The year in Trump Transcript 11/8/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Heather McGhee, Chris Coons, Carrie Johnson, Chris Hurst, Danica Roem; Stephanie Schrock; Adolfo Franco; Chris Murphy

Show: HARDBALL Date: November 8, 2017 Guest: Heather McGhee, Chris Coons, Carrie Johnson, Chris Hurst, Danica Roem; Stephanie Schrock; Adolfo Franco; Chris Murphy

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The mother of presidents delivers a spanking. Let`s play "Hardball."

Good evening. I am Chris Matthews in Washington.

Consider the message sent across the country yesterday from the top of the ticket in Virginia and New Jersey to local races in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, and out in Washington State. American voters delivered a rebuke to President Trump.

In Virginia, they turned out in record numbers and gave Ralph Northam a greater than expected victory against Republican Ed Gillespie. Democrats also made gains in the Virginia House of delegates. All this carries an ominous message for Republicans next year and it should.

In Washington, of course, Democrat -- this Washington, Democrats and Republicans had very different takeaways. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: This was a big deal. It`s about more than Virginia. This is about our country and it`s about the future of issues in Congress. I hope more Republicans get the message last night that Americans are looking for us to work together and solve problems.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I don`t read that much into it.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: I think it`s clear that Donald Trump has been toxic for the Republican Party so far.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: What happened last night was not (INAUDIBLE).

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: The Republicans should look at the elections last night. And it should be a giant stop sign for their tax bill. Where did they get clobbered? In the suburbs. Where does the tax bill clobber middle class and upper middle class people? In the suburbs.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: It doesn`t change my reading of the current moment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Well, as I said last night, President Trump couldn`t seem to scramble away fast enough from the Republican candidate who he had endorsed. He tweeting from Seoul, Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Breitbart News tried to give President Trump some cover as well calling Gillespie a Republican swamp thing.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama who campaigned for Northam in New Jersey as governor elect Phil Murphy tweeted, this is what happens when people vote.

Well, today, Northam took a jab at President. Let`s watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: I think what this message was yesterday that Virginia sent, not only to this country but to this world, is that the divisiveness, the hatred, the bigotry, the politics that is tearing this country apart is not -- that`s not the United States of America that people love. It`s certainly not the commonwealth of Virginia that they love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in the one year anniversary of Donald Trump`s surprise victory last year his party is now facing the reality of life with Trump at the top.

Adolfo Franco is a former adviser to Senator John McCain. He works as a surrogate on outreach for the Republican National Committee. Stephanie Schrock is the president of Emily`s List.

Stephanie, your sense. I sense excuberation from Democrats and progressives that this is a chance to get good candidates for next year and make them - get people to make the leap and go for it.

STEPHANIE SCHROCK, PRESIDENT, EMILY`S LIST: You better believe it. At Emily`s List we had a great night last night. Because what we really saw was the success of our early recruitment of women candidates, great women candidates. We had 55 women endorsed by Emily`s list on the ballot last night across the country.

MATTHEWS: How did you do?

SCHROCK: Boy, there is a lot of celebrating. We won 32 of those thus far. We have got three that are too close to call. We have three going to runoffs in Georgia. We are currently 11 Emily`s list candidates of the 16 picks -- pickups in the Virginia delegate House, House of delegate race, 11 of the 16.

One more -- we are waiting for one more. It`s too close to call. So we might be 12 of the 17 of the new majority in the House of Delegates. Extraordinary.

MATTHEWS: Still a red state at the delegate level.

Adolfo, thanks for coming on. How do you put in a rose colored glasses on what happened last night? How do you say not bad?

ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I have to tell you this. The big surprise would have been had Republicans actually done well in two states that are not Republican states. Let me just say --

MATTHEWS: You weren`t going to win Jersey. We know that.

FRANCO: They are billing that in the "New York Times" and "Washington Post" is significant. But let`s talk about Virginia for a moment.

MATTHEWS: Well, I am not. You are here. Christie smelled the state up so much, no way they are going to get Guantanamo in.

FRANCO: The last four gubernatorial races in Virginia have been -- three of them won by Democrats. John McCain lost Virginia. Mitt Romney lost Virginia. Donald Trump lost Virginia.

