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President Trump holds first re-election rally. TRANSCRIPT: 6/18/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Jonathan Sykes, Danielle Moodie-Mills, Tim O`Brien, Charlie Sykes,Amy Klobuchar

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  And that does it for me.  We`ll have coverage of that and a lot of more tomorrow at 6:00 P.M. Eastern.  But right now, it`s "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The day he doubles down.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews up in New York back from our special town hall event in Dayton, Ohio, The Deciders.  We learned a lot about how democrats and republicans view President Trump.  It was a fascinating evening last night and we`re going to have more on that coming up later in the hour.

First tonight, President Donald Trump is set to take the stage in the next hour in Orlando, there`s that crowd, where he`ll formally launch his bid for re-election in 2020.  Hyping the event this morning, Trump compared himself to a rock star, Tweeting, look what is going on in Orlando Florida right now.  People have never seen anything like it unless you play a guitar, going to be wild.

Well, there is no question that Trump is in a uniquely different position today than he was four years ago when he made his -- there it is, his descent down that elevator at Trump Tower.  As The New York Times puts it today in the paper, four years ago, Trump was seen as a sideshow.  Now, he is the show.  He has firmly seized control of his party in a way that was almost unimaginable in 2016.  That is for sure.  The Republican Party is the Trump party.

Yet despite the power of incumbency, The New York Times notes that Trump is the only president in the history of polling who has never once, not for a single day, earned the support of a majority of Americans surveyed by Gallup.  That`s important.

In advance of his announcement tonight, Trump is hitting the same themes that accompanied his 2016 campaign.  Early today, he threatened to deport millions of immigrants who had entered the country illegally in a major crackdown starting next week.

Trump may be trying to distract, of course, from the recent leak of internal campaign polling data from March, which showed his underperforming in a dozen states against former Vice President Joe Biden, (INAUDIBLE) that news out.  The details from that poll, which were obtained by NBC News, showed Trump losing by double digits in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida, where Trump is tonight.  The Trump campaign says that polling data is old, but a new Quinnipiac poll out just today shows Biden leading Trump in Florida by nine points.

I`m joined right now by Danielle Moodie-Mills, SiriusXM Host, Tim O`Brien is Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion, Jonathan Swan is a National Political Reporter for Axios and Charlie Sykes is Editor-in-Chief of the bulwark.  So that Bulwark always scares me.

Well, let`s start with Jonathan.  First question, but everybody gets the same question.  How is Trump look like as a re-election candidate?  Big question.  Let`s give me a big answer.  How does it look?

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS:  He looks bad right now.  But it`s early.  And at this point in the last cycle, we were still fantasizing by Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.  So he looks bad.  Their internal polls have Biden taking a lot of the voters who delivered Trump the presidency in 2016 all throughout the rust belt.  Trump can deny those figures, but that`s the truth.  They`re internal figures.  But I think we`re very, very foolish to make grand proclamations at this stage about Trump.

MATTHEWS:  But that`s why you`re here.  I want a proclamation.  How does it look?  All right, here is the question.  I know you`re a great reporter.

(Overlapping dialog)

SWAN:  I`ll do this for you now and it will be played on loop for the next 18 months, and Donald Trump will probably Tweet about it.  So I`m going to leave it to the others.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go with somebody who may be offering an opinion tonight.  That`s Danielle.  $50, not going to bet any money on television, Trump or the field, somebody beats him.  How does it look?

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, HOST, SIRIUSXM:  How does it look?  I think that Trump gets beat.  I mean, the polls look ridiculous.  He has -- the fact that he has never claimed the majority of Americans` support in the two- and-a-half-years that he has been President is shocking.  The fact that he --

MATTHEWS:  He won without it.

MOODIE-MILLS:  Well, let`s be clear how he won.  He had a friend in Russia that helped him out.

MATTHEWS:  Really?  You think Russia did it in the election?

MOODIE-MILLS:  Yes, I do.  I think that Russia gave him all the help that he wanted.  And I think he asked for it the other night with George Stephanopoulos and said, hey, I`m open for business.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he asked for it.  Tim, let me ask about the general outlook for Trump, because he has these double-digit losses, deficiencies in states we know he needs, but he did go to Florida, a state we know he needs.  He has to start with Florida, work his way through North Carolina, then he`s got to get some of these industrial states to win.

TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION EDITOR-IN-CHIEF:  Well, I don`t think the math is complex.  If he doesn`t hold Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, he`s not going to win again, even -- I think even if he gets Florida.  I mean, those were the states that put him over the top the last time.  And he was over the top in those races on a razor`s edge.

But I agree with Jonathan.  It`s too early.  I think even though if it`s too early to predict whether or not he is going to win, it`s not too early to identify what he needs to talk about and what he is going to have difficulty talking about, the economy and healthcare.

And the healthcare keeps polling strongly with voters, you know, from talking to voters in Ohio.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it had a lot to do with `18.  It had a lot to do with `18.

