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Trump sounds off. TRANSCRIPT: 10/15/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Nayyera Haq, Eric Swalwell, Ashley Parker, Steve McMahon, Adolfo Franco

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 15, 2018 Guest: Nayyera Haq, Eric Swalwell, Ashley Parker, Steve McMahon, Adolfo Franco

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It`s all about him. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

President Trump is refusing to take a back seat in the run up to the midterm elections. The news tonight, as it will be through midterm election night itself, is Trump-Trump-Trump. That`s the way he wants it. The question is, how will voters react?

Calculated, there`s no such thing as overexposure. Trump`s apparent goal now is to dominate the national news, signaling that for better or worse, come November, it`s all about Trump.

In the first 15 days of October alone, catch this, the President has held eight rallies. That`s one more than one every other night, conducted six major interviews and made himself available to answer questions on at least 20 other occasions.

And while the President is traditionally opted for favorable platforms like FOX, to spread his message, he ventured outside his comfort zone last night appearing on "60 Minutes." He attempted to show that he can stand up to tough questions from a real journalist, Leslie Stahl.

Here`s how Trump, when challenged, declined to single out the Russians for their 2016 attack on the integrity of our elections.


LESLIE STAHL, CBS ANCHOR: Do you believe that the Russians interfered in the 2016 campaign -- election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, they meddled, but I think China meddled, too. And I think other countries --

STAHL: But why do you say China meddled, too? Why don`t you just say the Russians meddled?

TRUMP: Let me ask you. Because I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China --

STAHL: This is amazing. You are diverting the whole Russian thing --

TRUMP: I`m not doing anything. I`m saying Russia, but I`m also saying China.


MATTHEWS: She is challenging him. Of course, the intelligence community concluded that Russia, not China, was responsible for interfering in 2016.

In another revealing exchange between the President and Leslie Stahl, the President was pressed to explain why he mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who publicly accused justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Ultimately, though, Trump said his ridiculing behavior didn`t matter because, as he said, this is so Trump. We won. Let`s watch this.


STAHL: You mimicked Professor Blasey Ford. You mimicked her.

TRUMP: Had I not made that speech, we would not have won. I was just saying she didn`t seem to know anything and you are trying to destroy a life of a man who has been extraordinary.

STAHL: Why did you have to make fun of her?

TRUMP: I didn`t really make fun --

STAHL: Well, they were laughing.

TRUMP: What I said is the person that we are talking about didn`t know the year, the time, the place. I think she was treated with great respect, I will be honest.

STAHL: I know. But do you think you treated her with great respect?

TRUMP: I think so. Yes, I did.

STAHL: But you seemed to be saying that she lied.

TRUMP: You know what, I`m not going to get into it because we won. It doesn`t matter.


MATTHEWS: We won. Well, throughout the interview, the President was showcased that same street fighter attitude going so far as to say to Leslie Stahl, I`m President, and you`re not. Take a look.


TRUMP: When I say Obama did it, you don`t want to talk about it.

STAHL: No --

TRUMP: Whenever I say I did it, r --

STAHL: I`m going to run your answer but you did it four times.

TRUMP: I`m just telling you that you treated me much differently on the subject --

STAHL: I disagree. I don`t want to have that fight with you. I want to have another fight with you.

TRUMP: It`s OK. Leslie, it is OK. I`m President and you`re not.


MATTHEWS: I`m taking my bat and going home.

Anyway, it`s clear that the President is counting on the fact that his approval rating is substantially higher than that of his own Republican party which is true. By keeping such a high profile right now, he is betting that his candidates, Republicans can run strong in seven red states holding key senate races this November. Look at them there.

Joining me right now is Susan Page, Washington bureau chief "USA Today," Eddie Glaude is a professor of African-American studies in Princeton. Howard Fineman is MSNBC News analyst.

Thank you all. And I just want to start with you as a journalist and, Howard, of course, and get over this. I think Leslie Stahl is fantastic. And what I really liked, she clearly came prepared. She worked with producers. She had follow-ups. She knew Trump`s counters and she countered that. She had a rebuttal at every point to keep asking the question. She said when he pulled out the China card, she said wait a minute, that`s just a diversion.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: And she had got a great interview. And he engaged in a serious way. And once -don`t you think he deserves, the President deserves some kudos for agreeing to an interview that he knew would be tough with Leslie Stahl, and engaging on all the issues that she raised? I mean, both sides made that a very strong illuminating interview.

MATTHEWS: And I didn`t sense, Howard, she had an attitude she brought into it except a journalist with questions.


And I think the fact that Susan said that Trump was willing to agree with this, that the President agreed to it, that Leslie Stahl was well prepared, shows the confidence that I detect in talking to White House aides. I spent a lot of time talking to a bunch of them over the last few days. They may be over interpreting the Kavanaugh victory.


FINEMAN: I think Donald Trump views that as an empowering moment. Like a Pacman eating a smaller pac person there. And it`s given him the sense that having won that, having won that cultural moment, which he in effect did, however fairly or unfairly, that he is on a roll, his --

MATTHEWS: Well, we will talk about that. I think he -- let me just --

FINEMAN: He may be over interpreting that.

