continued engagement with both of those communities.

This speech is no different. His policies are no different than what he campaigned on, what he said down in Mexico and what he said in Arizona. The American people understand his position. The Mexican government understands. The Mexican president understood his position long before he invited him down there to go there.

This was a good day for Mr. Trump. Liberals in the media and you are upset that he had a good day and...

MELBER: I`m not upset. Do I seem upset? I`m not upset at all.

(LAUGHTER)

DENNARD: He looked presidential. He was presidential. And he showed extreme leadership. And the people of this country, especially those who live across -- along the Mexican border, Hispanics, Mexicans included, understand the problems that are lying on that border.

MELBER: Right.

DENNARD: And they appreciate someone like Mr. Trump speaking to it and having the leadership and the courage to go straight to Mexico, speak to the people and to the government and say, I`m going to work with you. He`s a negotiator. This is the first step, and it`s a positive step. And he`s going to win.

MELBER: Paris, if you were here at the glass table with me in New York, I think you`d see I`m feeling good. I`m not upset about it. I`m enjoying it.

DENNARD: (INAUDIBLE) tingle (INAUDIBLE) up your leg, too, that speech?

MELBER: I want to give Eugene a chance to get back in. Eugene, the other piece of this is whether there`s sort of a fantasy football style aspect to the way Donald Trump envisions his presidency, and "Saturday Night Live" famously made fun of that with the idea that you`d snap your fingers and everything would just happen.

And yet in the political math, there is some appeal to that, right? I mean, to the extent that he boils things down very simply or says a lot of problems are other people`s fault or a lot of things will be handled by other people -- look, if you could prove that Mexico would pay for anything, it`d be great. If they wanted to pay for our school system, that would be great as a budgetary matter. I`m just not sure it`s going to happen.

So speak to the political path he`s on here, trying to appeal to people.

ROBINSON: Well, generally speaking, simple and understandable is good in politics unless it`s completely crazy, right? And so you know, Paris spoke of Trump`s outreach to African-Americans, which consists of screaming, you know, What do you have to lose? Your lives are a living hell! What do you have to lose? That`s not a good approach. That`s never going to work.

And similarly, I`m going to kick your Aunt Belinda out of the country, is not a great approach to Latino voters. It`s just not. It`s simple and understandable, but it`s not going to work.

MELBER: We`re out of time. Paris, quickly, though?

DENNARD: It`s going to work and it`s working because the American people appreciate the fact that he`s speaking directly to them in language they can understand instead of lying and trying to hide behind things, like Secretary Clinton is doing. It`s going to work. He has 8 percent of the black vote percentage right now, which is ahead of what Romney got and ahead of what Senator McCain got. Give him time. This is the first step. It was a good day for Mr. Trump.

MELBER: Paris Dennard, Eugene Robinson and Jeanne Cummings, thank you all for joining us on HARDBALL tonight.

And coming up, we`re going to talk, as I mentioned, to that former Trump surrogate and supporter. He was on the Latino advisory Council, resigning after last night`s speech. He says based on what he heard, it`s clear that Trump doesn`t even want to win this election. That is ahead.

Also, Hillary Clinton seems pretty happy to lie low lately and let the campaign be some kind of referendum on Trump. Is that a smart strategy? Will it last, or does it prevent her from actually getting where she needs to go in an affirmative case?

And later, we don`t yet know the political consequences of Trump`s hard- line speech, but if you look at what`s happening right now in the state of Arizona, Republicans -- they may have reason to worry.

Finally, the HARDBALL roundtable will be here to tell me something about this presidential race that I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We got new polling from some key battleground states. We`re going to check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to new Public Policy Polling, Hillary Clinton with a 7-point lead over Trump in Wisconsin. That is 48 to 41. Good news for the Clinton camp.

She`s also got a lead in New Hampshire there. That`s 46 to 40 for Trump. Over in Missouri, tighter, though, Trump leading there 47 to 41 percent. And in North Carolina, a virtual dead heat, 45 to 44, Hillary Clinton with that narrow edge within the margin of error.

