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The Fight for 2020. TRANSCRIPT: 7/4/2018, Hardball with Chris Matthews

The Fight for 2020. TRANSCRIPT: 7/4/2018, Hardball with Chris Matthews

Show: HARDBALL Date: July 4, 2018 Guest:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: So who is the fire cracker? Let`s play HARDBALL.

I am Chris Matthews from Washington.

It is July 4th, 2018. But the battle for 2020 has already begun. Democratic hopefuls are raising money visiting key states and most important honing their message to take on Donald Trump.

At issue, whose vision for the Democratic Party will emerge? Will it be the party of the left of Bernie Sanders ad his open talk of revolution or a party to tries to appeal to moderates? People left in the political wilderness by the rights of Donald Trump GOP.

Well this November`s fight for the control of House and the Senate is really a class about whether or not Trump should be contained. But 2020`s Presidential race promises to be more important. At stake, the makeup of the Supreme Court. The U.S. role in the world and the future of our democratic institutions.

Over the next hour, we will explore the dynamics already in place. Two years out from the debates, the barn storming the conventions. We begin with the key question, who will control the Democratic Party and its message. There are already a number of front runners among their brand new politician with sizeable followings already.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former vice president Joe Biden. Then there are the up and comers, politicians hoping to emerge as the fresh or akin to Barack Obama in 2008. People like senators Kamal Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

A third category of hopefuls, people fighting from outside the beltway, governors and even mayors who argue they are unencumbered by Washington baggage.

Joining me now for the hour, Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the "Cook Politico Report." Republican strategist Susan del Percio, Jason Johnson, politics editor for the "Root" and Heidi Pryzbyla, national political correspondent for NBC.

Let me start with Charlie here. I guess it is fair because nobody is going to like to hear this. But somebody has to make the judgment. So you are the great (INAUDIBLE). Who are the people who are REALLY being mentioned for President on the short list?

CHARLIE COOK, EDITOR/PUBLISHER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Well, they would mentioned more than the others is Joe Biden, does he run or not? Is he too old or not? But you know, I`m little more skeptical about Bernie Sanders. But I think Elizabeth Warren clearly seems to be out there likely to go. I mean, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris are both --.

MATTHEWS: They are top tier.

COOK: Yes. I think I would be surprise if they didn`t run.

MATTHEWS: Look at D.C. Just by the way, Susan, senator Sanders will be 79 Election Day, 2020, which is old even by Ronald Reagan, Sanders, I mean, pretty old. Joe Biden, that month, that November of 2020 is 78. And even young spring chickens like John Kerry is 77. I mean, he has got -- Elizabeth Warren, not even in the running, she is 71.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And one of the things that was surprising that Donald Trump was at his age, he was able to be so active on the campaign trail. Everyone taught he would, he would never be able to keep up the phase that he started out with and he did. And actually he never stopped.

But what is also interesting about those people that you mentioned and even some in the introduction is that it is how used to how they are running in the old settings versus in a Trump environment, social media, the attacks, the visceral. The folks that we have talked about for the most part so far are people who run traditional campaigns. Can they break out of the mold of this is how you do something in order to run against the Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: OK. Who do you think are the front runners?

DEL PERCIO: Right. I will put Cory Booker, actually. I think he will be someone who --.

MATTHEWS: Because he is going to run.

DEL PERCIO: Because he is going to run. And I think he will be probably one of the most nimble people. We have seen him on social media. We have seen him adapt that way.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Jason.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Joe Biden. Those are the only real candidates the Democrats have if they are going to run against Donald Trump in 2020. This is a crucial election. We have seen what has happened in this country and how conversations and narratives have been transformed. We come only being in office for 18 months. 2020 is not the year where the Democrats can brought a woman and win. 2020 is not the year where Democrats can run a black person and win. They are going to have to run a white guy and this going to be a white guy who can connect with --.

MATTHEWS: Who said?

COOK: I`m glad you said that.

MATTHEWS: One of the biggest names among the potential Democratic field is former vice President Joe Biden that you can`t ignore on this as he was vice president. Here is what he said about possibly making a third run for the White House early this year.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have plenty of time to consider whether or not to run. We have really qualified people out there. My calculation is never been who is running and can I win? Can I not win? This right for me to do. And the only thing that is right for me to do now is to try stop this enormous erosion of the moral fabric that is at the hands of Donald Trump and the Republicans.

MATTHEWS: You know, Heidi, sounds like he wants to beat Trump.

HEIDI PRYZBYLA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, USA TODAY: You know, there is a scenario despite his age that party officials tell all of us reporters is not out of the impossible. And that is that you pair Joe Biden with a younger, maybe a minority candidate, maybe a Kamala Harris and run a ticket with the expectation that maybe he only serves one term. And I think for Joe Biden, you see in him the fact that he continues to be not openly, but probably just privately haunted by the fact that he feels that if he had run in 2016, this, meaning Trump may not have happened. He is Joe from Scranton. And all of those Midwestern working class voters who Hillary lost would be willing to give him a chance.

And the one thing that has been in the past when Susan talks about the differences between the past and the present, what was a potential liability for Joe Biden in the past that he is speaks off the cuff. That he commits gas (ph) is now viewed as authenticity.