MATTHEWS: Professor, here is my -- before I talk, do you think Trump won the Kavanaugh thing? Because if that`s giving him his hubris, maybe it`s two edges to that sword. Your thoughts.

EDDIE GLAUDE, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: No, I don`t think he -- We won`t know whether or not he won I think until the midterm elections. It seems to me that the process was rigged. That the -- Mitch McConnell, you know, had in some ways set the stage. Grassley and the Judiciary Committee set the stage. The process was broken from the beginning. So I think Howard is right that they are over interpreting the Kavanaugh results if they think it actually reflects the kind of political capital they might have out there in the electorate.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m just - we will just pause this and I will pose this at the end of the show. I`m going to say this. I think Trump is doubling down on the red states and he is also, whether he likes it or not, doubling down against himself in the blue states.

I think everything he talks about, gender and women and harassment, all this stuff, women have only one vote when they go in that voting booth. They are going to vote for yes, keep this crap going that Trump represents or not or stop it. That`s pretty crude. But that`s the only vote you get. Yes or no. And they go in and vote for those women in suburbs around Philly and other big cities, they go, wait. I got one vote here. I`m voting for her. I`m not going to vote -- that`s my hunch.

Out in the red states, North Dakota, Missouri even, certainly Montana, even Arizona, Texas and Tennessee of course. Those states I think he is doubling down on the anger of men, the more patriarchal states. I think it will help them out there. But I think he is doubling down his problems in the burbs. So I think he is going to lose the House by 30 to 40 seats. And the more he run this red hot look at me, it`s all about me, the more he reeves (ph) up burb votes against him. Your thoughts.

PAGE: Well, although I`m not sure he has the alternative of cultivating support among suburban women who have been college educated --

MATTHEWS: He is shut out for a week.


MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t he go hide for a while? Let voters decide locally.

PAGE: Because you know why? Because Republican voters in these red states were not revved up and now they are revved up and Kavanaugh helped. Trump getting out there helps.


PAGE: And I think that has helped these senators, these Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents in the ten states that --

FINEMAN: No. I`m not sure --.

MATTHEWS: I`m not sure state are good for him. But I think the purple states -- Midwest, he`s got big problems in the Midwest.

FINEMAN: All right, OK. So the conventional wisdom right now is that the Dems are going to do really well in the House, but yet the Republicans are going to keep the Senate. It hasn`t happened since 1970.

MATTHEWS: So on the conventional wisdom. Let me tell you if 30, 40 seats --

FINEMAN: Hey, I`m the conventional wisdom.

MATTHEWS: I`m saying 30 to 40. You say?

FINEMAN: No, no. I agree on the House side. What I was about to say is I`m not sure, if you look at the numbers closely on the Senate side, most of these races even in those states you are talking about are pretty close. Timing is everything in politics.

MATTHEWS: It`s close in Nevada. It`s close in Florida. It`s close in Missouri. It is close in Indiana. And it`s not so close in North Dakota. It`s not so close any more in Texas.

FINEMAN: No. Well, Heidi Heitkamp -- I agree with that. But I do think Missouri is an interesting one to watch. The fact that Claire McCaskill is neck and neck there --

MATTHEWS: She`s a fighter.

FINEMAN: -- I think is important. And I think with this amount of time left, the problem is Trump is great for his own brand. He is not necessarily great for these other people because they are not Trump. They don`t have -- they just are left with the meanness. They are not there with the charisma.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) umbrella. That`s very nice.

Anyway. On two occasions during the "60 Minutes" interview last night, the President, Trump, defended himself by insisting that he wasn`t a baby. First here`s Trump`s response when asked why he said he loved Kim Jong-un.


STAHL: He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags (ph), starvation, a reports he had his half-brother assassinated, slave labor, public executions. This is a guy you love?

TRUMP: I know all these things. I mean, I`m not a baby. I know all these things.

STAHL: I know. But why do you love that guy?

TRUMP: Look, look. I get along with him, OK?

STAHL: But you said you love him.

TRUMP: OK, that`s just a figure of speech.


MATTHEWS: That`s great. It is great. Like brother and sister. It is real argument and real journalism. Then he said it again when asked about distrust inside the White House.


TRUMP: I don`t trust everybody in the White House. I will be honest with you.

STAHL: You go to a meeting, do you have to wonder, is he wearing a wire or --?

TRUMP: Not so much a wire. I`m usually guarded. And I think I`m guarded anyway. But I`m not saying I trust everybody in the White House. I`m not a baby. It`s a tough business.


MATTHEWS: What do you make of that statement, professor? I just think it is - I love this kind of - it is (INAUDIBLE). It`s the argument you have in your house over thanksgiving dinner. It`s real and she is asking all the questions most of us have.

PAGE: He is not a baby. Has someone called him a baby? That`s my question. Is this a charge he said the response --

MATTHEWS: Yes. What is he defending on the baby charge? Go ahead, professor. I am not a baby, like who said you were?

