IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/19/2016

Guests: Heidi Przybyla, Harry Reid, Rudy Giuliani, Meg Whitman, James Carville, Megan Murphy, Ben Ginsberg

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 19, 2016 Guest: Heidi Przybyla, Harry Reid, Rudy Giuliani, Meg Whitman, James Carville, Megan Murphy, Ben Ginsberg


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews at the university campus -- (INAUDIBLE)


MATTHEWS: ... presidential debate. This is a big one. Tonight`s the last chance, as we all know, for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to reach a massive television audience before the election, I figure 80 million, at least, tonight.

Trump, reeling in recent polls, needs a game changer. Will he concentrate his fire tonight or just throw everything he`s got against the wall? In other words, what does he want the headline to be tomorrow morning? And is he disciplined enough to deliver that headline, or will he fail tonight?

Anyway, it`s a big showdown. Trump seem to be waging battle on multiple fronts, not a smart move. There`s Benghazi. Among his guests, the mother of one of the slain Americans and a former fiancee of Ambassador Chris Stevens, but also reportedly on the guest list, Sarah Palin and inexplicably...


MATTHEWS: Well, that went over well -- a half-brother of President Barack Obama. And I don`t know what he responds to, half or full.

Anyway, meanwhile, "The New York Times" reports Mr. Trump`s aides are preparing him with a sharp escalation of the attacks on Mrs. Clinton`s character and a focus on her health. That should be fascinating. Trump previewed that line of attack last night.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When Hillary develops the energy to go to events, she`s got very small crowds. Now, she`s home sleeping, and I`m working. So that`s the way -- the way it`s going to be in the White House, too. She`d be sleeping, I`d be working.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, taken together, this could be a spectacle tonight. Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid to my immediate left, host of "AM JOY"...


MATTHEWS: ... Hugh Hewitt, how of "The Hugh Hewitt Show" on the Salem Radio Network -- he`s over there and "The Washington Post`s" great reporter, Robert Costa...


MATTHEWS: ... and "USA Today" Heidi Przybyla.

I`m going to go right now with a couple big-paper newspapers right to start with. Robert Costa, will Trump spray his bullets or his shots all over the place tonight or focus on something like that news out of that Benghazi e-mail?

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He`s got Steve Bannon in his ear, the former head of Breitbart news, whispering a lot of advice, but most of it is to be aggressive as heck in going after Secretary Clinton, not just on her health, but on her e-mails, on President Bill Clinton`s past, different allegations, and make it a (INAUDIBLE) storm.

MATTHEWS: What`s the headline? What`s the headline if he goes like that?

COSTA: Attack, attack, attack. It`s not so much building up Trump, it`s about taking down Secretary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: But if he can`t -- anyway, I`m arguing something right up front here tonight. If you can`t think about what happened tonight after the night`s over, it had no value at all politically. You have to come out with a thought, What did I learn tonight? What will they try to get us to learn tonight?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY": Well, I just got off the phone with the Hillary Clinton campaign, and they said, Be our guest. We couldn`t be happier if this is going to be his scorched earth approach to this, which is essentially the same thing that he tried to do in the last debate.

And what did we see after the last debate? We saw her numbers start to move a little bit up and this consolidation in the polls. We saw voter registration numbers start to go up in some of the states.

And all Trump will do if he does do this is play right into that temperament argument that the most recent Fox News poll shows is one of the underlying problems, that she`s been successful in prosecuting this case against him on temperament and judgment.

MATTHEWS: Joy, how do you walk away, right, left or center, pro-Trump or anti-Trump, or maybe undecided, if you see this cavalcade of personalities -- a half brother from Kenya, you know, a supposed fiancee from 20 years ago or whatever? I mean, it`s an amazing -- a mother of a slain guy from -- you know, Mrs. Smith, mother of Sean Smith. Fair enough.

But what are we going to get in terms of this political debate? Then one of the survivors, and then the lone survivor guy, Mark Halper (ph) played him in the movies. You know, what are we getting out of all this?

JOY REID, HOST, "AM JOY": Yes, and some of them are sort of inexplicable, right? The half brother of Barack Obama is somebody who brags about having been good friends with Moammar Gadhafi, of all people.

MATTHEWS: Yes, he`s pretty (INAUDIBLE)

REID: ... somebody who won`t say how many wives he had. Far be it from me, my father and his father before him from the Congo did the same thing with the multiple wives. It didn`t exactly go over well in my family. It`s not something that`s a selling point.

So I`m really not sure what the point of that invitation is and who he thinks that he`s getting at by doing it. But I do think a lot of what you`re seeing in terms of this plan to just do the scattershot attack on the Clintons -- you`ve got people who are surrounding Donald Trump who have waited a quarter century to wage this full-bore scorched earth attack on the Clintons that they feel that the Republican Party was too weak and too timid to wage.

It doesn`t even matter if it has electoral output. What they want to do is wage this attack that in their gut, they feel the Republicans should have been doing for 25 years, and darn it, they`re going to do it, no matter what.

MATTHEWS: OK, what`s the smart move tonight, Hugh?

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Open up by declaring, Congratulations, Ohio. The Cleveland Indians are in the World Series for the first time since `97.


HEWITT: Congratulations to the Cavaliers. Go Browns. And win the swing state of Ohio. We just clinched the pennant, Chris, so Donald Trump should be happy, upbeat...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) go for the one state and...

