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Trump goes international against the left. TRANSCRIPT: 8/15/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Barbara Boxer; Joe Walsh; Ginger Gibson, Neera Tanden

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  I can`t wait to have Bill Nye tomorrow.

That does it for THE BEAT tonight though.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump goes to war.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

In a wild escalation of his political wars, the president of the United States urged a foreign country to bar its doors from members of the United States Congress.  At the president`s urging, that country agreed to do it.

The astounding chain of events began with a Tweet, of course.  President Trump wrote, it would show great weakness if Israel allowed Representative Omar and Representative Tlaib to visit.  They hate Israel and all Jewish people.

Well, shortly after that, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially barred the two lawmakers.  He argued it was due to their support for a pro- Palestinian boycott movement in Israel, which under Israeli law is grounds for banning.

But Israel`s actions urged on by Trump was a reversal from Israel`s position just a few days before.  Israel`s Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, said last month that Israel would not block Omar and Tlaib from coming into the country.  He said at the time, Netanyahu did out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.  So what changed?  The answer appears to be Donald Trump.

According to reporting from Axios this weekend, Trump was lobbying Prime Minister Netanyahu to bar the two congresswomen from going into Israel.  Both Omar and Tlaib are outspoken critics of Israel`s government.  They planned to visit the West Bank and East Jerusalem to meet with human rights organizations and NGOs.

The unprecedented move to bar them from the country received strong rebukes from Democrats, as well as Republicans, some Republicans.  And the top pro- Israeli lobbying group in the use, AIPAC, Tweeted, we disagree with Representatives Omar and Tlaib`s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, that`s the sanctions moment, along with Representative Tlaib`s calls for a one-state solution.  We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our Democratic ally, Israel, firsthand.

In a statement this afternoon, U.S. Congresswoman Omar said, it is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu under pressure from President Trump would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government.  Trump`s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected members of Congress.

And tonight, President Trump explained why he felt the need to get involved.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Well, I`m only involved from the standpoint of they are very anti-Jewish and they are very anti-Israel.  I think it`s disgraceful, the things they`ve said.  So I can`t imagine why Israel would let them in.

But if they want to let them in they can.  But I can`t imagine why they would do it.


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by former Congressman Joe Walsh, a Republican from Illinois, who is a nationally syndicated radio host, former Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, host of the Boxer podcast, and Jason Johnson, Politics Editor of The Root.

I want to get everybody`s view on this up front.  Your first reaction when you heard that the president basically pressured Netanyahu into barring entry to U.S. Congress people, two of them.  Senator, what do you think of this?

FMR. SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA):  Well, weak leaders squash dissent.  Trump looks so weak.  What is he afraid of?  And so does Benjamin Netanyahu look weak.

Now, I have been to Israel many times, been to the Middle East many times, and the wonderful thing about those visits is how open, how open everyone was to dissent, even the taxi cabdrivers, let alone the members of parliament and all of the leaders, whether it was Likud or Labor, this is what a democracy is.

But I just think this is one giant diversion.  Trump doesn`t want to talk about the coming recession, which might be upon us.  He doesn`t want to talk about a volatile stock market, Jeffrey Epstein`s death that happened on the Trump administration`s watch over the Bureau of Prisons, and the trade war that`s a disaster and terrible poll numbers.  So what does he do?  He goes back to bashing people of color.  It`s outrageous, completely outrageous.

And I am so happy that AIPAC stepped in.  I think it`s going to make a big difference in the way people look at this.

MATTHEWS:  Well, there is something -- Joe Walsh, there is something tyrannical about this.  This is almost biblical.  Here is a leader of a country, our leader who thinks, oh, I can decide who comes into the country.  Now, I`m going to decide who can leave the country.  I mean, it`s autocratic and it`s an escalation where we used to say politics ends at the water edge.  He is escalating to a global fight against his Democratic enemies.

FMR. REP. JOE WALSH (R-IL):  Chris, I agree.  And I agree with Senator Boxer.  It`s un-American.  It`s Trump acting like a king again.  It`s not surprising.  It`s Trump.  It`s a weak, small, petty, childish move, but we expect that every day from this president.

I am disappointed in Israel.  Israel should have told this president to go jump and stay out of it.  And I`ve got to be honest, Chris.  I`m disappointed every one of my former Republican colleagues should have stood up for their members of Congress, even if we disagree on their politics and I do disagree with Omar and Tlaib`s politics with regard to Israel, but that`s not the point at all.

MATTHEWS:  Why don`t -- I`ve got you here.  I`m so glad to get you, former Congressman.  Why are they afraid to lift their voices and say this is un- American to have a president just by dictate with his relationship with a fellow right wing leader just saying don`t let them in.  I know they`re our elected officials.  Don`t let them in.

WALSH:  They`re scared, Chris.  They`re scared of him.  They`re scared of pissing him off.  They`re scared of a Tweet.  They`re afraid of a primary challenge.  All they want to do is get re-elected.  Everything you and I are saying right now, Chris, they believe, my former Republican colleagues believe privately, but they don`t want the wrath of Trump.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Jason, let`s talk hard politics.  It`s not -- it`s partially racial.  These are women of color.  These are women who come from different backgrounds than most Americans.  They come from, to paraphrase, the Middle East, South Asia -- no, Horn of Africa in one case.

