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Trump unloads on critics. TRANSCRIPT: 10/29/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: John Kasich, Julia Ioffe, Kimberly Atkins, Bill Peduto

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 29, 2018 Guest: John Kasich, Julia Ioffe, Kimberly Atkins, Bill Peduto

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: A spate of hate. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Houston, Texas, ahead of our HARDBALL college tour with Beto O`Rourke tomorrow night.

President Trump is playing a dangerous game right now in the wake of tragedy, fanning the flames of division in an already combustible political climate. It comes after three horrific crimes over the past week. Each fueled by apparent religious, racial or political hatred. And they have shaken this country.

When he was arrested for murdering, 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh tree of life synagogue on Saturday, the alleged gunman Robert Bowers reportedly told police that he wanted all Jews to die.

It comes after two African-American shoppers at a super market in Kentucky were gunned down Wednesday in a shooting that is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

And today a new package resembling those sent by Cesar Sayoc was found in Atlanta on its way to CNN headquarters the third of its kind addressed to the news organization. Amid all of this, the President seemingly ignored pleas for civility and even restraint. Instead he has singled out the media for blame.

Trump tweeted today, there is great anger in our country caused in part by inaccurate and even fraudulent reporting of the news. The fake news media, the true enemy of the people, must stop the open hostility and report the news accurately and fairly.

What follows Trump`s tweet last night saying, the fake news is doing everything in their power to blame Republican conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our country.

Well, while President Trump condemned the anti-Semitic shooting in Pittsburgh at his rally on Saturday night, he was quick to resume his usual attacks on several of his favorite targets. Here`s how Trump rallied his supporters just hours after the shooting unfolded on Saturday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m going to tone it down just a little bit. Is that OK?


TRUMP: You are from Illinois. I had a feeling you might say that. Now I did a little tiny bit of research, and Mike`s opponent Brendan Kelly is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and, of course, Maxine Waters. If somebody named Bill Smith was President and he did the things I did, tax cuts, regulation cuts, two Supreme Court justices, they would say, he is the greatest conservative of all time. But because his name is Donald Trump, you have the haters and they continue to hate. These are foolish and very stupid people. Very stupid people. I mean, these are losers. Why do they put them on television? Seriously.


MATTHEWS: When pressed to explain the President`s failure to tone down his rhetoric, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said he`s just fighting back against those who have come after him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the President stop using that kind of language in light of the fact that these individuals were targeted?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President is going to continue to draw a contrast. Let`s not forget these same Democrats have repeatedly attacked the President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But at what point does a national tragedy take precedence over the President needing to punch back, if not now, when?

SANDERS: I think you saw the President do exactly that in the wake of a national tragedy. Not just this week, but every time our country has experienced the type of heartache and pain that we have over the last week.

And if anything, I think it is sad and divisive the way that every single thing that comes out of the media, 90 percent of what comes out of the media`s mouth is negative about this President.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now about Governor John Kasich of Ohio, a Republican.

Governor Kasich, thank you for joining us tonight. It is a very difficult and I think unsettling time for our country given what happened over the weekend in Pittsburgh, not far from Columbus. And what do you think about the President`s sort of rhetorical leadership at this moment?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: You know, I thought there was a chance that he would clean it up, and apparently he did for very short period of time, but he`s right back at it, Chris. And, by the way, you know, I`m from Pittsburgh. And I`m not -- I was born and raised not far from where that all took place.

I have never seen anything like this, you know. When I think back, and you and I can remember together, the Presidents who have said, we have got to put this behind us. Whether it was Reagan`s beautiful talk with the loss of those astronauts, whether it was George Bush up on the truck after 9/11, whether we saw, you know, Bobby Kennedy, the great book you wrote, Bobby Kennedy in Indianapolis trying to bring order and calm to people.

Chris, that`s just what leaders do. And in some ways I`m just - I`m flabbergasted. I mean, it seems as though they want to try to win an election or he wants to try to win an election by just creating enemies and selling fear.