We`ll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I call it extreme vetting, right? Extreme vetting! I want extreme! It`s going to be so tough! We are going to triple the number of ICE deportation offices.

Two million people, criminal aliens -- we will begin moving them out day one, as soon as I take office, day one!

You can call it deported if you want. The press doesn`t like that term. You can call it whatever the hell you want. They`re gone!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There, Donald Trump last night once again taking that hard-line stance on undocumented immigrants. And today, several Hispanic Trump surrogates said they are now in response reconsidering their support for him, Massey Villarreal, a former supporter, telling NBC News, "I`m going to flip but not flop. I am no longer supporting Trump," Grace Flores Hughes, member of Trump`s Hispanic advisory council telling Fusion today she`s withdrawing her support.

Romiro Pena, a Texas pastor, also a member of that council, telling Politico, "I don`t have the time or energy for a scam." Meanwhile, Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles saying he`s inclined to pull his support, and quote, "It`s so disappointing because we feel we took a chance, a very risky chance. We`re disappointed. We feel misled."

And then today, there was Jacob Monty, an attorney who made headlines resigning from Trump`s national Hispanic advisory council directly in response to that speech. And he joins me now.

Good evening to you. And why did you resign from advising Donald Trump?

JACOB MONTY, FORMER TRUMP HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, I had a lot of hope. Ari, I was defending him six hours before I resigned.

So, this speech was really built up as his definitive statement on immigration. I thought he was going to articulate a Republican, compassionate, realistic idea on immigration.

And some of the proposals, I was totally on board with, more security, better vetting, build a fence, all of that. That`s great. But when we sat down with Donald Trump, we talked to him about the 11 million that aren`t criminals. And he assured us there was going to be a way to give them some benefits to be able to work.

I mean, that`s what they want. They are not seeking welfare. They want to work. And when we met with him...

MELBER: Do you think he misled you in that meeting?

MONTY: I don`t know. I think he was genuine in the meeting. I think he took notes. He asked all the right questions.

MELBER: So, if you think he was genuine in the meeting -- I just want to get this exactly right.

You think he was genuine in that meeting, so, at that point in time, he wanted some path to work possibilities to labor options for the undocumented. And since that time, he`s now genuinely changed his mind and is going back to mass deportation that he outlined last night?

MONTY: Yes, something happened on the way to Phoenix.

And either he listens to the last person who talks to him or, as I suggested earlier, he doesn`t want to win, and he wants to sell baseball caps and T-shirts.

MELBER: You don`t think Donald Trump, who you were until today advising to become president, you don`t think anymore that he actually wants to be president?

MONTY: He`s coming off the two best weeks of his whole campaign. He`s going up in the polls. He looks presidential. People are coming around. I had been recruiting people on to the Hispanic Council.

He goes to Mexico, which was bold. He looks like a leader. And then he comes to Phoenix. He warns us that it`s not going to be a rally speech. So, I`m thinking, great, here`s the final explanation on how he feels on immigration. And he gives us populist propaganda that wasn`t even written by him.

FAIR and Numbers USA, these think tanks that masquerade as conservative groups, those are the talking points that he read from. So...

MELBER: But you`re saying -- just to be clear -- and you have spent time with him. You were a former supporter. You may be saying things the critics have said, but you are coming from being an adviser to Donald Trump. You think he`s trying to take a dive right now in this election and lose?

MONTY: It`s either that or he listens to the last person who spoke to him, and he must have been listening to the special interests, FAIR and Numbers USA, that somehow convinced him that this is a winning strategy, even though it`s failed in the last two elections.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: You talked about this being a turning point for you, and it`s clearly been a turning point for a lot of people.

And yet I got to push you on that, because Donald Trump`s views on these issues and even on what he thinks of basically Mexican immigrants as a category or class have been well-known.

Here are some examples. I want to play some sound of him speaking about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best. They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They are rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

We have to have assimilation. To have a country, we have to have assimilation. This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: The original tweet said Jeb Bush has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife. Now, somebody else said that. You retweeted it.

TRUMP: Do I regret it? No, I don`t regret it. You know, I would say that he would. If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico.

