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Pete Buttigieg TRANSCRIPT: 2/10/20, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews

Guests: Pete Buttigieg, Ro Khanna, Sam Stein, Jennifer Horn, Adrienne Elrod, Bill Weld

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Pete versus Bernie. Let`s play HARDBALL.

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

It`s the night before the state`s legendary primary where some voters are expected to show up at midnight to cast their ballots. The candidates are fanned out across New Hampshire, making their 11th hour appeals, with the senator next door from Vermont, Bernie Sanders extending his lead here and nationally. A new Quinnipiac National Poll shows Sanders going from five points behind Joe Biden just two weeks ago to an eight-point lead over him. Michael Bloomberg, who is skipping New Hampshire, has doubled his support in that same time.

Four years ago, Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton here by more than 20 points. The final CNN tracking poll ahead of tomorrow`s vote shows Sanders leading with 29 percent followed by Buttigieg at 22 percent, Biden at 11, Senator Elizabeth Sanders down at 10 and Senator Amy Klobuchar at 7.

But the final Boston Global/Suffolk University tracking poll released today has Sanders leading at 27 percent followed by Buttigieg at 19, Klobuchar jumped into third place at 14 percent after Friday`s debate followed by Biden and Warren who are now at 12 percent.

The battle between the emerging challenger, Buttigieg, and the frontrunner, Sanders, went into overdrive here this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Pete Buttigieg has received -- we`re not here to denigrate Pete. He`s running a good campaign. But our views are different. You know, Pete has raised campaign contributions from over 40 billionaires.

FMR. MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-SOUTH BEND, IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  As long as we`re willing to have some common sense here, we can deliver the biggest change to American healthcare in a half century. But what we can do without is a plan so expensive that Senator Sanders himself freely admits he has no idea how it`s supposed to be paid for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I spoke with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttiegieg late today just ahead of one of his final rallies before the primary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Mayor Pete, welcome to HARDBALL. Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders from neighboring Vermont, says you`re in the pocket of billionaires because of the donations you`ve got. Your reaction?

BUTTIGIEG:  You know, I`m the only candidate on those debate stages in this race among the major candidates who is not a millionaire or a billionaire. I got into this race to make sure communities like mine had our voices heard and because I know that there are Americans in neighborhoods, in big cities, in rural areas and industrial communities like mine where it feels like Washington is not paying attention and this administration is making it worse.

Donald Trump`s right here in New Hampshire, as we speak, and his budget reveals that he doesn`t care at all about working people. I`m running to confront and defeat Donald Trump. And in order to do that, we`ve got to bring everybody that we can into this fight. This president and his allies are going to do everything they can to pull out all the stops in order to hold their grip on power. I`m going to define my campaign not by whose help I reject but by how broad of a majority we can pull together to make sure we not only defeat this president but win big enough we send Trumpism into the history books too.

MATTHEWS:  It looks like a two-person race right now going into the primary tomorrow. What`s the difference between you and Senator Sanders?

BUTTIGIEG:  Well, fundamentally, it comes down to this. At a moment when we need to build the biggest majority possible to defeat Donald Trump in a divided country with a the divider-in-chief in the Oval Office. We can`t risk dividing this country even further.

But we have a historic American majority right now ready to deliver big, bold, meaningful progressive change, like, for example, getting healthcare to everybody. They`re just not willing to go as far as Senator Sanders` vision where we would kick everybody off their private plans too.

Senator Sanders is offering a lot of ideas that I think speak to ideals that we all share. But when you do the math on his proposals, there`s a $25 trillion hole, even after his tax increase on the middle class. At $25 trillion, that`s bigger than the entire size of the American economy. And I think we`re going to have a very hard time winning and a very, very hard time governing with that style of all the way over to one side, my way or the highway, all or nothing politics.

If you paint a picture where you`ve either got to be for a revolution or you must be for the status quo, that`s a picture that leaves most Americans out. And my campaign is about pulling Americans in. Because, again, we have a majority right now ready to deliver healthcare, insisting on higher wages, demanding that we raise taxes and make corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, but expecting that that won`t come down on working and middle class Americans.

There is a powerful American majority that wants to see common sense gun law action on climate change right now. We`ve got to hold that majority together, galvanize it and not polarize it. And that`s what my campaign is about. That`s why my campaign is the best positioned to defeat Donald Trump in November.

MATTHEWS:  on that point on Friday night during the debate, the moderator asked if any of you other candidates thought to be a problem with having the party represented by someone who calls himself a socialist. Amy Klobuchar interviewed her on Saturday, and she said she was surprised that she was the only one that spoke up. Do you want to speak up now on that question?

