CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Bully pulpit. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
President Trump is still on the ground in El Paso, Texas right now, the second leg of his trip to console and memorialize the victims of this weekend`s mass shootings.
Trump`s visits came against the backdrop of public anger over his racially divisive language and inaction on guns. We saw that in the protests that greeted him today.
But Trump doubled down again against his critics this morning, telling reporters that his rhetoric unifies people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you say to your critics that believe that your rhetoric that is emboldening white nationalists and inspiring this anger?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, my critics are political people. They`re trying to make points. In many cases, they`re running for president and they`re very low in the polls, a couple of them in particular very low in the polls.
I think my rhetoric is a very -- it brings people together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: As the president met along with the victims in Dayton, Ohio and in El Paso, Texas, demonstrators in both cities made clear they viewed Trump as part of the problem. Actually, Trump made their point for them.
On a day meant for mourning, the president spent much of his time airing political grievances and taking cheap shots at his political enemies. In between Dayton and El Paso, for example, Trump Tweeted, watching sleepy Joe Biden making a speech. So boring. Our country will do poorly with him. He wishes. It certainly wasn`t sleepy Joe we saw today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump readily, eagerly attacks Islamic terrorism, but can barely bring himself to use the words, white supremacy. And even when he says it, he doesn`t appear to believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Trump also complained early today that The New York Times didn`t give him enough credit for his response to the mass shootings, an attack and coverage he received this afternoon even from Fox News.
He also went after El Paso`s Beto O`Rourke, saying O`Rourke shouldn`t speak out about the 22 largely Hispanic people massacred in his hometown. Beto, this is Trump talking, phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage, that`s Trump Tweeting. O`Rourke should respect the victims and law enforcement and be quiet. Well, see what I said about cheap shots? He can`t stop. All of this from a president supposedly have to bind the wounds of the country in the wake of two tragedies.
I`m joined by Jill Colvin, White House Reporter for the Associated Press, Victoria DeFrancesca Soto, Professor of the University of Texas, Charlie Sykes is Editor-in-Chief of the Bulwark.
Charlie, why can`t he control his tongue on a day that is for mourning and consolation? He spends his time spit-balling his opponents.
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE BULWARK: Yes, because this is a moment that required presidential largeness. And instead, we got his littleness and his pettiness, because this is who he is. You know, as Jonathan last wrote in The Bulwark the other day, he`s an arsonist who wants us to think he is the fireman.
But, look, Donald Trump is never going to heal this nation. Number one, because he`s incapable of it. Number two, because he is not interested in it, because he is much more comfortable with the invective, with the insults, with the petty jibe, because he thinks that`s why he became president, that that is his super power. So, you know, what we are seeing is exactly what Donald Trump has always been, somebody who is never going to grow into this office.
But the fact on this day of national mourning, he is Tweeting out. Some of those Tweets sound like they were written by a semi-literate nine-year-old. I mean, it is the smallest and the pettiness of the man at a moment that really required presidential leadership.
MATTHEWS: Jill, what`s his story on this? Can he stay on -- he can`t stay on one -- the tune today was grief, sorrow, consolation. His tune, as I, again, like Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman, jumping in, jumping in with these cheap shots against Beto, against Biden. He just can`t stop.
JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yes. We`ve got two Trumps here. You know, you`ve got the Trump, that`s the one that you see in his offhand remarks, that you see in his Tweets. And then you`ve got the president trying to play the role of presidential comforter.
MATTHEWS: Who told him to get down to El Paso and go out to Dayton? Who told him? Because it doesn`t seem like it`s in his conscience to do it.
COLVIN: This is something that his aides have been discussing for a couple of days. It`s something he`s done before. This is the fifth and sixth time that he`s gone to sites of these shootings. And, actually, when he is one-on-one with these individuals, he actually is quite good at sort of that role of comforting to them, of talking one-on-one.
The public doesn`t really see much of that. You know, he was in Dayton today, and there wasn`t a single viewing of the president by the press corps the entire time he was there.
MATTHEWS: Who called that shot? Who said no cameras?
COLVIN: That was the decision of the White House. They said that they wanted to watch out for the families. They didn`t want to overwhelm them. But as a result, all we got were some government images of the president. And then we have images of the protests outside the hospital where he was visiting with victims and his Tweets.
MATTHEWS: Victoria, this is reminding me a little bit of LBJ in the old days in the Vietnam War. He couldn`t really meet the public. He had to hide in the White House, Victoria. Now, how did he deal with the Hispanic community, the Latino community down there? How does he relate to people, look at them in the face after he has been trashing the community now for a year-and-a-half?
