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Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/20/2016

Guests: Steven Cortes, Ruth Marcus, Kurt Andersen, Nicholas Confessore, Basil Smikle, Nancy Collins, Azi Paybarah

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 20, 2016 Guest: Steven Cortes, Ruth Marcus, Kurt Andersen, Nicholas Confessore, Basil Smikle, Nancy Collins, Azi Paybarah

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: No honeymoon in Vegas.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

After the dust settled, it was clear the most stunning moment of last night`s debate, which is sure to be remembered more than most, was Donald Trump`s refusal to say whether he`ll respect the outcome of this year`s American presidential election.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely -- sir? -- that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I will look at it, at the time. I`m not looking at anything now. I`ll look at it at the time.

WALLACE: Are you saying you`re not prepared now to commit...

TRUMP: What I`m saying is that...

WALLACE: ... to that principle?

TRUMP: ... I will tell you at the time. I`ll keep you in suspense.


MATTHEWS: Well, it comes as Trump ventures into uncharted territory for an American presidential candidate, taking the unprecedented step of declaring that the election here in this country, the oldest existing democracy in the world, is rigged.

Despite pressure to defend the integrity of the election this November, Trump today doubled down on his remarks, saying he`ll only accept the outcome if he is the winner.


TRUMP: I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election...


TRUMP: ... if I win!



MATTHEWS: Well, later in that same speech, Trump also said he`d only challenge the outcome if there is, in his words, a questionable result.


TRUMP: Of course, I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.



MATTHEWS: Well, at a rally in Florida late today, President Obama slammed Trump for questioning the legitimacy of the vote. Here`s the president.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you suggest rigging or fraud without a shred of evidence, when last night at the debate, Trump becomes the first major party nominee in American history to suggest that he will not concede despite losing the vote, and then says today that he will accept the results if he wins, that -- that -- that is -- that is not a joking matter.

No, no, no, I want everybody to pay attention here. That is dangerous because when you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people`s minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy. Then you`re doing the work of our adversaries for them.


MATTHEWS: Well, as Robert Costa writes in "The Washington Post" today, Trump`s dire pronouncement will have serious ramifications for the future of the Republican Party and for this country.

Quote, "Trump`s insistence that the election will be rigged, which he again suggested at the debate, has only stoked the specter of a grievance movement that will haunt Republicans for months and years to come, threatening to leave the longtime norms of American politics shattered and Washington paralyzed by his followers` agitation and suspicion."

I`m joined now by Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania and an MSNBC political analyst. Steve Cortes is surrogate for the Trump campaign. And Ruth Marcus a columnist and deputy editorial page editor at "The Washington Post." Thank you.

I`m so glad to have Governor Rendell on because you`ve served the people and you`ve been in elective office. You`ve been through tough campaigns. You`ve lost at least one, I think. You know what it`s about. You know you have to concede.

What`d you make of Trump`s remarks last night and today?

ED RENDELL (D), FMR. PA GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful. And Michael Steele, my colleague, who was chairman of the Republican National Committee, as I was of the DNC, he said it`s disqualifying. And he`s right.

Donald Trump has forfeited any right to serve as the American president because he has violated one of the basic tenets of our democracy, and Chris, something that makes us different than anyplace else.

When Republican Ronald Reagan defeated Democratic president Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter acknowledged the results of the election and sat on the platform as Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. The same thing happened when Bill Clinton, Democrat, defeated George H.D. (sic) Bush, a Republican president. President Bush gracefully conceded and sat on the platform with Al Gore -- with Bill Clinton when he was inaugurated.

That`s the way America works. That`s what makes us different. That`s what makes us a beacon to the world. And to be the first candidate, major party candidate not to acknowledge that is disgraceful and disqualifying.

MATTHEWS: Steve Cortes?

STEVE CORTES, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: Chris, listen, I would tell you this. I am very honored to be a surrogate of Donald Trump. It`s not always the easiest job because he often doesn`t speak with nuance, and at times, he speaks very inartfully. And I think he did last night.

However, he clarified that today, and I think this is much ado about nothing. I would echo the comments of your colleague, Joe Scarborough, who said this morning this means a lot to media elites. It doesn`t mean anything to voters in Scranton, Pennsylvania...

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes?

CORTES: ... who can`t...

MATTHEWS: Who`s speaking for Scranton these days?

CORTES: ... who can`t pay their bills...

MATTHEWS: Who`s speaking for Scranton?

CORTES: ... and who have "Obama care" sending their...

MATTHEWS: This is -- OK, thank you. Thank you for being...

CORTES: ... their premiums...

MATTHEWS: ... an elitist because that`s an elitist comment, to say that it`ll play in Peoria, that`s the old John Ehrlichman line in the Nixon administration, the idea that people out there in places like Erie, they`re going to go along with a guy who says this is professional wrestling, this is rigged.

CORTES: Well, what I`m saying is...

MATTHEWS: IT`s not about close elections. It`s not about...

CORTES: What I`m saying is...


MATTHEWS: Who said this election is rigged? Who says it? Do you say it?