BUTTIGIEG:  No. Look, I`m concerned about it, but I`m not that focused on labels. I`m focused on the message, I`m focused on the approach. And I think we can do better than a my way or the highway politics at a moment when we not only have the Democratic Party energetically committed to making sure that we replace this president, but also we have independents and I`m seeing an awful lot of Republicans ready to cross over. That`s the key, that`s the opportunity right now. And that`s my focus, is we build that American majority that will defeat this president and bring us to a better day in the future.

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about geography. You made a point during the campaign, certainly in Iowa where you won the most delegates. You made the point you`re a Midwesterner from a middle-sized city. Here you are in New England. You`re a bit far away, about 30 minutes away from here in Manchester. What about Bernie Sanders? He`s from next door, Vermont. Last time he ran here against Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton, he won 60 percent of the vote. How can you beat him in his own home base?

BUTTIGIEG:  Yes, I`ll admit he has an advantage of being from right in this neighborhood. But I also think that the stories that I`m sharing from a community like mine in South Bend echoes with a lot of places in New Hampshire. From Manchester, River City, that went through many of those same challenges of factories and mills closing that we did in my community before our comeback to smaller communities like Claremont and Berlin and Franklin that were almost left for dead, but picked themselves back up and didn`t get enough help from Washington as they did it, wanting to be seen in the future we`re building.

So I`m very proud that our campaign has had a presence across the state. And while I`m certainly aware we`re competing against if not a home state competitor, definitely a neighboring state competitor. I also find that our message is resonating across the state. We`re seeing it just in the enthusiasm and the energy, the folks coming to our events, our rallies and volunteering to share the word with their neighbors and their friends as we go into the primary tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  I didn`t expect to say this, but it looks like Bernie Sanders will be pretty much winning among progressives or people in the Democratic left, if you will. You`re up against Biden in center. You`ve also got Klobuchar coming on. What distinguishes you from Biden and Klobuchar to win the moderate vote?

BUTTIGIEG:  Well, what I`m offering is a perspective that comes from outside of Washington. I know my way around Washington, But my experience in government leadership and public service has been on the ground. And I think we`d be well served at a time like this if we could get Washington to run a little more like our best run cities and towns rather than the other way around. I bring the perspective of having served in the military, knowing what is at stake in the decisions made it in that situation room, because one of the decisions sent me overseas to war. I just have a different outlook.

And I admit that if you`re looking for the most years spent in Washington, I`m clearly not going to be your candidate. But I think this is a time when we need somebody who is ready to bring a different perspective. I`m no stranger to holding office, no stranger to service, public or military service, but I am ready to make sure that we change the ways of Washington instead of accept them when there is such division, such dysfunction and such frustration.

MATTHEWS:  Do you get a sense that former Vice President Biden is treating you not just as a new kid on the block but as a young whipper-snapper? The way he talks about you is like, who does he think he is? Your response to that? I can tell in his voice, who`s this guy think he is challenging my record? Look what I`ve done.

BUTTIGIEG:  Well, I`ll leave it to others to characterize that. I`m focused on our message and I`m focused on making sure that I explain what it`s going to take not to just win and defeat Donald Trump. And, of course, the process of proving that is underway. It began in Iowa, now comes to New Hampshire, that you can actually deliver and build a winning campaign, but it`s also about governing.

Look, the next president is going to face issues, some of which were barely thought of just a few years ago. If you think about what -- things like tech companies and the gig economy are doing, to what it means to be a worker America right now. If you look overseas, and we`ve got global health security threats and cyber attacks right alongside more traditional military issues like terrorism and relations between countries.

And this is a moment where I think we need to be ready to turn the page. Plus, that as a general rule is how Democrats win. Every time we`ve won the White House in the last half century, it`s been with a look to the future and somebody opening the door to a new generation. That`s what I`m offering. And I think that`s why our campaign has beat the odds, come to this point and is now working very hard here in New Hampshire on the ground to earn every vote going into tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  I agree with all that. You`re the challenger.

Let me ask you about this, about this U.S. congressman from the Central Valley of California who seems to think he`s got a job as a Republican or a Trump operative, He was spotted going back and forth from the White House delivering their goods back and forth during the hey days of the investigations. Well, he`s just been seen yesterday in your hometown of South Bend. What would he be doing -- that`s not a hub airport. What would Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, be hanging around -- what`s he up to? You`ve got to have a suspicion.

BUTTIGIEG:  I`m not sure. South Bend is a lovely place to visit and there`s always activities going on around the universities and colleges nearby. But beyond that, I`m not sure what that`s about and he hasn`t shared anything with me about his travel plans so I guess we`ll be in the dark until we get more insight on that.

MATTHEWS:  We`ll get more I`m sure. Thank you so much, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, candidate for president up here in snowy New Hampshire. It`s great to have you on HARDBALL tonight, sir. Thank you.