And, look, I have said earlier today, I have been saying it for a week, it all has to stop. Both sides have to stop. But, frankly, he is the President. And, you know, we all grow up studying people like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and think about how they tried to bring our country together.

And what I`m finding is, unfortunately, and I`m sad about this, our President is trying to have an electoral gain by selling fear and division. And it`s not right. And to call the press, you know, I didn`t really know this, that he said, you know, 3:00 in the morning, the press is the enemy of the people. Really? I mean, the press is there and I don`t know any President that wasn`t -- that hasn`t been upset about the press and felt that they have unfairly treated them. I mean, it`s just part of it. And what else can I say, Chris?

Now, we, you and me and all others, we just have to be calm and we have to be cool and we have to be good examples. The back and forth isn`t going to work, but he`s got the most powerful megaphone. I`m very disappointed to hear everything I have heard tonight. And I don`t know what to tell you. It`s a sad day.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s do it. Let`s follow your lead, governor Kasich. Let`s take a look at some of the other Presidents who have handled similar tragedies in the past.


RONAL REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will never forget them nor the last time we saw them. This morning as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To all my fellow Americans beyond this hall, I saw one thing we owe those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can only hope it helps for you to know that you`re not alone in your grief. But our world, too, has been torn apart. That all across this land of ours, we have wept with you.


MATTHEWS: Governor, I have to tell you, because you and I have been politics at a much higher level. But I must say when Ronald Reagan gave that speech at the loss of those astronauts including Christy McAuliffe, the teacher, all those kids -- all across the country were watching that day, watching a teacher die in that split second. And Speaker O`Neal, I was standing next to him when he was watching. He was in tears. And the minute that speech was over, he sat down and wrote a note to Peggy Nunu helped the President prepare those remarks. This country was much more united under those kinds of leaders, just more united. It`s a fact.

KASICH: Chris, I think that -- again, I don`t like to have to say these things. I mean, I really don`t. But, you know, the Lord expects more from us, doesn`t he? I mean, when he gives us gifts and gives us opportunity and gives us a chance to make a difference, it has to be used in a positive way.

And, you know, what I found on the campaign trail -- not everybody, but many people in this country are down on their luck. They have got lots of challenges. The kids, you know, messing with drugs or the kids can`t get work or they are under employed. We know this is true. But what we need to do is we need to tell them there are better days ahead. I see your problem. Let`s get it fixed.

Politics is not this old as I have talked about so many times now, for weeks, the zero sum game, that I have to win and you have to lose. There has to be a space for everybody. And I would just encourage all of us citizens, just regular old citizens, learn to tame your tongue a little bit. Be respectful to your neighbor. Remember the Lord is watching and some day he will ask us what did we do with what we were given.

And when I see this division, Chris, after this terrible, terrible 11 people dead, and we hear enemy of the people -- this is not the time nor is it the place for this kind of rampant politics, on anybody`s behalf.

And, look, I have criticized Democrats who I think said, you know, well, if they go low, we have to go lower. And I understand that. But when you have the biggest megaphone, you have a responsibility. In my state, I have the biggest megaphone. I have to have responsibility.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, governor. It`s great to have you on. Maybe we are all learning a lesson in the worst way.

Thank you so much Governor John Kasich of Ohio.

KASICH: Yes. Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I`m joined by Republican strategist Susan del Percio and Jonathan Lemire, who is the White House reporter for the "Associated Press."

Thank you so much for that. How do you put together, Susan, you first. This -- and I know that Jewish people I have been talking to -- this came out, I want to talk about this at the end of the show. This concern about the anti-immigrant rhetoric and this anti-Semitism are unfortunately historically connected and they are being connected by people in their hearts and had before, because I was hearing from people before this Saturday.

But tell me what you think, Susan, about what`s been going on emotionally in this country the last several hours.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, the country is looking for someone to be -- to help them heal and grieve together. And this President doesn`t have the ability to recognize a tragedy or be able to heal because he has no empathy towards them.

And at this point, the lines in the sand have been drawn, especially by this administration today, whether it be by Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Kellyanne Conway. They set out to further divide this country today when we need something much, much different. And the President simply sees it as a way for political gain.

