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Chris Matthews resigns TRANSCRIPT: 3/2/20, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews

Guests: Jayne O’Donnell, Lawrence Gostin, Maria Teresa Kumar, Eugene Scott,Joe Trippi

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  You heard what’s going on tomorrow. It is Super Tuesday and our coverage is all day on MSNBC.

Don’t go anywhere right now though. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Let me start with my headline tonight. I’m retiring. This is the last HARDBALL on MSNBC, and obviously, this isn’t for lack of interest in politics. As you can tell, I have loved every 20 years as my host of HARDBALL. Every morning I read the papers, and I’m gung ho to get to work. Not many people have had this privilege.

I love working with my producers and the discussions we’ve had over how to report the news. And I love having the connection with you, the good people who watch. I’ve learned who you are, bumping into you on the sidewalk or waiting in an airport and saying, hello. You’re like me. I hear from your kids and grandchildren who say, my dad loves you or my grandmother loves you or husband watched it until the end.

Well, after my conversation with NBC, I decided tonight will be my last HARDBALL, so let me tell you why. The younger generations out there are ready to take the reins. We see them in politics, in the media, in fighting for their causes. They have proven in the workplace. We’re talking here about better standards than we grew up with, fair standards.

A lot of it has to do with how we talk to each other, compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay were never okay, not then, and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.

I’m very proud of the work I’ve done here. Long before I went on television, I worked for years in politics. I was a newspaper columnist and author. I’m working on another book. I’ll continue to write and talk about politics and cheer on my producers and crew here in Washington and New York and my MSNBC colleagues. They will continue to produce great journalism in the years ahead.

And for those who have gotten in the habit of watching HARDBALL every night, I hope you’re going to miss me because I’m going to miss you. But remember Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, we’ll always have HARDBALL.

So let’s not say goodbye, but until we meet again.


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  That was a lot to take in just now, I’m sure, and I’m sure you’re still absorbing that and I am too.

Chris Matthews is a giant. He’s a legend. It’s been an honor for me to work with him, to sit in here on occasion. And I know how much you meant to him and I know how much he meant to you, and I think you’re going to miss him and I know I’m going to.

Not going to have any bells or whistles here. We do have to fill the rest of this hour. We’ll take a quick break and come back with today’s news.


KORNACKI:  All right Welcome back.

Communities are cross the United States are bracing for additional outbreaks of the coronavirus as the administration escalates its response. There has been a spike in new cases. It has brought the total number of people with the coronavirus in the United States to 105. That is according to NBC News, which has confirmed cases in 14 states, including the first one found in New York City. Those cases include the six people in Washington State who have died from the virus since Saturday. Most concerning are the 20 cases that are suspected of being community spread, that means from person-to-person. The transmission of the disease was not associated with travel to infected regions.

In a briefing late today, Vice President Mike Pence said that the response to the outbreak is an all hands on deck effort.


MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  Despite today’s sad news, let’s be clear, the risk to the American people of the coronavirus remains low, according to all of the experts that we’re working with across the government. This president has said we’re ready for anything, but this is an all hands on deck effort.


KORNACKI:  Meanwhile, in a meeting at the White House today, President Trump asked pharmaceutical executives to accelerate their work on a possible vaccine. Yet as you heard from one of his experts, a vaccine is still unlikely to be available to the public for at least a year.


REPORTER:  Do you accept that this will take longer probably than you would like?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I don’t know what the time will be. I don’t think they know what the time will be. I’ve heard very quick numbers, a matter of months. I’ve heard pretty much a year would be an outside number. So I think that’s not a bad -- that’s not a bad range. But if you’re talking about three to four months and a couple of cases, and a year in other cases.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES:  He’s asking the question when is it going to be deployable. That is going to be the earliest a year to year-and-a-half no matter how fast you go.


KORNACKI:  And this comes after The Washington Post reports that, in Washington State, the virus may have been spreading undetected for six weeks. That is according to a preliminary analysis of virus samples which suggest that, quote, the virus has eluded efforts to contain it through travel bans, quarantines and other interventions.

I’m joined now by Jonathan Lemire, he’s a White House Reporter for Associated Press, Jayne O’Donnell is a Healthcare Policy Reporter with USA Today, and Lawrence Gostin is a Professor of Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Thanks to all of you for being with us.

Jonathan Lemire, let me just start with you. We heard a little there from the president. Obviously, the vice president spoke publicly today. Just tell us your sense of the approach that’s sort of taking shape from this administration when it comes to the coronavirus.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS:  Well, Steve, first of all, Chris Mathews obviously was an institution at MSNBC for a long time. And certainly, we wish him and his family well.