MATTHEWS: Nine?

FRANCO: Well, we lost by five against Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Nine?

FRANCO: The point is this. You asked about what happened to this candidate. We already had a tough situation, at a minimum a purple state and another red state. So it was uphill for us. The fact of the matter is, I don`t think I talked to Senator Scott this morning, a chat with Tim Scott.

[19:05:15] MATTHEWS: South Carolina.

FRANCO: Yes, South Carolina. Senator. He told me -- I said what do you think? What`s your read on this? His answer is, you have to embrace the President`s agenda. Not necessarily his style and his delivery. And I don`t like your drift here.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANCO: Wait. Wait. What Ed Gillespie did, he is a great guy. He tried to get this middle lane to use the overused clich‚ where he cherry pick some issues that he thought would do well with raw voters and he didn`t utter the President`s name.

MATTHEWS: So it wasn`t (INAUDIBLE)?

FRANCO: I don`t believe he was.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Any argument is legitimate I suppose. Republican congressman Scott Taylor who represents Virginia Beach, the largest part of the Virginia called last night`s vote a referendum on President Trump and others in his party. Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: So I think, you know, when you look at the races, when you look at exit polls, you look at all this the turnout, the Dem turnout, the Dems showed up last night. And I think that it was a referendum. I think it was a referendum in the division and the divisive rhetoric that is in the country right now. I think it is important for Republicans to self-reflect all the way -- starting from the top, all the way down. I do think it was a referendum on national policies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it a referendum on Donald Trump?

TAYLOR: I do believe so. I think it is important to -- number one, I think we have to be, again, tone down the rhetoric. I think it`s important for Republicans to have no fear to come out and say, you know, hey, we support the President, we support these policies but also have no fear to come out and say we disagree with him here. This is not where we should go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well meanwhile, John Weaver, the adviser to governor of John Kasich of Ohio tweeted, I`m not gleeful about the Republican losing elections, GOP losing election, but if you have gangrene in your leg, Trump, chop the sucker off. But 2018 is looming and that is a big chop. Wake up GOP.

So you say a candidate who wants to win in 2018 or 2020 should sidle up to President Trump.

FRANCO: Well, we have five House races this year. Five. Five of them. One was last night. We didn`t talk about that here. All of them won by Republicans. Democrats put a lot of money into the Georgia race. They lost. They have a lot of hopes in two or three of the races, they have lost.

SCHROCK: To be fair, the Democrats have out -- in those races outperformed the performance from last cycle. We are averaging eight-point advantage over 16. The Democrats are definitely up in very Republican states.

FRANCO: Well, we will see how this plays out because this is -- the reality is that, had, in Virginia, I think a candidate been very stark in terms of the differences which I think Ed Gillespie was, and he was a mixed bag, something like Cory Stewart. I think he would have energized --

MATTHEWS: Virginia, would have ignored Republicans in a state that normally votes Democrat.

FRANCO: Look at the --

MATTHEWS: You say --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But you are saying it`s not a big deal because it`s always a Democrat state and then you say that he should have been more Republican.

FRANCO: Well, that is the only way. Republicans have won in Virginia. I don`t think trying to become a Democrat in Virginia and trying to appeal to Democratic voters --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Adolfo, we have covered it here every night. We have been covering Gillespie talking about MS-13, the whole immigration horror story, about crime generally with the gangs and everything and about the statutes. He embraced the whole Trump mumbo jumbo. The whole thing. And you know what?

FRANCO: And also did at the last minute too, Chris.

MATTHEWS: What`s your point?

FRANCO: My point is there is really a conservative message. I think the race might have gone different had Northam not taken a different position on sanctuary cities, for example. So I think had Ed Gillespie honed in on this message earlier or Cory Stewart, I think they could have made the difference in the race in rural Virginia.

SCHROCK: That`s just not what was going on the ground, with all due respect. We had all of these great women candidates for delegate, particularly in these ex-urban and suburban areas. And hold on. These ex- urban and suburban areas, they were talking on the doors about health care, they were talking about good jobs, good paying jobs. But they were also talking about the divisiveness.