HEWITT: Go for the one state!


HEWITT: Knock one down on the first...



REID: The one-state strategy!


MATTHEWS: That is boring!


MATTHEWS: Totally boring. I`m sorry. Let me go into this thing here. Does anybody have any idea why the half brother from Kenya is showing up?

COSTA: Yes. Because you have to think about this campaign. It isn`t a Republican campaign. It is a Breitbart campaign. A media organization, a galaxy of Web sites and figures has supplanted the GOP and made their own messaging, dark falsehoods, suggestions about the president, about Secretary Clinton. This has now become the Republican Party nominee. This is the campaign.

MATTHEWS: What are you supposed to -- what`s your emotion supposed to be after you see a guy from Africa?

PRZYBYLA: It feels like it`s just entertainment, Chris. I mean, at what point do we start to bring up these reports about Trump folks going and talking to seed investors in New York about a post-Trump TV network? Because to me, this...


MATTHEWS: Don`t speculate. If you believe that, say so. Do you believe that the Trump campaign right now is not about winning the presidency but developing a TV network afterwards?


MATTHEWS: Do you believe that?

PRZYBYLA: Chris, at this point-

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that?

PRZYBYLA: Even if he wins all the toss-up states...


PRZYBYLA: ... Trump wants to survive this.

COSTA: I asked Trump point-blank. He said it`s absolutely false. Besides, the kind of model for this, it would have to be subscription- based. This thing of an uber-conservative network -- I asked Trump many times about this on the record. He said, No, no, no. We`ll have to see.

REID: But not necessarily a TV network. I think that you`re right. The Blaze TV, for a while, it was able to make money, it didn`t make it. Alex Jones does make money on line only.

But think about Donald Trump`s past actions. He used the Brexit opportunity to promote his golf course. He used the supposed...


MATTHEWS: What is his purpose...


COSTA: ... counter the allegations.

REID: No, no. This is...

MATTHEWS: From women.

REID: This is 60 million people...


COSTA: It`s not just about marketing Trump. When you talk to the Trump advisers, this is really about countering this wave of allegations and accusations against Donald Trump. He`s facing severe problems with female voters, and part of what he`s doing with Hillary Clinton and the secretary -- Bill Clinton`s past is trying to say, Hey, it`s not just me.

PRZYBYLA: Here`s the problem with that. They are not stupid people, these people advising Donald Trump, and they have had this research, Chris, for months that shows a lot of the moves that he`s been making in terms of going after Bill Clinton on the accusers, for my God`s sake, going after Hillary Clinton on her health. Those are all the exact wrong thing that you want to do in terms of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of research that they put in a long time ago on this. So why, pray tell? Why?


MATTHEWS: You have the stage. What should they do? What should they be doing tonight?

PRZYBYLA: At this point, I don`t know that -- he`s -- it`s not just that he needs to turn the ship around. The ship`s stuck on an iceberg and...

MATTHEWS: So what should he do?

PRZYBYLA: I don`t know that there`s much he can do.


PRZYBYLA: If he really wanted...


REID: If your goal was to win an election, what would you do is -- I spent the morning watching the advertising that`s running on local television here in Nevada. It`s all about women. Even Joe Heck`s ad is running...


REID: It`s all about women. What Donald Trump, if he was running an actual campaign, would get up there to do tonight and try to make a case to the very small number of women who are still undecided, who maybe want to vote Republican but can`t bring themselves to vote for him. Attacking Hillary Clinton won`t get you there, which is why...


MATTHEWS: ... agree with Robert.

REID: ... campaign. I think he wants to knock those...


REID: ... so what he`s doing won`t work.

HEWITT: Energize your base by bringing up Project Veritas, by bringing up Cheryl Mills in Haiti...

REID: Most Americans don`t know what any of that is.

HEWITT: ... bringing up General Hoss (ph) Cartright facing jail for misleading the FBI when Hillary Clinton...

REID: That was the last debate.


REID: That was the last...


HEWITT: ... have the media follow after it because what you have to do is tie your down ballot...


HEWITT: ... to the fact that Clinton needs to be surrounded by an opposition...


MATTHEWS: ... your one point of view is that he should go out and try to win this election and try to win women back because he has to get women in the suburbs who normally vote Republican. The other one is he`s basically building his anti-establishment cotillion the next 20 years.

Anyway, in recent days, Trump has warned of a rigged election. He tweeted last week, "Of course there`s large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day." Someone who doesn`t buy that, Trump`s own campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going to the polls in this country, do you believe there will be widespread voter fraud?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, I do not believe that. So absent overwhelming evidence that there is, it would not be for me to say that there is. We know in the past, you know, we know that people who are dead are still in the voter rolls. We know that people are voting a couple of different times in places. So you do hear reports here and there. But I think Donald Trump`s point is a larger one. You don`t want me to talk about the other stuff, but he does -- yes, there is larger conspiracy, larger collusion...


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Ohio governor John Kasich today also criticized Trump`s rhetoric on voter fraud. Let`s watch the governor.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To say that elections are rigged and all these votes are stolen, that`s like saying we never landed on the moon, frankly. That`s how silly it is. No, I just -- I don`t think that`s good for our country, for our democracy. And I don`t believe that we have any massive fraud.