In terms of the White House and the response to the virus, they’re breathing a little easier today on one level. Certainly there are two tracks here. Firstly, most importantly is the public health crisis, and that, of course, is a concern. We see the growing number of cases in Washington State. There is a concerted effort by this White House to have a more consistent sober, somber approach. We are seeing the briefings from the vice president today. Vice president said that we should have an expectation they will be frequent, perhaps on a daily basis they make him the face of this response. The information to the public and coordinating with the states.

On the other track, markets have stabilized. They were up slightly today and it’s halted at least temporarily the freefall from last week. And we know the president has been deeply concerned about that. That this is something while he was in India last week, I was along with him as part of the press pool for that trip, he was constantly peppering aides looking for updates on the state of the virus but also the state of the stock market.

We’ll hear from him tonight at a rally, and this will be a test of his discipline. Last week when he spoke in the White House briefing room, the markets reacted poorly. He tried to calm them. And, in fact, the dive only continued. The White House has had at least today their messaging has been on target in their estimation. But aides who I’ve talked to the last few hours say that they are at least holding their breath perhaps as to what the president will say tonight, whether he can kind of stay on track and try to keep Americans calm because there’s no question the number of cases here are only going to grow in the days ahead.

KORNACKI:  Jayne, what Jon is saying there does raise a question. How confident would you say public health officials are that they have a grasp of the scope of this in terms of impact on the United States?

JAYNE O’DONNELL, HEALTHCARE POLICY REPORTER, USA TODAY:  Well, first I’d like to mention that I’ve known Chris Mathews since he was a press secretary to Tip O’Neal. And I too share Jonathan’s sadness or comment on that he’ll be missed.

The public health officials publicly and the ones that are the front-facing people say they’re confident. I have a story posting any minute, within an hour or so, about how the public health departments have been decimated.

The CDC’s funding for the state and local health departments is down by about a third over the last, since 2002. There are way too few people to be dealing with this. When you start to get into what’s called contact tracing, where they’re having to figure out if I had it, how many people I came in contact with. It will overwhelm them.

Having said that, this is not anything that people really need to worry about that much. There is a tremendous overreaction. People need to wash their hands, as they would for the flu, if they get coronavirus unless they’re elderly or over 65 and not well. It’s like having a very bad flu.

KORNACKI:  And, Lawrence, there is that issue of the vaccine as well, the timetable there being quoted of a year, up to a year to get that. Realistically, is that what we’re staring at here?

LAWRENCE GOSTIN, DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CENTER FOR GLOBAL HEALTH LAW:  I think undoubtedly. I mean, we’re going to make huge progress in getting the vaccine. For a novel virus like this, I’ve never seen it so quick. And remember, we don’t have -- we never did have a vaccine for the other coronaviruses like SARS or MERS.

So it’s deeply impressive. NIH is really strong. We’ve got good state and local health departments. But I would reiterate it’s been decimated. Not only at the state and local level, but the White House got rid of their global health security expertise on the National Security Council.

And so there are concerns about trying to really, you know, get a grip on this. And I wouldn’t under estimate it. This is not a common cold or a sniffle or a touch of the flu. It’s a very serious infection that could spread very widely in the United States in the coming weeks. We could see social distancing, school closures. Our lives might be disrupted. And we need to be prepared for that.

KORNACKI:  Politico reports that administration officials are blaming Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for faulty testing kits, which slowed the response to the outbreak, quoting from the story, the lack of test capacity forced U.S. officials to screen a limited number of patients across January and February, where the CDC testing fewer than 500 Americans at the same time that China was likely testing at least 1 million of its own residents.

The Washington Post reports that interviews of nearly two dozen officials, experts and former aides, quote, portray a White House scrambling to gain control of a rudderless response defined by bureaucratic infighting, confusion and misinformation.

Jon, the role of Alex Azar in all this being mentioned here, what is it? How would you define it?

LEMIRE:  Well, right now he’s shaping up to be the scapegoat if things don’t go well.

The reporting does lineup. First of all, the secretary has had some issues previously in the administration. He’s had some clashes with other high ranking administration officials. This administration did move slowly here to start, in part, because out of the president’s sort of respect for China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is very reluctant to upset by criticizing China’s response to the virus. Of course, it originated there.

The president is in the middle of trade negotiations with China. He is someone who is already very deferential to Xi and was reluctant to sort of not just to criticize China but will have to mobilize American response, say, for blocking those flights, not letting foreign nationals come back to the U.S. those who would come from China.