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS LBJ SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROFESSOR: Well, the Latino community, especially the Democratic Latino community and the independent Latino community is enraged, is frustrated, is angry, is raw. A lot of what we see Beto doing and saying is a reflection of that and other Latino leaders as well.
But I think what`s also interesting, Chris is what Trump has done to Latino Republicans because outside of Florida, Texas had the second largest and strongest Latino GOP base. But since Trump came to office, he has done away with the decades` worth of work that the Bush family had done in establishing a good relationship with Latino Republicans.
George w. Bush was re-elected as Governor with 49 percent of the Latino vote. Now, we see some very pronounced Latino GOPers saying, you know what I`m out. I can`t be out of this party because of Trump. So Trump has eroded Latino support in his own party, and he has energized the Democratic base here in turning Texas from a deep, deep red to a light red.
MATTHEWS: Well, just to enlarge on your point, and you know it better than I, but I`m studying the numbers today late this afternoon. I noticed when he ran for re-election as president, and he was a controversial president after the Iraq War. We all know that. He got 40 percent of the Latino community nationwide. So that`s not just Cuban-Americans. That`s a lot of Mexican-Americans and other people who have come here, their families who come from other countries.
Is that now demolished by Trump?
SOTO: I mean, President Trump has really strained the relationship. The GOP lost when it comes to the Latino vote? I`m not going to say entirely, but at least in the Trump GOP era, yes. There is going to have to be a very different turn for the party. But for right now, I think you`re going to see the teens, you know, the GOP percentage in the 18 to 19 percent rate as a ceiling.
MATTHEWS: Charlie, what struck me again, and this is the weird dyspepsia of this president, the bad mood of the guy, really, why was he in such a bad mood? Sherrod Brown was pretty nice to him today and certainly the mayor was out there in Dayton. Why did he take this crap shot, or I should say just, a crappy shot at him after him being out there telling the people, you know, the president was pretty good with these people today?
SYKES: That`s an interesting question. And I never try to speculate what goes on inside the president`s mind because that`s a scary place, but it`s an indication of just how thin-skinned he is that he was just simply assuming that Sherrod Brown would have said something negative about him or that they were going to take. So he anticipated that when, in fact, it didn`t happen at all.
Look, there is enough things that are being said about him that are rather harsh from Joe Biden and Beto O`Rourke. But it was odd. It was an indication of his lack of mental discipline. He couldn`t even focus on what he ought to be addressing, what he ought to be doing, what the moment required of him.
MATTHEWS: And what the moment required of Sherrod Brown, the senator, Democratic liberal senator from Ohio.
SYKES: Who did the right thing.
MATTHEWS: Jill, he did what people are supposed to do. The president of the United States comes, no matter what his politics, no matter what you think of the guy or deserve to think of him, you come to visit, your people are victims, they treat him with respect.
COLVIN: Yes, and that`s actually what he said.
MATTHEWS: And Trump couldn`t imagine that.
COLVIN: Yes, that`s actually what he said, was that people had come and they respected the office, even if they were in opposition to the president`s views, they still gave him the respect. And both him and the mayor were quite complimentary, saying that people there appreciated it, that the president did what he should have done, that Melania Trump, the first lady, did what she should have done in that room.
To be fair though, I mean, they also then continued calling on him to be more aggressive and push reform and legislation, and also continued saying that they were worried that his rhetoric has contributed to this climate of violence in the country.
But also remember that the president is watching this news on Air Force One, where he is probably watching it on Fox and seeing the coverage through or seeing the news through their days.
MATTHEWS: It`s a bad day, I tell you.
Let me go back to Victoria on this thing. Because it seems to me when you talk about a president, you know, Bill Clinton was good at this, whatever else he was good at or bad at. He was bad at a few things. He was very good when he had to play president, be president. He just seemed to know that was the job. Maybe from being the son of a fatherless home, he knew how to play the older brother, you know what I mean, Victoria? He knew how to be the older brother in a troubled family. He knew that role.
SOTO: We`re not seeing consolation from this president. And in scratching my head why don`t we see this, I don`t think Trump feels he needs to do this. He is relying on a base to get re-elected and he is feeding that base, and he is checking the box of going to El Paso and going to Dayton and saying some platitudes about unification. And that checks the box for moderate Republicans, fiscal Republicans who want to hold their nose and vote for him.
