CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Something is rotten and it ain`t Denmark. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
President Trump is picking a fight with a loyal American ally for no apparent reason. He`s cancelled a state visit to Denmark, insulted its prime minister and thrown an historic relationship into chaos, all of this because Denmark rejected his bizarre territorial ambition to buy Greenland, which is an autonomous Danish territory. This is real. This is not a reality show, ladies and gentlemen. This is our president.
Making clear that Greenland is not for sale on Sunday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, Trump`s proposal is an absurd discussion, adding, and that`s where the conversation ends. He sounds like a grownup over there.
Two days later, Trump abruptly canceled his planned trip to Denmark, snubbing the prime minister and the queen of Denmark who had extended the formal invitation.
Announcing his decision last night, the president wrote, based on Prime Minister Frederiksen`s comments that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled -- this is Bugsy Siegel stuff, a mobster saying, I`m going to buy your house. And if you don`t sell it to me, I`m going to get you.
Anyway, after blindsiding the Danish government with his sudden cancellation, the president went further today and called the Danish prime minister nasty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I look forward to going, but I thought that the prime minister`s statement that it was absurd, that was --it was an absurd idea, it was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All they had to do is say, no, we`d rather not do that or we`d rather not talk about it. Don`t say, what an absurd idea that is, because she`s not talking to me -- excuse me, she`s not talking to me, she`s talking to the United States of America. You don`t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: By picking a fight with Denmark, President Trump has managed to scramble a close relationship that both countries have enjoyed for a long, long time. Denmark is a devoted U.S. ally that has shown an incredible love for this country of ours. Among other things, it`s one of the few things overseas that celebrates American independence on the 4th of July. They celebrate our independence. I`ve known this for years. More bizarre is that Trump scrapped the trip after downplaying his differences with Denmark on Sunday when he said the prospect of buying Greenland wasn`t even a top concern of his.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`ll talk to them a little bit. It`s not number one on the burner, I can tell you that. We`re looking at it. It`s not number one on the burner.
I can certainly talk about it, but not top on the list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s sudden decision also appeared to blindside the U.S. ambassador to Denmark who Tweeted, Denmark is ready for the president just hours before Trump canceled his trip.
And now, the president deepening the rift even further by publicly accusing Denmark of spending too little on self-defense under NATO. He Tweeted to the country is, quote, still way short of what they should pay for the incredibly military protection provided. Sorry.
I`m joined by the New York Times Columnist Michelle Goldberg, Tim O`Brien is Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion, Jonathan Allen is National Political Reporter for NBC News Digital, and Yamiche Alcindor is White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour.
Boy, we have a heavyweight group here to talk about a lightweight conversation. My God, this is embarrassing. Michelle, I`ll start with you. I don`t know how you can make a column out of this, it`s so small.
Denmark is a good country. It`s pro American as hell, like we would dream the world would be now of any country like our country. And now this guy like Bugsy Siegel walks by like in a movie, Warren Beatty played that guy, and goes, hi, I like that house, and says, I want to buy your house.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And let`s also remember --
MATTHEWS: It`s monster (ph) behavior. Your thoughts.
GOLDBERG: This is a country that has suffered, you know, disproportionate casualties supporting America in its various wars in the Middle East.
MATTHEWS: And they also stood up to the Nazis.
GOLDBERG: This whole thing is so preposterous. I mean, look, I said earlier, this is kind of, if you had propose this as a worst case scenario for what the Trump administration would unfold three years ago, people wouldn`t have believed you, right? This was this infantile whim, this completely absurd proposition that you are going to buy this sovereign territory, for what reason, has never been made clear. I mean, this is just the kind of autocratic flight of fancy that he has now decided to use to throw American foreign policy into chaos.
And what he`s doing besides bullying this country that has historically been an ally, in part, I think because he can`t tolerate countries led by women and particularly can`t tolerate women who say no to him. But he`s also put the world on notice that you are to humor, even his most ridiculous autocratic pronouncements, you have to take them seriously or he`s going to use the full weight of the American government and American power to get revenge.
And everyone who is tolerating this, everyone in the Republican Party, everyone in the foreign policy establishment in the State Department, who keeps on acting as if we have a president, as if we have a functioning foreign policy, as if this country -- as if he has not just taken, you know, American credibility built over decades and set it on fire is being, you know, to use the word that Trump likes to use, disloyal, I think, to this country.
MATTHEWS: My God. After accusing Jewish people yesterday of being -- I mean, he`s throwing out this crazy talk.