MATTHEWS: You know how you watch a football game, college or pro, and there are fouls, and they get penalties, right? That`s not to say the games are thrown.


MATTHEWS: Just because you can find examples of voter fraud doesn`t mean elections were stolen.


MATTHEWS: I mean, Philadelphia, for example, went $330,000 -- 330,000 votes for Kennedy -- 330,000...

HEWITT: Voter fraud exists.

MATTHEWS: Maybe...

HEWITT: It`s a question about how much and whether or not it`s significant. There have been cases in Virginia...

REID: It`s insignificant.

HEWITT: ... and Colorado...

MATTHEWS: Yes, cases don`t mean...


REID: But this isn`t...

HEWITT: Jon Husted is right. There is no massive rigging.

REID: It`s insignificant, I mean, infinitesimal. But the reason to bring it up and the reason that it isn`t just Trump that brings it up, sorry. Jon Husted does the same thing when he`s trying to undermine the opportunity to vote by making it harder and harder and harder.

It is a dogwhistle to people who want to believe that African- Americans...

MATTHEWS: Listen closely to this.

REID: ... are cheating...

MATTHEWS: Everything...


REID: ... dogwhistle to the far right...


MATTHEWS: You mean when he says St. Louis, Cleveland, Chicago...

REID: Think about the...


MATTHEWS: ... Philadelphia. What do they all have in common?

REID: It`s feeding...

MATTHEWS: Majorities.

REID: ... (INAUDIBLE) who feel that this -- that black people...

MATTHEWS: All right, let`s...

REID: ... are stealing our elections.

COSTA: Let`s remember...

REID: That`s all it is.

COSTA: Joy`s right. And let`s remember the history here. You go back to the Republican Party in the 1950s before William F. Buckley. You had this old right that would speak of things like globalists. There was the John Birch Society. What we`re seeing is a revival of this strand that has been part of the Republican past.

MATTHEWS: Yes. So we still have a division here in this jury. I`d say it`s hung right now between those who know what they`re talking about. I`m just kidding.


MATTHEWS: And those who agree with me. Anyway, basically, is he going to go tonight and is his (INAUDIBLE) try to win this election by maybe doing something to at least apologize even or soften the anger against him from most Republican women that`s really going to hurt him from any (ph) having a chance of winning, or going on the attack and sticking it to the left one more time and sticking to the Clintons one more thousandth time. Will that change anything?

We`ll see tonight. I`d put my money on him having a brain tonight, which (INAUDIBLE) go after this whole thing with e-mail, Benghazi and the whole murkiness of Washington, which I think appeals to a lot of people. They don`t like it. They don`t like Washington.

Anyway, Joy Reid, thank you. I think you`re on the smart side. Hugh Hewitt, you weren`t. Robert Costa, you were (INAUDIBLE) Heidi was playing it cool.


MATTHEWS: Coming up, Senator Harry Reid, Rudolph Giuliani, James Carville`s coming here. And also coming up at the top of the hour, I`ll be joining Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow as we all get together for tonight`s debate.

Then at 9:00 Eastern, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in their final big casino debate. At 10:30, we`ll have full team coverage of the debate, and I`ll be here covering everything that happens until 2:00 AM. I think we got Kellyanne on tonight after the debate, Kellyanne Conway.

This is a special edition of HARDBALL live from Las Vegas the final presidential debate.



SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Mitch McConnell is as responsible as anyone for creating Trump. What they`ve done in the Senate of the United States to give life to birtherism, immigration. (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump all started in the Senate of the United States, and of course, at the House. McConnell is one of the people that created Donald Trump. And if that`s the legacy that he wants, he`s going to have it whether he wants it or not.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL, live from Nevada, in fact from UNLV...


MATTHEWS: ... for the final presidential debate. That of course, Nevada senator and Democratic leader Harry Reid earlier today running -- well, pinning the rise of Donald Trump on Senate Republicans themselves. Reid`s message to the GOP is, You own Trump.

Well, Senator Reid is no stranger to bare-knuckle fights. He`s retiring after 34 years in the United States Congress. He joins me now. Senator Reid, thank you.

So I want to give you an opening shot, like in boxing, an opening chin here. Of all the Republican candidates for president in your political career, where would you rank Trump in quality?


MATTHEWS: Is that all you can do?

REID: Can`t go below zero.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about -- I`ve been watching, as you have, better than anybody, you and Schumer and a few other people, this battle for the United States Senate. It looks to me like you`ve got -- your party has a very good chance to get control of the Senate. If Hillary Clinton`s elected, you just need for. So I figure you got Illinois probably. You`ve got Wisconsin. Feingold`s up by 8.

What are the next best chances to win the Senate.

REID: Well, number one is what`s going to happen in Nevada. That`s ours.

MATTHEWS: You`re going to hold that.

REID: Yes. So going to -- we`re good in Wisconsin. We`re certainly good in Illinois. We`re going to win in Indiana. I have no doubt we`re going to win in Pennsylvania. But we`ve got a lot of stuff going on. The numbers out of New Hampshire have been really good lately for Governor Hassan.

Now, what`s happening in Missouri is unbelievable. Public polls have our candidate ahead...


REID: Yes...


REID: He`s -- he`s -- yes, I think -- I think he`s so good.

MATTHEWS: How`s Burr look? How`s your candidate against Burr look in North Carolina?

REID: Burr looks bad. She looks great.