CORTES: This is not important...

MATTHEWS: Did you say it was rigged?

CORTES: ... to their lives. What`s important is the economy...


CORTES: ... and security.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

CORTES: That`s what`s important to their lives, and...

MATTHEWS: Do you believe this election is rigged?

CORTES: ... and he clarified today...


MATTHEWS: No, he did not take back the rigged charge. He has not taken it back.

CORTES: He clarified today, he said, of course...


CORTES: And he went even further than...


MATTHEWS: OK. This isn`t going to work.

CORTES: He said, Of course I will honor the...

MATTHEWS: I got to talk to Ruth for a minute. Ruth, a couple things he said. First of all, President Obama was illegitimate in `08 and `12. So those two elections were illegitimate. That didn`t work. Now he`s saying that Hillary Clinton should be in prison and -- he said it again the other night. If she wins, it`s an illegitimate election because she can`t be legitimately elected president. She should be in prison.

He has said the word "rigged" over and over again. He`s not talking about close calls in some state where the electoral votes are critical, he`s talking about a rigged system, like professional wrestling, which everybody knows to be crooked, basically. Not crooked, but definitely rigged.

And that`s the point. He`s making a charge that isn`t about close elections or anything like that, he`s saying it`s rigged, and he`s been saying it for a while now. Your thoughts.

RUTH MARCUS, "WASHINGTON POST": That`s exactly right. He`s been saying it for months, and it`s been exceedingly dangerous for months. And the closer we get to the election,, with all of the intense feelings that are appropriate for an election, for him to inflame voters in Scranton or anywhere -- he`s the one who`s raising this. There`s only one candidate in this race who`s suggesting that the outcome would be illegitimate. There`s only one candidate in this race, as you say, who`s suggesting that he would jail his opponent if he were to win. That`s Donald Trump.

And it really is -- I`m going to go with Governor Rendell`s word -- disgraceful.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Senator John McCain released a statement today. Quote, "I don`t like the outcome of the 2008 election, but I had a duty to concede it, and I did so without reluctance. A concession isn`t just an exercise in graciousness, it`s an act of respect for the will of the American people, respect that in every American leader is his first responsibility."

And Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who`s facing a tough reelection fight in New Hampshire, said Trump should respect the outcome in November. Here she is.


SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I believe that, first of all, as a former attorney general, that he should accept the outcome and that this is important. You know, I don`t believe in -- that there`s a rigged election system. If there are allegations that need to be investigated, they`ll be investigated. I used to do that as attorney general. But that really, the voters are going to decide this. And I`m going to be out meeting as many voters as I can in the Senate race.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, last night, RNC chair Reince Priebus tried to calm nerves by saying that Trump likely will accept the outcome.


REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: He`s going to accept the results of election.


PRIEBUS: I mean, let me just kind of clarify this because I know -- I know where he`s coming from. He is obsessed, and in some ways, rightfully so, about voter fraud, and he believes he`s been totally mistreated by the media. Look, barring some sort of massive fraud situation, of course he`s going to accept the outcome of the election.


MATTHEWS: You know, the question, Governor, is about the process of the election itself, our election process, that somehow, when asked about it -- he and the vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, when asked about what they mean by "rigged," they resort to this reference to the media, that somehow the media has poisoned the electorate and therefore it`s rigged. They don`t talk necessarily about booth voting or counts that go on in election bureaus or things like that, election commissions. They`re not actually -- they`re talking about something much broader in terms of rigging.

That`s what concerns me. It`s not like -- they can say, election night, you know, the media`s been pushing this candidate for -- Hillary Clinton, pushing her, and really, it didn`t come out honestly, so I don`t think it was a square election. Therefore, it was rigged.

He`s talking like that now! That`s how -- why do we think he`s going to change election night?

RENDELL: No, I don`t. I think he`s setting up an excuse for when he loses because he can`t tolerate the fact that he lost fair and square.

And look, there is no evidence of election fraud at any level, significant level in this country. You saw the report by that professor, out of 31 -- out of 2 billion votes cast in the last 45 years, 31 instances of fraud.

When the voter ID law was challenged in Pennsylvania the Republican attorney general who was trying to sustain the law, was asked by the court to name an example of voter ID fraud, and he said, I`m sorry, your honor, I can`t name one.

MATTHEWS: Steve, what`s the point here? Why are we talking about a rigged election at this point, three weeks out? Why talk about a rigged election? And that language comes from him.

CORTES: Yes, I don`t want to be talking about it. I want to be...

MATTHEWS: Why does he keep doing it?


CORTES: He clarified it today, Chris!

MATTHEWS: No, but...


CORTES: You`re being unfair! I mean, can I read his exact words?

MATTHEWS: I`m being fair.


MATTHEWS: ... end of the speech to cover himself...

CORTES: He said, "I will follow"...

MATTHEWS: ... but in the speech he said, I will accept the result if I win, is what he said...


CORTES: But he went on. That was a joke. That`s unfair!

MATTHEWS: Oh, that`s a joke. OK.

