Trump attacks Obama on world stage. TRANSCRIPT: 8/27/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Barbara Boxer; Christine Todd Whitman; Michael Steele, KatieGlueck, Tim Ryan, Drew Armstrong

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST:  As of now, the White House has still to respond to that petition.

That does it for me.  You can catch me every morning on Morning Joe and First Look right here on MNSBC at 5:00 A.M. Eastern.  HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump the cartoon.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

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

President Trump`s latest turn on the world stage showed some unusually erratic behavior by the already unpredictable president.  Starting off seven days of weirdness that began with Trump floating the idea of buying Greenland, and was capped off with his Free Willy news conference from France on Monday that included a full-throated pitch for his Miami golf resort.

Well, The Washington Post reports that for 68 minutes in a seaside auditorium, Trump offered a lens into his unorthodox mind.  That`s nicely put.  A range of false or dubious statements and the myriad ways he has changed the presidency in just 31 months.

Trump bounced from one odd ball claim to another on Iran to North Korea and his trade war with China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  China has taken a very hard hit over the last number of months.

I think they very much want to make a deal, and the longer they wait, the harder it is to put it back.

REPORTER:  Would you agree to me with Mr. Rouhani?

TRUMP:  If the circumstances were correct or right, I would certainly agree to that.

Maybe it works.  Maybe it doesn`t.  I say it all the time about everything.  Maybe it works and made it doesn`t.

The first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un, and I think she would agree with me.  He is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.

I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out.  Now is that based on fact or based on gut?  That`s based on gut.

We`ve had many calls.  Not just one.  This isn`t one.  And these are high level calls, but they want to make a deal.

REPORTER:  So the Chinese are saying there weren`t any particularly special calsl.

TRUMP:  The Chinese are not saying that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, despite the president`s claim, the Chinese government insists it`s unaware of those calls the president mentioned, while Iran`s President Rouhani said, no talks would take place unless U.S. sanctions are lifted.

And the White House had to take back the president`s claim that the first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un and that she had agreed that, quote, he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.  It never happened apparently.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that while the first lady hasn`t met him, the president feels like she has gotten know him too, feels like.

The New York Times reports that his oscillating comments on China caused the most consternation day by day, even hour by hour, his approach to the trade war with China, the most consequential economic conflict on the planet, veered back and forth, leaving much of the world with geopolitical whiplash.

But as Trump waved off concerns he was causing global economic instability yesterday, he suggested uncertainty is just the cost of doing business for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  One of the things that it comes from is the back and forth and the changing of statements from yourself.  So that --

TRUMP:  Sorry, it`s the way I negotiate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And so my question is that a strategy?  Is it a strategy to call President Xi an enemy one day and then say that relations are very good the next day?  And then, you know, it`s gone back to --

TRUMP:  It`s the way I negotiate.  It`s done very well for me over the years and it`s doing even better for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I am what I am.

For more, I`m joined by Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, who also served as EPA administrator, Barbara Boxer, former Democratic senator from California, and Michael Steele, former RNC chair.

I`ve got to go to Barbara, my friend.  Senator, what do you make -- he says I am what I am.  It`s like a scene from La Cage Aux Folles.  I am what I am.  I think that was a big song in that play.  That`s the only Trump defense, get used to me.  Get used to me.

FMR. SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA):  Well, I think what we`re seeing here, and it gives me no pleasure to say this, is narcissism run wild, unchecked.  If your viewers will look at the Mayo Clinic site, they will see these behaviors.

And one of the strongest behaviors is you think you`re the smartest person.  And if anyone stands up to you and even suggests whether you`re a member of the press or his own staff, he will go after you.  You see him going after so many people, including Powell, his own appointee to the Fed.

But what this means is he doesn`t have anyone around him anymore to say no, Mr. President, rethink it.  He`s only got yes, men.  And I say men.  There are a couple of women in there, not too many.  And that is dangerous, dangerous for our country.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it all started, Governor, with this -- sometimes I think Trump is about eight years old.  I mean, he`s had uneven development to say lightly.  And part of his own development is at a fantastic point, I am going to buy Greenland.

Now, some people say, oh, that`s because he understands the earth is getting hotter, and maybe in 20 years when he`s still around that up there in Greenland is going to be like happy hunting ground.  But it seems wild that of all the things going wrong in the world today with the Middle East still crazy, with Afghanistan crazy, with North Korea crazy, with Russia being Russia, he`s talking about buying a new land like he`s Thomas Jefferson or somebody.

FMR. GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (R-NJ):  Well, I think that`s what he would like to be remembered as, having the biggest land purchase since the Louisiana purchase.  I mean, he`s basically unstable, I think.  And this last week has been an incredible sort of example of that because it`s veered back and forth and back and forth.

And while it may have been great for a reality T.V. show to be sort of hide what your intentions are and say one thing one minute and something else the next, that`s not how you conduct yourself as president of the United States of America.