But, ultimately, he knows who he is speaking to. And he knows what he needs to do to keep his base happy and to keep the other more moderate folks at least content enough to come out in November 2020.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think he is feeding talking points to his peeps. That`s what I think he is doing. And I don`t know how much more. But, you know, I don`t know about these private conversations. Maybe they are authentic. I`ll give more of the credit of the doubt or whatever you say, anyway, the doubt I give him. I`ll give him the benefit of the doubt because he won`t give to it Sherrod Brown and the mayor.
Anyway, thank you, Jill Colvin. Victoria, it`s great having you on. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, thank you for coming on, from the University of Texas. It looks great behind you there. And thank you, Charlie Sykes, as always.
I`m right now joined by Texas State Representative Cesar Blanco, whose district includes El Paso. Representative, thank you, sir, and I just want your take on the whole thing, the horror, the reaction, the president`s role in all of it. What does all add up to you?
STATE REP. CESAR BLANCO (R-EL PASO, TX): Well, Chris, it`s a tragic time here in El Paso. I represent this district where this massacre occurred by this white supremacist. And we are all saddened. We are shocked. We`re in disbelief. We need time to heal. And, unfortunately, this president`s visit does not allow for that. And we are all disappointed.
MATTHEWS: Do you wish he hadn`t come?
BLANCO: That`s right. You know, several elected officials from our region have let President Trump know that we are not ready for his visit. However, unfortunately, he decided to come anyway.
You know, yesterday, we heard from him and Vice President Pence words of unity, et cetera. But then last night, he went on to attack former Congressman Beto O`Rourke, who was our congressman, and back to the old games.
So, you know, this president is not consistent. He continues to say words of division, and it`s unfortunate that he`s our president.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he wants the votes of Latinos in the next election?
BLANCO: I really don`t think he cares. You know, since he started his campaign, he has called Latinos and immigrants rapists, he says that we bring crime, he says that we bring drugs, he`s called immigrants rapists.
But I tell you what, Chris. I grew up in this community. Many of us are proud of our Latino culture, but at the same time, we`re proud Americans. I served active duty in the military over six years, as did my father and my uncles and many cousins. And we`re proud of that. We`re proud of our country. We love this country. And it`s unfortunate that he attacks our community and Latinos around the country and it`s just couldn`t be further from the truth of what he says.
MATTHEWS: Sir, you speak from the heart. I`m so glad you came on the show tonight in this terrible time. At least we had your heart on this show. Thank you, Texas State Representative Cesar Blanco.
Coming up, the president uses racist language to fire up his base while a Fox News host calls the problem, catch this, the very problem of white supremacy he calls a hoax, like the Russian involvement in our election last year, last time, a hoax. How long can Republican politicians and their spokespeople get away with giving the president a free pass on all his issues?
Democrats, on the other hand, see this as a moment to define who Trump is. He surely is.
Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In the wake of the weekend massacres in El Paso and in Dayton, Republican members of Congress have condemned a lot of things. The top Republican in the house, for example, blamed video games. Others pointed the finger at mental health, and a host of others condemned white supremacy, but in broad terms. But most have remained silent on any response on the part of Donald Trump and his fanning of the flames of hate in this country.
But a lone Republican challenging the president, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld didn`t hold back, writing on Twitter, what will it take to stop the hate speech, stop the racist rants from the White House and stop accepting the unacceptable?
For more I`m joined by him, Bill Weld, and Adam Serwer, Senior Editor at The Atlantic.
Governor, what is this about? The Republican Party has had a record on race. It certainly started pretty well with Lincoln. It was pretty good with W, who was very good on getting Hispanic voters to vote for him, up to 40 percent, 44 down there in Texas.
Let`s just talk about this president and Latinos. He doesn`t seem to want them in his brood, in his party.
FMR. GOV. WILLIAM WELD (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, Chris, I think that`s absolutely right. And there is no longer any doubt that the president has blood on his hands. You could draw a direct line from that manifesto of the shooter in El Paso to the Trump handbook.
Every week, it seems the president gets a bit more unhinged. He reminds me of Alex Jones, the right wing conspiracy theorist, who says that Sandy Hook never happened.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of him? He`s got the support of your party up there. Nine out of ten people support this guy no matter what he does or says, ergo, people like Mitch McConnell do what he wants, which is nothing really except cut taxes and put right wingers on the Supreme Court.
WELD: Sure. I think it`s fairly easy to see what`s going to happen. If the president continues in the direction he is going, more and more unhinged, he is going to go down big time in 2020. And I say this with mixed feelings at best, but he`s going to take a lot of the Republican Party in Washington with him, not at the state level, but the people in Washington who are sticking up for him. They`re going to suffer massive losses.