CORTES: He went on and said, "I will follow and abide by by all the rules and traditions of the many candidates who have come before me always," end quote, OK? This story is over!



MATTHEWS: Let me just tell you, this is going to hound you and everybody who supports him because it`s about our process. You don`t talk about a rigged election out of nowhere. I`m just asking for the hundredth time, or at least the fifth time, why does he keep talking about a rigged election? He`s been doing it for months. Why?

CORTES: Look, I don`t believe the election will be rigged. I...

MATTHEWS: Why`s he talking about a rigged election?

CORTES: I think people win or lose fair and square. What is rigged -- what is rigged is the Washington system...

MATTHEWS: Here it comes.

CORTES: ... of cronyism. That is rigged. And the American people, I think, know that. They know that there`s a system in place that benefits K Street, that benefits politicians of both parties but at the expense of the American people, the expense of our prosperity and our security! That`s rigged! So when he talks about rigged, that`s what I hear, not polling place irregularities.

MARCUS: Chris, you know, Steve and other Trump surrogates can reinterpret what their candidate says. They keep, you know, giving an explanation that`s much more benign than what their candidate is actually...

CORTES: Well, there`s nothing benign about that!

MARCUS: ... saying -- every time -- no, every time that Trump...

CORTES: That`s not benign!

MARCUS: Every time that Trump is asked, he says it`s rigged. And he talks about voting fraud. He talks about people who aren`t eligible to vote going to polling places. He talks about Philadelphia and he talks about Chicago and he talks about dead voters. And he talks about how Hillary shouldn`t be even permitted on the ballot because of all the crimes she`s committed, and crooked Hillary.

And this is just very dangerously revving up voters to do something that we`ve never had really in America before, which is to not accept the results of an election. And it`s past the point of expecting anything more from Donald Trump, but we shouldn`t be past the point of expecting more from the leaders of his party, from Reince Priebus, from Paul Ryan, from Mitch McConnell. Where are they to talk about how in America we have fundamentally fair elections and we respect the results?

MATTHEWS: In all fairness, I want to give Steve Cortes a simple question. When Hillary Clinton spoke to that Brazilian group for $250,000 and she said the phrase, "open borders," what did she mean by "open borders"?

CORTES: You know, listen, I don`t know for sure because it`s a leaked transcript and I`m trying to be fair here.


CORTES: So we don`t know for certain, but from what I saw...

MATTHEWS: Do you think she meant open borders?

CORTES: From what I saw, yes. I think she meant...

MATTHEWS: I just want you to constantly use your understanding of clear, simple English next time you hear it because you heard it very clearly from Hillary there. Why don`t you hear Trump when he talks about a rigged election, talking about a rigged election because that`s what he`s talking about?

Thank you, Ed Rendell. Thank you, Steve Cortes. Thank you, Ruth Marcus.

Coming up -- it started to go wrong for Donald Trump last night, most people think, when Hillary Clinton stuck him on Russia. She just hit him with it. She called him Putin`s puppet and she said he`d sooner trust Moscow than our own intelligence agencies, who says Russia is trying to hack this election. Anyway, that`s coming up.

Plus, another moment that will likely haunt Trump through the rest of the election is when he called Clinton, Mrs. Clinton, "a nasty woman." Well, that`s not going to help. I`ve heard from a lot of women today and last night who don`t like the sound of that, especially I think the very women Hillary Clinton got to last night very effectively, suburban women.

And last night wasn`t the last time we`re going to see the candidates on the same stage. Tonight, they`ll be at the great Al Smith Dinner in New York, a friendly affair, usually, in what`s been an ugly campaign. I`ll be there, very close to the two candidates (INAUDIBLE) I can`t wait to be there with Al Smith IV. That`s going to one hell of a night tonight here in New York.

We`ll have the roundtable, as well, tonight here on HARDBALL.

Finally, my "election diary" for tonight, October 20th, as this campaign enters its final three weeks.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, early voting has already begun in the key battleground state of North Carolina. Voters lined up at polling places -- there they are -- around the state today. The latest RealClearPolitics average in the Tarheel State has Hillary Clinton leading by about 2.5 points. That`s a close one. And it`s very hard to see how Donald Trump gets to 270, if he doesn`t get North Carolina

Well be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. One of the more fiery exchanges last night in the debate took place over the issue of Russia and Vladimir Putin. Let`s watch.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is finally, will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans, which he actually encouraged in the past.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don`t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good. If Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good. He has no respect for her. He has no respect for our president.

CLINTON: Well, that`s because he`d rather have a puppet as president in the United States, and...

TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.

CLINTON: ... it`s pretty clear...

TRUMP: You`re the puppet!

CLINTON: It`s pretty clear you won`t admit that the Russians...

TRUMP: No, you`re the puppet!


MATTHEWS: I think she got him there when all he could do was, like, So`s your old man. So`s your old man! You too!

Anyway, Trump went even further in to doubt whether Russia or Putin are even behind the recent cyberattacks on the U.S. Here he goes.


