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SOTU address TRANSCRIPT: 2/5/20, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews

Guests: Peter Baker, Tina Smith, Jason Crow, Susan Page, Joe Walsh


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Thanks for joining us on THE BEAT on quite a night. We will be back tomorrow 6:00 Eastern, as always. I`m Ari Melber signing off. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Proceed, Governor. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Proceed, Governor. That was Barack Obama`s taunt at Mitt Romney in their 2012 presidential debate and today Mitt Romney proceeded into history. In a profile in courage, Utah Senator Mitt Romney became the first and only U.S. senator in American history to vote in favor of removing the president of his own party. Romney condemned president`s decision to solicit dirt from Ukraine on potential political opponent in exchange for American aide.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  The president`s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

Corrupting an election to keep one`s self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one`s oath of office that I can imagine.


MATTHEWS:  At one point, the senator who cited his religious faith was overcome with emotion.


ROMNEY:  As a senator juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being asked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.


MATTHEWS:  Aides to President Trump told The Wall Street Journal that the White House, quote, had been predicting that all Republican senators would vote to acquit the president and was caught off guard by Mr. Romney`s announcement.

Romney`s decision came hours before the Republican-controlled Senate delivered an acquittal on both articles of impeachment.


CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT:  The Senate having tried Donald John Trump, president of the United States, upon two articles of impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives and two- thirds of the senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein, it is therefore ordered and judged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby acquitted of the charges in said articles.


MATTHEWS:  Despite hoping to claim a bipartisan acquittal, there were no defections by the Democratic senators. In closing, Senator Romney said he was happy to let history judge his vote.


ROMNEY:  I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong.


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Senator Tina Smith, Democrat from Minnesota, and Peter Baker, New York Times Chief White House Correspondent.

I want to go to Peter first, because you have to write the big story tomorrow for The Times. Is this the last hurrah of the dying group of independent Republicans?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, it certainly feels like the Mitt Romney, George Bush era of Republicans is signaling its last gasp with that vote today. This is a party right now that, with that exception, is very firmly behind President Trump, very firmly in his command. Some Republicans would say it`s out of loyalty, out of devotion, out of actually believing in the things he`s doing. Others would say it`s an understanding that he commands the base that they all need in order to win their own re-election.

The polls this week show that the president`s approval rating among Republicans is north of 90 percent. That`s a daunting number if you`re a Republican office holder who wants to have another election while the president is on the ballot this fall.

But what Mitt Romney showed is that that`s not going to decided his vote. And I think that`s a pretty rare thing in Washington these days.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Smith, you`re new to the Senate but there had been a great tradition in the Senate for years of two wings to the Republican Party, one being certainly more moderate than the other and being more independent. What do you make of this vote by Senator Romney today for conviction and removal from office?

SEN. TINA SMITH (D-MN):  Well, Hi, Chris. It`s great to be with you. And I was in my office and had the television on mute. I turned it up when I saw Mitt come on. And I have to admit, it`s been a rough couple of weeks and I didn`t have high hopes. But when I heard him explain with such elegance and simplicity his ethical decision, I had tears came to my eyes. It was -- it gave me some hope in what has been a pretty dark couple of weeks.

You can see him being willing to buck the fear that I think has been so dominant in the way that Trump has ruled the Senate. And I loved that he did it with such humility.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Senator, this is what Jack Kennedy`s brook Profiles in Courage, is all about. It`s the senator who stands up against his or her own party or her own party. How difficult is that to do? Can you imagine what it`s like for Romney right now, the hatred he`s probably getting from the president`s family, if not anyone else?

SMITH:  Well, he is being exposed to all sorts of hatred and vitriol. And I saw just a moment ago that there is some sort of a negative hit attack ad on Romney already coming out against him. And this is what I think people hate about politics, this kind of take no prisoners, be with me or be, you know, out of my sight that people just really hate. And here`s Mitt Romney, who was the head of the Republican Party only in 2012, who`s already been disinvited from CPAC meetings. I mean, it`s a recipe for a smaller and smaller party, I think.

MATTHEWS:  Well, in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News today, Senator Romney recognized the significance of his decision today. Here he is.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST:  You talked about the consequences. Do you realize this is war? Donald Trump will never forgive you for this.

ROMNEY:  There`s a hymn that is a sign in my church. It`s an old protestant hymn, which is do what is right, let the consequence follow. I know in my heart that I`m doing what`s right. I understand there`s going to be enormous consequence. And I don`t have a choice in that regard. That`s why I haven`t been anxious to be in the position I`m in.