So there was a sense they were a step slow here and they’re trying to play catch up ever since. And, of course, the president himself is trying to be relentlessly positive. He is trying to suggest they have this under control. He consistently undercounts the number of cases we have here in the United States, suggesting that it shouldn’t matter to the stock market, suggesting that it will go away, this whole virus will go away when the weather warms up. And that seems to defer to the health experts at the table. But that seems to be a dubious claim at best.

So therefore, I think that what you’re seeing here is an administration that is struggling to play catch up to get their -- wrap their arms around this crisis. And I think that if this does spiral out of control, if things do get worse, if there are more fatalities, if the market dips again significantly, you will see heads roll in the administration and Secretary Azar is a good guess for the first one to go.

KORNACKI:  Jayne, what are the most immediate and important steps the administration should be taking here or needs to be taking here? What would public health experts say that is?

O’DONNELL:  Well, they certainly need to get the money to the local health departments. They need to have the test kits in the hands of the local health departments, the local and state ones that are well prepared, and that are up to snuff. I mean, some of these health department’s equipment that was really -- that was beefed up after 9/11 has been ignored, so they’re not going to pass. They need to get the money where it matters and it often doesn’t. I mean, often, the money ends up in these areas after the virus or whatever the virus is, Ebola, after it’s already passed. That’s when you’re able to hire people.

So there has to be a way. There has to be an understanding. President Trump said the other day that he doesn’t like paying people just to stand around. Well, there’s enough health problems. The opioid epidemic, there was the opioid crisis, opioid abuse that he proclaimed 16 months ago. That’s now going to get ignored. All these things are going to get ignored.

So, they wouldn’t be standing around. And people need to be -- there needs to be planning and preparedness, because we know this is going to happen again.

KORNACKI:  And, Lawrence, talk a little bit, if you would, about the significance.

We talk about the lack of test capacity, the significance of that in this sort of burgeoning stage of this.

GOSTIN:  Yes, I mean, test capacity is important, because, you know, we have so few cases, because we have tested so few people.

And so, as you mentioned, in China, South Korea, Japan, there’s been quite a lot more testing, so you can’t really track an epidemic and bring it under control, if you don’t know if exists.

But let me just come back to the funding, because you really made a very good point. One of the things that’s dismayed me is, is that when the president put his emergency appropriation into Congress, it was just north of $2 billion.

Half of that $2 billion was going to come out of HHS’ own budget, whereas we needed at least $10 billion, just based upon H1N1 and other -- and West Africa Ebola. And when the president said, well, I’ll take what they give me, it seems to me that a leader really should say, this is what we need, this is what we’re going to spend it on, and this is why we need it, to spend it on these things.

And there are a lot we need to spend it on, state and local health departments. We’re going to see a real run on hospitals, so we’re going to need ventilators, protective equipment for medical staff. We’re going to need a global health capacity, which has been decimated, too, to actually go to the source of the next epidemic and try to snuff it out there, rather than fighting it in U.S. soil.

So, we do have a huge catchup to deal with right now.

O’DONNELL:  Isn’t that the Epidemiological Intelligence Service I learned of today? That’s been cut.

GOSTIN:  Well, the -- yes.

O’DONNELL:  Right. Those are the people that do that.

GOSTIN:  Yes, the Epidemiological Intelligence Service is the world-class service. That’s what trains our finest epidemiologists around the world.

O’DONNELL:  And they’re cut.

GOSTIN:  They have been cut.



GOSTIN:  Their global health capacity in countries have been cut.

State and local health departments have been cut. You know, one of the things that really strikes me is, is that if you thought about the security of America, and you were to say, what’s our biggest threat, is it chemical, is it nuclear, most people will say, it’s biological. It’s naturally occurring epidemics.

And yet there’s no post on the National Security Council covering that. I think that speaks volumes.

KORNACKI:  All right, Lawrence Gostin, Jayne O’Donnell, Jonathan Lemire, thank you to all of you.

This is a very important, this is a very serious topic. You added some useful information, some valuable insight to it. And I know the circumstances tonight are highly unusual. I appreciate you bearing with that.

Jayne and John, I also appreciate those nice words you had to say about Chris there.

I’m just -- level with the audience at home here again. I know -- if you saw the beginning of the show, I know where your mind is. You can probably tell, my mind is there as well.

Like I said, we have to get through the hour anyway. That’s how the world works, so we are doing that. But I know where all of our thoughts are right now.

Coming up, there are major developments in the presidential race. The moderate wing of the Democratic Party, some of his former rivals, closing rank around Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar suspending their campaigns, set to endorse Biden later.

We’re going to talk about how that could affect the 14 primaries on Super Tuesday tomorrow.

Stay with us.


KORNACKI:  All right, welcome back, folks.