GLAUDE: Yes, I think it has something to do with -- I may have. It has something to do with the Bob Woodward book with regards to how he has been described as someone needing adults in the room. I think it has something to do with a long-standing rhetorical position that he usually takes when he wants to -- it`s actually an insult for him.

When you look at his record, he is constantly calling people babies. And remember that big balloon, that blow up of a baby that was floating around during his visit to England -- to London. So I think he sees it as in some ways a kind of, I kind of characterization of the fact that he`s immature, that he is not really capable intellectually of handling the office. And so he is responding to this standard characterization of who he is.

But I also want to say with regards to Korea -- North Korea, it shows that he is deeply transactional. Trump`s business transactions, he is always dealt with shady people. The bottom line isn`t about the character of the people he is dealing with. His bottom line is achieving what he wants to achieve. So he has no interest whether or not he is dealing with morally corrupt people at all. So this is really clear to me.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s an 8-year-old playing monopoly.

Anyway, Leslie Stahl also asked questions about reports his secretary of defense James Mattis had to explain to him the importance of NATO.


STAHL: Is it true General Mattis said to you, the reason for NATO and the reason for all these alliances is to prevent World War III?

TRUMP: No, it`s not true. But frankly, I like general Mattis. I think I know more about it than he does. And I know more about it from the standpoint of fairness. That I can tell you.


MATTHEWS: And here`s the President responding when asked if Mattis was leaving.


STAHL: What about general Mattis, is he going to leave?

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know. He hasn`t told me. We have a good relationship with him.

STAHL: Do you want him to?

TRUMP: I think he is -- he`s sort of a democrat to tell you the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point everybody leaves.


MATTHEWS: It`s all about reasserting a stature, status. I`m not a baby. I`m the President. I don`t think this has ever been said in the history of the American presidency, a President speaking to a journalist saying, I`m President and you are not. I mean, that`s like they always say in the army, if you have to say it`s an order, you are already in trouble because the officer - Susan, first. The officer gives the order. You don`t have to keep saying, hey, I`m the boss.

PAGE: But he does. I mean, I don`t know if he has to keep saying it, but he does keep saying it. He keeps asserting he`s the person with power. I think that`s why he loves rallies. He goes to rallies and there`s no one talking back to him. Everybody is cheering him.

MATTHEWS: One speaker. Howard?

FINEMAN: Well, first of all, I must say that professor Glaude is a master of understatement when he says that Donald Trump is deeply transactional with people like Kim Jong-un. I hope you appreciate the compliment, sir. Because it`s worse than that.

I mean, Kim Jong-un is a thug. Vladimir Putin is a thug. These are people who, in the tradition of the American presidency, presidents would have the moral authority to denounce.

MATTHEWS: Do why does he like them?

FINEMAN: He likes them because --

MATTHEWS: They are doing something for him.

FINEMAN: They are doing something for him. And I must say that people who support Donald Trump love that about him, but he is also the most infantile character we have ever --

PAGE: He is not a baby.

FINEMAN: He`s not a baby.

MATTHEWS: He says he is not. Nixon is not a crook and he is now --.

FINEMAN: I`m not a baby.

MATTHEWS: It is extraordinary stuff. And I have to give credit to our colleague at the highest level, colleague, that`s Leslie Stahl, to get the President to actually be -- put his dukes up. Get those dukes up and say all this crazy stuff for the record because that`s what journalists do. They don`t win the argument, they get the truth out.

Thank you, Susan Page.

Thank you Eddie Glaude.

Thank you Howard.

Coming up, President Trump said the Saudi King didn`t have any knowledge of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But there is new reporting today suggests that may not be the case. Wait till you hear this pretzel bend the President goes into to defend this guy.

Plus, 22 days until the midterm, that is three weeks from tomorrow. And Republican candidates are struggling in the Midwest as I said. Isn`t that Trump country? They are having real problems in the part of the country from Scranton to Osh Kosh that won the election last time.

Pay attention. The part of the country that gave Trump the victory is turned against the Republican Party. We`ll see what happens in two years.

Anyway, Donald Trump has made Elizabeth Warren`s claim of Native American ancestry the butt of his jokes. You know, Pocahontas.

Anyway, she just took a DNA test. She had an expert found for it. Turns out she has some Indian blood or Native-American blood and they are going way back to her 6th or 10 generations ago. Is that going to end this argument?

Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. You are watching HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: In Florida and Georgia today, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited some of the areas hardest hit areas by hurricane Michael. The President said relief and recovery agencies are putting out maximum effort. Here he goes.


TRUMP: We are doing more than anybody would have ever done, and probably there hasn`t been hits like this, certainly not very often. They say 50 years ago there was one that had this kind of power 50 years ago. That`s a long time. But we`re helping the people and we will always help the people.


MATTHEWS: So far, at least 19 deaths are blamed on the storm, Michael. With dozens more still unaccounted for and 300,000 homes and businesses still without power in those two states of Florida and Georgia.

