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Trump rails against democrats. TRANSCRIPT: 10/11/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Betsy Woodruff, Peter Baker, Marc Caputo, Mara Gay, Noelle Nikpour, Phil Bump; Susan Page; Mike Murphy; Zerlina Maxwell

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 11, 2018 Guest: Betsy Woodruff, Peter Baker, Marc Caputo, Mara Gay, Noelle Nikpour, Phil Bump; Susan Page; Mike Murphy; Zerlina Maxwell

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Stoking the fires. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I am Chris Matthews up in New York with 26 days now until the midterms, President Trump has gone on a rampage today using every weapon and hitting every target to shape the battlefield to come, trying to stoke the outrage that fueled his own election two years ago, Trump fired up his base in a 45-minute interview this afternoon or actually this morning on good old FOX.

He delivered a wide assault not just on Democrats but all his enemies, the FBI, the media, and of course, Hillary Clinton. For instance, in attacking former FBI director James Comey, he said that Clinton, Hillary Clinton, should have been hauled off the campaign trail in 2016 and thrown in jail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did a great service for this country when I fired Comey. He was a bad guy with bad intentions. You know, the Democrats hated Comey more than any human being. He actually did Hillary Clinton a big favor because she should be in jail, but -- they should have taken her right off the campaign. So he did her a big favor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s a rant, a rampage. By shifting the debate to more familiar terrain, the President hopes to close the enthusiasm gap with the Democrats who are enjoying a pretty much energy drive right now. And we are seeing that in his latest attack on the media.

Trump today floated a conspiracy theory you might call it that last month`s anonymous column could have been made up by "New York Times" itself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The media is very, very dishonest, beyond anything that anybody can understand. Now, even the letter written to the Times, there`s a chance, I don`t say a big chance, there`s a good chance that was written by the times. I would like to go in there and find out who it is. It could have been the "New York Times" wrote it to be honest. They are a very dishonest paper. One of the things I have done is I have educated the public as to dishonesty of the fake news media.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in praising his allies, President Trump singled out House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes who by the way has effectively ousted himself as a Trump tote (ph) in his efforts to undermine the Russian investigation. Trump now says that Nunes should be awarded the country`s highest civilian honor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: These people want to get to the bottom of it. And I don`t think people like Devin Nunes, he should get, if this all turns out like everyone thinks it will, Devin Nunes should get the Medal of Honor. He is really, what he has gone through and his bravery. He should get a very important medal. Maybe call it the Medal of Freedom because we actually give them. They are high awards for civilians. And he has done amazing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joining me right now, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," Mike Murphy, Republican strategist and Zerlina Maxwell, director of the progressive programming for Sirius XM.

I want to start with Zerlina because maybe you are the youngest person here. This isn`t the way we live.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, SENIOR DIRECTOR, SIRIUS XM PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING: Right.

MATTHEWS: This is rampage ranting, attacking everyone it comes. It is all stream of consciousness.

MAXWELL: Right.

MATTHEWS: Any name that comes to his mind that bothers him at all, he accuses of the worst. They should be in jail. And anybody that likes him like Kanye West should getting the civilian highest award in history. It is like an 8-year-old talking.

MAXWELL: Yes. And I am the youngest person here, I think, but I am old enough to know what`s normal and what is not. And so, what is happening right now is absolutely abnormal. And in some ways normalizing Trump.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MAXWELL: And the rhetoric and the exaggerations and lies every single day, we get exhausted from it, Chris, and we get to the point where we don`t get as outraged as we probably should be when he is saying that Hillary Clinton should have been taken off the campaign trail and put into jail, for what crime? For what crime, Chris?

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t think he needs one.

MAXWELL: Right.

MATTHEWS: Having her own server.

MAXWELL: Right. So she is going to go to jail for a server.

MATTHEWS: And then he is going to put Dianne Feinstein in prison the other day for leaking.

MAXWELL: Right. And so to that point, the lock her up chant, they started out being about Hillary Clinton. Now they are just about, you know, any --

MATTHEWS: Who is the audience, Zerlina? Who is listening to this (INAUDIBLE) and say that`s pretty smart. He has something going here.

MAXWELL: Well, clearly the people at his rallies and the people that listen to Alex Jones and watch FOX News on a loop and those folks in the base. But I think that there`s really an ugly underbelly and misogyny there when he is saying lock her up and encouraging people to say that about any woman, you just insert the name, and they are saying that they should be incarcerated.