And what I think is really extraordinary about what happened last night -- this is what I was looking for -- were all these women who marched in January, who have been calling about DEVOS and going to their offices, were they going to organize and go to the polls. That`s the problem with Democrats. You better believe it. And they brought their friends with them.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s a big surprise.

FRANCO: Very quickly. Very quickly. Two things. Those women were around last year. Everybody knew what Donald Trump stood for, and he won the election. Secondly, 17 of those house districts in Virginia were carried - - Republican districts were carried by Hillary Clinton. So they were already Democrat leaning. We had a large, large majority in the House of Delegates. So when you add it up, it`s not this fantastic victory in a purple and a red state.

[19:10:05] MATTHEWS: Adolfo, the President continues to tweet like he does and did these clownish things, I`m not talking about policy, his clownish behavior continues, he is going to lose the suburbs next year like he lost last night. And that`s what he actually --.

Adolfo Franco, you are a belligerent fellow. Good luck.

According to last night`s exit polls in Virginia, the number one issue for voters was, it was not statues of confederate generals. It was health care. Of course, they have a big concern down there about the lack of expansion of Medicaid and also fall by the gun issue on both sides. The gun issue 49/49, pro and against, the second amendment issues. Very interesting.

Anyway. Today, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted yesterday`s Virginia election showed that gun policy is just as big a driver of Democratic turnout as Republican turnout. Game changer.

I`m joining now for himself, Senator Chris Murphy.

I agree with you. I think it was the big development. Finally, gun control people, gun safety people, are starting to vote on that issue.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes. Listen, Ralph Northam was on apologetic. He talked about the need for universal background checks. He was in favor of banning assault weapons and bump stocks. He didn`t run away from the issue. And what happened? Voters that really care about making our streets and schools and churches safer, they came out.

And what we found out yesterday is that, if Democrats play to their base and play, frankly, to the majority of Americans on the issue of guns, it will generate the same kind of turnout that the NRA gets when it tries to put the fear into their base by telling them that Democrats are going to take away their weapons.

And so, we saw yesterday that guns, as you mentioned, was the number two issue for all voters and it was equally weighted, Republicans and Democrats.

Now it didn`t hurt that the anti-gun violence groups were spending a lot of money in Virginia to get that message out. But it is a real wake-up call to Democrats that, if you leave the playing field on guns to Republicans alone, you will lose. But if you stand proudly for policies that the majority of Americans support, like background checks, and don`t back away from it, you are actually going to gin up turnout and in 2018 turnout will decide the elections and last night was truly a game-changer on this issue.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me broaden the call to duty to the following. Suburbs. I`m just getting a report by Larry Keane, long-time anchorman for the news in Philadelphia area said that Delaware County had the biggest sweep, wave, going Democrat like in history. It was unbelievable. So the suburbs, the better-off suburbs, it seems to me now, are openly embarrassed by Donald Trump`s behavior.

The tweeting and the whole rest of it. They like voting with him when there is an argument, are you for or against the establishment. When it comes to his performance they are embarrassed and they are voting democrat big-time. Is that going on in Connecticut too?

MURPHY: Well, in Connecticut we had a tidal wave as well. We picked up a net 16 towns that moved from Republican control to Democratic control in exactly the communities that you talked about. It was the suburbs of Hartford and New Haven that had been run by Republicans that are now run by Democrats.

And for two reasons. One, they are embarrassed by this President. And I am fascinated, by the way, that Republicans are now counseling their candidates to get closer to a President with a 38 percent approval rating. Also, they don`t like his policy. Healthcare was the number one issue right ahead of guns yesterday in Virginia. And it`s not lost on these suburban constituents that this President is talking about taking away the protections for people with preexisting conditions, ending health care for 30 million people. It`s his demeanor and his policies that are really hurting him and the party right now.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me give you a daily double. How about going to the voters in the suburbs of New Haven and Hartford and telling them, not only has this President become a dawn clown. He gets up in the morning and clowns his way into the day. But secondly he is going take away your property tax deduction, which you need to get your taxes down to a reasonable level. How can a Republican congressman, for example, survive in a state like -- high-tax state like Connecticut by opposing the continuation of the deduction for property taxes?