TRUMP: She has no idea whether it`s Russia, China or anybody else.

CLINTON: I am not quoting myself...

TRUMP: Hillary, you have no idea.

CLINTON: ... 17 -- 17 intelligence -- do you doubt, 17...

TRUMP: Our country has no idea...

CLINTON: ... military and civilian agencies -- well, he`d rather...

TRUMP: Yes, I got it. I got it

CLINTON: ... believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us. I find that just absolutely...

TRUMP: She doesn`t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way!


MATTHEWS: Well, today the director of national intelligence, James Clapper said the intelligence community is very confident that the Russians are responsible for recent attempts to interfere with the election process here in the U.S. Here he goes.


JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: If you read the statement that we issued, which is, I think you`d agree, is pretty unusual -- we would haven`t made it unless we were very confident. That`s one of the reasons we waited for as long as we did to make a statement, was to ensure that we had sufficient evidence, both forensic and otherwise, to lead us to the conclusions we reached as articulated in the statement.


MATTHEWS: Well, Nicholas Confessore is a political reporter for "The New York Times." And Kurt Andersen is host of "Studio 360" and author of "True Believers."

Kurt, let me ask you about the style of debate we saw last night. I thought Trump got some pay dirt going there. He was talking about how she said down in Brazil or to a Brazilian group open borders, which is just -- that`s amnesty, exponential amnesty, everybody come in, it`s wide open.

KURT ANDERSEN, AUTHOR, "TRUE BELIEVERS": No, she was talking about energy. It wasn`t much of a...


MATTHEWS: Yes. But that wasn`t much of a retort. But then she was able to change it over to, how`d you find this out? You got it from the Russians.

ANDERSEN: And when he says, of course, he doesn`t respect you -- that`s because he wants a puppet, you could just see him blow the gaskets.

It was extraordinary to me. And this whole -- the fact that he never digs himself out of this weird Russian thing is the strangest thing to me, because it`s the one thing he says again and again that doesn`t have -- there`s no constituency for that. There`s no gut feeling about that.


ANDERSEN: And if I were Donald Trump, I would say, hey, something`s going on. I mean, you really have to start believing...

MATTHEWS: I wonder if I can get to the bottom of that one.

ANDERSEN: What is motivating...

MATTHEWS: Except that clearly he has an argument about the Middle East. The Russians have always had an interest in the warm water ports and everything going south.


MATTHEWS: They have always had an interest in that part of the world. And we have tried to keep them out ever since Anwar Sadat booted them out. But we`re not going to keep them out. So, that`s an argument.

But this about the way she gets to him with the word puppet, now, here`s a strong man who wants be a political strongman, who is -- he`s Donald Trump. And you`re calling him a puppet? It worked.

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, look, it`s -- you know what is amazing? It`s playground politics, right?

MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s right.

CONFESSORE: He`s out there saying, I know you are, but what -- just -- or your mom`s, or it`s just an outburst of calling each other names.


MATTHEWS: Yes, your mother wears...


MATTHEWS: It`s so high school. No, it`s even grade school. Your mother wears combat boots, stuff like that.

CONFESSORE: You know, she outdid him on this.


CONFESSORE: It`s amazing, because if his thing is playground politics, and she gets out there and does this to him and nails him, that`s pretty...


MATTHEWS: He couldn`t think of a new word. He can only use her word, puppet, puppet, puppet.

ANDERSEN: And didn`t even use a verb or -- it was no puppet, no puppet.

CONFESSORE: No puppet.

ANDERSEN: He lost the ability to speak English.

CONFESSORE: I condemn. I condemn.

It was the same thing. He was asked. He was given a chance to say, of course I don`t support the Russians hacking our election system. And he said, I condemn. But who, right?

MATTHEWS: Whoever did it.


MATTHEWS: But he want say whoever did it.


MATTHEWS: The whole thing about her and her calmness, how do you attribute her ability to stay calm and carry on here? Because he gets more puffy all the time. He -- Alec Baldwin has his number, because he -- there`s that same essence of frustration and anger, and what am I doing here? I`m getting beaten.

ANDERSEN: Well, her calmness is the good side of what people regard as her bad side, her inauthenticity, her robotic quality.

Well, that`s all -- may all be true, but when it comes down to this extraordinary, stylized debate performance, just staying cool is the winning game.

MATTHEWS: Yes, acting, acting like you...


MATTHEWS: You go back, you get mad later. But, on the stage, you are -- you look the guy in the eye. Look at her. She`s calm, no sweat.

And he`s been out there saying she`s dying of pneumonia and she`s on drugs. And she`s as calm as you can be. She doesn`t look like a person who`s influenced by drugs or anything like that.

CONFESSORE: I think, in any debate, knowledge and depth are the basis of confidence, right? And she knows this stuff cold. She knows the Middle East, she knows the policy, she knows her own position.

And she has attack lines planned. She has factoids ready, the whole package. And he goes out there and he wings it.

MATTHEWS: It`s all -- a lot of this is the manhood thing, too, which he is vulnerable on, the little hands, all this ridiculous -- talk about playground stuff. My hands are bigger than you think, you know?