BUTTIGIEG:  Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Senator Bernie Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary last time, is favored to win it again. His surge in popularity has Politico wondering if Senator Sanders has made the splintered Democratic Party his own. Famed Democratic strategist James Carville says he`s scared to death by that prospect. Here is what he said earlier today on MORNING JOE.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  The only thing -- the only thing between the United States and the abyss is the Democratic Party. That`s it. And if we go the way of the British Labor Party, if we nominate Jeremy Corbyn, it`s going to be the end of days.

Some people in this country want a revolution, they want disruption. I don`t know, they scream at people, they go and bully people. And I don`t know how you win election, 78 years old standing up screaming in a microphone about the revolution, but you`ve got to give people an alternative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  With me now U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna of California, who is a co-Chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Congressman Khanna, tell me about your reaction to -- Carville says a couple of things further. He said, Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat, he`s an ideologue. He says -- this Carville speaking. It`s harder to win with Sanders. Your response, sir?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA):  I`d like to remind Jim Carville about his own history. He ran Harris Wofford`s campaign in 1991 in Pennsylvania. Guess what Wofford ran on. on single-payer national healthcare. So Carville obviously knows he can win on that.

Second, look at what Carville said about Obama. He said the same exact things. Obama is rolling the dice. Obama is unelectable. Guess what, Barack Obama was a two-term president.

So I would want know what James Carville has to say about the Wofford win and his comments on President Obama.

MATTHEWS:  I know all about the Wofford win. He overcame a 40-point deficit to beat Thornburgh, the former governor. Very impressive research, Congressman Khanna, very impressive work on your part. Well, you`re smiling because you know you really did your homework.

Let me ask you about this.  Do you think ideology is a smart move to Democrats to have someone coin for a revolution? Do you think that -- I mean, mostly people center left, center right tend to be the ones who win these primaries, who win these generals. What do you think? Do you think the country is in a mood for an ideological revolution right now?

KHANNA:  I think what they are in a mood for is the completion of FDR`s New Deal, the new deal for the 21st century. And I say Bernie Sanders is an FDR Democrat. Here is what he`s talking about. Everyone should have healthcare, everyone should have education, everyone should have basic child care, basically, the things that I had growing up. I represent Silicon Valley.

But let me tell you, Bernie Sanders is not talking about nationalizing Apple. There`s no way I could represent Silicon Valley and support him if that was the case. He`s talking about giving people a basic shot at the American dream and fulfilling the vision from FDR forward.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about people who are seniors because they tend to vote. People over 60 tend to vote. People who are 65 getting Medicare, they may be getting social security as early as 62. How are they going to react to Medicare-for-all if they paid into it for 50 years and they`re hoping to get it back in their later years? How do you think they`re going to react, say, in Florida, where you have a huge older population?

KHANNA:  Well, Chris, they should be for it, and the facts need to come out. Here is what Bernie Sanders is proposing. He is not just proposing Medicare-for-all. He is improving improved Medicare-for-all. So if you`re a senior, now your hearing aids are going to get covered. You don`t have to pay a couple thousand bucks. You`re going to have long-term care that`s covered. You`re going to have dental that`s covered. You`re going to have vision that`s covered. And who`s going to pay for it? The rich are going to pay for it and are going to corporations.

So my view is there`s been so much misleading distortions if seniors actually look at what Bernie Sanders is proposing, they`d really like it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about the question of how this ideology is going to sell in a place like Arizona, a very difficult state for Republicans or Democrats to win. It`s sort of a split state, a bounce back and forth state. Mark Kelly -- how would Bernie Sanders` program, agenda, how will that sell to help Mark Kelly win that fight out there for the Senate in Arizona?

KHANNA:  I think what Bernie Sanders is doing on immigration, in making sure that we are standing with the DREAMERs, that we`re standing with those who are undocumented to a path to citizenship is going to have huge turnout. If you look at the polling of people doing well with the Latino community, Bernie Sanders is winning. He won in Iowa. He`s winning in California. And that`s going to be critical for Mark Kelly.

And here is the other thing, Chris. No candidate running on the ticket has to agree 100 percent with Bernie Sanders. I don`t agree with him 100 percent. But just like Republicans, they ran strong conservatives and people in districts like Bucks County, they were more moderate and they said where they disagreed. Mark Kelly can do the same. But what Bernie Sanders will do is get the highest turnout and then it will be up to the candidate to define their own identity.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. The trouble is that the Democratic candidate who ran in Bucks County lost last time.

KHANNA:  Sure. But the Democrat has won. Patrick Murphy won and I believe Mark Kelly is an extraordinary candidate. Here is what I believe about Mark Kelly. I think he`s going to win whoever is on the top of the ticket, whether it`s Buttigieg or Biden or Bernie --

MATTHEWS:  You know what, I think we can hope so. We can hope so. Thank you so much. U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna here for Bernie Sanders.

Coming up, with Sanders and Buttigieg consistently polling as the top two candidates in New Hampshire, can any of the other candidates survive if they don`t finish at least third or fourth tomorrow night?

