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Michael makes landfall. TRANSCRIPT: 10/10/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Andrew Gillum, Karen Attiah

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 10, 2018 Guest: Andrew Gillum, Karen Attiah

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Millions are still in for a rough night. Our coverage will continue to go back and forth.

For now HARDBALL with Chris Matthews begins right now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening I`m Chris Matthews in New York.

It is 7:00 p.m. on the east coast right now and hurricane Michael, a King Kong of a storm has battled through most of the Florida panhandles with the wind speeds up to 155 miles an hour. At the hour, a thousand miles of north of the storm, President Donald Trump is attending the political business storing at a campaign fund-raiser and rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. It`s a devastating split screen if you will.

Well, Michael is the hardest hurricane to even make landfall in the panhandle coastline and the third most powerful storm to ever hit Florida. Aware of the optics tonight, the President defended his decision to travel to the fund-raiser and rally. Let`s watch him on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have thousands of people lined up, so we wanted to make this stop. It would be very unfair. You have thousands of people that started coming last night. So we are going to do that and we have a lot of happy people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the President didn`t say before the rally this evening he hosted a $250,000 fund-raiser up in Erie.

What`s dodgy about tonight`s schedule, of course, is that the same Donald Trump ridiculed his predecessor, Barack Obama for doing pretty much what he is doing tonight. Back in November 2012, Trump attacked President Obama for campaigning while the hurricane sandy cleanup was going on. By the way, that was weeks after hurricane sandy made landfall, Trump barely waited an hour for his political kill.

And while President Trump entertains top donors tonight, and presumably prepared to throw some red meat to his hungry base, the scenes from Florida could not be more catastrophic.

Hurricane Michael made landfall around 12:30 this afternoon as a category four, with massive wind gusts tearing off rooftops. These pictures are amazing. Look at these pictures. Flinging debris and raising potentially life threatening storm surge.

Well, speaking from the oval office earlier today, the President had this warning for those that remained in the path of the hurricane.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a message for those who are in the storm`s path?

TRUMP: I say God bless you all. That`s my message because that`s what it is. The storm is there. I mean, that storm is there. It`s sort of too late to do anything about it now from the standpoint of moving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Nearly 400,000 people along the panhandle of Florida were urged to evacuate. You just heard the President doing that. But emergency authorities are concerned that many ignored those warnings. The storm is expected to continue to unleash punishing wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas which are still recovering from hurricane Florence`s recent flooding.

For more, we turn to NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders, who is Panama City, Florida on the beach there.

Thank you, Kerry. I see the wind in your pants there. Go ahead.

Kerry? I guess we are having a problem. I see him he is talking but I`m not hearing him. Is Kerry getting on the air? I guess not.

Well, meanwhile, in Tallahassee, Florida, wind gusts reached up to 90 miles an hour today, 90. The mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum joins us now by phone. He is also by the way the Democratic nominee in Florida`s gubernatorial race right now.

Mayor, Gillum, tell us about what`s going on in your capital city there in Tallahassee, but also more importantly to the west of you. What reports have you been getting, sir?

ANDREW GILLUM (D), TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA MAYOR (on the phone): Yes, Chris. Thank you so much. And again my heart -- all of our hearts go out to those west of Tallahassee who bore the brunt of the storm surge that came ashore. We have all seen the disturbing catastrophic images of the storm surge just rushing through Mexico beach.

We are here to be their neighbors. We, in fact, took in a number of folks who evacuated and came to our area to wait out the storm. And my community, obviously, it was a different nature, it was one of wind. We, in fact, Chris, as I talk to you, I`m in a utility vehicle moving around my city as we observe street after street, road after road that has huge trees strewn across it, utility poles that are down. And now, we of course, could have had it much worse in the area, giving that we got a city that has got about 50 percent tree cover here.

But we all still assessing the damage. About 30 minutes ago we released our EMS, fire and police, along with the utility to get back on the street. Our utility workers are now taking assessment and stock of the damage to the system. And starting at about 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning they will begin with the restoration process to try to get our community back up and going.

MATTHEWS: Let me talk to you about the politics of climate and all. Listen, I think about my (INAUDIBLE). That other party you stayed. I know you are running for governor so it matters to you. I think about the water level coming up within a few feet of Miami, how your state is in danger by climate change. Is this regular weather we are getting now, and category four? Your thoughts?

GILLUM: Yes.

No, I mean. And listen, it is stuff I have been asked, with the panhandle caught by surprise here. And I got to tell you, Sunday I was in Miami. I was, at that evening, going from an event on another mission, as you mentioned in my introduction. And we got a call of it and look. It looks like this tropical system is heading our way. And we thought we might deal with, you know, maybe a tropical storm and tropical storm force winds. Well, this thing went from that, you know, from Sunday night all the way to a category four and near category five storm today. That was significant.