MATTHEWS: Adam, you`re thinking about the president and the way he`s behaved and has spoken. It has really gone off the normal guardrails of American conversation, especially in the matters of ethnicity and race.
ADAM SERWER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. Well, typically, American presidents make gestures towards pluralism and -- I mean, depending on the president, they seem more or less sincere. But this president talks about immigrants as an invasion, as an infestation. He talks about black neighborhoods as places unfit for -- for humans to live. He tells nonwhite representatives to go back where they came from.
He`s a departure from what American presidents have typically been like during most of the 20th century. But, unfortunately, he reflects a long tradition of racism among Republican presidents from Andrew Johnson to Woodrow Wilson.
MATTHEWS: Well, look we have a conversation that goes on not from just officials, Governor, but media people, Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, a lot of conservative or even right-wing radio hosts around the country.
They`re all listening to each other. They all know what each other is saying. And by -- at least by omission, they go -- last night, for example, on FOX, Tucker Carlson argued that it wasn`t necessary to condemn white racism right now because it`s not a real problem.
Let`s listen to Tucker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns, of problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia, probably. It`s actually not a real problem in America.
White supremacy, that`s the problem. This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It`s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. That`s exactly what`s going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, Governor, 22 people are dead because of a hoax?
WELD: So, that reminded me of the president saying the opposite of what is true.
And I think, you know, the president can`t deny that, in the 2016 election, he beamed out images of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. Most people didn`t know who that was. But those skinheads, those white supremacists, those neo-Nazis, they knew damn well who it was, and they took it as the dog whistle to them that it was.
And he`s never stopped. He`s never stopped.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he -- I assume this happens on the far left too. There are certain candidates and politicians who don`t want to give away one vote, no matter how far it goes in their direction.
In other words, they`re conservative, but they don`t want to kiss off real right-wingers, real scary types. It seems like Trump, what do you think, doesn`t want to defend the most farthest right hater, because he may need that hater`s vote in a close election.
That`s what I think he is up to here.
WELD: I don`t think that`s it. I think he and Steve Bannon decided a long time ago that their playbook is to divide the American people and get everybody all upset, set everyone`s teeth on edge, and it will be easier for them to make their autocratic play, and say, here is our man on horseback cog to rescue all of us, because everything is just in such terrible shape.
He reminds me of Big Brother in "1984," two minutes of hate every afternoon to make people more malleable. And that`s, at the end of the day, what Trump is trying to do. And I think it`s beneath notice, it`s so despicable, frankly.
MATTHEWS: Adam, your thinking about this Tucker Carlson thing, denying that it`s a concern, white supremacy?
Well, FOX News airs segments on how white supremacy doesn`t exist in between segments on the Hispanic invasion and the gypsy menace. So other than the white supremacists who praise this guy to the sky, I`m not sure why anybody should be taking his perspective on this particular matter very seriously.
MATTHEWS: Well, who is he talking to? Somebody. His ratings are high. People are listening.
SERWER: Well, that`s right. FOX News` rating strategy is making white people scared and angry. The Republican Party`s political strategy is making white people scared and angry.
The president`s reelection strategy is making white people scared and angry, which is why all these condemnations of white supremacy are basically meaningless, because that`s the strategy that they`re going to continue to pursue, no matter what.
MATTHEWS: Governor, I want you to respond about, how is the political outlook for you in this race? You`re running for president in the Republican primaries. How does it look to beat Trump?
WELD: You know, I`m hearing things on the ground that nobody else is hearing or talking about.
I say to Democrats and independents, because I want to enlarge the electorate in the Republican primary, I say, if you don`t like Mr. Trump, come out and vote against him twice. Vote for me, Bill Weld, in the Republican primary.
You can be sure that vote comes directly out of Donald Trump`s hide, and then go back to being an independent or a Democrat and vote whoever you want in the final election. I assume you`re going to vote against Trump again.
I`m getting real traction with that in New Hampshire and elsewhere. It`s not showing up in the polls, because no one`s going to poll the Democrats to say, how are you going to vote in the Republican primary?
But my strategy in New Hampshire and elsewhere is to enlarge that electorate in the Republican Party -- in the Republican primary, and have it not just be the party bosses and the party leaders in each state party, who were installed there by Trump, by definition.
WELD: So I think people are looking at the wrong target.
MATTHEWS: When do you think he is going to get nasty with you with the nicknames and the rest of it?
