IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

SC victory TRANSCRIPT: 2/28/20, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews

Guests: Anthony Fauci, Ben Rhodes, James Clyburn, Adrienne Elrod, Jaime Harrison, Kathleen Parker

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I want to thank everyone here in South Carolina. We`ll keep our eye in this state. Keep it locked right here on MSNBC, and let`s see. It will be all right.

HARDBALL is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Who is watching out for us? Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Charleston, South Carolina.

There`s increasing concern over the scope and the impact of the Coronavirus tonight. I`m starting the show by talking with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading professional in the U.S. government dealing with the threat of the virus.

The U.S. Stock market continued to slide today marking its worst week since the 2008 Financial Crisis. The Dow fell for a seventh straight day, closing down 350 points, and that`s a 12percent loss since last week.

It comes as additional countries report their first cases of coronavirus, including Mexico, Nigeria, Belarus, New Zealand and the Netherlands. And now, we`re learning that a second person in California has contracted the coronavirus without having traveled to any affected areas.

In a series of tweets overnight, the president congratulated himself, his vice president and his administration for their handling of the crisis in this country. Among other things, Trump said his decisions are, quote, putting us way ahead in our battle with coronavirus.

And here is how he tried to calm fears of the virus late today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, with the flu, on average, we lose from 26,000 to 78,000 people a year, even more than that in some cases, some years. We haven`t lost anybody yet and hopefully we can keep that intact. There have been no deaths in the United States at all.

We are working on cures and we`re getting some very good results. As you know, they`re working as rapidly as they canon on a vaccine for the future.

And, again, we haven`t seen an increase and people are getting better. Almost everybody that we see is getting better, and it could be everybody too.


MATTHEWS: Well, this comes as the World Health Organization raises its threat assessment to its highest level, as their executive director said today, quote, this is a reality check for every government on the planet. Wake up. Get ready. You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world to be ready, and yet many are questioning this administration`s readiness.

According to The Washington Post, people in and outside the White House have warned for years that the nation is ill prepared for a dangerous pandemic. A former official describes Trump`s decision to disband his Global Health Security is a, quote, clear loss, saying now we are behind the ball.

And then there`s confusion over who exactly is in charge. First, Trump put Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in charge, and then he announced that Vice President Mike Pence would lead the effort. And now, Pence has selected a third person, Deborah Birx, to serve as the response coordinator. But even as Pence leads the effort against coronavirus, he still found the time for a political fundraiser while his to Florida today.

There`s also breaking news tonight. NBC News reporting the Trump administration called off a major summit of Asian leaders next month in Las Vegas amid growing alarm over the coronavirus virus.

I`m joined right now by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Fauci, I guess everybody watching right now has one question. How serious is this?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, right now, presently, Chris, I mean, what you just said is true that we have been able to handle and contain cases that we have. But if you look at what`s going in the rest of the world, that will ultimately dictate the impact on us because you`re seeing a considerable number of cases in multiple countries throughout the world. When that happens, what`s going to happen here is that we will see additional cases.

And it`s going to really be the proof of the pudding is how we handle them. Will we be able to identify, isolate and contact trace? And that`s the thing right now that`s going to be the big challenge. Because when you look at Italy, Iran, South Korea, there are considerable number of cases there that bodes that we will see cases here. The question is how are we going to handle it.

MATTHEWS: I guess what I`m hearing is it`s snowballing. Is that right?

FAUCI: Well, certainly on the outside world, we are seeing that. This is what happens when you have a highly transmissible infectious disease. You get into a country and if you don`t have the capability of doing the identification, isolation and contact tracing, then it gets out of hand. And you have cases that appear that you don`t know what the index case was that transmitted it. That has the makings of a much broader impact on the globe, and it looks like we`re heading in that direction.

MATTHEWS: So it is like other countries, when they don`t have a good TSA at the airport, it affects us, is that right? Other countries that may drop the ball increases the geometric speed of this spread?

FAUCI: Well, yes, Chris, you`re right. In other words, we are an interconnected world. I mean, that`s very, very clear. And when you have an infectious agent that can transmit rather readily, anything bad that happens in another country in the global community is going to be even a greater challenge for us. So we have the situation where thus far we`ve actually done very well. And I think the idea that we early on did a travel ban from China and not allow people from China to see the country with cases that could have spread retrospectively. Now, thinking about that, that was a very good idea.