O`BRIEN:  It had a lot to do with `18.  And on the economy, some of the numbers are starting to look cloudy there.  And I think if the economy -- if you have recession, that`s going to be a lot of -- that`s going to a big headwind for Trump to struggle against.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Charlie Sykes on this.  Do you think the democrats have learned their lesson?  One of the lessons we picked up again last night, it didn`t take much effort, people don`t like being overlooked.  And so there are people living out in states like, you know, triple A, double A baseball towns, middle-sized towns of 100,000.  They felt that Hillary -- well, they`re right.  Hillary didn`t come there.  It`s as basic as basic politics, show up and ask for the vote.  Do you think the democrats have learned the lesson, if they`re going to beat Trump, first thing I`d do is go to little towns, like Erie, Pennsylvania a couple of times, Dayton a couple of times and show you`re respectful of those voters?  Do they know that yet?

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE BULWARK:  And listen to what they are actually -- yes.

MATTHEWS:  Do they know it?

SYKES:  And listen to what they are actually saying.  But, look, yes, you know -- and I think that Donald Trump is in trouble.  There is no question about it.  But I think his re-election chances are better than they look right now, not just because it`s early, but here is somebody.  Remember how underwater he was in 2016?  He knows he doesn`t have to win the election.  He has to have the democrats lose the election.  And they are giving him oppo research every single day.

You know, I think the healthcare issue ought to be a slam-dunk with the democrats, but there are polls out now showing that, really, nobody understands what do democrats mean when they say Medicare for all.  Do you get to keep your private insurance?  Will you get to -- will there be an option?

MATTHEWS:  What`s the oppo that you`ve (INAUDIBLE) -- you`ve entranced me by?  You know, somebody said fascinated with Jeb Bush.  Nobody has ever been fascinated with Jeb Bush.  I`m sorry.  That`s (INAUDIBLE) you`re really reaching with that message.  Nobody has ever been fascinated with Jeb Bush.

But let me ask you this.  Do you think they got stuff with Biden?  Do they got stuff with -- well, Bernie is sort of his own open book.  He is an old line socialist.  If you don`t like, that you can always yell that at him.  But I wonder if you can go after Buttigieg.  He is such a young guy, he doesn`t have a record.  He is been openly gay.  He is married.  He puts it all on the table.  What would be the negative on a guy like that?  I don`t get it.  What`s the oppo?

SWAN:  I don`t know what they`ve got -- sorry, is that for Charlie?

MATTHEWS:  Charlie first, then you.

SYKES:  Well, look, I mean, you know, we watch these guys over the last two years.  They will come up with something on each and every one of these candidates.  This is one of the benefits of having an alternative reality, an incredible echo machine out there to be able to do that.  And, you know, you may have this on two tracks.  You may have, you know, the Trump campaign saying, we`re not going to go after Pete Buttigieg`s personal life, and then a massive below the radar screen campaign among evangelical Christians to smear him.

And so, I mean, look, this is going to be ugly.  The democrats need to understand it`s going to be ugly.  They have to understand what the Trump campaign is going to be about.  It`s going to Hillaryize whoever is the nomination.  Hillary did not lose this -- did not lose the election just because of the Russians.  She lost because she didn`t ask for the votes, and, in fact, she made herself or she was perceived by these voters to be disconnected and toxic.  And that will be the model of the Trump campaign whatever the democrats put up.

MATTHEWS:  Charlie, she also suffers from reality.  If you`ve been in public life for 30 or 40 years, you`ve got 30, 40 years of target.  And Hillary had that going way back to when she was First Lady.

O`BRIEN:  She also was in Pennsylvania.  We said earlier, you know, these states, she was in Pennsylvania.  She may not have spent enough time in Wisconsin and Michigan, but they spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS:  Right now, the campaign in Pennsylvania for Trump said it was like about seven to two ratio for Trump showing up.

And I`m going to you about this because, Danielle, I want to ask you about the slurs.  You know, we can argue whether Pocahontas is a slur or not.  It was a shot.  I don`t think Pocahontas was a bad person historically.  I don`t think it`s anybody negative.  But I want to know -- it didn`t work because here he comes -- he did his best shot at her, his favorite nickname, obviously, and here she is coming on like gangbusters.

MOODIE-MILLS;  Yes, because she has policies and she literally has a plan for everything.  And I think that where the democrats are going to win is with their policies, is with their messaging.  Because just imagine Donald Trump on the debate stage with somebody, if it`s a Warren, if it`s a Harris, if it`s a Biden, actually talking about policy and him up there throwing slurs and throwing, you know, character assassinations.

That`s not what the American people want.  His base wants that at their rallies, but the American people, in general, don`t want that.  And his poll numbers show that, regardless of whether or not he is trying to gaslight everybody.

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you.  Jonathan, when somebody shakes off his worse punch, you know, he made that Native American reference to Elizabeth Warren, doesn`t that scare him, I think?  What do you think about that?  Because he hasn`t figured out Buttigieg, he hasn`t figured out Kamala, he may -- I don`t think he thinks he has to figure out Sanders.  He is pretty much an open book.  But I don`t think he has figured out Elizabeth Warren either.  Warren is tough, tough cookie.  She is a tough cookie.

SWAN:  She is.  But, again, like she has surged within the democratic primary electorate.  And I don`t think you know that she`s shaken off Trump`s punch with the general electorate.  So -- and we have such short- term memory.  I think we forget that when Hillary Clinton finished her term as Secretary of State, the nation loved her.

MATTHEWS:  Because she was out in politics before.  No, we know why.  Come on, but we all know why.  She got out of the business for a while.