This is the stupidest thing in the world.  He has made these people one of the biggest people in the world.  They`ll be able to do lectures all around the country, not for money, but just everybody wants to hear from the people the president is scorning.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT:  Chris, what worries me about this is this is blocking -- this is sort of promoting white nationalism abroad, right, in getting another country to buy into it.  What happens when he decides not to let people back, right?  Like that`s the next step.  You literally will have members of Congress who can`t come back.  That is the damaging part.

What also concerns me is the groundwork of this was set by the overreaction of many Democrats to the behavior of these two members of Congress.  And I always point this out.  These are people from the heartland.  We`re talking Michigan.  We`re talking Minnesota.  The United States gives billions of dollars in aid to Israel every year.  Everyone from our Congress should be allowed to go there and conduct a fact-finding mission.

So it`s disappointing that Israel allowed this to happen, because they have every right to be here.  It`s disappointing that this president has engaged in a typical sort of white nationalist garbage he engages in, and our country as a whole needs to see this as a warning sign that if the president starts blocking people from actually doing their federal jobs, he will not stop at our border.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it`s only the president`s set of latest attacks against the four congresswomen.  They are part of the group, of course, four freshmen progressive members that the president has repeatedly attacked in the past four weeks in an attempt to elevate their stature as de facto leaders of the party.

In fact, President Trump Tweeted this afternoon, Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democratic Party and they hate Israel.

Barbara Boxer, senator, how much of this is strategic by Trump?  Is this impulsive stupidity or does he think I can make the face of the Democratic party its most progressive left, people of color, and I can get the middle back politically next time by doing that?

BOXER:  Well, as I said, I think it`s a grand diversion number 792.


BOXER:  Because things are not going well.  Just look at the gun violence in this country.  He promised he was going to do something about it.  He`s not doing anything about it.  Oh, the trade war would be great.  We`re going to win, win.  You`re going to get so tired of winning.  This is a grand diversion.

Look, my party, the Democratic Party, is a big, big tent.  It is so in California.  I saw what happened to the Republicans in my state because they went the same way, to the right, right, right.  And they were scared and they were cowardly.  And what has happened?  24 percent of voters are registered Republican.  42 percent of voters are registered independent, decline to state, and 31 percent Democratic.  And the decline to state leans liberal, leans that direction.  So this is what`s going to happen.

And I go back a long time, as Many people keep reminding me.  And I remember the days --

MATTHEWS:  How many times did you beat those Republicans?  How many times did you win?  Six times?

BOXER:  Well, a lot of times.  Well, four times for the Senate.  Four times for the senate.  But guess what?  It was all honorable.  It wasn`t like Donald Trump.  And he is, and I agree with Mr. Walsh, Congressman Walsh, so much when he says they are cowards.  They are puppets.  And it`s going to destroy the party nationally.

I don`t take great glee at that at all, because the Democrats, we`re the big umbrella, yes, we can criticize one another.  What`s wrong with that?  We should be able to do that.  But the bottom line is we`re for freedom and democracy and opportunity, and we don`t want to see a tyrannical government either here or anywhere else.  We want people to freely travel all over the world so they can find out for themselves what the facts are.  And if we don`t agree, we can have a good spirited debate.  That`s a good thing, not a bad thing.

MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump seems to be at odds with some members of his own party when it comes to urging Israel to bar Omar and Tlaib.  That includes the House Republican Leader, Kevin McCarthy.

According to Politico, last week, the two top party leaders in Congress, Steny Hoyer, Democrat, and Kevin McCarthy, Republican, went to Jerusalem and said, yes, of course, Israel should let the pair of congresswomen in.

Senator Marco Rubio expressed concern as well, saying, it was a mistake by Israel to bar those two members of Congress because it gives them what they want.  Of course, he is giving a political spin there.

And Senator Susan Collins Tweeted, the Trump administration made a mistake in urging Israel to prevent them from entering the country.

What I`m most impressed by, Joe, is that AIPAC, which is a very strong, and many cases, right wing hawkish supporter of Israel, that`s the point of view, very legitimate, but very much on the right, they say this is the stupidest thing in the world, that Trump was totally wrong to do this.  He shouldn`t be stopping the two women of the Democratic left from going in Israel.  They shouldn`t be doing that because they look like they`re working for Trump.  They are, in fact.  They are working for Trump.

WALSH:  They are.  It was a strong statement by AIPAC.  But you rattle off the names of a few Republicans.  Man, every single Republican should have stood up, even though our politics differs, they should have stood up for these two congresswomen.

The president of the United States can`t tell members of Congress what countries they can visit and not.  That`s crazy.

MATTHEWS:  You know there is a kind of -- remembering Frank Sinatra through his big days, and I can remember.  Even when he is the biggest guy in the world, he`s still -- if you met him at a bar and said the wrong thing, we want to get a fight with you in the men`s room.  He was some guy -- still street corner guy.  This guy, Trump, loves this.  Whatever else you say about him, he`s loving it.