Anyway, a Danish prime minister said today she was disappointed and surprised that the president decided to cancel his visit to our country. And other Danes were less restrained, however. The former prime minister called it deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark. Danish lawmakers said, for no reason, Trump assumes that an autonomous part of our country is for sale. Are parts of the U.S. for sales? Alaska? Please show some respect. And a former finance minister of Denmark call it a diplomatic crisis (ph0. You know, it`s like, I don`t know what to say, Denmark used to own the Virgin Islands. Are they going to ask for a resale? What is -- it`s crazy talk?
JONATHAN ALLEN, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, look, there is nothing wrong with looking at a huge piece of land in the world and saying, I`d love to have --
MATTHEWS: If you`re a real estate tycoon.
ALLEN: I would love to have that piece of land but Denmark is not selling it. This reminds me if somebody calls me and says, I`d love to buy your house. This happens sometimes. You live in a decent neighborhood. Somebody calls and says, I`d love to buy your house. This is like you`re turning it down and deciding they`re going to spray paint your house with epithets about your wife and children, they`re going to leaving grenades on your lawn. I mean, this is -- the behavior is incredible.
And, you know, I don`t think the rest of the world is looking at Trump and thinking to themselves, you know, we`re worried that Trump is going to treat us this way. I think they`re looking at the United States and laughing at us.
MATTHEWS: Tim, at the same time, he`s treating a pretty nice little country. And I don`t mean to be condescending but it`s a nice small country. And they cause us no trouble. In fact, they actually are devoted to our values. I`ve been reading about for years how they celebrate the 4th of July over there.
And then he`s trying to get Russia, one of the ogre powers of the world, back into the G7. Everything is upside down. This is Faustian. We`re going to be the worst people in the world to get something. But what are we getting out of being worst people in the world? I don`t get it. What are we getting out of Trump?
TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION: There is a Faustian bargain. It`s on the voter`s side who elected him and the politicians who continue to enable him.
Remember, this is a day in which not only this farce about Greenland continued, but he embraced descriptions of himself as god and as the king of Israel and self-described, as he said, I am the chosen one.
And what we`re losing in the midst of all of this bonkers behavior, and this is who the president has been for 70 years. This is not inconsistent with who he is. He has done these outlandish things highs entire life. But when it comes right now to foreign policy and what he`s doing in Greenland, in the wake of this kind of behavior, he`s not focused on Kashmir. He`s not focused on Iran. He is not focused on North Korea. He is not focused on a failing nation state in Venezuela.
And I think what`s unusual about this moment compared to past moments is I think that you see Trump moving almost into full panic mode. I think he is feeling the reality that the economy is fraying around the edges. He has farmers in the Midwest who are upset about the costs of his trade war and he cannot control the outcome of those things. He has been branded a racist after weeks and weeks of fomenting racist division because he is a racist and he`s not able to control that label. And I think you are going to see more of this.
And I think what`s particularly worrisome on the international stage is whether this bleeds into him taking actions against North Korea or Iran or another country in order to shore himself up.
MATTHEWS: Yes, wag the dog. As I mentioned at the same time, he`s snubbing a close ally. Trump is again calling for Russia to be reinstated to the group of seven. Russia used to be a member but their invasion of Crimea got them ejected back if `14.
Well, as Trump tells it, however, President Obama is to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s come up, should we put Russia back in? We spend a lot of time talking about Russia at those meetings and they`re not there. I think it would be a good thing if Russia were there.
They were taken out because Putin outsmarted on Crimea, on the red line, on other things, totally outsmarted Obama. Obama was upset. They took them out.
I think Russia should be a part of it because we`re looking for world peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, sometimes he acts like they do have something on him, Yamiche. Like they got picture, they got movies, they got something. Why is he their agent? Why is he working for Russia again?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Obviously, the White House would say -- would take issue with that --
MATTHEWS: Well, what is he doing right there? I got the tape. He`s out there.
ALCINDOR: But, of course, what his two favorite topics which kind of meshed together on the White House lawn today when I was out there was Obama and Russia. All of this stuff that he`s talking about with Denmark, he was saying, well, the reason why I`m doing this is because Obama let people disrespect America. And I need to somehow now get America`s respect back up around the world.
That`s what -- when you talk to his supporters, they say, oh, well, at least the people respect us again. When you listen to his statements or when you listen to the music at his rallies, it`s like, well, at least I`m an American, at least I`m free. There is this theme running through that I`m the chosen one, I`m the person who can fix all of your problems. When in reality, what we see, and I have been talking to foreign policy experts ahead of the G7, people are -- Europeans are on edge because nobody knows how to deal with President Trump, nobody understands how his foreign policy works (ph).