Eve of Super Tuesday, 1,344 delegates tomorrow. Obviously, the nature of this Democratic race, it seems to be changing. It seems to be changing dramatically. It seems to be changing quickly. I keep saying the word change because I’m hoping the screen will change from blank.

So far, it hasn’t. Maybe it will, and we will talk a little more about what’s on that map right there.

But, before that or until that, I can at least talk to you about where this race stands right now.

There you go. So, here you go.

Super Tuesday, March 3, that is tomorrow. Boy, I’m on a roll tonight -- 1,344 delegates up for grabs tomorrow.

Look, obviously, the story here, Joe Biden coming out of South Carolina on Saturday, clearly, there’s new life in his campaign. The immediate challenge for him is, a week ago, if you looked at this map and you looked at the polls in these states that are highlighted right here, you would have said Bernie Sanders is on the verge of running away with Super Tuesday.

He was going to roll up a big win in California. It looked like he’s going to win Texas, maybe comfortably. Looked like he was going to shut Biden out of delegates all together in Colorado, in Minnesota, in Massachusetts, a bunch of those states. Maybe Sanders was going to win Virginia and North Carolina.

You looked at this map a week ago, and you were saying, at the end of Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders is going to be 350, 400 delegates ahead of Joe Biden, and then that’s it. He’s on his way to the nomination.

Well, guess what? Since Saturday, since that big Joe Biden win in South Carolina, we have started to see poll numbers change. We have actually had a couple of polls come out of California since that primary in South Carolina on Saturday, the polls showing Biden -- there’s -- there’s the average of them right now, if you take all the polls that have come in, in the last couple days and put them all together.

That’s what you get. And look at that, Biden at 18 percent. That probably doesn’t look like much. You’re probably looking at that and saying, what are you talking about, Kornacki? Biden’s getting blown out 2-1.

The key there is, Biden is over 15 percent. And if you can get over 15 percent, you can get delegates. You can get statewide delegates. You’re also going to start getting a lot of delegates at the congressional district level.

The bottom line, when you look at numbers like that, is, instead of Bernie Sanders getting like 300 delegates out of California, which is what his campaign was hoping for after heading into last Saturday, and instead of Bernie Sanders getting 300 delegates, his margin over Biden very, very much reduced, if Biden can just get over 15.

And if another candidate, like Warren there, can also get over 15, then Sanders gets even fewer delegates. And if Bloomberg, sitting there at 13, could ever move up to 15 as well, that would further erode Bernie Sanders in this delegate haul he’s been hoping to get out of California.

So there’s the movement in California. Obviously, with Klobuchar getting out of the race, Minnesota, that’s one of the states set to vote tomorrow, if you looked at the polls in Minnesota before South Carolina, looked like Biden wasn’t going to get a single delegate out of the state.

And, meanwhile, it looked like Sanders was going to get like 40 delegates out of the state. Well, with Klobuchar out of the way, there’s the pope. Biden was sitting at 8 percent. This was taken, like, days before South Carolina. It was Klobuchar, it was Sanders.

In a poll like this, those are the only two. If the result looked like that, those are the only two that were going to get delegates.

Well, you got Biden. Obviously, there’s indications he’s moving up in the polls, Klobuchar now dropping out of the race. She’s not going to get 29 probably tomorrow. There’s an opportunity there for Joe Biden to get over 15 percent, to get delegates in Minnesota.

Even if he falls short of Bernie Sanders, even if he loses the state to Bernie Sanders, he’s not getting blown out in the delegate count.

And this is a delegate race now. That’s what we’re talking about right here, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden. Warren is trying to gobble up as many as she can tomorrow, California. Massachusetts is another opportunity for her.

Obviously, we’re going to be covering this. There’s Massachusetts. Just take a look at Massachusetts for a minute. Again, this is a poll that came out of Saturday night. So think about this.

Saturday night, Joe Biden is winning by 30 points in South Carolina. It’s the best night of his political career, right? This poll comes out at the same time, Biden sitting at 11 percent in Massachusetts. In a poll like this, he would get zero delegates.

But the Biden campaign hopes that, with what has happened in the last couple of days, Buttigieg dropping out, Klobuchar dropping out, Biden getting the momentum from South Carolina, he’s going to be able to move up from 11 to north of 15, maybe to get to 20, maybe to even, in an ideal scenario for them, contend in Massachusetts.

It’s the difference between getting zero delegates and getting dozens of delegates. And for Joe Biden, it has just changed the equation completely.

Again, a week ago, we were looking at Biden getting absolutely flattened on Super Tuesday and Sanders running away with it. Now there is some real suspense heading into tomorrow night.

