Bill de Blasio plays hardball. TRANSCRIPT: 8/26/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Michael McFaul, Bret Stephens, Christopher Dickey, Danielle Moodie-Mills, Bill de Blasio

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT:  We were both born in Brooklyn, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST:  Ginsburg will be returning to the bench in October for the next Supreme Court Session.

That does it for me.  You can catch me every morning on "FIRST LOOK" right here on MNSBC at 5:00 a.m. Eastern.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Mission for Moscow.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in New York.

President Trump is on his way back to Washington tonight after acting as Russia`s ambassador to the democratic nations and as business promoter of his Florida golf resort.  Before heading home, Trump tried to put a rosy spin on the three days of G7 talks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  This is a truly successful G7.  There was tremendous unity.  There was great unity.

If there was any word for this particular meeting of seven very important countries, it was unity.  I think most important of all, we got along great.  We got along great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Nice try.  But The New York Times reports any signs of unity were largely for show.  Quote, behind the scenes at the annual gathering of some of the world`s leading powers, President Trump still found himself at odds with his counterparts on Sunday over issues like trade, climate change, North Korea, Russia and Iran.

At today`s news conference, the president continued to push for Russia to be added back into the group after being exiled from the G7 after it annexed Crimea back in 2014.

Well, after conducting what he himself called a lively discussion about his desire to welcome back Russia at a group dinner on Saturday, today, the president appeared to act as an agent again for Moscow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR:  Why do you think it`s appropriate to invite Russia to the G7 given that they`ve meddled in the 2016 election?  And are you worried that if Russia does come to the G7 that it might hurt you politically because it`s only going to be a couple of months before the 2020 election?

TRUMP:  A lot of bad things happened with President Putin and President Obama.  He was outsmarted by Putin.  He was outsmarted.  President Putin outsmarted President Obama.  Wait a minute.

And I can understand how President Obama would feel.  He wasn`t happy.  And they`re not in for that reason.

I think it would be better to have Russia inside the tent than outside the tent.

I do nothing for politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, next year`s G7 will be hosted by the United States and the president has already floated the possibility that it will take place at his own golf club down in Miami but wouldn`t rule out the possibility of inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin himself to join the group.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  As the G7 host next year, you`re allowed to invite other countries to come, guest countries even though they`re not necessarily part of the overall group.  Would you consider inviting Vladimir Putin under those circumstances?

TRUMP:  Well, I don`t know that he`d accept.  Those are tough circumstances.  Would I invite him?  I would certainly invite him.  Whether or not he could come psychologically, I think that`s a tough thing for him to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Yamiche Alcindor, you saw her there, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, who`s traveling with the president in France, Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Bret Stephens, Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times, Christopher Dickey is World News Editor for The Daily Beast.  What a group.  Thank you.

Yamiche, that question you put to him I think is serious, and I -- he -- doesn`t he understand that it looks like a continuing pattern of his agency for Russia?  That the whole question of the scandal involving Russia getting involved with our elections in 2016, his role in playing footsie with him, if you will, and then he continues to play the role of Russian friend as if the dossier was in technicolor and he`s afraid they`re going to drop it tomorrow.  He`s shameless.  Your thoughts?

ALCINDOR:  Well, opponents of the president would say that there is something obviously weird going on with him Russia.  His opponents would say that he obviously has some sort of affinity for Russia.  Maybe he`s even feeling pressured by his business connections with Russia.

Of course, the president himself would say that he really is interested in having Russia be part of the table because so many people are talking about Russia.  So many people are talking about annexing Russia.

When I pressed him and said why do you keep changing and why do you keep doubling down on the idea that Obama was outsmarted when every other country in the world has said that it`s because Russia annexed Crimea why they were kicked out of the G7.  He wouldn`t -- he really wouldn`t play on that question.  He wouldn`t answer that question.  Instead he went back to what opponents say is his nervous tick, which is to blame President Obama for all sorts of stuff.  In this case, he`s blaming Obama for the G7, he`s blaming him for immigration, he`s blaming him for not being tough on China.

But there, his opponents would say, something weird going on with President Trump and Russia in this case.

MATTHEWS:  Ambassador McFaul, your thoughts on what the Russians must think at the highest levels at this American president operating as their agent.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA:  Well, they`re delighted by it, of course, because it divides the G7.  And it divides the G7 at a time when we could actually really use unity, on things like the global economy, on how to deal with China.  And instead we`re having ridiculous -- I want to emphasize that adjective, ridiculous discussions about inviting Vladimir Putin back to the G8.

You know, I`m not -- I didn`t write Art of the Deal but I did do some diplomacy.  I don`t understand why President Trump continues to offer something for nothing.  Why is that a good deal for the American people?  Let`s let him come back in for nothing.  He has to do nothing.  Obviously, nobody else is going to agree with him and I really cannot understand why the president continues to double and triple down on this courtship, this fawning of Vladimir Putin.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you`re a columnist.  You`re entitled to speculate, sir, right?  It really looks like he wants to keep Putin happy.

BRET STEPHENS, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  No.  I mean, that`s definitely the appearance and it`s against political interests, which makes it that much more curious.