He is only looking to win the midterm elections. That`s it. And then his own, of course. And that`s his priority. And it`s tragic for a lot of people in this country.

MATTHEWS: Let`s listen before we go to Jonathan, I want you all at home, and Susan, to watch what Kellyanne did say about what she sees as the cause of all this horror.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow, it`s in vogue, and funny to make fun of anybody of faith, to constantly be making fun of people who express religion, the late night comedians, the unfunny people on TV shows, it`s always anti- religious. And remember, these people are gunned down in their place of worship. This is no time to be driving God out of the public school.


MATTHEWS: You know, Jonathan, I don`t have any problem with Kellyanne. I have been friendly with her for years. But I don`t understand that logic. It`s so twisted. To say that sure we have television and movies that are pretty secular. But to blame that secularity for this, doesn`t seem to be connected at all. This is anti-Semitic murder. This is like a small horrible showcase of what happened in the `30s and `40s.s. And to say it has something to do with bad television or movies, I don`t see the connection. I can see the other argument against secularism, but not this. Your thoughts?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I agree. And it shows you where this White House is comfortable treading, which is on very partisan ground. (INAUDIBLE) cultural issues whether it`s the national anthem issue with the NFL and now this. And certainly no one is suggesting Kellyanne Conway, you know, doesn`t believe that God should be in the public square.

But it felt almost like a cynical play here where it`s a distraction tactic, shifting that conversation about the rhetoric that may have inspired some of these violent acts in the last week or so. And there`s no one suggestion that Donald Trump is personally responsible, of course not. But there is also no denying that his heated rhetoric about immigrants, about the caravan, just the way he has changed the political discourse in this country has strained things and has led this nation, in part, to be sort of angry and more divided place.

He is a President who has no interest in being a uniter for all people. Everything he does, his public remarks, public events, policies, are geared toward his supporters, are geared toward his base. And we saw that just in the last few days. Both in the aftermath of this terrible shooting in Pittsburgh which hours later he held a rally and was back to his usually partisan attacks, but also the mail-bombing spree sent out by the gentleman from Florida who was of course, himself a major Trump supporter.

And while that manhunt was still going on, the President was bemoaning the media attention it received because he felt like it was slowing Republican momentum ahead of the midterms. And that is the concern of the White House right now, is that they feel like they were on a roll, and they are fearful, a week or so out, that they have lost some of that speed.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I think it`s about red states and keeping them red. He is not going to win in the northeast, places around Philly. But he is fighting to get North Dakota. He is trying to get Missouri. He is trying to get probably Nevada or Arizona or pick on to hold onto Tennessee. It is clearly, he is looking at the red states, keeping them red hot with this language.

Anyway, fanning the flames again today, the President continued to scapegoat refugees and migrants traveling from Central America, saying quote "this is an invasion of our country and our military is waiting for you."

I mean, Susan, as if the soldiers are going to shoot them when they get to the border. Those soldiers have no legitimate right and they know they are not going there to do it. They can`t get involved with border control. They are going down there to, I don`t know, what do you call it? Army corps of Engineers kind of stuff. They are not going to have anything do with stopping people from crossing the border, let alone shooting them which is Trump seem to be saying. Well, he is saying. That`s what he just said.

DEL PERCIO: And you are absolutely right, Chris. I would like to say there`s no words, but this is television so we have to use them.

What President Trump is trying to do is frighten people, and at the same time show how strong he is. We know he likes to act all strong and macho, but he is not. He is a petty small person who is really just unable to show any leadership, especially when it comes to military leadership, that it`s just so frustrating, Chris. It just - it hurts me because this hurts our country, and we should all be putting country first.

MATTHEWS: You know, it reminds me of the parade. Remember he`s going to have a big parade down Connecticut, Constitution Avenue. This is like another parade. These soldiers aren`t going to fight. I hope they don`t shoot anybody. I hope they don`t bring any ammo. The idea to going down there and shoot with their rifles like he says, it`s really pretty much anti-American.

Anyway. Susan del Percio, thank you. Jonathan Lemire, we will have more time next time. Please come back.