MATTHEWS: That is so well said. I want to ask you about -- and you know, Reagan tried to do this with (INAUDIBLE) on whatever back -- when in the hell was that? `76. It didn`t work but it is certainly boost them in the end. Is that feasible for candidate for president to say, all right, I`m running for president. I would like to serve two terms, but maybe by one. But my running mate is going to be ready to take over if I don`t run again. Her name is Kamala Harris. We are running as a team. The thing is -- I love the idea.

COOK: I think that is the only way Biden can. So it works for him, I`m not sure I would recommend anybody else.

MATTHEWS: Would Kamala go along with that? Senator Harris --.

COOK: Sure, why not? But, you know, it reminds me of the story about the --.

MATTHEWS: What about if she wants to be at the top of the ticket?

COOK: But this is a better shot. Being running mate to a guy that is in his upper 70s, that`s not, you know, your (INAUDIBLE), your chances are pretty good that you are going to make it. That you are going to president.

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you the grim reaper?

COOK: No. It sort of like the old story about the woman who is asked by a friend, how is your husband and she says compared to what. And the thing is if Democrats just nominate someone that is fairly innocuous that is not, that is less polarizing, less controversial than, a, President Trump or, b, Hillary Clinton. They will probably win that race based on Trump`s numbers. But they could push the envelope and --.

MATTHEWS: Let me just remind everybody, and I really like Jose Biden. He has a past. They are going to after the plane or some stuff. They are going to go after all. And Trump, he has already Pocahontas. He is going after, you know, Terry McAuliffe is going to be Hillary`s bag man. You know, he has his nicknames all figured out, right.

Jason, you enjoy this. You know how this contest work. You are up against the most nasty bully in the world in Trump.

JOHNSON: There is a difference of being viable and being electable. Joe Biden can`t win a primary. If he want a primary, he would beat Trump. And the way he would beat Trump --

MATTHEWS: You mean Trump wouldn`t kill him with those issues?

JOHNSON: Not in the least. In the same he beat Paul Ryan. Because he look at Trump and say, this guy over here, you know this type. He is a guy who used to come back home and scram. Pretend he was better than you because he went to college that his daddy paid for.

I`m the real guy. Joe Biden would cream Donald Trump if they face each other in annual election. I don`t think he can get through a primary. And if he pulls this sort of Paul Newman, Tom Cruz thing, where I got this young guy, he is going to be the next guy to take over. I don`t think that will win. I don`t think you can win a primary that way. That`s the real challenge on Democrats wherein their most effective guy against Donald Trump cannot win a primary.

MATTHEWS: Well then, what are you offering here? You are right, Syracuse is going to be Wharton. And I get -- Susan?

DEL PERCIO: Well, plus, if you think that you really have a chance at beating Donald Trump, that he is beatable in 2020, you are not going to wait for your turn.

MATTHEWS: So Kamala is not sitting in the second seat.

DEL PERCIO: Absolutely. And I don`t see why she would.

MATTHEWS: Well, here is the question, and I`m going to back to this again. I only say to people and they say who the Democrats going to run this year? They said there is a group that meets and says who is going to run.

Charlie, we know this. You don`t pick the President. We don`t pick the President, they pick themselves. As Mitch McConnell said I have an entire caucus of class President. These guys, mostly guys, that have been running for office since college or high school. They have been running for class president, class president, student body president. Clinton is a typical one. They are all like that. They all are going to run for president. Amy Klobuchar is going to probably jump in in this thing. They want it. You know, Kirsten Gillibrand doesn`t need anybody else but Kirsten Gillibrand for her to run. And that is how it works.

DEL PERCIO: And now it is also the way you can raise money. You don`t have to have such a big massive support structure behind.

COOK: How self-indulgent do Democrats want to be? Do they really want to beat President Trump or do they want to do what feels good? And I think it comes down to that.

MATTHEWS: Which years do party tend to go for the feel good alternative? Would they just give up they can`t beat the incumbent or what? Because I mean, McGovern was feel good. Gold water was feel good. It hasn`t happened in a while.

JOHNSON: You also -- you have to look at 2012 when we had a bunch of clown car Republicans I think who ran because they didn`t think they can beat Barack Obama. A lot of those will have to do with how 2012 looks.

If Trump really looks weak, and this is a thing. And this is why it may sound (INAUDIBLE), but this is the most important thing to the Democrats. It is not, it is not necessarily who runs. What do they do about voting rights, what do they do about some of these bills? If they don`t use something structurally about voting opportunities, it doesn`t matter when they win.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me tell you something about Bernie Sanders. I think Bernie is probably thinking. And Jeff Weaver, his guy, is thinking. You know, we may not win, alright. The guy maybe too old. But if there is ever in history a chance for a person of the socialist background, this guy is identifies with it. To win the presidential, he is running against a very, in many ways, awful opponent in Donald Trump.

DEL PERCIO: And his wife will be behind him. His wife is a big component in pushing him forward towards it. She really wants him to run.