MATTHEWS: So you`re talking about a pick-up of seven or eight seats.

REID: Well, we feel -- we feel that with Trump pulling everybody down, the only thing the Senate candidates for the Republicans have had is the Koch brothers. They`ve got nothing else other than loads of money.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about -- do you believe in coattails? Do you believe that people vote for the Senate based upon how they`re voting for president?

REID: No, I`ve never believed in split tickets. I`ve never believe in that. You know, some people split tickets, but they do it just because they want to do it. It`s not anything they think through.

MATTHEWS: Why do they do it?

REID: Because they vote for the candidate, not the party all the time.

MATTHEWS: OK. It could be they`re afraid to trust one party with the whole government.

REID: Well, possible, but I don`t think that`s the case.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Trump and Hillary tonight. You`re an old boxer. You know how to put up -- get ready for a fight. What do you think Trump`s going to do tonight, throw everything at Hillary Clinton or just think on the e-mail and Benghazi? Bring in the half brother.

REID: There is no way you can predict what Donald Trump`s going to do, no way. But it would be very nice if for once, he had a debate. They talk about the economy. They talk about foreign policy. They talk about relations with women. They talked about immigration. They talked about Planned Parenthood, talked about issues that the American people can identify with, not the craziness about building a wall, who`s going to pay for it.

MATTHEWS: What do you think he can say tonight after all these accusations from women about different forms of groping, terms we`re not used to saying on television, groping and kissing in public in these strange sort of romantic -- or sexually aggressive ways that don`t seem normal and don`t seem appropriation? How could he -- how could he address that issue in one night?

REID: Chris, he has a problem, because actions speak louder than words.

And not only are his words awful, but his actions have been much -- even worse than his words.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he is unfit to be president?

I don`t want to egg you on, because people have been accused of egging on people.

REID: No, people don`t have -- I`m pretty easy to egg on.

So, no, I think that he would be a disaster for the American people. I think he would be a disaster for the world.


REID: And the world is standing by, going to see what is going to happen at this debate and on November 8.

The world cares, as they should.

MATTHEWS: What are you going to miss in this business?

REID: Not you.



MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you. I don`t mind that.

Thank you, Senator Harry Reid.


MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in the former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who will miss me. He supports Donald Trump.

Thank you.

So, let`s bring in -- let`s -- well, Mayor, this guy just took a shot at me. Maybe you can be nice. Anyway, thank you for coming on.


MATTHEWS: He just said he won`t miss me. Well, I can live with that.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this campaign. The odds now, in Ladbrokes, in London, the betting odds right now in this campaign, to make $11 -- let`s see. To make $2, you have got to bet $11 for Hillary.

Basically, she is the overwhelming favorite. Your candidate is a 4-1 underdog. He`s got to -- you only get $1 -- $4 back from $1. So, it`s a tough bet. So, how does he overcome those odds tonight and winning the election in the next three weeks?

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: You know, I`m interested in knowing what Brexit was. I don`t -- I have no idea what the numbers were on Brexit that turned out to be a big surprise.

I think, tonight, he has to do a little bit like Harry Reid actually said, although for a different purpose. He has got to stick to the issues. He has got to point out why he would be a better president than Hillary Clinton on producing jobs, reducing taxes, getting businesses back, putting people back to work, fixing schools, which she can`t do because the teachers union prevents her from doing it.

He has got to talk about the Iran agreement. People kind of get a chance to make an up-or-down vote on, do we agree with this agreement with Iran making them nuclear in 10 years? Or do we disagree with it? She agrees with it. He disagrees with it.

So I would think the best thing for him would be a highly issued- oriented debate, because I think, on the majority of the issues, he comes out ahead. And so far this campaign, the issues have kind of been buried under e-mails on the one side and the revelations on the other.

MATTHEWS: Did you think the Democrats or Hillary Clinton, her people, dug up all these cases against him? Because they have definitely deflected from the issues that made him an exciting candidate, trade, and immigration and what he called stupid wars, foreign policy he didn`t like, he didn`t think protected us.

He had those issues in hand to get about 40 percent. And he`s been struggling to hold that 40 percent. Who has been responsible for shifting the attention away from the issues he could win on?

GIULIANI: Well, I think the -- you`re talking about the eight or nine women that came forward.

MATTHEWS: Yes, the whole mess he`s in right now.


GIULIANI: I don`t believe in coincidences. I have to believe that was orchestrated in large part to blunt the tremendous -- tremendously horrible revelations that come from WikiLeaks about their feelings toward Catholics and evangelicals, about the fact that they were paying people to protest and some of them led to violence, about having a public and private position on different things, about how she kind of played up to all the bankers on the one hand and then gave a totally different impression when she debated with Bernie Sanders.

All of that would have been very damaging if you didn`t have these eight women to come in on top of it. And the press paid a lot more attention to that.

MATTHEWS: What did you make of her speeches that came out from WikiLeaks, where -- let`s assume for a section they`re accurate. And when she came out for open borders, when she came out for absolute free trade within the hemisphere, she says she is against TPP. She never says she is for open borders in public.

What do you make of all that?

GIULIANI: Well, I think it confirmed for me what I have always thought about Hillary Clinton, that she doesn`t tell us the truth, that she does have two or three positions on everything.

After all, she was against gay marriage. Now she`s for gay marriage.

MATTHEWS: A lot of people were like that, though.