But as more and more countries get involvement with this as we`re seeing with Italy, as we`re seeing with South Korea, the challenge becomes even greater.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about preparation, because if it was just China or a few countries that had infections, we`d only have to worry about people coming from there. But now that we have all these countries including Europe and Central Asia, Russia, former Russian -- Soviet Republics, we`ve got it everywhere, it`s on every continent, how do you play defense, and are we ready to do that now? Can we play defense against all these possible areas of infection?

FAUCI: You know, Chris, we put together a few years ago a pandemic preparedness plan that was originally geared for influenza. And there`s so much ability to extrapolate that right now that that`s what you hear when we say, you have to take a look at parts of that plan which is called mitigation. In other words, how do you deal with it when it is here in the country? And there are a number of ways to do that. And that`s the thing that we`re getting geared up to do.

MATTHEWS: Do we know how it hops from one person to another when there`s no physical contact?

FAUCI: You know, it`s a respiratory-borne disease, Chris. And the way that`s transmitted is very characteristic, very similar to influenza, respiratory droplets, maybe even some aerosol, and also when people sneeze or cough into their hands, they`ll shake hands with someone else, they`ll touch a door knob. And that`s the reason, as though it sounds simplistic, you say one of the best things one can do is to wash your hands frequently as we should be doing with influenza.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the president`s hopefulness. He was very calming. I understand that. He was calming in a way I wonder if it`s true or not. He talks about April coming. Does the arrival of real spring offer hope that this will subside as a danger?

FAUCI: It could be, Chris. I mean, classically, when you have respiratory diseases like influenza, they tend to diminish. So the concept of a respiratory illness that`s transmitted readily diminishing as you get to warm weather is not an unreasonable concept. The only issue is we`re not sure what`s going to happen with this virus because we`ve never had any previous experience with the virus. We are hoping that`s the case, but there`s no guarantee that that`s going to happen.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m thinking if the southern hemisphere where it`s summer now, where it is warm, and Australia is still suffering from it. They haven`t benefitted from a warming of the seasons, have they?

FAUCI: Well, no, but what this might turn out to be that you might see a seasonal issue here, and that`s really the reason why they`re hard working on a vaccine. Because maybe a vaccine certainly is not going to be ready for a year, it might be good for next year.

MATTHEWS: Well, The New York Times is reporting right now that Vice President Pence is controlling the flow of information to the public on this question. The story includes a detail about you. The report said, quote, Dr. Fauci has told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance. Are you operating under normal clearance or normal procedures for getting out public health information?

FAUCI: That was completely misconstrued, Chris. I`m not being muzzled. Everybody who gets on shows like this, you have a normal clearance. I was cleared here, and here I am talking to you, and I`ll give you the whole truth the way I always have.

MATTHEWS: I love to hear that, my friend. Dr. Anthony Fauci have done such great work, you deserve the Medal of Freedom, you`re a great man. Thank you for coming on tonight. And your work against HIV has been wonderful. Thank you, sir.

FAUCI: Good to be with you.

MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, with his credibility in question, President Trump -- thank you -- with his credibility in question, Trump is trying to deflect blame for the crisis, accusing Democrats and I guess us, the media, of needlessly elevating the public`s concern. President Trump`s acting chief of staff, for example, Mick Mulvaney went further today, saying, media`s coverage of the coronavirus is intended to bring down the president.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: We took extraordinary steps four, five weeks ago. Why didn`t you hear about it? What was still going on four, five weeks ago? Impeachment, and that`s all the press wanted to talk about.

The press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president. The reason you`re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That`s what this is all about.


MATTHEWS: Well, this comes after Vice President Pence claimed that the administration was putting politics aside.


MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The president made it clear yesterday, we`re all in this together. This is not the time for politics. The president also directed me to reach out. I spoke to Speaker Pelosi, I spoke to Senator Schumer.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: How did those conversations go?

PENCE: They were good conversations.

HANNITY: They were politicizing it almost instantaneously.

PENCE: Yes, I know.


MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Adviser under President Obama. Ben, thank you. Because you`re good for explaining how bureaucracies work in political seasons, which we seem to always be in now, how would a normal presidency have handled threat of coronavirus?

BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Chris, I think, first of all, what`s concerned a lot of us for years is what was done before the virus, which is an office had been established in the White House on global health security under President Obama to deal with precisely these kinds of pandemic threats that originate in other countries, and it allows you to get health infrastructure and collaboration into those countries to mitigate risks and to help prevent the spread of these types of pandemics. That office was shut down. Funding for CDC in repeated Trump budgets was slashed. And so there`re concerns about preparedness. It had been raised for years.