And obviously that has to do with the warm -- the warmth of the gulf waters at this time. And that storm was able to gain tremendous strength and hit our state at 150 miles per hour in the panhandle, seven miles per hour below what would necessitate a category five storm.

For all intents and purposes, when you add in the wind gusts you are dealing with a near category five by hurricane hitting the coast of Florida in October. We have obviously, you know, a challenge on that end. And I`ll tell you, we got some work to do (INAUDIBLE) to build us to be a more resilient state.

But the truth is right now we just have to try to make sure we recover as many people and get as much of our community back up and going as we possibly can. I fear this is going to be a long journey.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know you are on HARDBALL so I`m going to ask you a political question. What do you make of your opponent out there running as Republican, running against you? He is behind you right now running at negative ads trashing you right now in the middle of all of this, what do you make of the appropriateness of that?

GILLUM: Well, I mean, I agree with Craig Fugate. I agree with Jeb Bush. I agree with governor Rick Scott in this case, said that it is unseemly to run those kind of ads. I mean, literally, I was informing the public here in north Florida about the storm this morning as we were anticipating impact. And in my ear I could hear a negative ad being run about hurricane response. And (INAUDIBLE) in that process.

And I just thought, you know, we have had, you know, a lot of divisive politics in our state but I can`t remember a time we didn`t have a time when statewide candidates pulled down negative campaigns, particularly in those parts of the states where people are trying to run for their lives. We have communities that are under water this afternoon.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GILLUM: And what they are seeing are these negative ads. It`s unseemly.

MATTHEWS: I think when people are running for their lives they shouldn`t be hearing trash talking from politicians.

Anyway, thank you very much Mayor Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee.

GILLUM: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: For more, we return right now to NBC`s "Nightly" anchor Lester Holt. He is in Panama City.

Lester, thank you for joining us tonight. You are in the middle of this all day. What can you tell us?

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Well, I will tell you what struck everyone here was how quick it moved through. It spun up fast and blew through here. I have been saying like a liquid blow torch, the 150 mile an hour winds driving everything. The water, the localized flooding. When it finally blew through, and again, it was relatively short. It was pictures like these. We saw lots of trees down, power lines.

Our teammates who have been out in town reporting lots of damage. We don`t have many information on casualties here. But it was again stunning how fast it came through and then kind of blew through.

Now, the rain has stopped about a couple hours ago. It is breezy with an occasional gust or so but clearly it has done what it`s going to do here and moved on. And now it`s the states north of us here that are going to bear the brunt of the storm.

MATTHEWS: You know, the pattern is so unusual. We are used to Atlantic, you know, landfalls. And now, here is one hitting us from across the overheated Gulf of Mexico, sweeping up in sort of a northeast direction. It`s something else. I`m not sure we are used to this one. It`s supposedly the worst -- Lester, the worst, highest caliber category storm to ever hit the panhandle.

HOLT: We have never seen anything like this in the panhandle of this strength. Then as you were hearing a moment ago, this was for all intents and purposes about as strong as it comes for a hurricane.

I mean, we certainly see hurricanes along the gulf coast. It happens. But this one spun up so quickly. It was hardly on anyone`s radar at the start of the week and suddenly you are hearing about Michael, Michael, Michael, and that it was growing in its intensity. And I think how many times have we seen these things? There are going to be a three, a four, a five, and then it comes ashore as a one. It is easy to get complacent. This is a reminder you can`t take these things from granted. You have to assume the worst. This was the real deal that came through here today.

MATTHEWS: I remember, Lester, when I had the honor of sharing the trailer with you back in the Katrina days a long time. Do you remember that? You had the longer bed, I remember.

HOLT: I do.

MATTHEWS: Anyway. Thank you so much, Lester Holt of NBC "Nightly."

HOLT: OK.

MATTHEWS: For more we turn to NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders in Panama City beach.

There you are and what I think we have you now, Kerry.

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we are looking at the end of a very ugly, long, brutal day. And as I take our camera a little bit out here towards the setting sun, it`s just ironic to see how beautiful the sun is setting on a day that has been so ugly. And off in the distance there, you can see the pier which is still standing after this category four came in.

Now, what`s interesting is, the category four storm that did so much damage, winds at 155 miles an hour, and I felt them today, they really beat up on me, the actual hardest hit areas are not right here on Panama City beach, which is interesting. But the -- let me see what I see flying over, actually. We have a coast guard helicopter right now flying overhead. And I think what they are probably doing is surveying the coast here before it gets dark, heading off in the direction of Mexico beach, which, of course, we know is the hardest hit area.

About 13 miles in that direction, which is east, is where the eye wall passed over. And so, on this side of the storm we didn`t have as much storm surge, but we certainly have the winds. But on the other side, on the eastern side of the eye wall, that`s where the storm surge came in, that`s where Mexico beach got nailed and Apalachicola. And that is an area cut off. And we are waiting to find out, sadly, if there are going to be any deaths. And we don`t really know that yet, but, Chris, that`s the one thing so many people fear, that storm surge and the drowning.