MATTHEWS: Well, as a long river 2020 hopeful, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts certainly sounded like a candidate. And (INAUDIBLE) at the Nevada Democratic party convention last month. Let`s listen to Senator Warren.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are fighting for women. And that means electing more women. Putting more women in positions to power from committee rooms to board rooms to that really nice oval shaped room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What do you think?

Make no mistake, none of this is going to be easy. We will face obstacles, together and no matter what is thrown in our way, we will persist. So I hope you are ready to fight uphill for as long as it takes. Because I`m going up that hill and I need you with me all the way.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Heidi, I think we just heard the opening sound of Elizabeth Warren running for Democratic nomination in the Iowa caucus. It is where I think that message will be resounding. Your thoughts?

PRYZBYLA: Maybe, maybe not. Sounds a lot like 2016 she did in 2016 when, Chris, you and I sat on the set and speculated, you know, had the same speculation. I think it comes down to it is either Bernie or Elizabeth Warren, not both. I think if Bernie runs, I don`t think she will run. I think she will be someone who goes out and fires up crown. She loves to give those stump speeches, but it is a little kept secret that she doesn`t actually enjoy a lot of the other semantics of campaigning. She doesn`t love the push and pull with the media. And I just don`t think that she will do it if Bernie Sanders runs.

MATTHEWS: Who decides? Doe Bernie jump in the day after this election in November? He gets the head starter. Is that how works? And then she --.


MATTHEWS: She jump in first.

PRYZBYLA: Chris, Bernie is doing nothing to tamp down speculation. As a matter of fact, he is making a lot of trips to key states. He had his guy Jeff Weaver in the DNC meetings, trying to make sure that whatever rule changes are made are equitable that he puts his stamp on them. And most importantly, he is getting off. He is trying to move a little bit beyond his pet issues, right. So one of the criticisms of Bernie in 2016 was that he had his same message. He was just, you know, beating up on the billionaires and the millionaires.

MATTHEWS: Well, he is on the same message since 1945 probably. But the question is, I think I disagree. I think if Bernie with his tremendous zealous following, he can jump in this election so late in the game and they will be there waiting for him.

COOK: I think Elizabeth Warren will eat his lunch.

MATTHEWS: Do you think so?

COOK: She is the real deal and with the age that makes more sense. I would watch.

MATTHEWS: Well, here we go. Elizabeth Warren, the youngster against the other guy. They are all in their 70s. We will be coming back in a moment.

Plus, coming up, some Democrats longing for a wild card pick up in politics the way Trump did back in 2016. The fantasy roster coming up. It includes Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and a lot of people would more likely to run. But some of these big shots some out of politics may move right in.

Plus, the biggest question the Democrats face in 2020, how do you run against President Trump when it comes to him and you? Meanwhile, Trump has already begun testing his reelection message. On the one end, there is the scorts (ph) or the tag against Democrats on the other hyping his own achievements in office with a message that often strange (INAUDIBLE).

And there is more than a whisper campaign. A number of Republicans and prominent conservatives argue the only way to save the party is to challenge Trump in the primaries. This is going to take a bad test.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We are not even finished with the 2018 about the midterm elections campaigns and President Trump is already sizing up the competition we hear for 2020 who is coming out of him. According to reports, it is not the politician he fears but the wild cards, like Oprah Winfrey and billionaires like Mark Cuban. A guy like him, baby. The president`s own successful candidacy has set up a wave of speculations about other business leaders like Walt Disney`s chief executive Bob Iger, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and former Starbucks` CEO Howard Schultz. You know these guys? I don`t think probably most people do. Schultz recently told the "New York Times" quote "I intend to think about a range or options and that could include public service. Boy, is it boring to a talks. But in a long way for making decisions about the future. That`s not exciting talk.

We are back with Charlie Cook, Susan Del Percio, Jason Johnson and Heidi Przybyla.

Just off the top of that listed people I just mentioned. Can you see this big blog about this and same issue? Short segment here. Any who got the chutzpah, the stuff, to walk into the Presidential campaign and really act like a candidate? I think how much money they got.

COOK: I think it is hard to run from a business space for a Democratic nomination. I mean, I think Democrats would be better off --.

MATTHEWS: They don`t like business guys.

COOK: Yes. I think it would be better off if they looked at one, but I don`t think that is where the Democratic Party`s heart is right now.


DEL PERCIO: I don`t see how it works because they would have to really kind of -- trying to beat Trump at his own game and with the exception of Oprah Winfrey. Donald Trump is a media person. He knows how to do that job and that is kind of what you need to tackle him if you are going to --.

MATTHEWS: Is it ignorance are one of the things that they are going to run against Trump. He doesn`t know stuff.

DEL PERCIO: Well, then, it takes more -- well, what about --

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t know stuff like how to be President.

JOHNSON: I have watched a ton of interviews with Schultz. He is not that interesting. Mark Zuckerberg, no one trust Facebook at this point. I don`t think they will in two years. Mark Cuban would have been OK if there hadn`t been a Me Too scandal going on with the Dallas with Dallas Mavericks now. So I don`t think any of these outsiders has much of a chance. And I can`t imagine a circumstance for Oprah to run.