SWAN:  That`s fine, Chris.  But just remember how short a time it took for the machine to get going and to home in on her.  And, I`m sorry, we`ve seen that image that your other guest talked about of a candidate talking about policy on a debate stage.  That was Hillary Clinton.  She did that.  So I don`t know that this is some new paradigm.

MOODIE-MILLS:  That was her problem, is that Hillary Clinton, actually, she was above reproach.  And she thought that she was going to be above it.  And so she wasn`t going to try and fight back.  And that was the problem.

MATTHEWS:  I think I`ve finally found the right person to ask that question today.  Okay, when he did that Godzilla number, the debate, what would you have done?

MOODIE-MILLS:  Turned around and been like, what are you doing, right?  Every woman in America, every woman in America, I`m telling you, if she had turned around and been like what, right?  I`m actually speaking.  Every woman in America would have applauded at that moment.  She wrote it in her book that that was one of her biggest mistakes, that she did not confront him and turn around and say, what are you doing.  He was stalking her on the stage.

MATTHEWS:  I knew you were right.  Anyway, (INAUDIBLE) asked the question there, thank you.  When confronted with reports about those internal polling numbers from his own campaign, his own campaign, Trump first denied their existence to ABC News.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST:  We`ve all seen these reports that were 15 out of 17 states he spent 2 million on a poll and you`re behind in 15 out of 17 states.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Nobody showed you those polls because those polls don`t exist, George.  Those polls don`t exist.  But I just had a meeting with somebody that`s a pollster, and I`m winning everywhere.


MATTHEWS:  Tim, you pointed out in that picture that George Stephanopoulos has got his seat belt on.

O`BRIEN:  Good observant democrat.

MATTHEWS:  Well, no, it`s so Mike Dukakis and the (INAUDIBLE) seat belt on.  Anyway, despite Trump`s insistence that those polls don`t exist, Trump`s campaign cut ties, in other words, fired some of the pollsters after the data was leaked.  Tim, that`s a riot.  Talk about blaming the messenger.  What to do with bad poll numbers?  Fire the pollster.

O`BRIEN:  Well, this is classic Trump, right?  Jonathan had a scoop tonight that the White House had known for a month that they had problems with Shanahan, and Trump said he only found out recently.  Trump said he believe tariffs affect consumers.  He believes the Mueller report exonerated him.  And he`s now saying that the poll numbers, his own poll numbers aren`t what they say they are.

The trick to Trump is that he creates alternative realities.  And his strength is that he is happy to exist in those.

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  You`ve got Jonathan.  You`ve just been teased here.  I tell you, when you broke the story about Shanahan, the acting, acting, acting but never real Secretary of Defense and his marital history and all that stuff, Trump says, I wanted to let him have more time with his family, which is the code for, I fired the guy.  And everybody knows that code.  You`ve been fired.  What`s the reality there?

SWAN:  He wasn`t fired.

MATTHEWS:  Well, then why did the President say, to say to spend more time with his family?

SWAN:  Well, I can`t get to that, but, honestly, Trump was prepared to support him if he wanted to.  Shanahan went to the Oval Office today.  Even as early as this morning, like early this morning, some senior White House officials still thought he was committed to going through with it.  And they had a conversation in the Oval, and then Patrick Shanahan said to President Trump that it just wasn`t going to work out with his family.

MATTHEWS:  Did the president ask him to stick it out?

SWAN:  The President said, if you want to stay, I will support you.

MATTHEWS:  If you want to stay.  But if you want to say, I`ll support you is not an endorsement.

SWAN:  He did not ask him to step down in a way that he has with others.

MATTHEWS:  But he didn`t ask him to stay either.

SWAN:  The thing that`s most unbelievable to me is president telling reporters that he only found out about this yesterday.  I know for a fact that senior White House officials, including that White House Counsel`s Office have known about this for more than a month, the divorce allegations.  So I find it very hard to believe that the President only found it about this yesterday.

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Well, anyway, in his interview with ABC News, the President highlighted three themes to win over undecided voters next year.  Here he goes.


STEPHANOPOULOS:  What`s your pitch to the swing voter on the fence?

TRUMP:  Safety, security, great economy.


MATTHEWS:  But new reporting shows that Trump`s actions could undercut the strength of those messages.  On safety, escalating tensions with Iran have prompted an additional deployment of another thousand troops over to the Middle East.  Not exactly a peaceful move.  And it relates to security.  We`re learning that officials dealing with the Russian cyber threat reportedly felt the need to withhold information on that from the President, the Commander-in-Chief.

According to The New York Times, the Pentagon and intelligence officials describe broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials.  Charlie, my thoughts, he`s Commander-in-Chief.  I`m just reading this book on Roosevelt.  He insisted on being Commander-in-Chief, not taking orders from the joint chiefs or the defense secretary, but being in charge of our military operation.  Now, we find out that our cyber war is being conducted under the table and out of sight of the President.

SYKES:  That is an extraordinary -- that was an extraordinary buried lead in that particular story, the fact that they don`t tell the President about this because he might countermand it or leak it to the hostile foreign power that we`re actually engaged with, so, yes.