Our allies don`t know that they can trust us.  They don`t trust us anymore.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of him now relying intellectually on his wife?  I mean, I think she is great as a first lady.  But the question is -- he said Melania likes Kim Jong-un.  She likes him.  She`s gotten to know -- she never talked to him.

WHITMAN:  So what?  I mean, with all due respect.

MATTHEWS:  Why is he relying on her all of sudden, intellectually?  It just is --

WHITMAN:  Anything to throw people off, anything to change the subject.  And he wants to focus on him and his family, but he doesn`t want to get into detail, because he can`t get into detail.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the president said the summit was one of tremendous unity, even amid reports of behind-the-scenes tensions over his push to readmit Russia to the group of 7.  The Washington Post reports, the leaders sat down Saturday evening for their first joint meeting but it went off the rails when Trump blasted leaders for not bringing Russia in.  Trump`s message was that it doesn`t really make sense to have that discussion without Putin in the table -- at the table.

Well, today, Trump blasted the media again.  The G7 was a great success, he Tweeted, for the U.S., saying all lame stream media bore no relationship to what actually happened in France.  Fake news.  It was great.

Michael, you`ve been around a long time.  Politically, I just don`t know what to make of the guy.  I mean, he`s like some -- I don`t know what.  It`s an old time pinball machine with the ball bouncing around, lights going off, bells going off.  I mean, he goes to Doral, you got to go to my home resort, you got to get down there, to I want to buy Greenland.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Again, he`s like an eight-year-old.  So I want Greenland, I want you to go to my Doral country club and spend a lot of money down there.  The whole world has got to come.  To China, we`re getting along great, they`re about to break.  I mean, everything, and my wife is friends with the head of North Korea, and none of it is true.

STEELE;  Yes.  I think that reality has sunk in with our allies, particularly members of the G7 who have pretty much adopted the Heisman position when it comes to Donald Trump.  They may sup and dine with him.  But they`re not about doing serious global decision-making.

MATTHEWS:  What`s the Heisman position?  Help me out.

STEELE:  It`s taking the Heisman trophies like in a distance.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, the stiff arm.

STEELE:  Yes, they`re taking the Heisman position with him.

So the idea that they`re going to do --

MATTHEWS:  You`re such a jockophile (ph).  I don`t know all these references.  Go ahead.

STEELE:  They`re proceeding on a separate track from the president.  So, for example, when they`re all having a nice quiet supper together, and, of course, Trump brings up his best pal, Putin, they look at him somewhat like, really, you`re going to go there?  And the whole thing devolves because he`s pushing that particular narrative.

And we have to stop and ask why.  Well, there are two reasons why.  And his son gave us one reason and he gives us the other.  The first is, as his son noted, all of our financing comes through Russia.  And number two, at the end of the day, greater than anything he probably accomplishes as a president, it is landing Trump Tower Moscow.  That is still part of his business strategy and plan.  And this narrative keeps resurfacing no matter how you cut the cloth here.

And the members of the G7 know this.  And so they know when they arrive next Summer, Chris, Putin will be in Washington.  Why?  Because Donald Trump has already told us he will be here.  And he didn`t like the way the Iranian foreign minister surprised him.  So he`ll have a few surprises of his own next year in keeping with that kind of behavior.

MATTHEWS:  Senator, you tell me.  I mean, a friend of mine -- actually, it wasn`t you.  He was another liberal Democratic senator and a Congressman before and told me that when you go into a markup session on Capitol Hill, you can look around the room when you`re figuring out the bill and you can sometimes catch someone who has tanked, as he said.  They`re in the tank.  The industry has gotten a hold of them.  And he is not going to be or she is not going to be reliable as a public servant.

Now, that`s the way Trump behaves when it comes to Russia.

BOXER:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  He acts like he is tanked, like he is in the tank with Russia.  It`s embarrassing.

BOXER:  Well, he acts like he is in the tank with Russia because he is in the tank with Russia.  And the fact of the matter is I agree with Michael`s point.  I mean, he`s got Russia on his mind and for the wrong reasons.  He should have Russia on his mind because Russia wants to hack into our election system and destroy our democracy.

And I hope that`s not an overstatement that that`s what they want to do.  And they wanted to put fears in people`s minds that our system of governance is unstable and that`s what they want to do.  So Trump as president could care less about that.

And, frankly, you know, as they look at this impeachment over in the House, I hate to bring up that word because it`s a mess, as they look at one of the high crimes and misdemeanors, I would have to say it`s doing nothing really about Russia interference.  This whole thing is crazy.

But I would say if you`re in the G7 and you know Trump is coming, it`s kind of like the Thanksgiving dinner where you had last year a crazy aunt or uncle or grandma and grandpa who came in and made everyone feel uncomfortable.  So you just kind of ignore them and you`re sweet and smile.  And I think that`s what they did.  They were smart.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  They treat him like the crazy uncle.