And this weekend, I had a chance to talk to some of the voters here about who they plan to vote for and why. Here`s a tease.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of Pete?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think Pete is awesome. I think he`s the one.

MATTHEWS:  You think he`s the one? Go the distance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I do, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Go the distance, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think so.

MATTHEWS:  Compare him to, say, Biden?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think Pete has more broad appeal. I think he`s more energetic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And Donald Trump continued his scorched earth attacks on Mitt Romney, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and others. He says they wronged him in the impeachment battle.

Later in this hour, I`m going to talk to Governor Bill Weld, the last Republican primary opponent against Trump. We`ve got much more to get to live from Manchester, New Hampshire. Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Don`t let anybody tell you, you have to choose between listening to your head and listening to your heart.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You have the option to vote for a campaign which will not only defeat Trump, but which will transform this country.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I will be -- excuse my language -- I will be damned if I`m going to stand by and watch us lose this country to Donald Trump a second time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That`s just a small sampling of the presidential candidates making their final pitches to New Hampshire voters before tomorrow`s first-in-the- country primary.

For more, I`m joined by Adrienne Elrod, former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Horn, former New Hampshire Republican Party chair and political columnist for "The New Hampshire Union Leader," and Sam Stein, politics editor at The Daily Beast.

Thank you all.

Let`s talk about this looks to be head-to-head right now between Sanders and Buttigieg. What`s it about? Is it between the guy who wants to be a designated driver and get us home and a revolutionary?

I mean, which -- somebody with a big agenda against the guy who is basically saying, I`m a steady hand. Which is it? Is that a good look at it?

(CROSSTALK)

ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HILLARY FOR AMERICA:  No, I think that`s a did look, Chris.

And I think anybody who thought Iowa doesn`t matter at this time around, it certainly did, because it gave...

MATTHEWS:  Well, does it?

ELROD:  ... Mayor Pete the momentum right now.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

ELROD:  The big question I`m looking for...

MATTHEWS:  So, we can declare him the winner in Iowa?

ELROD:  Well, we can...

MATTHEWS:  He won by two delegates.

ELROD:  Sort of tie. Whatever. Whatever.

Bottom line is, I`m looking to see who gets third place. I think that is what really matters tomorrow in New Hampshire, because it matters different things for different people. It matters different things for Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, depending on where he finishes.

MATTHEWS:  You mean if Elizabeth Warren comes in third tomorrow, that`s good news for her?

ELROD:  I think, at this point, it`s good news for her. It keeps her going.

MATTHEWS:  I thought she was going to walk away with it up here.

ELROD:  Well, we all did. We all did.

But, right now, we`re looking at maybe a fourth-place finish. So a third place, I`m not saying that it`s going to keep her in the race, but I`m just saying that it better than...

MATTHEWS:  What happened to Warren?

Because Warren, I thought, was the one that had the chance to go right through Iowa, New Hampshire, go to Super Tuesday and walk -- the only candidate I thought that could do that.

Sam, your -- what happened to that race? It doesn`t good right now.

(CROSSTALK)

SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST:  I did a bunch of reporting on this yesterday.

There`s different theories, right? She is the unity candidate, in a sense that she could combine the liberal wing with a more establishment wing.

There`s a few things that have happened. One is, there`s general concerns about electability, I think that`s a little bit gender, but it`s true. It`s happening with her. I have talked to a lot of...

MATTHEWS:  She`s seen as less electable than Bernie?

STEIN:  So, I talked to a lot of -- and this was a particularly interesting finding, for me, at least -- was, I talked to a lot of female supporters of hers, or people who have gone to a rally hoping to get over by her candidacy.

And to a person, they were concerned about running a female candidate in the general election because of what happened with Hillary Clinton. They feel like there`s a potent, a latent sexism in this country that can rear its head again in 2020.

And if the primary objective is getting rid of Trump...

MATTHEWS:  But most voters are women -- are female. Most voters are female.

STEIN:  Correct.

And they are the ones who express more concern about Warren`s gender than the men at her rallies.

MATTHEWS:  Is that a self-fulfilling philosophy?

STEIN:  Of course it is.

MATTHEWS:  Self-fulfilling.

STEIN:  Of course it is.

Now, I will say this about Warren. Having observed the campaign apparatuses up here in New Hampshire, her people are as organized, if not more so, than anyone maybe outside of Bernie.

I saw one guy not just being handed leaflets to leave on the door, but individually filling them out with handwritten notes, because he thought it would be a better sell to the -- to the voters he left that literature on the door for him.

MATTHEWS:  Good for him. Good for her.

STEIN:  They are -- they`re really committed. They are organized. We will see how it goes.

MATTHEWS:  I watched the Friday night debate, and I saw something presidential in Amy Klobuchar.

I thought, what`s a president look like? Well, it shouldn`t look like any particular kind of person. But I thought she looked like a president. She was calm, collected. She was confident. She didn`t yell.