But, you know, I think what Ambassador McFaul is so important to emphasize.  I mean, by all means, let`s invite Russia back to the G8 after they`ve withdrawn from Crimea, after they`ve stopped waging war in Eastern Ukraine, after they`ve accounted for an act of terrorism which brought down a Malaysian Airliner, after they`ve dealt with the acts of nuclear terrorism against dissident Russian figures in Great Britain, and most of all, after we`ve had a full reckoning with them about their attempts to undermine democratic elections in the United States.  That`s exactly the kind of deal by which you could imagine Russia coming back into a new sort of G7 plus one or G8.

But, you know, there is also --

>> there could be another thing MATTHEWS:  There`s could be another.  You`re talking geopolitically and what a fair deal would be state to state.  About Trump, personally, I wonder, why is he doing it personally?  He`s not doing it in the interest of the United States, which is what you`d be discussing.  Those trade matters would be important for him if he was a statesman.  But he`s not a statesman.  He`s Donald Trump.

STEPHENS:  And this is -- look, however you feel about the outcome of the Mueller report, one thing that is absolutely clear is that Donald Trump gave his adversaries every reason to have good suspicions about ulterior motives when it came to his thinking about Russia because some of -- some of his positions simply are nonsensical unless there is some motive that none of us fully understand.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Yamiche mentioned right there at the French, she also pushed the president today on why he continued to blame former President Barack Obama for Russia`s exclusion from the G7 and offered his own revisionist history about Russia`s annexation of Crimea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALCINDOR:  Why did you make the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama --

TRUMP:  Well, he did.

ALCINDOR:  -- when other countries have said that the reason that Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea?  Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie?

TRUMP:  It was annexed during president -- I know you like President Obama, but it was annexed during President Obama`s term.

That was not a good thing.  It could have been stopped.  It could have been stopped with the right -- whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Christopher, I have never seen a more ridiculous blame shifting.  You take a country that annex it, grabs another country, grabs Crimea out of Ukraine, and he blames Obama.  Talk about blaming the victim.  He`s blaming Obama because he didn`t send the troops in?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, WORLD NEWS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST:  Yes, because he didn`t want to go to war with a nuclear power to try and save Crimea.  Yes, exactly.  And what`s his answer?  He could have done whatever.  Oh, come on.  I mean, it`s absolutely absurd.

But I think coming back to the question of inviting Russia back to the G8, it was invited in the first place in the 1990s not because it deserved to be a member.  It wasn`t one of the most eight most industrialized economies.  It was a fledgling democracy that the G7 wanted to encourage to become more democratic.

Well, since Vladimir Putin has been president or ruler of Russia, it hasn`t been a fledgling democracy, and it`s done all of those things that Bret rattled off in a laundry list of Russian crimes.

So since it shouldn`t have been in in the first place and since it was brought in to do something or be something that it`s not, why even begin to talk about bringing it back in now?  And even Putin knows it`s ridiculous.  That`s why when he`s been asked about it, he says he thinks the G20 is a more suitable place for him to be.  And the G20 basically accounts for 80 percent of the world`s domestic product, whereas the G7 or G8 only accounts for about 40 percent.

MATTHEWS:  That was well said.  Thank you, because I do remember Yeltsin who was moving that country.  He stood up against the tanks in `91, he stood up to the Red Army personally, at personal physical risk and changed history over there.  And Putin brought it back the other direction.

DICKEY:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  As I mentioned earlier, the president suggested he may host next year`s G7 Summit, somebody`s laughing already, at his Trump National Dural Golf Resort near Miami, despite concerns it would violate the constitution`s emoluments clause prohibiting officers of the U.S. government from accepting a thing of value from a foreign state, in this case, he wants it from seven -- well, seven -- yes, seven countries, including Russia, he wants to give them a break.

Anyway, the foreign emoluments clause clearly states no person -- it`s in the Constitution.  No person holding any office of profit or trust under the United States shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any president emolument -- any present -- present rather, like presence, emolument office or title of any kind, whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state.

Well, today, the president downplayed ethical concerns, he would profit off the event and turned today`s news into an infomercial for his profit.  Here he is like a pitchman on the Atlantic City boardwalk selling Vegematics, in this case his Dural Country Club.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Dural happens to be within Miami.  It`s a city.  It`s a wonderful place.  It`s very importantly only five minutes from the airport.  The airport`s right next door.

With Dural, we have a series of magnificent buildings.  We call them bungalows.  They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views.

We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants and we have many hundreds of acres so that in terms of parking, in terms of all of the things that you need.

The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida and the best.

Each country can have their own villa or their own bungalow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I don`t know what to say except, Ambassador, he wants -- this is a trade show.  This is the marketing director for Dural in the guise of a U.S. president and world leader.

MCFAUL:  Since when do we need ballrooms for G7 Summits?

I have a suggestion.  There is this place called Camp David.  I don`t know if the president`s heard of it.  He`s been there a few times.  It`s a government property, fantastic security.  President Obama hosted the G8 summit there in 2012.  I think that`s a fantastic alternative.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I was wondering, Bret, this is rich for a column.  So I`m going to let you columnize here.  The president of the United States blatantly pitching for his own property in the face of the emoluments clause, I want your money.