MATTHEWS: Mike Murphy, this charges, for example, that Ted Cruz`s father had a hand in killing Jack Kennedy, now he is down there campaigning for Ted. Does anything he says mean anything to anybody? Well, translate. What is he saying when he says things like "New York Times" made up the op- ed, like a newspaper that openly admits its mistakes day after day on the corrections page, admits mistakes, would lie about something like who wrote a column and say we drafted that ourselves in the back room. He says he wants to go into "New York Times." He wants to go into the paper and look around and find this person that wrote this op-ed.

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, look. There`s no fact standard. And none of the standards were used to an American President. What we have here I think is two things going on. These rallies are not really about the campaign. They are not about swing voters in the state or doing something to try to hold a congressional seat. They are just therapy for the President. And it is the same thing when he calls into a friendly show on FOX News. His - it is his own way to just kind of relax and unload all this stuff.

I guess the only good thing you can say, he is the most unfiltered President we ever had. The problem is we look through the filter and see somebody that lies all the time, is in an alternate reality and who acts a little, well, crazy. He does basically the drunk uncle at the wedding toast in speech or interview.

I think the only other ray of some light in this is he doesn`t believe any of it either. But he doesn`t understand what a President says is very, very important. He just does this (INAUDIBLE) stuff where he throws out things to voters he has already got, alienating the ones he needs and makes himself feel good. It is very bizarre.

MATTHEWS: There`s a taste of Mussolini here with a guy walking around with a tie as eight feet long, coat open, clapping for himself. The Chinese do this, you clap for yourself in that culture. But he is clapping away about it. Is he applauding himself and his presentation here?

Susan, you are the cold minded absolute straight journalist in the room here. What are we looking at here objectively?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: I think we are looking at the 2020 reelection campaign. I think that`s what the rallies are about. I think that`s the message of the rallies. I think that`s the reason for the location of the rallies. Why is he going to places like Pennsylvania? Because he will need Pennsylvania in the reelection battle.

And I think he is testing how to come out against a Republican party. You see him testing lines against particular Republican Presidential contenders. So I think it is less about what is the vote on November 6th and more about the vote on November 2020.

MATTHEWS: Well, you are right about it. And you meant Democratic -- people like Pocahontas, that line, that one I think will probably carry for a-while. It may last all the way through the election because Senator Warren hasn`t really come back with a rebuke for that yet except it is racist which I think is an argument. But I don`t think that will sell with his potential voters.

Anyway, NBC News is reporting tonight that President Trump`s lawyers are preparing answers now to questions submitted by Robert Mueller`s people. That`s according to a source familiar with the matter. And there`s still no agreement for the President to be questioned in person. However, Trump told FOX today, you never know what this means, I`ll do whatever is necessary. That means whatever his lawyers agree to. Go ahead. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you thought again about sitting down for an interview or write written questions or any type of hybrid approach there?

TRUMP: Well, it seems ridiculous that I would have to do it when everybody says there`s no collusion. But I will do what is necessary to get it on with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Zerlina? I mean, it has so many millions of traps in that.

MAXWELL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I`ll do -- whatever my lawyers say it might have to do to avoid a subpoena. In fact, even to honor subpoena now that I have five people to the Supreme Court that are hoping (INAUDIBLE), you know. You may not have to do anything.

MAXWELL: Well, that`s what the whole fight was about, Chris. It was about avoiding the consequences that could be potentially down the road for him at the end of this investigation.

MATTHEWS: You mean having a packed Supreme Court.

MAXWELL: Yes. Justice Kavanaugh there as a back stop.

MATTHEWS: Who says Presidents have enormous power beyond our imagination.

MAXWELL: Correct. And so, that`s really problematic on one hand. But on the other hand, he basically answers by saying yes, no, and maybe when one are talking whether or not he is going or not he is going to go sit down with Robert Mueller. And we know that he is probably not going to do it because he can`t tell the truth.

MATTHEWS: Never. They tape those interviews. It is called perjury.

MAXWELL: Right. And he cannot tell the truth.

Additionally, I think he is very scared of the Russian investigation because it doesn`t just have one tenant. Now we are in southern district of New York. You have Michael Cohen cooperating with the southern district on the Trump administration and foundation. You have his accountant cooperating.

MATTHEWS: Right.

MAXWELL: So you have the accountant, you have the lawyer, I mean, you just -- you need one more person and you have the perfect set up for a joke. Not a good one for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: My set up was to set up this is shaping the battlefield like they used to say back in Iraq wars and the gulf wars and shaping the battles. He is now basically like (INAUDIBLE), saying I will fight anybody in the house for a dollar. He wants to fight Eric Holder. He wants to fight Gary Cohn. Why does he get up in the morning with so many people on his enemies list, he begins to sound a little bit crazy having that many enemies he wants to duke it out with now.