I mean, I yell once in a while. She wasn`t yelling at all.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  And I know what yelling sounds like.

ELROD:  Not you. Not you.

MATTHEWS:  I thought she was really presidential. It`s a little late in the game, though. It`s a little late. It`s the second kind of -- can she still do this.

JENNIFER HORN, FORMER CHAIR, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY:  I think she can definitely still do this. And she was one more thing that you didn`t talk about in that debate.

She was empathetic. She listened to voters. She can -- she can relate to voters. I think that -- I think the point -- to her point, she`s kind of been stuck in -- these last two weeks would have been great for her to be on the ground here, instead of in the Senate in the middle of an impeachment trial.

But I think that there`s something very relatable about Amy Klobuchar.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

HORN:  And it`s playing to her benefit.

And to your point -- I will disagree with you just a little bit. I think there`s four or five tickets out of New Hampshire. And I think that the folks who really benefit the most from making -- taking that third or fourth place, Amy Klobuchar -- that`s Amy Klobuchar.

And I think she`s the one who`s sneaking up and is going to surprise people.

MATTHEWS:  You think Biden can survive a fourth-place finish here?

HORN:  No, I don`t think Biden -- actually, I would agree with that. I don`t think he can.

ELROD:  I think -- look, his campaign, to their credit, unlike Iowa, is laying expectations for New Hampshire.

They`re saying, look, we don`t expect to do well here.

MATTHEWS:  I have never heard a candidate say, I`m going to lose.

HORN:  Right.

ELROD:  I agree, but they are leaning heavily on the African-American vote to sustain them through Super Tuesday. And they`re making it clear this time.

So, I don`t think anybody else could do this but Joe Biden.

MATTHEWS:  When does the first African-American get to vote in this election?

ELROD:  Well, there are some here, and there have been some in Iowa. There were some in Iowa.

But, really, of course, South Carolina is a big day for Joe Biden. But if Joe Biden only wins South Carolina by a couple points, that is doomsday scenario for him.

MATTHEWS:  There`s some -- you have been following this as a reporter, Sam. And I read your stuff.

And it seems like things happen in a campaign. We lost Cory Booker. I don`t know what happened. I thought he was a very impressive candidate. We lost Kamala, who started out real strong.

What happened in this campaign? We lost the two African-American candidates. We have two women left. This party is diverse.

STEIN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Twenty-five percent of the Democratic Party is African-American. It`s at least more than half women.

STEIN:  Sure.

No, that`s one of the great questions. And it`s one of the things that`s vexing a lot of national Democrats, is, how can a party that`s built itself up as the big tent, diverse party end up with two 70-year-old men as the front-runner?

And there`s going to be a lot of soul-searching about that.

If I can just backtrack on Biden, one thing, is, I talk to people around here. And, yes, they know that this election is longer. South Carolina may give him a boost.

But, to a person, I have talked to voters here who just are dispirited with a lack of energy in his campaign. They want to see him throw a punch, proverbially, of course.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

STEIN:  They -- one woman I talked to could not believe that someone who`s had the president of the United States belittle his son has done so little to fight back on that.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

STEIN:  And it`s performative, of course, but I think it`s having an impact.

Finally, on Amy Klobuchar, it is remarkable the degree to which she is bringing along comparisons to John McCain. She`s inviting them. She`s reached -- her campaign strategically leaked out that she has been in touch with Cindy McCain.

McCain veterans see her occupying that sort of independent streak lane, a little acerbic, calling out her own party, but also the use of humor as a political tool, which she is very, very deft at.

MATTHEWS:  I think best rally we ever had on our show, "HARDBALL College Tour," was with John McCain back in 2000 down at Clemson.

STEIN:  I remember that one, yes.

MATTHEWS:  It was wild.

Anyway, while most of the Democratic candidates are duking it out up here in New Hampshire, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg released this latest ad going after President Trump, comparing Trump and his rhetoric to that of former presidents. Here goes.

  (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BLOOMBERG CAMPAIGN AD)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Ask not what your country can do for you.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It was all bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

KENNEDY:  Ask what you can do for your country.

TRUMP:  Knock the crap out of avoid of him, would you?

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Their cause must be our cause too.

TRUMP:  I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn`t lose any voters.

JOHNSON:  And we shall overcome.

TRUMP:  As soon as we left, they knocked the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of everybody.

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

TRUMP:  Build that wall, build that wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  So I don`t how this race is going to go. I think Bernie`s favored tonight, tomorrow.

I think Bloomberg has got a lot of money. I think he could spend a billion dollars easily. He probably makes a billion dollars during the course of this campaign, seriously.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  He`s just dipping into the till as it comes in. What happens if he`s the candidate against Trump? Is he going to -- would he be able to lead the Democrats?

ELROD:  Absolutely. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  How does get to be a Democrat?

ELROD:  Well, he`s running in the Democratic primary, and he`s doing pretty well so far in the polls.