STEPHENS:  Right.  I mean, look, this is -- they made bad B movies in the 1980s about dictators in distant countries behaving --

MATTHEWS:  Right.

STEPHENS:  -- in the fashion that you just witnessed with the president.  But, you know, look, it also says something important, which is that the president has never stopped being essentially a grifter, looking out for the interests of the most important organization in the United States, which is not the White House, not the U.S. -- not the federal government, it`s the Trump organization.

DICKEY:  The Trump family.

STEPHENS:  Which is, of course, the Trump family.

And so in that sense, you really have -- excuse me.  I`m almost insulting third-world countries, but the third-worldization of America, in which the interest -- the personal financial interests of the president and his family are the central consideration in statecraft.  That`s amazing.

And, you know, you`re watching this and you`re thinking, what combination of drugs did I take this morning that I actually saw that on T.V.?

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s go to Yamiche who is a student of this president.

ALCINDOR:  If I could just --

MATTHEWS:  I just wonder if you could, Yamiche, tell us if you have, as a reporter, analytical question, not exactly reporting, but analysis here, is there something going on with this guy?  I mean, Greenland, Dural?  It`s like he`s become -- he`s metamorphosized into the cartoon of Donald Trump in a couple of weeks now.  Do you notice anything different or is this standard M.O.?

ALCINDOR:  Well, the president from the moment he took office was really saying that he was going to be a businessman, that the country needed that.  And now what he`s exhibiting is really an interest in his personal business and interest making money in some ways people would say off of the presidency.

Now, I`ve been talking to watchdog groups, including the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.  They`re looking at possibly having a lawsuit against President Trump because they think that there might be an ethical violation there.

You also hear the president saying that he was going to lose between $3 and $5 billion from being president.  And instead what we know is that from analysis from The Washington Post and others, he`s made millions of dollars first by actually physically going to his properties on several weekends in New Jersey and in Florida, and also the Trump National Hotel in Washington, D.C., a lot of international leaders and Republican lawmakers have held fundraisers there.  So we see that the president has already been making millions of dollars off of the presidency.

And I think what we`ve seen in the last couple of weeks, people would say and some of his opponents would say are, the president really trying to maximize the profits he`s been making off of the presidency.

MATTHEWS:  I don`t know what to say.  I mean, we`ve had great presidents.  We`ve had strings of great presidents.  We had FDR and Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy all in a row, and then we get this guy.

Anyway, Yamiche Alcindor, Ambassador Mike McFaul, Bret Stephens, Christopher Dickey, thank you.

Coming up, it gets worse, dirt ball politics.  Wait until you catch this.  Trump allies are out unleashing dogs on journalists now pointing at an oppo research and compiling dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts all in an attempt to try to discredit, intimidate, whatever, reporters.  He wants the media to stop reporting on him objectively.  So they`re going after people`s families, people who work for them in their organizations, anything to stop people from reporting on him.

Plus, bombshell new poll numbers tonight show a major swing in the Democratic race for president.  The poll shows a virtual three-way tie right now.  It could be an outlier but it`s fascinating, except for Joe Biden because Biden in big trouble here.  He`s now slipping behind the two progressives on the left, behind Bernie, behind Elizabeth.

We`ll get much more on that tonight, a lot of news tonight on this Monday.  Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  As you know, I have a running war with the media.  They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.

A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are.  They are the enemy of the people.

You know, you read the fake news.  It`s fake and disgraceful.

Just stick with us.  Don`t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.

And just remember, what you`re seeing and what you are reading is not what`s happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What he says is happening is happening.  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump has made no secret about his disdain for the news media, or his fear, rather, frequently labeling them the enemy of the people for his purposes.

Well, this weekend, we learned that President Trump`s allies are now escalating his war on journalists.  According to The New York Times, a loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists. 

Those operatives have already released information about journalists at CNN, "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times." 

And one source tells "The Times" that operatives have closely examined more than a decade`s worth of public posts and statements by journalists.  The research is said to extend to members of journalists` families who are active in politics, as well as liberal activists and other political opponents of the president.

Arthur Schwartz, an informal adviser to the president`s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is believed to be one of the operation`s leaders.  In a note to "The New York Times"` staff, publisher A.G. Sulzberger writes: "Unable to challenge the accuracy of our reporting, political operatives have been scouring social media and other sources to find any possibly embarrassing information on anyone associated with `The Times.`  Their goal is to silence critics and undermine the public`s faith in independent journalism.  This represents an escalation of an ongoing campaign against free press."

That`s the publisher of "The Times" talking.

  For more, I`m joined by Jeremy Peters, reporter and co-author of that piece in "The New York Times," and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones." 

Thank you so much.

Congratulations, Jeremy.  This is an amazing bit of reporting.

How did you get to this story about this guy Schwartz and what they have been up to in terms of intimidating reporters -- or trying to do -- by uncovering facts about people that aren`t that important in news organizations in terms of editorial content, or family members, or people when they were 15 years old?

How are they hurting people`s ability to honestly report? 