Coming up, anti-Semitism in America. Let`s talk about it. President Trump calls himself a nationalist, at war with globalists. Is the President stoking the flames with this kind of lingo?

Plus, eight days before the midterms, the country is truly divided. What role will this weekend`s tragedy play in the midterms? I think a big role.

And Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto joins us here. He says the city is, quote, stronger than hate. He`ll join us in a few moments to talk about how the city of Pittsburgh plans to move forward and why he said it`s not the right time for President Trump to come to Pittsburgh.

Finally, let me finish tonight with Abraham`s biblical call to welcome strangers.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.



RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: Am I really experiencing this? Is this just some horrific nightmare, and I`m going to wake up?

There is hate. And it isn`t going away. It just seems to be getting worse.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh responding to the horrific attack on his congregation this Saturday.

Saturday`s attack took the lives of 11 congregants, making it the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history -- in U.S. history.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, it`s part of a pattern, however, of growing anti-Semitism in the country. In 2017, the number of anti- Semitic incidents rose, rose by nearly 60 percent, the largest single increase on record by the organization, by the ADL.

Over the weekend, President Trump condemned the attack is evil, but his critics say his off-prompter comments, the ones that aren`t being written on the prompter, have been more troubling.

Last week, for example, at a rally in Houston, right here, Trump referred to himself as a nationalist, a term embraced by those with a racist ideology.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It`s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we`re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I`m a nationalist, OK?


TRUMP: I`m a nationalist.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump has continued to stoke conspiracies about billionaire liberal donor George Soros, who is Jewish, and the target of one of the mail bombs sent out last week.

Here he goes.


TRUMP: It`s become radical resistance. You ever see their signs? Resist. They say, what are you going to resist? I don`t know.

They will go to a person holding a sign who gets paid by Soros or somebody, right? That`s what happens.


MATTHEWS: By Soros or somebody.

And last year, after the deadly rally led by white nationalists down in Charlottesville, Virginia, this is what the president said:


TRUMP: I think there`s blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides, I think there`s blame on both sides. You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


MATTHEWS: Very fine people on both sides.

We`re joined right now by Julia Ioffe, a correspondent for "G.Q." magazine, and Howard Fireman, of course, an MSNBC news analyst.

Howard, I want to go to you about growing up in Pittsburgh on Squirrel Hill.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, I basically grew up in the Tree of Life Synagogue.

My parents were Sunday school teachers there. I was bar mitzvahed there. I grew up in the wonderful, peaceful, sprawling Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, at the time maybe 50 percent Jewish, maybe a little less than that now, but just a wonderful place to grow up, and a place where something like this happening was, until Saturday at around 10:00 a.m., inconceivable.

I can tell you, Chris -- and we know each other well -- there was no place in America that was more American and yet more comfortably Jewish than Squirrel Hill. That comfort is gone. And the Jews in America are now lining up with every other group, African-Americans going back hundreds of years, Chinese immigrants, Hispanics, you name it, who have -- Native Americans -- who`ve suffered violence for political reasons, because they`re regarded as the other.

They`re regarded as something foreign, something not quite American. I grew up thinking that was impossible.


Julia, your thoughts. I have been reading about you and your experiences. And, unfortunately, tragically, this is not completely new to.

JULIA IOFFE, "G.Q.": Tight.

And I have to say, unfortunately, it wasn`t very surprising to me. I think people like Howard, blessedly, grew up as Jews in America, where they did think that this was completely unthinkable in America. And, until Saturday`s events, it was unthinkable.

I, unfortunately, came from a place where it was far more easy to imagine. The reason we came to the United States from the Soviet Union, we came as refugees fleeing anti-Semitism, was because, in the summer of 1988, my mother was stuck in the -- in the Russian countryside with me. I was 5. My little sister was 6 months old.

There was no phone, no connection to the outside world. And there were very persistent rumors going around about a pogrom, an anti-Jewish pogrom and riot. And she realized that she lived in a country where the political climate had become so permissive that it was completely, extremely plausible, and that she didn`t want to raise her kids in a country like that.