I think now, what we`d like to is see since this arose out of China, you would like to see the professionals, like Dr. Fauci, who is a national treasure, front and center in communicating to the American people about the crisis. And instead, what we`ve seen the last several weeks is an effort by President Trump to downplay this crisis and to tell everybody that it`s okay, and to tell people it`s going to away in April, not necessarily informed by the facts, as we just heard, and to calm financial markets that seem to be his principal concern.

The goal here in the bureaucracy should function where the White House is playing a leadership role and empowering agencies and working with other countries. And my concern is I haven`t seen evidence that that`s entirely what is happening here.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re fortunate to have had Dr. Fauci come here directly without apparently any attempt by anyone to stop him.

Anyway, as whether this is an economic crisis or a public health crisis, the president again blamed Democrats for the downturn, in this case, of the stock market.


TRUMP: I think it`s just people don`t know, it`s the unknown. You know, they look at it, they say how long will this last. I think they`re not very happy with the Democrat candidates when they see them. I think that has an impact. And we think we`re going to win. We think we`re going to win easily, but you never know, it is an election. I don`t think that`s helping.


MATTHEWS: Well, Ben, I thought there was -- sometimes people can argue the Trump side of the argument rather feistily. But I think it was very hard for anybody to argue that what happened on Tuesday night is while as that debate was, as chaotic it got, had anything to do with what happened on the market. Monday morning, Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning, Friday Morning, that was one incident that happened after a number of market closings had gone to a thousand point drop in the Dow both days.

RHODES: Yes, Chris. I mean, this is just completely absurd that he is taking the conversation this direction. Look, we dealt with multiple pandemics in the Obama administration, the H1N1 flu in 2009 that was quite deadly, obviously, the Ebola epidemic that broke out in 2014.

And you know, Chris, that this is the kind of issue that breaks through politics. This is something people are talking about at kitchen tables across the country. They`re not thinking politics. And the reality is President Trump has been worried about markets, the way to deal with that is to put people front and center. If you can stop the spread of the pandemic, if you can get back control, and if you can communicate clear information that is credible to people, that`s the kind of thing that might prevent further economic damage.

Unfortunately, by focusing more on his messaging around markets because he is the one who is concerned about an economic downturn before his election, President Trump doesn`t seem to be prioritizing response to this pandemic. That`s what the American people want. My hope as an American, Chris, is that experts are put front and center. Get politics out of it from the White House, get the spin and the messaging and the attacks on Democrats out of this and let the experts deal with this.

But, unfortunately, we have a president, President Trump, who disdains expertise, who`s attacked civil servants, who`s called them the deep state. These are people you need when things get really serious as it does in a pandemic. You need government when government is the place of last resort for protecting the health of our citizens.

MATTHEWS: I thought Dr. Fauci debated the very point you made, which his we didn`t understand that he was on the program tonight that the challenge we face in this country as all those points where there are infections around the world, all of those multiple points all over Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, every continent but Antarctica has got infections now. And for us to be prepared for that multiplicity of threats is different than being able to deal with something we thought was just coming from China. This thing is galloping and we have to catch it.

Thank you so much, Ben Rhodes, for coming on tonight.

RHODES: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Coming Up, Joe Biden is favored to win tomorrow in South Carolina, but will it be enough to lift him to a victory on Super Tuesday? He can pick out a couple, four, five states based on the ballots this weekend. Who knows? U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina endorsed Biden, warning about, quote, down ballot carnage if Democrats pick the wrong candidate. U.S. Congressman Clyburn is coming comes here next. A big night FOR HARDBALL.

As his rivals increasingly target Bernie Sanders, however, a new poll shows his strength is growing nationwide. Sanders is growing big.

We`ve got much more to get to live from Charleston, South Carolina. Stick with us.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have been confident about South Carolina because I have worked so hard over 30 or more years here in South Carolina, not to run for president, but to have a relationship with the community.

And I have been deeply involved in this community and this state. And I feel very good about it, felt good about it from the beginning. It has been a launching pad for Barack. And I believe it will be a launching pad for me.

We will see how many -- how much I have to win by. I don`t want to jinx myself along the line here. I feel very good. I have worked hard to earn these votes. And I think I`ll do well.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was former Vice President Joe Biden saying he is confident he will do well in the South Carolina primary here.