CONFESSORE: Yes. Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: And the funny thing is that she will go after him on, say, you didn`t make that money, your daddy gave you $14 million. And it drives him up a tree.

ANDERSEN: And he can`t control it. You would after having been -- he`s been in the public eye as long as she has, longer, frankly.

MATTHEWS: But that`s business press, though. There`s a big difference in business press.

ANDERSEN: Yes, but there`s...

MATTHEWS: Nick, you don`t get in the door unless the head of public relations at your firm lets the person...


CONFESSORE: I think, for all the criticism, the politics press is a lot less deferential than the business press. And he`s learning that.

ANDERSEN: But he`s been in the New York tabloid press for 30 years.

MATTHEWS: Oh, he loves that.

ANDERSEN: And yet he can`t hold it -- he can`t not rise to the bait.

CONFESSORE: Because he`s not in control of it. He`s not in control of it, right? He`s on equal footing with her.

MATTHEWS: If you call in the story, they`re going to run it on Page Six. He calls it in. That`s what I think.

One time, I saw him on "David Letterman." I hope I didn`t tell this story before. And they needed somebody to catch a football from someone like Joe Theismann that night at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

So there was a little guy standing on the other building in the trench coat. It was Donald Trump, just to get that ink. What was that about?


ANDERSEN: Because he more than any -- you know, we all like attention. I have never seen anybody who needed and needs attention like you and I need air and water.

MATTHEWS: I think Gore Vidal had it right. And I`m not quoting him tonight. Google what he said about television and sex, that people don`t say no to either, basically.

Anyway, Trump, who knows?

Anyway, Nick Confessore, thank you, sir. You`re right. The political press is first-rate. Business press is somewhat useful to business.

Anyway, thank you, Kurt Andersen.

Up next: If Trump is looking to bridge the widening gender gap, calling Clinton a nasty -- this, I heard locker room -- women today who I work with listening to people. Women do not like this phrase nasty woman. One thing to call somebody nasty. Nasty woman puts it together in a way that really, really offends people. Well, that`s not going to help either.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

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

The first U.S. service member has died in the fight against ISIS. The military says the American was killed by an explosive device north of Mosul.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart spoke by phone today about the pause in airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria. The truce is aimed at helping civilians and the wounded escape that war-torn city.

President Obama is encouraging more young people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act at Miami-Dade College. Enrollment for the 2017 health program starts November 1 -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In last night`s third and final presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was relentingly on message when it came to guns, abortion, and Donald Trump`s treatment of women. And the Democratic candidate never lost track of her most important audience.

You know what it was? I watched it all night in real time with suburban women. She was totally targeting a group of women who are moderate in their politics, probably usually Republican, upper-middle-class or regular middle class, but well-off pretty much, compared to most people, who are really looking for a better candidate for them than Donald Trump.

Anyway, "The New York Times" writes that: "As Clinton continually hammered home her message, Donald Trump repeatedly gave up chances to respond to pointed taunts from Mrs. Clinton, who dominated the confrontation, until she finally mowed him down."

Let`s watch it.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am on record as saying that we need to put more money into the Social Security Trust Fund.

That`s part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald`s, assuming he can`t figure out how to get out of it. But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund...

TRUMP: Such a nasty woman.


MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Beth Fouhy, senior politics editor with MSNBC, and Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "The Washington Post."

Jonathan, I have been asking around in my limited ability since I got back from Las Vegas about an hour-and-a-half ago. It`s been a long ride on the plane, but I have been listening to people who I respect, women reporters, women producers, who tell me that combination of words, nasty woman, has a nasty firepower to it that is very offensive.

It`s not just saying, hey, you`re being nasty today. It`s more about something to do with gender, something to do with that kind of B-word that`s often used.


MATTHEWS: You know what I mean.

CAPEHART: Right. It`s a euphemism, if you want to be polite about your insult.

And it`s condescending and it`s belittling and othering of someone who has, in this case, gotten under your skin. And that`s the only way you can get out of the criticism or the taunt, is to belittle the person in that way.

And, you know, you described it as Hillary Clinton mowing him down, getting him to say that out loud. And I would argue that, over the course of that debate, up until that moment, Hillary Clinton, throughout the debate and throughout her answers, no matter the question, she was baiting Donald Trump, sort of sprinkling the seeds in the field, hoping that they would bloom before the end of the debate.

And, by bloom, I mean get him to explode in some way, to do something that would show the American people just how unfit for the presidency he is. That is her argument. Rather than for her to just say flat out he is unfit, she got him to show he is unfit.


Well, the nice version of that in the old movies was Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. They used to say she was like a mosquito. But that was a loving relationship. This is not at all that.



And she found all sorts of ways to ding him, ping him, probe into that very fragile ego that he has, without looking mean or nasty -- or, frankly, there`s that word.

And what I want to say about that, Chris, is that the reason I think a lot of women are reacting to that word and sort of embracing it today, it`s reclaiming the term nasty woman.