Anyway, one of President Trump`s other misleading statements, this time around is net worth came as he talked of hosting next year`s G7 at his Trump Doral National Golf Course down there in Miami.  He quickly turned that into a full-blown infomercial for his resort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What reassurances, if any, can you give the American people that you are not looking to profit off the presidency?

TRUMP:  Well, I`ll tell you what, I`ve spent, and I think I will, in a combination of loss and opportunity, probably it will cost me anywhere from $3 to $5 billion dollars to be president.

Doral happens to be within Miami.  It`s a city.  It`s a wonderful place.  It`s very important, only five minutes from the airport.  The airport is right next door.

With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings.  We call them bungalows.  The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida and the best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, today, the president defended his resort down at Doral, again, as he called a false rumor about it.  He wrote on Twitter, no bedbugs at Doral.  This is the president of the United States, reminding you.  No bedbugs at Doral.

The radical left Democrats upon hearing that the perfectly located for the G7 Doral National Political (INAUDIBLE) Miami was under consideration for the next G7 spread that false and nasty rumor.  Not nice.  That`s Trump talking.

It was not clear which Democrats exactly the president was talking about, spreading the bedbug story.  But the Miami Herald reported two years ago that Doral settled lawsuit with an insurance executive who claimed he woke up with dozens of bites while staying at the resort.  So that`s a factual news report from two years ago, not Democrats rumor-mongering.

And late today, The Washington Post reported that Attorney General William Barr, on the same front, has booked, that`s a great line, President Trump`s Washington, D.C. hotel for Barr`s personal party this December to the tune of $30,000.  Isn`t that nice?

WHITMAN:  I don`t know how he gets to spend that.  The emoluments clause is out the window.

MATTHEWS:  There is money in the bank if you`re president.

WHITMAN:  No, it`s amazing.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, what do you think of his claim, I lost $3 billion?

WHITMAN:  I think it`s ridiculous.  I mean, he probably did actually over time.  Don`t forget, he`s had five bankruptcies.  So, I mean, over time but not because of his public persona.

He is making money.  The family is making money.  They`ve --

MATTHEWS:  I think the Romanovs did pretty -- I`m sorry, did you have another thought there?

WHITMAN:  You mean you want to hear another thought?

MATTHEWS:  Michael, let me ask you about -- Michael, what is this thing the Romanovs have done pretty well at the public treasury.  They`ve been flying around the world, everywhere.  Jared goes anywhere he wants all on a public dime.  They have lived really well living at the White House, they get all that money and they`re claiming this has been a sacrifice.  Don`t you feel sorry for them?

STEELE:  Well, the problem is that I think in the other era or typical relationship between the congressional legislative branch and the executive branch with this kind of behavior and spending under scrutiny that the Congress would make it very clear that it would have no tolerance for it.  And take the Constitution personally down to the White House and have read to the president what the emoluments clause really means.  But that`s not what the reality is here.

So unless there are consequences for these decisions, again, supported by the attorney general who is hosting his $30,000 Christmas party or holiday party at Trump Hotel, they will continue to behave this way.  And they will continue to pursue their financial pursuits irrespective about what we say about the emoluments clause or whatever the Constitution may or may not mean because who`s going to challenge that?  Who has standing to bring that kind of claim before a court?  And that`s been their -- our problem as a country watching this unfold.

MATTHEWS:  Well, for shamelessness, there is nothing like it.  If there is an emoluments clause, it`s in the Constitution, which there is, and it says you can`t accept gifts, how about this?  Trump says you will give me gifts.  You will spend the money and you will spend it on my golf resort if you`re one of the G7.  So it`s not only accepting gifts, it`s demanding them.

I`d say, Senator, that is an escalation in violation of the Constitution, demanding gifts from foreign leaders, all G7.  Maybe he is asking for some money from Putin, but he wouldn`t do that.

BOXER:  He`ll take money from anybody.  But here is the deal.  He is taking it from taxpayers every day in his Trump Hotel and the rest.  And the reason there has been no court case on the emoluments clause so far is no president, Republican or Democrat, has ever done these kinds of things.  But I will say about the Doral.  If the best you can say there are no bedbugs, I think they have to go somewhere else.

But I want to bring you back.  When you worked for Tip O`Neill, he was a powerful man.  He was the speaker of the House.  He was really something.  And I had the joy of working with him.  If he stood up and said, my wife owns a hotel and I want every agency to go to that hotel, he would be kicked out of the U.S. House of Representatives.  This is bottom line Ethics 101.

And yet this guy stands up there like a snake oil salesman.  And it`s embarrassing and humiliating.  And he doesn`t get it because -- I agree with what Christie Todd Whitman said, Governor.  He is unstable.  He doesn`t get what he is doing.  I don`t think he does.

MATTHEWS:  Senator, it`s great to have you on.