Back to you.

MATTHEWS: Sure. I know that. The word surge scares the heck out of us.

Anyway. Thank you, Kerry Sanders on the beach down there in Panama City.

We continue to watch this monster storm, probably that caught Florida coast. But tonight President Trump is holding a campaign rally and fund- raiser, fund-raise by a quarter of a million up in Erie, Pennsylvania after attending, well, that fund-raiser.

I`m joined by Susan del Percio, a Republican strategist, Nick Confessore, political reporter at "the New York Times" and Jason Johnson, politics editor at root.com.

You know, the President knew that people would be commenting on the fact of the split screen. He is not tending to business as chief executive, protecting the homeland, if you will. No, he is raising money and he is throwing red meat out to the crowd. Why do you think he made the calculation I would rather be up there than not?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Because I think he realizes if he is going to have any time on air, he wants to control it and he wants the message to be what he has to say. He knows he can`t win a battle with a hurricane, he knows that. He has already been cited for being so incompetent, whether it be Maria or other things. He just doesn`t even know how to handle it. He has no sympathy. He can`t talk about people, you know, real people and what they are going through, and he offers no comfort. So he might as well go to where he can control the message and stir up a little trouble, because that`s what this President likes to do.

MATTHEWS: I agree. And I always say he shoots the moon like in hearts. He always does the opposite of any other normal politician and somehow it works with his crowd.

NICK CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: think he is right. Look, this whole idea that you shouldn`t campaign in natural disaster --

MATTHEWS: Or raise money.

CONFESSORE: -- or raise money, is one of those rules of politics that isn`t written down anywhere and doesn`t actually matter. His people don`t care about it. People in Pennsylvania are not going to be watching a hurricane in Florida. And his party needs him to be out there and get the faithful out because they are about to lose important races in that state. He is doing the wise thing in political terms. It could be the wrong thing in moral term.

MATTHEWS: Well, there is one fatality.

Let me go to Jason. There has been a fatality array. There will be more, obviously. I just want to know about geography. I always think about geography these days, politically. Suppose there was some sort of a natural disaster hitting New York and he was down campaigning in Florida, it wouldn`t happen because most people live in New York. So it wouldn`t happen. But it`s OK when it`s down there and he is up where most people live in the northeast. That`s, I`m thinking he is calculating that, too. He has to hold the rust belt. That is where he -- and Erie is the heart of it.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT: Yes. He has to hold the rust belt. And also, as sad as it is and it is dangerous as it is, and I must admit, I was comforted by Mayor Gillum and he sounded like he had things handled. There`s also about expectations. You know, you do have hurricanes that hit the south. You do have hurricanes that hit parts of Georgia and South Carolina and Florida. And so, the President saying, hey, look, I`m going to be up here in Pennsylvania campaigning. It isn`t strange because we know that Florida gets hit by things like this.

If something like this were to happen in New York, if something like this, if you were having some horrible series of tornados or something in Ohio, if it`s an unexpected catastrophic weather event, then yes, I think Donald Trump would find a way to be there. But in expected event, even if it`s a tragic one in Florida, he doesn`t have to be there.

MATTHEWS: Susan, he bashed all over the place making fun of Obama four years ago during the cleanup for Sandy -- well into the cleanup effort. How can he just ignore his own hypocrisy here? I mean --.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We are learning how does Trump do it? He does it his way, which is obnoxiously counter intuitive and yet somehow his people just cheer him on.

DEL PERCIO: But what is even worse in this particular case is that Florida is in play right now for Republicans. There`s a U.S. Senate race. There is a governor`s race. The President, if he was being presidential, could say I`m helping and providing resources to Florida. He could be playing that card which in Florida, he is not completely upside down. And his favorite ball racing --

MATTHEWS: He wants Rick Scott to get the credit for being the executive down with his Navy hat on. That`s what he wants.

DEL PERCIO: Right. Well, but could be saying I`m offering, I`m working with, he could be helping those folks, especially Desantis right now who is going to need it very much so after the disaster.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think Rick Scott is in much better shape than Desantis.

DEL PERCIO: Yes.

CONFESSORE: But the (INAUDIBLE) will matter a lot more in the aftermath of this disaster. I think right now he is up in Pennsylvania. What really matters is after the water is gone down, or hasn`t gone down, after the wind has stopped, what`s the recovery look like? Who is involve? And how effective it is? And that will matter for Gillum. It will matter for Trump and for Scott.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Anyway, Susan, thank you. And thank you, Nick. And they are going to be back in the show.

Much more to come tonight. We are going to have the latest on hurricane Michael, of course, and check in on today`s biggest political headlines, including that Trump rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Hurricane Michael made landfall just a few hours ago along the Florida panhandle and it`s left a path of destruction in its wake. You have seen it now. It`s now making its way across Georgia and there now one confirmed fatality in Florida.