And watching my parents` response to -- and their heartbreak watching what happened at Squirrel Hill -- my father actually called it an old-fashioned pogrom -- has been, frankly, heartbreaking.

MATTHEWS: Howard, let me ask you, because you are a communications expert, like I try to be.

And talk about these code words, because I -- I guess I understand the nationalist of national socialism, of course. In the era of the `30s, when you had fascism, they all call themselves nationalists, including the guy - - the guy whose name escapes me right now from Spain -- Franco, of course, and Mussolini, and they were all calling themselves nationalists. And they were awful for minorities.

But this thing about globalist, I didn`t know that was a code. I didn`t I didn`t know that Soros was particularly targeted because of his faith, his religion, his Jewishness. Tell me about those code words.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris, to Jewish ears and Jewish eyes, the kind of words that lend credence to the theory that there`s an insidious force in the world, somehow not quite human, somehow not responding to your tribe, to your family, that somehow has no local rules or allegiance, that`s been the trope that`s -- and the accusation that`s been used against the Jews for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

And that`s something that, even though I did grow up as I -- as I did, I know a lot of history. And that`s all too familiar a sound, because it posits the local people in the country as something different from the Jews, who often, for many generations, have lived there and view themselves as much American or Spanish or Russian as any other person.


FINEMAN: This is the conundrum. This is the threat. This is the vulnerability that Jews have faced for thousands of years.

Can I add just one quick thing, Chris, since I have a lot of sources back in Pittsburgh?


FINEMAN: I am told that, on another network, i.e., FOX, they`re claiming that all the local political officials, including the governor and the mayor, et cetera, are going to be with Donald Trump if he goes to Pittsburgh tomorrow.

I`m told authoritatively by some of those same people -- and you should ask Bill Peduto about this -- they`re not having any of it. They might want Trump at some time. They don`t want him right now, while the Jewish families are hurrying under Jewish tradition to bury their dead.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, we have the mayor coming on in a moment to straighten that out.

Let me go to Julia.

I thought -- and I have thought a lot about history. I thought World War II was the turning point. That was the assimilation of Catholics and Jews, that that is when we got through the door because of all the service our fathers and grandfathers fought in that war, all of them.

You should see the Star of Davids over at Arlington Cemetery on all those tombs. It`s unbelievable, and along with the crosses. And I just thought that was the door opened. But now I wonder about -- certainly not universally in this country, not universally.


And it`s interesting you mention World War II, because when Donald Trump said that he was a nationalist, he didn`t just off the cuff say he was a nationalist. He said, listen, I -- this is an old-fashioned world -- word, and I know I`m not supposed to say it.

Well, the reason it`s an old-fashioned word and the reason you`re not supposed to say it is because nationalism led us to two World Wars and tens of millions of people dead in horrible, horrible ways, including in the Holocaust.

So there`s a reason for that stigma. And him kind of dredging that up and applying it to himself, as the president of the United States, as -- you know, as we used to say, the leader of the free world, is, frankly, horrifying.

And, at that point, I think the -- kind of the racism and anti-Semitism that he had been winking at and these dog whistles, I think, became a vuvuzela.

The one thing I would add about George Soros, when I was a reporter in Russia, I heard about George Soros` -- quote, unquote -- "pernicious" political influence all the time, that he was not Russian, that he was nefariously controlling all these people and controlling Russian affairs with all his money.

That was in Russia. I never expected to see it here. I mean, Howard is right. It`s a trope that goes back hundreds and thousands of years, but, more approximately, it -- I feel like it was plucked straight out of Putin`s playbook.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, my fellow Americans, for that.

I think we will see. I hope this is a one-off. I still want to believe in America. We will see.

Julia Ioffe, thank you so much. Howard Fineman.

Up next: The country is more divided than ever. We`re hearing that right now. And President Trump doesn`t appear to have any interest in mending it, bringing it together.

What kind of impact will this polarization, sparked up again this weekend, have on the upcoming elections?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The string of recent violent attacks has cast a dark shadow over the final week of campaigning before the midterms, coming out a week and day from today.