MATTHEWS:  So, anybody can do it? So, anybody -- OK.

ELROD:  Well, why I don`t if anybody can...

MATTHEWS:  Pay to play.

ELROD:  But I want to say something really quickly about that ad, Chris.

I wish that was the ad that I saw Joe Biden closing with in New Hampshire, because it reminds people of the electability argument that he played up so early on in his campaign that has now essentially faltered.

STEIN:  Do you want to hear a remarkable stat?

The amount that Bloomberg has already spent in the last three months of 2019 translated to $38 every second. Every second, he spent $38 on his campaign, just a remarkable sum of my.

MATTHEWS:  Tell us about Klobuchar. You love her. I mean, you like her.

HORN:  Well, listen, here`s -- I`m a Republican sitting here who`s absolutely not going to vote for the Republican nominee.

(APPLAUSE)

HORN:  My biggest concern for the Democrats is that they...

Well, thank you.

My biggest concern for the Democrats is that they nominate someone who can build a winning coalition. And to beat Donald Trump, you have to be able to bring disaffected Republicans and right-leaning independents aboard.

So -- and with all due respect to all those folks who do support Senator Sanders, he can`t do it.

I can -- I can tell -- the Republicans will stay home before they will come out and vote for Senator Sanders.

MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s 90 percent of the Republicans back Trump.

How many are available?

HORN:  A much -- but it`s 90 percent of a much smaller Republican Party.

STEIN:  Right.

HORN:  The Trump Republican Party`s a shrinking party, 20,000 fewer registered Republicans in the state of New Hampshire today than on Election Day in November of 2016.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he is for everything they used to oppose.

HORN:  You`re right.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you Adrienne Elrod. Thank you, Jennifer Horn and Sam Stein.

Still ahead:  I spent the weekend talking to candidates and voters, real voters, here in New Hampshire.

Here`s what they had to say ahead of this key primary.

That`s coming up here on HARDBALL. Don`t go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With all eyes now on New Hampshire, we hit the road this weekend to check out the Democratic campaigns.

As the front-runner in the polls, Senator Bernie Sanders of neighboring Vermont is hoping to repeat his performance of four years ago. Yet, with a serious challenger on his heels, it`s not clear he will gain the dominant victory he got in 2016.

Following his delegate victory in Iowa, South Bend`s Pete Buttigieg is getting hit by Sanders, but also by his fellow moderates. His audience this weekend seemed impressed by his insurgent campaign, however, weighing whether he`s the best alternative to a self-described socialist.

Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Pete may be like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, burst out of nowhere, a certain amount of energy and momentum.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he might be president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I do. I think he can beat Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was for Bernie. I`m a Bernie supporter. But I don`t know. And I`m here to listen to Pete.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he has the capability to bring two sides of the party together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I like Pete quite a lot.

MATTHEWS:  What is -- about him? Compare him to Bernie.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think Bernie would probably be an electoral disaster. He would be a pin cushion for the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  However, it was Senator Amy Klobuchar who was the first to raise an alarm about the danger of running a socialist candidate atop the Democratic ticket.

I caught up with her this weekend following her breakthrough debate performance on Friday. Here goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You were asked by George Stephanopoulos, the debate moderator, what your reaction to fact that FOX News and the Republicans and Trump people will be going after Bernie Sanders for being a socialist.

And you responded what?

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, I think he was saying, do you think we should have a socialist leading the ticket?

And I said, correctly, I am friends with Bernie. We came into the Senate together. But I don`t think we want a socialist leading the ticket, no. And I was literally the only one that raised my hand and said that.

MATTHEWS:  Why?

KLOBUCHAR:  I think every -- I watched. Everyone was looking around to see who was going to raise our hands. I`m like, seriously?

(LAUGHTER)

KLOBUCHAR:  I think that you have to lead, and you have to be able to do things that are popular and unpopular.

And I am someone that`s been blunt. I take things on. And I think that`s what people are looking for right now. Instead of worrying about, are you going to piss off someone in our own party or somewhere else, you do what you think is right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  See how our language has changed in this country?

Anyway, while Klobuchar is the wild card in the race right now, former Vice President Joe Biden is fighting for his political survival.

At risk of finishing fifth in New Hampshire, Biden took aim this weekend at both front-runners, Sanders for having a socialist label -- he said -- and Buttigieg for not holding a higher office than just mayor.

Here`s Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN:  Every Democrat will have to carry the label that Senator Sanders has chosen for himself, not me. He`s chosen it, Democratic socialist.

I do believe we`re a party at risk if we nominate someone who has never held a higher office than mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I will be here all day tomorrow covering the New Hampshire primary, starting with "Morning Joe," right here in this room.

Also joining Joe and Mika tomorrow, former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg.