MATTHEWS: How do you grab for neither wildcards? Do you like any of these as real candidates?

PRYZBYLA: Well, I think it is another illustration at the point that Jason was making though about the difficulty of getting someone through a primary who could actually be pretty attractive. I mean, think about the split- screen between the guy who has shady connections to business and oligarchs, bankruptcies, he won`t release his tax returns, next to the CEO of a socially conscious company, Howard Schultz, who provides good benefits for his employees, who is progressive, who supported gay marriage, college education, helps his employees get college-educated.


PRZYBYLA: But he won`t -- he wouldn`t make it through.

He`s already committed the sin of saying on the record that Democrats are promising things that they can`t deliver on, that he`s a pragmatist.

Well, that`s what Hillary did and said.


MATTHEWS: That`s a death -- isn`t that funny? If you don`t promise more than you can deliver, you`re not a credible Democrat.

Anyway, Oprah Winfrey`s powerful speech during the Golden Globes led to a viral campaign to enlist the media mogul herself to run for president -- #Oprah2020 trended on Twitter. But despite those calls to run, Winfrey insists she`s not interested.

However, she does have the word of advice for any potential candidate.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": You know, one of the things, I am not running for office.


WINFREY: So, I`m not ready to go there.

But if I were running for office -- and I will say to whoever is going to run for office, do not give your energy to the other side. Do not spend all your time talking about your opponents. Do not give your energy to that which you really don`t believe in.


MATTHEWS: Susan, you`re shaking your head.

DEL PERCIO: Because that`s exactly what Donald Trump is going to do. He`s going to force the Democrats in a primary...

MATTHEWS: Troll them.

DEL PERCIO: Absolutely.

He`s -- whether there`s a primary against him or not, he will be after them in that Democratic primary like nobody`s business. And they`re not going to have a choice.


MATTHEWS: So, he will want what we call a peeing match.

He wants something like a gross back and forth, personal and awful.

DEL PERCIO: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s what he wants.


JOHNSON: You got to have somebody -- this is why I was saying...

MATTHEWS: But Oprah is what everybody in this country needs.

I have watched her for as many years as anybody else. She has no sense of ethnic difference, of gender difference, right? People come on her show, she cares about them as human beings. She really seems to have this American spirit personified.

I mean it.

JOHNSON: She lost 30 percent of her ratings when she came out for Barack Obama in 2008. She took a hit.


JOHNSON: She is a black woman.

She will be -- everyone will remember and Donald Trump will remind...


MATTHEWS: But her sympathies are really good, I mean, with everybody.

JOHNSON: They could. And I think she could be a great sort of helper for someone. But I can`t imagine her being somebody out there who could actually run and be successful.

I just don`t think -- I don`t think wild cards are what the Democrats are going to be successful with.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to somebody halfway between a regular political list and Oprah, right, right in the middle.

Eric Holder, former attorney general, he`s got the stuff. He`s got the chops. He is certainly attractive. He can talk on TV. He can be perform in a debate. I don`t know what`s keeping him from running, but he`s...


COOK: How many ways can you chop up the African-American pie?

Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick.


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s more -- there will be a lot of other people voting for people like that.

COOK: Right. No, I understand.

But that`s -- they`re all going to be going after the same place. You haven`t talked about like Eric Garcetti and people like that.


MATTHEWS: Yes, who is Hispanic, right?

COOK: Yes. Yes. Three out of four grandparents are Hispanic.


MATTHEWS: We`re putting in that ticket.

Anywhere, up next: Whether not they go with a wild card, the Democrats face a major question: How do you beat Trump? We will get to that straight ahead.



JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we do stand for? Because the American public, as much as they don`t like the president administration, want to hear a definition again of who we are.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Possible Democratic presidential candidates have been testing out their messages against Trump over the past few months.

Let`s watch some.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I`m angry, but I`m ready to fight back.


WARREN: I`m here today because I`m an optimist. I`m here because I believe in democracy.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Flawed though we may be, imperfect though we may be, I believe we are a great country. And this is a moment in time that is requiring us to fight for who we are.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: When you`re president, you know the job is to bring people together, not divide them up.

BIDEN: We`re being told by many that we have to make what I call a false choice. Do we yield only to our progressive values or do we work on those things that affect high school-educated working people who are under siege, as if they`re different.

Where I come from, there is no difference.


BIDEN: You don`t have to choose between your heart and your soul.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with our panel, Charlie, Susan, Jason, and Heidi.

I don`t know why Biden is so angry there, but he`s certainly angry.

Here`s the question. Trump is going to go in there and try to win a couple more states. He`s going to defend the Industrial Belt of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and then he is going to go out and try to pick up maybe a couple more, the ones that Hillary thought she was going to -- maybe he`s going to try to get a couple more, maybe Minnesota.

He only lost it by a point-and-a-half, you know? Maybe you go after Illinois. I don`t know.

DEL PERCIO: Yes, except we don`t know...


MATTHEWS: That`s what he`s going to do.

DEL PERCIO: He can try that. It`s going to look a lot different after his tariff policy goes into place for a lot of those states. So that`s going to be a big factor.