MATTHEWS:  Well, almost immediately after announcing his decision, Romney came under heavy fire from a slew of Trump`s proxies. President Trump`s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted Mitt Romney is forever bitter and he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then and so he`s joining them now. He`s now officially a member of the resistance and should be expelled from the GOP.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the RNC and Romney`s niece tweeted, this is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last. The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong, and the Republican Party is united more than ever behind him. I, along with the GOP, stand with President Trump.

Peter this is an amazing assessment but it seems to me that there is an element of this that may carry a consequence. The old line in the old story of the one who yelled from the crowd, the emperor has no clothes. Is there a chance here that the willingness of one senator from Utah to say the president has no clothes will start something big?

BAKER:  Well, it`s possible. Obviously, anything is possible. We`ve been three years into this presidency and from time-to-time, you`ve heard, you know, a Republican stand up and say, wait a second the emperor has no clothes, as you put it, Jeff Flake with Bob Corker, even people who used to work for the president himself, John Kelly, his former chief of staff, in recent days has spoken out pretty candidly.

And in the end, what matters in Washington right now is whether you`re for Trump or against Trump. That`s the party. Look what that Donald Trump Jr. said in that tweet that you read. If you`re not for the president, you should not be part of this party. It`s not just the Republican Party anymore, it`s President Trump`s Republican Party.

That`s a drastic change from just three years ago when the Republican establishment made it very clear they didn`t particularly care for this particular president, didn`t particularly care to be loyal to him, whether it`d be Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, who told him to drop out the last minute, or Paul Ryan, the House speaker, who took away his endorsement in the last days of the 2016 campaign. You can`t imagine that happening today, not with any numbers anyway.

The fact that we`re talking about Senator Romney so much is because it is so rare rather than what it used to be just three years ago.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Senator Romney also told Fox News today, he told Chris Wallace that he could handle the political consequences of his vote but not the personal consequences of inaction. Here he goes.


ROMNEY:  I`ve got broad enough shoulders to be able to weather personal changes in my career, political or otherwise. But what I don`t have is the capacity to ignore my conscience. I don`t have the capacity to say that what was wrong was not wrong. What the president did was grievously wrong. I believe he made a very serious miscalculation of judgment, one that strikes at the very core of our Constitution.

And in a setting like that, not to acknowledge that, would place a greater burden on my conscience even on his.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to Peter for some analysis here, Peter, because I did work in Utah for a number of years in politics, and I will tell you, among the LDS community, they don`t like the type of person, I don`t think as a general statement, that Donald Trump represents, a show off, a clown, a man of no real personal morality. It seems to me that he will not stand alone in Salt Lake City when he goes back from Washington. What`s your hunch? Because I`m not sure he`s the only person in Utah that doesn`t think like this.

BAKER:  Yes, Utah is a deep red state but it`s a different kind of deep red state than a lot of the other ones where President Trump is popular. Remember, of course, the independent libertarian candidate, McMullin, got about, I think, in double digits in Utah. Those are Republican voters who didn`t like President Trump, didn`t like what he stood for. Certainly, as you say, the LDS community there finds a lot of the things about President Trump anathema to their faith, to their ideas of mortality and so forth.

So I think that the risk to Senator Romney at home is probably less politically than it might be for a lot of Republican senators in their home states because it is a different kind of state than many of these red states.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Smith, I know from experience there are certain people who find a return to their religion more comfortable after they get out of politics because politics forces you to make decisions that don`t always square with your religion, That`s a terrible fact of life.

In this case, he`s responding to his religious impulse while in office, what makes it dramatic and then saying, I`m choosing my belief in God and my faith over the political pressures being applied to me as I speak. That`s rare. Your thoughts?

SMITH:  Well, there is such a drive to get power and keep power. And so to see people who make decisions based on what they know is right, that`s what we want. That`s what this country needs. My colleague, Doug Jones, who sat right behind me during all of this impeachment proceedings, said something similar, when he said, don`t call me courageous I did what I knew was right because I followed my oath. And I think that that`s exactly what Mitt Romney did.

You look at Mitt Romney and you say he doesn`t need to be here, he doesn`t need it for himself to be a senator, he`s here because he wants to serve. And that`s what we need.

MATTHEWS:  Well said. it`s so well said. Thank you so much, Tina Smith, U.S. senator from Minnesota, and Peter Baker of The New York Times.