And there are a lot of vulnerabilities.  And Tim mentioned before what happens if the economy goes down.  But to go through his themes, you know, of safety, security and the economy, the flipside of all of that is the democrats are threats to all of that.  They are weak.  They are for open borders.  They won`t protect you and they`re going to trash the economy through socialism.  You`re going to see that two-track campaign that Trump is going to do.

And even though he`s got the vulnerabilities, you know, I know that everybody is talking about all the policies and the plans that Elizabeth Warren has.  But one of the things that Trump, I think, understands intuitively is that these elections are decided by the big, bold colors, not the details.  And he`s going to try to shape this with these big, broad themed figuring that the swing voters aren`t going to sweat the details.

MATTHEWS:  You know, when you`re a kid in high school and you have fistfights at recess, you have braces, for example, like I did, your other guy punches you right in the teeth all the time because he knows you`ll be a hamburger at the end of the fight.  Trump knows that.  He goes for the vulnerable, the bad eye, the weakness, the physical embarrassment, whatever it is.  Okay, open borders, late-term on abortion rights, late-term, which is really troubling to a lot of people, morally (ph), and socialism.  One of the opponent is Joe Biden, or it`s Buttigieg or somebody that is not known to be on the hard left.  What does he do then?  Charlie?

SYKES:  Well, I mean, he`ll paint whoever it is in those colors.  I mean, every single person has a vulnerability.  And you`re absolutely right.  One of the things that Donald Trump has mastered is to find that vulnerability.  What is the cartoon image that he can pin on that individual.  And, you know, until you`re actually tested in a general election, who knows.  We`ve made a career out of underestimating Donald Trump, right?

And so, you know, the one thing that he had is he does have that bully instinct.  What is the vulnerability, what is the weak spot, how can I hammer away at that?  And the fact that he is utterly without shame and utterly without scruple gives him an advantage in American politics today, unfortunately.

MATTHEWS:  Danielle, I grew up knowing how bullies work.  There was one frightening bully, like Mr. T in the movies, but the real guy was Sonny Liston.  He was in prison his whole life.  He was fighting -- nobody wanted to fight Sonny Liston.  They wouldn`t fight him.  I`d knock him out, he never fought again.  So who has the knockout punch to take down the bully?

MOODIE-MILLS:  I think a couple of them do.  I think that Biden can knock him out.  I think Warren can knock him out.  I think Kamala can put him on his behind.  Look, I think that there are several people that can.  The reality is that we have to paint Donald Trump as Donald Trump has painted himself.  He is erratic, he is unstable and he is unreliable, right?  And he is a threat to America`s national security.  That`s how the democrats need to paint him.  And if they do, they win.

MATTHEWS:  You should run for parliament.  I`m just teasing you.  You`re very strong, and I like strong, because I think it`s that kind of very self-confident aggressive ray approach to this guy would knock him on his heels because he wouldn`t be ready for it.

Thank you, Danielle Moodie-Mills.  Thank you Tim O`Brien.  Thank you Jonathan Swan and Charlie Sykes.

Coming up, another House member calls for impeachment, but democrats are still a long way away critical mass (ph).  I think there are over some 230 democrats in the House.  Now, we`re up to 66, about one in four, one in five.  It`s not enough.  Who is going to win, impeachment or the calendar, because is going to be July soon?  When are they going to impeach this guy?  Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, she`s going to join us and talk about that and other things.

Plus, next week`s democratic debate is the first big benchmark.  It`s a landmark of the 2020 campaign, sort of like the All-Star game.  Are the candidates going into it with a big moment?  I know who.  She is right there on the right. 

And our very revealing discussion last night in Dayton, Ohio with The Deciders.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That dude lies.  He lies.  The FEC Chair just had to call him out.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Trump looks out for you?


MATTHEWS:  He cares about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he`s honest.  I think he`s true.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.


MATTHEWS:  Well, one of the takeaways last night, republicans know the President is not a good guy, but they know support him anyway.  Crickets when I asked who thinks he doesn`t lie.  None of them thinks he doesn`t lie.  Much more ahead, stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

As President Trump officially launches his 2020 campaign tonight, calls to start an impeachment inquiry into the president grew a bit louder today. 

California Congresswoman Katie Porter is the latest lawmaker to come out in support of an impeachment inquiry, in other words, get started on impeachment.  Porter, a Democrat who narrowly flipped her Southern California district in this year`s midterm election -- last year`s -- argued that the president`s stonewall of congressional investigations had brought the country to a crisis.  That was her phrase.

Porter is now the 67th member of the U.S. House of Representatives to call for impeachment, 66 Democrats and one Republican.  But Porter is only the second Democrat from a Republican-leaning district to do so, along with New Jersey`s Tom Malinowski. 

Well, last week, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said she would support an impeachment proceeding beginning now and that the House is on the right track with investigations. 

Senator Klobuchar released her 100-day plan, by the way, today, laying out a number of actions she plans to take if she wins the White House.  We will have more on that coming up. 

Democratic candidate for president Senator Amy Klobuchar joins me now. 

Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  You`re always smiling when you come on this show, at least, and I appreciate that.

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, you`re fun to listen to. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, I think this.  I think the calendar is moving. 

I think -- I watched -- the older I get, the faster that calendar moves, I got to tell you.  And, all of a sudden, it`s going to be July, it`s going to be August. 