He said, you know the name anchor baby is very insulting. I said, what would you call them? And he gave me like nine words, a baby of illegal immigrant who was brought to the country to this -- I said, how can I say that? It`s too long. It`s anchor baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Jacob, you are telling us you have left the Trump campaign because of what he said yesterday on these issues.

Another question for you would be, what took you so long?

MONTY: Well, this speech was heralded by the campaign as the seminal speech on immigration. Comments about criminal aliens, there are criminal aliens, and they have got to go back.

Do we need more security? Yes. But this speech was heralded as the definitive rest of the story on what he planned to do with all facets of immigration.

And what did he give us? Just more populist propaganda that wasn`t even written by his campaign, but was copied from FAIR and Numbers USA.

So, yes, I was disappointed, because I had the -- I guess the naivete to believe that this guy was a businessman, that this guy was a Republican. And we didn`t hear a Republican last night. We heard a populist propaganda con artist. And I`m done with it.

MELBER: Do you feel that, in some sense, he was conning you and other supporters who were told it was going to be a different kind of general election set of policies?

MONTY: I don`t know.

He appeared very genuine in the meeting. Something happened after August 20. And we saw the fiasco that happened last night. When the obituary on this campaign is written, August 31, 2013 (sic), will go down in history. And we need to give appropriate credit to FAIR and Numbers USA for taking down yet another presidential candidate with lies and -- lies masquerading as conservative principles.

MELBER: Well, I`ll tell you, we cover these campaigns. A lot of times, we don`t hear about what`s going on inside them or these fights over, as you put it, principle, until well after the election.

So, Jacob Monty, for standing up and sharing some of your perspective tonight, we appreciate it.

MONTY: Thank you.

MELBER: Up next: Is Hillary Clinton taking too big a risk by keeping such a low profile lately and letting, as you may have noticed, Donald Trump dominate so much of the airwaves and discussion?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Florida is bracing for its first hurricane in more than a decade. Hurricane Hermine is expected to make landfall in Florida`s Big Bend region around midnight. High winds that could spawn tornadoes and a storm surge of up to eight feet are expected.

And SpaceX is blaming a propellant anomaly for the dramatic destruction of one of its Falcon 9 rockets on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral this afternoon. Fortunately, no one was hurt in that explosion -- back to HARDBALL.

MELBER: Welcome back to HARDBALL, Ari Melber here for Chris Matthews.

With 67 days before the election, we have seen a lot more of Donald Trump than we have of Hillary Clinton. Yesterday, she made her first public appearance -- get this -- in six days. She is running for president, but spent the past few weeks focusing on fund-raising and some private events.

Today, her campaign announcing she did raise $143 million combined. That`s campaign and DNC funds. And earlier today, one of her chief surrogates, Vice President Joe Biden, defended her absence on the campaign trail talking to our own Kasie Hunt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton obviously is out here on the trail. You are here in Ohio. Do you think she needs to be out front with the American people a little bit more?

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, she is out front with the American people. And...

HUNT: She has been fund-raising for a couple weeks.

BIDEN: Well, she has to, but she has also been doing an awful lot of events.

And what I told her was, I will -- I campaigned with her in Scranton. We got a whole bunch of places we are campaigning together, and some places where maybe I can help and not have her have to be with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Of course, in the past three weeks, Donald Trump did -- he launched that major campaign reshuffle. He has been dominating the airwaves.

Last week, Politico reporting the Clinton camp was basically content at this point -- quote -- "running out the clock."

In that time, though, her national lead over Donald Trump is narrowing there from nine to six points. And we`re heading into Labor Day weekend, the unofficial start of the formal general election and the debates. So, will it be smart politics if Clinton continues to keep such a low profile?

I`m joined by EMILY`s List president Stephanie Schriock and MSNBC political analyst and former Republican strategist Rick Tyler.

Stephanie, let me start with you. Is Hillary Clinton in some sort of candidate witness protection program? Is she the first candidate to ever have to balance fund-raising with public appearances? Because, just to be real -- and you know we do real talk here -- when you are going to fund- raisers, that doesn`t mean you can`t hold any public events for six days.