Joining me right now is Colorado Congressman and former House impeachment manager Jason Crow. Congressman, thank you. You were impressive during the case you made. Could you say that you got a mistrial today because you got one juror to say something different than the rest of them? It was not a unanimous vote by the Republicans?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO):  Hi, good evening, Chris. Well, certainly, there was not an acquittal in the form of acquittal you would normally see in a trial because this wasn`t a fair trial. This is the first impeachment trial in American history where there wasn`t witnesses, there wasn`t evidence. The Senate made a determination last week that they did not want to hear what the president did, and that`s forever going to put an asterisk on the results of this case.

MATTHEWS:  How much of this is the 94 percent of the Republican Party in the latest Gallup Poll to support this president? How much of the trial was affected by that almost unanimous support by the Republican Party of this president?

CROW:  I can`t get into the senators` individuals minds. But I do think that one dynamic that was happening here was the idea that, you know, certain members of the Republican Party, certain members of the U.S. Senate are kind of forgetting what their job is as members of a co-equal branch of government.

The United States Capitol is not a wing of the White House. A member of Congress doesn`t work for the president of the United States. Our system only works when we have co-equal branches that are willing to, in the words of our founders, set ambition against ambition because they realize the failing of all people and they realized that you need to have these checks and balances. That`s one of the important roles of Congress and that`s why we continued to remind the senators of that throughout the trial.

MATTHEWS:  Write the epitaph for what happened today for history, the epitaph?

CROW:  Well, Chairman Schiff, last week, I think, maybe put it best -- or actually earlier this week. I`m kind of losing track of the days here. But I think it was during our closing on Monday when he said, is there not one among you who`s willing to have the courage to stand up, and he was speaking to the Republican senators in the room when he said that. And there was one among them.

Senator Romney stood up, showed courage. For me, this is a story about courage, it`s a story about people who are willing to do the right thing and put their oath first. There are always going to be those who don`t do it. There`s always going to be those who don`t stand up and run away from the fight instead of running to it.

But the story is not about those folks. The story is about the few who are willing to show the courage and stand up and that certainly what certain Democratic senators did today, as well as Mitt Romney. And it`s the story about telling the truth. The American people saw what happened. They now have a picture of the president`s misconduct and now we have to decide what we`re going to do going forward.

MATTHEWS:  That`s why I love politics, sir, because occasionally one of you guys get out there and stick your neck out and prove that you are a person against the odds.

Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Jason Crow.

Coming up, Mitt Romney stands alone and the response from his fellow Republicans has been vicious. The president`s son, Donald Trump Jr., says Romney should be banished. What is this, 300 B.C., from the party banished?

And as for the president, there`s no contrition and no lessons learned as Maine Senator Susan Collins promised us that he would be chastened.

Plus, we`re in Manchester tonight, in New Hampshire, as the focus has shifted from Iowa, almost shifted completely from New Hampshire. It will shift entirely when we get some complete numbers from that state.

Pete Buttigieg, by the way, and Bernie Sanders, the two of them, have they both got the big mo, as George Bush described it after he beat Ronald Reagan in Iowa back in 1980?

And what about Joe Biden, how badly is he hurt by his apparent fourth place finish in Iowa?

We`ve got much more to get to tonight here in Manchester. Stick with us.



SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me, for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history`s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Mitt Romney on the Senate floor this afternoon, the lone voice of dissent from President Trump`s Republican Party, the lone voice in either body.

None of the other 52 U.S. senators and Senate Republicans joined him, none others, silence from them, crickets.

In fact, some said they saw absolutely nothing wrong in what the president did. Here they go.


SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND):  The two articles of impeachment before this body today, in my view, are without merit. They are an affront, in fact, to this institution and to our Constitution.

SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R-MS):  With my votes to acquit President Trump, justice will be served.

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R-ID):  This whole thing centered around witness statements that the president had somehow threatened or pressured the president of Ukraine to do what he was going to do. That simply wasn`t the case.


MATTHEWS:  And then there were those who were uncomfortable with the president`s behavior, but wouldn`t vote to hold him accountable.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME):  Regardless, it was wrong for President Trump to mention former Vice President Biden on that phone call, and it was wrong for him to ask a foreign country to investigate a political rival.

I do not believe that the House has met its burden of showing that the president`s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN):  It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States` aid to encourage this investigation.

But, Madam President, the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year`s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." 

It`s great to have you on. Big night.