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to you, Yamiche. I want to follow this up with you and then the others, because if I were president, I do think about rarely, but it does occur to me. You go to bed at night, you`re worried about Kashmir, you`re worried about India and Pakistan going to another war, which is not going to end well. You think about what`s going on with Russia and the INF Treaty gone, the fact that we have no deal with Iran now, nuclear weapons, all these things are up in the air, and you could well lose the presidency into the heart of Donald Trump to a woman. It`s very possible he could lose to Elizabeth Warren if she`s the nominee next year. The polls are showing it`s very possible. So he`s miserable.
So what is he doing? He engages in these stupid frisbee games, these stupid things, like fighting with the Danes.
Anyway, meanwhile, the Danish prime minister is now among the many people who the president, most of the women, has accused of being nasty. Look at this, that list includes, a lot of women here, Nancy Pelosi is nasty, Meghan Markle is nasty, Kamala Harris, the mayor of San Juan, well, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton.
Michelle, he`s got a lot of nasties on his list, but I think that`s projection.
GOLDBERG: Well, I just think he`s a misogynist and we`ve all known that. And he gets incensed, like I said before, when a woman says no to him or when he feels like he is being humiliated and laughed at by women. And that is fact is he is being laughed at by women all over the world, women leaders in Scandinavia, in Germany, every kind of everywhere there are women in power, they are laughing at this ridiculous example of a male bluster run amuck.
ALCINDOR: You can also look for women to be the first people to flee the Republican Party and supporting Donald Trump if a recession actually happens. When you talk to women Republicans, they have very, very already on edge with the president. And I can see them saying, you know what, I don`t have to put up with this anymore.
MATTHEWS: We got the already. We got numbers yesterday.
ALLEN: And it`s not just --
MATTHEWS: 32 percent deficit among women as opposed to a 13 percent deficit before.
ALLEN: It`s not just the suburban college educated women that we saw in the 2018 midterms. You`re seeing non-college educated women who are a part of that -- non-college educated white women who were part of that Trump base in 2016 running away from him.
MATTHEWS: And Michelle, I want to -- I want the two women to respond to this, because electing the first woman is something to be done. It hasn`t been done yet. We don`t know how it will happen, what type of situation. But this situation we`re in right now with a president who is troubling to a lot of people, mostly women, but really troubling to people, may help create the opportunity for women to win the president`s seat, normally, he wouldn`t have been there. This guy may be the enabler, as weird as it seems, because he`s so awful.
ALCINDOR: It kind of goes back to that Chris Rock joke, which is that George Bush would essentially be celebrated by the African-American for ushering in the atmosphere that created Barack Obama for being able to be president.
Donald Trump, for all the flaws that people point out about him, he has really, I think, laid bare some of the flaws of America, laid bare what people think of women, laid bare what people think of black people, laid bare the fact that some people are telling their neighbors to go back to their countries if they don`t agree with them. That -- I think that swell could very well usher in Democrats electing a woman president and the country electing a woman president.
MATTHEWS: And, Michelle, he`s not a great advertisement for male leadership, is he?
GOLDBERG: Well, there is a term in business called the glass cliff, right, which is that women are sometimes brought into companies when they have been so poorly run, that kind of they`re finally willing to take a chance on a woman. That could be what happens in 2020. I mean, I certainly hope so.
MATTHEWS: Yes. My daughter has been running a company out west. I should mention. I never talk about it. But that`s what she`s doing. Anyway, -- now she`s going to be mad at me. Thank you.
My guests are sticking with us. What a group tonight, way over the heads of what we`re talking about, which is Trump. You guys as a group are way over the head, this quartet.
Anyway, coming up, President Trump`s whiplash on guns, here he goes again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: With background checks, we`re dealing with Democrats, we`re dealing with the Republicans, we`re dealing with the NRA, we`re dealing with gun owners, we`re dealing with everybody. And I think we`re going to have something hopefully that`s meaningful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he says he wants to get something done on background checks right. But after one phone call with the NRA and Wayne LaPierre, he retreats and starts parroting their talking points. He talks like an NRA flak (ph).
And after attacking Jewish Democrats on what Trump calls their disloyalty to Israel, he gets in trouble for implying that that is where their loyalty is presume to lie. Good talk, president. Keep up that chatter.
We`ve got much more to get to tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What happened to the strong appetite for background checks?
TRUMP: Oh, I have an appetite for background checks. We`re going to be doing background checks. We`re working with Democrats. We`re working with Republicans. We already have strong background checks. But we`re going to be filling in some of the loopholes, as we call them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Loopholes, as we call them. Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump today, once again, defending himself from what one Trump administration official described as the president`s messy and confusing stance -- an administration official, a messy and confusing stance on background checks for gun purchases.
Well, on the wake of recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump`s public statements have already gone from one end of that spectrum to the other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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`ve never had before.
There are things we can do, but we already have very serious background checks. We have strong background checks.