GIULIANI: She was for the war in Iraq. Then she...


MATTHEWS: Mr. Mayor, a lot of people were involved in that issue.

GIULIANI: For the war in Iraq, against it.


GIULIANI: Then she was against the surge.

She calculates her position for political impact. Or TPP. TPP,, I know she is against -- I mean, she is for it. But she`s pretending she is against it. We know that.

MATTHEWS: I know that. I agree with that.

Well, tonight, what do you think? Trump should focus his attack on the e-mail thing connected to Benghazi where you have this kerfuffle in Washington between the FBI and her State Department? Or do you go all over the place?

He is bringing in half-brothers and fiances and mothers. And it is a whole cavalcade. How the hell are you supposed to absorb all that information in one night?

GIULIANI: None of that is going to have to do with the debate.

I would think the situation with the FBI is a relevant one, sure. It looks like a bribe to me. He is telling the guy he wants to bury a document, and he is offering him eight or nine agents in return for it.

MATTHEWS: Well, he didn`t take the bribe. Let`s be fair. He didn`t take the bribe. Whatever it was, he didn`t take it.

GIULIANI: A bribe doesn`t have to be taken. It just needs to be offered.

The crime of bribery is committed by offering. He offered it. And he offered a quid pro quo. That`s bribery.


MATTHEWS: I`m getting squeezed, Mr. Mayor. It`s always good to have you on. Thank you so much for coming. I am getting squeezed.


MATTHEWS: So many people.

GIULIANI: And I will miss you if I`m -- when I finish politics.

(LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re not going to miss me, sir.

Up next, Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard and a former Republican candidate for governor of California, she is in the debate supporting Hillary Clinton. She joins us next.

Plus, James Carville is coming here.

And this is HARDBALL, the place from -- we`re here from Las Vegas for the final president debate.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL live from Las Vegas at UNLV. That`s where we are heading into tonight`s debate.

Donald Trump has what must be called the daunting task of turning the momentum around. His most challenging task will be stopping the widening advantage everybody sees Hillary Clinton gaining among women voters.

Anyway, currently, according the most recent NBC News and "Wall Street Journal," Hillary Clinton has a 20-point advantage among women voters over Trump, 20 points.

One of Hillary Clinton`s most prominent supporters, Hewlett-Packard executive and Republican fund-raiser Meg Whitman, the one-time Chris Christie supporter, told "The New York Times" that Donald Trump is a -- quote -- "dishonest demagogue" and decided to put country before party when she endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Joining me right now is the CEO of H.P. and Clinton supporter Meg Whitman.

Thank you, Meg Whitman. Thank you, madam.

I want to ask you about this -- about what is the key reason that would stop you from voting for Donald Trump, if there was one thing that said, no matter what else changed, this is the thing would stop me?

MEG WHITMAN, CEO, HEWLETT-PACKARD: Well, as you know, as a lifelong Republican, right, voting -- going across party lines to vote for Hillary Clinton and be a supporter was a challenge.

But I think Donald Trump is a dishonest demagogue. He has exploited our worst fears around xenophobia, racism. And he has lowered the level of discourse in this country, which I think is really, really under fortunate. So, I`m for Hillary all the way.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m asking you, what is the one issue that bugs you? Do you like the fact that is for -- he says he`s against trade, he`s against TPP, he`s against NAFTA. Does that bother you?

WHITMAN: You know, I actually think it is his character that is the most problematic for me.


WHITMAN: I think we need to look up to the president of the United States. I think he needs to be a role model or she needs to be a role model for our children.

And so it really is around the character that I think bothers me the most. Yes, I don`t agree with his trade policies. I don`t agree with his immigration policies. There`s lots I don`t agree with. But what I will say is, I think it`s about the character of the person.

MATTHEWS: What about the fact that over 60 percent of the American people don`t like, don`t trust either Hillary Clinton or Barack -- or Donald Trump? We see these numbers every day. You see them. What do you make of them? How do you explain them, both candidates not being trusted?

WHITMAN: Yes, listen, it is a very -- it`s an unprecedented election. I have never seen anything like this in my entire career.

But one of these two individuals will be president of the United States. And I think Hillary has the temperament, I think she has the global experience, I think she has the economic plan that is going to make the economy work for everybody.

And I really like the fact that she is going to pull this country together, because we are going to be stronger together. Divided we fall, united we stand. And I think she is going to do a great job after the election, when she wins, of pulling this country together, which I think is really important.

MATTHEWS: You were backing Chris Christie. He has gotten involved with this whole Bridgegate problem. You trusted him.

Do you trust Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie both to this day, both of them?

WHITMAN: Well, listen, I was a supporter of Chris Christie. I thought he had done a lot of very good things in his career. I was disappointed around his endorsement of Donald Trump. And, obviously, the Bridgegate thing has been problematic.

But, listen, what I really think that Hillary brings to the party is the economic policy. If the president could only work on one thing -- and the president needs to do a lot of things -- it would be to fix the economy for average working people.


MATTHEWS: Which Hillary do you believe, though? This is tricky. This is tricky. One last question.


MATTHEWS: We`re hearing that Hillary Clinton, thanks to WikiLeaks, has come out for open trade, open borders, free trade in the hemisphere.

But publicly, her public position has been, I`m against TPP, I`m questioning NAFTA.