And that’s what we’re going to be tracking from 6:00 p.m. I think our coverage starts at 6:00 p.m. From 6:00 p.m. on, it is the delegate race. Sanders. It’s Biden. It’s Warren. It’s Bloomberg.

Going to be a very interesting night. Very much looking forward to it.

And I hope you will join us for that as well.

We are going to take -- it never came on. It happens around these parts. It’s OK. It’s one of those nights. And I think it’s very understandable around here, given everything that’s happening right now.

Still ahead:  Did Biden’s big win in South Carolina change the trajectory of this race? It is looking more and more like a two-man race between Biden and Sanders.

Stay with us.


KORNACKI:  Welcome back.

With Super Tuesday, the largest voting day of the presidential campaign so far, now just hours away, a reshaped field of candidates shows what a difference a win can make with former Vice President Joe Biden.

After that decisive victory he had in South Carolina on Saturday, the number of candidates now stands at five, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will appear on the ballot tomorrow for the first time.

In just the past 48 hours, the moderate lane of the party appears to be consolidating around Biden. Senator Amy Klobuchar called it quits this afternoon. She is expected to publicly endorse Biden at a rally in Dallas next hour.

And after Pete Buttigieg dropped out yesterday, he spoke to Biden by phone. And NBC News has confirmed that he will endorse Biden in Dallas, although it’s not clear if he will do it publicly at tonight’s rally.

Fourteen states are up for grabs tomorrow. We were just taking you through this, more than one-third of all delegates at stake, 1,344 of them. Get used to that number. You’re going to be hearing that a lot tomorrow.

As Biden focuses on Texas tonight, Bernie Sanders is in Minnesota at this hour. And, today, before Klobuchar dropped out, Sanders suggested the consolidation is part of an effort by the establishment to stop him.


QUESTION:  Are you concerned about the moderates consolidating behind Joe Biden?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Look, it is no secret -- I mean, "The Washington Post" has 16 articles a day on this -- that there is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders. That’s not a secret to anybody in this room.

The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together. And they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.


KORNACKI:  And for more, I’m joined by Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, Eugene Scott, political reporter for "The Washington Post," and Joe Trippi, Democratic strategist. Thanks to all of you for being with us.

I will just say what I said to the panel we had a few minutes ago. I think we know what is on everybody’s mind. This is a very unusual and a very difficult circumstance for all of us.

I know all of you are veterans of this show.

And, Maria Teresa Kumar, I know you knew Chris well, and you did have something you want to say.

I’m just going to open the floor and let you say it.


It’s almost to the day 10 years ago when I first appeared on Super Tuesday, and he interviewed me. And he wanted to talk about the Latino vote. And I have to say, his veracity for wanting information, his curiosity, and for giving this kid a shot, I will forever be grateful to him.

I wish him the best.


And, Joe, let me -- let me -- same thing to you. And I’m just -- I know you have something to say. Go ahead.

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, look, right after I ran the Dean campaign in 2004, I think Chris was one of the people that got me in it at MSNBC. I was there for a few years, on HARDBALL, gosh, more times than I can count.

It was a joy every time. It was a blast.

And about three days ago, called and asked if I’d come back and do the show tonight.

And this isn’t -- not what I was expecting, but, no, best to him. And I’m in as much shock as anybody else.

KORNACKI:  And, Eugene, I know your appearances don’t date back to 2004, but I know this isn’t your first one either.


KORNACKI:  I will just give you a second as well.


Within weeks of starting at "The Washington Post," Chris had me on HARDBALL to talk about identity politics issues related to race and, quite frankly, millennials as well.

And so it’s really important and valuable for him to acknowledge that a generational shift has happened and that a new day has come, and wanting to provide more opportunities for the next generation of politicos and journalists and media analysts to have an opportunity to tell the story of where our nation is going.

KORNACKI:  Just, as a viewer for years -- I was a viewer before I was a guest anchor for this show.

And I just trying to understand people, always came through with me.

The other thing that came through with me with Chris was he loved politics and politics is in the air tonight. So, let’s talk a little bit about that.

Joe Trippi, I’m going to start with you actually because I’m watching what is happening with Bernie Sanders right now. The so-called establishment lane, whatever you want to call it, consolidating, trying to stop him. Is he going through what you and the Howard Dean campaign went through in 2004?

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, everybody, every candidate goes through this. If you move to the front, everybody else tries to take you down and stop you. And currently, you know, until a couple days ago, he was the clear front runner. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

So, we’ve watched this with other people as they surged this year. I suspect it’s turning it into a two-person race now because of how Joe Biden performed in South Carolina. The real thing now is which one of them can unify the party.