JOHNSON:  Well, yes, this is a big flex for him.  He gets to show how tough he is.  I don`t think this is a distraction.  I have to disagree with the former senator.  I think this is a distraction.  This is just what he does.  I don`t think that Donald Trump has some huge -- there is no chessboard here.  He doesn`t like brown people.

MATTHEWS:  But he does pick his enemies very strategically.

JOHNSON:  He picks his enemies because they`re just women and they`re brown and he doesn`t like them.  I don`t think that this is because --

MATTHEWS:  You don`t think that`s strategy?

JOHNSON:  I don`t think that`s strategy.  He`s not that strategic.  He`s just -- I disagree.  I disagree.  It could be --


MATTHEWS:  Joe, what do you think?  You were in that party.

WALSH:  And I love Jason.  Chris, you`re right.  This is all strategic.  He is trying to rile up his base.  He wants to make these two the picture of the opposition.  It`s terrible, but it`s political.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Barbara, let`s go back to that argument.  Barbara, I want to go back to that argument, because I`ve grown up watching the Democratic Party, rooting for it most of the time.  And I got to tell you, I`ve watched over the years.  First of all, it was Bella Abzug they made as the enemy (ph).  And they made her a voodoo doll.  They just beat the hell out of her and said, she`s the Democratic Party.  Years ago, it was somebody else.  And they did it Ted Kennedy.  They did it Tip O`Neill.  They always found somebody from the coast.

For a while there it was Nancy Pelosi, you know, but she`s not a good target anymore.  They always get an ethnic person of some kind from one of the coasts and turn him into their target.  What do you think?  Is that strategy or impulse?

BOXER:  Chris, this is so -- I mean, I remember when they did to it Tip O`Neill?  Do you remember?


BOXER:  Of course, it never worked with him, but they were vile to him.  They were vile to Jim Wright.

But I do believe if you had as much bad news as this president has, you know, and you had no moral compass, like he has no moral compass, you would spin it around to this attack on people of color.  And that`s what he does.

I want to ask you something if you think I`m right on this.  When I was against the war in Iraq, George W. Bush was president.  And I made a trip there with colleagues who were against war.  He could have said to the Iraqi government, don`t let this people in.  That would have been outrageous.  Instead, we went, we saw what we saw, we got even more against the war, we came back and we had our discussions.

This is terrible because two women disagree with the sitting government of Israel.  What a moment that Israel could have shown them the true democracy.  Instead, they missed an opportunity.  It`s sad for Israel.  I feel bad about it as an American-Jewish person.  I really feel terrible about it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, not being Jewish, I went to Israel, I was against that war in Iraq and I was afraid that a lot of the hawks over there would give me a hard time.  That is the most open country in the world.

BOXER:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  You can debate.  You know, I was debating somebody from The Jerusalem Post, a real right winger.  It was no problem.  You come back to America and you get the neo cons jumping down your throat.  Anyway, we know the world, Barbara.

Barbara, thank you so much.  It`s an honor to have you on.

BOXER:  All right.

MATTHEWS:  Joe Walsh, welcome to the fight.  I don`t what you are politically, but we`re all going to stay on this show for another segment.  Thank you.  We`re not going to let this great panel go away so fast.  Our guests are sticking with us.

Coming up, conservatives are going through a bit of a rough patch, don`t you think, these days with Steven King, that Steven King`s comments about rape and incest, Tucker Carlson saying the danger of white nationalism is a hoax, Ben Shapiro blaming poor people for having to take a second job.  That`s a problem?  It thought Republicans live with a work ethic.

Also, the latest of the 2020 candidates, including one of them throwing in the towel and considering, maybe, maybe, a senate run in Colorado.

Plus, the politics of distraction, we`ve been talking about it with President Trump focusing on all the wrong things and hoping nobody really notices.

Much more ahead.  Stick with us.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA):  This isn`t the first time I`ve had concerns with what Steve King has said.  Earlier in this Congress, there are things that Steve King said that I do not believe the party of Lincoln would stand for.  And as a united conference, we actually removed Steve King from his committees inside Congress, and I think this just continues to show why that action was taken.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was the top Republican in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy of California, responding to the latest from U.S. Congressman Steve King.

At an event yesterday, King explained his opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.  He asked if not for rape and incest, would there be any population of the world left?

King has already been rebuked by his own party for his divisive rhetoric.  The congressman was removed from his House committee assignments earlier this year after he questioned when terms like white supremacist became offensive, an interview with The New York Times.  And that`s just one example of a long history of racist comments from the Iowa Republican.  Here goes.


REP. STEVE KING (D-IA):  For everyone who is a valedictorian, there is another hundred out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they`ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.

We can also electrify this wire with the kind of current that wouldn`t kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it.  And we do with livestock all the time.

So does get a little tired, Charlie.  I mean, I`d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you`re talking about.  Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?


MATTHEWS:  But while King faces the ire of some of his fellow elected Republicans yet again, most have remained largely silent on the rhetoric from President Trump himself, of course.

Former Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, one of only a handful of Republicans to speak out against the President before he retired told Utah`s Deseret News, "There`s no place for him right now in the GOP, which is going through spasms of a dying party, and could be doomed long-term if President Donald Trump is reelected."