Which is she, a free trader or a protectionist? Because we`re getting different messages from her. And which do you like?

WHITMAN: Yes, well, listen, I think smart trade deals are important.

Listen, it is very important for the economy of the United States to trade with other countries. Isolationism will not be the right answer for this country. So, we have got to do smart trade deals. And I think Hillary is for smart trade deals.

MATTHEWS: But that doesn`t say whether she is a free trader or a protectionist. Which is she? Which do you like?

WHITMAN: Well, you know what? Usually, these things aren`t black and white, are they, Chris?

You`re a free trader if the deal is smart. You`re against trade if the deals are not smart.


MATTHEWS: Meg Whitman, with all due respect, you have to be for TPP or against it. Are you for TPP?

WHITMAN: I am for TPP. Yes, I am.

MATTHEWS: Where is Hillary on TPP?

WHITMAN: So, she is against it, and not that I agree with every single thing that Hillary Clinton stands for.

MATTHEWS: But you said the most important thing is the economy. You said the most important issue is the economy.

WHITMAN: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And you disagree with her on our role in the world economically. So, where do you agree with her on economics?

WHITMAN: So, first of all, I agree on her infrastructure program.

We need to rebuild the infrastructure in this country. It not only provides jobs, but it actually creates the ability for goods...

MATTHEWS: Yes, Trump is for that, too.

WHITMAN: ... and services and people to move around this country.

The second area is her innovation agenda. We have got to own the next generation of industries in the world, whether that`s 3-D printing or immunotherapy or robotics or artificial intelligence or big data and analytics.

And we need to make sure that we are the leader in those categories, that we create jobs for every kind of American with all kinds of educational backgrounds. And we can do that if we set our mind to it and we decide, as a country, we want that we lead in these brand-new industries that over time will create a lot of jobs for this country.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. It`s an honor having you on the show, Meg Whitman tonight from Hewlett-Packard.

Let`s bring in Democratic strategist James Carville. James Carville is down in New Orleans, I believe, New Orleans. And here he is right now.

James, let me ask you about tonight. Try to do this. Give us a tout on tonight`s fight. What it`s going to look -- it is going to be very pugnacious. What do you think it is going to look like tonight?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, normally, if the normal person were doing it, you would say Trump has fallen behind. He has got to solidify the Republicans a little bit. He has got to appear to be a little less scary than he is. That`s what I would or anybody else would do. That`s what you would do.

But I think Robert Costa made the money point here tonight. It is all a Breitbart thing. It`s all narrowcasting, international bankers, and, you know, Obama`s half-brother, and every kind of thing he can think of. So, I have no idea.

In terms of Secretary Clinton, I hope she comes across as answering the questions, straightforward, kind of policy-oriented, sort of likable and gets those numbers up that you keep referring to, and gets her favorability up and drops her unfavorable a little bit. And I think she has a good position to run away with this thing right now.

MATTHEWS: She once said to a crowd, and I`m sure the crowd enjoyed it, because we all did, she said, when somebody is coming at you, deck them. Deck them.


MATTHEWS: Sometimes -- you`re suggesting a kind of rope-a-dope -- not rope-a-dope -- that`s not right. Sort of let him make a fool of himself tonight and fall back and laugh at him, like she does. Is that a smart strategy to just laugh at the guy?

CARVILLE: Well, I don`t -- I think what she has got to do is take it seriously. She has to take the questions seriously.

I don`t think she necessarily has to take Trump seriously. And she is fond of repeating Michelle Obama, who says, when they go low, we go high. And so there are two different sides here. I mean, she clearly decked him in the first debate. I think the guy has been decked.

He`s on his way to losing. And I think, tonight, if she comes across as I know she can, a very knowledgeable person that has a good grasp on the country, I think she will put him away pretty good here.

MATTHEWS: What do you make -- I have got to ask you something you know more about than I do. That`s Pennsylvania races for Senate and governor and all that, because you have run a bunch of them and won them.


MATTHEWS: What do you think is the -- is there a woman problem in Pennsylvania? I have always thought that sort of a -- it has sort of a tough guys, gun owner kind of mentality of the state, especially in the T., away from the big cities.


MATTHEWS: Do you think Katie McGinty is facing a cultural threshold there, a ceiling of some kind?

CARVILLE: Well, I think that`s a legitimate thing in the west and to some extent in the T.

But you have got to realize, the Philadelphia suburbs have just become such a big part of the vote in Pennsylvania. And it has become so much more Democratic. Chris, in 1986, when I did Bob Casey`s campaign, if we got 36 percent in the suburbs, a Democrat could win the state. They will get 60, better than 60 in the suburbs now.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s changed.

CARVILLE: And that`s really -- and the state has changed. It is a little bit different than the state that you grew up and I worked in so many times.

MATTHEWS: You`re right. I think 22 percent of the state is just in the burbs around Philly. That`s a lot. And I think they are much more Democrat, but more Democrat.


CARVILLE: Democrats, we will get clocked -- yes, we will get clocked in Westmoreland and Washington and Beaver and a lot of counties like that that we used to carry, but Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and those kind of counties, and that`s where the population growth has been in the state.


Some night, we`re going to do all 67 counties, OK?



MATTHEWS: Thank you, James Carville.

CARVILLE: Thank you.