MURPHY: Well, I think he might be a little crazy. I think it is a mistake to apply a lot of strategic insight to President Trump. He reacts with instinct. He is driven by his own needs and emotions. So he is angry at people. He goes to a safe venue, either hockey arena full of Republican primary voters or FOX and friend and vents about them or twitter, I guess, I should say, too.

So I`m not sure there`s a method to the madness. I think it is a lot of madness to the madness. And he, again, is the most transparent President we ever had because he just emotes what he is thinking.

MATTHEWS: Well, I got you. And you are an expert at this. As long as he can win the minute, as long as he can be firing every direction any second we live on this planet together with him, as long as he can do that, keep shooting and shooting, Pocahontas, that, this, liar this, whatever this, as long as he keeps shooting every direction, can anybody beat him? Is there anybody can stand up to him, that crossfire craziness that he is able to explode in every minute he is in combat? Mike Murphy.

MURPHY: I think he is done. I mean, he has got this -- give him credit, he has this (INAUDIBLE) mind twist on a lot of the Dems because wait a minute. Nate Silver said he was going to lose and he won. He has got magic. He can`t be stop. His numbers are terrible. The special elections have gone badly. The midterms look dim. And he only operates in the demographic cul-de-sac of the Republican primary where he is declining a little bit and will more if we lose on Election Day midterms.

So I think that his card trick will wear out and the demography of merk (ph) is still changing quickly against him. So I am not sure he will be the nominee or run in 2020. I think we have a lot of things we are going to learn after the one mark market event that counts in politics, Election Day coming very quickly now.

MATTHEWS: Well, Trump was also asked about "the Washington Post" reporting yesterday that he had spoken to Jeff Sessions` chief of staff Matt Whitaker about replacing his boss as attorney general. Well, Trump wouldn`t say what he plans to do about Sessions, the question provoked a rant today again about Russia and the investigation is bothering him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I never talk about that but I can tell you Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker. But I never talk about conversations that I had. But, you know, "the Washington Post" gets it wrong a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But the conversation is that you are in active talks to replace the attorney general of the United States.

TRUMP: I`m not doing anything. I want to get the elections over with. We will see what happens. I`m very disappointed that we go through this witch hunt, this ridiculous witch hunt. There`s no collusion. There is no collusion. There`s collusion with Hillary Clinton and the Russians but there is no collusion with the Republicans and there is certainly no collusion with Donald Trump. And everyone knows it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s some fortunate information to get from the President himself.

Anyway, today, "the Wall Street Journal" reports that President Trump is considering as many as five candidates as a new AG on the assumption Jeff Sessions will leave his post later this year.

Susan, what is the reporting on that? It seems like he wants to clear the deck in some Saturday night massacre come fall and would become on November which is the right time to have such a thing on the nicks and schedule. He gets rid of the AG, then what?

PAGE: Well, that has a lot of steps in it. I would say, just start with step one which is I think it is unlikely that Jeff Sessions is still the attorney general a month after Election Day. You know, he has been trying to hold on I think until after that, and present terms is going to hold on that (ph).

But his answer that you just played was not very reassuring for any job security for Jeff Sessions saying I don`t want to talk about that. Let`s get through the election.

What happens after that I don`t know because the President has some challenges when it comes to getting another nomination, for instance, confirmed through the Senate, even if it is a Republican Senate. And it is clear that he is quite concerned about a Russian investigation that seems to be coming to conclusion. The fact that Mueller is talking to his lawyers so seriously whether he will testify or not is a sign that Mueller is getting close to the end of that part of the investigation.

MATTHEWS: Well, he is threatening all the time to knock off Sessions. But what about Rosenstein, his deputy? It seems to me he is giving him a warm hand now. What is the game? And who is playing who? Is Rosenstein playing the President to keep the job or the President keeping him calm before he executes him at some point politically, gets rid of him?

PAGE: I think they have become -- I think that situation calmed down. And that Rod Rosenstein seems to be in better favor after the moment when we were all sure he was going to the White House to resign. So that has been perplexing. I think in some ways, maybe the Brett Kavanaugh story overtook that Rod Rosenstein story, gave a cooling off period that preserved his job.

MATTHEWS: But the bottom line is the President has got to get rid of these people. He is going to face hell.

Anyway. Thank you, Susan Page. Thank you, Mike Murphy and Zerlina Maxwell.

Coming up, new details about disappearance of a "the Washington Post" contributor and Saudi dissident that walked into a Saudi consulate over in Istanbul but never came out.