Look, the NRA has, over the years, taken a very, very tough stance on everything. And I understand it. You know, it`s a slippery slope. They think, you approve one thing, and that leads to a lot of bad things. I don`t agree with that.
I`m concerned that, no matter what we agree to, when we get there, I`m concerned the Democrats will say, oh, well, we now want this, and we want - - and, you know, it`s a slippery slope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Tim, in the old cowboy and Indian movies, they were politically incorrect, I`m sure, by today`s standards, but they would have some guy, probably a Hollywood writer, said, "You pale face speak with forked tongue."
In other words, you`re going in two different directions at the same time or double-talk. It probably comes to the same meaning.
What`s changed with the president since he`s made his comments? The president has spoken to NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre a couple of times this past week.
And, today, the president denied reports that their discussions included talking about background checks and taking them off the table.
Watch him here trying to get out of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No, I didn`t say anything about that. We had a great talk with Wayne yesterday. Didn`t say anything about that. We just talked about concepts. Wayne agrees things have to be done also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wayne, my friend, my Wayne, my Wayne.
But taking a line from NRA talking points, the president has turned his focus not on the gun or guns, but on the person pulling the trigger now, people shoot people, guns don`t, saying the priority should be on mental health, his big new concern.
Back with me now, Michelle Goldberg, Tim O`Brien, Jonathan Allen, and Yamiche Alcindor.
Tim, this double-talk -- and it is forked-tongue stuff. One day, he says - - he waits when we have a calamity, a horror, within the first five or six days, he talks like the average American, I`m concerned about this, we got to do something.
As time fades and other issues arise, he sees his opening to get away. And then he gradually, after three or four weeks, it`s totally, I don`t know anything about background checks. We already have them.
O`BRIEN: Well, I let`s not call it forked tongue, Chris. Let`s just call it lying, because that`s what it is.
And what it is leading to is a really tragic public policy disaster. Poll after poll shows that 90 percent of Americans would prefer to see strict gun control enacted.
That -- that`s not even -- that is not an ideological issue. It shouldn`t be a partisan issue. It`s about public safety and smart legislation. And it`s not happening because the Senate, the Oval Office, and the NRA are captive of the money that rolls through the gun manufacturers into Washington.
And that`s been true for a very long time now. Just a year ago, the president stood in the Oval Office with senior GOP leadership, and accused them all of being afraid of the NRA, and implied that he wasn`t, and said it was time to enact background checks in the wake of the Parkland shootings.
And within two days, Chris Cox, the head of the NRA, made a visit to the White House, and Trump flip-flopped. The only difference this time is, it took two weeks, instead of two days.
But we have now had -- had this long list of really epic, tragic public shootings, from Sandy Hook to the present. And it`s just clear that Mitch McConnell, the president, the NRA, and gun manufacturers are in lockstep, and we`re not going to get change.
MATTHEWS: Well, Yamiche, you made several attempts today -- I saw you out there on the South Lawn -- to get the president to answer your question on guns.
Let`s watch you in action and Trump ,well, whatever he`s doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALCINDOR: Are you talking to victims of mass shootings to talk -- to ask them what they want?
TRUMP: I did. I went to the hospitals. I will tell you this. I went to the hospitals. It was totally falsely reported.
And, frankly, you want to know the truth? They love their president. And nobody wrote that. Nobody wrote that, because you didn`t write the truth. "New York Times" doesn`t like to write the truth.
QUESTION: Sir, what...
TRUMP: But they love -- they totally love our country. And they do love our president.
Like, nobody would meet with me. Not only did they meet with me. They were pouring out of the room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this? What`s the idea? He`s very consoling for a few days. And then...
ALCINDOR: He doesn`t want to acknowledge that he`s being led by the NRA to come up with a stance on gun legislation, and is essentially ignoring the will and the wants of people who`ve actually been impacted by mass shootings.
I was thinking, about on the lawn, OK, you`re talking to Wayne LaPierre. You know exactly what Wayne LaPierre wants. Why don`t you want to go back and call those people up from the hospitals and ask them what they want?
The people that I talk to want universal background checks. These are people who are saying: We own guns. We understand the Second Amendment, but we want people to not be able to privately sell and buy guns. And we don`t want people to buy guns on Facebook or online without a background check, which is what people can do right now.
So the president, I think, is -- he didn`t want to answer the question, obviously. I repeatedly put the question to him. And I think what we see is the president not wanting to acknowledge that he`s being led by the -- by the NRA right now.
MATTHEWS: You know, when you go to a convenience store and you`re under 21, they ask you for your I.D., Michelle.
I mean, we have restrictions on freedoms. You`re allowed to drink in this country, but there are restrictions. You have a right to drink whatever you want, booze or whatever you want. That`s a right. It`s a natural human right. Drink what you want. Eat what you want.