I say this to you upbeat. It`s not the biggest story in the world, but what`s going on here?

STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, PRESIDENT, EMILY`S LIST: Well, let`s start with it`s really easy to get headlines like Donald Trump when you are using divisive and angry rhetoric every day. And so that is part of this.

But I do want to say, yes, you have got to balance all the aspects of the campaign. But I want to talk about this week. Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton and her campaign rolled out a mental health proposal that was really extraordinary. One in five Americans are dealing with mental health issues.

And this is an issue talked about on both sides of the aisle. This is what we are talking about on the ground. And she also, keep in mind, is not in this alone, like you get the sense Donald Trump is. She`s got Vice President Biden out there. Goodness, I was in New Hampshire yesterday. And you know what we were talking about? Equal pay, paid leave, child care with great women voters in New Hampshire who are going to decide this election.

MELBER: So, you -- I just want to be clear, though. You are making basically the argument that the national press is focused on a candidate- centered view of the campaign, and if the candidate isn`t out there or isn`t out there in an outrageous or newsworthy manner, then we tend to view it as, oh, nothing`s happening.

And what you are saying is, there`s a ground game, there`s a policy game, there`s stuff in the field, and that that is a broader Clinton campaign, in contradistinction to a candidate-obsessed lens at the Trump side. Is that right?

SCHRIOCK: Well, I think you are looking at a Hillary Clinton campaign that is incredibly strong on the ground.

I mean, she has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of organizers every day getting volunteers by the thousands, having phone calls, door knocks. It is extraordinary. Every time I go out -- I was in Iowa last weekend. I`m going to North Carolina on Saturday, I hope.

There`s that little tropical storm thing I just realized, as you are talking about.

MELBER: Yes.

SCHRIOCK: But it is really an incredible organization on the ground.

And, again, we are talking about how Hillary Clinton has the vision to ensure that the economy is going to work for everybody, and not just the top few. And that`s the conversation that is happening voter by voter across this country.

MELBER: Rick Tyler?

RICK TYLER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MELBER: What do you think?

TYLER: What do I think?

Well, look, Hillary Clinton has been running sort of a conventional, traditional campaign, sort of taking the summer to raise money, so she will have plenty of money in the fall. That`s a rational strategy.

Her problem is, the polls show that so many people distrust her, and there`s this drip, drip, drip of scandal when you -- with the e-mail, the server, now the Clinton Foundation, now the Clinton Foundation taking GSA money to pay staff, that her strategy of sort of staying out of the limelight is probably starting to be counterproductive.

When Trump was getting earned media that was actually negative for him, it was probably working. But I think, after Labor Day, she -- and her not holding press conferences, this just leads into Trump`s central argument.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Let me see if I understand. So, you are saying that her strategy will always be dependent on how Trump is doing. So if she`s laying in the cut and laying back, and he`s getting terrible press, like he was getting right after the convention, attacking a Gold Star family, just in sort of a freeform meltdown of personal grievances, then her strategy does work, in your perspective, but it doesn`t if he steps up his game?

TYLER: Yes, that`s right.

But I don`t think -- I don`t think that was a deliberate strategy. I think their strategy was actually to take the summer and raise money, so they would have it closer to the election and after Labor Day.

But when Trump was getting earned media, except the earned media in the primaries, he was getting so much positive media, now he`s getting a lot of negative media, although he`s had a couple of good weeks here. And it`s the next revelation or the next shoe to drop on the e-mail scandal.

So now we just learned that we have 15,000 new e-mails, and 30 of them actually deal with Benghazi. Those are e-mails that she was supposed to turn over to the State Department, and she didn`t. So, what did she have to hide?

She doesn`t take press conferences, so what does she have to hide? So, I think, after Labor Day, she is really going to get out there and change her game up a little bit, or Donald Trump`s central argument is she can`t be trusted to be president.

MELBER: Right.

TYLER: Of course, her central argument is, he`s not competent to be president. And it`s the winner of that argument that is going to win this race.