JEREMY PETERS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, one of the things that struck us initially was looking at who was the target of these exposes, Chris. 

And when we noticed that they were lower-level people, people that often didn`t have anything to do with coverage of Trump or his administration, that made us realize that this is probably a pretty sophisticated effort, an effort that goes back and has looked at years and years, and hundreds, potentially, maybe even thousands of people. 

And what our reporting led us to was the answer that, yes, that`s indeed what`s happened.  This is a coordinated effort by President Trump`s allies, people with close ties to President Trump`s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who are not seeking to hold newspapers to account, but who are seeking to intimidate and embarrass journalists who do work that is exposing things that the Trump administration is doing, that they disagree with, that they think is unflattering. 

And that`s what`s so different about what this effort really is.  It`s not an effort to say, we want to hold media accountable.  It`s an effort to intimidate.  And what they have done is, they have cast a dragnet here.  This is not specific going after individual reporters who have written stories, saying, we take issue with this person or this story.

This is saying, we are seeking to discredit your entire organization by finding as many people as we can inside your organization who may have tweeted something 10, 15 years ago that is reprehensible, but we are going to use it to tarnish you all. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, my friend, David, this is exactly what Joe McCarthy did.  He didn`t find any significant communists. 

What he did find was a dentist in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, who had been a member of the Communist Party, a dentist.  That was his job in the Army, to be a dentist.  And he found that this guy was an old lefty, was a member of the party.  And he used that to make the case that the United States Army had been infiltrated by the reds. 

And that was the whole thing about him and the Army in McCarthy hearings.  It was all about that dentist.  This sounds like the same tactic. 

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, it is. 

Well, I think -- I`m jealous of the story.  And congratulations to Jeremy and Ken Vogel, who did it. 

And, you know, if someone has a problem with "The New York Times," CNN, "Mother Jones," MSNBC, the way to deal with it is to say, here are the facts that are different than what you report and challenge them on that basis. 

That`s not what`s being done here.  This is an intimidation campaign.  We`re going after families.  And it`s, in some ways, not entirely new, in that the right, going back to Richard Nixon`s enemies list, to Jesse Helms going after Dan Rather and CBS, has long looked at the media -- as needing to discredit the media in order to preserve political power. 

And this is what we see now with Donald Trump.  He`s calling, you know, the media not just the enemy of the people, but he says:  I`m asked about at the G7 why people in the media hate America. 

So he`s already turning us, all of us collectively, into the enemy here, not Vladimir Putin.  He`s not the enemy.  The media is. 

So this is going to lead to -- you know, we have talked about this before - - to, I think, some real dangerous turn of events.  I don`t want to be hyperbolic here, but what`s happening with this Arthur Schwartz campaign is in synch with what the president is doing. 

And it`s what authoritarians always do, discredit possible critics. 

  MATTHEWS:  As David just said, President Trump continued his assault on the media this weekend, tweeting the question: "I was asked most today" -- this is supposed to be an honest statement -- "by fellow world leaders," the other G7 guys -- "who think the U.S. is doing so well and is stronger than ever before, happens to be" -- this is Trump reporting here.

"Mr. President, why does the American media hate your country so much?  Why are they rooting for it to fail?"

That`s supposedly -- that`s Trump`s idea of reporting news.

And while he provided no evidence to support his claims, Trump said in a follow-up tweet: "In France, we are all laughing at knowingly inaccurate the U.S. reporting of the events conversations of the G7 is.  These leaders and many others are getting a major case study of fake news at its finest." 

So, Jeremy, that`s, I think, an example if Donald Trump were our reporter, right?  He`s telling us what he said happening over there, as if they`re all coming up to him and feeling sorry for him, and in that -- because the media is out to get him. 

Your thoughts? 

PETERS:  Right. 

Well, his version of events is often not reality, Chris.  We all know that.  And what the president is ultimately doing, what this effort by allies of the president that we uncovered is attempting to do is to discredit legitimate news reporting. 

And legitimate news reporting, unfortunately sometimes for people in power, reveals things that are unflattering about our leaders.  And President Trump has shown that he has been unable to handle that type of criticism, has been unable to withstand that type of scrutiny, and won`t be held accountable. 

And what he does is try to shame and intimidate and defame the people who end up trying to hold him accountable. 

MATTHEWS:  David, have you seen any examples of this working, the chilling effect, the fear of somebody in your family did something wrong and they will throw it in the face of the reporter or the organization, or going after somebody, what they wrote when they were 15, like this Egyptian guy in the story that Jeremy reported? 

Do you think that -- does that work anywhere?  Have you seen it? 

CORN:  I haven`t seen it, and I hope it doesn`t work. 

Right now, the targets of this campaign, as Jeremy noted, have been what you would call maybe mid-level staffers, peoples whose names aren`t known. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CORN:  If they start taking up people with more notoriety, perhaps it will. 

But this is a Roy Cohn move.  If you can`t win on the facts, try to insult, bully and intimidate.  And right now, it`s not working, and I hope it doesn`t. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, thank you. 

I wish they were the only people that have done this.  I have seen stuff like this, something like this done in politics in recent American history.  I didn`t like it then.  I hate it more now. 