WELD: I don`t know. I assume people are sitting on him pretty good. By I sure wouldn`t mind him taking a swing, I tell you what.
MATTHEWS: You want to rough it up with him a little.
You think you can win New Hampshire, having been up there as governor, two terms up in Massachusetts? Do you think you -- is that a sweet spot for you, New Hampshire?
WELD: Oh, I think I can win New Hampshire. That`s a manageable size state. I was on Boston TV for 20 years, which reaches through Manchester. That`s about 70 percent of the population of the state.
And beyond that, I have been there a lot and I`m going to be there, be able to be there more than other candidates, because of proximity. And the New Hampshire primary, voters like to shake the candidate`s hand three times before they feel like they have met him.
WELD: It`s not like campaigning at a state like California.
So, yes, no, that`s -- New Hampshire and New England, Vermont, Massachusetts, all six New England states, that`s part of the strategies, as is California and the more liberal states, Oregon, Washington in the West, and then on to the Mid-Atlantic states.
So there is definitely a strategy here. I`m going to be -- I have been in California last week. I`m going to Miami for the National Association of Black Journalists tomorrow. I did well at the NAACP Convention with nine named Democrats, three named Democrats tomorrow.
So I`m starting to be able to hold my own on the platform with at least the Democratic candidates, even if the Republican candidate doesn`t want to play.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Bill Weld. It looks like you have got a plan.
Thank you, Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, a very popular guy up there for two terms.
And, Adam Serwer, thank you, sir, for joining us with your journalism.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The president says he sees no political appetite for banning assault rifles. So, what about background checks?
By the way, he is totally off -- totally off the wall on this one. There is tremendous support for getting rid of assault weapons. Wait until you see what the polls we`re going to show you.
You`re watching HARD -- new polls.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We met with also the doctors, the nurses, the medical staff.
And they have done an incredible job, both places, just incredible.
And the enthusiasm, the love, the respect, and also the -- telling them, let`s see if we can get something done. And Republicans want to do it and Democrats want to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Everybody wants to do it.
That was President Trump moments ago talking about gun reform while in El Paso, Texas.
Well, earlier today, before leaving the White House, the president said he supported the -- catch this -- idea of stronger background checks for gun purchase. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: The background check bill has already passed the House.
TRUMP: Well, I`m looking to do background checks. I think background checks, they`re important.
There is a great appetite -- and I mean a very strong appetite -- for background checks. And I think we can bring up background checks like we have never had before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s something he`s supported in the past, like after last year`s massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School down in Parkland, Florida.
Here he was then:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The background checks are so important. People are afraid to do background checks, because you`re afraid of somebody. And you know what? You`re going to be more popular if you do back -- if you have a strong, good back -- I don`t care who`s endorsing you or not endorsing.
You`re going to be more popular, if that`s what you`re into. I`m not into popularity. I`m into getting something done that`s good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, of course, comprehensive background checks were not passed then. And it`s highly questionable whether they will be going anywhere, even to a vote in the Senate now.
However, there are some Republicans who are calling for even bigger reforms in light of this week`s shootings.
Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, for example, whose congressional district includes Dayton, released a statement announcing his support for restricting the sale of military-style weapons to civilians, a magazine limit, and red flag legislation.
He joins fellow Republican Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who called for universal background checks, raising the age for gun purchaseship to 21, and banning some high-capacity magazines, like the one used in Dayton.
And for more, I`m joined by former Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland and David Frum, senior editor at "The Atlantic" and former George W. Bush speechwriter.
I want to start with the politics of this.
You worked with a Republican president, who looks better all the time, given this character. But why does -- this guy seems to play this wonderful game. He teases the public with the idea, when the issue is hot, after a mass killing, and then he goes, yes, we will -- but we will do that.
He concedes the principle, because he knows, in two weeks, the moderates and the liberals will be thinking about something else. The gun owners will still be thinking about this, the Second Amendment types. He can play that game. He does it every time.
DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Look, the...
MATTHEWS: Why does he get away with it?
FRUM: Well, he gets away with it because we get distracted, and then because he does something else terrible three days later, and so you forget about the last terrible thing you did -- he did.
But the politics of this for him are pretty apparent. What happened in 2018 was, the Republicans did a tremendous mobilization. Republicans got more votes in 2018 in the House, as you know well, than they did even in 2010.