BOXER:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  You have not changed in all these years in any way.  You are fantastic.  No, really.  I don`t know if you`re in the jungle.  Where are you?  I guess you`re in Palm Springs.

BOXER:  The jungle, Palm Springs, anything goes.

MATTHEWS:  It looks great.

You`re going to stick around for a little bit more.  Thank you.  Everybody is sticking around.

Coming up, Trump`s obsession with Barack Obama, watch a bit of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  He was outsmarted by Putin.  He was outsmarted.  President Putin outsmarted President Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We`ll be right back.

No president in memory, by the way, has ever spent so much time and energy trashing his predecessor.  Why is President Trump constantly looking through his rearview mirror and carrying such big grudges?

Plus, that shocking poll showing Joe Biden`s lead disappearing looks to be an outlier.  A new poll out today shows Biden holding on to his commanding lead over the rest of the Democratic field and it`s a much better poll than yesterday.

We`ve got much more on that today.  Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And I say, how does that work?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR":  Why do you keep making the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama...

TRUMP:  Well, he did. 

ALCINDOR:  ... when other countries have said that the reason why Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea?  Why do you 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.

President Obama was, pure and simply, outsmarted.  They took Crimea during his term.  That was not a good thing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump yesterday in his closing G7 news conference placing the blame for Russia`s 2014 annexation of Crimea on his predecessor, blaming Obama, and absolving his friend Vladimir Putin. 

That makes a lot of sense. 

It`s is the latest example of Trump`s obsession with former President Barack Obama.  It seems, no matter what the topic is, this president is always looking into the rear-view mirror.

Take a look at this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  You look at what we have done, and if you look at what we have straightened out, the -- I call it the Obama-Biden mess. 

So President Obama had separation.  I`m the one that brought them together. 

I`m not looking at a tax cut now.  We don`t need it.  We have a strong economy.  Certainly, a payroll tax cut, President Obama did that in order to artificially jack up the economy. 

We want to find out what happened with the last Democrat president.  Let`s look into Obama the way they have looked at me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Previous presidents haven`t always liked each other, of course.  There were tensions between President Hoover -- and there he is -- and FDR, as well as between Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. 

But never have we seen a president so willing to publicly disparage his predecessor like Trump does. 

And back with me is Christie Todd Whitman, Barbara Boxer and Michael Steele. 

Governor, the thing about -- you`re not supposed to like each other politically.  They didn`t talk to each other on those famous inaugural car trips.  But this obsession, it`s like Cain and Abel.  It`s like Cain is complaining because God loved the offering of Abel too much. 

It`s like people liked the legacy of Obama, and that really bothers him. 

WHITMAN:  I think you`re right.  I think that is what he is.

He is so afraid that Obama is going to look better in history books than he will, which I think is going to happen without a doubt, that everything that they have done in this administration has been, if Obama was near it, it`s gone, good, bad or indifferent.

I mean, you know perfectly well, in administrations, you look at what the previous administration did.  If you think it can fit in with what you want to accomplish, you massage it a little bit, you change it a little bit, and claim it as your own.  You don`t just do away with things without at least looking at them first:  Were they good for the country or not? 

Not with this administration.  If Obama did it, gone.

MATTHEWS:  Michael, it`s -- first of all, that comment, I know -- come on, racist, but that weird thing about Yamiche Alcindor.  "I know he is a friend of yours."

STEELE:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  An African-American reporter, who is one of the top reporters around:  I know he is a friend of yours or you like him. 

What a little cheap shot that was. 

STEELE:  Well, it -- but it`s typical Trump. 

Again, when he has been challenged, he makes it personal.  When you challenge him on the facts and try to elicit a legitimate answer that he doesn`t want to answer, it becomes a personal response or retort by him. 

So, yes, she said, well, here are the facts.  And his response was, well, I know you like Obama. 

So that somehow delegitimizes the question.  It makes it less serious and makes it more political.  That`s the space he operates in. 

But I think, to Governor Christie`s -- Todd Whitman`s point is, that`s the nub of this.  The relationship between him and Obama goes back to the White House Correspondents dinner. 

MATTHEWS:  Here it comes.  You`re cuing it up, Michael. 

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE:  It goes right back there, baby.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  And I want Senator Boxer -- I`m giving you the sugarplum, Senator. 

Here it is. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  President Trump`s obsession with Obama does go back to before he was president. 

Donald Trump was one of the leading promoters of the birther conspiracy, which led to this moment at the 2011 White House Correspondents Association Dinner:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. 

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  And that`s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing?

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  What really happened in Roswell? 

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  And where are Biggie and Tupac? 

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  Say what you will about Mr. Trump.  He certainly would bring some change to the White House.  Let`s see what we got up there. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Senator, that opened the sore, the wound for this guy.  He is -- I don`t think he`s over gotten that moment of ignominy. 

BOXER:  Well, too bad for him. 