And we will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Amid mounting international backlash an outcry of the alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi, NBC News has learned that according to three people with knowledge of the situation, get this. Saudi Arabia`s government is now discussing a plan to admit that Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, OK?

One of the three sources said he was told by those close to the Saudi leadership that the kingdom will claim now that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi during an interrogation or a rendition attempt -- rendition attempt that went horribly awry -- in other words, they were just trying to interview the guy or take him back to Saudi.

Anyway, a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment from us.

Anyway, we first caught a glimpse of this new strategy when President Trump twisted himself into a pretzel defending the Saudi king. Catch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to leave nothing uncovered.

With that being said, the king firmly denied any knowledge of it. He didn`t really know. Maybe -- I don`t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows.

We`re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon. But his was a flat denial.


MATTHEWS: Well, late today, President Trump was asked about the reports of the new Saudi narrative. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: Yes, I heard that report, but nobody knows if it is an official report. So far, it`s just the rumor, the rumor of a report coming out.


MATTHEWS: It`s not a rumor.

Democrat Chris Murphy, the senator from up there, tweeted: "Been hearing the ridiculous rogue killers theory, where the Saudis would go with this. Absolutely extraordinary they were able to enlist the president of the United States as their P.R. agent to float this."

Well, earlier today, Turkish investigators were finally granted access to the consulate in Istanbul to begin their joint investigation with the Saudis -- catch this -- after the cleaners were seen entering the consulate -- there we go -- to clean up whatever mess there was.

It`s been over a week since Jamal Khashoggi went into that Saudi Consulate, never to be seen or heard from again. By the way, his girlfriend, his fiancee was waiting outside. She left him to go in, stood outside waiting for him to come out. He didn`t come out. That`s a fact.

For more, I`m joined by Nayyera Haq, former White House senior director and former State Department senior adviser, and Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell from California.

Let me start with the congressman, because I do that here. But then I`m going to go to the expert as well.

What do you make of the fact that the president of the United States is bending himself like a pretzel to go along with the latest horrible, ridiculous excuse for killing and dismembering an American -- basically an American journalist?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: He has no moral compass. He likes people who are like him. He likes people who invest in him.

And guess what? I just described to you the Saudis, the first place he went as a president overseas. They have invested in his hotels, where they come over here and stay here. And, also, they have convinced him to kick out Qatar and support the blockade that they put on Qatar.

So, this is just a continuum of...


MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not political. Why do you think the crown prince, who is so sophisticated and had so Western-loving, seems to get hip approval from the Western press, why did he think he could get away with this?

SWALWELL: Because he sees a permissive operating environment in the world.

The United States for many presidents, Republicans and Democrats, has always been the moral authority in the world. This president has extinguished that beacon, with the Russians killing in Great Britain, with Kim Jong-un killing in Southeast Asia.

So, now it`s just open season for leaders to conduct these extrajudicial killings.

MATTHEWS: I have heard that before, that we used to be the standard.

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, he`s made it blatant that he actually loves and adores a man who leads his people by putting them in gulags and repressing them and killing his family members. That`s Kim Jong-un.

So, these are strong signals to the rest of the world about what the United States will tolerate and won`t it won`t.

MATTHEWS: Would you believe the crown prince bought that, bought that -- took that book on Trump?

HAQ: Oh, I think they were absolutely waiting for an opportunity to get away with murder, and this is it.


MATTHEWS: They hated this journalist so much, they feared him so much...

HAQ: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... they were willing to kill him, dismember him, remove him from that consulate in broad daylight, basically?

HAQ: Right.

And I am glad you called him a journalist, and not what you`re saying, which is a dissident. He`s a man who was doing his job and enforcing transparency on his government.

That`s not what the Saudis like. The Saudis have actually even started putting people in prison for what they call rumor-mongering this week, even away from all of this.



MATTHEWS: Freedom of the press is not the norm in the world.

Anyway, this is not the first time the president has given credence to an individual`s denial. It`s a part of a pattern with the president. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: I have President Putin. He just said it`s not Russia. I will say this. I don`t see any reason why it would be.

I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

QUESTION: Mr. President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?

TRUMP: Well, he denies it. Look, he denies it. If you look at what -- what is really going on, and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn`t happen.

QUESTION: Do you have a comment on Mr. Porter?

TRUMP: He says he`s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he`s innocent.


MATTHEWS: Congressman, remember -- remember -- remember Morgan Freeman`s character in "Shawshank?" He said, none of us did it.

SWALWELL: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: The prisons are filled.


SWALWELL: They all deny it.


MATTHEWS: Why does he believe deniers of guilt?

HAQ: Well, the Central Park 5 didn`t do it, actually proven that they didn`t do it. And all the people that Donald Trump believes tends to be of a certain type. Right? They tend to be older white men who run autocratic countries or dictatorships.

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re also dealing with him.

HAQ: Right. They`re dealing with him, and he likes that. Frankly, I think he would enjoy running the United States the way that MBS has been able to run his country.


SWALWELL: Sorry. Go ahead.

HAQ: Where he doesn`t have to actually take into consideration anybody else`s opinion, where he`s able to appoint his family members to run things.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the Romanovs here.