Thank you, Jeremy Peters.  Thank you, David Corn.

Up next:  A second Republican challenges Trump for the Republican nomination next year.  This one`s got his own history of force -- of course, of conspiracies and incendiary remarks to contend with, as he tries to call the president out on his inappropriate behavior. 

This is an interesting guy.  This is not exactly this clean-as-a-whistle character coming into this race. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)    MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

President Trump`s facing another challenger for the 2020 Republican nomination.  This weekend, conservative radio host and former Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh announced his candidacy, arguing that Trump is unfit to hold office, and that he, Joe Walsh, can help defeat him. 

Walsh called out the president`s offensive comments.  But Walsh himself has a long, unfortunate history of obnoxious comments, having engaged himself in the birther conspiracy and demonizing Muslims. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE WALSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There is a radical strain of Islam in this country -- it`s not just over there -- trying to kill Americans every week. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  In fact, Walsh referred to former President Obama as a Muslim on multiple occasions. 

And as recently as the summer of 2017, Walsh tweeted this comment about Senator Kamala Harris -- quote -- "Senator Harris said something really dumb.  If you`re black and a woman, you can say dumb things.  Lowered bar."

That`s Walsh taking. 

Walsh says he`s sorry for his past comments and his role in getting Trump elected and says now he`s a changed man. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH:  And I have just got to own that stuff, apologize for that stuff, Mika.

And to compare it to Trump again, correct me if I`m wrong, this man`s never apologized for anything. 

So here I am in front of you this morning, yes, raising my hands.  I helped put Trump in the White House.  I`m ashamed of that.  This election is a referendum on him, the man.  He`s unqualified.  He`s unfit.  He`s a child.  He`s reckless.  He`s erratic.  He`s a narcissist.  He`s mean.  He`s cruel.  He lies every time he opens his mouth. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the road to Damascus is very crowded these days. 

While President Trump faces another primary challenge, a new poll could be pointing to a significant shakeup over on the Democratic side, big shakeup among the Democrats. 

And that`s coming up next.  Stick with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Heading into the first presidential debate in June, former Vice President Joe Biden had a big lead in the national polls.  We all know that. 

According to the Monmouth University poll, in fact, Biden was at 32 percent in June, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 15, well down, Bernie at 14 and Kamala Harris at 8. 

Well, now after two debates and a lot of shuffling, it`s a virtual three- way tie tonight.  In the new Monmouth poll out tonight, Senators Warren and Sanders are tied at 20, followed by -- key word -- followed by Vice President Biden, who is at 19.  So they`re all together there. 

Biden has lost 13 points in two months.  It appears that most of that support he lost shifted over to Warren and Sanders.  You look at the math, they picked up the arithmetic. 

Senator Kamala Harris, a mystery to me, has stayed exactly at 8, despite her very impressive performances, 8, 8, 8.  She doesn`t change. 

We`re going to have to wait and see if the poll is an outlier.  All polls can be different.  There`s a margin of error of 5.7, a big margin of error.  But it could be a sign of a significant shift away from Biden.

For more, I`m joined now by an expert, Steve Kornacki, MSNBC national political correspondent, Danielle Moodie-Mills, SiriusXM host. 

I`m watching it.  I love XM.  But I like "`60s on 6."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But, anyway, I want your thoughts for -- no, your thought first. 

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, SIRIUSXM:  OK. 

MATTHEWS:  What`s going on with Biden? 

MOODIE-MILLS:  I think that Biden is doing what he has done in the past two times that he has run for president.  He comes in very strong.  He has hard name recognition.  People are very excited by him. 

In this particular election, he is the security blanket.  He`s the nostalgia candidate.  He reminds us of a forgotten time, eight years ago.  He reminds us of eight years of President Obama, eight years of a new Camelot.

And I think that what is happening is that, as the candidate -- as people are getting closer and closer to understanding who he is, differentiating him from the field, we`re asking ourselves, what is his policy initiatives? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  What are his great big ideas?  And we are unsure of what those are. 

MATTHEWS:  And what`s he communicating? 

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  You know what? 

MATTHEWS:  What does Biden say to people? 

KORNACKI:  I think it`s what they receive from him, because when you look inside the numbers here, what jumps out at me the most is a massive -- I mean in a way I don`t -- can`t remember seeing before -- generational divide on this thing. 

MATTHEWS:  You said today -- I was watching you all day -- you said people over 50...

KORNACKI:  Fifty, yes.

This is basically half the Democratic Party is over 50 years old. 

MATTHEWS:  Is over 50.

KORNACKI:  Half is under 50.  So, use that as a dividing line.  Over 50, Biden is running away with this. 

MATTHEWS:  Are they more politically moderate, or more cautious, or more aware of what happened in the past with people like McGovern?  Are they -- do they have a memory of disaster when the party goes too left? 

KORNACKI:  Yes, my sense of it is, it`s about caution.  It`s about -- it`s a strategic sort of thing. 

I sense that`s what it is.  The electability argument is going to play with 50-plus more than it`s going to play with 18 to 49.  He`s at 6 percent with Democratic voters under 50 years old in this poll. 