As Politico put it, just as his White House bid appeared to be sputtering to an ugly end, there are signs of life for Joe Biden still.

A poll out yesterday, for example, from Monmouth University showed Biden with a commanding 20-point lead over Bernie Sanders here in South Carolina. Politico reports the poll and others like it in South Carolina was welcome news for a campaign buffeted by three straight losses in the other early states.

Those losses had insiders writing his campaign off for dead.

Well, Biden, who at one point during the campaign was the national front- runner, is now averaging about 11 points behind Sanders nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

But a resounding Biden win in South Carolina tomorrow could change the narrative ahead of Super Tuesday.

South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, the most influential Democrat in the state, endorsed Biden earlier this week, and says he hopes the state will give him a surge straight into Super Tuesday.

I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn, the Democratic whip of the Congress.

Thank you, sir.

You`re a leader of the Congress. And you`re a leader in South Carolina. Tell us what you think is going to happen tomorrow, sir.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, I`m very hopeful about tomorrow.

Thank you so much for having me, Chris.

I think Joe Biden is going to do well in South Carolina. I certainly hope so. Joe Biden has been a longtime friend to this state and almost an adjunct resident of the state. He has been in and out of here for 25 or more years.

It is nothing to walk into a restaurant down in Charleston and see Joe and Jill sitting there just chilling out for the weekend.

And the people here in South Carolina appreciate him. He has a record that endears him to the people here. When he was chairing the Judiciary Committee, we extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. He wrote the Violence Against Women Act.

He was a real force to be reckoned with when we were dealing with things like the Civil Rights Act, the housing law, fair housing laws. These things are almost second-nature to Joe Biden.

And so I`m very comfortable with him. He`s been a very close personal friend over the years. My late wife was just crazy about Joe. And so I`m very comfortable supporting his candidacy. And I think the people of South Carolina would be very comfortable with his presidency, were he to get there.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk politics and the future, sir.

Let`s talk about where the election is going to take us in South Carolina, how important it is, and what does it mean if Joe Biden is able to overcome, overtake Bernie Sanders and begin to win primaries outside of South Carolina, especially on Super Tuesday next Tuesday?

How important is that, that he be the front-runner again?

CLYBURN: Well, it is very important to all our down-ballot races, because most of the people I talk to, almost to a person, every one of the Democrats who flipped seats two years ago, by and large, they are very favorable toward Joe Biden.

They think that Joe Biden would do more to help them in their reelection bids than anybody else that is running. And that`s what`s so important. It is one thing to have the presidency. It is something else to have a House and a Senate that can be supportive of his programs.

We know what it is like to have one body and not the other. Where would our Supreme Court be if Barack Obama had help in the Senate, rather than the hindrances that he did have?

Where would we be, even if you go all the way back to laws that we passed during previous Republican administrations? Even during Democratic administrations, we had the Republican House. What kind of House would we be dealing with if we had another Newt Gingrich type running the House of Representatives?


CLYBURN: We need Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House.

And the best insurance for that, I believe, is a Joe Biden candidacy that will hold onto the House, that will give us a chance to win the Senate.

Jaime Harrison is doing well here in South Carolina. And he would do much better than he`s doing now if we had a presidential candidate like Joe Biden.

MATTHEWS: We`re going to have Jaime on in a moment. He is, of course, running against Lindsey Graham for the Senate seat down there.

Let me ask you about the language you used the other day was down-ballot carnage if Bernie Sanders is the nominee of the party.

CLYBURN: Well, I think that...


CLYBURN: I was in Texas about three weeks ago.

I talked to the faith community down there. And they were very, very concerned about whether or not you will do something or have somebody on the ticket that will cause down-ballot carnage.

That`s our biggest problem in -- of my members. We want to see somebody on the ticket that will allow us to expand our numbers, not having to run some kind of a rear-guard campaign in order to keep from being tarnished with a label.


MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Jim Clyburn, majority whip of the U.S. Congress and a leading figure in South Carolina politics.

Thank you so much for coming on tonight, sir. It`s good to see you.

CLYBURN: Thank you for having me.

MATTHEWS: Still ahead, more on this crucial contest -- thank you, sir.

Still ahead, more on this crucial contest in South Carolina, but also looking ahead to Super Tuesday, when we have 14 states on the ballot next week. What does that mean to polls that show Sanders ahead of Warren in her state of Massachusetts, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?