The president has appointed his son-in-law the viceroy for the Middle East. He`s going to bring them -- and, look, good for him if he can pull it off. But, apparently, the Saudis are a big part of that, because the Saudis are supposedly going to underwrite, redraw somewhere back to the `67 Green Line with some trading of -- and I`m all for something like that. Who wouldn`t?

But is that why he`s afraid to attack the Saudis, because they`re going to be the ones who are going to allow this to support -- they`re going to support the front-line states, they go along with it?

SWALWELL: I think it`s all about the money.

MATTHEWS: You don`t think that?

SWALWELL: No, it really is all about the money with Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: What do you mean, the buying of our guns?

SWALWELL: Well, he can translate what they are doing to jobs, so he can tell the American people, don`t screw up this relationship.

MATTHEWS: Because Raytheon won`t like it.


MATTHEWS: And Boeing won`t like it.

HAQ: Right, because all know that the military complex is really hurting right now.

It`s not like we`re selling coal to the Saudis. Selling weapons, so that they can run our operations is what`s happening.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re all for jobs.

According to "The Washington Post," Jared Kushner, who I mentioned, is now under intense scrutiny for his close ties to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

However, "The Washington Post" reports that, despite the public outcry, Kushner has already signalled he has no intention of turning his back on the crown prince. One senior U.S. intelligence official told "The Washington Post" that "Kushner has come under the influence of Mohammed`s simplistic view of power dynamics in the Middle East."

I think this president is acting like a royal, and he gives his daughter incredible power. She says, I`m the first daughter. I don`t work here. I have power that comes through my relationship with my father. And this young son-in-law, he gets the power to decide our Middle East policy. Apparently, he won`t turn his back on the Saudis, so the president won`t.

HAQ: And the people who are on the other side running things the same way actually have spent a very long time examining Middle East politics and U.S. politics.

They have had an intellectual curiosity in Saudi Arabia of how to...

MATTHEWS: Who you talking about?

HAQ: The Saudis, on how to manipulate the world for their benefit.


MATTHEWS: But do they also think that we match their -- and, unfortunately, we have come to match them, just like they`re a royal family. Trump is acting like a royal family.

HAQ: Right, without any of the intellectual depth or understanding, so, that we are the -- the president of the United States is buying hook, line and sinker.


MATTHEWS: I think it`s worse than that. They think Jared is important, and they`re, unfortunately, right.

SWALWELL: Well, they are a kingdom. We are not.

If we don`t want it to be this way, a Congress can stop this from being this way. So, now let`s see what a Republican Congress or a new Democratic Congress...


MATTHEWS: If you guys get control, I hope the first thing you do is end this, what`s it called, autocracy.

Anyway, thank you, Nayyera Haq and Congressman Eric Swalwell.

You have to stop Trump. That`s the Congress` job. Stop him.

Up next: We`re just 22 days out from the midterm, three weeks from tomorrow, with early voting already under way. So, go out and vote if you can early. I believe in early voting, in case you don`t make it Election Day.

We`re going to take a look at who is up and who is down in some key Midwestern states right ahead.

The Midwest is the soft underbelly of this guy`s control of this country. The conservatives have always owned the South for years. They`re called Dixiecrats, whatever you call them. Now they call them Republicans down there. They have always owned the cowboy part of the country. But when it comes to the Midwest, they`re kind of touchy up there about jobs and trade and stuff.

They switch back and forth. So you got to figure out who they`re mad at most right now. And right now, they`re mad at trump.

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.


TRUMP: With Ohio, I will never forget, they said, the polls have closed in Ohio. Donald Trump has won the state of Ohio.


TRUMP: We won Ohio by so much that it took one second before they called it, OK? We won by a lot. It`s a great place. And, by the way, have I produced? Look at what`s coming into Ohio now. Have we produced? I produced, and you produced.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump, of course, campaigning this past Friday night out in Ohio bragging about his election victory two years ago. And with this fall`s midterm now just three weeks off, President Trump has been hitting the campaign trail for Republicans across the Midwest, hoping to stave off embarrassing losses in states that he carried two years ago.

But "The Washington Post" reports that Trump`s luster may have worn off, leaving Republican candidates flat. A number of Republicans running for governor or Senate in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, including several who hitched their wagon to Trump`s political movement, are behind in polls by double digits.

In fact, the RealClear average polls in each of those states I mentioned shows the Democratic incumbents, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, all, all of these senators surging ahead of their Republican opponents, well ahead of them.

For more, I`m joined by Charlie Sykes, contributing editor at "The Weekly Standard."

Charlie, help us out here. I -- look, I have intuitive thoughts about this, like you do. But what can you tell us about the people you talk to? Bobby Casey is not going to get beat. The president said at that rally for Barletta the other day, it`s too bad he kicked away a lifelong career in the U.S. House, because I urged him to run for senator. He`s gone. Basically, he said he`s gone.

Nobody is going to beat Sherrod Brown. And Debbie Stabenow, we don`t even talk about that race. And Baldwin is going to win.