MATTHEWS:  I think we have one here.  In fact, you are, too. 

But let me ask you this.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Here`s a -- I think he`s running...

MOODIE-MILLS:  I think that that`s problematic. 

MATTHEWS:  I like the guy.  I mean, I`m a moderate, so I`m -- moderate left. 

I think he`s been running as the designated driver.  I can get you home tonight.  I`m being -- I`m literal.  What is a designated driver?  Somebody who drives safely, gets you home.  They don`t take you somewhere. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  They take you home. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  Designated drivers are important.  Security blankets are security for a reason. 

I think that this particular election needs more than that.  I think it needs vibrancy.  I think it needs passion.  I think it needs focus. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is the best bet to beat Trump? 

MOODIE-MILLS:  Anyone.  Any...

MATTHEWS:  No, come on.  Who is the best bet?

MOODIE-MILLS:  Come on, Chris.  Anybody in the top five, they tell us, 7 percentage points...

(CROSSTALK)

MOODIE-MILLS:  ... Trump.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, everybody has an equal chance?  Everybody has an equal chance? 

MOODIE-MILLS:  Everybody has an equal chance. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  There are some that, right now, 435 days away, have a little bit better. 

Biden is one of those people that has a little bit of better of a chance.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about what happened to Kamala, because Kamala, seems to me, good on television.  She comes across well.  She`s sparking with life. 

There is nothing deadhead about her.  She`s smart as hell and she`s aggressive.  Why isn`t she working? 

KORNACKI:  So, you`ve got this Monmouth poll, you can go beginning to summer and end of summer.  It looks like she hasn`t moved.  But some pollsters who tracked it sort of regularly through the summer did see big movement towards her after that first Democratic debate. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, because she blew him away.  Biden was on the floor. 

KORNACKI:  But after that second debate, it started to go the other way. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, because Tulsi Gabbard went after her from the left. 

KORNACKI:  Right.  So, in almost like she that in one moment there with Biden.  And I think you saw something about Kamala Harris, she is a prosecutor.  She is prepared. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

KORNACKI:  She came to deliver the moment and she delivered it.  When she was caught off guard maybe in that second debate, it played differently with voters. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, as it stands now, there`s ten candidates who qualified for the third debate, which is in two weeks down in Houston, which means we`ll see Biden, Sanders and Warren all probably put together in the middle of the stage.  We know how they stage these things for the first time. 

How is that going to look?  How is that going to work with the three of them like bunched? 

MOODIE-MILLS:  I think for the first time voters are really going to pay attention because they`re going to see everybody on stage together, they`re going to see how they play together.  And, frankly, Biden two debates down, he has not been doing well.  He`s not showed up.

MATTHEWS:  What`s his problem? 

MOODIE-MILLS:  He has not shown up.  I think he`s unprepared.  Why does Biden, every time he`s asked a question, why doesn`t he follow through?  Why does he cut himself off, right?  A debate is an opportunity for you to show your message. 

MATTHEWS:  To exploit.  He doesn`t exploit the moment. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  He stops himself.  He says, oh, I`m out of time. 

MATTHEWS:  He did it the first time. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  He did it twice.  Before the moderators say to you, you know what, you`re out of time or the light comes up on his stand, he stops himself.  He needs to run through the tape like it`s a race because it is and he hasn`t done that yet. 

MATTHEWS:  I think he memorizes since the first debate.  I think message rise material shows.  When the moderator says you`re out of time he just stops.  Whereas if you had a point -- when Kamala has a point, she keeps talking. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  Uh-huh.

KORNACKI:  But the contrast.  When you think back, why was Joe Biden vice president in the first place?  Why did Barack Obama turn to him in 2008?  One of the reasons, you remember those Democratic debates in 2007, 2008, Biden stole the show at half of them.  He was impressive on that stage.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

KORNACKI:  And the Obama campaign saw something in that.  The guy -- the question to me is, is this a politician who`s got -- is he in prevent defense.  Is he there to avoid giving up the big play?  Or is there something else going on? 

MATTHEWS:  Do you mean like the speaker of the house is doing on impeachment?

No, it`s a great question because I think Biden -- Biden actually worked for the white working class guy.  He was -- as I always say, he put the apostrophe in Obama.  He made him one of the boys.  He wasn`t aloof intellectual like Obama.  You know what I mean?

I`m not sure voters want that kind of character as their standard bearer. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  The reality is that I think that, again, Joe Biden shows himself to be a security blanket.  He shows himself to be --

MATTHEWS:  That`s so negative. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  It isn`t negative.  Everybody loves a security blanket, right?  It`s part of --

MATTHEWS:  When you`re 1 year old you do. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  No, many people wrap themselves in that and they move forward with it.  But the idea is this, that he`s not offering anything that is a spark. 

MATTHEWS:  I agree. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  That is different than Donald Trump.  He is -- he is offering the other side of the coin, which is problematic to me. 

He is still talking to the white working class, right, in a way that they are the only people that we need to be getting a vote from, and I`m saying to myself, why?  Why are they the only ones that you`re going after?  Why are they the ones that you`re offering a nostalgia case to?  Why not offer something big and bold like Warren and Bernie Sanders. 