(LAUGHTER)

BOXER:  I mean, have you ever gotten roasted, Chris?  I have gotten roasted more times at more political dinners, and I have gotten -- people still tweet the worst things about me. 

You know what?  Suck it up.  That`s life.  He cannot take anybody criticizing him.  And he does have an obsession with President Obama. 

And let me tell you why, because he is envious of President Obama.  And President Obama kind of leaves him alone.  But President Obama is very, very admired, not only in this country, but around the world. 

So he goes after -- and what`s really -- him.  But what`s really sad about it, he goes after him on important things like Obamacare, like this deal with Iran that made us safer, the climate change deal Barack Obama did, and it goes on and on. 

So it`s not just it`s a personal affront and a personal obsession, but he is going to try and destroy anything Obama tried to do that was good.  And that`s sad, again, for the country. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there anything rational here, besides the ego?  I wonder, Governor, if he is worried -- this may be too much of a reach. 

Is he worried that, when the election comes next November, people think, do we like this or what we had before?  And we like the -- I think most people would say now we like what we had before, not that there was anything perfect about Obama, but it was at least normal. 

WHITMAN:  It was normal and sane. 

But -- and I think, if he looks at the polls, yes, he is very concerned about what is going to happen in this election. 

But you have to remember, he has been governing just for his base.  He hasn`t been president of all of the United States.  He`s been the president of the minority that put him in office.  And that`s all he cares about.  And they hated Obama.  They believed the birther stuff.  He is playing to them.  That`s where his strength is, because they will turn out and vote. 

And so it`s going to be very interesting to see.  This is a seminal election, and it`s going to be very interesting to see whether the rest of the country recognizes that and says, it`s our obligation. 

MATTHEWS:  Well said. 

I never understood the Obama hatred.  I didn`t get it.  Maybe it`s racial.  I don`t get it.  I never understood it.  I thought he was a great president.

Thank you, Governor Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey, the Garden State. 

Senator Barbara Boxer, as always, you look the same and are the same, and you`re great.  Thank you. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I don`t mind paying tribute to my heroes. 

BOXER:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

Michael Steele, as always, sir, you`re a gentlemen. 

STEELE:  All right, sir.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, are we -- and the president is not. 

Are we seeing a shakeup at the top of the Democratic primary field, or is it a recent poll, actually showing a virtual three-way race, actually an outlier?  I say outlier.  Wait until you see the real numbers for the bigger poll just out. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden`s front-runner status was questioned yesterday after a Monmouth poll showed him one point behind Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  See those numbers?  A little scary for Biden. 

But that poll, which only surveyed less than 300 registered voters -- less than 300 people were asked -- appears clearly to be an outlier. 

In a new Morning Consult poll out today which surveyed over 17,000 registered voters -- notice people always say, nobody polls me.  Well, a lot of people were polled there.  Biden holds a commanding lead, 13 points ahead of Bernie Sanders, 18 ahead of Elizabeth Warren.  So, that`s sort of where he has been all this time. 

Morning Consult`s poll has been fairly steady week to week, by the way, with Biden gaining two points from the previous week, and Sanders and Warren staying about the same.  That seems to be the steady-as-it-goes poll. 

In contrast, yesterday`s Monmouth poll showed a dramatic shift from its previous poll. 

RealClearPolitics, by the way, which gives you an average of all the polls, shows Biden at 28 -- that includes, by the way, the other poll, the outlier poll -- and Sanders about 18, Warren about 16. 

Interesting numbers. 

I`m joined by Katie Glueck, political reporter for "The New York Times." 

Katie, thank you.  And you`re on with a big role tonight.  Teach me. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let`s start with the polling.  They have been pretty consistent, Biden ahead. 

Why?  What`s his strength? 

KATIE GLUECK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  So, part of it, of course, is driven by name I.D. 

This is the former vice president of the United States.  He has been on the international stage, on the national stage a long time.  Certainly, he is bolstered by that. 

Then, a lot of other voters with whom I have spoken point to this idea of electability.  They`re thinking ahead to the general election.  They`re thinking about who in their mind could...

MATTHEWS:  And they hate Trump? 

GLUECK:  Their number one priority is to defeat Donald Trump. 

And it`s very interesting.  You hear all kinds of voters who are sort of in pundit mode themselves, gaming out who they think would be best positioned to win a general election.  And you do hear from some of those voters talking about why, in their view, Biden would be well-positioned. 

And there`s other voters who have a genuine soft spot for him.  He`s someone that they have respected and admired for quite some time. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the fact that a lot of polls show that any Democrat, almost the top three or four, could beat Trump hurts Biden, that you could go hard left and still win, you could still win with Sanders?

GLUECK:  Well, certainly, it`s important to note that. 

A lot of political strategists say, at this point in the campaign, it is far too early to actually tell who could beat Donald Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup in November of 2020. 