And President Trump initially called for unity in the wake of last week`s bomb scares and the devastating murders in Pittsburgh, but, since then, he has continued to attack, attack Democrats and the media and everyone.

Vice President Pence was asked about the president`s own rhetoric. Let`s hear Pence.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everyone has their own style. And, frankly, people on both sides of the aisle use strong language about our political differences.

But I just don`t think you can connect it to threats or acts of violence.


MATTHEWS: Well, according to Gallup, however, the president`s approval rating has dropped four points just this past week, with only 40 percent approving his job right now.

He`s doing -- well, he`s 54 percent negative now. It is the sharpest decline since June, when President Trump enacted a policy of separating families at the border. We all remember that.

For more, I`m sure right now by Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post," and Kimberly Atkins, Washington bureau chief for "The Boston Herald."

I want to start with Robert.

You can read the president pretty well. Is he thinking what I was thinking couple minutes ago? What he`s really trying to do is cut his losses next Tuesday, figuring he will probably lose the House, probably because the suburbs in the Midwest and the Northeast, but that he can hang on with a red states, if he keeps them red hot, hang on, knock off a Democrat in North Dakota, knock off a Democrat in Missouri, protect seats in Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, perhaps knock off a Democrat in Florida?

Is that his game, to split this decision, at least -- holding at least the Senate?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s evident, in talking to top advisers to the president and top Republicans, they say the actions the president has taken, his allies are taking, the words they`re using, it`s all to rouse that Trump voter, the core voter who came out in 2016 in the red states.

In the closing stretch, they want to make sure the Trump base comes out this year. They`re not going to just pitch the suburban voter and try to win them over on the tax cut or on trade. It`s all about grievance politics, core issues like trade, going after the media, et cetera.

MATTHEWS: Kimberly, how do you read his politics right now? What does he see? He`s not an idiot. People may think he is, but he has some political game plan in raising this hell over this hatred going on right now.

KIMBERLY ATKINS, "THE BOSTON HERALD": I think that Robert is absolutely right.

I think he is focusing on the core part of his support. And where that can help in some of the Senate races and a couple House races, he will be there.

But this is also -- remember, Chris, 2020 has already started. He -- this is also about shoring up and keeping his own base angry by using these sorts of grievance politics. This is what he`s been relying on since the beginning of his presidential campaign.

And this plays right into it. I mean, that`s why we saw him express frustration as attacks, as bombs were being mailed to various targets around the country, because that took the news headlines off of the midterms and what he wants to focus on, which is immigration.

That is the biggest grievance item that is on the menu, as far as he`s concerned, leading into the midterms. That`s why 5,000 troops are going to the southern border. That`s why he wants to have that imagery there by Election Day, even though it will be weeks or maybe more than a month before these migrants from Central America even make it to the border.

He really wants to keep that front and center to galvanize his own base.

MATTHEWS: Well, Robert, respond to that, because I think the iconic aspect of that is obvious, 4,000 or 5,000, whatever, heading north from Honduras, halfway here by Election Day, perhaps, that image of the mob at the gate, as he might like to put it, alongside his use of force, the macho use of U.S. military people, even though those military people have no legitimacy at stopping it, much less shooting at people coming to the border.

It will look right as we approach the election. In other words, it`s a show, like a parade on Constitution Avenue, the same effect.

COSTA: Inside the White House, they say the president`s not being challenged by his own party.

So, whether it`s the response to the Pittsburgh tragedy, whether it`s his hard-line position on immigration, Republicans, if you watched the Sunday shows, if you listened to them today, they`re with this president. That reveals a lot. They believe his political capital is necessary for their own political survival, so they`re not calling him out in any fashion.

That gives the White House more leverage to just go full speed ahead on their issues.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Robert Costa. Thank you, Kimberly Atkins.

Up next, we`re going to get the latest on the closely watched Senate race down here in Texas.

You`re watching HARDBALL.



REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D-AZ), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: When you describe people as rapist and criminals inherently based on the country that they come from, when you describe others as animals or an infestation, when you talk about neo-Nazis and white supremacists and Klansmen as very fine people, that`s not the example we need in this country at this moment. But the great thing is that we don`t have to settle for that. We have an opportunity to lead with our own example here in Texas.



That was Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O`Rourke telling NBC`s Garrett Haake that the president`s divisive rhetoric is not what this country needs to heal right now. O`Rourke is battling Republican Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to turn Texas blue.

I`m joined right now by NBC`s Garrett Haake who was with the candidate today. And he`s currently at an O`Rourke rally in Wichita Falls, Texas -- Garrett.

GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it`s been interesting to follow the candidate here all day through very red parts of the state of Texas, from the high plains down to Lubbock, home of Texas Tech, a place where Donald Trump got 70 percent of the vote. Now to Wichita Falls, he`s speaking behind me, I`m going to keep my voice a little bit quiet here.

But we have seen these big crowds all day long for a progressive Democrat from El Paso in the reddest parts of Texas. This is what his campaign is absolutely counted on. They added this rally overnight. They`re doing it in a park in Wichita Falls and they were able to draw a couple hundred people here.

I`ve been fascinated all day by this paradox. You have this progressive candidate from the farther west part of the state. He`s raising a ton of money. He`s turning out people who typically don`t vote.

The polling still shows him down here, and trying to get a finger on the pulse of why that is, talking to folks who describe themselves as Republicans for Beto, independents for Beto, folks who voted for Donald Trump, who now see Beto O`Rourke as the candidate for change, the candidate who maybe they wanted to see President Trump beat, someone who will fight for the middle class voters in Texas, who in many cases people tell they feel like got left behind after decades of Republican control here.

Chris, you`ll get a chance to press Beto O`Rourke on this again tomorrow. But this is a state that hasn`t elected a Democrat in any statewide office since 1994. So, there is this change element here, this excitement for folks who see that perhaps this man could be the person to break that logjam, and you`re seeing some of that energy right now. And he`s getting -- this has happened a couple times today, essentially followed back to his car as he drives from city to city. It`s just not the sort of thing you typically see in a Senate race. It feels like a very different kind of energy here on the ground, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, thank you, Garrett Haake. I can`t wait. You`re teasing me with the excitement. We`ll be there tomorrow.

Be sure to watch right now. Tomorrow night in the HARDBALL College Tour, we have Senate candidate Beto O`Rourke live from the University of Houston. That`s tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern.

When we come back, I`ll be joined by the mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto.

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MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

While the White House announced the president would visit Pittsburgh tomorrow, that`s Tuesday, Pittsburgh`s Mayor Bill Peduto has said that, quote, the president is looking to come to Pittsburgh. I would ask that he not do so while we are burying the dead. Our attention, our focus is going to be on them, and we don`t have public safety that can take away from that until what is needed in order to do both.

Well, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto joins us now.

Do you want the president to come tomorrow, sir?

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO (D), PITTSBURGH, PA: I would prefer if he would wait until we have had the opportunity to have all of the funerals. We were planning them out starting tomorrow and then going all the way through Friday. That`s where our priority is in Pittsburgh.

We are trying to take care of the families and the victims and are coordinating our efforts around that. Obviously, we are going to need a lot of security at those locations, as well as security that`s been placed at schools and synagogues and other of our Jewish communities, larger facilities.

And there`s a lot of work that comes into planning a presidential visit and it would just be better to let the focus of attention be with the families tomorrow and not trying to detract it or place it somewhere else.

MATTHEWS: Well, I have to tell you from my own personal view and the people I`ve been talking to for the last two days, this is not just a Pittsburgh grieving. This is everywhere. And not just --

PEDUTO: This is worldwide, yes. We have to have --


MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

PEDUTO: -- a set of priorities of what you need to do. The immediate concern is to the families of the victims and to those that were wounded, and that`s where our priorities will be tomorrow. And it will be there Wednesday all the way until we`re done with that final funeral. Then we can have other conversations and be able to take care of other issues as well. Just want to make sure that the president and the White House that`s where our priorities will be tomorrow.