And the latest on the storm and where it is heading, we turn now to Bill Karins, NBC meteorologist.

Bill, tell us where is - it is moving so fast, by the time we get there, he is already gone, Michael is.

KARINS: Yes. And that was good because we were able to get in some of the areas hardest hit, Chris, at landfall around 2:00 this afternoon. We had about three or four hours of daylight for the first-responders to try to get to the people that needed rescuing, and some -- for our crews to get us some of the videos, so we know just how bad it is.

And it`s as bad as we had feared from areas around Panama City, especially down to Mexico Beach. That was the area that was in the right-front quadrant. That`s the 1,000 people that they`re wondering if they`re going to have a town left to rebuild.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KARINS: And we will get you more of those pictures coming in tomorrow.

So, the current storm, it`s still a Category 2. So, we`re finally done being a major hurricane. Five hours of a major hurricane over land, that`s a pretty rare feat. Still gusting up to 70 miles per hour in Southeast Georgia.

We still have hundreds, if not thousands of trees falling as I`m speaking, and the power outages are just going to grow through the night a the storm moves through southern portions of Georgia, into Central Georgia, Albany, Georgia, one of the areas that`s about to lose power, if you haven`t yet. That`s where we`re seeing some of the strongest winds.

So, right now, the Hurricane Center just updated us -- 100-mile-per-hour winds is the intensity. From here, we will weaken it throughout the night. By the time we wake up tomorrow morning, it should be down to a weak tropical storm somewhere over the top of Augusta, Georgia.

And then it`s just a rain event as we go up through the Carolinas. It`s still pretty crazy, as this a rare map that we get a -- hurricane warnings from South Georgia all the way through the Carolinas. I mean, it`s going to be windy and pouring tomorrow morning all the way through the Southeast, Chris.

And that`s going to be one of the issues. When we look back at history at this storm, the one thing that`s going to get us was how quickly it intensified right before landfall. I mean, I told you about the town of 1,000 people, they don`t know if they`re going to be able to rebuild or not.

This could have easily been 100,000 people in the Panama City, Panama -- Panama City Beach area, or maybe the worst New Orleans-type scenario, Chris. And this is going to go down as our third lowest pressure ever recorded on a landfall in the last about 140 years and the fifth strongest winds.

I mean, this was unprecedented -- uncharted territory with this storm. We will see just how bad it is tomorrow morning when we wake up, a lot of tree damage, and millions of people without power come morning.

MATTHEWS: Well, apparently, people got out of the way, only one casualty so far.

KARINS: So far, yes.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Bill Karins.

Let`s go to NBC Tammy Leitner, who`s up in Albany, Georgia.

Has it hit there? It looks like it has. There it is. We have found the storm -- Tammy.

TAMMY LEITNER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Chris.

We are getting hit with the dirty side of the storm. Things have changed in the last hour. They have picked up dramatically, the winds, the rains. You can tell there is nobody out on the street right now. Everybody is hunkered down at this point.

There have been no evacuations in this area, no mandatory evacuations, but they have advised people, if you live in a mobile home, if you live in a house that does not have a sturdy foundation, get out, go somewhere that is safe.

We visited a church a couple of hours ago. They have opened up their doors. They have become a shelter. There`s about 60 people that are at that church. We spoke with one woman. She was there with her grandson and their two dogs. They had to evacuate. A couple years ago, they actually had to be rescued. And so they said they weren`t taking any chances this time around.

Typically, this town, Albany, it floods very quickly because it`s flat. And so a lot of people in this town, they`re prepared. They have flooded time and time again every time a storm happens, so not taking any chances.

But the eye of this storm is supposed to hit here around 10:00. So this is not even the worst of it, Chris. We`re still a couple hours out -- back to you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Great reporting, Tammy Leitner in Georgia.

Up next: As Florida reels from the direct hit of a Category 4, the president campaigns in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he`s attacking Democrats. Big surprise.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump is campaigning tonight up in Pennsylvania, despite the massive storm winding its way across the Southeast, after already hammering Florida, the Panhandle down there.

By the way, he said he owed it to the people who came to see him tonight.

Trump had a different perspective back in 2012, not 100 years ago. In fact, several days after Hurricane Sandy battered the Mid-atlantic coast, he wrote -- he tweeted: "Yesterday, Obama campaigned with Jay-Z and Springsteen while Hurricane Sandy victims across NY and NJ are still decimated by Sandy. Wrong."

Well, the president opened tonight`s rally by wishing those in the storm`s path all the best, but then moved on to attack the Dems -- or the dims, as he calls them now.

Joining me again is Susan Del Percio, Nick Confessore, and Jason.

I want to start with Jason.

Again, here we are tonight, back again, with the president campaigning, effectively, with his base, entertaining them. He`s good at that. They laugh. The laughing now is about -- well, I guess it`s the righteous indignation about the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, that the skinny white guys are now life`s victims.