We`re back with Joe Walsh, Senator Barbara Boxer and Jason Johnson.  Joe, I want to ask you about this, this fellow Republican of yours, Steve King.  Is he crazy?

JOE WALSH (R-IL), FORMER REPRESENTATIVE:  Chris, I`m not going to even try to explain what he said yesterday.  I just can`t.  And every Republican up on Capitol Hill should condemn him.  But come on, the voters in that district of his, Chris, they got to step up.

I`m a Republican.  I believe he`s got a Republican primary challenge.  There`s no way on God`s green earth Steve King should get re-elected.

MATTHEWS:  We know from following history, those of us who have all been made to read it, world history that in the old days when you conquered another country, you raped all the women.  There were a lot of babies created, you know.  But why bring that up as an argument over current abortion debating women`s rights?  Why would you bring that up?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT:  Because he is an offensive, vulgar person.  And at the end of the day, look, I have to agree with former Congressman Walsh.  I don`t believe in overthrowing the will of the people.  If the people in his district want this kind of representation, that`s what they should get.

I may find him disgusting.  I may think he is offensive.  I may think he`s a sort of white nationalist.

MATTHEWS:  But we`re not going to take away the voting rights of the people of his district.

JOHNSON:  But the idea that his party should kick him out or anything else like that, I don`t think that should happen.  It`s the voters` job.

MATTHEWS:  You`re saying they shouldn`t take away his security assignments, Jason?

JOHNSON:  No, I don`t think so either.  I don`t think so either.  That`s up to the people. 

MATTHEWS:  Joe, what do you think?  I want to go back to Barbara but, Joe, you`re in the house.  So what do you think about this?

WALSH:  Well, I agree with Jason.  This is on the voters.  I have no problem with them reprimanding him in Congress and calling him up, but the voters got to step up.


MATTHEWS:  Well, this goes back to Adam Clayton Powell. 

JOHNSON:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  Meanwhile, several conservative commentators have also recently come under fire for remarks of their own.  Just three days after the deadly shooting in El Paso where the gunman later admitted he targeted Latinos, Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued that white supremacy wasn`t really a big problem.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST:  If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns of problems this country face, 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 ahold on power.  That`s exactly what`s going on.


MATTHEWS:  Well, yesterday right wing commentator Ben Shapiro shamed people working more than one job to make ends meet.  Here he goes.


BEN SHAPIRO, RIGHT WING COMMENTATOR:  If you had to work more than one job to have a roof over your head or food on the table, you probably shouldn`t have taken the job that`s not paying you enough that would be a "you" problem.


MATTHEWS:  We`re just wondering, Barbara, senator, this guy ever had a job.  I`m guessing he is a trust funder.  I don`t know who this guy is.  But, you know what, you get the feeling sometime that Republicans are just trying to troll the Democrats and mostly American people by saying things that are so off the wall that their people, their own people giggle at the absurdity of it but they love it.  There`s like big F-U to the rest of the country.

BARBARA BOXER (D-CA), FORMER SENATOR:  I think -- yes, I think they`re flirting with disaster.  And frankly, I served in the House for ten years.  I have a slight difference of opinion.  I do agree those voters in Iowa should have gotten rid of Steve King.  But he is back and he`s trying to normalize, normalize rape and incest.

Oh, it`s just part of our life.  No, it isn`t.  It`s the most vicious, violent crime.  And so I would -- if I were in the House and I was a Republican, I would make a complaint to the Ethics Committee.

Because these people, all of us who are in office, we`re supposed to be sending out signals to the people as to what our values are, and if we start saying that rape and incest, oh, that`s just part of life.  And Tucker Carlson, he must be asleep in a deep coma.  He does not understand what is going on.  Wake up, Tucker.  I remember when you were alive.  Is he some kind of robot?  It`s just crazy.

MATTHEWS:  I don`t.  I couldn`t answer for that person.  Anyway, meanwhile, Joe, you wrote, Joe Walsh, an op-ed column in the New York Times calling for the conservative to, primary, President Trump.  "Someone who could stand up, look the President in the eye and say "Enough, sir.  We`ve had enough of your indecency.  We`ve had enough of your lies, your bullying, your cruelty.  Enough of your insult, your daily drama, your incitement, enough of the danger you place this country in every single day.  We don`t want any of this any more, and the country certainly can`t stand four more years."

You know, you sound like Joe Walsh from the Army McCarthy hearing.  I`m sure you -- right, I know you`re echoing in that.  Have, you know, decency, senator.  But who?  I thought, you know, who has the confidence politically.

You know, Kasich, of all, very successful governor for two terms.  He`s not going to do it.  I keep looking at Mitt Romney.  I find myself so desperate some days, I`m rooting for Mitt Romney to speak up.  You know, even the kind of dull characters in politics look like they would be better off than what we got now.

But who is going to challenge Trump?  You`re saying everybody is afraid of him.

WALSH:  Chris, I don`t know, because you need somebody who can stand in front of the world and say this guy`s unfit.  He is a bully and a coward.  It`s got to be somebody who can make the moral case against Trump.