But there are laws about access to it that have to do with public safety. Like, we don`t want 18-year-old kids or 17-year-old kids driving around drunk. Thought, why don`t we think of guns that way? It`s a right.
GOLDBERG: Well, most people do...
MATTHEWS: You have a right to a gun, but you`re going to be 21 to get one, and you`re going to get a license to have a rifle at home.
GOLDBERG: I think most people do think of guns that way.
But, look, I mean, can -- I just -- I also want to pause for a second on how degenerate it is for the president to sit there and boast, falsely, at that, the victims of mass shootings love him.
But, beyond that, I think that public safety is just not a concern for this man. What he cares about is keeping together the remains of his base, because there`s -- because he has nothing else to offer the majority of people in this country who voted against him and have never supported him, right?
The NRA has never been as weak as it is right now. It`s under multiple investigations. It`s faced with all sorts of financial scandals. It`s losing lots of money. If ever there was a time that a president could stand up to the NRA and do something that has pretty much consensus support in American politics, it would be now.
But Donald Trump is never going to do that. He is never, ever, ever going to put the interests and safety of the American people above his short-term political calculations.
MATTHEWS: OK, it`s New Year`s next year, next New Year`s Eve. Will there be any gun legislation this year?
ALLEN: I don`t think so.
And I think it`s telling that, when the president talked to people who ran for their lives -- like, I spoke to Anthony Reynolds in Ohio, who was 10 feet away from someone with an assault rifle and watched people lose their life.
He was forever changed and said: I`m going to be calling my lawmakers. I`m going to be moving for gun legislation.
The president went to a hospital, spoke to those same people, and he took away that they love him and nothing about gun legislation.
MATTHEWS: Just read the Republican platform. Political platforms mean something. Take a look at the Republican platform, straight Second Amendment belief. It`s almost religion.
Anyway, they`re not going to do nothing.
Thank you, Michelle Goldberg. Thank you, Tim O`Brien, Jonathan Allen, Yamiche Alcindor. Great panel.
Up next: President Trump`s not backing down on his message to Jewish voters. If you vote for a Democrat, you`re disloyal. I don`t know if he knows the history of this trope and what he`s talking like. It`s awful, the way he talks about this.
Today, he was asked to clarify the remark, and only ended up making things worse. Here`s what he had to say, well, next on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump`s doubling down on his comments yesterday that Jewish people who vote for Democrats are being disloyal to Israel.
Here`s what he had to say this morning:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you`re being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you`re being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.
QUESTION: Your critics (OFF-MIKE) say that that is an anti-Semitic (OFF- MIKE). How do you respond to that?
TRUMP: I haven`t heard anybody say that. Just the opposite.
I think that, if you vote for a Democrat, you`re very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.
QUESTION: If Jews votes for Democrats, are they being disloyal to Israel? Is that what you`re saying?
TRUMP: Oh, I would say so, yes. Yes.
QUESTION: Isn`t that anti-Semitic to say?
TRUMP: I think -- no, no, no. It`s only in your head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "It`s only in your head."
It`s not just that in reporter`s head. The Anti-Defamation League`s Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted: "This anti-Semitic trope has been used to persecute Jews for centuries."
And the American Jewish Committee said in a statement that Trump`s comments are "inappropriate, unwelcome and downright dangerous."
Well, the president isn`t without his conservative Jewish defenders, of course. Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks told "The Washington Post" yesterday that Trump was talking about being true to yourself.
Wow. There are a lot of toadies out there.
And the president thanked conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root for saying on his show that: "Jewish people in Israel love Trump like he`s the king of Israel, like he`s the second coming of God."
He`s the messiah? Root also said that Trump is the greatest president for Jews.
But American Jewish voters don`t seem to agree. They voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, the most recent elections.
Jennifer Rubin says there`s a reason for that.
She wrote in "The Washington Post": "These Americans voted their values, which include opposition to racism in all forms, a concern for the poor and the stranger, and a reverence for the rule of law."
Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer for "The Washington Post"," joins me now.
Here is your chance to say it on TV.
Your reaction when you heard Trump talking about disloyalty among Jewish people who vote Democrat, most of whom do vote Democrat?
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right.
As ridiculous as this person is, how, I think, insane as he is, it still hits American Jews hard, right in the gut, because this has been the accusation for 2,000 years. And this has been what every nation state has used against the Jews, accusing them of being a fifth column.
It is the most base, the most destructive allegation that he can make, six weeks, I will have you know, from the anniversary of the Pittsburgh shooting, in which crazy people out there adopt this notion that Jews are alien, Jews are disloyal, Jews are doing something to America, and wound up slaughtering 11 people.