MATTHEWS: Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable joins with what we can expect tonight. How should Hillary Clinton respond to the question I put to James, to attacks? Should she deck him or laugh? That`s ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. Or, actually, the place is Las Vegas tonight, UNLV. It`s just about 60 minutes to go to the final presidential debate. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome back to HARDBALL, live in Las Vegas. Hillary Clinton wants to expand her widening lead over Donald Trump. Her campaign said she is expecting Trump to take a scorched-earth approach in tonight`s debate. So, what can we expect from both candidates in their last face to face?

By the way, this is the last chance for both candidates to reach basically 70 million or 80 million people tonight. And I always tell people, everybody knows that watching now, that 90 percent of these people don`t watch programs like this every night. They don`t keep up with politics. They show up for the biggies, the big events.

So, they`re watching tonight, the voters. So, Trump has a chance, Hillary has a chance to talk to them.

Let`s bring in our group. Megan Murphy, of course, is with Bloomberg. Michael Steele is the former chair of the RNC and a political analyst for MSNBC, and Ben Ginsberg as well, GOP attorney.

Let`s go right now to you, Megan, in tonight`s strategy. Let`s say you`re Hillary Clinton tonight. Do you deck him or do you smile?

MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG: You`ve got to smile. I mean, you`ve got --

MATTHEWS: Don`t deck him.

MURPHY: Don`t deck him. You`ve got so much -- hey, like take the shots if you go get shot. Whether he`s going to walk into it, whether it`s going to be a Mohammed Ali type thing, rope-a-dope. She`s got such a huge lead, she really just needs to protect her advantage right now. She doesn`t want to make that mistake.

MATTHEWS: That`s a little Nixonian, though, isn`t it?

MURPHY: A little Nixonian, but also, it`s not her style to go hard.

MATTHEWS: You don`t think she is a tough person?

MURPHY: I think he is tough as nails. I think she`s been very disciplined about not taking that case.

MATTHEWS: Michael, I think she`s going to take some punches tonight because she`s done it before.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What I`ve noticed about Hillary, what she`ll do is she`ll take them subtly. Like in the first debate where she referenced getting the money from your daddy. That approach. The subtle stuff that will get under Donald Trump`s skin a little bit. So she is very good at that.

I agree with Megan. She doesn`t have to come out swinging. There`s no need. She has the lead. She can counter-punch. She can lead with a couple of soft punches knowing that Donald Trump will probably get excited about that. And then sit back and let him go off the rails.

MATTHEWS: Also, if she can shift the conversation to where he may not want it. He has to win tonight. If he doesn`t get to his sweet spots, he doesn`t win. So, if she shifts the attention away from emails, away from the crazy stuff, how`s he get to it?

BEN GINSBERG, FORMER RNC GENERAL COUNSEL: I`m not sure. She is trained as a lawyer. What lawyers know how to do, know which arguments matter and which are fluff. So if they`ve done debate training, right, and they`ve done a lot of debate training. It has been very, very good. She`s going to have certain things to respond to and certain pivots. And then certain sort of deck him lines. If she gets opening, she`s going to take.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk Benghazi, because they`ve got the Benghazi mother, Mrs. Smith. The mother of Sean Smith, he was killed there. They have a survivor, I believe, from Benghazi. Also, the lone survivor guy from the movie and actually from real -- from that.

And so, we`ve got a lot of focus on Benghazi. Should Hillary Clinton, I`ve always wondered why she didn`t do something like, unlike you, I knew Mr. Stevens and I really cared about what happened and I did my level best that night to save him. It was just too darn late. Something like that.

GINSBERG: She might, but the other thing is why would Benghazi come up in the normal course of this debate? I mean, it`s not certainly not part of --

MATTHEWS: What about the crowd in the first row? All these people, so related to that issue.

STEELE: Well, yes. There may be an opportunity for Donald Trump to use them as a reference point, say, I had with me tonight --

MATTHEWS: In the audience tonight.

STEELE: In the audience tonight, and then try to draw Hillary out that way. I don`t think she bites at that. I think she sits back. And just takes and it says, OK, fine. You make your point and she`ll move. Again, she`s got to lead. There`s no incentive to get into it.

MURPHY: I mean, Benghazi is not going to be a game changer for her when you look at polls --

MATTHEWS: Not for her.

MURPHY: Winning now among men, winning among less educate voters. For the first time since summer, she`s showing a lead, she`s got has 20 points for women. Do we really think Benghazi is going to make up that --

MATTHEWS: Her biggest weakness is trust and below that, a subset of that, e-mail, a subset of that, Benghazi. And then the latest, the big news story about the so-called quid pro quo.

GINSBERG: One of the topics tonight, and they are awfully broad subjects is fitness to be president. So, that probably the segment in which this is --

MATTHEWS: OK. Why don`t we take drug tests? This gets so embarrassing.

GINSBERG: So she goes back to substance.

MATTHEWS: He wants to do saliva test on the air.

GINSBERG: Great entertainment.

STEELE: But the question, I think one of the questions for me, it should be for the Trump camp is, doing all of that, going high profile ballistic on Hillary. Who are you convincing to now come to you and see you as a presidential candidate? What upside is there?

MATTHEWS: OK, Michael. And I`ll go to you because you`re a woman and this is for women.

MURPHY: I am a woman.

MATTHEWS: I know. How do you get to the number he is really being killed on, Republican women? You`ve got to start with that. You start.