MELBER: Right. When you put it like that, it`s mildly depressing.

And, Stephanie, we are almost out of time. But Rick makes the point it is bonkers that she won`t hold press conferences. She knows, when she becomes president, you are supposed to hold regular press conferences, right?

SCHRIOCK: But she`s talking to the press all the time.

TYLER: Oh, we have heard that.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: That is so, so beside the point.

SCHRIOCK: She is having interviews with the press, and she`s doing that.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Stephanie, we hear that talking point so much.

TYLER: That one is not working.

MELBER: It`s like if you -- just -- just -- I hear this so -- I don`t know why the Clinton campaign thinks it works.

TYLER: It doesn`t.

MELBER: If there are parent/teacher conferences, right, and you keep skipping them, and then, when you run into the teacher at the mini-mart, and you say, well, I talk to the teacher all the time, that`s fine.

The question here is, are you going to the parent/teacher conference? And presidents from JFK on have held regular press conferences for a reason. I don`t just say this as, oh, I`m in the press. It`s a larger thing.

And so when you say, oh, well, she also interacts with the press, you do know that`s just crazy, right?

(LAUGHTER)

SCHRIOCK: No, I think that`s a part of the campaign function.

And I think we have got 67 days here where you are going to see a lot of campaigning going on and a lot of conversation. I also want to note, as you were just talking about, I want to note that there`s been a couple of headlines, AP and Politico today.

The Politico headline about the charity today was just flat wrong. And they had to change it. And so we are continuing to get these questions that are like made-up scandal which just aren`t true. And the facts are wrong. And that`s a whole `nother piece of this conversation, too.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: We are out of time. We are out of time. That`s not a reason not to hold press conferences. That`s a reason to hold press conferences.

TYLER: Exactly.

MELBER: Take a question from Politico and say, ah, I see what you said about the GSA funding. Here`s our response. We can handle a dialogue. That`s what presidents do.

We are out of time.

Stephanie Schriock and Rick Tyler, thank you both for joining.

TYLER: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Up next: A lot of vitriol on Donald Trump`s immigration speech, we have been covering that, but there wasn`t as many facts.

The HARDBALL roundtable will tell you what you need to know next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We take anybody, come on in, anybody. Just come on in. Not anymore.

You know, folks, it`s called a two-way street. It is a two-way street, right? We need a system that serves our needs, not the needs of others. Remember, under a Trump administration, it`s called America first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last night there, Donald Trump saying the United States will not be letting just anybody into the country anymore. Critics saying the speech is aimed at fear-mongering rather than solving a complex immigration policy problem. Now, Trump claimed President Obama and Hillary Clinton support open borders that would be flooded with immigrants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Obama and Hillary Clinton in gross dereliction of duty by surrendering the safety of the American people to open borders. And you know it better than anybody right here in Arizona. You know it.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton support sanctuary cities. They support catch and release on the border. They support visa overstays. They support the release of dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals from detention. And they support unconstitutional executive amnesty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Each of those claims is false. Donald Trump does not always have the facts on his side. We`re going to fact-check one item for you.

NBC`s Leigh Ann Caldwell dug into the past budgeting scenario and notes that over 24 years, that includes the Obama tenure, the amount of money spent on border security has actually increased 14 times. Border patrol agents increased 500 percent. The amount of border wall has grown from 77 miles to about 700. That`s just since 2000 over Bush and Obama. The number of people being apprehended trying to cross the border has decreased by 4/5.

And our fact-checking is just getting started. We brought some more factual people. Joining the HARDBALL roundtable, Nick Confessore for "The New York Times", Jennifer Epstein, reporting for Bloomberg Politics, and Jamil Smith, a senior national correspondent for MTV News which is still a thing.

JAMIL SMITH, MTV NEWS: Still a thing.

MELBER: Still a thing.

I`m going to start with the "New York Times" and we`re going to go around the horn.

On the facts, we discussed politics, I had people who support Trump on tonight, I had some people who support Clinton. Let`s start with the facts, though. From your perspective, how factual was this speech and how much does that matter?