MURPHY: So the Republican Party will be wiped out in California, in New York, in New Jersey, in Connecticut, if they pass any reasonable fax simile of a fax bill that went through the House of Representatives service fee, proposed in the House of Representatives.

But remember, it`s not just a handful of states on the east and west coast. It take deductions for local and state taxation. In fact, the vast majority of states all over the country have taxpayers that get thousands of dollars off their income taxes because they are able to defray the costs of local taxation. This is a loser wherever you are around the country. And if Republicans were angry about last night they are going to get wiped out in 2018 if they move forward with a tax bill that is going to be just as popular by the healthcare bill by the time it gets to the floor.

MATTHEWS: Well, either that or everybody in the country is going to be living in New Hampshire.

Anyway. Thank you, Senator Chris Murphy, where they don`t tax you. They don`t even have parks up there.

We are going to have much more on last night`s election and where Democrats and Republicans go from here.

But coming up next, new developments on the Russia investigation. Serious stuff. Special counsel Robert Mueller inching closer to President Trump. And there are new questions tonight about why U.S. attorney involved in the investigation in the Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn has just been fired by the President. Why? What do you think?

And say hey, plus, on a night to stunning victory, the one stands out, Chris Hurst, the fianc‚ of a TV reporter who is fatally shot on the air be the candidate back by the NRA. He is part of the Democratic wave. He joins us tonight.

And one year after Trump`s victory last November we are learning there is no Trumpism without Trump. Will Republicans get the message from last night or are they headed for disaster come 2018?

Finally, let me finish tonight with Donald Trump`s Trump watch. At least as my watch on him. And he is going to like it. This is "Hardball," where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:17:03] DANICA ROEM, VIRGINIA STATE LAWMAKER-ELECT: Every person who has ever been singled out, who has ever been stigmatized, who has ever been the misfit, ever been the kid in the corner, who has ever need someone to stand up for them when they didn`t have a voice of their own, because there is no one else who was with them. This one is for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball." That was Danica Roem, who became the first transgender state legislator ever in Virginia. Once she sworn in next year, she will be the only openly transgender legislator to be seated in a state legislature. She defeated Republican Robert Marshall, a 13-term incumbent who called himself Virginia`s chief homophobe. I suppose proudly and earlier this year introduced a bathroom bill that died in committee according to the "Washington Post."

I am joined now by Virginia delegate-elect Danica Roem? So is it Madam Delegate? What will I say, Dan? What is the formality in citation, is it delegate or do I call you delegate or what?

ROEM: The gentle woman from Manassas will be fine.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. So what did you think about -- why do you think the year 2017 will go down in history as the year that the kid in the corner, as you describe yourself wonderfully? I love that stuff. I never felt as the popular kid until a little later.

What did you make of that victory for a wide variety of the overlooked, sometimes despised, the sometimes feared? What did you make of that victory and why this year did it come?

ROEM: Why did this year it came is because you had enough candidates who actually ran to make it happen. And you know, if you want to talk about the national environment, sure. You know, the election last year drove a lot of people into running. But in my case, we have a major artery that runs through the 13th district in terms about 28. That was problematic 20- some odd years ago. And it`s still a problem today.

Like when I was a kid in school, I would be sitting there until 6:30, 7:00 at night waiting for my mom to come pick me up from All Saints because, you know, traffic was so bad on route 28. And all these years later, you know, it`s still getting worse. So that`s what drove me into the race.

And the fact that I am transgender, like yes, that is a part of who I am. I am also a reporter. I spent, you know, 10 1/2 years covering local news stories between two newspapers, you know. Nine years for the Gainesville Times. That`s my chief qualification for office. And I am a life-long resident of the community I am running to serve -- where I was elected to serve.

MATTHEWS: To the larger question which I talk about and beat the drum on here all the time.

ROEM: Infrastructure!

MATTHEWS: I am tired of Democrats only diddling about what Republican tax plan is up or not. And I want to know when you guys are going to become builders again. And build this country the way it was built by our forefathers. Build it. Infrastructure. Fast rail. Better highways. Fix up Amtrak, by God, it can use it. But most importantly make us proud to enter Penn station and think -- instead of feeling like a rat.