Joe Walsh, of course, former U.S. congressman from Illinois and Republican presidential candidate.

Let me go to Susan.

Susan, it`s inappropriate to laugh in church. I mean, I don`t get this one. Inappropriate to sell U.S. foreign military assistance to a country fighting for its life unless you get an announcement.

That`s where Susan Collins is wrong. She hasn`t been paying attention, the senator. It`s not about the dirt. It`s the announcement that we`re looking for dirt. That`s all the president wanted, was the bad P.R. on the Bidens.

And inappropriate? That seems weak.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY":  Well, of course, that was, I think, some of these senators trying to find a middle ground where they could acknowledge that they weren`t entirely happy with how the president behaved, but they didn`t think it rose to the level of impeachment, trying to find someplace safe to say stand, when you`re -- when you`re up for reelection in a state like Maine, which has a lot of independent-minded voters.

But that is a -- that can be a dangerous place to be. And we have seen with various tough votes that Congress has taken in the past -- I think about the 2002 to vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq -- where the safe political vote, which was to support the president at the time, turned out to be a very dangerous place after a couple years had passed.

We could see the same phenomenon with this.


Yes, to make a "Godfather" reference, it was the smart move for Clemenza. They were surprised that Tessio did it, you know? Everybody has a "Godfather" reference.

And I have to tell you, Susan, I`m completely with her on this.

Is the safe vote voting for acquittal, with all this evidence that the president did exactly what he`s accused of doing?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  No, I don`t think so.

Chris, most of the American people understand that we didn`t have a trial. We didn`t have a fair trial. Susan`s being very respectful. But most -- every single Senate Republican today, outside of Mitt Romney, was an absolute chicken shit.

They put -- Chris, they put party before country. You know this better than I do. Mitt Romney -- how often in American history do we see a politician actually do the principled thing and put country first?

It`s an amazing thing.

MATTHEWS:  Would they be doing this genuflection to him, bowing down to him, if the economy were in bad shape?

I`m just asking a good Marxist question, good economic determinism. Are they being driven entirely by the good economic news right now generally?

WALSH:  No, they`re also driven by fear of his voters.

They`re scared to death, Chris, of his voters. They don`t want to lose his voters. They don`t -- they know what Trump did was wrong. And for them to come out today and say it was inappropriate, Chris, they didn`t have the courage to say that a month or two ago.

MATTHEWS:  Are they afraid he`s going to shoot them, I mean, go after them?

WALSH:  Oh, absolutely, I mean, literally with a tweet, and sick his supporters on them.

A lot of these folks would still face primaries. They put Trump before country.

MATTHEWS:  Susan, do you think there`s a sense out there just to justify these self-saving particular votes by these guys and women?

How much of it is just simple fear of extermination politically?

PAGE:  I think that the congressman is exactly right that they are concerned about the president undermining their own political futures because he has such a stronghold now on the Republican Party.

And he -- and he does at this point. I mean, I think Senator Romney is going to be in for a world of pain, at least for a while.

One thing overlooked when you`re talking about Romney`s courage, his willingness to stand up and vote for conviction also gave cover to some of those Democrats who were under a lot of pressure to vote with the president, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema.

And we thought it was possible that the president would get a bipartisan acquittal. Romney gave them cover to stick with the Democratic side to vote for conviction.

And that is going to cost him as well, I think, with the White House.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it helps in a state like West Virginia, where they voted by a margin of 45 points for Trump, or in Alabama, where Doug Jones has to fight for an election after the special victory down there?

Do you think that`s enough cover for them, Susan?

PAGE:  I think -- I think that, for Doug Jones, I think -- I think Doug Jones also was a profile in courage today.

I think he has really worsened the odds, which were already kind of long, for him to win reelection in Alabama, which is such a powerfully red -- red state.


PAGE:  And I think he basically acknowledged that. He said that wasn`t the calculation he was making on this vote.


In another sign that the Republican Party is now the party of Trump entirely, lock, stock and barrel, even before beginning his State of the Union speech last night, the president was welcomed with the sounds more reminiscent of a rally, a Trump rally.




CHAMBER:  Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!


MATTHEWS:  OK, a little cultish.


MATTHEWS:  What do you think?

WALSH:  Chris, I have been out there talking to Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire. My party is a cult. I mean that. It`s not a political party.

Six or seven years ago, you and I are talking about issues, and we`re debating and fighting issues. Now it`s all about where you are on Trump. And if you don`t kiss this guy`s feet every single day, you`re in real trouble politically.