MATTHEWS:  Because he`s nostalgic.  I think it reflects. 

Let`s talk about Republicans.  John Kasich, everybody, all the buzz, we talk to people, is the one candidate who could challenge Trump for his base. 

KORNACKI:  I don`t --

MATTHEWS:  He`s not running yet. 

KORNACKI:  I don`t see it.  It the Trump`s approval rating with Republicans is 88 percent.  If you look at the past presidents who have gotten any kind of primary challenge, they`ve not been at that level. 

Jimmy Carter with Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter was under 50 percent with Democrats. 

MATTHEWS:  He still beat him, though.  I was there. 

KORNACKI:  Sure, sure.  I`m just saying to even get into trouble in the first place. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

KORNACKI:  George H.W. Bush was at 73 percent and falling fast with Republicans when Buchanan got in -- 88 percent, not a lot of room for a challenger. 

MATTHEWS:  You were hitting on something.  I`m the history guy around here.  So I remember 1979, Roger Mudd, one of the greatest reporters ever in television, asked Ted Kennedy, a very attractive candidate, why do you want to be president?  He didn`t have the answer.  And that`s the Biden question. 

MOODIE-MILLS:  That is the Biden question, and I think that he wants to be president because he thinks that he`s electable.  I think he wants to be president for the same reason that Dr. Jill Biden came out and said sometimes you got to swallow a pill. 

MATTHEWS:  Did she say that? 

MOODIE-MILLS:  She said it and I didn`t understand why, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  No, she`s a better surrogate.

Thank you very much.  You`re so tough but so smart.  Thank you, Danielle Moodie-Mills, and thank you, Steve Kornacki.  I love this sort of chat.  I love you at the board, too.  I love this chat. 

Up next, the once crowded field of 2020 Democratic candidates is slowly narrowing.  It`s like an Agatha Christie play.  He`s own to about ten.  The third debate lineup now set.  Is there still a path forward for those who didn`t make the top ten or the cut, I should say. 

We`re going to talk to one of the guys who didn`t make the cut who still has a voice. 

More HARDBALL after this. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It appears that only ten candidates have qualified for the third presidential debate, which means the others running for the Democratic nomination won`t be appearing on America`s TV screens that big night in two weeks. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who joins me is one of those candidates who won`t be on the debates. 

You know, I thought you fought way above your weight in a couple of debates.  I mean, you weren`t doing well in the polls, but you looked really good out there.  You didn`t wait to be called on which was -- you`re laughing. 

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, as a New Yorker, you don`t wait to be called on. 

MATTHEWS:  You were jumping ahead of somebody in the cab line.  How are you going to win now when you can`t get on that stage? 

DE BLASIO:  The debate`s just one piece of it.  I mean, you know, look what you just saw in that poll.  One candidate great in the debate, went up, went right back down.  The debate`s one piece of the puzzle. 

MATTHEWS:  Kamala, yes. 

DE BLASIO:  Right.  People are not voting for most of six months.  There`s a whole lot to play out here.  And in the age of social media you can go from someone like me still not that well-known to totally well-known in a matter of days in the right circumstance.

So, there`s a lot to play out.  But, look, the previous discussion, I want to reference this.  This campaign has to be about the Democrats putting forward a candidate who will derive passion from people.  We saw in 2016 our own people didn`t vote. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you look at the 15,000 people out for Elizabeth Warren in Seattle yesterday. 

DE BLASIO:  And that`s a good thing. 

MATTHEWS:  That`s passion. 

DE BLASIO:  But I`ll tell you something, in 2016, our own folks didn`t come out to vote.  Those younger voters you were referring to earlier, they didn`t come out to vote.  A lot of people of color didn`t come out to vote.  A lot of progressives didn`t come out to vote. 

We need a nominee who can excite the Democratic base --

MATTHEWS:  OK, the way we did that -- not we -- the way Democrats did that in `08 was have an African-American candidate who can win. 

DE BLASIO:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  That got them people of color out.  Nothing else.  That did. 

DE BLASIO:  And a vision, the vision of hope. 

But I`m telling you right now, what we learned from the 2016 election which, remember, is post-great recession.  We can`t forget this.  The great recession changed our politics fundamentally.  We`re still figuring it out right now.  Donald Trump won on the strength of the great recession.  Donald Trump appealed to all those voters who felt their lives were stuck economically. 

He said, I`m going to rock the boat, I`m going to change the system.  Our candidate, unfortunately, was not a believable change agent.  We need a change agent this time.  I`m running because I`ve made change in New York and I`m running because I believe a candidate who comes forward and says we`re not accepting the status quo in America -- 

MATTHEWS:  OK, give me your preview.  If you jumped the line again and jumped Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and you`re at the top of that and you win the nomination, and you`re sitting right here next to Trump. 

DE BLASIO:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  I`ll play Trump. 

DE BLASIO:  OK. 

MATTHEWS:  Get the hell out of here. 