Plus, hurricane Michael left a path of destruction in Florida. How will the storm impact or effect the state of play in a highly contested Senate and gubernatorial races. These storms almost always help the person in charge.

And this happened at the White House today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEST: It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like superman. You made a superman. That`s my favorite superhero. This is our President. He has to be the freshest, the fliest (ph), the fliest (ph) planes, the best factories, and we have to make our core be in power. I love this guy right here. Let me give this guy a hug. I love this guy right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Susan Page Well, the word the fliest is the newest word there is.

Finally, let me finish with a man that ran against Washington elite on a promise how un-Trumpian not to lie to us.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, today was a big day for the first ladies of the world on morning shows. Melania Trump was on ABC News where asked about her the best campaign which raises awareness about online bullying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to you personally or what did you see personally that you thought you wanted to tackle this issue?

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I could say I am the most bullied person in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you are the most bullied person in the world?

M. TRUMP: One of them if you really see what people are saying about me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, Former first lady Michelle Obama appeared on "Today." Let`s watch her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were famous at the Democratic convention for saying when they go low, we go high. And just this week, the former attorney general Eric Holder who worked for your husband said the Democrats should have a new motto, when they go low, we should kick them. Do you think it still stands, when they go low, we go high?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely -- fear is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I think she could play wonder woman someday.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s been over a week now since Jamal Khashoggi, journalist and critic of the Saudi royal family, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate over in Istanbul. There it is.

Security cameras captured the columnist entering the building, but not leaving. According to "The Washington Post," citing people familiar with the Turkish investigation there, Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate soon after he entered. Afterward, his body was dismembered to conceal the killing.

Well, one person familiar with the information told "The Post" that U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials -- catch this -- discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi. NBC News has not seen those intercepts itself.

But, today, "The Post" also reported that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia had failed in an operation to lure that columnist, Khashoggi, back to Saudi Arabia in order to detain him there -- in other words, kidnap him there.

The prince denied that, telling Bloomberg -- quote -- "We hear the rumors about what happened. He`s a Saudi citizen. And we are very keen to know what happened to him."

Well, believe that for what it`s worth.

Since his inauguration, President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have fostered a close, intimate relationship with the prince of Saudi Arabia.

In fact, Trump was asked the disappearance today and whether it should affect America`s tight relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First, I want to find out what happened. And we`re looking.

Again, this took place in Turkey. And to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen. Is that right or...

QUESTION: Permanent resident.

TRUMP: He`s a Permanent resident. OK.

We don`t like it, John. We don`t like it. And we don`t like it even a little bit. But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternatives, two very good alternatives, that wouldn`t be acceptable to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in May of 2017, while in Saudi Arabia, President Trump told an audience of Muslim leaders that, under his leadership, human rights would not affect cooperation with other governments.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I also promise that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others. We`re not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for "The New York Times," and Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter for The Daily Beast.

Peter, what do you think the reading was in that -- in the Saudi Arabian world there, the tight world around the royal family, when they heard our president say, we don`t care about human rights violations?

PETER BAKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I was there on that trip in Saudi in May of 2017. And they were cheering, basically. This is exactly the message that Saudis and other autocratic governments around the world have wanted to hear.

They wanted to hear that America was going to step back from its traditional role of advocating human rights and democracy around the world.

Now, we have had a checkered history with that under other presidents, but this is the first time a president came out there and said it quite so explicitly, that we don`t basically care what you do within your own borders.

Now, we do care, obviously, when an American resident killed, and killed not inside Saudi`s borders. But the question is, how much and what will President Trump do about it, if he`s not willing to suspend arms deals or other -- take other kinds of sanctions?

Jamal Khashoggi was a resident of Virginia, a permanent resident of the United States, much like President Trump`s own in-laws were until recently, when they became American citizens.

That`s the kind of person we normally defend when something happens to them overseas.

MATTHEWS: Betsy, I`m struck, as the days go, each day more, people seem to care more about this story. There seems to be a sense of American kinship with this guy, with Khashoggi, Jamal Khashoggi.

In a way, I would have been surprised, had I not this -- going in this direction. People feel -- and maybe it`s because of "The Washington Post" -- but people are growing angrier at what looks like a horrific killing of somebody who worked here.

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: That`s right.

As time has passed, as we have gotten more detail, and as it seems to becoming increasingly clear, although the Saudis do deny this, that the available evidence strongly indicates that he was killed and then dismembered in this consulate, that`s something that is -- that is obviously deeply disturbing to a wide swathe of the population, particularly in Congress.