And hey, Chris, it`s a bar fight.  Some Republican has to punch him in the face every single day.  Because I`ll tell you right now, if somebody doesn`t, Chris, the Republicans are going to get wiped out in 2020.  If a Republican doesn`t present a strong challenge to him and punch this coward in the face every day, the Republican Party is going to have a hard time coming back.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it`s hard for me to suggest today, because my whole part of the country, the northeast has two Republicans left, Pat Toomey and Susan Collins.  And one of them is probably going to be gone by next time.

JOHNSON:  Exactly, exactly.

MATTHEWS:  So there are no Republican logical suspects.

JOHNSON:  Well, and most of them don`t have the spine to do it.  You could stack up Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake and Corker, and they don`t have the spine to punch him in the face.

MATTHEWS:  Well, they do after they quit.

JOHNSON:  Yeah, exactly.  Suddenly, sort of in a way.  And the truth of the matter is Republicans still love the guy.  The base still loves him.  So the punching is going to have to come from somebody on the Democratic side because the Republicans aren`t going to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  I think a lot of it as just a big F-U to the world they live in, and they keep voting for guy because he keeps yelling it more loud.  These things are absurd.  I don`t think people believe in all this stuff.  Anyway, maybe they do.

Former congressman Joe Walsh, you`re better than ever, sir.  Thank you for coming on.  Barbara, my friend, it`s an honor to have you on as always.  And you did win four straight statewide elections as a liberal, without questioning yourself.  You just -- you were never -- never gas-lighted by these people.  You just said what you thought and you won.  Thank you.  And Jason Johnson of The Root, thank you, sir, my colleague.

Up next, the 2020 field narrows with one candidate actually dropping out, and maybe, just maybe, running for senate in Colorado.  More HARDBALL coming up.



JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I ran for President because this country is being ripped apart by politics and partisan games while our biggest problems go unsolved.  Now today I am ending my campaign for president but I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together.

People want to know what comes next for me.  I`ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate, they remind me how much is at stake for our country and our state.  I intend to give that some serious thought.


MATTHEWS:  Wow, welcome back to Hardball.  That was former Colorado Governor and former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper officially dropping out just now the 2020 Democratic presidential Primaries and teasing a run, pretty clearly for Colorado, to run against Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner.

Anyway, Hickenlooper never made it above 1 percent in the presidential Polls, but when it comes to the Senate race his prospects are very big, very big.  He`s currently polling about over 50 points ahead of any of the candidates in the Democratic fight there, according to a poll conducted by a Democratic firm.

And according to a robopoll by the firm Public Policy Polling, Hickenlooper would lead Cory Gardner by 13 points in a hypothetical general election.  Democrats need to pick up four seats of course to win back the Senate to get to 51.  They only have 50 of course so they get to -- they get the presidency if Trump wins.

Anyway, the Cook Political Report currently has two Republican seats up in 2020 labeled "toss-up".  That`s Gardner in Colorado which looks very winnable and Martha McSally seen in Arizona, and also we have Susan Collins a seat up in -- which is only leaning Republican, I think she`s got some problems.

The Democratic seat in Alabama of course is labeled "toss-up".  I`m wondering about that.  I think it`s very generous to the Democrat.  Doug Jones of course is a liberal or progressive, or a mono-liberal progressive in a very conservative state of Alabama.

I`m joined now by Ginger Gibson, a Political Correspondent for Reuters and Eugene Robinson, Columnist at the Washington Post.

So everybody has been talking about it.  I just want throw some sort of accolade to Hickenlooper.  Because all -- everybody -- the talk is why don`t this key people run for Senate they can win, they`re going to take back the Senate instead of being candidate number 19, candidate number 23 running for president, he`s doing it.

GINGER GIBSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS:  It takes a little bit of humility to be the guy who steps up first and says, "This isn`t going to work.  I`m going to go do something else in the interest of my party."

MATTHEWS:  It helps the party.

GIBSON:  "In the interest of my party."  And look, if you`re Beto O`Rourke, you`ve already lost a Senate seat in Texas.  You`re a long way, maybe from being able to win their.

If you`re Bullock it might not be something you`re looking to do, Montana governor going from the Senate might not be the path that he`s looking for.  But there`s a lot of pressure on particularly those to follow in Hickenlooper`s footsteps.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the only reason governor`s run for Senate is they can`t run for governor anymore.  Because there`s not one of them love doesn`t love that job and they still got it.


MATTHEWS:  Yes, it`s a great job.

ROBINSON:  And they look at the Senate now and they --

MATTHEWS:  OK, yes.  OK, you get --

ROBINSON:  They don`t want to do it, but sometimes you have to make a sacrifice.

MATTHEWS:  OK, enough of the thoughtfulness here, how about it.  But let`s talk gamesmanship, what are the chances Democrats pick up three to four seats in the Senate fight this next year and take control from Mitch McConnell?

ROBINSON:  It won`t be easy.  It`s tough.  It`s tough.  It`s not impossible.

MATTHEWS:  What are the best bets?

ROBINSON:  Well, the best bets are I think they got a shot in Colorado.  I think if Hickenlooper runs I think he wins.  I think they got a really good shot in Arizona.  I think --

MATTHEWS:  With McSally losing to the astronaut, Mark Kelly.

ROBINSON:  Now, I think they would have a great shot in Montana if Bullock want to do it.  But Bullock is pretty firmly rule it out.