And if more of the other candidates start to unify behind Joe Biden or -- we don’t know, I have no idea what Elizabeth Warren or Steyer or some of the other potential candidates, if they, as they get out or -- and she may hang around. But again, how do you consolidate the party? How do you -- both of them are going to have to expand the coalition that they’ve built up to this point to have any chance of getting to 50 percent of the delegates at the convention.

KORNACKI:  Well, talking about this consolidation, Biden has been gathering a growing collection of endorsements since that win in South Carolina, in Super Tuesday states and beyond. But former President Barack Obama is still officially on the side lines in this race. Bloomberg news first reporting that Obama did call Biden to congratulate him on the South Carolina win. But NBC News reports that Obama has had, quote, a hidden hand in an effort to unite around Biden.

Quote: People close to the president said they are keeping close tabs in the race. They said the signal has been sent in the past 36 hours that he sees Biden as the candidate to back and they don’t need Obama to say it publicly or privately.

Eugene, it’s interesting. They -- people in this article don’t need anybody publicly or privately, but I am thinking of the impact that the Jim Clyburn endorsement had in South Carolina, we had that exit poll. And basically half the electorate in South Carolina said that was an important consideration. I’ve got to imagine if Jim Clyburn in South Carolina can do that for a candidate, Barack Obama nationally could also have a pretty big impact.

Do you think there is a chance of something public from him?

SCOTT:  Eventually, certainly, if he is the nominee. But I think the president and his wife have been very vocal earlier in this race. They wanted to stay out of this as long as possible. But I think --

KORNACKI:  And, Eugene, I’m actually -- I hate to do this. I don’t mean to interrupt, but we actually do have some breaking news here.

We can show you, we said we weren’t sure if Pete Buttigieg was going to be endorsing Joe Biden tonight. Here they are together. Dallas, Texas, this rally we’ve been talking about. Joe Biden just walked in. The pictures you’re seeing on your screen, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg together. I guess it’s theoretically possible that Pete Buttigieg is there for some other purpose than to endorse Joe Biden, but I assume this is not a coincidence.


KORNACKI:  Yes. I assume, you know, he’s not there to go to the Chili’s next door or something.

It looks like that endorsement now is coming, so you’ve got the specter now, the prospect of a Buttigieg standing with Biden, Klobuchar standing with Biden, and three candidates really becoming one candidate on the eve of Super Tuesday.

Eugene, just your reaction. I didn’t mean to interrupt you there, but your reaction to the pictures we’re now seeing.

SCOTT:  I remember when I was in Iowa shortly before the caucus, so many of the voters who picked Buttigieg actually thought highly of Biden and wanted to support him, but one of the new direction --

KORNACKI:  I’m interrupting you again. I’m sorry. I’m terrible tonight. Pete Buttigieg is talking. Let’s listen.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, when I ran for president we made it clear the whole idea was about rallying the country together to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for the values that we share. And that was always a goal that was much bigger than me becoming president and it is in the name of that very same goal that I’m delighted to endorse and support Joe Biden for president of the United States.


And I do it with great pleasure knowing just how much we need to do, not only to win, which is so very important. And when I say win, not just win back the White House, but make sure we bring those vitally important house and Senate and local races with us. We can hear it for that.


But also we’ve got to do it in a way that starts to change the toxic and divisive nature of our politics right now. We can’t go on like this. And we’ve got a politics right now that makes it sound like being loudest is tantamount to being right. We need a politics that’s about decency, a politics that brings back dignity.

And that is what we sought to practice in my campaign. That’s what Joe Biden has been practicing his entire life.

So, what we see right now is an opportunity, not just to meet that imperative of getting a new and better president, but of doing it with a leader who will practice that way of rallying people together, with ideas that are big enough to unite the American people, of all generations.


And if you think about it, on some of the most important issues affecting my generation and the next generation, climate change, gun violence, Joe Biden has been delivering on those very priorities. From taking on the NRA and winning, to negotiating the Paris climate accord, to shepherding the passage of the Affordable Care Act. This is what has made it possible for us to achieve what has been achieved, and that is why I have such confidence that as president, Joe Biden will take the ball further as it needs to go.

But it’s even more than that. It’s the need to bring back dignity to the White House.

CROWD:  Yes.

BUTTIGIEG:  When we have a president who is tearing this country -- 


And the country already knows without me having to say so, but I want you to know how unbelievably and unfailingly decent I have known Vice President Biden to be. From his visits to South Bend while he was vice-president, to my visits as a mayor to the White House during the Obama-Biden administration, to perhaps especially the experiences that I’ve had getting to know him while competing with him. He is somebody of such extraordinary grace and kindness and empathy.