MATTHEWS: Nasty woman.

FOUHY: Yes, Nancy Pelosi said, one nasty woman to another.

A lot of us remember the song from the `80s, Janet Jackson`s "Nasty," and, apparently, it was the most requested thing on Spotify last night, where she was just standing there saying, you know, nasty boys don`t mean a thing. Like, that song reclaims the term and gives it to the woman and gives the strength.

So, that`s why that song suddenly came back into everybody`s Spotify list today.

MATTHEWS: She was doing a twofer last night, because in addition to tweaking the guy, or really, I mean, ticking him off, actually, she was also talking constantly to a particular group of voters.

Jonathan, you pick up on this.

I watched her when she talked about the Heller bill, which is the gun -- everybody can have a gun, basically, law in D.C., to some extent, pretty strong, clear acceptance of the Second Amendment, without anything to do with militias -- you know, you can have a gun -- and she said, that`s dangerous to toddlers.

When I heard her say -- I`m sorry, Jonathan. I`m a little cynical. When she said toddlers, I said, I know you`re talking to. You`re talking to grandmas who live in the suburbs, and they hear that. They may not have heard a word all night, but they heard the word toddler.

She talked about her life committed to children and to families, the softer stuff, which has been a big part of her curriculum politically.


MATTHEWS: It was talking to people who may not be paying much attention to politics, but, last night, with 80-some million people watching, seven- eighths of them are not political junkies.


MATTHEWS: They`re regular people. And they`re listening for somebody to connect with them. And she was doing it, I thought.

CAPEHART: Right. She`s talking to those suburban moms, those -- excuse me -- those white women in the suburbs, who she`s going to need to come out in force on November 8, if she wants to really not just beat him, but beat him big.

But the beauty of the toddlers and talking about her career, not just the softer side, but her entire career, from the Children`s Defense Fund right through to this campaign, is that she was able to weave her professional career. Everything that she has done since before graduating college has everything to do with why she says she wants to be president.

And, in that, if she can talk directly to and appeal to suburban women, who she needs to come out to vote, it`s a win-win for her.

MATTHEWS: I agree.



And I would say Melania Trump actually gave some more force to the argument this week when she did that interview with Anderson Cooper -- Trump`s wife -- and said, sometimes, I feel I have two boys at home...


FOUHY: ... my son, my 10-year-old and my husband?

MATTHEWS: That was defensive.

FOUHY: And women -- the women you`re describing, these suburban women, these suburban moms, like, the last thing they need is, like, to have an adult partner who acts like a child.

There`s so many women who already have that. It`s just a reminder that this guy is immature. He`s, you know, hair-trigger and nervous and very vulnerable around his ego. And, you know, Trump`s own wife actually sort of supported that.

MATTHEWS: Beth Fouhy, thank you.

Jonathan Capehart, always great.

Up next: If you thought last night was the last time you would see Trump and Clinton at the same event, you would be wrong. Tonight, they are both going to be speaking tonight at the great, great Al Smith Dinner.

I have been to a few. They`re unbelievable up here in New York at the Waldorf Astoria. They sit very close to each other and they try to be friendly. But how`s that going to be here? It`s supposed to be a friendly affair, but, after last night, how are they going to adjust it that an airplane is all -- now they have got to come back and be sort of sweet to each other. This is going to be fascinating tonight.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



TRUMP: She`s been proven to be a liar on so many different ways. This is just another lie.

CLINTON: And on the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the "Celebrity Apprentice."

TRUMP: John Podesta said some horrible things about you. And, boy, was he right.

CLINTON: Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger.

The Social Security Trust Fund.

TRUMP: Such a nasty woman.

Look, Putin...

CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Well, but wait. The...

TRUMP: ... from everything I see, has no respect for this person.

CLINTON: Well, that`s because he`d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.

TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.

CLINTON: And it`s pretty clear...

TRUMP: You`re the puppet!


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Maybe they should do "who`s afraid of Virginia Wolffe" together. Anyway, that`s pretty rough stuff.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Twenty-four hours after one of the harshest presidential debates ever, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off again at stage, this time at the great historic Al Smith dinner here in New York. In the past, it`s been a forum for bipartisan, I`d been to a couple, friendliness and there`s been great fun and very actually charming to use an usual word in politics and, of course, humor. Let`s watch.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I`m pleased to be here with the vice president this evening. He`s been promising to work harder on getting some of the details right and I hope he follows through. The other night after our third debate, just as I was leaving, he says, I look forward to seeing you for the dinner in New York. I`ll meet you at the Carlisle and dress as casual.

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A campaign can require a lot of wardrobe changes. Blue jeans in the morning, perhaps. A suit for a lunch fund-raiser, sport coat for dinner. But it`s nice to finally relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I can`t shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me.


I`m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary. Where`s Bill, by the way? Can`t he take one night off from his tireless quest to make the man who defeated his wife the next president.

My old friend and green room pal, Chris Matthews. He used to like he, but he found somebody new -- somebody who opened his eyes, somebody who gave him a thrill up his leg. And we`ve talked about it. I told him, maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade.