And is Mike Bloomberg destined to play the spoiler? We will find out.

You`re watching HARDBALL live from Home Team Barbecue in Charleston, South Carolina. There it is.




SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow, in case some of you forgot, there is a primary here in South Carolina.

When we started this campaign in South Carolina, I think we were 25 or 30 points behind. We have made up a lot of ground. We`re in striking distance. And if there is a large voter turnout of working people, of low-income people, come out and vote, I think we have got a shot to win this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, of course, here in South Carolina early today.

And while Joe Biden is betting big on South Carolina, with an eye towards Super Tuesday just three days out, Sanders has already moved on. Tonight, he is holding a rally in Massachusetts, one of 14 states voting next Tuesday, when more than a third of all delegates for the nomination are up for grabs.

Look at that map.

Sanders leads in the latest WBUR out of Massachusetts today, at 25 percent, overtaking Senator Elizabeth Warren in her home state. She`s second at 17 percent, Pete Buttigieg down at 14, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg at 13, Biden at 9.

But a strong showing in South Carolina could, of course, give Biden some momentum, particularly in some of those Southern states voting on Tuesday. Biden got a big boost today from Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton`s running mate in 2016. He endorsed the former V.P. There they are.

But, first, the voters here in South Carolina will get to have their say, the first contest where African-Americans make up a majority of the Democratic voters.

For more, I`m joined by Adrienne Elrod, former senior adviser to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Trymaine Lee is MSNBC correspondent and host of the new podcast "Into America."

And Jaime Harrison, there you are, sir, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate against Lindsey Graham down here in South Carolina.

Trymaine, I want to ask you about what you have discovered, because you have been all around the state this week.


I discovered a few things, one, that there are huge pockets of voters, black voters, in some of the rural counties who really feel disconnected and disengaged, almost forgotten by the establishment, but also that the black vote is a little more fluid than we assume.

Obviously, Joe Biden`s been around the block. He knows folks. So he has a loyal base of the bedrock of the black community, older folks attached to institutions, churches and schools.

But there are a bunch of young people I spoke with, 35 -- between 25 and 35 years old, who are looking for someone to connect to. So, there could be an opportunity. But they just haven`t felt that spark yet.

MATTHEWS: Just like the rest of the country.

LEE: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, one African-American voter Trymaine spoke with here in South Carolina was the Reverend Joseph Darby, an AME pastor here in Charleston.

He talked about the divide among African-American voters here. Let`s watch.


REV. JOSEPH DARBY, NICHOLS CHAPEL AME CHURCH: I think there`s a bit of a divide.

Probably, I would say it`s the 40-plus years old lean more towards Biden, and 40 and under, there`s some significant division in there, whether it should be Biden or Bernie or one of the other candidates.

So even my youngest son is wrestling with that.

LEE: So you`re at this point in Biden`s corner, but you have a younger son who is leaving Sanders?

DARBY: He`s leaning Sanders and a couple other possibilities.


MATTHEWS: Well, Reverend Darby also spoken personal terms about his own concerns. Here he goes.


DARBY: I think it`s -- for me, it`s deja vu, because I voted in my first presidential election in 1972, George McGovern.

And McGovern was what would be called a progressive today. He had good policy ideas, generated a lot of youth energy, managed to pull off the nomination, and then got totally smashed in the general election.

And that`s what worries me this time around. I see that same kind of thing materializing.

LEE: With Bernie Sanders?



MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Let`s go back to Adrienne.

I think -- I`m the oldest one here, clearly. I remember McGovern. I worked for the DNC as a volunteer back then. I was working for the Senate, but took some time off to go work at the convention.

And everybody there was in a frenzy of happiness. George McGovern was going to beat Richard Nixon for a second term. Didn`t work.


No, you hear a lot of reminiscing about George McGovern and the `72 campaign and how that played out.

But look, I think we have got to keep in mind that Bernie Sanders, should he be the nominee, he can build his own unique coalition, the same way Barack Obama built his unique coalition and Hillary Clinton built her unique coalition.

He`s generated so much energy among young voters, African-Americans, Hispanics, working-class voters, he`s got a very strong coalition, and people are very excited about him.

So I understand people having concerns, but I do think that Bernie Sanders could do very well as the nominee.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go to a guy who`s going to be on the ballot.