That seems to be an effective, well, ploy, is what it is.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It is. It is.

But it`s only effective but so far, Chris. Like, I really think you can beat this Brett Kavanaugh thing but so much. I mean, look, the guy won. He`s on the Supreme Court. He`s going to be there. There`s but so much energy you can still draw from it.

And I will say this. What Trump is doing right now is effective, but what he can`t counter is the effectiveness of candidates on the ground. You look at what Gillum`s doing. You look at what Rick Scott is doing. That`s how a campaign like that is going to be won.

The president is effective at riling up his base. What he has not been able to do, which he still can`t do -- and we`re seeing it even in the places he`s campaigning -- he can`t expand his base. He can`t make more people want to vote for candidates.

He attracts people to him, but I don`t know if he`s sprinkling that sort of Trump fairy dust on anybody else. And that`s what some of these candidates need.

MATTHEWS: Well, Jason, everybody else -- after wishing those in Florida all the best, the president attacked Democrats. We have said that.

We don`t have the bite yet from him.

Susan, I think that -- I think -- we have it now. Let`s go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What the radical Democrats did to Brett Kavanaugh and his beautiful family is a national disgrace.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: It`s a disgrace. What they did was a disgrace.

You look at Cory Booker, the way he talked. And then you look at what he did.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: You look at Senator Dianne Feinstein, what she did.

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What`s this, the way villainizes people?

Feinstein is a -- to me, a grown-up Democrat who has been around a long time, used to be mayor of San Francisco. People in California who are Republicans have only respected her. Turning it into some sort of joke.

And he`s -- this crowd is going -- well, they even know Dianne Feinstein. Why are they joining in the jeering here? Why are they so -- why are they led along like lemmings? They don`t know who Dianne Feinstein is.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, but they know that they saw Trump the night before, or two days before, leading a rally of "Lock her up" about people -- that`s what his base...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What, about leaking?

DEL PERCIO: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That some lawyer she had may have leaked or somebody leaked? That`s a crime now?

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": He is making it sound like Cory Booker and Dianne Feinstein broke into Brett Kavanaugh`s house and beat up his family.

(CROSSTALK)

DEL PERCIO: But I think it`s actually worse than that, because I can`t help it.

I`m not suggesting that he did it intentionally. But the first place I go when he named Cory Booker...

MATTHEWS: He`s African-American.

DEL PERCIO: Correct.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JOHNSON: That`s exactly why he did it.

DEL PERCIO: And that is exactly where he wants to go in these rallies.

I mean, what is he really doing in Pennsylvania? He`s costing seats for Republicans. They have enough problems...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re not going to win the governorship in Pennsylvania.

DEL PERCIO: No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They`re not going to beat Bobby Casey. So what`s he doing up there? He`s just sort of sprinkling the dust, fairy dust, as Jason just put it.

Anyway, Trump called Democrats` handling of his Supreme Court justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, disgraceful. Here`s that today -- tonight in Erie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The disgraceful leaking of documents. You look at what they did. You look at the false charges. You look at the false accusations. It was a disgrace. It was a disgrace.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: And people are saying, thank you, sir, for sticking and thank you for not giving up.

You know what? I never even thought of it, folks. I never even thought of it.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Jason, the man is amazing at creating notions of these infractions.

JOHNSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Benghazi went on for years. What was Benghazi again? I`m sorry. Yes, there was some people killed there, but what exactly did Hillary Clinton do wrong?

JOHNSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: They never actually said that. They just said Benghazi over and over again, like waving the bloody shirt after the Civil War. They always just -- all they saw was the bloody shirt. They didn`t even know what they`re talking about.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: And here we have a leak? Excuse me. Washington is built every moment on leaks. The idea that it`s a crime is absurd. And yet the crowd is cheering. They`re jeering.

How does he get them to act like trained seals? How does he get his crowd to react to him? What he says, whatever he says, they either cheer or jeer according to his orders.

JOHNSON: It`s like going to a high school pep rally. It doesn`t matter who the team is.

Or if you want to be worse, you can talk about "1984" and say we`re at war with Eurasia. You hate Eurasia. We`re at war with this country.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JOHNSON: It doesn`t really matter. Whoever Trump says is the bad guy is going to be the bad guy.

The problem that he runs into -- and you have seen this with Hillary Clinton, and you have seen this with -- to a certain extent, like you said, with Benghazi. We will see this with Kavanaugh -- is at some point he starts to sound like the old high school quarterback who keeps talking about that game he won in 1978.

It`s over now. Talk about the new thing you`re doing. Kavanaugh is great now. That`s a hot victory story now. It`s not going to matter in two weeks. It`s not going to matter in Florida in two weeks. It`s not going to matter in Arizona in two weeks.