ROEM: Hey, Chris, I am Danica Roem, and I approve that message.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, Danica, thank you. Good luck. I hope we hear from you in office.

Don`t give us too much talk about the specific traffic concerns of your district, but, if you can broaden the argument, we are ready for it.

Thank you, Danica Roem. Congratulations.

(CROSSTALK)

ROEM: ... health care. Let`s go get it done.

MATTHEWS: OK.

ROEM: Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: The kid in the corner is now in the front of the class.

Up next: the latest in the Russian investigation. There are new questions about why a top U.S. attorney was abruptly -- and here is the word for it - - fired just the day before -- well, days before Paul Manafort got his indictment.

You are watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The sudden firing last month of a high-profile career prosecutor could have implications for Robert Mueller`s Russia probe, which is posing an increasing threat to the White House.

Dana Boente was forced to give up his post at the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, at the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. His district is a key jurisdiction in the ongoing Mueller investigation, and it`s where one or two reported grand juries have convened in connection with the probe.

And now U.S. Senator Chris Coons of the Judiciary Committee wants an explanation.

In a letter to Attorney General Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, Coons writes: "I have become deeply concerned by reports that Mr. Boente wanted to remain in his position, but was forced to resign by President Trump. The sudden nature of its timing and its proximity to the indictments issued by special counsel Mueller and reported connections between the U.S. Attorney`s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia to the investigations of Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn leave me concerned that this is not business as usual."

So, joining us right now is Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, member of the Judiciary Committee. Also, Carrie Johnson, she cover the Justice Department for the National Public Radio. And she`s sitting here with me.

Senator Coons, what is the connection? What do you see as an intervention here, an interruption in the prosecution by the White House?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, what concerns me, Chris, as I mentioned in the letter that I just sent to Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, is a whole series of things surrounding the abrupt firing of Dana Boente, a popular, successful career federal law enforcement official, Eastern District of Virginia, a U.S. attorney.

According to public reports, he had a grand jury that had issued subpoenas against both Paul Manafort and former National Security Adviser Flynn. And the timing, the proximity to when there were indictments handed down, and the fact that it was directed at just him, rather than others having been let go, left me with a whole series of questions.

I expect to get answers out of the attorney general or the deputy attorney general, and if I don`t get a response, I will go to the committee chair and press for a response on behalf of the committee.

MATTHEWS: President Trump infamously said last week he wished he had more power over the Justice Department, more personal power over the FBI.

Is this part of his reach for more power?

COONS: Well, that`s my concern.

You know, as this investigation has gotten closer and closer to the senior levels of the Trump campaign, the Trump administration or even members of the Trump family, I am concerned that President Trump will act in even more irrational ways that may undermine the rule of law.

That`s why I have worked with Republican Senator Thom Tillis to introduce a bill that would strengthen protections for special counsel Robert Mueller.

I think that Senator Tillis wants to strengthen the independence of the Department of Justice. I am concerned about an abrupt action by the president, given ways that this investigation is closing in on his inner circle.

MATTHEWS: Carrie, do you think this is a real concern? As a journalist, do you see number four here, or that -- who will be his number four, can step in and fire all the people he wants to fire, like Mueller himself?

CARRIE JOHNSON, NPR: I understand the nature of Senator Coons` concerns and why he is asking the questions.

Now, we did have the firing en masse of something like 45 of the U.S. attorneys. Preet Bharara, the prosecutor in New York, was fired under circumstances he continues to question.

That said, Chris, Dana Boente is a loyal man, a company man, 33 years at Justice, served under six presidents. From what I am hearing from people close to him, people who worked in his office, this was simply a matter of President Trump wanting to install his own U.S. attorney in that job, which he has every right to do.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: As patronage, he does. But as for the policy, does he have a right to intervene in his own prosecution?

JOHNSON: He does not have a right to intervene in his own prosecution. And there is no evidence on the table yet that the replacement of Dana Boente was an attempt by President Trump to do that.

MATTHEWS: Well, follow that up, Senator.

Do you see a direct attempt to intervene in his own prosecution here in this case? Is he trying to interrupt justice or to obstruct it here by this firing?

COONS: Well, Chris, I remind you that when the former FBI Director Jim Comey was fired, initially, there were offered reasons that had to do with his handling of Hillary Clinton`s e-mail investigation.