One potential consequence of this death, this alleged death -- we assume it`s a death -- one potential consequence and one thing that concerns Saudi and Emirati officials in Washington, is that this could affect the United States` support for the Saudi and Emirati coalition currently at war in Yemen.

That war has precipitated arguably the single greatest humanitarian crisis on the world. Upwards of a third of the population is vulnerable to starvation, in part because the Saudis have blockaded a major port in Yemen.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WOODRUFF: And a number of folks on Capitol Hill are arguing that, because of the way that the Saudis appear to have treated this journalist, who lived in the United States, who worked for the Americans, that Americans ought to reconsider their support for the war that the Saudis are fighting in Yemen.

MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump has been friendly, of course, to the Saudi government. He made it is first foreign visit as president after his inauguration.

In fact, according to "The Washington Post," Trump`s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has developed an intimate bond with the Saudi prince over there.

The disappearance of Khashoggi has put that relationship under a microscope, thank God. According to "New York Times," Kushner conveyed a letter from the publisher of "The Washington Post" to Prince Mohammed expressing concern for Mr. Khashoggi and asking for his help.

You know, I just wonder about this, because one thing that the pros in foreign policy warn you about is, don`t assume, because you have a little chat or chitchat with some foreign leader, that you have got some connection with him.

The people -- the ties behind people like the Assad family, the ties behind them are hard and entangled and real. You`re not just chatting with somebody you met on a bus. You`re chatting with someone with all these family -- familial and political ties back home.

If somebody becomes a threat to Saudi Arabia, that buddy of yours on the phone is going to act in the interest of the people around him who control him, and not in the interest of his little friendship with you.

Your thoughts, Peter?

BAKER: Yes. No, that`s exactly right.

The Saudis have always been kind of a problematic partner for the United States going back before this president. This president has tried to solidify those bonds. But this has been a problem going back for years, because there are two sides to the Saudi story.

There a is the side that we see here in Washington and in European capitals, very sophisticated, modern, seemingly liberal-minded Saudis, who pay money to firms here to burnish their image. And then there`s the reality on the ground there, where, until recently, women weren`t even allowed to drive, where, even to this day, the very hard-line version of Islam is the dominant force in that society, where, in fact, terrorism money has -- has been a -- found there for many, many years.

So, this is something we have struggled with for a long time. President Trump is now confronted it in a way that his predecessors have been. We will see how he handles it.

MATTHEWS: I think, sometimes, we treat foreigners as foreign, and sometimes we treat, in this case, I think, people as more familiar to us than they really are. They seem more like us, but they`re not.

Peter Baker, thank you. Betsy Woodruff.

Up next: With Florida reeling from Michael, Hurricane Michael`s deadly impact, we`re going to look at the politics of that situation, including the Republican Party`s break with longstanding tradition by refusing to stop the negative advertising on TV during one of -- what we`re watching.

That was happening at the same time the negative ads were playing on the televisions.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With just 26 days now until the midterm elections, tonight, we take a look at Florida, a state with two nationally watched midterm elections coming up, including one of our HARDBALL 10 Senate races.

Campaigning has been temporarily put on pause down there, as the state recovers from -- look at this devastation left by Hurricane Michael.

In our HARDBALL 10 Senate race down there, incumbent Bill Nelson`s locked in a tight race with the outgoing governor -- he`s still governor -- Rick Scott.

The RealClearPolitics average shows Nelson with a nearly 2.5-point edge -- it`s pretty close, probably about three if you average it out -- over Republican Governor Scott, Rick Scott.

We`re also watching the governor`s race down there, where Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is taking on former Congressman Ron DeSantis. The RealClear average there has them basically four points apart.

Let`s bring in Marc.

Anyway, even as Hurricane Michael bore down on the state, the negative ad word never stopped, a break with tradition actually in that state. Republican Party of Florida kept an anti-Gillum ad on the air statewide yesterday.

I`m joined right now by Marc Caputo, senior writer for Politico.

Thank you, Marc.

I want to let -- turn this over to, in a sense.

What is all this talk -- I hear this from progressives, from Democrats, partisans -- they are hopeful that the strong showing by the gubernatorial candidate, the mayor of Tallahassee, Gillum, is going to drag back Nelson to victory.

Tell me why people keep saying that.

MARC CAPUTO, POLITICO: Well, because Democrats, for the first time, are really excited about their candidate for governor.

We really haven`t seen, either on the Democratic side or the Republican side, this much enthusiasm in a governor`s race for a candidate at least in like the 20 years I have covered politics in Florida.