Jaime Harrison, you`re running for the United States senator from South Carolina against Lindsey Graham, the incumbent. Who would you like to be running on the ticket with? Blunt question.

JAIME HARRISON (D), SOUTH CAROLINA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, in the end, Chris, listen, this is something my grandma always told me.

She said, Jaime, you can control the things you can control, and you leave the rest to God.

In the end of the day, I`m going to be on the top of the ticket here in South Carolina. And I got to focus on how I connect with the people of this great state. And that`s what I`m focused on.

I`m going into these rural communities that Trymaine talked about. And we`re connecting on the fact that, many of them, their hospitals closed. They don`t have access to broadband, that 14 of our 46 counties were there no OB-GYNs.

And so there are many issues here in this state where Lindsey Graham has oversaw these issues, and hasn`t done a daggone thing in order to address them.

And so I need to focus on that. And that`s what I`m doing right now.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the gender -- not the gender -- the age thing.

Do you see the same thing among African-American voters, for example, between the older voters being more with traditional candidates like Joe Biden, and the younger ones looking for something rather sometimes radically new?

HARRISON: Listen, the African-American vote is not a monolith.

And that`s something that I have told every single one of these presidential candidates, that they need to go in and make sure that you speak to the experiences of the various groups in our -- in our community.

You know, what younger folks are looking for are very different than my grandma`s generation or even my mom`s generation. And so it`s important to understand what the hopes, the aspirations and the fears are of those groups.

That`s what we`re doing each and every day on this campaign. That`s why we are building this new movement here in South Carolina. That`s why folks should go to and be a part of it.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Meanwhile, polls show Senator Sanders holding significant lanes of the two largest states voting on Super Tuesday, Texas and California, which, combined, will award more than 600 delegates.

In Texas, for example, Sanders leads at 29 percent, followed by Biden at 20 percent. Bloomberg is at 18. Warren`s at 15. The other candidates don`t reach double digits.

Here, the big story is. In California, Sanders is on top at 35 percent, 20 points ahead -- 21 points ahead of Elizabeth Warren, who is at 14. Biden is down at 13. Bloomberg is at 12.

And a FOX News poll has Sanders holding onto a substantially nationally, beating Biden by 13 points.

Let me go to Trymaine and then to Adrienne.

It seems to me, looking at all the numbers yesterday -- I went through them -- that there is a similar similarity in the voting pattern the black-white ratio, if you will, in South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee.

In those states, Biden is running away with it. And then you get more purple states, if you will, out West, it`s a closer battle.

Biden, I looked, could pick up maybe five states next week if he rolls down here on Saturday.

LEE: One thing that is interesting -- and I think Reverend Darby kind of epitomize that idea of this pragmatism.

There are a lot of people with a lot of concerns about the top-tier candidates, but who can beat Donald Trump? And I think, when you think about the younger voters who are looking for inspiration and might find some appeal in what Sanders is offering, can you count them to show up?

You can definitely count on Joe Darby and those guys and churches and institutions to come out. And I think Biden is counting on that and banking on there.

So if he comes out big in South Carolina, that will reassure those that are -- kind of hem and haw a little bit, but feel confidence in his experience.

MATTHEWS: Adrienne, older people tend to be slower at making decisions, because they have seen a lot of mistakes.

LEE: But stubborn also. They`re stubborn.

ELROD: The older I get, the more I can identify with that.

No, Chris, what concerns me are those California numbers, right? Because you look at those numbers, and the only person who is consistently polling about 15 percent, which is the threshold you have got to get to even qualify for delegates in California, is Bernie Sanders.

So, if you are Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, this is the most -- this state has 441 delegates. Bernie Sanders coming out of that state potentially with every single delegate, and that`s where the challenge is for the rest of these Democrats.

MATTHEWS: Jaime, I see you standing next to the guy you`re going to beat right there, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, Lindsey Graham.

LEE: That`s Tim Scott. Tim Scott.


ELROD: Tim Scott.

MATTHEWS: Who`s that?

LEE: That`s Tim Scott.

MATTHEWS: Who? I`m sorry.

Oh, it`s the other senator, Tim Scott. What am I saying?


MATTHEWS: Big mistake. Mistaken identity, sir. Sorry.

Tell me how you`re going to beat Lindsey, because everybody knows Lindsey.


HARRISON: Well, everybody knows Lindsey, but everybody doesn`t like Lindsey Graham.