NICK CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it was probably half and half, right? So, he overstates the idea that President Obama has not been tough on illegal immigration. Obama has deported two million people. The border is militarized. We are prioritizing the deportation of people here without papers who are criminals, who are security risks.

In that sense, he and the current administration are actually aligned in certain ways.

SMITH: Agree. Right.

CONFESSORE: So, he`s taken a problem that`s real and he exaggerates it in various ways I think to fan the fears of his followers.

MELBER: But, Jennifer, he also does this thing where he says, I have got this great idea. No one`s ever heard of this before. Guess what I`m going to do. Prioritize the deportation of convicted criminals which is the number one enforcement priority of ICE under the current administration. So, you either know that and are lying about it, or you don`t know that, which positions you as shall I say an imperfect reformer of these issues.

JENNIFER EPSTEIN, BLOOMBERG: Right. And certainly also top priority for Secretary Clinton. That`s what she says she would do as her number one thing as well.

What it speaks to is really I think either -- a combination of Donald Trump and his team kind of assuming that the average voter won`t go back and check the facts and doesn`t realize what the law and what the practice is already, and then some kind of willful ignorance or just pretending that they -- that what`s going on right now isn`t actually what`s going on or it isn`t happening well enough, thus you have to go and do it.

MELBER: And, Jamil, this idea infused through Trump`s speech last night that America shouldn`t just take in anyone.

SMITH: Right. I mean, hopefully, it`s not up to him, frankly. But at the same time, when you look back at how much he links immigration and crime, frankly, we didn`t hear anything about domestic terrorism. We didn`t hear anything about preventing the next Orlando, the next Charleston, the next San Bernardino. I mean, frankly, if this world is so dangerous and only undocumented immigrants are making it so, I mean, it just doesn`t fit with the facts.

MELBER: He also doesn`t seem to have a firm handle on how visas work.

ESPTEIN: Right. Yes, it`s another thing where he`s sort of saying people are overstaying their visas and that`s something that Secretary Clinton supports or President Obama support, and that something that also is kind of something that it`s going to continue and has continued and it`s not something that she`s doing or he`s doing, it`s some of a way of life.

MELBER: Right. And you go to the politics of this which is I don`t know that visa regulations are a huge general election issue.

CONFESSORE: Well, the enforcement of the visa regulations is a problem and has been for 20 years, 30 years, you know, the overstayers, finding overstayers.

Look, I think that in a sense, he`s being swallowed up by the politics of this issue the Republicans have created. They led their own base to believe the problem is worse than it seems for years and years. They have convinced their own party that Obama has been terrible on this issue, so their proposed solutions are always, well, first, be tougher on immigration. It`s a way to assuage their own base.

He`s taken that ten steps further. It`s a nightmare, anarchy. They are coming all the time. It`s just not true.

MELBER: Yes. And, Jamil, I thought the most rhetorically thing he said was, hey, we keep hearing about the 11 million, that`s a distraction, we don`t need to worry about that.

That`s certainly comforting, right, to people. I mean, the gang of eight, all the stuff that hasn`t worked broke down over that issue. So, it would be nice if he didn`t have to talk about it.

SMITH: I mean, selective discrimination is still discrimination. Whether or not it`s 11 million the first day, or a few here and a few here, 6 million at the first, it doesn`t really matter. I mean, what we`re talking about is a policy that cannot be implemented either fiscally or just frankly realistically.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: All right. We`re going to take a quick break. Roundtable stays.

Up next, how worried should Republicans be about their chances of keeping control of the whole Senate? A new poll has some Democrats dreaming big.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The HARDBALL team wanted to share with you something that is truly uplifting. Civil rights leader, Congressman John Lewis, an inspiration to so man Americans on the late show with Stephen Colbert deciding to get to know the room. He got a lift of his own crowd surfing the studio audience. Look at that. You don`t see that every day.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A new poll out of Arizona, Donald Trump spoke there last night, it shows John McCain now tied with his Democratic opponent Ann Kirkpatrick. The poll also showing a tight race for president, Trump leading Hillary Clinton by just three points.