Do you think there is enough time to begin an impeachment, if we start -- unless we start fairly soon?

KLOBUCHAR:  The House is doing its investigation, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but...

KLOBUCHAR:  As you point out on your show, they`re going to hear from...


KLOBUCHAR:  ... a critical witness this week.  I know they`re still pushing to get Mueller.  I personally think they should subpoena Robert Mueller to testify. 

But I can tell you one thing we can`t wait on, and that is protecting our election, 500 some days from now, from foreign powers or from others that might try to hack in.

We know now that they`re investigating two counties in Florida, North Carolina.  And yet the Republicans are stonewalling the Secure Elections Act, which simply would require backup paper ballots in the 14 states that either don`t have them or have partial. 

And there`s just no excuse for this, if you believe in democracy, whether you`re a Democrat or Republican.

MATTHEWS:  Is it too rough a question?  But I will put it to you anyway, Senator.

Do you think the president has abused his office, the powers of the presidency?  Has he abused them? 

KLOBUCHAR:  I think he has, yes.  And I think, when...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he`s committed impeachable crimes?

KLOBUCHAR:  I have made this very clear, that I believe they should start impeachment proceedings...


KLOBUCHAR:  ... because of the fact that we have got those 10 instances of obstruction of justice, which form a pattern. 

But we also just had last week, when he actually called on foreign agents.  He basically said, yes, if they give me dirt on an opponent...


KLOBUCHAR:  ... I will take it.

Then he tries to dial it back.  To me, that was just one more message, just like he did during the campaign. 

But the problem with all this, Chris, if we just dwell on this, people aren`t going to hear what I think is the alternative future for our country.  And that is an America that is based on our values, that brings us forward, that is focused on what I think people want to hear about, which is an optimistic economic agenda, where they can be part of this country and the prosperity, because he has made so many promises.


KLOBUCHAR:  As you guys just pointed out, he has promised this economy, and so many people aren`t part of it.  He`s promised security. 

And, at this very moment, we are a month away from -- Iran has now said they`re going to get closer to a nuclear weapon.  When this guy came into power, he wasn`t there. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator, something just broke in the news.


MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry.  I`m listening to everything. 

I have just got to ask you about something that just broke in the news. 

The president again refused to apologize, when given the opportunity late today, in the role he played in lobbying for the execution, the capital punishment, of those youngsters, those teenagers who were accused in the Central Park 5.

In 1989, Trump took out a full-page ad in four newspapers -- there`s one of them -- calling for the execution, ending the lives of those teenagers, four black and one Hispanic, accused of raping and beating a jogger in Central Park. 

The teenagers were convicted, but later exonerated by DNA evidence, actual innocence there, and another man`s confession.  They agreed to a $41 million settlement with New York City in 2014.  And the story is back in the news because of the Netflix series about the cause, "When They See Us."

Let`s take a look for a second here. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Why do you bring that question up now?  It`s an interesting time to bring it up. 


TRUMP:  You have people on both sides of that.  They admitted their guilt. 

If you look at Linda Fairstein, and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case.  So, we will leave it at that. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, a president against the established DNA, scientific evidence, of actual innocence, not an argument that it was badly prosecuted, but actual innocence, and he still sticks to saying they should be executed? 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, as a former prosecutor, I cannot tell you how offensive it is. 

Our job is to do justice, to be ministers of justice, to do our job without fear or favor.  And the same should be said as the president of the United States. 

There was clear evidence here.  They have been exonerated.  And now he comes out and says this.  I can`t even -- I just think -- he has said 10,000 lies.  And it`s one of the reasons that I have come out with what you can do in your first 100 days. 

You just can`t wait.  Yes, we can introduce the bills.  And I`m going to do it.  Immigration reform, I think we can get that done by the end of the year. 

There`s immediate things we can do to stop this assault on people`s health care, to make sure that we get the international climate change agreement signed back into that on day one. 

And I literally have come up with 100 things we can do within those first 100 days, because there is an urgency right now to this election that goes way beyond any other election we have seen.


Eight days from now, Senator, you`re going to have your first chance to reach a national audience, not just on MSNBC, but on NBC as well, and Telemundo.

A lot of people have never seen you before.  They`re going to get a chance eight days from now. 

You`re going to be standing out there.  We have the positions tonight.  We know where you`re going to be.  You`re going to be standing between Beto O`Rourke and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

How are you going to get your -- what`s your -- you only get a couple minutes to start this discussion.  What are you going to lead with?  Come on.  Tell us.

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, I want to focus -- I`m not going to tell you and be the pundit to my debate and give everything away.  Oh, no.

But I think it`s important that every candidate up there makes it clear what their vision is, what they want to get done, that we talk about the issues that matter to people, and that there`s going to be some disagreements, but I think there`s going to be a lot more that unify people.

And the number one thing is, we have to win.  We have to beat Donald Trump.  And I will be making my case for I am that person.  I`m from the heartland.  I`m someone that`s won every red congressional district in my state, statewide. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you get it. 

Thank you so much, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next, Steve Kornacki takes us over to the Big Board, as we count down to that big debate eight days from now down in Miami. 

Who`s got the momentum?  That`s always the big question.  Before the All- Star Game, which teams are doing well?  Who`s got the momentum as a candidate?  Where will everybody be standing on that stage?