So, as much as we would like to sort of wash our hands of it or say this is just Trump being Trump, it is very disconcerting. It`s very sad. And I think it`s very troubling for the Jewish community. And, of course, this is just one of many communities that he`s gone after like this.
MATTHEWS: Put your analyst hat on. What`s he up to?
RUBIN: I think he`s up to two things.
One, he`s trying to help his compadre Bibi Netanyahu by creating the culture war there, just like there`s a culture war here, taking the war between himself and two congresswomen to Israel, and, therefore, putting his and Bibi`s relationship as one. He thinks that`s going to help Bibi in some fashion.
The other thing that`s going on is, he is constantly stirring up his evangelical base, and they are nuts over Israel. We could talk another time about why that is.
MATTHEWS: No, I think it`s their biblical ideas.
MATTHEWS: Biblical notions, yes.
RUBIN: And, by saying this, he is asking those evangelicals to say, oh, those rotten Jews, they don`t get about Israel. We care about Israel, and that president cares about us. Therefore, we`re with him.
So he`s actually...
MATTHEWS: I have never heard it put that nastily.
RUBIN: And he actually splits the evangelical and Jewish pro-Israel alliance.
He damages the bipartisan alliance that we have between Democrats and Republicans, very strong still in Congress, in support of Israel, which is what is essential for Israel`s survival. And he splits the evangelical Jewish communities by accusing Jews of being disloyal.
So it`s like a triple bank shot for this guy.
MATTHEWS: Well, president took the opportunity to criticize the Squad, the four women progressives, Representative Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib`s -- particularly those comments questioning U.S. aid to Israel, after they were blocked from entering Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s AOC plus four, or plus three.
If you look at what they say, they -- what they are, they are so bad for Israel, they are so bad for Jewish people. You take a look at the horrible anti-Semitic statements that they have made, you take a look at what they want to do to Israel, the Democrats have to own it.
And I say this. Anybody that votes for a Democrat, they`re voting for that. That`s the face of your party, and that`s very bad for Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about politics. Let`s step away from the awful tribal aspect of this, because that`s what he`s playing to.
His trick, his trick is to identify the Democratic Party with the Squad.
MATTHEWS: Now, the Squad is on the progressive left.
MATTHEWS: They`re a part of the Democratic coalition. They are not reflective of the cross...
MATTHEWS: You and I know this. On all issues, they do not reflect Middle East...
RUBIN: And particularly on Israel, actually.
MATTHEWS: Yes, they not reflect the average -- they`re not speaking for Chuck Schumer.
MATTHEWS: Or anybody else.
RUBIN: Or anybody else in that...
MATTHEWS: Or Pelosi or anybody else, any of the leadership.
So, that game.
And this has become a game. This is the instrumental use of anti-Semitism, that he uses it as a way to make the other side look bad, to provoke dissension within the Democratic alliance.
And, by the way, remember how concerned Liz Cheney was and Kevin McCarthy was about the Squad`s views on Israel? We haven`t heard boo out of them. So I think those people are the last people we want to hear from about anti-Semitism in the future.
But, as you correctly say, this is about politics. This is about creating dissension within the Democratic Party. This is about unifying the Republican base, particularly the evangelical base, as if to say, well, only anti-Semites are Democrats, only bad people are Democrats. Therefore, we have got to stick together. We know what`s best for Israel, which, of course, is the most condescending, anti-Israel thing you can say.
Doesn`t Israel get to decide on its own? Do they need a phone call from the president of the United States to decide who they`re going to let in and who they`re going to let out?
And, frankly, it`s...
MATTHEWS: OK. I want to answer the question, which is the way you said it.
Ever since I have covered politics in the early `50s, the Republican Party has always found somebody ethnic from somewhere that they can turn into the bad guy, somebody a little bit bizarre, a little different than the average American, somebody from Palestinian territories, somebody from Sudan, somewhere from that.
And they will say, oh, that`s the Democrats, whether it`s Mario, what`s his name from -- what`s his name from Brooklyn, the guy who was a communist member way back in the `40s.
MATTHEWS: Or it`s anybody.
MATTHEWS: And they always -- Tip O`Neill, Bobby Kennedy, Teddy Kennedy. And they say, OK, that`s the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: And that`s how they carry the middle.
And unfortunately for them, fortunately for the rest of the country, it has very limited value. They did that with Nancy Pelosi, and women voted Democratic overwhelming.
MATTHEWS: I know, but she`s no lefty, not by that standard.
RUBIN: Right. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Jennifer Rubin, it`s great to have you on.
Up next: As the search for a credible Republican challenger to Trump continues, Republican, one former governor is heading to New Hampshire next month, a popular governor, the one from -- well, you know who he is, from Ohio, Kasich. He`s going to take a look at things, he says.