DE BLASIO:  And I`d say you lied to the working people of this country.  You gave away the store to the wealthy, to the corporations, to Wall Street, biggest tax giveaway in a generation, to the 1 percent and you told working people you`d be with them but you stabbed them in the back. 

And Donald Trump has a glass jaw. 

MATTHEWS:  And I`ll say, what, do you read "The New York Times"? 

DE BLASIO:  Yes, right.  Seriously, Donald Trump has a glass jaw.  When you confront him --

MATTHEWS:  Have you ever seen anybody knock him out. 

I watched -- Hillary was just sort of the gentle person there.  She wasn`t ready for this Godzilla number from behind.  You`re taller than him. 

DE BLASIO:  Taller than him.

MATTHEWS:  He can`t loom behind you. 

DE BLASIO:  And --

MATTHEWS:  But it seems like nobody, when I tried to run -- remember Marco Rubio tried to talk dirty with him, talked trash with him, he looked like an idiot. 

DE BLASIO:  Yes, first of all, if you`re going to confront him, you have to have it in your heart and soul.  Can`t be staged. 

And second of all, Hillary, with all due respect to her, talked about his character.  That`s not how you win.  You talk about what he`s doing to people. 

Look, there are so many people in this country that actually put some faith in him, he might be willing to rock the boat and do something for them.  He didn`t.  He lied to them. 

And he will not have an answer for that.  And, right now, folks are watching this economy crumble.  You talk to farmers out in Iowa, the tariffs are killing their markets.  You talk to folks who are worried about a recession. 

The bloom`s off the rose right now. 

MATTHEWS:  I hope not.  I hope not. 

DE BLASIO:  I hope it doesn`t happen either, but I`m telling you I think he`s incredibly vulnerable. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we just -- I watched one of the earlier programs at 6:00, we had Kirsten Gillibrand on.  She made a pitch, please send a dollar. 

What`s your pitch?  Go ahead. 

DE BLASIO:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Make your pitch.  You`re in the debate but, go ahead.

DE BLASIO:  I`m not in the debate yet, but I`ll tell you this, we need the most progressive voices we can get on that stage.  I`m standing up for working people.  I`m standing up for labor unions.  I`m standing up for universal health care and calling out the fact that the Democratic Party, if we don`t make clear that we`re on the side of working people, we`re going to lose again in 2016.  The more progressive voices, the better. 

I`m asking folks to go to billdeblasio.com.  Please give at least one dollar.  And when you hear more progressive voices, it helps push this party in the right direction. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you ask people to give you money if you can`t get on the debate. 

DE BLASIO:  I got in two debates.  This one doesn`t look like I`m going to be in.  But October is the same exact standards and we have a month more to get the support. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

DE BLASIO:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Good to have you on.  Thank you.

Up next, on Trump`s euro trip, he showed us the difference between being a business person and a true public servant.  Don`t you think?  Out shilling for his hotel.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Want to know what the difference is between a public servant and a business person? 

Watch how Donald Trump behaved this weekend in France.  A public servant would have been interested in the world and its future.  A business person would be interested in profits for his own resort down in Florida. 

President Trump skipped the session on climate with other world leaders.  There is an empty chair there, his.  White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president, quote, had scheduled meetings and bilateral so a senior member of the administration attended his in stead.

But Trump did make time to make a pitch for the next G7 meeting to be held at his Doral golf course.  Want to know what this president`s interested in?  All you have to do is listen to him.  If he cares, he says so.  If he doesn`t, he doesn`t even show up. 

We already knew Trump wasn`t interested in climate discussion.  "The New York Times" reported on Friday that French officials conceded there is no hope that Mr. Trump joins the group in expressing his concern about climate change, despite news that fires in the Amazon rainforest could accelerate the planet`s environmental crisis. 

The president struggled to avoid questions on climate change throughout the weekend, and here he is declining to engage in any serious discussion on climate with a reporter. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Mr. President, what are you thoughts on the working section on climate? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I do think we made big progress with respect to Iran in terms with unity of the G7.  There has been great unity.  Really, it`s been flawless in that sense.  We had a lot of fake news saying, oh, there`s no unity, there`s no unity.  It`s like total unity. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Ignored the question.  Here he is again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  I know in the past you`ve harbored some skepticism of the science in climate change.  What do you think the world should be doing about climate change and do you still harbor that skepticism? 

TRUMP:  In a nutshell, I want the cleanest water on earth.  I want the cleanest air on earth.  And that`s what we`re doing.  And I`m an environmentalist.  A lot of people don`t understand that.  I have done more environmental impact statements probably than anybody that`s -- I guess I can say definitely because I`ve done many, many, many of them, more than anybody that`s ever been president or vice president or anything even close to president. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Skipped it again.  Trump has long suggested the scientists studying climate change have a political agenda. 

Here he is on "60 Minutes" last October. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTES:  Yes, but what about the scientists who say it`s worse than ever? 

TRUMP:  You`d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley. 

STAHL:  I can`t bring them in. 

TRUMP:  Scientists also have a political agenda. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it`s clear that Trump`s agenda is, it`s getting his Doral resort packed by the next G7. 

Again, want to know the difference between a public servant and a true business person?  Watch Donald Trump in action. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. 

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END