Then President Trump himself went on national television and said it had to do with the Russia thing. The reason I sent a letter questioning the timing and the reasons behind the resignation of Dana Boente was because of this now increasing pattern of behavior by the president of trying to interfere in this ongoing investigation.

It`s possible that this is entirely without reason for alarm, but I think the circumstances around the departure of Dana Boente raise legitimate questions.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he is testing his authority, his political ability to remove people who get in his way, not just his constitutional right to exploit the patronage he has to pick these attorneys, but do you believe he is testing his ability to intervene in the case?

Is that what he is doing here?

COONS: I am concerned about that.

And, Chris, let`s go back to a point that you made quickly in passing that`s worth focusing on for a moment. If there were to be a situation where the president orders, let`s say, Rod Rosenstein to fire Robert Mueller, he may then resign.

The leadership of the department then passes to the number three, and if she declines to do so, it passes to number four. Dana Boente was number four in the Department of Justice.

This is since the attorney general is recused in all matters relating to the Mueller investigation. So, I do think, by insisting on his own choice, President Trump is signalling that he is asserting his authority over the Department of Justice.

I am equally troubled by reports that the president has personally interviewed candidates for U.S. attorney positions in several key jurisdictions. That`s inappropriate.

Attorney General Sessions testified to our Judiciary Committee in the Senate that that was inappropriate. And I think we have got lots of signals here that our president doesn`t understand the appropriate boundaries.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Can you judge all that? Do you think that`s all a set of concerns that are legitimate, putting them together like that by the senator?

JOHNSON: I think, when President Trump actually nominates another person to take over this job in Virginia, that Senator Coons and the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as the Republicans, need to ask whether there was a loyalty oath extracted from that individual, whether President Trump personally interviewed him or her and what that conversation was like.

MATTHEWS: Right. Is he looking for a Robert Bork, in other words, looking for somebody to do the dirty work when the time comes to get rid of Rosenstein or get rid of Mueller himself, both of them?

JOHNSON: Those are all legitimate questions. I don`t think we`re there yet.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. Great reporting. And thank you. Great analysis.

Thank you, Senator Coons. You`re on the game here and on the job.

Carrie Johnson as well.

Up next: one of the stunning victories from last night`s elections. Chris Hurst, a former news anchor whose girlfriend was shot and killed on live television -- we all saw that horror -- defeated his NRA-backed opponent last night. He is headed to the Virginia House of Delegates, and he joins us here next.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife traveled to Sutherland Springs, Texas, today to meet with survivors of that state`s worst mass shooting in modern history.

A former boss and news anchor says her teenage son was sexually assaulted by actor Kevin Spacey last summer. That claim comes amid a wave of other allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor in recent weeks. Spacey`s attorneys have not responded to requests for comment, but a rep says the actor is seeking treatment.

The Trump administration is imposing new travel and commerce restrictions on Cuba that will make it harder for Americans to visit the island nation. Americans wanting to visit Cuba will have to go as part of organized tour groups run by U.S. companies -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last night was a momentous evening for Democrats in Virginia and around the country. It was also a night of historic firsts.

Catch this. The first woman elected mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire. The first Sikh mayor elected in the state of New Jersey. And Montana elected its first black mayor ever.

In Pennsylvania, longtime Philadelphia newsman Larry Kane reports that -- one of the most dramatic political changes in 40 years, in that Democrats have won their first seats in the county council in suburban Delaware County, traditionally a big Republican stronghold. They call it the War Board.

Back down here in Virginia, for the first time in more than 15 years, Democrats may still be able to win control of Virginia`s House of Delegates after picking up at least 15 of the 17 needed seats to do that.

One of those unlikely winners is Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend Alison Parker was shot and killed on live television back in 2015. Her death prompted him to run for public office.

In conservative rural Virginia, Hurst beat three-time Republican incumbent Joseph Yost, who had an A-rating from the National Rifle Association.

I am joined by himself, Chris Hurst, newly elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

I know, Chris, that I can only imagine you wish you weren`t here, but you are. And what did it take? Well, it took tragedy. What did it take beyond that for you to decide to run for public office?