MURPHY: OK. First of all, you have a personality change and that you are humbler and apologetic and truly apologetic about the incredibly offensive comments you made. And you say I made a mistake also in the path after that video was released. I didn`t exactly was as contrite as I should have been. I should have come forward and totally acknowledged and admitted how offensive those comments were and how they put --

MATTHEWS: Instead of blaming Billy Bush?

MURPHY: And then second, go back to the issue Republican women really care about, which is the economy and their children`s future. Hammer on those points. Those are the two points that have always shown him in that segment of voters, that he can gain real steam with, and the two issues that he`s been least effective.

MATTHEWS: But his defenses have been so complete. Blame it on Billy Bush. Melania did that. She`s taking it for the team. And then blaming it on Howard Stern? What are you doing on Howard Stern in the first place?

MURPHY: And then Howard Stern saying it.

GINSBERG: Look, in third debates, candidates don`t change their personalities. If they do it, it doesn`t look genuine. So, I think you may see doubling down on what`s happened before. The theme that he`s gotten away from, the income inequality/populist divide. And so, there will be questions on that.

MURPHY: Why doesn`t everything after Hillary saying in public and private speeches when you`re paid $250,000, you`re big a free trader. You get out in front of a labor group or Democratic progressive group and you`re miss protection of the union guy. What is it?

GINSBERG: He needs to go back to, I`m the disrupter, things are dysfunctional. He`s gotten away from that and defending personal things.

MURPHY: What about saying, Hillary Clinton, you told Goldman Sachs you supported open borders? I mean, these are all --

MATTHEWS: I would go after open borders because there`s only one meaning I heard, open borders.

STEELE: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the round table is sticking with us. Up next, these people tell me more that I don`t know anything about. We`ll be right back.

This is HARDBALL, live from UNLV for the final presidential debate.


MATTHEWS: We`re back from UNLV, with just over an hour to go before the final presidential debate right here at UNLV.

Ben, tell me something I don`t know.

GINSBERG: So, what you don`t know is that as Donald Trump goes along, he`s relying more and more on low propensity voters. It`s up to the Republican National Committee to turn them out. This election is turning into a referendum on whether the national party committees can do anything, on whether they`re about to become extinct creatures. Bad cycle for the DNC, bad cycle for the RNC unless they can show --

MATTHEWS: Reince Priebus has to bring out the vote for Trump. He`s got to.

GINSBERG: He has promised that he would and that`s the referendum.

MATTHEWS: He`s stuck with him, it`s interesting.


MURPHY: Talk about a rigged election, whether there`s going to be voter fraud and a lot of talk about whether it`s rigged debates. Three- quarters of Donald Trump`s supporters believe the debates have been rigged. But tonight --

MATTHEWS: Debates have been rigged. What`s that mean?

MURPHY: Three quarters, but unfairly tilted towards Clinton.

MATTHEWS: How do you rig a debate?

MURPHY: Good question. I don`t you do it, maybe get the question. The 60 percent of voters think Chris Wallace will be fair tonight. A lot of pressure on him to see what he does tonight.

MATTHEWS: Is tonight rigged?

MURPHY: Does he have the questions?

MATTHEWS: You said 40 percent already said it is rigged.

MURPHY: I can say anything`s rigged.


MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

STEELE: Efforts are already under way to rebuild post-November 8th inside the GOP. Meetings are starting to take place.

MATTHEWS: You coming back?


MATTHEWS: Your record was pretty good when you were running the RNC, in terms of numbers.

STEELE: Yes, biggest historic --

MATTHEWS: Let`s move the previous question here.

STEELE: We`ll move the previous question back to the future.


MATTHEWS: So here we go. Anyway, thank you, it`s great.

The crowd out here has been great. There they are, there they are. We`re getting serious now.

Anyway, thank you all, Michael Steele, as my friend always here, Megan. A new friend -- Ben Ginsberg, an old friend.

When we return, my election diary and what I`ll expect you`ll see tonight. I`m making a preview of the final presidential debate.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Election diary Wednesday, October 19th, 2016.

As I said, tonight`s big casino, the betting odds are so bad for Donald Trump that he has to bet big and hope it`s his night. Right now, you bet a dollar on Donald Trump this election, you win four. That means he`s got one chance in five chances to come out on top on election night.

So, what would you do? Would you throw everything you have at his rival Secretary Clinton or concentrate your attack on one key target, this murky deal with the e-mail dealing with Benghazi and the former FBI agent who said he saw a quid pro quo to cover it all up?

Anyway, I`m going to get on the Benghazi e-mail. I`ll double down, triple down on it because it gets to Clinton`s chief problem, which is trust. It gets back to Benghazi and puts rival Clinton in the role of having to defend the bureaucracy, in other words, that easily targeted word -- Washington.

So, Mr. Trump, if he`s listening now or listens to anyone any time, he should stick to the smart shot, trying to hit Hillary on everything is trying to go to a 21st century media war with a blunderbuss. Like Elmer Fudd going to war with Bugs Bunny. As you recall, he never did catch that wabbit.

And this is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Stick around. I`ll be joining Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow for our great complete coverage of the third and final debate.

It`s going to be a huge night -- as I said before and will say again, big casino here in Las Vegas. What a night it`s going to be. Who do you bet`s going to make the big shot, who`s going to be calm and laugh at the other guy? I still don`t know and neither do you.

Stick around.