That`s coming up next. You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump -- actually Republicans, Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford, Bill Weld, John Kasich and Jeff Flake have more than their party affiliation in common, because according to "Washington Post", they`re all either thinking about challenging President Trump for the Republican presidential nomination next year or in Weld`s case, they`re already running.
Walsh, the former Tea Party congressman from Illinois, tells "The Washington Post" he is thinking of running now, describing Trump as a bully and he`s a coward. Somebody has to punch him in the face every single day.
I guess he wants to do it.
The White House dismisses these Republicans as feckless challengers embarking on a quixotic mission that ends up nowhere.
But with a string of recent polls showing President Trump`s weakness against some Democratic challengers, these guys see a chance to at least make a statement next year.
According to "The Post," the anti-Trump movement inside the Republican Party, long a political wasteland, is feeling new urgency to mount a credible opposition to Trump before it`s too late.
And they`re getting some help from people who know the president. Just yesterday, Anthony Scaramucci announced he would create a super PAC with a goal to dismantle Trump by running advertisements attacking him.
Here`s the former White House communications director discussing what he hopes to accomplish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS: He also knows that the, you know, look at the end of the day, you know, you know, I can grab ahold of 5, 6, 8 percent of the people that know he`s nuts and possibly move them. And so, that`s what we`ll be working on over the next 15 months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The Mooch talks like a regular person at least.
Amid growing concern of the economy, President Trump is going to need all the help he can get. Well, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, voters would pin an economic recession on Trump and 49 percent of his own base would name him at least partially responsible for an economic downturn.
That`s not the only bad news for President Trump in that poll. Two of the Democrats he likes to mock are leading him in head-to-head matchups. That`s next.
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
More than half the presidential contenders were in Iowa, there they are, speaking to union members at the Iowa labor convention. According to the new Morning Consult poll, former Vice President Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are right now on head-to-head matchups with the president and doing quite well. Biden up by 7. Sanders up by 5. Both ahead of the president. Every other Democrat is either tied with the president or trails them in this poll. But they are all close.
For more, I`m joined by Juanita Tolliver, campaign director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Shermichael Singleton, a Republican political consultant.
You first, Shermichael, your side of the fence here. I wonder if anybody is going to win any primaries against Trump on the Republican side. Anybody you see getting in there. Whether Sanford or it`s Bill Weld or actually anybody, John Kasich is going into New Hampshire. What`s up?
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I think maybe not. I think Scaramucci made a very good point. I mean, if you can suppress at least 5, 6, to 7 percent of the Republican vote.
MATTHEWS: Suppress in general?
SINGLETON: Suppress by going toward another individual. One of the Kasich or someone else, you certainly would decrease Trump`s odds significantly.
MATTHEWS: How would losing numbers in the primary affect the generals?
SINGLETON: Well, I mean, Chris, if one of those Republicans run as an independent per say in the general --
MATTHEWS: That`s different. I`m asking you --
SINGLETON: The primaries --
MATTHEWS: The primaries, how they hurt him.
SINGLETON: I mean, in the primary, I don`t think they hurt him because his approval rating is just so high. I think the economy obviously would have to continue to struggle the way we are seeing it now. As you stated, 42 percent of his voters will blame it partial on him. If that happens, then I think in a primary, you could see some dynamics potentially change. If not, I do think that you could see a Republican run as an independent --
JUANITA TOLLIVER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: Hold on, even running as an independent, if a Republican votes for someone other than Trump in a primary I think it`s high likelihood they still wouldn`t want to go back to frump if a general. So shaving offer that 5, 6, 7 percent definitely could be a spoiler. I like a spoiler.
MATTHEWS: This is not where I wanted it to go. Our producers wants to go. You opened up an interesting question here. You know, there is one big guy out there that can make noise and get into in the debates.
SINGLETON: You are talking Bloomberg?
MATTHEWS: He would get if because he`s got the power and the willingness to spend the money. The theory I hear from smart people, mostly Democrats, if he gets in this race and splits the anti-Trump vote, Trump could win.
TOLLIVER: That`s exactly right. That`s why I think he made the right call back in February when he said I`m hands off on this. I`m staying back.
SINGLETON: Because he will pull more on the Democratic side, right?
TOLLIVER: He will pull more on the Democratic side. That`s not the type of spoiler Democrats need versus a Scaramucci spoiler.
MATTHEWS: Say the emperor has no clothes, having an incredible Republican like Weld, going around the country, getting on shows like this, and saying there`s something wrong with this guy. There`s something tainted about, there`s something Faustian about it. There`s something about dealing with the devil if we put this guy back in, does that hurt him in the general? Just a word against him?