Gillum had brought a lot of flash, a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm, which, again, is -- it`s kind of unprecedented. He`s campaigning in areas where Democrats traditionally have not drawn big crowds, and he`s drawn big crowds.

Now, these aren`t presidential campaign-style crowds, but it`s noteworthy. There is certainly enthusiasm on the Democratic side I haven`t seen in years.

MATTHEWS: What`s it about Gillum?

I have only talked him on the phone a couple of times. And what strikes me is something that once somebody said about Kennedy years ago, no B.S. You actually can talk turkey to the guy. And he doesn`t put on frills or rhetoric or whatever. He just talks to you.

I mean, is that the appeal, the regularness of the guy, or what? Would you say?

CAPUTO: Well, when you talk to people about Gillum, what they cite most is his likability.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CAPUTO: He`s -- he`s just affable.

And one of the problems that his opponent, Ron DeSantis, is encountering is that he`s not really known as kind of a likable, warm, fuzzy guy. And so you might be seeing a little bit of this likability gap between the two, at least as you see in the polling.

MATTHEWS: Has Florida ever shown any liberalism or tolerance on ethic issues, like electing an African-American to anything state -- I`m not -- look, I`m not knocking Florida. I`m from Pennsylvania. They haven`t done it either.

Ohio hasn`t. A lot of states have a hard time giving a chance -- let`s be honest about it -- an open chance to an African-American candidate for Senate or governor, the big jobs.

CAPUTO: Well, Florida did elect Barack Obama twice, but then elected Rick Scott twice, and it elected President Trump. We`re not a blue state. We`re not a purple state. We`re not a red state. We`re kind of a schizophrenia state.

So we -- also, there was -- Leander Shaw was a Supreme Court justice. And he was -- he was retained by popular vote, which happens periodically in Florida as well.

But that really is not the first African-American candidate. When you think of that, you think Barack Obama.

Now, Andrew Gillum is -- embodies probably more of the typical African- American experience that you see in Florida. He was born in a relatively poor or not -- not rich area of the Miami. And he was raised in Gainesville, in kind of a small town. And he went to school at a traditionally black college, FAMU.

So, this is really going to a test on whether that theory that Florida or many big states is not ready to elect a black man is true or not, because here he is leading in polls, and there`s a lot of excitement for him across the board.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CAPUTO: Now, I do...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I like the way you`re saying this, because it`s the regular African-American experience, a guy with...

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: Yes, he wasn`t raised in Hawaii. He didn`t go to Harvard, right.

MATTHEWS: Right. Obama was an exotic in many ways, an extraordinary person.

But let me ask you about the executive thing that everybody -- like, presidents like to be able to show their stuff in a war, not that they like wars. Some of them do, I guess.

CAPUTO: Right.

MATTHEWS: But that you can show your leadership ability in a war. You can`t do it in peacetime.

When there`s a natural disaster, like we have right now this week, from Hurricane Michael, how will Rick Scott use that? How will Mayor Gillum use that to show their stuff?

CAPUTO: Well, they have both been doing an effective job of it.

Now, Rick Scott has a far bigger advantage, because he has a far bigger bully pulpit, and he`s been through this drill before. After Hurricane Irma in 2017, Rick Scott`s net favorability rating rose 8 percentage points.

And since then, his poll numbers have been higher than they had been in his previous seven years or so. So, there is a built-in advantage of being the commander in chief, being a leader in time of crisis, and being able to communicate to people in a way that rises above the politics.

If you wind up on the Weather Channel telling people how to take cover and to be safe and to not run generators indoors, and assure them that help is on the way, that does speak to people at a very visceral level.

And we saw it with Jeb Bush. His poll numbers increased. We saw it with George Bush in 2004 during the campaign for president, or his reelection, when his poll numbers rose amid four hurricanes damaging Florida.

Andrew Gillum has been bashed by his Republican opponent for his managing of a hurricane in 2016. But we have seen, since then, if he did make any mistakes, at least on a P.R. level, he certainly corrected them in quite a large number, that is, quite a bit.

And so I`m hesitant to say anything is going to make one difference in a race in Florida. We have razor-thin election margins at the top of the ticket. But because we do have such close elections, everything matters.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CAPUTO: And so, yes, this hurricane matters, both for Rick Scott and Andrew Gillum and their opponents.

MATTHEWS: If the governor wins, it will be because of that cap, the baseball cap that says Navy on it.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much. I think these things matter.

Thank you, Marc Caputo, for coming on tonight.

CAPUTO: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: It`s not every day you see President Trump rendered speechless, but, well, this performance here -- by the way, you notice his desk is empty?