He is going to, I think, keep what he did in 2016, just go bold, strong and after everything. He`s not going to leave anything on the table. He`s going to go after every group that he thinks he can touch. It will be not necessarily state-by-state strategy, because that`s not how he really -- he ran his campaign, but...


MATTHEWS: Well, we know he`s already -- he`s basically attacked Hispanic people, people, who they are, who they are in this country, Americans, non- Americans.

DEL PERCIO: Oh, he will use race as a wedge issue. There`s no doubt about it.

MATTHEWS: He refers to as rapists.

He`s gone after African-Americans by basically disenfranchising the first African-American president. He`s gone after Islamic people. He`s going to be a white candidate. So he doesn`t have that much reach. That`s who he is.

DEL PERCIO: Well, we had enough to get elected.

MATTHEWS: I know. But he`s got to hold it.

COOK: He knows division. He doesn`t know addition.

So the idea of going after somebody new, some new place, name a group that he didn`t win that he`s tried to reach out to.

MATTHEWS: Jewish voters, but there aren`t that many in terms of big numbers. But he is clearly, with moving the embassy. He knows what he`s doing.


COOK: OK. OK. Name two.


MATTHEWS: No, I think he`s done that with Jared, giving him full range over the Middle East.

No, he has made it pretty clear he is down-the-line pro-Israeli. But that is, to me, some sort of a salient on his part. I`m not sure it`s big enough and historically.



JOHNSON: And here`s the thing.

The margins were really close in a lot of these states. And what happens if Wisconsin now has a Democratic governor, right, heading into 2020, where you`re not going to have some of the voter suppression going on?

What happens when you don`t have somebody who`s either...

MATTHEWS: There was voter suppression in `16?

JOHNSON: Oh, yes. Yes.


MATTHEWS: Just let us know.

JOHNSON: Yes, 175,000 people magically disappear from the rolls.

So, when you`re not running against Hillary Clinton, who`s easy to beat on, and if you have some Democratic governors in these states, he may not -- he could still win and not keep some of the places that he had before, because I don`t think, when you don`t have Hillary Clinton on the ballot, I don`t think you have as polarized an electorate.


MATTHEWS: Heidi, how do they take the nickname thing I mentioned before?

I mean, some of these are going to wear out maybe with most voters, but not all. The Pocahontas stuff, all this stuff he will use against McAuliffe, the stuff he will use against Biden. We pretty much can write the nicknames, maybe not with the same flair, but he will have them ready.

That personal destruction of the opponent, how do you walk into that and want to enjoy that day if you`re a candidate?

PRZYBYLA: Republicans are counting on the fact that they think Democrats are going to nominate someone who`s so far out of the mainstream, that Bernie Sanders is going to push everyone -- and already is actually in terms of Medicare for all -- into the more, far progressive column, and that way he doesn`t have to worry about addition.

And I will tell you how he`s going to run, because we`re already seeing how he`s going to run. It`s the exact same way he ran the first time. It`s going back to the wall, talking about immigrants as an infestation, insults.

He`s -- he`s revived Pocahontas. And he has even revived Hillary`s e- mails. It`s amazing, the amount of themes that have not changed since he ran in 2016.

MATTHEWS: Well, we already know he`s tired of going after Pelosi, so he`s now teamed her up with Maxine Waters. He`s going after them as the poster people of the Democratic Party.

He defines the Democratic Party. What I have been saying for a long time is they better -- Democrats better define themselves as moderates on immigration, as moderates on abortion rights and some of these other things, because he will define them, Susan.

The Republicans will define the Democrats as the bad guys.

DEL PERCIO: Absolutely. That is -- that`s the only plan they know. They only know how to attack, and not build themselves up.

But there is something that, in addition to the governors that you mentioned, we have to look at what happens in 2018 to see what kind of Congress he`s facing and how much pain they can basically put on him for that two-year process, whether it`s through subpoena power, et cetera.

He may have -- there is a possibility that he has too many people to fight at once.

MATTHEWS: If you were him, would you like to have the House impeach you in a partisan way? Democrats impeach him in the House, like the Clinton did, the Republicans did to Clinton?

DEL PERCIO: He will never be able to handle the impeachment. He just doesn`t have -- he doesn`t have the mind-set for it. And I think it`d be for much more severe...

MATTHEWS: Even if it`s partisan completely?

DEL PERCIO: Even if it`s partisan, because...

MATTHEWS: Charlie, what do you think? I mean, Clinton came out of impeachment looking brighter than he went it.

COOK: I mean, I think Democrats would be better off if they came up short in both the House and Senate.

I mean, that`s the big bang theory -- 2020, Republicans have responsibility for the entire government.

MATTHEWS: You mean don`t control either House?

COOK: Right.

And then that`s when it blows big time, big numbers, governing numbers. That`s how that would happen.

MATTHEWS: I do think he will blame -- Heidi, will Trump be able to blame everything on the Democratic House if he loses it?

PRZYBYLA: I think his agenda is pretty much over, regardless of who takes control of the House.

MATTHEWS: So, blame it on the Democrats then.

PRZYBYLA: The Democrats will block him. But they`re in gridlock until 2020 regardless.