Why is -- the Midwest went down for Trump all the way, they just liked him, at least to the point of giving him the election, turned him off?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think we`re seeing the limits of the transferability of Trumpian appeal.

Look, these are not red states. These are either blue states or they are purple states. And this is kind of the reverse. When Trump makes the election about himself, it is kind of the reverse of your previous conversation, because, you know, yes, that might motivate voters in Tennessee and Texas to turn out, but in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan and Ohio and Wisconsin, the key to those states is, are Democrats going to turn out in big numbers?

They generally don`t in off-year elections. It looks like they are in this year`s election. And is he going to be able to capture that Trumpian magic? And it certainly does not look like it. And, of course, look, this is the backbone -- as you point out, this is the backbone of the Trumpian Electoral College victory.

You know, he`s not president without Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin. And so whatever happens elsewhere in the country, what happens in 2018, you know, ought to be watched very, very closely for omens for 2020.

MATTHEWS: I have been talking to audiences the last couple days. And I have to tell you, what I think what people agree with is this.

The American voter is not a greedy voter. What the American voter wants is -- especially older people who will vote -- and they vote a lot -- they want Social Security so they can have a retirement without poverty, which is the greatest anti-poverty program in history is Social Security.

And they paid into it. They deserve to get it out, a couple thousand a month. They deserve better Medicare, because that`s what they paid on from the time they were 15, their first job, until they`re 65. They have been paying it under law.

SYKES: Right.

MATTHEWS: Their medical care until they`re 65. And guys don`t live as long as their wives, but they live long enough. And they need health care. And they believe they have paid and they deserve it.

Medicaid, let`s be honest, it`s not just for poor people. It`s for people who have long-term care situations, Alzheimer`s especially. OK. And then they want a job for their children close enough they can drive home once in a while and say hi.

That`s all they want. Democrats like Casey, like Sherrod Brown, like Debbie Stabenow, like Baldwin understand that. They don`t talk all this avant-garde social stuff. They talk the basic -- the basically economics. And Trump does, too.

He won`t touch entitlements, and he produces jobs. So it`s interesting that that`s why you would vote for a Bobby Casey, but also vote for a Trump. Interesting, I think. Your thoughts?

SYKES: No, exactly right.

And, of course, that was the magic of 2016 from the Trumpian point of view, is that he took some of those themes that Democrats have been running on. He played against type for all the Republicans. Had he not pledged defend all those, yes, I don`t think he would have won those states.

But then again, Trumpism, as it has evolved, I think, cuts against all of that. His populist appeal, you know, is limited, especially with the tax cut bill. So, again, some of the issues that are working so strongly in his favor...

MATTHEWS: I agree.

SYKES: ... in his favor in the red states are exactly the issues that I think are hurting him in the Industrial Midwest.

MATTHEWS: If there hadn`t been a Kavanaugh episode from the beginning to the end, all the way through Dr. Ford, Blasey Ford, if that hadn`t happened, would he be better off or worse from today, Trump?

SYKES: I think he would be worse off today. It`s hard to say how it`s going to play out in the Midwest. But there`s no question about it, that Republicans, you talk to Republicans, you talk to conservatives, they feel that there is new energy.

The president feels that he`s on a roll. Now, whether that`s true or not, we don`t know. But, again, these are mirror images of one another, that an issue that is going to galvanize Republican conservative turnout is also going to galvanize Democratic turnout in the Philadelphia suburbs and the suburbs of Columbia.


MATTHEWS: So true. I`m with you.


MATTHEWS: It doubles down in both directions.

SYKES: Right. Both ways.

MATTHEWS: I think women in the burbs who read the papers and keep up with these issues of harassment and assault, sexual assault, are totally turned off by the messages coming from the White House.

Thank you so much, Charlie Sykes.


MATTHEWS: You`re one of the smart ones, sir.

Up next: Senator Elizabeth Warren takes a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry, such as it is. Trump`s response, who cares?

Let`s talk about whether she was right to go in and double down on the fact here that she did have some Native American background, pretty far back, but it`s there.

You`re watching HARDBALL.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`ve gone so far left that they consider Pocahontas to be a rational person. It`s crazy. Elizabeth Warren, oh, I hope she runs. I hope she runs. Then we can finally get down to the fact as to whether or not she has Indian blood.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

While we`re getting there, that was President Trump last week mocking Senator Warren`s statement that she has Native American ancestry. Well, earlier today, believe it or not, Warren released the results of a DNA test indicating that she has Native American blood in her family tree dating back six to 10 generations. That`s pretty far back. Ten generations means that if 1,000 of her ancestors were sitting in this room right now, all thousand of them, one might be Native American.

Well, Warren`s political opponents have accused her of using a Native American ancestry to gain an unfair advantage in her career. For example, "The Boston Globe" reports today, quote, she had her ethnicity changed from white to Native American at the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she taught from 1987 to 1995 and Harvard Law School where she was a tenured faculty member in 1995. So, in those jobs, she classified herself as Native American.