Democrats outmobilized them. But the key to survival for President Trump is -- and for the Republicans in the Senate is to keep Republican mobilization up. And if -- because they know they`re facing a Democratic tidal wave. If they do anything to discourage any part of that coalition - - and the gun owner is an important part -- they face not just the prospect of a close race, but the risk of a blowout.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I was saying to Governor Weld. They want to get the farthest out right-wing gun nut, because they need that vote.
DONNA EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, I think that`s true, except that, on things like background checks, limiting high-capacity magazines, you know, some of the other restrictions, these are actually universally supported among Democrats and Republicans.
And so, for political sense, it really doesn`t make sense. When you have something that has 90 percent support, like background checks do, it`s a no-brainer to do that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but you`re rational.
What about the slippery slope argument, the people that, if you do anything, the NRA says, this is a slippery slope, we`re going all the way, they`re going to confiscate our guns?
EDWARDS: Well, it turns out, the NRA says that, but people don`t actually believe it.
They -- these sort of commonsense things -- and I`m not -- and even an assault rifle -- weapons ban, totally...
MATTHEWS: I got a brother that believes it, I got to tell you. I`m sorry.
EDWARDS: Totally supported by the people.
MATTHEWS: I know people. I know people, Donna. I know people.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, on that point, President Trump made it clear today in Pennsylvania, by the way, that Republicans are not interested in an assault weapons ban, like that -- what was enacted during the Clinton administration during in the early `90s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment, if you look at -- you can speak. You can do your own polling. And there`s no political appetite from it, from the standpoint of legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But -- he says no political appetite.
A new Morning Consult/Politico poll right out today shows that seven in 10 registered voters -- and these are the real voters -- including 54 percent of Republicans, support a ban on the assault weapons side.
You make your point. I guess we`re arguing apples and oranges, apples being voters, oranges being the politicians like Mitch McConnell.
EDWARDS: Well, these are the voters in those polls.
And I think what you`re going to see -- I always say after these things, maybe this is the thing that changes. I`m not terribly confident, to be honest with you.
Look, we saw Gabby Giffords, Pulse nightclub, Newtown. The list goes on and on.
FRUM: I think we are going to see...
MATTHEWS: David, David, we have had presidents after presidents, starting with, God, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman -- Kennedy was shot and killed. Reagan was -- Ford shot at twice. Ronald Reagan, almost -- if it wasn`t for the Secret Service, would have been dead.
We live in this world of violence.
I wrote my congressman after Bobby Kennedy. You know, even Bobby Kennedy, nothing happens. People just say, yes, but the NRA is the boss.
FRUM: I think we -- when this breaks -- and I believe it will break -- it will break in a very sudden and dramatic way, because gun ownership is increasingly a generational issue of the baby boom generation.
It`s like motorcycles. You never see anyone under 50 on a motorcycle. And gun ownership is concentrated in a generation that has...
MATTHEWS: You mean young people aren`t riding motorcycles anymore?
FRUM: Take a look when you`re on the highway. Do you ever see a motorcyclist...
MATTHEWS: You mean the guys with the long ponytails?
EDWARDS: Well, we live in a different place, because young people are driving motorcycles.
MATTHEWS: Well, I bet they got e-bikes now.
FRUM: But gun ownership is part of the very abrupt turn to the right that the baby boom generation executed about 2008.
They are more radical than they were back in the 1990s. When this change comes, it`s going to come not from law, but from a change in cultural consciousness, like what happened with drunk driving in the 1980s. It is going to happen at the states.
MATTHEWS: There you had a constituent, women against drunk driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
FRUM: Well, you have got incredible women`s groups now led by someone who has been a guest, I believe, on your show, Shannon Watts, and others like that, where the toll is not just these massacres.
It`s the toll of suicides and accidents. And I have to say, as terrible as these massacres are -- and I`m a consumer of every day of these stories of a 7-year-old shooting a 9-year-old.
MATTHEWS: Are you talking about New York City? Are you talking about California?
Yes, there`s -- in Connecticut. There are states like Connecticut, California, New York, which are very pro-gun control.
You go to my home state of Pennsylvania, you try to put that flag up that you`re for gun control, you`re gone.
FRUM: Pennsylvania will not be a leader, but Florida maybe, and Texas may yet surprise you.
EDWARDS: I do think that there is something about the generations, though, because we also have a generation that really has grown up practicing how to be safe in their schools from gun violence.
And that`s really different from previous generations. It`s sort of my generation diving up under the desk.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about somebody you know about because you are in Congress.
Mitch McConnell says no. He says he wants to -- he says no to Democratic nominations for the Supreme Court. Merrick Garland, go away. He just does it. A flick of the hand, like this.