Up next:  Trump continues his attack on impeachment witnesses, as Trump`s allies defend their firing. Apparently, the firings were meant to send a message that opposing the president in any way will not be tolerated.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT:  In the case of the Vindman brothers, remember, they`re detailed here. And I just want to say quickly what that means. They are employed today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They didn`t get fired, they just got relocated.

CONWAY:  That`s right. They`re working at the Army where they were. They were detail at NSC. This is typical.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  I think his reassignment was justified. I don`t think he could be affected at NSC.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA) : Don`t let the door hit you on the way out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Those were some of President Trump`s allies defending his decision last week to remove lieutenant governor -- Lieutenant Colonel Vindman from his position at the National Security Council.

Vindman was on that infamous July 25th call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, and testified that the call was improper. Trump continued to attack Vindman throughout the weekend, tweeting, I don`t know him, I never spoke to him, or met him, but he was very insubordinate, reporting contents of my perfect calls incorrectly and was given a horrendous report by his -- sounds like Alec Baldwin sometimes, the president.

Vindman`s lawyer called the statements obviously false. And as "The New York Times" noted, Trump`s tweets misstated or overstated testimony about Colonel Vindman.

Trump also spent the weekend trashing senators who voted to convict him, calling Alabama Democrat Doug Jones a lightweight and a do-nothing stiff, and tweeting the wonder of people of Utah will never look at grandstander Mitt Romney with anything but contempt and disgust. Even brought up Romney to the Utah governor at the White House today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Gary? How is Mitt Romney? You keep him. We don`t want him. Go ahead.

GOV. GARY RICHARD (R), UTAH:  States are used to --

TRUMP:  Doing a great job in Utah, by the way. Go ahead, Gary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump is also going after West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin multiple times over the past few days, calling him a puppet Democrat senator and weak and pathetic. But he went even further on Sunday, yesterday, saving his most ridiculous attack on Manchin for last. And that`s up next.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

After West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin voted to convict President Trump in the impeachment trial, Trump stuck Manchin with one of his petty nicknames. Trump called the 6`3" tall senator from West Virginia a munchkin tweeting they`re mad at Senator Joe Manchin in West Virginia, he couldn`t understand the transcripts.

Here`s how Manchin responded in an interview today with Hallie Jackson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV):  The munchkin? I`m taller than he is. I think he`s a little bigger than he is. Not heavier. He`s much heavier than me. But I`m taller than him. So, I guess he`s got that a little bit off. And on the thing to attack, it`s nothing I didn`t expect.

HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC HOST:  He called you a munchkin.

MANCHIN:  Do you think names bother me? I mean, do I look small and fragile? Names don`t bother me.

The president can`t get to me that way. I`m not going to retaliate. The people want a mature adult and that`s what the president should be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  The governor also responded specifically to Trump calling Manchin saying he couldn`t understand that transcript.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANCHIN:  He`s referenced I didn`t understand the transcript. I guess, I hope he wasn`t referring to because I`m from West Virginia that we can`t understand or comprehend. I think we do a pretty good job of that. I understood it very well. I read it and understood it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I`m joined now by Joy Reid, host of "A.M. JOY" on MSNBC. And Michael -- William Weld, Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  First of all, I think there was a good sting back at him by Governor Manchin by saying you`re making fun much our country people out here, making fun of West Virginia we`re not smart enough to understand a transcript? He stuck him back.

Your thoughts, Governor?

WILLIAM WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, when things go bad, they really good. And that`s a relationship going sour for sure.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. Well, let me ask you, why you think Trump so -- you know, why is he like -- what was that guy, Javert, why does he keep going after people like in Les Miserables? He seems obsess to tracking down everyone who criticized him.

WELD:  Yes, well, the Vindman firing and Ambassador Sondland, now we know.

It used to be the case that you`d lose your job if you got caught lying under oath. Now in the Trump administration, you lose your job if you get caught telling the truth under oath.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Joy, deterrence -- how much of this is deterrence?

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, you know, with Donald Trump, first of all, on Joe Manchin, you know, just from having interviewed a lot of Trump biographers and people who have dealt with him over the years, if Joe Manchin was in front of Donald Trump, Donald Trump wouldn`t say any of that.

Donald Trump is a Twitter bully. It`s easy for him to put down somebody like Joe Manchin, but that 6`3" man was standing in front of him, he would be solicitous of him as he is with everyone. He would be a concierge.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he`s that way? He played with Godzilla with Hillary Clinton, keep looming out on back her of like that.

REID:  She couldn`t do anything about it, she`s a woman. Donald Trump would not say that to a man to his face. I`m just going to say, that`s the read I get from his biographer.

MATTHEWS: Are you sure?

REID:  No, he would not.

(APPLAUSE)

REID:  And the thing Democrats have to stop doing is treating him like he`s Godzilla. Donald Trump is somebody who from just the people I`ve spoken with who are in that orbit and that have dealt with him, Donald Trump is so angry and so incensed and so infuriated so humiliated by having been impeached, he`s lashing out at everyone that was involved in it. He wouldn`t lash out if he accepted it, if he was celebrating it like he`s claiming to do across the street in his rally.