I think they would have a chance, but maybe, you know, not a great chance in Texas.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Why is it that -- these two parties are about evenly divided, the country is evenly divided.   Why is it so damn hard to find chances for the Democrats to pick up three seats space in that three?  Why is it so hard?

GIBSON:  The nature of how we can pose our Senate.


GIBSON:  I mean, we do it by state, and there are just more red states than there are blue states.  It`s going to be very hard for Democrats to take the Senate.

I think that some of the states that Eugene pointed to a great examples.  But I really think that it`s going to take a landslide by the Democrat at the top of the ticket.  That`s the only way they pull across the Senate.  Look at the midterm elections.

Trump still won in red states.  Republicans still won in red states.  These states aren`t abandoning Trump.  They`re not going flip.

And you look at Montana, voters know that there is a difference between sending a Democrat to run their state in the governor`s office and sending a Democrat to the United States Senate.  And they vote differently when given the option.

MATTHEWS:  I`m with you.  And by the way --

ROBINSON:  You need a blue wave.  You need a huge blue wave.  But I think you`re more likely to get a huge blue wave if you have your best, most popular candidate running for Senate, right?

In other words, if Beto is running in Texas, for example, he probably brings Texas Democrats out to the poll which helps the presidential candidate and helps put that state, (inaudible).

MATTHEWS:  You can`t count on the other party running a dunce.

ROBINSON:  No. you can`t -- no you can`t no --

MATTHEWS:  Like Obama.

ROBINSON:  No, you can`t count on that.  But, you know, I mean, Beto, look at the midterm.  It doubled the number of Democrats.

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about --

GIBSON:  And let`s be clear.  Democrats aren`t betting on dunces.  Hey, look at New Hampshire we just moved a story about Cory Lewandowski.  The Democratic Party is in going to wait and hope thinking his the easiest candidate to beat.  They`re attacking him today.  The possibility that he runs, people believe --

MATTHEWS:  He is running for the House, right?

GIBSON:  Or for the Senate.

MATTHEWS:  He`s going to run for the Senate?

GIBSON:  He could run for the senate.


GIBSON:  And I think that --

MATTHEWS:  Against Shaheen?

GIBSON:  Against Shaheen.  And I think that there`s a lot of fear in the Democratic Party after they watched Trump and they felt like they sat back and let him get the nomination --


GIBSON:  -- that if they do that again, they`re in trouble.

MATTHEWS:  The Cory Lewandowski is not going to be a United States senator.  This guy`s got too much stuff on him.  Let me ask you about Joe Biden.


MATTHEWS:  There`s a conversation of all my friends.  They`re all worried.  They wonder.  Can he get it together?

ROBINSON:  Yes.  Well, they`ll probably continue worrying and wondering, you know.  I mean, we`ll see have -- we`ll see how Biden goes, how he does.

MATTHEWS:  You sound like my friends.


MATTHEWS:  I mean, you`re incremental, it`s unknown.

ROBINSON:  Well, it is unknown.  There`s a whole lot that`s unknown, Chris, in this cycle, right?  I mean, mostly --

MATTHEWS:  He is the front-runner and people just don`t know.  That`s what`s strange about it.

ROBINSON:  But he maintains his lead in the polls.  And people, you know, are sticking with him, so.

GIBSON:  When I talk to Democrats, there`s this nervousness, this nervousness that is overtaking him.  They`re afraid about nominating the wrong candidate.  They`re afraid about making a misstep.

And I think when you look at how Biden has fared in this first part of the cycle, he had a not so great first debate, and not even much better second debate, and his numbers didn`t even go down.  The voters are not as nervous as the Washington cocktail circuit.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, the guy I am very wary of my heart, I`ve known Joe forever.  I`m a lot like him in background.  So there`s always the tendency.  But I got to tell you, anybody in the Democratic Party that this president can win and anybody can lose.


MATTHEWS:  This is wildly open.

ROBINSON:  I think that`s true and I`m possible.

MATTHEWS:  And making predictions are impossible.

ROBINSONS:  And when are Democrats not nervous?  I mean, when were they?

MATTHEWS:  Or divisive or neurotic.  Anyway, that`s just the cocktail circuit. T hey don`t need booze to worry.  And Ginger Gibson, thank you, and Eugene Robinson, of course.

Still ahead, the politics of distraction.  Can Trump talk up the economy as he talks down the Democrats?  Can he trash people like Elizabeth Warren all day long and still make us feel good about the economy?  Can he do both?  You`re watching "Hardball."


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  President Trump`s taking a break from his vacation to New Jersey, and he`s holding a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire right now.  A state he lost by more than 2,000 votes.

One of the main arguments he is making tonight ahead of the 2020 election is that the economy is steady under his stewardship.  Let`s listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We have a very powerful country, a very strong economic and military country.  We`ve never been better.  The stock market is way up today for various reasons, including tariffs.

It used to be, it`s the economy stupid, right.  You see, econ if nothing else, it`s the economy stupid.  So we have the best economy in history.

Our companies are doing well.  The fundamentals are beyond what -- literally, beyond what anyone`s ever seen.  This isn`t a bubble.