MATTHEWS: Well, Mr. Peduto, Mr. Mayor, I saw you on "Meet the Press" yesterday. I`m so impressed by your leadership. But hours after the shooting, President Trump repeated his argument that he often uses after mass shootings, that the gunman would have been stopped faster if there had been an armed guard inside that synagogue, that temple.

Here he goes. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately. So, this would be a case where if there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him. Maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him frankly.

Certainly you want protection, and they didn`t have any protection. They had a maniac walk in, and they didn`t have any protection, and that is just so sad to see.


MATTHEWS: Mr. Mayor, I`ve been to bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, and I just can`t imagine some guy standing there with a gun in the midst of a religious ceremony like that. It doesn`t seem right.

PEDUTO: Well, after September 11th, during the high holy days, we have had police at our synagogues. We have had synagogues --

MATTHEWS: Oh, you had?

PEDUTO: -- which have guards. We have.

But this is the thing. The person who committed this crime was not acting rationally. There`s no sense of why somebody would do this. To then try to construct laws around it is not a rational way to approach it.

We should be working toward a society where there is the need for less guns, not more. We have 300 million guns in this country. How many more million will it take to stop something like that? And once you arm and have people in synagogues and mosques and churches and schools, then you start to have them in day cares and other areas where the elderly or the -- where children are. We might as well move into a prison at that point because we`re living in a police state where everybody is the police.

I would rather move in a different direction. I`d rather find common sense reforms that prohibit people that wish to murder because of the hatred from within, to be able to get the weapons, to be able to kill people.

MATTHEWS: You know, I remember the Holocaust Museum in Washington was attacked, and the guy -- the guard, I think if was an African-American guard there, he was shot and killed. I`m not sure a guard solved the problem. Let me ask you about the presidential theme of the last couple years since he began running for president.

Do you think it`s positive for a community of peace?

PEDUTO: Well, I can tell you this, that in the darkness that has befallen Pittsburgh, there is a light that shines every few minutes, another act, another person, another group, an organization from all over this city and all over this world. Whatever the president`s comments have been over the past couple of years, there is a large movement that believes that the rhetoric that drives people to be able to, in open discussion of policy or dialogue, use hate or bigotry against any people, we`re at a time that has to end, where that needs to go back -- as I said last night, down into the basement and on a computer and out of the realm of public discourse.

When we tend to move towards hate, we tend to move towards the direction that will separate us and never allow us to heal. When we move towards compassion, when we move towards love, we find the way to heal, then we find a way to be able to begin to work as one.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, you`re a city well- led. Thank you, sir.

PEDUTO: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish tonight with Abraham`s biblical call to welcome strangers.

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MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh had, like others like it on Saturday, a reading from the Torah. That`s how Abraham saw some men standing by his home and invited them in for some water and a bit of food for their journey.

Here`s what Abraham said. Friends, if it`s all right with you, do not go rush ahead and pass me by. Let me bring you some water, bathe your feet and rest under the tree, and let me get you something to eat so that you may refresh yourselves, then go on saying you have come this way.

Well, the example Abraham was giving his people was to welcome strangers, to help those who pass by your door. I have been struck in recent days, long before the horror of this weekend in Pittsburgh, by how Jewish people have been affected by the negative attitudes towards immigration. One man confronted me in an airport last week and demanded that I think about the St. Louis, that ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees that was refused admission here in the United States in 1939 on the even of World War II.

That man who stopped me didn`t say there was a connection between the Holocaust and the migrants coming north from Honduras. But President Trump warns of so vociferously and so obsessively. He didn`t have to make a connection. It was clear. It`s about turning away people in need, treating strangers as if they`re enemies, not welcoming them, but repelling them.

So much of life is about a simple choice between two words: yes or no. That man who shot the 11 people on Saturday in Pittsburgh was say no to their very existence. No to the very people being instructed by their faith to say yes.

No one can safely assert a connection between the preaching of an American president against migrants of Central America and Saturday`s killings by a man who spoke maniacally of how Jewish people were aiding invaders. That was his word. But then who can say there was no connection?

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.