The president has to have a new song. This is going to gin up the base, but I`m telling you there are some Republicans out there in some desperate seats, there are some Republicans in Ohio, there are some Republicans in Missouri who are like, look, I need you to bring something new. I need you to talk about these tariffs that are hurting me. I need you to talk about this tax plan, because screaming and yelling about a Supreme Court justice is not going to turn people out to vote for me against a Democrat talking about health care and keeping you in check.

MATTHEWS: Nick.

CONFESSORE: Chris, the emotional core of Trumpism here -- and you see it right here -- is being a victim, and it`s self-pity. It`s that the country that is winning is actually losing.

The party that has control of everything is actually on the verge of defeat. The people in America who are prosperous or relatively prosperous are actually being cheated and doing terribly.

That is the framing that he excels at and that is the framing for his whole politics.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, meanwhile, there`s news tonight that the president and his attorney general -- about the attorney general.

Well, "The Washington Post" is reporting that President Trump talked recently with Jeff Sessions -- his own chief of staff, actually, about replacing Sessions as attorney general.

According to people briefed on the conversation, signaling that the president remains keenly interested in asking his top law enforcement official.

Susan, he seems to get the biggest kick out of torturing this little guy. I mean, he openly trashes him. He`s now leaked the fact probably that he`s been talking to the chief of staff of the guy he is about to fire. He talks -- Lindsey Graham seems to be feathering the nest for this all to happen after the election.

DEL PERCIO: And Lindsey Graham -- I mean -- I`m sorry -- and Jeff Sessions keeps on going.

I mean, and that`s the most shocking part, actually, is that he just says, say what you`re going to say, do what you`re going to do.

But Donald Trump, the fact that he -- he loves that story. He went to his chief of staff. He tries to undercut him, because Donald Trump is about taking down people. That`s what he likes to do. That`s where he gets his own strength from.

Do you ever see him supporting someone, except for maybe Nikki Haley, because he`s afraid of her...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DEL PERCIO: ... and what she can do to him?

MATTHEWS: Tell me about that. Why is she afraid of Nikki Haley?

DEL PERCIO: Because she`s one of the most successful high-level women in his administration and is leaving, and could be a potential challenge to him.

MATTHEWS: You think she will?

JOHNSON: No.

MATTHEWS: I`m hearing no from Jason.

JOHNSON: No. No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You people know how to read people`s minds. I`m not quite able to read minds yet.

You say she may run?

DEL PERCIO: I think she may run.

Now, it`s more likely if President Trump decides not to seek reelection, which is still on the table.

MATTHEWS: She will take on Mike Pence.

DEL PERCIO: I don`t think -- Mike Pence may be too damaged as a result of Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He will run again. Don`t worry. Destined.

DEL PERCIO: But she would have -- she would be more likely to have Donald Trump`s base than Mike Pence would.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Jason, you`re no-no-ing here.

JOHNSON: Yes. No, no.

Like, Nikki Haley is not running in 2020. Donald Trump is running in 2020. And I have said before she would not be a particularly effective candidate across the country. She has no record to run on in South Carolina.

And while there are some religious conservatives who would be happy with it, the rest of America would look at the poor education, the lack of health care, the restrictive abortion laws, her absolute failure when it came to the assassination of nine people at Mother Emanuel Church.

Nikki Haley does not have a national record to run on. And anyone who thinks, because she did a nice job for 18 months in D.C., that that`s going to work in Ohio and Texas and California hasn`t been paying attention to what the rest of the country really wants when it comes to change.

DEL PERCIO: I`m sorry, did we not say this about Donald Trump in 2015?

JOHNSON: I didn`t say that about Donald Trump in 2015.

(CROSSTALK)

CONFESSORE: Nikki Haley right now currently has the same constituency as Marco Rubio did. It`s professional Republicans and activists and columnists and people on op-ed pages.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

CONFESSORE: It`s not meaningless, but that`s where it is right now.

MATTHEWS: She`s no little Marco.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Susan, Nick, and Jason are sticking with us.

And up next: President Trump is promoting national unity by calling Democrats unhinged, crazy, crime-loving wackos.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump`s making his midterm pitch right now in Pennsylvania, this after he gave another taste of his "us versus them" campaign strategy in a rally in Iowa last night, painting his own dark version of the Democratic Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have become totally unhinged. They`ve gone crazy. No, they`ve gone crazy. Now, the Democrats, or as some people would say the Dems, the Dems, they`ve become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They`ve gone wacko.

I`ve been saying this and I mean it -- Democrats are the party of crime. They are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the president continued those charges today writing an op- ed in "USA Today", writing if Democrats win control of Congress this November, we`ll come dangerously close to socialism in America.

I`m back with Susan del Percio, Nick Confessore and Jason Johnson.

Trump has a very interesting way of finding the most leftish, far out part of the Democratic Party, whether it`s Maxine Waters and her comments about confronting people in public places, or it`s Bernie on Medicare for all, or it`s somebody who won`t do anything on enforcement in terms of the border, and he says that`s the Democratic Party.