MATTHEWS: So what do they do tonight and what does yesterday`s debate signal that this campaign is headed in the last 19 days?

Joining me for the roundtable is Basil Smikle, he`s a former senate aide to Hillary Clinton. He`s the executive director of the New York Democratic Party, "Politico`s" Azi Paybarah, and also, we have a journalist, Nancy Collins.

Nancy, you first, because this dinner is an attempt to prove no matter how much they fight with each other, you`ve got to come out and smile and actually be cordial. That`s going to be a hell of a test tonight.

NANCY COLLINS, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: It`s Hatfield and McCoy. This is a famous dinner. It started in 1945. It started because of Al Smith, who was the first Catholic presidential candidate. And it`s --

MATTHEWS: A lot of good that did him.

COLLINS: A lot of good --

MATTHEWS: We, by the way, grew up reminding ourselves they did it to us.

COLLINS: That they did it to us, exactly.

And it`s the third Thursday in October, always. And the men wear white ties. Basically men there, frankly. The last place that the two candidates are in the same room before the election, right?


COLLINS: And I`m sure you`ve been to 150 of them, haven`t you?

MATTHEWS: A couple, they`re all great. When he took a shot at me, McCain.

COLLINS: You were there?

MATTHEWS: He was very funny.

COLLINS: The one that was kind of famous was when Mondale didn`t go, because he was prepping and then, of course, Reagan went and won. So, you know, what a --

MATTHEWS: Reagan v. Carter. I hate to say, I was a speechwriter for Carter.

I`ve got to tell you, Basil, I like jokes even if they`re told by people I don`t agree with. I can be open minded. W. came in there, that same speech and said, I want to thank, the bases are here tonight, the haves and have-mores.

COLLINS: That`s great.

BASIL SMIKLE, EXEC. DIR. NY STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: And I remember the McCain speech. It was a great speech.

MATTHEWS: Landon Parvin wrote that.

SMIKLE: It was a great speech and he clearly at that point realized he was going to lose to Barack Obama. But he actually turned it around. It was self-deprecating, but it was a point where he could say, look, our country`s about to make history here. I doubt Donald Trump`s going to do the same thing.

MATTHEWS: I want to see charm tonight. Last year, President Obama and Mitt Romney engaged in some light-hearted ribbing. The president even mentioned my reaction to his performance in the first debate. Remember how nuts I went when he lost that fist debate. Let`s watch -- it shouldn`t be about me, but it is tonight.

Let`s watch.


MATTHEWS: This campaign is going to be grueling, exhaust. President Obama and I are each very luckily to have someone in our corner, someone who we can lean on. I have my beautiful wife, Anne. He has Bill Clinton.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg. This time around, I gave him a stroke.


MATTHEWS: Well, that last debate -- the first debate, we couldn`t figure out. He was like a zombie out there. Just getting pounded. A superior person, Mitt Romney, what else?

AZI PAYBARAH, POLITICO: Right, and it`s amazing to think about Obama being outdone verbally by Mitt Romney, of all people. But you get the sense at the Al Smith dinner, you have a moment to sort of be smart, self- deprecating, and people sort of like that. Especially after a season like this, people need a little bit to laugh. And if you`re able to show that insight, it shows a bit of humanity that I think has been missing in this campaign.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about the visuals tonight. The visuals are important last night. Have you noticed when Hillary was so ready last night, she went right for Chris Wallace, with the first hand shake to show she`s won. That`s how you show you win? You jump over the net -- I`m sorry, if you lose, you jump over the net.

COLLINS: John McEnroe.

MATTHEWS: And they never shook hands. Didn`t go near each other. Tonight, will they do this? Will they touch? Look at each other?

COLLINS: I can`t imagine Trump being self-deprecating, can you?

SMIKLE: Not at all.

MATTHEWS: It`s impossible.

COLLINS: Well, you know, last night was so wonderful, because she got off that stage and she got stronger. So her health issues are taken care of.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you don`t think she`s on drugs?



MATTHEWS: She`s got pneumonia, she`s dying, she falls apart, she has to sleep all day. She comes out there without a drop of sweat on her.

COLLINS: Marches off, starts doing hands, and he stands on stage like he`s been hit by a female truck.

MATTHEWS: Yes. George Chuvalo used to look pretty bad at the end of a fight.

PAYBARAH: The split screen, it was like Trump didn`t even know he was on television. Like he didn`t realize the camera was on him and the reaction --

MATTHEWS: Like the Alec Baldwin tape.

PAYBARAH: Trump impersonating Alec Baldwin impersonating Trump was amazing last night.

SMIKLE: Number one, what preparedness does. You can tell she was prepared to a T. I wonder tonight, he`s going to read anything tonight. Is he going to just rip off of --

MATTHEWS: As I recall, they never had prompter there. You have to either do the old thing of looking down --

SMIKLE: That doesn`t seem to be him.