He says, you say do gun control? He says no. He must have the Republican Party behind him. He has his voters behind him. Explain, because you can`t move him, you can`t move the country. He`s the leader of the Senate.
EDWARDS: Well, and there`s where the president says, well, the country doesn`t have an appetite for it.
Well, the fact is that the president has to be the one to tell Mitch McConnell that we have an appetite for it.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to do it?
EDWARDS: Of course he`s not going to do it. He passes this every time.
MATTHEWS: Is he?
FRUM: No, of course he is not going to do it, as the congresswoman said.
The -- he -- Trump`s job is to make sure that the most committed parts of the Republican Party stay united. If there is a crack in Republican unity, what otherwise right now is looking like a tough enough election for him, that can turn into a debacle.
You could have a landslide.
MATTHEWS: OK. When we knock off -- when we defeat, the country defeats the first pro-gun person for being pro-gun, I will believe you. I haven`t seen that yet.
You have got to start defeating people who are pro-gun.
EDWARDS: Well, we have seen...
MATTHEWS: And everybody -- a little silence, crickets there, because it`s very hard to...
EDWARDS: Well, but we have seen victories of people who are for sensible gun regulation. We saw it down in Georgia, and we saw it in this last...
MATTHEWS: Two-thirds are for gun reform. But two-thirds of people changed their mind to talk about other things. The one-third that is against doing anything never changes.
FRUM: Newt Gingrich`s former district is held by a woman whose son was slaughtered, and who -- that -- she ran -- I think that was like one of her number one or two issues.
EDWARDS: She -- it was. She ran on that, because her son was gunned down.
And so we`re going to see those kind of changes....
MATTHEWS: OK. I hope you`re all right.
FRUM: Eric Cantor`s former district.
MATTHEWS: I hope you`re right. I hope you`re right.
EDWARDS: We want to be right, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Donna Edwards. Should be right. David Frum, thank you.
Up next: Democratic presidential (AUDIO GAP) these deadly shootings. They at least are speaking out.
Just listen to Joe Biden today in a very strong speech out in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How far is it from Trump saying this is an invasion to the shooter in El Paso declaring, quote, this attack is a response to Hispanic invasion of Texas? How far apart?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Not very. More on how the candidates are responding to these tragic events, straight ahead on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
While President Trump was visiting El Paso and Dayton today, Democrats criticize him for his divisive rhetoric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The act of anti-Latino, anti-immigrant hatred we witnessed this past weekend did not start with the hand that pulled the trigger. It was sown from the highest office in our land where we see in tweets and rhetoric hateful words that ultimately endanger the lives of people in our country.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): Those in highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language, and encouraging reprehensible behavior.
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president is part of the problem. All that fear, that anger, that hatred, that willingness to dehumanize our fellow human beings found a home in the killer and found an expression in that violence that we saw Saturday. He is in large part to blame for what has taken place.
BIDEN: Is both clear language and in code. This president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation. We have a problem with this rising tied of supremacy, white supremacy in America, and we have a president who encourages and emboldens it. Our president has more in common with George Wallace than he does with George Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in the spin room of last week`s Democratic presidential debate, I interviewed one candidate who out and out called Trump a white nationalist during the debate. Well, that candidate joins us next on HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You said we have a white nationalist in the White House. A white nationalist.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. This is a president who has built his political fortunes on white nationalism. Now that is a strong statement, and I make it advisedly.
This is a guy who has done this every single day of his career. So, there is no other conclusion you can make. I have to tell you, what I`m really disappointed about is all those Republicans who look themselves in the mirror and haven`t called out Donald Trump. That`s disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee on his decision to call President Trump a white nationalist during last week`s Democratic debate before the El Paso shooting. Early this week, Inslee released a plan that he describes as a cohesive approach to address the interrelated epidemics of white nationalism and gun violence.
It includes directing resources towards tracking and confronting white supremacy as well as gun control measures such as an assault weapons ban and red flag laws.
I`m joined right now by Washington governor and presidential candidate, Jay Inslee.
So, last week we didn`t know about the hard coming this past weekend. Your sense of how that buttressed your views of last week, about white nationalism on the part of the president.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you hate to be right, and this is one of those circumstances. A week ago I correctly identified him as a white nationalist and said that white nationalism does not belong in the White House. Three days later, we had this horrendous violence.