But, yes, maybe -- he will. He will try. I don`t -- I don`t know that he will be successful, but he will try.

MATTHEWS: Harry Truman did it in `48. Just have a long memory here.

Up next: While Democrats decide on a winning message, the president -- that would be Trump -- has always settled on his. He`s branded Democrats the enemy, while playing the role of his own hype man. He`s the up-up guy.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump already has Is 2020 playbook figured out. Blame the Democrats. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like the issue for election too.

Our issue is strong borders, no crime. Their issue is open borders, let MS-13 all over our country. That`s what is going to happen if you listen to them.

Ours is like, approved, get it done. Get it done. Their word is resist. They want to resist everything. They think that`s going to help them get into office. I don`t think so.


MATTHEWS: We`re back now with our panel, Charlie, Susan, Jason, and Heidi.

Well, there`s the president. I do think we heard last week before the Fourth of July -- we heard all about this message, they`re for open borders, they`re for crime, MS-13, we`re for the other.

Jason, he defines the Democrats as the idiots.

JOHNSON: I think that`s fine, but it`s easy to define the party before you have a candidate, right?

And your message is only as effective as the candidate you get. If you get a Terry McAuliffe, and his campaign slogan is, get it done, people are like, OK, I believe from Terry McAuliffe. Maybe that doesn`t sound good from Elizabeth Warren.

So, I think the Democrats are going to trouble having a message until they have a candidate. And we won`t know that for another 18 months.


DEL PERCIO: Yes, but you`re going to see Donald Trump take either of those two candidates, and even if they have a message of get it done, he is still going to make them the evil Democrat.

They`re going to say, Clinton operatives, Obama people.


MATTHEWS: What would you do as a woman, for example, when you had -- you`re facing the same thing Trump did to her?

He came over like Mighty Mouse looming over her, behind him. And what would you -- how do you deal with Trump`s boorishness? He`s unusually boorish. And yet I don`t know if she could have turned him, said, get in your corner, bub.

I`m not sure that would work with -- I don`t know, because she didn`t do that.

DEL PERCIO: She didn`t do that.

And I think she actually was so afraid of kind of using the woman card, if you will. There`s nothing wrong with saying...

MATTHEWS: What`s a guy do if another guy comes over and stands over him and looms over his back?


DEL PERCIO: That`s a different situation.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do we do? What does the guy do? Advise him.

DEL PERCIO: A guy has to -- well, then he`s got to kind of hold his own space and push back.

MATTHEWS: Like George W. did.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.


MATTHEWS: Against Gore when he looked at him like, what kind of a guy are you to come up with my space like this?


DEL PERCIO: But, as a woman, there`s nothing wrong with saying, that`s not what I expected -- something that plays on, he`s not -- he`s acting like the buffoon that he is. Call him out.

MATTHEWS: Charlie, what would you do?

If you`re a man or woman, and somebody loomed over you?

COOK: Oh, I don`t really care.

MATTHEWS: You don`t...


MATTHEWS: It hurt her.

COOK: To me, he -- Donald Trump got 46 percent the vote, and he`s got a 46 percent message.

Now, if you think 46 percent wins in 2020, then that`s fine. But I don`t think 46 is going to be a winning percentage.

MATTHEWS: You don`t? Even with Bill Weld racing down the middle?

DEL PERCIO: I don`t think we`re going to going to ever see 50 again. I don`t think we will ever see 50 percent...


MATTHEWS: I think -- I think Bill Wild or somebody is going to...

COOK: I don`t think you`re going to see..

MATTHEWS: Joe Scarborough. I don`t know the -- Joe that well. But I think somebody is going to go down the middle.

COOK: I don`t think you`re going to see.

MATTHEWS: Heidi, do you think of me a third party county that`s going to go down the middle and allowed Trump to win with 46 or 45?

PRZYBYLA: Well, the third party candidates that we`re now talking about would take away from him in theory, depending on who the Democratic nominee is, this is so hard to game out, right? But the names that are most mentioned --

MATTHEWS: OK. Bernie against Trump, who wins?


PRZYBYLA: -- Kasich.

MATTHEWS: Kasich as a third party candidate, yes?


MATTHEWS: How about Weld?

PRZYBYLA: That`s not one that I am privy to, you know, any inside information.

MATTHEWS: I remember Gary Johnson and he didn`t remember, name one world leader.

Anyway, Trump rarely passed up an opportunity to talk about how great his presidency is. Let`s watch him selling it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody had any idea would be able to do so much so soon in a very short period of time all those things have been done or they`re very close to being done, but most of them have been done. A lot of them have just great starts. You know, you have to start.

And we`re going to start winning again. We`re winning. We`re winning now, like we haven`t win before, like we have not won before.

The greatest phrase I think in the history of politics is on all of those red and white hats that I see out there "Make America Great Again" and that`s exactly what we`re doing.

Make America great again and you know what our new phrases in two-and-a- half years, you know what it is, right? Keep America great.


MATTHEWS: You know, Susan, every rule that we were taught up taught to grown up, not just rich kids like the Bushes -- but don`t brag, don`t brag.