While down in Georgia today surveying the hurricane damage, President Trump dismissed the news of her new DNA testing.


REPORTER: Senator Warren released some of her DNA results that show a strong likelihood she does have Native American roots.

TRUMP: How much, 1/1,000?

REPORTER: Do you owe her an apology? What about the money that you --

TRUMP: No, I don`t, absolutely not. She owes the country an apology.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, that brings in tonight`s round table. He soberly shows the country an apology. Oh, come on. The country?

Ashley Parker, White House reporter for "The Washington Post", Steve McMahon, Purple Strategist co-founder and Democratic strategist, and Adolfo Franco, RNC surrogate and former John McCain advisor.

I have to do it, Adolfo. I`m giving you the opening tee here. Go for it.


MATTHEWS: Is she off the problem or still in the problem coming out with the testing?

FRANCO: She compounded the problem in my opinion. It was a clumsy 2020 test, not a DNA test that she failed miserably.

MATTHEWS: Explain.

FRANCO: Well, the fact of the matter is --

MATTHEWS: What do you mean? She didn`t get one of those spit thing? She did do the spit thing.

FRANCO: Listen, when anyone puts that little box, mine is Hispanic. People aren`t looking that. I think it`s an insult. I think the Cherokee Tribe today denounced her. When people put Native American, in our minds as the people the president honoring when he referred to her as Pocahontas, remember, at a White House ceremony, it`s really an insult to people. It`s not a question --

MATTHEWS: Pocahontas, an insult?

FRANCO: Yes, but the point is, I was referring to the event where the president was really with Native Americans. This wasn`t a question of whether she has less than the average European in the United States. It`s a drop, less than a drop of Native American blood.

She was calling -- she was lying and misrepresenting herself as a Native American.


FRANCO: If you all on this set, Chris, you were just talking earlier, put Hispanic or African-American, I think you`d be insulting people and people wouldn`t believe it --

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. I want to get the percentage -- that`s the problem with percentages. I think most people are proud of their ancestry even if it`s a little bit. If I was a little American Indian, I`d talk about it. I don`t think -- she did say at the time she first talked about it was 6 to 10 generations ago. The problem of course is what she said, how she identified herself at Penn Law School.

FRANCO: Correct.

MATTHEWS: That`s the problem.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Here`s what we know. We know that she said she has Native American ancestry and she does. We also know she`s being transparent in having taken this test and released it. Both of which, by the way, Donald Trump is neither transparent, he won`t release his tax returns and he doesn`t tell the truth about almost anything. And "The Boston Globe" looked into whether she received any racial preference and in fact she did not. And so --

FRANCO: She`s not Native American.

MCMAHON: What the Trump people are doing and what Adolfo is supporting them in doing, these little racial code words that they throw out there and these little racial triggers that they do to their base because this is really not about --


FRANCO: We`re calling somebody what she is, misrepresenting her heritage.

MATTHEWS: Adolfo, you led off. Let me go to Ashley. Is there any way to track in the future -- can he still say Pocahontas and get a chuckle out of his crowd probably. Is it going to have a ring to it if she`s clear, I have ancestry, let`s move on?

ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: He absolutely can. That`s the problem for her. This is the issue when she was running for Senate. And the idea that by releasing this DNA test and ancestry is somehow going to prevent Donald Trump from either doing the culturally sensitive thing or not claiming the moral high ground on telling the truth is absurd.

This is a president who, as Steve was saying, has not released his tax returns yet, but had no problem demanding proof from President Obama for his birth certificate, for his school transcripts, asking Senator Warren for something, then when she delivers it, moving the goal post. He is going to move the goal post-up until she`s out of the race.

MATTHEWS: Agree. Here`s something today. David Perdue, not the chicken guy, reportedly snatched a cell phone from a college student who was questioning him about voter suppression in Georgia. Part of it was captured on video. This is always a problem for politicians, what you can see.

Let`s watch.


STUDENT: So, how can you endorse a candidate --

SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: No, I`m not doing that. I`m not doing that.

STUDENT: You stole my property. You stole my property.

PERDUE: You wanted a picture? You wanted a picture. I`m going to give you a picture.

STUDENT: Give me my phone back, Senator. Give me my phone back. That`s a U.S. Senator David Perdue. U.S. Senator David Perdue just snatched my phone because he won`t answer a question from one of his constituents.


MATTHEWS: Well, Perdue`s office is calling it a misunderstanding, saying the senator thought he was being asked to take a selfie with the student.

OK. You know, I don`t know what I think about this one. Ashley, the kid was being -- I don`t know, he was obnoxious or what was going on. The senator made a big mistake politically grabbing a phone from somebody, because bottom line in public life today, you have to put up with a lot of crap. That`s part of it and he wasn`t doing it.

Your thoughts?

PARKER: I think that`s probably right. The lesson there, watching the video it`s unclear if his explanation of the selfie is true or not.

FRANCO: Oh, Ashley, come on.

MATTHEWS: Like the redemption?