However, the Biden campaign has really been seizing on a number of these polls that suggest that he is better positioned.  That was actually featured in his first campaign ad of the cycle released last week in Iowa. 

So they`re really leaning in hard on this electability argument.  And so far, a number of polls have spoken to that.  But the problem is, if he does start to slip in the polls, especially in some of these hypothetical matchups, then that argument faces a little bit of a bigger challenge. 

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

"The New York Times"` Jonathan Martin reports that Elizabeth Warren has been reassuring party insiders that, while her liberal agenda may be further left than some in the Democratic establishment would prefer, she is a team player who is seeking to lead the party, not stage a hostile takeover of it. 

At the same time, she is working diligently to protect her left flank.  Warren`s been drawing huge crowds in the campaign trail with -- look at this -- with her campaign claiming at least 15,000 people were out there for her in Seattle over the weekend. 

  That`s Trump style, Trump size.

Anyway, late today Trump tweeted: "They do stories so big on Elizabeth Pocahontas Warren`s crowd sizes, adding many more people than are actually there.  And yet my crowds, which are far bigger, get no coverage at all.  Fake news."

Anyway, he`s desperately -- he`s envious. 

GLUECK:  He is someone who has paid quite a bit of attention to Elizabeth Warren for months and months and perhaps years. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Does he recognize her political strength?

GLUECK:  Well, certainly, he has been tweeting about her. 

And I think that no doubt that she is someone who is drawing really big crowds right now.  And certainly that is something that breaks through to Donald Trump. 

What has been interesting is to see how she has made some of these overtures to more centrist Democrats, who have some questions about whether she is best positioned to take on Donald Trump in a general election. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s a great -- I think she`s dynamite, but I do think it`s going to be amazing if she can keep the hard left.

She beats Bernie on the hard left, very liberal, very left.  And then she`s also trying to appeal to the establishment, saying, I will share my data with the DNC.  I will build up the DNC.  I will give my data to the state parties, all this sort of smart transactional stuff. 

Anyway, Former Vice President Biden today put out a very personal campaign ad.  Let`s watch a bit. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My son Beau was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only months to live. 

I can`t fathom what would have happened if the insurance companies had said for the last six months of his life, you`re on your own. 

The fact of the matter is, health care is personal to me.  Obamacare is personal to me.  When I see the president try to tear it down and others propose to replace it and start over, that`s personal to me too. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  People tell me, in my experience, back it up.  Biden`s not that great on a stage.  He is not -- for whatever reason, not good in these debates.

But off the stage -- this, I do know -- he is a great schmoozer. 

Have you been able to report that or see that? 

GLUECK:  Well, no doubt, on the stage, on camera, in front of big groups, this is someone who will be the first to tell you that he has a history of being gaffe-prone. 

We, of course, him stumble significantly in that first presidential debate earlier this summer.  But, at the same time, one on one, the voters who would wait in line to take a moment to shake hands with him and hug him, take pictures with him, often, they do come away saying that they felt that they had a real personal connection with him. 

And that`s especially true for voters who can relate to his stories of personal tragedy and family grief and loss. 

MATTHEWS:  I have been to the funeral for his mom and the funeral for his son. 

You should see the crowds, and you should see the amount of time at a human level he spends with each person, each person in these long lines.  It`s all real. 

GLUECK:  He does that on the campaign trail.

MATTHEWS:  So, in terms of authenticity, he might pull this thing out. 

Anyway, Katie Glueck, thank you.  Please come back again with "The New York Times."

GLUECK:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Still ahead:  A landmark ruling holds a health care company, Johnson & Johnson, in fact, accountable for pushing doctors to prescribe opioids, while downplaying the risks that those pills will cause people to become addicts, contributing to the devastating opiate crisis gripping America. 

This is a hot story, and it is about politics. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The opioid epidemic has plunged the country into a public health crisis with devastating consequences.  We all know this.  According to the CDC, more than 130 people die every day in the U.S. after overdosing on opioids. 

This crisis has been 30 years in the making, and since the 1990s, back then, pharmaceutical companies have engaged in aggressive marketing campaigns, peddling their opioid pain relievers to health care providers, and misrepresenting the actual risks of addiction.  Those companies were abetted by distributors who flooded American cities and towns with those pills. 

And now, a court has ruled pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, you can`t be any bigger than them, helped fuel the opioid epidemic out in Oklahoma, ordering the company to pay more than $570 million. 

Well, the judge accused the company of running a false and dangerous sales campaign, acting in concert with others in a major campaign in which they used branded and unbranded marketing to disseminate the messages that pain was undertreated, and there was a low risk of abuse and a low danger of prescribing those opiates. 

Well, here is the Oklahoma Attorney General shortly after that ruling. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUNTER, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Today, Judge Bachmann has affirmed our position that Johnson & Johnson, motivated by greed and avarice, is responsible for the opioid epidemic in our state.  Johnson & Johnson will finally be held accountable for thousands of deaths and addiction caused by their activities. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Johnson & Johnson says it`s going to appeal the case.  Its first time a trial court has held a drugmaker accountable for the country`s opioid crisis.  And a ruling sets a powerful precedent for thousands of other cases, obviously, all across our country. 