And that`s the danger the Democrats face, the most leftish, most far over points you can say the most progressive becomes his point of attack.

DEL PERCIO: Absolutely, and that`s what starts getting these rallies going, and these crowds going, and he unites them. That`s something that`s so far out in left field, no pun intended.

MATTHEWS: No, that`s the point.

DEL PERCIO: But it is, and that`s what he uses to just get people around. He uses this kernel of maybe of fact once upon a time and just uses it to divide the country and get his people behind him, because that`s all he knows how to do. He talks about not knowing how to govern. He has yet to govern because when you govern, you work for everybody, and he`s not doing it.

MATTHEWS: He`s warming up for a campaign against Elizabeth Warren, or Corey Booker or Kamala Harris. He clearly is directing his guns, all his political guns at the left. He`s saying they are the Democratic Party, socialism for everybody, health care for everybody, school and tuition for everybody, all free, borders not enforced, sanctuary cities, he finds everything, M-13, whatever, he does it all.

CONFESSORE: He`s not totally wrong. On the first three, he`s not totally wrong. That`s where the party is moving.

What he`s doing for the midterms I think is a version of political gaslighting. He`s trying to tell Democrats that their passion is a weakness, that their anger is craziness, that their kind of organization is a weakness. It`s a panic move. It can be effective but it`s basically gaslighting.

MATTHEWS: Explain gaslighting from the old movies.

CONFESSORE: It`s a way of telling people that they`re crazy for the way they`re feeling, which is a real feeling, that the actual anger they feel about Kavanaugh, the passion they feel to get involved is actually a crazy and bad thing. And it could be effective, I`m not sure it will be.

MATTHEWS: Do you see any Democratic -- Jason, do you see any Democrats second guessing their progressivism because Trump is mocking it?

JOHNSON: Those Democrats all got silenced about six or seven weeks ago when they realized it, saying abolish ICE wasn`t going to kill the party. Look, the cautious, we`ve got to make sure that we reach out to Trump supporting Democrats, they have been beaten. They have been defeated.

The loud, angry, passionate Democrats are the ones who seem like they`re going to be successful when it comes to midterms this fall. And that`s how politics works in America. Screaming and yelling is what made the Tea Party effective. Screaming and yelling is what made abortion a key issue and a key part of the Republican plank for the last 35 years.

Everyone knows that you don`t have a fear a quiet group of people sitting in a room talking about politics, you fear an angry crowd. And the Democrats are now the angry crowd, and Republicans haven`t seen the likes of this in 25 years, and they don`t know what to do about it.

And Trump thinks he can make people feel bad or change their mind, but that`s not going to work because he just keeps riling people up.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s one loud crowd against another loud crowd.

Anyway, Trump also targeted California Democrat, as I said, Dianne Feinstein, mocking her denial that she leaked a letter from Christine Blasey Ford to the media. Well, the crowd broke into chants of, here they go again, they want to put everybody in jail. By the way, aren`t they interested in process?

Uh-oh, here it comes, lock her up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: How about Senator Feinstein? That`s another beauty.

(BOOS)

Did you leak the documents? What? What? No, I didn`t.

Did we leak? Did we leak? No. No. No, we didn`t. He just said, no, we didn`t leak.

AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

TRUMP: I think they`re talking about Feinstein, can you believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: First of all, it`s Feinstein, it`s DiFi. We`ve heard it for 30 or 40 years. I don`t know, he mispronounced it. I don`t want to get into charge of anti-Semitism. I don`t know why he gets the names wrong.

Anyway, the timing is ironic given his complaints in recent days of the treatment of his Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The entire nation has witnessed the shameless conduct of the Democrat party.

(BOOS)

They`re willing to throw away every standard of decency, justice, fairness and due process to get their way. They threw away and threw aside ever notice of fairness, of justice, of decency and of due process. Nobody`s seen anything like it.

What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So Dr. Ford is just a casualty along the roadside, he`s knocked her, attacked her, called her a liar and those people cheer.

DEL PERCIO: And let`s not forget he praised her as being credible --

MATTHEWS: Once.

DEL PERCIO: But every time I hear Donald Trump use the word decency, I cringe because he`s the least decent president we`ve ever had. He doesn`t know what the meaning is of decency. He certainly doesn`t show it to anyone, even those people who work for him. All he is seeking to do is create an environment where he is the king of the hill of a very loud audience that thinks he`s great. And this is part of what you do when someone is about to get a huge hit, which he is going to take in the midterm elections when it comes to the House. You put them in a situation --

MATTHEWS: You`re with me on that.

DEL PERCIO: -- you keep them riled up, because it`s what you do and they thrive on it.

MATTHEWS: What`s he going to say when he loses 30 to 40 seats in the House and he`s gone and there`s no more Republican speaker?

CONFESSORE: He`ll blame Paul Ryan. But, look, I actually see a problem for him in that rally. I`m looking behind him, at the voice, the people on that crowd, they`re smiling, they`re having a good time. They`re listening to jokes.