This is what this guy does. This is what he does. He brags like a buffoon.

DEL PERCIO: He`s broken every political norm we have ever known, period. Whether it`s as a candidate, whether it`s as a president, we can`t afford - - we all try and look at him through a lens that doesn`t exist anymore.

MATHEWS: How is he getting away going after Maxine Waters last week about her IQ? I mean, an African-American woman, he`s been around for 20, 30 years in public office, been pretty effective and he just attacks her IQ and it`s just another thing on the day that day. Just another Trump said saying that day.

JOHNSON: Because he does these offensive things all the time and this is this goes back we`re talking about if he looms over you. This is what the Democrats need and, you know, you can call it a fight or whatever. The person who wins -- a Democrat who wins is when Trump walks up and says, you might want to back up and see how that resonates with every Democrat out there that`s been begging for a fighter for 35 years would love it if someone said that.

Here`s the other part. The way you beat Trump and Hillary what of her most effective is when she poked holes of his ego, which she said he was a puppet, when she said you don`t make as much money as you make -- as you claim you make, the Democrat who says you know, that $130,000, you know back where I`m from, people didn`t pay for stuff like that, that`s --

MATTHEWS: Heidi, if you`re going to swing you better punch hard because you got to follow through. You can take a shot like that and if you`re not ready to go to the match or go to the mat, you`re going to look bad. So, another word, which Democrat is willing to do that?

PRZYBYLA: So I think it`s going to be a lot about the rebound, Chris, because -- and this is poll-tested, OK? Don`t take it from me I`ve met with probably the same Democratic outside groups that these candidates have and they actually have poll-tested these messages already and what they`re telling them is, look, if you are going to be like Hillary Clinton and run on Trump`s temperament, that is not going to work, and it`s an interesting explanation why.

They said particularly with the millennials while you think it`s firing people up because inside they feel the same way and they feel the same anger, it actually depresses them especially that younger demographic who really experienced their political awakening during the Obama years and then saw that the equal and opposite reaction to that was Trump. And so, it`s kind of demoralizing for them.

And so, the way to kind of fire those people up is going back to the issue that has always been the issue in elections, which is about the pocketbook issue. You know, look, health care prices are about to go through the roof. Look at the corruption issue. Democrats are starting to talk about that now more.

Why aren`t we talking more about all of the corrupt things that are going on in this administration? For example, with Scott Pruitt, what`s going on in Department of Education.

MATTHEWS: But then Hillary said I taught those things over and over again in every speech and nobody covered it.

PRZYBYLA: Yes, she did. Yes, it`s absolutely true. It`s a valid criticism, I was there, I saw how she tried to get her message out for example on her Alzheimer`s research and Trump was the one who was throwing the punches and that`s a very valid point, Chris. And that`s why say you have to be great on the rebound.

MATTHEWS: Up next, Trump`s already preparing to do battle with Democrats in 2020, but what about a challenge from within his own party? Who, if anyone, is willing to primary the president? You`re watching HARDBALL.



CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: One quick thing, are you -- have you ruled out running for president?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I -- it`s not in my plans, but I`ve not ruled anything out. I do hope that somebody runs on the Republican side other than the president. If nothing else simply to remind Republicans what conservatism is and what Republicans have traditionally stood for.

TODD: And if you ran, would you only run as a Republican?

FLAKE: I think so.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was retiring senator, who seem retiring, Jeff Flake, arguing that a Republican should challenge a Trump in 2020. But with Donald Trump sitting at 90 percent or close to his support among Republican voters, will anyone take them on?

And that`s my question to Charlie.

Is there anybody out there beating the bushes now looking around, Kasich anybody, who actually looks like they`re getting ready to take him on?

CHARLIE COOK, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: I wouldn`t be surprised if someone jumped in, and I don`t -- I don`t know where the President Trump`s going to get reelected but I think they`ll need dental records to identify whoever takes him on for the nomination. He will pulverize him. Pulverize him.

DEL PERCIO: I agree, but I guess the only thing that would kind of leave towards a path would be if there was a big strong blue wave in 2018 that allowed that that really used it to beat up the president, to question his competency, have someone on the Republican side going after him.

MATTHEWS: And if he lost both houses.

DEL PERCIO: Lose both houses, that could -- president will have a lot of different battles going on and he will show he won`t have people rolling over for his agenda and you can have another side of coming at him that potentially could work. It`s a narrow thread though, I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Jason, how about the normal business cycle? We`re up now, way down in two years. I mean, everybody acts like this is permanent what we`re doing right now.

JOHNSON: Exactly, that`s exactly what`s going to say. Look, we are due for a correction in the economy. And when that happens, if it is mixed with a blue wave, if it is mixed with some key states being laws, you will have a Republican and possibly a Bob Corker, possibly a Mitt Romney saying, I -- somebody`s got to save us, because this guy is taking us down the path to ruin.

I think that`s going to be the message. It`s not --

MATTHEWS: Well, I wouldn`t vote for somebody who voted for this tax thing the Trump went through and then saw an economic decline and claimed I knew better when you were part of the problem because this tax bill is bad news.