And that`s how I`m going to beat him, Chris. He`s down in Charleston tonight with the president. And we just released our very first TV ad to hit both Lindsey Graham -- to hit Lindsey Graham on the hypocrisy that he`s had over the past few years.

This is a guy that you can`t trust. This is a guy that doesn`t have a moral compass. And all he`s focused on is Washington, D.C., games.

And in the end of the day, the folks in South Carolina are going to give Lindsey Graham a one-way ticket, maybe not back here to South Carolina, but possibly to Mar-a-Lago.

We`re fed up with sending people to Washington, D.C., and not representing us here in South Carolina.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir, Jaime Harrison, candidate for the U.S. Senate down -- right here. We`re here.

And Adrienne Elrod is -- of course, and, Trymaine Lee, who`s been covering this race for MSNBC.

Up next: Facing one of the biggest crises of his presidency, how is the president choosing to spend his time? This gets a little weird here. He found the time yesterday, for example, for a long chat with two Hollywood actors who are playing people he doesn`t like in the FBI, right? That makes sense, doesn`t it, during a big crisis?

And that`s next. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

AS the country faces two crises, a global health epidemic that is showing no signs of slowing down and a potential economic crisis, resulting in the worst week of stock market losses since 2008, all eyes turned to the president for signs of leadership.

His public schedule yesterday remained very light, with just his daily intelligence briefing and an evening event with African-American supporters.

We saw a bit of that last night.

There was something else that took up, however, most of the president`s time yesterday. According to The Daily Beast, he spent most of an hour in the Oval Office meeting with Superman actor Dean Cain and "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" actress Kristy Swanson.

The two are starring in a play that dramatizes the text messages between former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The former agents are favorite targets for the president, after they were caught exchanging personal text messages criticizing the president as they worked for the FBI.

And right now, President Trump is holding a rally here in South Carolina ahead of tomorrow`s Democratic primary. That`s right. There`s no Republican primary being held in South Carolina tomorrow, but he`s here. The state`s Republican Party voted to cancel it back in September.

So why is the present there tonight, here? In his own words, it`s about being the troller in chief, his new title he has given himself.

And that`s next.

You`re watching HARDBALL.



TRUMP: Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus.


TRUMP: They`re politicizing it.

Democrats will only say horrible things, even though they know we`re doing a great job. We`re doing a great job with what we have to work with. It`s incredible.


TRUMP: The Democrats want us to fail so badly, even if their actions -- and you take a look -- hurt the people of this country.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That is President Trump, of course, tonight rallying his supporters here in South Carolina, making the trip even as his government fights a global health crisis.

The president will not be on tomorrow`s ballot, of course, and the South Carolina -- because the South Carolina Republican Party has decided not to have a primary. This is Trump`s. He`s going to win.

But Trump`s here anyway, just like he was in Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada before votes were cast in those states in Democratic contests.

Yesterday, he seemed to admit why.


TRUMP: We have tremendous popularity in South Carolina. We`re going to go down. Some people have said I`m trolling the Democrats. And maybe I am.


MATTHEWS: Well, for more, I`m joined by Kathleen Parker, syndicated writer for "The Washington Post," who comes from around here, and Jonathan Allen, senior political analyst for NBC News Digital.

Kathleen, you have watched this president trolling, his new word. It`s a new generational term used a lot for a lot of things.

He seems to want to be around the Democrats like a mosquito the night before they vote.


No, he is exactly doing that, swarming and taunting. He just loves to show up where they are to sort of minimize what they`re doing and to get his applause -- his little feed. He need the lights and action, the cameras going again on him.


PARKER: And he just loves, loves, loves doing it. And he doesn`t care that he doesn`t need to be here.

MATTHEWS: It`s sort of like him during the debates. Like, during the debates, when Hillary`s doing something, he`s warming -- wandering around in the background.

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, he`s always looming. But it makes great political sense, Chris.


MATTHEWS: I woke up this morning, I picked up the paper, and there`s a headline about Donald Trump.

Everybody here sees that Trump is here. There`s six, seven Democratic candidates, and he`s getting an opportunity to talk to voters here, a clear shot.

So it makes political sense, except for there`s a coronavirus situation going on. And he`s campaigning for president. And in addition to that, the market is dropping off a cliff. And he`s campaigning for president, not doing his job in the White House.

MATTHEWS: Well, at the same time Republicans accuse Democrats of politicizing the coronavirus, it was President Trump we spent part of his news conference on Wednesday this week attacking the Democratic leadership.