From taking time to talk to somebody who struggles to speak, to taking time for a family that’s struggling with loss, he will bring the exact kind of empathy that is so badly lacking in this White House, and along the way in his campaign, will draw us together as we need a leader to do.

I commented last night, and I’ve often said that politics at its best is more than policy. It’s soul craft. And so, it’s fitting that I am joining to support a campaign that speaks so often about the soul of this nation. I don’t believe the world is divided up into people who are all good and people who are all bad.

I don’t believe that how you voted in the past makes you good or bad. I believe that each of us can have good things and bad things brought out of us, and that’s why leadership is so important. I’m looking for a leader. I’m looking for a president who will draw out what is best in each of us.

And I’m encouraging everybody who is part of my campaign to join me, because we have found that leader in vice-president, soon to be president, Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Folks, well, I tell you what. Folks, this is -- I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Pete’s endorsement. And I know for Pete’s supporters, from the mayor to many people that are here, this is also a bittersweet moment because you’ve supported a man of enormous integrity, a fellow who has as much moral courage as he has physical courage. And I really mean that.

There hasn’t been a harsh word between us since we started to compete. And I think that it’s clear to everyone that this is a man who is not only brilliant, but is decent. And this is a man who, when I called Pete when I got out, which surprised me when he said he was going to suspend his campaign, I didn’t ask Pete to endorse me, but I called him and told him that we needed him to stay engaged, we needed him badly to be involved, because when he talked to the campaign and debates about passing the torch to the next generation, that’s absolutely essential.

And I am absolutely confident with further exposure of the nation to Pete and to all he stands for and all he’ll do, and all he can do that there is no limitation on what this man can get done. And the fact that he’s prepared to help me is -- means a great deal to me. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but he reminds me of my son Beau. And I know that may not mean much to most people, but to me it’s the highest compliment I could give any man or woman.

And that is that, like Beau, he had a backbone like -- he has a backbone like a ramrod. I really mean this. But think about it. You’ve heard me -- some of you have heard me say this before. When I got elected same age Pete got elected, 29, people would come up to me because I won it must have been some secret. They’d come up to me and say what’s the secret?

I said there’s one secret. You shouldn’t get engaged unless you know what’s worth losing over. Pete knows what’s worth losing over. Pete knows why he gotten engaged knows why he’s there, and why I’m confident -- absolutely confident he will stay engaged.

I warned Pete that if I were lucky enough to get the nomination, that I would be asking him to join. I’m asking him to be involved in this process because there are a generation of leaders of Pete’s age like my son Beau who have unlimited potential, unlimited potential. The only thing that stands in their way is access and opportunity to be able to be known nationally.

If Pete had been around another six years, I wouldn’t be standing here. Pete would be standing. I’d be endorsing Pete. No, I really mean it. I really mean it.

So, folks, you know, the other point I want to make is this. That the reason I -- and we talk after debates, we talk during the interim periods when we’re backstage. The reason that I admire him so much and the reason why I think we’re so simpatico when we represent two generations, is that Pete knows the role of the president is not just a fight, it’s not just to win, but it’s to heal. This country needs to be healed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN:  No, I mean it.


BIDEN:  Pete gets it. I talk many times about the plight -- I think of things like Pete does. It’s all about you. It’s all about family. It’s all about community. And it really is.

That’s what got Pete engaged. That’s what got him involved. That’s what got me involved. And it’s never changed.

When I left the vice presidency, when our term ended, I thought a long time about what to do. And I had opportunities to take advantage, some significant opportunities for a kid who was listed as the poorest guy in the Senate all those years. But I decided that, having the conversation, I’ll end with this with my son Beau. I’m sorry to talk about my son Beau so much, but he was my soul.

And I remember him knowing that he only had a little time to live and asking me whether -- we’d go home every weekend, Joe and I because he only lived where the crow flies, a mile from us. We’d have dinner Friday night, spent the weekend with him.

He asked my wife and I to take the children upstairs because he wanted to talk. He said, dad, I know no one loves me more than you do, and he said, dad, but I want you to know, I’m going to be OK, even though we knew it was going to be a matter of months. It’s going to be OK.

And he looked at me and said, he said, dad, I want you to promise me you’re going to be OK. Some of the presses heard me say this, I wrote a book about Beau, "Promises to Keep". When I went on to talk about that was the first book I wrote. Then I wrote another book about Beau, "Promise Me, Dad".

And what it was all about is what Pete’s all about. He said, promise me, Dad, you’re going to stay engaged. He knew I would take care of his family and do whatever would need to be done. But he thought I would withdraw and move away.