Donald Trump feels wounded and now he wants to pretend like he`s Vladimir Putin and he can expel people from Douma for voting against him.

MATTHEWS:  Well, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, President Trump is trying to steal some of the spotlight holding a rally a few blocks from here, actually half a block from here. Trump mocks Speaker Pelosi for, quote, mumbling, behind him at the State of the Union and his crowd start to chant "lock her up".

Here he goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  On Tuesday, I delivered my address on the State of the Union, and I had somebody behind me who was mumbling terribly, mumbling.

(BOOS)

Mumbling -- she was mumbling. Very distracting. Very distracting.

CROWD:  Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

TRUMP:  It`s true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And he knows he`s like that guy in "Goodfellas", you know, Jimmy Two Times, get the papers, get the papers.

Why does he keep repeating everything he says over and over again?

RIED:  He has to remember it.

If Nancy Pelosi was mumbling behind Donald Trump, you know what she`s mumbling? I`m about to own you. I`m about to own this State of the Union and I`m about to rip your speech up. If she was mumbling, that`s what she was mumbling. She stole that speech.

MATTHEWS:  Governor, Nancy is one of the most proper people around. She`s so well-mannered. She did rip up his speech. But she also did that after he refused to shake her hand.

WELD:  No kidding, no kidding. I mean, I thought that was completely outrageous, breach of decorum. He may be upset because he knows in his heart that she`s right.

He is impeached for life. A future Congress and Senate, House and Senate which could be a Democratic House and Senate can come back next January, February, and impeach him again if he`s still there, which I sincerely hope he`s not.

REID:  Can I say the reason I think that Donald Trump also is so angry, particularly at Mitt Romney and the lashing out at Mitt Romney is that Donald Trump somewhere deep down understands that the Republican Party that he`s stolen, one day the people he calls Never Trumpers will steal it back. And the kind of men, the men who actually still have that sense of manhood to stand up for what the party was supposed to be about, what my father believed in when he believed in the Republican Party, are men like Mitt Romney and this gentleman right here, Mr. Weld. It`s not people like Trump.

MATTHEWS:  The crowd tried to boo Mitt Romney as Trump was detailing his impeachment in the Senate. Here you go, here`s that crowd.

(BEGNN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  In the House, we won 196-0 and then we got three Democrats. And in the Senate, other than Romney, we had --

(BOOS) 

We got 52-0, 52-0.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Governor, how do you win those people over to a reasonable candidacy like your own?

WELD:  I don`t think the problem is his supporters. I think it`s in himself. And I think he has a lot of fear and anger inside him and he has to do what he does to offload the anxiety he has inside him. That`s why he`s constantly insulting people to get it outside of him on the table so it won`t bother him any more.

MATTHEWS:  He especially dislikes people who have clean records like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. There`s something about cleanliness that bugs him.

REID:  Exactly. Donald Trump sort of -- the book that I just recently wrote, I likened him to the Joker.

(CROOSTALK)

REID:  It was a blurb (ph), it was a pitch. I sort of likened him to Joker in Batman. Joker`s whole life is about hating Batman because Batman is everything he can never be.

Barack Obama, people like Mitt Romney that are honest people -- I don`t agree with Mitt Romney, but he`s an honest --

MATTHEWS:  Who is the best joker?

REID:  Oh, the one we just saw. Joaquin Phoenix I have to say is the best joker.

MATTHEWS:  Governor Weld, what do you have to do tomorrow in New Hampshire to beat this guy?

WELD:  I`ve got to exceed expectations. No matter what happens here, Chris, I`ve had a great time here. It`s on to Super Tuesday to Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado and California.

MATTHEWS:  Good luck.

Well, one thing they know up here, although a lot have left Massachusetts for greener pastures, they remember you as a great governor. Thank you. Great governor of Massachusetts. Don`t you agree?

Thank you, Governor. Governor Weld. I know you`re really one of the Irish. That`s your number one goal in life. I must meet some -- God, make me Irish is this guy`s goal.

WELD:  All Yankees.

MATTHEWS:  You can do sleepy eye (ph), too, which nobody else in that breed of yours can do.

Anyway, thank you, Joy Reid. Thank you, Governor Weld.

We`re back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Tune in to MSNBC tomorrow for special coverage of New Hampshire primaries starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. I`ll be live from Manchester right here.

You don`t have to wait a minute to catch the next episode of my podcast. It`s called, "So You Want to be President?" It gives you the half dozen rules for winning a presidential campaign and they work. Episode 4, play from the back, is available right now wherever you get your podcasts.

Learn how a distant second place finish in the 1992 New Hampshire primary helped propel the self-proclaimed comeback kid Bill Clinton to win the White House.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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