And the reason that`s so painful is that we know that the product of racist rhetoric is racist violence. And as you had in the top of the show, he built his career lying about our first black president being born in Kenya. In the middle of his career, he condoned, in a sense, white nationalism in Charlottesville, and now most recently he`s asked members of the U.S. Congress who are people of color to go back where they came from. And that rhetoric is almost word for word repeated in the violence in El Paso.
So, we need a full-throated national comprehensive attack on white nationalism. And I propose a ten-point plan to do that. And the Congress ought to come through. But we got make sure people understand this is a public health crisis, not just a public relations crisis for the Republican Party. We got to have real action, not soft soap here in the next few days.
MATTHEWS: Trump is relentless. He is relentless on his nationalism, his white nationalism. As you say -- pointed, he began his campaign calling Barack Obama basically an illegal immigrant from Africa. He has called people rapists who have come across the border for economic purposes obviously to get jobs here. He has made them the worst people in the world just because they want a better life for their families.
He has done this over and over again. He has talked about African countries being you-know-what holes. He makes it very clear where he stands ethnically and racially.
My question, do you think the Democrats will keep the focus on this in a couple of weeks? Because the Democrats are off talking about health care plans and education plans and all this social things they`d like to do as president, and yet Trump sticks to his game plan, which is ethnicity. How do you fight him?
INSLEE: Well, we need to stick to the American game plan of removing a racist from the White House, making him a blip in history. It`s important -- it`s important that we confront him.
Look, I confronted him on gun violence a year ago in the White House. I went to the White House for a national governor`s meeting, and all these other governors were toadying up to him. You know, his plan was to arm first grade teachers. I told him that was a ridiculous idea.
INSLEE: And kind of scolded him and told him look, you got to quit tweeting and start listening to educators. Now we need people to stand up again and pass a real assault weapons ban. I voted for that in 1994. I lost my seat over that, but it was the right vote then and it is the right vote now.
And I want to make the point, it is not enough just to defeat Donald Trump. We have to defeat those who are sycophant Republicans who are afraid to stand up to him and speak. It is just disgusting to me that Republicans are allowing him to do this.
And we also need to take away the filibuster from Mitch McConnell who is going to use this to pass real gun safety legislation. We need those running for presidency to join me in this call. So far, only a couple of them have. We need a full-throated action here.
MATTHEWS: Well, former Vice President Joe Biden today said that Trump had no moral leadership. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Trump offers no moral leadership. Seems to have no interest in unifying this nation. No evidence that the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least. We have a president with a toxic tongue who was publicly and unapologetically embraced the political strategy of hate, racism, and division.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is this in Trump`s political wheel house or his gut, all this division, this racial stuff?
INSLEE: I don`t think it`s relevant. We`re known by our acts, and his acts have been continually racist from day one of his entire political career. And I`m glad that the vice president used the language he did.
I do want to point out, though, an important I think distinction between the way the vice president looks at this problem and the way I do. He basically has said that the NRA is not the enemy. They are the enemy. And he has said once Trump is gone, we`ll be able to sit down with Mitch McConnell and work this out.
I do not believe that is the nature of the threat we face.
INSLEE: Mitch McConnell will remain a threat. We have to take away the filibuster. I disagree with the vice president who wants to continue to give Mitch McConnell this ability to stop.
MATTHEWS: OK. We got to go. Thank you, Governor.
INSLEE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on any time. Jay Inslee of Washington state.
Republican office holders are marching in lockstep as he said with President Trump and his white nationalism, whether they want to admit it or not.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party with such unchallenged power that it can no longer consider itself the party of George W. Bush, much less that of Teddy Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln. The Grand Old Party of George W. Bush, the most recent Republican president won 40 percent of Latino votes in 2004. In the battle for voter support, the GOP back then refused to accept the outright defeat it had suffered in seeking African American votes.
Well, today, Donald Trump is leading the Republicans of 2019 in a way that forfeits the votes of Hispanic Americans. It`s become a party of, by, and for white Americans.
This is not what Republicans who won the civil war and passed the 15th Amendment had in mind. They didn`t fight for the right of freed slaves to vote so that African Americans and other minorities would vote for the Democrats. But isn`t this the statement President Trump is making day in and day out, that he wants white votes and intends to win with white votes?
And this is something that Republican senators and other office holders should think about. In their lemming-like way of following Trump, they`re identifying their Grand Old party as new party of Trump-style white nationalism. This isn`t going to go away, even if Trump gets beaten like a drum next year.
Kirsten Gillibrand said the first thing she`d do if elected president is Clorox the White House. Well, what will Republicans do to cleanse their party of the racial divisiveness that Donald Trump has stamped so boldly into the GOP legacy?
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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