And he looked at me and he said: Dad, look at me. Promise me, give me your word as a Biden. Give me your word, dad, you’re going to be OK.

I knew what that meant. He didn’t want me to walk away from what I’ve done my whole life, be engaged in policies that are designed to lift people up, no matter what their background, no matter what their circumstances, to reach out. I’m no hero by any stretch of the imagination, but I stayed engaged.

And when I stand on the stage sometimes and a couple people who have been - - the press has been assigned to me, they’ve heard me say it. I just hope he’s proud of me. And I look over at Pete during the debates and I think, I think, you know, that’s a Beau because he has such enormous character, such intellectual capacity, and such a commitment to other people.

And, folks, I can’t tell you how much it means to me that he would step up and endorse me. He didn’t even tell me when we spoke he was going to endorse me. But I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate it because I promise you, you’re going to end up over your lifetime seeing a hell of a lot more Pete than you are of me.



KORNACKI:  All right. You are watching that press conference there wrap up. That was Joe Biden, the former vice-president being endorsed by his now former rival, the former mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, an event at Dallas.

Again, as that was happening, we just got word that another former Biden rival, Beto O’Rourke also set to endorse Joe Biden. And there was news earlier that Senator Amy Klobuchar also getting out of the race will endorse Joe Biden. So three endorsements in one day for Joe Biden from former rivals. This, again, on the heels of that big victory he had in South Carolina over the weekend and his campaign hopes that tomorrow on Super Tuesday, he will be close, at least, in their view, to Bernie Sanders in the delegates and maybe have a much better Super Tuesday than things were shaping up to be for him just a couple days ago.

It’s funny how fast things can change in politics. Remember what we were saying a week ago, remember what we’re saying now. Keep that in mind the next time we tell you something.

Anyway, I want to thank the guests who were there, by the way, I’m sorry we didn’t get to use them. Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you for being with us. Eugene Scott, Joe Trippi. Appreciate you being here tonight. Very, very difficult, unusual, awkward circumstances tonight. I appreciate you rolling with us. Thank you for that.

KUMAR:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Before we go tonight, I do want to say a few words about tonight’s news, top of this show.

What I’ve loved about Chris Mathews is how much he loved politics. That is what has always come through to me. He knew the dark side of politics just like we all do. He knew about the ugly and unflattering aspects of humanity that politics can bring out and even reward, the things that rightly turn off so many Americans to all of it.

But Chris could see something beyond that. He could see the possibility that politics could also be used for something noble, even amidst all that human frailty. Before he came to the media world, Chris lived it as a top aide to the speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill.

I have always, always loved hearing Chris tell stories from those days with tip. He also wrote about it. He is a heck of a writer. He’s punchy, he’s funny, he’s deeply insightful.

The game of politics is always changing, it’s always evolving. What never changes is the force that drives all of it -- human nature, human beings trying to gain power, hold power, use power. And that was the essential insight of the book that introduced so many Americans to one Christopher Mathews. I still got the copy.

This is from my office, 32 years ago, "Hardball: How Politics is Played Told by One Who Knows the Game". That was the book that launched it all. And, boy, did it live up to its title -- lessons about loyalty, about ego, about ambition, about risk.

You can pick up this book today and you can learn just as much about politics, just as much about people as someone 30 years ago picking up the book could. This is what Chris brought to television, too. He brought that. He also brought his boundless energy and his curiosity. I first watched Chris when I was a teenager in the mid 1990s.

The show wasn’t called HARDBALL back then. It was called "Politics with Chris Matthews". MSNBC didn’t exist. It was on CNBC when I first watched it.

But I saw it right away, the passion for politics, the love of history, the deep patriotism, the quest for purpose and the fascination with people. It always struck me watching Chris, even the people he disagreed with, the people he sparred with, he seemed like he was trying to figure them out, trying to make sense of them, trying to understand them on some level. And it was riveting television then and now.

Chris Matthews has plenty of intellect, but he also wasn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. It is what made him so compelling. It is what created such a deep bond between him and you, the viewer. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed it. And the scene has always been the same. I’m at some big political event, a debate, convention, big political speech.

Chris is there, too, and there is a huge crowd there for the event. Chris is the most human, and I say that as one of the highest compliments to someone, I’m sorry. I think you got him and I think he got you. And all of us are going to miss him.

That’s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for watching.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN":  Tonight on "ALL IN" live from Los Angeles.

BIDEN:  The Democrats want a nominee who is a Democrat.


HAYES:  Klobuchar and Buttigieg will back Biden.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have a clear choice of who is going to --