Presidential candidate Tim Ryan from Ohio, a state with the second highest rate of drug overdose deaths, joins me next. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, the landmark Johnson & Johnson trial sets a precedent for plaintiffs in roughly 1,500 other opiate-related lawsuits which have been consolidated now and will be one federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio.  Those cases argue that a variety of companies from manufacturers to distributors are liable for the cost of the opioid epidemic in the country. 

The White House Council of Economic Advisers released an estimate in 2017 that pegged the cost of the crisis at over $500 billion. 

For more, I`m joined by Tim Ryan.  He`s Democratic Congressman from Ohio running for president. 

Drew Armstrong, he`s going to talk first, he`s with Bloomberg.  He`s the healthcare reporter.

Thank you so much, and congratulations being on top of this story. 

What was it that won the case?  What was the guilty behavior by Johnson & Johnson, the huge drug producer/manufacturer that was wrong under the law what?  What did they do wrong? 

DREW ARMSTRONG, BLOOMBERG NEWS HEALTH CARE REPORTER:  So, the whole theory around this was essentially they created what is a public nuisance.  Essentially, they had helped market these drugs, push them out there, had downplayed their risk, and basically, helped create the opiate epidemic in Oklahoma, which as we all know at this point also led them to a wave of heroin addiction, a wave of synthetic opiate addiction, you know, 400,000 deaths around the U.S. since -- from 1999, to 2017.

It basically says you don`t have to be directly reliable for your pill killed this person or created an addiction.  Basically you helped create a big, wide fuzzy problem. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You`re Dr. Smith, you`re Dr. McGee, and you prescribe some pill.  Did that doctor, was he misled by Johnson & Johnson as to the -- what that -- the effect of the pill and what it would do in terms of addiction? 

ARMSTRONG:  Yes, that`s the argument that the judge seems to have accepted, essentially that they went around downplaying the risk of addiction here and that they marketed these things much less dangerous than they were and you had all of these folks who were on these drugs, and they didn`t look out for things like pill mills, all these stuff that we`ve now --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What`s a pill mill? 

ARMSTRONG:  That`s when you basically have a doctor`s office.  They take cash pay.  Their only job is to see you for 90 seconds, two your $200, write your prescription for as many opiates you can get away with, and you walk out the door. 

You got people lined out the doors, passed out in the waiting room --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who are these people?  Are they doctors? 

ARMSTRONG:  They`re still busing (ph) them today.

MATTHEWS:  Are they doctors?

ARMSTRONG:  Yes, no, these are -- you have to have a medical license to prescribe this stuff and they take them pretty seriously.  But you still have these things out there. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to the Congressman.

The political impact of this and working families, what is it?  What`s the power?  What`s it doing to families? 

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, the statistics are I think $45 billion in costs to businesses across the United States.  When you see in Ohio, we lose about 5,000 people a year here in Ohio.  What does that do to the businesses?  What does that do to productivity?  What does that do to increased -- with increased health care costs? 

It`s absolutely devastating.  It ripples through the community, too, Chris.  I was at school a few months back where in an elementary school, they literally lost six or seven parents in like a six-month span at that school.  And that`s the level of devastation that`s happening on the ground. 

And I think it`s -- a lot of it is tied to the economy too.  Of course, it`s chronic pain, but it`s also in these areas that are domestically depressed too, which is why all of these are really interconnected.  All of these reasons are interconnected. 

MATTHEWS:  Are they taking these drugs to soften the pain of bad lives generally? 

RYAN:  Well, I -- you know what?  I think if you`re making, you know, 40 or 50 bucks an hour and you have a boat and a little cottage and your life is going good and you`ve got grandkids, and you throw your back out, you know, you get yourself together as quickly as you can to get back to work.  But if you`re making 12 bucks an hour and you were making 40 bucks an hour, now you`re making 12, and you throw your back out, and all of the sudden, you`re taking some pills that make you feel a lot better, it`s -- I think it does open the door. 

And I think you can see that statistically as to what regions in the country are really being hit hard.  A lot of them are really linked to the economic crisis that is happening in the country as well. 

MATTHEWS:  You`re great.  I think that`s America talking right now. 

Drew, last question to you.  This -- the finding that Johnson & Johnson that we all grew up with is guilty in this case by the judge`s judgment, is this -- could this have been in every -- because Johnson & Johnson, do they do anything different in Oklahoma than they do everywhere else? 

ARMSTRONG:  Yes, these cases are all very, very similar.  They`re going to look at the same sets of evidence.  The reason we`ve got this -- you know, 2,000 cases have been consolidated up in Ohio is because everyone said, hey, we`re all dealing with the same set of facts here. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ARMSTRONG:  We want to make this more efficient.  There are a couple of places that decided not to join like Oklahoma.  I mean, this is also a battle for who gets this money.