MATTHEWS: Heidi, what do you think about that? Isn`t it going to be a function of conditions I think so and I think there`s always going to be somebody like a Kasich who says, you know, it`s worth the risk to be the month you know Horatio at the gate or whatever, the bridge, I`ll be the person is stood against Trump in history I`ll look pretty good like say Bill Scranton did back in `64, if anybody can remember him.

PRZYBYLA: It`s always a function of conditions just like Mike Bloomberg was kind of waiting it out and in making certain calculations based on whether Hillary ran.

But let me just float an idea here. I don`t think that just because a Republican throws his hat in, does a primary challenge, or runs as an independent that it necessarily hurts Republican Donald Trump, and this is why -- the demographic that is up for grabs right now are those suburban female Republican women.

And if they`re given -- if they`re only given Donald Trump or the Democrat and the Democrat is a more progressive candidate then the person who gets their votes siphoned is the Democrat, not Donald Trump. So, I don`t think that we can say just because this person comes from the Republican Party, that they`re necessarily going to hurt Trump, it could actually hurt the Democrat.

MATTHEWS: I`ve heard that from someone I know pretty well, my wife, who is the Democratic Party chairman of Maryland, I hear that from her, that don`t count on the moderate in the middle hurting the Republicans more.

What do you think, Charlie?

COOK: No, I agree, I agree with that, but that`s -- I simply don`t think we`re going to have a Republican of any real stature that that would tip this thing one away.

MATTHEWS: It`s going to be weird no to see a guy like Trump with all his personal failings and weirdnesses, if you will, and personality oddities, they sweep through 20 or 30 primaries and caucuses without opposition?

COOK: Republican politicians are terrified of Donald Trump and terrified of his base, and the fact that none of them would really confront him, take him on, I mean, even when it came --

MATTHEWS: You know who says that? Trey Gowdy.

DEL PERCIO: They don`t even know how to even begin to take him on. You could -- look what he did 16 others in the last presidential primary. None of them knew how to deal with him and it would have to be so Republican coming from probably the business can but certainly outside the typical political structure to really take.

MATTHEWS: Why does it work, Susan? What does low energy Jeff work? Why do the shots that we used to have an eighth grade on the playground in St. Christopher`s -- I mean, why do they work with grownups, nicknames that he throws at people? It works.

DEL PERCIO: No, I mean, let`s face it the Republican -- if you want -- if you care about the Republican Party, you actually look at the political autopsy from 2012 and you say that is the direction. And Donald Trump is just something that none of us can make sense of, but the party`s got to go back in that direction.

MATTHEWS: Well, up next, we`re going to keep trying here. Up next, it`s been reported that Mike Pence considered a coup after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out in `16. Is he considering another coup in 2020?

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Here is a wild scenario, Donald Trump gets challenged by his own vice president. Well, it seems unthinkable given Mike Pence`s over the top praise of Trump.

Let`s watch that.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare.

Thank you for your boundless faith in the American people. President Trump has been making history since the first day of this administration.

I know I speak on behalf of the entire cabinet and millions of Americans when I say congratulations and thank you. You have restored American credibility on the world stage. You signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any president in American history.

You`ve spurred an optimism in this country that`s setting record. I am deeply humbled as your vice president to be able to be here.

Thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump. We are protecting the American people by secure the American people.

The greatest privilege of my life to serving vice president to President Trump. He`s a man of his word. He`s a man of action.


MATTHEWS: Well, Pence even mimic Trump`s movements. Look at him shadow Trump removing his water bottle. Oh, there he goes.

But if the heat gets turned up on Trump of his political fortune suddenly seemed more tenuous, is there any doubt perhaps that Pence could jump trip? "The Atlantic" reports that after the "Access Hollywood" tape, for example, broke during the campaign of `16, Pence contemplated a mutiny.

Quote: Within hours of "The Post`s" bombshell, Pence made it clear to the Republican National Committee that he was ready to take Trump`s place as the party`s nominee."

Charlie, what do we make of this? He does seem almost religious in his fervor for the president.

COOK: Well, I mean, the thing is, I think we put ourselves -- when that Billy Bush tape came out, I mean, who didn`t think this candidacy was in jeopardy? So, I don`t --

MATTHEWS: Bush got fired, and Trump got nominated.

COOK: I don`t find that terribly surprising. I mean, I think every Republican leader was going, OK, what do we do now? So, I don`t find that --

MATTHEWS: Pence was, too, wasn`t he?

COOK: What the hell did I sign on for?

DEL PERCIO: He was definitely in that position.

MATTHEWS: You are inside the Republican head, Susan. Is there any chance Pence will pull a coup?

DEL PERCIO: I don`t think he`ll pull a coup. What he is trying to do is basically twist himself into enough of a pretzel that should something happen to Donald Trump, he`ll say, I don`t know that enough issues that are harmful, and yet, because of the way he speaks of the base of Donald Trump, he`ll be willing to accept him as their next leader.

MATTHEWS: Clearly, he was ready to do that.

Thank you, Charlie Cook, Susan Del Percio, what a great show. Jason Johnson and Heidi Przybyla.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" -- happy Fourth of July.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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