We`re going to figure out having they`re going to physically look like each other.  You got to go with the person to your right or your left.

You`re watching HARDBALL. 



TRUMP:  Rand Paul shouldn`t even be on this stage.  He`s number 11.  He`s got 1 percent in the polls.  And how he got up here, there`s far too many people.

I`m at like 42, and you`re at 3.  So, so far, I`m doing better. 

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR:  Doesn`t matter.  Doesn`t matter.


TRUMP:  So far, I`m doing better. 

You started off over here, Jeb.  You`re moving over further and further.  Pretty soon, you`re going to be off the end. 

I was center stage in every debate.  You know the way guys kept falling off the ends?  You know, they kept falling off. 

I said, Jeb, you`re not going to be here much longer.  You`re pretty far down there, Jeb. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was, of course, then candidate Donald Trump relishing his advantage of being center stage during the primary debates. 

Well, today, we found out exactly where each Democratic candidate will stand in the debate next week. 

MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki is here with more -- Steve. 


Here`s the lineup, first night next week, Wednesday night.  And you see, they align these candidates here, the 10 on stage.  They basically did the order based on the polling, working from the outside in, so 10th among this group, ninth, eighth, seventh and so forth.  And it works its way all the way to the middle. 

That`s where Elizabeth Warren -- she`s the highest polling candidate in this first-night group.  That`s where she`s going to be, to one side of her, Cory Booker, to the other side, Beto O`Rourke.  That is sort of the middle of the stage there.  And, of course, then that`s Wednesday night.

Thursday night, the second night, that is when the -- oh, I have got to turn the marker off here -- that is when the bigger names in terms of polling are all on stage together, Buttigieg, Biden, Sanders, Harris, all four of them, four of the top five right now by polling, all going to be right there in the middle of the stage. 

There`s the former vice president.  He`s got Bernie Sanders on one side, Pete Buttigieg on the other.  So that`s the lineup there, Chris, for each night next week.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make about that second night? 

I just think about all the B`s there, Biden and Bernie and Buttigieg, and then Harris.  It seems to me that somebody is going to take on somebody very close to them physically.  It`s going to be fascinating.


And so much of the energy on stage is going to be sort of directed from the outside toward the middle, because I think these other candidates are all going to be trying to get their moment in the limelight. 

We were looking back at past debate moments today.  Here`s one you may remember, Hillary Clinton back in the 2008.  Remember the driver`s license question that really tripped her up in that campaign?  Remember who really instigated that moment?  It was Chris Dodd. 

It was one of the candidates who was kind of on the periphery, wasn`t really registering, but he was on stage.  And he had the chance.  And in that moment, he really made things uncomfortable for Hillary Clinton. 

And that`s -- that`s one of the questions I have for some of these other candidates on the outside here.  Do they pursue something like that?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I thought that was like a double -- doubling up on her in basketball, like two-manning her.  I thought that was interesting, because I -- taken by the fact that Biden, who was technically still running -- he still wanted to win the presidency -- he backed up Obama against Hillary.

KORNACKI:  And ended up getting the V.P. slot.  There you go.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I guess he got paid for that. 


MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about the -- about the president and what he`s up to, because we have looked at all these numbers today.  And I remain skeptical that this guy is as easy to beat as the numbers show.

Your thoughts, looking at the newest numbers?


Take it through -- I mean, look, this is his average approval rating.  You take every poll that`s out there right now on his approval, and it clocks in at 43.9 percent.  And you would normally look at that, a president in that territory, and say, well, that president`s going to be in trouble next year for reelection. 

The interesting thing about Trump is, he`s pretty much lived in that range his entire presidency.  His high point as president, his high watermark, this is his honeymoon.  He hit 46 percent about two weeks in, in early 2017.  His low watermark, 37 percent.

He`s existed almost entirely within that range.  The thing to keep in mind, Chris, though, is, this is also the range that Donald Trump lived in during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

If you had taken polls throughout the fall of 2016, on a bad day, he was down here.  On a really good day, he was getting close to this territory.  Usually, he was somewhere in between.  And when you got to Election Day, 2016, you had exit polls showing that folks had all sorts of negative opinions about Donald Trump, off-the-charts negative in some cases.

And yet the negatives for his opponent in the end were just high enough, his favorable rating was just high enough, he was able to stitch together that path. 

It`s a completely open question to me if he can pull that off again in 2020. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think about the accuracy?  I mean, I keep thinking, well-spoken, articulate pollsters call up with standard English sort of accents.  They call up a person who is a bit conservative, who -- maybe not have all the education as the person who`s calling them as.

And you go, where are you on this election?  And the person who gets the call goes, I`m not going to tell you, wise guy.  You`re a big shot.  You probably went to an Ivy League school.  I`m not going to tell you what I think.  I like Trump, but I`m not going to tell you. 

Is that going on?  Or is there any way to find that in the polling and fix for it? 

KORNACKI:  To the extent you`re saying, that is tough to find for, but I think a lot of people have suspicions.

And the other thing is, it`s just a simple question of, people have conflicting views of Trump, I think.  You saw that in the exit polls.  People who did not think he was qualified to be president, they said that in the exit poll -- I don`t think Trump`s qualified -- some of them still voted for him. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, like, last night, they said -- they wouldn`t say he doesn`t lie.  They would all say he`s crass.  They don`t think their kids should behave like him.  And then they`re not going to move. 