SINGLETON: I mean, I don`t think so, because I think people`s opinion of this guy is so fomented, I think people think he`s a horrible person.
MATTHEWS: Twenty-nine percent say they will vote for him. I saw the latest poll, 29 percent are with him to the death.
SINGLETON: I know Bill Weld, he`s great guy. But you need a Republican like a Kasich, someone who has run before who has been able to build somewhat of a coalition in key states that could hurt Trump. We talked about the slim margins Trump won in 2016. If you get a credible Republican who`s been on those places, to shave away those numbers again --
TOLLIVER: But the argument against Kasich is he has been on those places and performing extremely poorly in `16.
SINGLETON: Right. But, Juanita, remember, Trump in some states, 10,000 votes, 44 -- we`re not talking about significant margins here. Those are very slim --
MATTHEWS: Which is good, but meanwhile, the president is answering questions for almost an hour tonight on the South Lawn. Tell me what you think about this sanity question, how he`s performing. Watch this performance by the president today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want guns to be in the hands of people that are mentally stable and those people I want them to easily be able to get a gun.
REPORTER: A hundred people a day die from guns. Do you see that as a public health emergency?
TRUMP: I do, I do. Yes, I do. They die for a lot of other reasons, too. But they do. We have great mental illness. I am the chosen one. I`m wonderful for the USA.
President Obama had separation. I`m the one that brought them together. We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think? What`s his mental state here? Talking about birthrights --
TOLLIVER: Less on the mental state and more on his efforts to be master of deflection. While he`s out there saying that, we`re not talking about what`s happening to coal workers` whose pension is in limbo. We`re not talking about the fact that he wants to expand --
MATTHEWS: You think he does that craziness on purpose?
SINGLETON: Oh, I agree.
MATTHEW: You think he goes out there, cosmic like that on his own.
TOLLIVER: Full intent.
MATTHEWS: I am the chosen one?
TOLLIVER: Full intent.
MATTHEWS: I don`t buy that --
SINGLETON: I think so, because, look, to Anita`s point, look at what we`re talking about. We`re not talking about farmers in Ohio.
MATTHEWS: You think he gets up in the morning and says, I will create a crazy agenda today.
TOLLIVER: No, what he says, I will quote the guy who was on Fox News that said I`m the king of Israel. He starts the day with chaos to deflect from the reality of Americans.
SINGLETON: And he dictates the news cycle all day. And if we look at Trump from the totality since he`s been elected, every time the cycle is moving away that`s negative against him to your point, he will tweet something, he will say something that completely changes the narrative. He is the king of deflection.
That`s a good point, Juanita. And he does it every single time, Chris. And we buy it. We follow it
TOLLIVER: Tell me why you disagree, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Because I think the guy is scared. He gets up in the morning and he realize he could lose the next election to a woman and he sees how good a campaign Elizabeth is running, Elizabeth Warren is running. And he sees the trends in all the numbers. He studies numbers like nobody.
MATTHEWS: And he sees somebody like him as a populist coming at him and he realize he could be by a year and a half from now be humiliated in history. It`s possible. And I think that scares him.
SINGLETON: That`s his own doing, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You agree with me or don`t agree with me?
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Juanita Tolliver. Thank you, Shermichael Singleton.
Up next, Donald Trump`s craziest ideas. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Donald Trump thrives on conspiracy theories. He rides them like a surfer rides waves, crashing towards the shore and racing out to catch the next one.
First came the birther conspiracy, how Barack Obama`s pregnant mother headed over to Kenya to have him over there so she could announce his birth back in Hawaii and get him elected president. It`s the pipe dream of a lunatic.
Then came this crazy charge Ted Cruz`s father helped kill Kennedy. Why not, every nut case has a JFK conspiracy.
Trump keeps coming on -- keeps jumping on wave after wave of loony tune. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Trump comes along and said, birth certificate. He gave a birth certificate. Whether or not that was a real certificate, because a lot of people question it, I certainly question it.
I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.
His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald`s being, you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.
I`m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.
When you look at the people that are registered, dead, illegal in two states and in some cases maybe three states, we have a lot to look into.
No, Russia did not help me get elected.
It is incredible a deep state where they don`t even look at her. Isn`t that incredible?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, thousands cheered as the twin towers came down. Any election result he doesn`t like is part of some big, cosmic fix. How even the dead rise up to vote against him and Russia had nothing to do with 2016. That`s right.
He`s the one who sees the world as it is. He`s the one who sees the monster behind the door. It`s the rest of us who don`t. He`s the sane one. It`s the big, bad world that doesn`t understand. And all the time the really scary stories that the man who believes all of this is sitting in the Oval Office, as he likes to say, calling the shots.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
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