We know that. Here he is.


TRUMP: I think Speaker Pelosi is incompetent. She lost the Congress once. I think she`s going to lose it again.

The same thing with crying Chuck Schumer. He goes out and he says the president only asked for $2.5 billion. He should have $8.5 billion.

He shouldn`t be making statements like that, because it`s so bad for the country.

And Nancy Pelosi, I mean, she should go back to her district and clean it up.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a ringing -- a ringing call for unity, Kathleen.


MATTHEWS: He`s not -- he`s making fun -- he`s using this as sport to make fun of his usual cast of enemies.

PARKER: Of course.

Nobody expects sincerity from Donald Trump. And he`s going to take potshots at his opponents every chance he gets. And when he`s talking about unity, at the same time that he`s criticizing everybody and name-calling, frankly, crying Schumer, he`s just -- it`s just his shtick.

I mean, I don`t know why anybody expects to take President Trump seriously on any subject at all. But...

MATTHEWS: Well, just a minute ago, President Trump attempted to blame the Democrats again, border policy in this case, for the threat of the coronavirus.


MATTHEWS: So, it`s the border issue, it`s the lack of the wall being completed that caused this threat to us. Here`s he -- here he goes.


TRUMP: We will do everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering our country.

We have no choice. Whether it`s the virus that we`re talking about or many other public health threats, the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and well-being of all Americans.

Now, you see it with the coronavirus.



MATTHEWS: OK, here`s the question.

PARKER: The thing is...

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

PARKER: I was just going to say, other than handing off this problem to Vice President Pence, there`s some simple things that the president could be doing so easily.

I mean, why doesn`t he call in all of the medical correspondents and show them, talk to them about what they`re doing? Call in all the governors and have a conversation about what each state needs to be ultimately prepared for whatever may come.

So, he`s just -- he`s not even doing the easy things.


PARKER: And then just essentially handing it off, so it could be somebody else`s fault that it doesn`t work out.

That said, I do know, of course, that the CDC and the National Institutes for Health are talking daily, multiple times with the White House. So there`s...

MATTHEWS: This is real.

PARKER: There is not nothing happening. No, this is not a thoughts and prayers situation.

MATTHEWS: It`s like a war. You can`t P.R. it away.

And I think he`s used to -- he`s really good at the flimflam. He knows how to tell a joke. He knows how to blame other people. But, in the end, if this thing gets really bad -- and we hope it doesn`t -- the government of the United States will be blamed. And he`s running it.

ALLEN: I mean, this is the first time we have seen him have to deal with an external crisis.

He likes to have chaos. He likes to create crises and then solve them or say that he`s solved them. This is the first time there`s something`s that is completely out of his control.


ALLEN: In addition to that, you`re watching the market fall. That`s completely out of his control. He doesn`t have any leverage to really stop that from happening at this point.

And we watched him essentially declare victory from the White House Briefing Room in what -- you know, look, hopefully, that`s the ninth inning. Hopefully, he`s right. Hopefully, this will stop, and it will be contained.

But a lot of people think it might be the first inning, including the people who were standing behind them there on that stage, the senior career official at the CDC, Anthony Fauci.


ALLEN: These are people saying, look, this could get worse, and we need to be prepared.


ALLEN: And here`s the president telling the American people, got this all under control here, and playing scientist on television.


ALLEN: And we all know the president`s a lot of things. One of them is not scientist.


Well, tonight, it`s leader. We need a leader on this fight. This could get -- listening to Dr. Fauci tonight, it seemed to me that we face a geometric, even snowballing effect from all around the world.


MATTHEWS: And maybe we`re prepared for one incident, but if they all start coming at once, obviously, that`s a bigger challenge.

Thank you, Kathleen Parker...

PARKER: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... South Carolinian that you are.

Jonathan Allen, thank you for being on the road with us.

You`re watching HARDBALL live from Home Team Barbecue in Charleston, South Carolina.



 MATTHEWS: Stay with MSNBC all day tomorrow, of course, for live coverage here of the South Carolina primary.

And then the focus shifts to the critical primaries on Super Tuesday. That`s this coming Tuesday. We will have complete coverage of all that.

By the way, I should apologize for that slip-up tonight. I got the word. I thought that that was Jaime Harrison standing next to Lindsey Graham. It was Tim Scott, the fellow senator. I thought it was a candidates pose.

Anyway, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.