Now, think about that. Arizona hasn`t supported a Democrat for the White House in two decades. McCain urging voters there to stick with him, even if they have concerns about Donald Trump.

Take a look at this new video out this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My opponent, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, is a good person. But if Hillary Clinton is elected president, Arizona will need a senator who will act as a check, not a rubber stamp.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We are back with Nick, Jennifer, and Jamil. That ad not -- it`s not a barn-burner. Like it doesn`t get you a fire emoji or anything big.

CONFESSORE: No, it`s a please help ad.

MELBER: Well, it`s -- you can argue --

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: It`s John McCain trying to say, hey, remember me, I`m a nice guy, she`s a nice person, this is a nice time, I just need another term, and I`m not sure how that plays in a season where people don`t feel that nice.

CONFESSORE: Look, here`s the problem. Arizona, I believe, has the highest pro portion of voting age Latinos in the country. If they register, if they turn out because they`re angry at Trump, it`s very bad news for John McCain and he could lose.

EPSTEIN: Yes, I think his message in that video and I think this will be a message we hear from him for the next few months is please split the ticket, please consider the fact that even if you`re voting for Hillary Clinton, you probably don`t love her, so she needs a check on her. So we need to keep the Senate majority Republican and that`s the way to do it.

MELBER: And, Jamil, what story does that tell, that the Republican Party and its standard bearers, if we go from McCain leading the party in 2008, to Romney in `12, to Trump now potentially being part of, according to Nick`s theory, why McCain, who was once the party standard bearer, might lose his seat?

SMITH: Part of this is his fault. He introduced Sarah Palin into the Republican equation. And so, you have Sarah Palin, followed then by Donald Trump, and all people who are just not that serious within the Republican Party, and here`s what he`s got to contend with.

Frankly, I`m more interested to see how Clinton uses this. She`s got a huge ad buy in Arizona. I want to see if she starts to tie him to Donald Trump.

MELBER: You`re saying with Palin, McCain began the seeds of legitimizing wings of the party that shouldn`t have been?

SMITH: Without a doubt.

MELBER: So you`re saying he was the sword the good knights use?

SMITH: I mean --

CONFESSORE: He was also the guy who sponsored immigration reform bill and tried to fix this problem for his party.

MELBER: Well, on policy, you can argue he`s the most moderate.

CONFESSORE: So, in a way, he`s tried very hard to fix his party`s problem with the people who are now going to be angry at Trump and maybe hurt himself in the process, which is just the whole --

EPSTEIN: And at the same time, he`s continuing to not really step away from Trump all that much and to still --

MELBER: And isn`t that amazing, that the guy who was the maverick here at what could be the end of his career would risk his whole seat and career over supporting someone who he doesn`t believe is in the party, but out of party loyalty. That takes some gymnastic.

The roundtable stays and we, of course, the end of HARDBALL, where these three will tell me something I don`t know, that`s not hard to do. But stay tuned and you`ll see it.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table. You know what time it is.

Nick, tell us something we don`t know.

CONFESSORE: All right. A few weeks ago, Trump had a meeting with his Latino advisory board, where they asked him to consider a path to citizenship. I`m told the people in that group pay out of their own pockets to survey the results of their proposal and see if it would improve his standing with Latinos. Apparently, there were so few Latinos whose minds it would change about Trump, that this may give you some reasons as to why he didn`t pivot at all.

MELBER: Wow.

Jennifer?

EPSTEIN: This is something you touched on a little bit, so you might know it, is just that I think there is going to be some backlash from Democrats in the outer circles of the Clinton campaign, saying, what did she do all August? And did she squander the lead that she had after the convention? They`ll say, OK, she raised $140 million, but what else did she do?

MELBER: I speculate on it, but I didn`t know. It counts.

Jamil?

SMITH: I thought I was headed to Detroit to see Donald Trump have an interview in front of a black church audience. It seems like he`s not going to do that. He`s going to do it behind closed doors and apparently it`s going to be scripted, according to "The New York Times."

MELBER: All right. Jamil, Jennifer and Nick, thanks so much.

That is HARDBALL. Thanks for watching.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END