And I think your poll shows that.  They`re hard as a rock. 


MATTHEWS:  And it`s low 40s, but it`s still rock.

And, Steve, you`re the best.  Nobody`s got anybody like you, nobody.

KORNACKI:  Hey, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Except, we do.

Up next:  What were some of the big takeaways from last night`s "Deciders" town hall in Dayton, Ohio, just last night?  Some voters` views on Trump`s honesty and accomplishments, as I said, could surprise you.

The Trumpies admit the worst about him.

You`re watching HARDBALL.      (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



Last night, we were in Dayton, Ohio, part of Montgomery County, which voted for Barack Obama.  As we said last night many times, twice, and then flipped to Trump last time, to get a sense of what a diverse group of voters like that were thinking about. 

With the election 16 months away now, here`s what they had to say about Trump. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I definitely do not, and I feel that he actually ran on promoting racism. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And anybody who flipped for him is somebody who supports people who don`t support people of color. 

MATTHEWS:  You think Trump looks out for you? 


MATTHEWS:  He cares about you? 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he is honest.  I think he is true. 

BILL MASON, MARKETING EXECUTIVE:  We have people who stand up for institutions, stand up for America, make the promises to uphold and defend the Constitution.  And Donald Trump has not ever been that person. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It`s hard to try to find where you fit when everyone wants to be in a category. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Every politician calls other politicians names.  We have them on hot mic for 30 years.  They all do that.  This guy at least does it up front. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, there were also some lively exchanges between supporters and critics of the commander-in-chief.  Let`s take a look at that. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I mean, what`s wrong with putting America first because we have all these old trade agreements that are like NAFTA that took a lot of jobs. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he honors the Constitution? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Pardon?  What`s that again? 

MATTHEWS:  Does he honor the Constitution? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I believe he honors the Constitution. 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody else agree? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He took an oath.  He took an oath to honor the Constitution. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, sir.  Let me go to another person here.  Back here.  Do you want to respond to what he just said? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I most certainly do.  He does not honor the Constitution.  And I can tell you a couple of places where he doesn`t.  Number one, Article I, Section 9, the Emoluments Clause.  Let`s go for that. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I asked the voters in Dayton, Republicans and Democrats, how many of them think Trump lies.  Their response spoke volumes.  That`s coming up next.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last night during our "Deciders" town hall in Dayton, Ohio, an area that voted twice for Obama and then for Trump last time, I asked the audience of Democrats and Republicans what they thought of the president`s, here`s the word, truthfulness. 

Listen to what they said, or rather didn`t say. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, how many people here don`t think Trump lies? 

AUDIENCE:  Say that again? 

MATTHEWS:  How many people here don`t think Trump lies?  I thought it was interesting silence. 


MATTHEWS:  That was absolute crickets.  No one in the room of mixed Republican and Democrat, not a single clap or noise of any kind said they don`t think he lies. 

I`m now joined with Michelle Goldberg, "New York Times" columnist, and Noah Rothman, he`s associate editor of "Commentary". 

Thank you, both.  I mean, you write for magazines and "New York Times" where you have to write the truth.  I mean, that`s the deal. 

The facts have to be -- but this crowd, I`m not talking about the Democrat people, the passionate progressives.  I`m talking about people that stood up and stood up for Trump, but did not defend his word.  They don`t defend his word. 

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Right.  I think the division in this country is not between people who think Trump lies and people who don`t.  It`s between people who care that Trump lies and people who don`t. 

MATTHEWS:  Why don`t the people who are supportive of him believe it`s important to tell the truth? 

GOLDBERG:  Because they think he is getting away with it, right?  They think when he lies, he is lying on behalf of their interests.  And I also think --

MATTHEWS:  You`re so smart because one of the guys said does it matter that he lies?  As long as Mitch McConnell was the judge. 

GOLDBERG:  Right.  I also think that they get a perverse -- not all of them, but I think there are some conservatives who get a perverse sort of glee at watching the rest of us get so apoplectic as he lies continually and shamelessly, and there is nothing we can do about it.  I think they sort of like the fact that it torments the half of the country that can`t bear it. 

MATTHEWS:  What happens when he says the polls aren`t really true, the ones that leaked weren`t really the polls and then fires his pollsters this week? 

NOAH ROTHMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes, that was a very strange moment. 

MATTHEWS:  Threatens to fire Sean Spicer for saying the crowd wasn`t as big as he wanted it to be. 

ROTHMAN:  There is a reason why you would release internal polls that show you behind, right?  It has instrumental utility.  It fires up your donors.  You can fundraise off of it.  You can get your voters energized. 

You don`t fire the guys who do it because they`re doing a service for you.  It suggests that he doesn`t really understand campaigning in a way he really should. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, polls operate differently. 

ROTHMAN:  This is probably more in line with his personality. 

MATTEHWS:  One of the people we spoke to last night, an independent, had this warning to the more than 20 Democrats running for president.  Let`s watch this warning.


DAN MOORMAN (I), VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016:  The reason Trump is president in my opinion is because of his competition.  Hillary was just worse.  Y`all were talking about Trump.  The fact of the matter he is an egotistical, self-centered human being that happened to have a worse competitor. 