MATTHEWS:  Did you notice, Susan, the way he walked in last night into the House chamber?

There was a certain setting of his jaw almost, something about, I`m in here, I`m going to let them know, I`m going to show these people I`m the boss. I`m not maybe Mussolini, but I`m like the Duce. I`m the guy.

And he walked in there. I guess he offered to shake -- no, I think about the speaker offered to shake hands. He wouldn`t do it.

But he didn`t have a smile on his face that I could detect. He was like, I`m in here to show these people who is boss. Look at that face. I mean, this is -- most presidents are smiling when they come to greet their colleagues.

And then, of course, he wanted to tell the chief justice that he`s his boss too. So, he wanted to make that pretty clear. And then he used the military, the Joint Chiefs, as his pawns in a chess game. Oh, I got a couple of these guys here to do my stuff.

  No, the military fights these fights. He doesn`t.

Susan, did you notice that performance the way I just described it?

PAGE:  You know, Chris, have you ever -- I have covered now six presidents delivering State of the Union addresses.

Have you ever seen anything like what we saw last night, such a...


PAGE:  So partisan, so combative, half of the room acting like it`s a political rally, the other half just stuck in their chairs trying to not show any approval, sometimes booing and hissing?

I -- it`s -- usually, the problem with a State of the Union is that it`s too boring. That was not the case last night.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

PAGE:  And I think it`s a sign of something happening in our -- in our politics that is not a good thing.

MATTHEWS:  And I wish that Democrats would withhold -- restrain themselves from the tendency to get down in the ditch with this guy.

Ripping it up was not a smart move. I`m sorry. I respect the speaker enormously. Ripping it up is playing his game. When he didn`t want to shake her hand, maybe he got her to do that.

And the games he put on with all those performers he brought out there, all these heroes he brought out there, the Democrats sit there and that smug look on their face, like, we`re better than you, that`s not working, people.

It`s not working. Applaud like the speaker did when it`s right for the heroes of the country, the good people, and the good causes, like standing up to the socialist, communist, whatever he is, down in Venezuela. That`s when everybody can cheer.

Guaido -- cheer for Guaido, Juan Guaido. That was the one where she got up and applauded like mid.

So I think you got to be discreet and grown up and say, this guy is in the gutter. I`m not going to join him there.

Anyway, thank you, Susan. It`s always great to have you on.

Former Congressman Joe Walsh.

WALSH:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Still ahead: more caucus results. Oh, here they come. The Pony Express has arrived from Iowa with the election returns.

Our own elections experts, Steve Kornacki, the great Kornacki, is going to be here to greet the latest numbers and explain the latest mistakes in Iowa.

Stick around. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The results of Monday night`s -- it was Monday night`s -- Iowa caucuses continue to slowly trickle back from Iowa to -- across the country.

As of now, 86 percent of the results have been released, with Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders still vying for first place in delegates. Sanders is ahead in the raw vote totals for both stages of the caucus, but Buttigieg is ahead in the percentage that determines how many national delegates the candidates receive.

However, after facing fierce criticism for the delayed results on Monday, the Iowa Democratic Party admitted today to making another mistake in one of the batches of votes put out today, and had to issue what it termed a minor correction.

I`m joined right now by the great Kornacki, Steve Kornacki, NBC News national political correspondent, at the Big Board.

Steve, help us.


MATTHEWS:  What is going now?

KORNACKI:  It was a couple of hours ago. They put some numbers out.

We are getting these numbers directly from the Iowa Democratic Party. And then they came up with that correction. So, we believe these are now the accurate numbers. They are the most recent numbers they have sent to us.

You mentioned it, the state delegate equivalent category here. This is traditionally used in Iowa to determine the winner. That`s where Buttigieg has the lead. It is 24 state delegates there separating Buttigieg and Sanders.

What you see here, all these circles, the bigger the circle, the more vote there is to come here, the more precincts.

What you can see is, if you`re -- if you`re Sanders trying to make this comeback, the good news for you is, you see a big circle here, relatively speaking, in Ames. That`s a college town, Iowa State University, home of the Cyclones, Sanders doing really well there, Buttigieg not so much.

So, there`s a couple of opportunities out by Sioux City, a couple opportunities here for Sanders to eat into that. The problem is, there are also opportunities for Pete Buttigieg to counter Sanders.

You can see Dubuque County, for instance, here along the Mississippi River, some smaller cities, Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, again, Buttigieg doing well there.