The stock market, which to me is jobs, the stock market hit an all-time high again.  Think of it.

Everyone that greets me says, "Hello, Mr. President, congratulations on what you`ve done for the economy.  It`s the talk of the world."


MATTHEWS:  Well, yesterday, fears of another global economic slowdown and escalating concerns over the US and China trade war sent the stocks plunging downward.  A volatile market right now is the biggest threat, the Trump`s greatest political asset, the economy.

Additionally one of Trump`s signature and singular pieces of legislation, the 2017 tax cuts have been a bust economically.  They haven`t done anything for jobs.  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, in the past year the tax cuts haven`t added a lot if anything to growth and wages, investment with the overall economy.  Well, that`s a zero.

President Trump or actually White House officials now tell the Washington Post, they have become concerned that the economy is weakening faster than expected, but they are not working on proactive plans to change its course.  President Trump seemingly aware of the danger of volatile economy poses to his reelection unloaded on Twitter attacking the Federal Reserve and the press.

There`s a good reason for some of the President`s concern.  Stay tuned after this break to find out why he`s worried.  You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump`s taken a break from his vacation in New Jersey and is holding a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now, a state he lost by more than 2,000 votes.  One of the main arguments he is making tonight, ahead of the 2020 election is that the economy is steady under his stewardship.

Let`s listen. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We have a very powerful country, a very strong economic and military country.  We`ve never been better.  The stock market is way up today for various reasons, including tariffs. 

It used to be it`s the economy, stupid.  Nothing else.  It`s the economy, stupid.  So, we have the best economy in history. 

Our companies are doing well.  The fundamentals are beyond what -- literally, beyond what anyone`s ever seen.  This isn`t a bubble. 

The stock market, which to me is jobs, the stock market hit an all-time high again.  Think of it. 

Everyone that greets me says: Hello, Mr. President, congratulations on what you`ve done for the economy.  It`s the talk of the world. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, yesterday, fears of another global economic slowdown and escalating concerns over the U.S. and China trade war sent the stocks plunging downward.  A volatile market right now is the biggest threat, Trump`s greatest political asset, the economy.  Additionally, one of Trump`s signature and singular pieces of legislation, the 2017 tax cuts have been a bust economically.  They haven`t done anything for jobs. 

According to the nonpartisan congressional research service, in the past year, the tax cuts haven`t added a lot if anything to growth and wages, investment or the overall economy.  Well, that`s a zero.  President Trump or actually White House officials now tell "The Washington Post", they have become concerned that the economy is weakening faster than expected, but they are not working on proactive plans to change its course. 

President Trump seemingly aware of the danger of volatile economy poses to his reelection unloaded on Twitter, attacking the Federal Reserve and the press.  There is a good reason for some of the president`s concern.  Stay tuned after this break to find out why he`s worried. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:   Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump is still speaking to supporters at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now.  Ahead of that event, the "Associated Press" spoke to some New Hampshire voters who were feeling what one called Trumpgret. 

He says: I don`t see where he`s helped me.  Maybe a guy who`s got a million dollars he`s helped, but I don`t feel he has helped me at all. 

That`s a regular guy voting and saying, I don`t like what Trump`s done for me. 

Amid these warning signs, President Trump launched another attack on two of his four favorite foils, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. 

For more, I`m joined by Neera Tanden, President and CEO of Center for American Progress, and Rick Tyler. 

You know, I -- there is nothing more nervous than an economy that might begin to drop.  And Trump`s got this difficult job of if he says the wrong thing, he can help start a bank run.  He keeps pounding the Fed chair.  That seems to be all he can think up to do, is pound the Fed chair.

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT AND CEO:  Yes, we actually should not lose sight of the fact that Trump himself -- it`s unusual to have a president who himself is a cause of the consternation. 

MATTHEWS:  What is helping (ph) the cause? 

TANDEN:  So, there is numerous causes, but one is just business investment is down because there`s a concern about confidence and stability.  A lot of that concern about confidence and instability is because a lot of business leaders and the global market is fearful about what Trump will tweet, let alone the tariffs and China. 

MATTHEWS:  Does a tweet cost? 

TANDEN:  Yes, the tweets cost.  The tweets against different people, against different businesses, against saying I`m going put tariffs on one day and take them off the other.  That creates instability in the markets. 

And so, I think the big challenge for Trump is that he could own a downscale more than anyone else. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Here he is talking right now about the Democrats.  Let`s watch him up in New Hampshire. 


MATTHEWS:  Now we have a group of socialists or communists -- could be, could be.  They`re not far away. 


Now the fake news will hit me on that.  How dare he say that?  But they`re not far away, right? 


MATTHEWS:  The trouble with that is historic, rick.  It`s called red baiting. 

RICK TYLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  You know, I`m sorry I`m laughing.  It`s just like watching -- like a bad comedy. 

MATTHEWS:  The old United States Communist Party.  They`re not any part of that.  They`re not Stalinists.  They`re left Democrats. 

TYLER:  Right.  Socialism means to control the economic heights, meaning the means of production.  That`s what socialism is.  I don`t know anybody on the Democratic side that is proposing to do that.  I may disagree with some of their -- but that`s not socialism. 