But, today, rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West was invited into the Oval Office, where he delivered a rambling 10-minute speech on everything from Air Force One to hats -- that`s right -- to mental health and to something called male energy.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s an amazing spectacle, don`t you think, at the White House as rapper Kanye West stopped by to have lunch with President Trump. Ostensibly, they`re to discuss prison reform and some other issues, West delivered a ten minute monologue in front of cameras there in the Oval Office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANYE WEST, RAPPER: People expect that if you`re black you have to be Democrat. I have conversations that basically say that welfare is the reason why a lot of black people end up being Democrat.

You know, my dad and my mom separated, so I didn`t have a lot of male energy in my home, and also I`m married to a family that, you know, not a lot of male energy going on.

It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman.

There`s a lot of things effecting our mental health that makes us do crazy things, that puts us back into that trap door called the 13th Amendment. If he don`t look good, we don`t look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest, the flyest planes, the best factories and make our core be empowered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump seemed both pleased and a bit baffled by that performance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ll tell you what, that was pretty impressive.

(LAUGHTER)

That was quite something. Really very interesting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Really very interesting.

Earlier today, Trump credited Kanye for his support among African Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When Kanye came out strongly a few months ago, something happened. My polls went up like 25 percent. Nobody has ever seen it like -- he`s got a big following in the African-American community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s right, no one has ever seen it.

Let`s bring in tonight`s roundtable. Mara Gay, "New York Times" editorial board member, Noelle Nikpour, a Republican strategist, and Phil Bump, a reporter for "The Washington Post".

What do we make of Kanye?

NOELLE NIKPOUR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: First of all, Chris, look, Kanye West is a rapper. What did we all expect, some intellectual conversation on global warming or what`s going on in the economy or the Dow?

No. This is Kanye West. And he made his brand off being bizarro. I think what we got is exactly what he is. He has been known for coming on stage, doing bizarre things.

MATTHEWS: What`s the purpose of this spectacle?

NIKPOUR: Well, I think, you know, his wife has been up there in June. I think she was up there to get the early prison release of the lady and all that. So, I think they have shown they want to be involved.

And, look, let`s face it, you guys, not a lot of celebrity, not a lot of Hollywood people are supporting President Trump. They kind of turned their backs. So, when President Trump can find somebody that he feels is popular, not from the `70s, that`s going to support him and go out there that might be popular with some of the African-Americans or some of the youth, why not capture that? Why not --

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what to make of that. Nixon had Wilt Chamberlain and Martha Ray, two that I knew of.

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Let`s be clear, they`re two of a kind. They`re both clearly narcissist. Kanye West was not elected by anyone. He has no support politically with black voters who are just like all other voters in this country and vote in their self interest or try to.

If anything, black voters are more sophisticated because they had to be for 300 years for their own survival. I think it is an insult, it is ridiculous. And Taylor Swift just going to have way more impact.

MATTHEWS: You mean, when you`re a minority, you have to pay a lot more attention to the white people that fight to see who rules you.

GAY: That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I thought. From my perspective, tried to understand it, living in D.C., tried to figure that out. Whites are at least a type of minority in D.C., you have to figure out black politics.

(CROSSTALK)

GAY: Black voters are extremely sophisticated by virtue of having to navigate the politics in this country that has been defined by racism for 300 years.

MATTHEWS: Phil?

PHIL BUMP, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. It is worth pointing out it is completely untrue that Donald Trump`s approval rating changed dramatically with African Americans.

MATTHEWS: We studied them, they`re not outside the mainstream. He got about 8 percent in `16 compared to Romney getting 6 and 12. McCain getting 4 in `08, Bush getting 9 in 2000. He is in the middle.

BUMP: He did the best of any Republican candidate not running as Barack Obama, and his numbers didn`t improve when Kanye West came out in support of him in April.

This is two people that feed off aggregating as much possible attention as they can. This is probably the peak of that. I think she`s also right in saying Taylor Swift will have more effect because she isn`t engaged in politics, was very targeted in what she said this week, targeting one specific race, encourage people to come and vote.

MATTHEWS: My IQ is dropping as we have this conversation.

BUMP: No, but I don`t think that`s fair. I don`t think that`s fair.

MATTHEWS: I mean, we`re talking about Kanye West. I`m sorry, it`s just dropping right now.

I think it is aimed at the white suburbanite to convince them I`m not a racist, solid bank shot.

Anyway, meanwhile, the battle over voter registration is becoming one of the biggest issues in that race in Georgia. "The Associated Press" reports that more than 53,000 residents of Georgia had registrations put on hold, thanks to a policy that requires their applications for registration to match information from other state agencies. Applications could be held up for reasons as mundane as dropped hyphens in the last name, the double barrel name.