KORNACKI:  So, for Sanders to offset -- you go back to that screen here -- to actually make that up at this point, that is very difficult for Bernie Sanders to do.


KORNACKI:  I think, more likely, if you`re the Sanders campaign, it`s not so much trying to catch Buttigieg here. That looks like a real long shot.

It`s for the Sanders campaign trying to put a spin on this, saying, hey, like you said, that raw vote, that first preference, that popular vote, if you want to call it that, the folks who showed up, Sanders, it right now looks like he will be able to claim, likely to be able to claim it looks like right now that more people showed up to support Sanders than to support Buttigieg, at least initially.

MATTHEWS:  You know, we spend our lives making calculations.

Women, mostly women, figure out Thanksgiving dinner. They figure out how long the turkey has to be in the oven and then when the potatoes in and then put the vegetables in. Everything is calculation and ordination like that.

You have to do it. When we go to work, and we know it`s a busy day or it`s rainy, we know you got to go early. People are always making calculations and allowing for conditions.

Why didn`t the Democratic Party of Iowa do either?

KORNACKI:  So, there are all sorts of questions here. Was it this app designed to get the results sent in?

There were all sorts of reports of problems with that, all sorts of reports then the folks calling in numbers on the telephone were an issue too.

I think, though, Chris, my sense of this, the more I learn about it, is, it was an issue and a lot of these local precinct caucuses, where you have got volunteers, right, volunteer people, everyday citizens who are running these things.


KORNACKI:  And for the first time ever -- they have been doing this for almost 50 years. For the first time ever, they were told to be taking these three different counts, the initial preference, the reallocated preference, and then that final delegate equivalent, and be sending these in to the state.

And what happened was, the state said, wait a minute, this number shouldn`t look like this if this number looks like this, and they didn`t have the answer.

So they had -- that`s why they had -- the state has been reconstructing these things manually. That`s what`s taken so much time.

MATTHEWS:  OK, one more question.

There`s 1,700 precincts. How many telephones were available? How many telephone numbers were available for those 1,700 precinct captains to call into?


No, I don`t know the number to that. We haven`t been able to get too many questions the Iowa Democratic Party.

But, yes, the reports you have are folks who weren`t able to get this through on their app.


KORNACKI:  Then having difficulty getting it through on the telephone too.

So it doesn`t sound like that many.

MATTHEWS:  It doesn`t sound like that many to me.


MATTHEWS:  It sounds like 1,700 minus one. The one person got through. Almost 1,700 are waiting for two hours.

Thank you, Steve Kornacki.


MATTHEWS:  With Iowa now, thank God, in the rear-view mirror, mostly, attention shifts here to New Hampshire, where I am.

Can a 38-year-old former small town mayor, middle-size-town mayor, and a 78-year-old Democratic socialist, self-described, double down on their strong showings in Iowa? Are they the two to beat?

And be sure to check out my podcast "So You Wanna Be President?" It breaks down the six key lessons for -- from past presidential campaigns, one of them being, win Iowa. What separated the winners from the losers?

Episode three, "The Walls Have Ears," you`re going to love this one -- is available now wherever you get your podcasts.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We`re slowly getting a clearer picture of the results out of Iowa, of course, more than two days after Monday night`s caucuses. But with no official winner yet, all eyes shift toward New Hampshire, right here. The leading candidates have decided here -- they`ve descended here as they begin the week-long sprint to next Tuesday`s primary.

Here it goes. 


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We`re still waiting on more math to come through. But what we know, without any doubt, is that our vision has been validated. And that this is an astonishing victory for our organization, our values, our campaign, and our candidacy.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We`re in the top three in Iowa and now we`ve landed in New Hampshire and we`re out here fighting for every vote in New Hampshire.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  They are still counting votes in Iowa. I assume that one of these years that vote count will be completed. What we can do right now is make sure we have the largest voter turn out in the history of New Hampshire, that`s the most important thing we can do.


MATTHEWS:  One of these years. Anyway, partial results in Iowa showing him in fourth place, however.

Former Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged he faces now an uphill battle here in New Hampshire.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am not going to sugarcoat it.  We took a gut punch in Iowa. The whole process took a gut punch.

But, look, this isn`t the first time in my life I`ve been knocked down. I`m not going anywhere. I`m not going anywhere.

And I`m counting on New Hampshire. We`re going to come back.