I want some good options.  I want some good options and I haven`t really seen them. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you think of that guy, Michelle?

GOLDBERG:  Well, I thought the rest of his comment is he is angry because he feels that people are stealing from him. 

MATTHEWS:  He said that,             you had a U.S. senator there, Sherrod Brown, he said, tell your buddies and you to stop stealing from me. 

GOLDBERG:  Right.  So, you know, to be honest, if what you really want is - - if you really kind of resent having to pay taxes and pay the taxes that support all the social programs that people in polls also say they want, it`s true that sort of neither party is offering you anything.  I think that man said that he was thinking about voting libertarian. 

But I also think -- 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Gary Johnson.  But he also said he was in a booth.  This I never heard of.  It may be hyperbole.  He said he was in the booth for 30 minutes. 

I was kidding because I know when I`m voting, you got to move the crowd along a little bit.  He said I took 30 minutes to decide I hated Hillary more than Trump. 

GOLDBERG:  I think he knows that voting for Trump was a morally compromised -- a morally compromised act.  And also, once you do something like that, something that you do know is wrong you then have to justify it retroactively. 

MATTHEWS:  Look, I think it`s a preview of what`s coming.  I think Trump doesn`t want to be the issue in 2020.  He wants the Democrat candidate to be the ultimate issue.  He`ll go after them on looks, he`ll go after them on ideology, on baggage.  He will find something to make that person less unlikable than he is. 

ROTHMAN:  It would be extremely smart to do that, and that`s why I`m not banking on that.  I think his instinct is to make the election the referendum on him.  That`s what he did in 2018.  He wrested it from the hands of Republicans who were making it a referendum on Democrats to say I want to talk about the border. 

And as for that guy who is a swing voter, he really is the quintessential swing voter.  Swing voters don`t vote on ideological reasons.  Americans don`t love to have their income taken from them in the form of taxes.  Ideologues like that.  Democrat voters like that.  Swing voters vote on the guy they saw most recently. 


MATTHEWS:  The guy they saw most recently? 

ROTHMAN:  Macroeconomic issues, sentimentality, and, yes, pressing the flesh of retail politics.  That matters to swing voters.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think I saw them, what you mean by, did they show up and show respect for you. 

President Trump is said to make the economy a central part of his 2020 reelection campaign.  Last night I asked the audience if the Republicans` $1.5 trillion tax cut which Trump said would be rocket fuel for the economy actually helped them personally or they saw anything in their life that reflected it. 

Let`s take a look at what they said. 


MATTHEWS:  There was a tax bill passed last year.  I want to know, put your hands up if you come up with any discernible improvement in the situation because of the tax cut.  Put your hand up. 

Wow.  That`s about 10 people in the room here at the most. 


MATTHEWS:  What it is that stops people -- well, we know that the unemployment rate dropped about two points in that county since Trump came in.  I don`t know if he had anything to do with it, but the economy has helped.  We know you make an extra buck an hour there, about 28 bucks as opposed to 27 bucks an hour.  Some modest improvement in people`s salaries, very modest, 4 percent, but only 10 people said improvement in their lives. 

GOLDBERG:  Well, from the tax cut, right?  And I think you can`t necessarily connect lowered unemployment rate to the tax cut. 

MATTHEWS:  You think they`re just talking about the refund they got? 

GOLDBERG:  Yes, I think people see they got very little.  Then they read about the stock buybacks, they read about the massive amounts that people in Donald Trump`s tax bracket got.  And also I think there is a lot of research --

MATTHEWS:  I don`t think they know what you know.  You said stocks buyback is a big issue ideologically.

GOLDBERG:  So they might not know what stock buybacks are, but they definitely understand that Wall Street made out much better than they did.  I also think there is a lot of research now that people`s perceptions of the economy is being somewhat decoupled from or is increasingly tied to their partisan affiliations. 

MATTHEWS:  Agreed. 

GOLDBERG:  The economy there are so many different signals, you read them depending where your loyalties are. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Michelle, and here`s my prediction, Trump will spend $1 billion, maybe $2 billion if he`s got it, to sell America on the better economy and what he did.  You can do that with money. 

I went through Morning in America.  Reagan had a 7-plus unemployment and he sold the country on the fact we are gangbusters.  So it can be done with advertising. 

Thank you so much, Michelle Goldberg.

GOLDBERG:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  And thank you, Noah Rothman. 

Up next, I sat down with Steve Colbert on "The Late Show" tonight.  I have a preview what`s coming tonight.  They just taped. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  I`m going to be on "The Late Show" tonight with Stephen Colbert, and here is a bit of our discussion on Trump and his 2020 opponents. 


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW:  If Trump launched his reelection campaign today.  OK, it`s happening as we speak in Orlando, Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  Disneyworld. 

COLBERT:  Yes, going on down there. 

MATTHEWS:  I`m worried.  I think it`s going to be a real close one next November.  I think two or three of the Democrats I can see beating him.  Others may beat him.  I think Biden could beat him.  I think Warren could beat him.  I think Buttigieg is coming on strong. 

I think right now it`s like Baskin Robbins.  You go in, there is 31 flavors.  I tried Beto last week.  I think I`ll try Buttigieg.  It`s like a tasting thing. 


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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.