They`re watching the show. They are not angry. They are watching the Trump show.

It doesn`t matter if they know who Cory Booker is. It doesn`t matter what name the president uses. They are just pieces and players in the script and everyone in the room has seen the script and heard it and they love it. It`s like a game show.

MATTHEWS: It might as well be Peewee Herman.

Thank you so much, Susan Del Percio. They`ll hate that. Nick Confessore, and Jason.

Jason, you were hot tonight, brother. You`re hot.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Progressives have heard their voice tonight from you.

Anyway, up next, the pieces are starting to fall into place in the mystery of the journalist who vanished in that Saudi consulate in Istanbul. This is a gross, horrible, horrible story, out of the mob. Was his disappearance state sanctioned murder? It looks like just that.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Saudi dissident and "Washington Post" contributor Jamal Khashoggi has been missing for over a week now ever since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday and never reemerged. Turkey`s officials have told "The New York Times" Khashoggi was killed while inside the consulate at the order of the Saudi Arabian government.

"The Washington Post" and other outlets have obtained video that`s been airing on Turkey`s television. According to Turkish officials, it allegedly shows a team of 15 Saudi agents who conducted that operation after flying into Istanbul on two gulfstream jets. Most disturbing is that according to one senior Turkish official who spoke to the "New York Times", that team, you won`t believe this, this is grotesque, dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for that purpose.

Well, President Trump says he`s spoken to the Saudi government. Here`s how he reacted to that story today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It`s very sad situation, it`s a very bad situation. And we want to get to the bottom of it.

KRISTEN WELKER: Do you think he`s dead?

TRUMP: I don`t want to make -- I don`t want to say that. I hope he`s not. I hope he`s not.

WELKER: Do you have a message to the Saudi government? Are you demanding information?

TRUMP: Yes, we are. We`re demanding everything. We want to see what`s going on here. It`s a bad situation.

And, frankly, the fact that it`s a reporter, you could say in many respects it makes it -- it brings it to a level -- it`s a very serious situation for us and for this White House. We do not like seeing what`s going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re bringing in right now Karen Attiah, who`s global opinions editor at "The Washington Post".

Karen, do you basically go along with what we`re hearing about the chain saw basically, cutting the bones, I mean, like the mob movie, where they went in there with a plan of killing this guy and removing his body piece by piece so it wouldn`t be observed? I mean, that seems to be how it comes together, as the story here, the horror of it.

KAREN ATTIAH, GLOBAL OPINIONS EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. Just so you know, Khashoggi, Jamal was a friend of mine. I was his editor for the last year. So it is -- it is hard to hear or to talk about, you know, what might have happened to him.

You know, I think for all the people that I`ve talked to who may be close with the Saudi government they don`t put anything past them, especially under this crown prince who, you know, reports of torture, disappearances, detaining. Yes, this is how he operates.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk politics for a minute in this horror. Why would a government, it wants good relations with the West, has had good relations, which apparently has tried to develop good relations with Israel and their common front against Iran risk this horror, which is not going to sell with any of the Western countries, including Israel, why was it so important for the crown prince to remove the threat of this one journalist?

ATTIAH: I mean, Khashoggi -- Jamal was -- he was outspoken, he was a critic of MBS, in his columns that he wrote for us. And Jamal told me he was under pressure from his family.

Why would they risk this? I mean, again, this is a brazen, even for the -- if this were all to be true it would be brazen and a new, grotesque, a new grotesque low.

But here`s thing, Jamal didn`t want to be seen as a dissident. Again, he was close to the Saudi royal family. He was an adviser, in many ways, he was a loyalist and seen as part of the royal machine. So --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ATTIAH: You know, that`s why -- the fact he wrote it in his columns, the Saudi regime can turn on you just like that.

MATHEWS: Well, he was going in to get a marriage -- he was getting marriage documents.

ATTIAH: Right.

MATTHEWS: What should the United States government do? I mean, you have the powers of the pen here. What should the government do?

ATTIAH: Well, absolutely, you know, if it comes to pass that we have, you know, conclusive evidence that the Saudis murdered him, not only murdered him, but murdered him in a consulate, a flagrant violation of international law, then consequences as far as there`s talk of the Magnitsky Act, you know, sanctions on Saudi officials to come here and spend money, pulling out of investment opportunities. There`s an investment conference that`s happening later this month in October in Riyadh.

MATTHEWS: OK.

ATTIAH: Any government officials they should pull out if they care about freedom of expression and want to back up Trump`s statements, they need to do the right thing and end this relationship.

MATTHEWS: We`re out of time. I`m sorry, Karen.

ATTIAH: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: It`s so great. I understand your passion as a professional and as a boss and losing a colleague like this in this unbelievable horrible way.

Karen Attiah, thank you, of "The Washington Post".

HARDBALL back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.

END

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