MATTHEWS:  What about CVS, the big drugstore chain? 

ARMSTRONG:  They`ve been leading some of these complaints.  Well, everybody who had a hand on these pills at some point, either from their manufacturer down to their distribution, a lot of those folks are part of this --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You buy cigarettes which cost a lot of money, over 10 bucks with all the taxes.  Doesn`t it warn you?  Do people get warnings on these opiates? 

ARMSTRONG:  They do.  We warn doctors about this stuff.  But, you know, you have pharmaceutical companies that downplayed all these risks. 

When they pushed them for things like saying, hey, you need this stuff for less and less severe pain.  I mean, a lot of this came around by them pushing for things that you weren`t -- it wasn`t like you just came out of surgery and you were in unbearable pain after being cut open.  I mean, we`re talking minor stuff that they pushed some of this for. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, today, NBC News report the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, have offered to pay $10 billion to $12 billion to settle their role in the case in Cleveland. 

NBC reached out to Purdue by the way.  In a statement, they said they were prepared to vigorously defend against the litigation, but added: The people and communities affected by the opiate crisis believe they need help now.  Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward and the company is actively working with the state`s attorney general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome. 

Congressman, where do we go from here?  Because you`re out there and you`ve been great on this.  But your state has been hit hard.  You`ve been speaking for it. 

Are we going get any power from the government to get the people to pay for the costs that they have caused and to stop doing what they`re doing? 

RYAN:  Yes, I hope so.  And I hope it ends up like the tobacco lawsuits where our states get billions of dollars, and we can reinvest that back into the communities for, you know, prevention.  Law enforcement has taken it on the chin.  They`re really burned out because they`re saving somebody sometimes once or twice a night, the same person who overdoses again. 

So, law enforcement is taking a hit on this.  Our schools are taking a hit on this.  Our economy is taking a hit on this. 

And so, we need treatment.  You know, we got to extend treatment for this.  In many states, you only get 30 days` treatment.  That`s not nearly enough. 

And so, law enforcement says we know you`re going see the same person back in 30 days.  So we need to extend treatment to 60, 90, 120 days, so we`re really getting people healthy.  We can use that money to start healing this crisis in the United States and it`s going to be essential. 

And hopefully, punish these companies enough where this doesn`t happen anymore.  I mean, because this is -- this is ridiculous that this has happened in the United States, and these companies get away with murder, literally for how long now?  Decades.  And we`re left holding the bag. 

And the families are devastated and crushed because it`s made its way into every community in the United States, whether you`re wealthy or poor or middle class, everyone has been touched by this. 

MATTHEWS:  I`m glad you`re in this race for president.  Congressman Ryan, thank you for speaking out. 

RYAN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Drew, great reporting.  Great work by that judge. 

Up next, Brazil`s president shows the ugly side as the Amazon rainforest burns.  Who does he remind you of? 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Ever wonder what Donald Trump looks like from the viewpoint of other countries?  All you have to do for that is look at the mini Trump down there in Brazil. 

Yesterday, France`s President Emmanuel Macron said that the G7 would give Brazil $20 million to fight the Amazon rainforest fire.  Brazil`s president, Bolsonaro, took that as an insult.  He took the whole G7 discussion of the Amazon as an insult. 

Bolsonaro initially responded in a tweet that he wouldn`t accept the money, saying that the Group of Seven leaders were treating Brazil as if it was a colony. 

But then, "The Washington Post" reported that Bolsonaro said he would accept the aid on one condition, if Macron apologized for criticizing his handling of the fire. 

And tonight, Bolsonaro changed his mind again.  The Brazilian government now says it welcomes all foreign aid from organizations or countries as long as it could decide how to use the assistance. 

Well, the feud between the two leaders began last week.  It only got worse over the weekend.  Macron threatened last week to block a free trade agreement between the European Union and South America, saying Bolsonaro had lied to him about his commitment to the environment.  And over the weekend, Bolsonaro mocked, catch this, the appearance of Macron`s wife. 

What`s clear from all of this is that Bolsonaro thinks what happens to the rainforest is up to him.  He can burn it if he wants to.  Back in the `60s, we in the United States had a name for such leaders as Bolsonaro.  Unfortunately for them, it was the name of an animal.  You recognize them from the sound they make.  Oink, oink. 

If all of this, from the piggy`s disdain fro climate change to the personal piggish-ness toward another leader`s wife sounds grossly familiar, it`s because it is grossly familiar. 

Remember back in 2016 when Donald Trump retweeted an image of Ted Cruz`s wife Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump?  Think about your reaction to Brazil`s Bolsonaro and all its foreseen ugliness.  And then imagine the leader of the world`s greatest country behaving just this way. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. 

 

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