MATTHEWS:  With the New Hampshire primary just six days away, did the results in Iowa -- they`re still murky, the Democratic race enters a new phase of uncertainty and it could get ugly now. They`re already shooting at each other.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We`re in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now, the big industrial city, (INAUDIBLE) part of the state, where in just six days voters will cast their votes in the second contest of the Democratic presidential race, New Hampshire`s first in the country primary.

You go into a booth, don`t tell anybody how you`re voting, don`t carry a sign, you walk into a booth and vote. But it matters.

Today, Joe Biden took aim at his two rivals vying for first place in delegates from Iowa, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.


BIDEN:  Every Democrat will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chose for himself -- chosen for himself. He calls him -- I don`t criticize him. He calls himself a Democratic socialist. Well, we`re already seeing what Donald Trump is going to do with that.

Mayor Pete likes to attack as well, he`s a good man, he calls himself -- calls me part of the old, failed Washington. Really?  Was it a failure that I went to Congress to get Obamacare passed into law? 


SANDERS:  For more, I`m joined by Mike Memoli, NBC News correspondent, Sahil Kapur, NBC News national political reporter.  Welcome aboard, sir. 

And Ruth Marcus, like me, a veteran, "Washington Post" deputy editor.

You know, you`re an editorial page editor, which is a powerful.  You decide whether the op-eds get in or not.

So, here`s the question. I`ve watched -- I`ve been in this room with Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert in 1988. It always comes down to two here.  It`s something about it.  It seems boxing is the most dramatic sport, is this coming down to two -- you`re covering Biden. It looks like it`s going to be a BB, a BB fight between Buttigieg and Bernie.

RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITOR, "WASHINGTON POST":  And Biden starts with a B also.

MATTHEWS:  Not talking about those B`s.

MARCUS:  It might be a three B deal here.

MATTHEWS:  You think Biden is still in it? 

MARCUS:  I think we don`t have a declared winner in Iowa, but we have a declared loser in Joe Biden. So, if he is limping into New Hampshire and he needs to perform here in a major way.  So, but he is -- he is in it. He`s not out of it yet.

MATTHEWS:  I keep thinking a star is born, Bernie and Buttigieg. You know the old guy with a new cover.


SAHIL KAPUR, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  I think Iowa was, as Joe Biden, admitted, a gut punch for him. But losing in New Hampshire and Nevada could be a knockout blow for Joe Biden. It`s very hard to make the case that you`re the winnable candidate, that you`re the electable one, if you start up going 0-3.

Now, the question for Buttigieg is, is he a Barack Obama who can come from behind from nowhere, win Iowa and grow his vote elsewhere?  Or is he a Mike Huckabee, who is a one-hit wonder, wins in a very eccentric state, with a very eccentric kind of voting, the caucuses that don`t happen anywhere else?  Is he a one-hit wonder?

MATTHEWS:  Why would a caucus voter be more likely to vote for a Buttigieg?  Than a regular primary voter?

KAPUR:  I think his team did a good job of organizing it. They understood the state well.  They knew that they have to have an extremely good showing in Iowa, because there`s no other state that votes early, that is anywhere near as friendly to him as a Midwestern state.


MATTHEWS:  Like Barack Obama? 

KAPUR:  Exactly.


  MIKE MEMOLI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  You know who else thought it was going it would be a two person race here is Joe Biden?  The faster this primary battle got down to Bernie Sanders wing of the party and Joe Biden`s wing of the party, the happier Joe Biden was going to be, because he thought that was the popular to success.

So, I was at that rally today.  We thought, first, the only news was going to be him admitting the gut punch, because we saw them yesterday struggling, what it actually even happened in Iowa

MATTHEWS:  Are you surprised he took shots at his opponents? He didn`t seem to do that before.

MEMOLI:  I wasn`t surprised that he took shots at Bernie Sanders, because that fight has been brewing a long time. It was interesting to see him go after Pete Buttigieg, because first of all, they draw from the same voting poll, in Iowa and here.  The voters at this event say they`re just debating between the two.

Mayor Pete, you know, an up and comer, and people like him.  So, it`s always a risk to go after somebody who people like, and as people have found out when they`ve gone after Joe Biden, by the way.

MARCUS:  That`s exactly why he needed to do it, right?  He could have the graciousness to go not go after Mayor Pete when Mayor Pete didn`t look like he was a serious threat, so you don`t want to alienate his supporters. But now, with Pete`s whatever happens in Iowa win-ish in Iowa.

MATTHEWS:  He won the delegate fight, it looks.