PARKER: But the point is, regardless, you have to be aware that if you`re a politician or frankly you`re just anyone in public life, anything you say or do will be caught on video camera. It will be on social media.

MATTHEWS: And you`ll look like the bad buy.

PARKER: You should be prepared for that.


MCMAHON: This is the life he`s chosen. I mean, politicians are running to the camera all the time. They shouldn`t be surprised when someone sticks a camera or microphone in their face. That`s what reporters do every single day and they should be either prepared for it or able to deal with it.

MATTHEWS: Why do guys have to use "Godfather" language? That is "The Godfather" language. This is the life you have chosen. You took it straight from "The Godfather".

FRANCO: This is, of course, a 5-minute story, but we`re going to comment on it. The fact of the matter is I don`t think you sign up for harassment. And I think --

MCMAHON: John McCain would never --

FRANCO: Let me finish for a second, if I may.

MCMAHON: Please.

FRANCO: I think emotions are running high after the Kavanaugh thing. I think what you`ve seen with Senator Cruz, with Senator McConnell --

MATTHEWS: I agree with you about Cruz.

FRANCO: Yes, exactly. That type of thing. I don`t think this young man was just asking a question. --


MATTHEWS: Adolfo, you`re right, you made the point. Cruz won that exchange, when people mob flashed him at the restaurant, he pulled the smart move. He left because that made him the victim and he`s probably going to pull up a number of points because it`s going to look good. I agree.

Those people who bothered him at the restaurant were wrong. Maxine Waters is wrong about telling people to do that. It`s wrong.

You know what? There`s a way to handle it.

FRANCO: And Eric Holder.

MATTHEWS: And George Allen is still paying for the response he had. And he wasn`t an evil guy, it looked bad.

The roundtable is sticking with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.

Adolfo, enough.


MATTHEWS: We`re back. Actually we`ll be back with the HARDBALL round table coming up. Tell me something I know. It`s coming back in a flash.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL round table.

Ashley is first. Tell me something I don`t know.

PARKER: We have to hear about an angry frustrated president. But President Trump in a good mood. He got Kavanaugh on the high court. He was being out on the campaign trail. He`s enjoying talking to reporters. So, what we`re seeing now is happy Trump unleashed.

MATTHEWS: Is he waiting for Justice Ginsburg to retire so he can get three in there?

PARKER: He seems to think he`s going to get a couple more picks.

MATTHEWS: Yes, Steve, I think that`s the gory part of him these days.

MCMAHON: So, there`s some people close to the Clintons and close to Hillary Clinton who look at the field and think if Joe Biden doesn`t run, it`s an awfully weak field, and someone like Hillary Clinton could get back in --

MATTHEWS: Do you really think -- what about this vaudeville act that Bill and Hillary going to do next year? Is that to get here -- because I`ve heard theories about it.

MCMAHON: We`re seeing her race in profile a little bit. I don`t know if it`s by design right now. But I know there are people close to her that are whispering in her ear you might be able to do this if Joe Biden doesn`t run. Watch for that.

MATTHEWS: You mean she will be the older candidate.


MATTHEWS: The vintage -- you know, anything is possible. Go ahead.

FRANCO: Well, you`ve been doing the midterms, you know, the close races. The real sleeper is going to be New Jersey. And I think Bob Menendez is going to be in much more trouble than people think. Story came out --

MATTHEWS: Well, "The Times" endorsed the Republican finally get around to, you think?

FRANCO: I think so. Let me tell you why. Quickly on this, Bob Menendez has said women have to be believed. He said that today. He said it on the Senate floor. The women have to be believed.

How about the women who accused him of sexual misconduct or relationship underage?

MATTHEWS: We`ll see the power of party politics. If he wins, it`s the party.

FRANCO: Yes, that`s true.

MATTHEWS: The party.

Thank you, Ashley Parker. Thank you, Steve McMahon, and Adolfo Franco.

I like parties.

When we return, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch", you`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Monday, October 15, 2018.

President Trump`s decision to make this midterm election about him, about Donald Trump, merely doubles down on the country`s geographic reality. I`ve been predicting that the Democrats will pick up 30 to 40 seats in the House of Representatives this November. That`s more than the historic average for the party out of the White House, which is 29. And a lot more than what they need to win control of the House, 23. They`ll win these 30 to 40 House seats in the suburbs where people, including women, read newspapers and keep up with life in the big cities.

Again, Trump putting himself out there in every medium that will show him will rev up the number. Again, thanks to suburban women for the high 30s for the simple reason it will force a basic decision on women voters, which is, vote Republican and you`re voting for Trump. Vote for Trump, and you`re voting for all the crap that`s been going on from stormy, to Kavanaugh, to the latest coming from the White House. You`re voting for all of it, period.

At the same time, Trump`s decision to put his face out there everywhere will help the Republicans in the western and southern states. Starting in North Dakota, heading down through Arizona, and Texas, Tennessee, and Missouri, these red state voters will be pulled out to vote for Trump`s candidates. These red states will be doubling down on red on this president and those who back him.

As they say in real estate, what matters in 2018 politics will be location, location, location.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.