Seventy percent, by the way, that people affected by this list, has been taken off the list are African-Americans which is interesting. The person overseeing the effort, by the way, is the governor -- the secretary of state, Brian Kemp, who also happens to be a Republican candidate for governor. So, he has an interest in this thing. He is running against Stacey Abrams who is an African-American herself.

Noelle?

NIKPOUR: I don`t think he should be overseeing it, I really don`t. There`s nothing wrong with showing your ID to match. If you have a little discrepancy, people should use common sense. There should be common sense.

I don`t see anything wrong with having the ID match, but what I see something wrong with, and I`m a Republican here, I don`t like that it is almost like the cat watching over the canary. I think we should have had somebody else watching over it.

MATTHEWS: Can`t we leave the commission so it is, one party saying we will screw the other party with this thing?

GAY: I mean, voting should be a nonpartisan issue. Just to get into the nitty-gritty, there`s a nationwide effort among Republicans, not every Republican, but among Republicans to suppress minority votes.

MATTHEWS: Why do they do that? Explain the math.

GAY: Because the country is demographically changing and I think in a race like this where very few small number of votes could make a difference, 53,000 voters whose votes are being put on hold essentially, their registration, 70 percent of them African-American. I mean, there`s only one conclusion to come to because this is a solution without a problem. We should be making it easier to vote.

MATTHEWS: I know. This is old pattern. We know about voter suppression. Thank God we`re paying attention to it.

The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the remnants of Hurricane Michael are pushing eastward tonight, drenching areas like here in New York, still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Anyway, meanwhile, survivors along the Gulf Coast got their first look today at the devastation there. This is fast and furious here, entire neighborhoods along Florida`s Mexico coast just flattened, homes and businesses reduced to piles of splintered lumber and twisted steel. It`s all true. At least six deaths are blamed on Hurricane Michael. But that toll is expected to rise considering the number of residents who didn`t evacuate.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.

Mara, tell me something I don`t know?

GAY: Committee to Protect Journalists has said that at least 43 journalists have been killed this year so far, and I don`t believe that even includes Jamal Khashoggi who unfortunately we believe he`s feared to be dead.

MATTHEWS: Noelle?

NIKPOUR: Dina Powell took her name off the list for a potential candidate for a U.N. ambassador appointment.

MATTHEWS: Why? It`s a great job.

NIKPOUR: I don`t know. She took her name off. Bet you didn`t know.

MATTHEWS: That`s news. Thank you.

Phil?

BUMP: So, I`m sort of fascinated by this. President Trump doesn`t seem to like the White House very much. Over the course of the past four months, 60 percent of days, slightly less (INAUDIBLE) days -- he`s either been at one of his own properties or holding a campaign rally. He`s held six campaign rallies so far this month. It`s only been 11 days. It`s just sort of fascinating and once again atypical.

MATTHEWS: Yes, Reagan was like that.

Thank you, Mara Gay. Thank you, Noelle Nikpour and Phil Bump of "The Washington Post".

When we return, let me finish tonight with a rare conversation I had with President Jimmy Carter. This is going to be great. That`s what I think.

Anyway, you`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: This Sunday night, MSNBC is premiering a documentary on Jimmy Carter at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The doc is built around a rare conversation I had with the former president. It really is something special because Carter really opens up.

His historic achievement was bringing peace between Israel and the country that was then the most dangerous threat to Israel back in 1778. Here he is talking about taking Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat to the nearby Gettysburg battlefield.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: Nobody ever asked me, for instance, to try to bring peace between Israel and Egypt.

MATTHEWS: Carter invited two of the world`s most bitter enemies, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel to come to Camp David for an unprecedented series of peace talks.

Let me ask you about taking those two amazing men to Gettysburg.

CARTER: That was one of the most emotional things I ever did. The first three days that we were together, Begin and Sadat were completely crossed up. They didn`t get along -- didn`t get agree on anything. They would just resurrect ancient disharmonies between Egypt and Israel, really back to 2,000 years.

When we got to Gettysburg, it was interesting because all the Egyptian officers and most of the Israelis knew all about Gettysburg. They have studied it in school. When we got to where Lincoln made his Gettysburg address, everybody stopped and Begin began to speak in a loud voice and recited completely the Gettysburg address.

MATTHEWS: Wow, what a moment.

CARTER: I still get choked up thinking about it. But it was a dramatic, unforgettable moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, tune in this Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. It really is, I believe, something special to watch.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END