MARCUS:  He looks like he won the delegate fight. Though, he might want to say, you know, where does he go for his bounce? 

But Biden now needs to be a two-front war. He can`t only go after Bernie. He needs to go after both.

MATTHEWS:  I agree with that.

KAPUR:  I was surprised it`d taken this long to go after Pete, because Pete has been doing very well in the polls in Iowa, for a long time.  It`s not a big surprise.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s two lanes. I call them the AFC and the NFC, just like in the Super Bowl.  The NFC is a battle between Bernie and Elizabeth Warren on the left, and the battle for the middle is the battle between Biden and Buttigieg.

Anyway, in his remarks today, Biden went on to accuse Buttigieg of downplaying the accomplishments of the Obama administration.


BIDEN:  Is he really saying, you know, the Obama-Biden administration was a failure?  Pete, just say it out loud. I`ve great respect for Mayor Pete and his service to this nation. But I do believe it`s a risk, to be just straight up with you, for his party to nominate someone who`s never held office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana. I do believe it`s a risk.


MATTHEWS:  Indiana, like that`s the worst. I`m not sure where he wanted to put the emphasis to the word Indiana. Anyway, Buttigieg --

MARCUS:  Well, I don`t think -- he`s not going to win that state.

MATTHEWS:  It was a Republican.

So, respond to the former -- Buttigieg respond to the former VP attacks in an interview this afternoon with Stephanie Ruhle. Here he goes.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That`s to the achievements of the Obama administration, I have enormous regards for those achievements. I mean, if you look at what President Obama was able to do with two terms. It`s extraordinary. I had his back in that period, even as a mayor in Indiana, where it wasn`t always easy to step forward and back up the president.  But I think the bulk of the credit for the achievements of the Obama administration belong with President Obama.


MATTHEWS:  Yes, the problem with this back and for the between Buttigieg and Biden, for the Biden point of view, it reminds me of W. standing next to Tony Blair, like Tony Blair would explain what W. was saying all the time.

MEMOLI:  Well, I`m just imagining Joe Biden watching Pete Buttigieg`s response and wanting to jump at the television screen.  I had Barack Obama`s back from South Bend, Indiana, I was with him in the trenches fighting as vice president. And so, this is why they felt they needed to go after him -- 


MEMOLI:  -- because they feel he has been taking these shots very subtly. But he wanted to get him, as you heard him say, say it out loud. If you think -- if you think the Democratic Party did not do enough in the Obama years, you need to say, he wants to call him on it.

KAPUR:  It`s a tricky balance that Buttigieg is trying to strike, first saying that old politics are bad.  But here is someone from the old politics that I really like.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it`s all about performance, it`s not so much the profile this year.

MEMOLI:  And this is the bigger thing, Chris. He need to show he is fighting at all because part of the Biden problem was that his performance was frankly lackluster on the trail. He needs to show that still has some life in him, because Democrats want to see somebody who can fight Donald Trump ultimately.

MATTHEWS:  Go down fighting or go out fighting.

Thank you, Mike Memoli, who`s been trailing Biden all these months.  Sahil Kapur, thank you for joining our network, and Ruth Marcus, a pro of greatness.

Up next, might -- wasn`t Romney great? 

MARCUS:  Marcus was awesome.  I loved the strength of his language. Thanks for letting me say.

MATTHEWS:  I`m going to say something about him.  I`m going to say something about it when I get back in a minute. I was romantic about politics for a couple of minutes again today, like I used to be. Romance in politics means believing in guts.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  All right. I`ve never got to the heart really of my love for the political life. There are, of course, the great stakes of looking out for our country and the world that can be truly dangerous. There`s also a questions of what role our national government can play in the lives of us, our citizens.

There are also questions of, as I said, the role we should play here at home. But there are -- there has been something else, all along, the basic human drama of wondering who will stand up and put his or her face to the crowd, the lone voice and soul that can bring themselves up to stand up against the bullying pressures of the majority around them.

And today I was loved why I love politics so dearly. Every once in a while, too rarely one might argue, some lonely figure will step forward against all the pressure to stand with the team and dare to speak the truth. It takes no courage, of course, to hide in a pack, to speak in unison with those around you.

What takes bravery, what merits regard is the voice that speaks out and tells the brave truth through the sad chorus of silence and submission. I saw it with John McCain when he refused to let that woman in the crowd question his rival Barack Obama`s loyalty. And today, we saw when Mitt Romney stood up for the Constitution against Donald Trump.

And that`s HARDBALL for now.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.