The problem with the economy today is this product here, this is an Apple, this took over 10 years to develop.  And from the glass, which was very difficult to develop to the investment to the -- what the labor market is to what the dollar is, you have to plan these things out long-term.  And when Trump is tweeting and one day we`re with China and the other day we`re going have a deal, there is is no deal -- you know, there is no deal there have been no trade deals except chorus which is South Korea. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we haven`t got the Congress to ratify the new version of NAFTA. 

TYLER:  Right, but it`s only like a paper back version of the hard cover.  It wasn`t really that big of a deal.  But he talks it up like this rhetoric. 

But the problem is the rhetoric sounds wonderful to these people until they start to see --

MATTHEWS:  Can he win next year`s election if the economy turns down? 

TYLER:  I think it would be very difficult because most presidents will not win during a recession, because it`s James Carville`s adage.  It`s the economy, stupid. 

TANDEN:  In fact, the economy is basically what`s holding him up.  If you see what`s happened with his numbers, his personal approval, his job approval is low considering people`s views of the economy. 

TYLER:  His approval should be in the 60s or the 70s with the economy --

TANDEN:  Yes, a normal president who wasn`t so personally --

TYLER:  Offensive. 

TANDEN:  -- offensive and gross and racist would actually have higher approval ratings.  But that`s the thing for him. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s take a look at this.  What looks like the signal that President Trump is eager to cut a deal with China, "Politico" is reporting amid violent protests in Hong Kong right now, the president has remained determine to keep China`s human rights abuses from complicating his trade negotiations.  Sources said the president surprised his aides when he told Xi, the president of China, that he would not condemn the Chinese government over a crackdown in Hong Kong.

Look, I worry all the time about another Tiananmen Square.  I worry about the protests going overboard, because Chinese are very conservative when it comes to don`t question the government, you don`t go after the state.  And I worry -- and there`s Trump.  Trump ought to be cautioning both sides, especially government.  That`s my thinking. 

TANDEN:  Yes, he should be.  But he actually is generally aligned with autocrats.  And we have protest movements in Hong Kong.  We have big national protests in Russia around democracy. 


TANDEN:  These are protest movements around democracy.  Big democracy would usually support them.  He is silent or supportive of the government in these crackdowns. 

And so, I think is -- one can argue it`s multiple things.  He wants a deal with the Chinese.  I don`t know why the Chinese would give him a deal a year before his election when it helps them to have a --

MATTHEWS:  I`m with it.  I`m sympathetic to a lot of Democrats who want to get tough with China.  People like Sherrod Brown, people like Pennsylvania`s Bobby Casey.


MATTHEWS:  The industrial street Democrats, working people, representing the unions, the steelworkers are tired of being pushed around.  It`s not the only problem we`ve got.  Modernization is the challenge, automatization.  And the fact is we need a trade war, the right kind.  That`s what I think.

Your thoughts? 

TYLER:  I disagree. 

MATTHEWS:  You think we should let the Chinese gradually eat our breakfast, our lunch and dinner? 

TYLER:  No.  Americans tomorrow could stop buying things from China.  We have a trade deficit the same way you have a trade deficit with your grocery store.  Walmart, competitors and others are full of stuff --

MATTHEWS:  OK, but they keep building up their current exchange, they can buy anything in the world with that.  The Chinese have so much exchange --

TYLER:  It only goes so far. 

MATTHEWS:  They`re buying Africa. 

TYLER:  Trump wants to buy green land. 

TANDEN:  Just for the record, there should be ways to actually deal with China. 

MATTHEWS:  We got to go.  Quickly. 

TANDEN:  Punishing farmers is a bad way. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Neera Tanden, politically astute as ever.  Rick Tyler, thank you. 

Up next, if President Trump really wants to (INAUDIBLE) economy, then there is one thing he can do and he forgot all about it, and I remember it clearly from the election last time.  He promised something he ain`t done. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  When Donald Trump appealed for our votes the first time, he showed traces of sanity.  He was going to end stupid wars.  I`ll leave that one to another night. 

It`s the other trace of sanity I want to address right now.  Let`s listen to what candidate Trump said three years ago this month. 


TRUMP:  We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railway, tunnels, seaports and airports.  That, believe me folks, is what our country deserves. 


MATTHEWS:  That was candidate Donald Trump speaking in Detroit in August of 2016. 

In September 2016, he said this in North Carolina. 


TRUMP:  We`re going to rebuild our inner cities because our African- American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they`ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever.  You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education.  You get no jobs.  You get shot walking down the street. 


MATTHEWS:  And here he was on election night, the moment of his upset victory. 


TRUMP:  We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals.  We`re going rebuild our infrastructure. 


MATTHEWS:  We are going to build. 

So here we are heading into the third fall of his presidential term, and Donald Trump is facing what might be a slowing economy.  So, is it because he put all his eggs into the tax cut?  Is it because he gave all that money to corporations who used to it buy back stock? 

Is it because he failed to act on the central role of Keynesian economics?  If you want to stimulate economic growth, have the government build things.  Has he forgotten the country`s most successful populist believed in building? 

If President Trump wants to be a success, the time is right now to put the country to work.  All he needs for blueprints are the words he spoke in getting here. 

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.