MATTHEWS: That`s a tricky bit. You know, old, you know, orators can do that. They just look down once in a while and they give a great speech. Good eye contact and all of that.

SMIKLE: He does it off the top of his head tonight.

COLLINS: He`s got to sit up and declare he won the debate.

MATTHEWS: Using the prompter, you know he`s using the prompter.

SMIKLE: That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, they`re going to tell me what I don`t know. Something big.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: You heard what President Obama said today about Donald Trump`s claims of a rigged election. Late today, first lady Michelle Obama campaigned for Hillary Clinton in Arizona. Listen to what she said about Trump.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We are fortunate to live in a country where the voters decide our elections. The voters decide who wins and loses, period, end of story. You do not keep American democracy in suspense.


MATTHEWS: Well said.

We`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Basil, tell me something I don`t know.

SMIKLE: I think you heard it last night. I think she burnished her progressive credentials. Tonight, you`re going to hear about American exceptionalism and the thing going for the last 19 days.

MATTHEWS: The crowd will love it.



COLLINS: The Trump brand has hit the skids. The resorts, golf courses, Mar-A-Lago are not getting the businesses they used to, and experts are saying it may to down by a third --

MATTHEWS: You mean people who want to be winners don`t go to losers? Anyway.


PAYBARAH: There once was a Republican from Manhattan whose campaign rhetoric was so irresponsible a radio station said we`re not going to hair your speeches until you have insurance against libel. The person was Robert Moses who used to work for Al Smith.

MATTHEWS: The great builder of this city who created the great World Fair here in the `60s.


PAYBARAH: So, if you thought another Republican from Manhattan`s campaign rhetoric was beyond the pale, there`s a point in history where one broadcast station said we need insurance before you carry you live.

MATTHEWS: OK. There`s a dispute on "Morning Joe" this morning, whether this -- this theme about this election is going to be rigged basically, that`s what I heard him say, is going to affect regular voters. I think they`re not going to like it.

COLLINS: Not going to like.

MATTHEWS: I think Joe said, he think this would not be an issue to them, they care more about jobs and trade.

COLLINS: I think that`s right. My brothers who ran campaign used to say the voters open the refrigerator on the day of the thing, whoever keeps the refrigerator full is who they`re going to vote for.

MATTHEWS: I think it matters. We`ll see. We`ll see.

Basil Smikle, thank you so much. Nancy Collins, my pal, and Azi Paybarah.

Anyway, when we return, let me finish with my election diary tonight. It`s about the debates last night. It`s in the books right now.

You`re watching HARDBALL -- by the way, it`s going to be hard coming up here in a minute. Please stay tuned.


MATTHEWS: Election Diary, October 20th, 2016.

Sacrilege, it isn`t the word we usually find ourselves using in politics but it is a precise word for an insult to our sacred commitment to democracy, to an assault on the founding principle of our country, the belief that true government authority should go not to those in power or who wish for power, but from the votes of the people.

Sacrilege -- I believe we heard it last night when a candidate for president refused the chance before an extraordinary national audience to affirm his commitment to democratic rule. When he said that he would decide when he wished to say the 2016 presidential election is valid. That it`s not as he`s been saying, rigged.

Well, this is not the first time Donald Trump denied the legitimacy of our democracy. He did in 2008 and 2012 with the unfounded declaration that neither election was valid because Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen. He`s been saying in recent weeks that the 2016 election results cannot possibly be legitimate should Hillary Clinton get the most votes because she should rightly be in prison.

Again and again, he has said she is an illegitimate candidate which would make her victory illegitimate. It`s become a standard Trump argument. Any president, present or future, I don`t like, isn`t really president.

What he says when asked to clarify his charge of a rigged election is he doesn`t like the media coverage, suggesting this will be his charge come election night, that the results should be dismissed because people have been, to use his word last night, poisoned.

Is that it? If he doesn`t like the media coverage, doesn`t like the results because he said today he`ll accept it, if he comes in on top, he will refuse to accept them.

I`ve loved American democracy all my life, and not just because it`s our ennobling way to rule ourselves, and we are the first and the best at it, but because it honors in the end the character and patriotism of those who walk out there and accept the country`s judgment, who risk their pride in the arena of public opinion and when it`s decided, accept the people`s verdict.

There`s nothing as honest or as compelling as a vital concession speech. Al Gore`s may have been the best but I can think of others. Adlai Stevenson said, "I`m too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh." I`ve known politicians who`ve taken it hard, not kid yourself, they do cry.

But with that pain and humiliation, there`s always with those tears a late in a night salute to our democracy itself, the one for which ourselves died, the one we honor with the snap of our Stars and Stripes, every flag and every weather, 50 states united by a Constitution all public officials must public officials must wear to uphold, every soldier and sailor to defend.

Sacrilege -- I`ll stick with that word. It describes what was said last night by a fickle claim, "I`ll keep you in suspense." And was joked about today by a candidate who committed to accept the voter`s decision only if he won.

In every election, we like to see some character and some patriotism. What was said last night in Las Vegas and chuckled about today in Ohio, evidence none of either.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.