CHRIS HURST (D), VIRGINIA STATEHOUSE DELEGATE-ELECT: I think it took a strong desire to want to give back to the community that I live in, in Southwest Virginia, who gave me so much prayer and love and support and wrote me countless cards and letters of support during my time of need.

And when I knew that it was too emotionally difficult for me to continue on at the television station, I still wanted to serve my community in a way where I was able to give back. And this seemed like a natural progression for me for my work in journalism.

MATTHEWS: How did people react when they saw you out there going door to - - I assume, in a district like that, you go door to door. I think it`s the heart of politics, which I personally love and sort of miss in a way.

HURST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I did it when I was a kid, in my 20s.

What was it like went door to door and said, hi, I am Chris Hurst, you may have seen me on television, but you also know the story behind me running?

How did people react to that?

HURST: Oh, I didn`t have to say any of that.

I would come to the doors, and they would go, Chris Hurst is at my door. Hey, mom, you got to come. Chris Hurst is at my door.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HURST: They were taken by surprise for it.

And I live in an area that still holds on to the Appalachian culture, which I love. I preceded "Andy Griffith" at 5:00. And then we had "Andy Griffith," and then you had like an older version of Opie at 6:00.

MATTHEWS: So, you were Mayberry. You were Mayberry incarnate, right?

HURST: Yes, to some extent.

And so that meant I had -- you know this from knocking on doors, and I knocked on more than 3,500 doors myself. Our campaign knocked on about 40,000 doors over the course of the campaign, had a great ground game.

But it gives you that opening of the door, where at least they will listen to you for the first 10 seconds.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HURST: And so you give them your initial pitch of why they should trust you with the honor of serving them in Richmond.

And then you shut up and you listen to them about issues that are important to them.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think giving yourself vulnerably to people, letting them take a whack at you, going into their home, you`re on their home court, they have a little bit of an advantage over you in terms of comfort. And you are a little bit awkward, if you are normal.

HURST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I just think it`s great, because to give -- to get, you have to give, to get trust.

HURST: Yes. Yes. And...

MATTHEWS: And you have got it now.

So, what are you going to do with it?

HURST: Well, we`re going to fight like hell for the people of Southwest Virginia.

You know, people in rural communities have been neglected in Richmond and neglected in statehouses and in Congress for far too long. And I think we need to make sure that we have louder, stronger voices to address the opioid crisis that is devastating families here in Southwest Virginia.

MATTHEWS: Yes, big for you. I hope you do that.

And let`s do that. Just do -- I am rooting for you to do that. I was lucky not to have that. I think I drank over the years too much, and I quit.

But this thing about heroin, because it`s cheap and the pushers get it into the market to you because it`s cheap, and they push it at you, and they get the people who are having a hard time already, if you can beat that, what a great cause.

Chris Hurst, congratulations.

HURST: Well, a lot of that too is -- a lot of that is going after prescribing practices too.

MATTHEWS: I know.

HURST: Making sure that student athletes are not being prescribed 60 pills when they have to get a repaired broken arm, and also really helping our law enforcement address this battle too, especially as it relates to heroin too, because a lot of it now is mixed with fentanyl.

And fentanyl is so incredibly potent and deadly, that that is really what`s leading to so many overdose deaths now, is that you have this new opioid, fentanyl, that is being mixed with heroin that`s killing people every single day.

MATTHEWS: Get the pushers arrested and put away. That would be a good cause.

Anyway, thank you.

HURST: Hey, you know what?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I have had it in our family. I know about it.

HURST: You know, Democrats need to be talking about law enforcement.

MATTHEWS: Look, law can bring justice. It can bring justice, as it should. Thank you so much.

That`s a Bobby Kennedy belief, and I share it. Law and justice should work arm and arm, not fighting against the other side.

Anyway, up next: It`s been one year since Donald Trump won the presidency. And Democrats commemorate the anniversary by beating Republicans up and down the ballots. Great night for Democrats. Can Trump`s party recover heading to 2018?

Not with this guy running the show. Look at him out there. He is still doing it. He isn`t going to change; 6:30 tomorrow morning, he will be doing it again from somewhere in the world, being Trump.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

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