June 10, 2014
Guest: Mike Feldman, Jeanne Cummings, Shannon Watts
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Book report.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
`Let Me Start" with Hillary Clinton`s book that hit the shelves today. A
huge crowd greeted her earlier today at the Barnes & Noble on New York`s
Union Square. Some people were waiting from 2:00 AM just to get a few
seconds with the author, and the first person in the line was there from
2:00 PM the afternoon before waiting in line.
Anyway, tonight, we look at the best questions she`s been asked by a trio
of top journalists, all of them women, about "Hard Choices," that book that
could well launch her, Hillary Clinton, to the White House, but will also
stir up the old anger at the Democrats` control of the presidency, at the
Clintons and Hillary herself.
So let`s get to it, this publication day of the biggest political book in
memory, perhaps the biggest ever. Joy Reid is host of "THE REID REPORT" on
MSNBC and Joan Walsh is editor-at-large of Salon and an MSNBC political
Let`s start with my colleague, Cynthia McFadden`s, question to Hillary
Clinton about the advice she might give to her younger self. This was
clever. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I would be very interested to know,
if the Hillary Clinton who sits here today were to be able to give advice
to the Hillary Clinton who was first lady of this country, what would you
say to her?
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: Wow, that`s a great question,
Cynthia. I would say that what I have learned and really incorporated
since, to take criticism seriously but not personally, not to be so anxious
and worried about everything that everybody says and try to figure out how
to incorporate that into your thinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joan, I love that question because it really does -- in a way,
it sort of asks you, or Hillary Clinton in this case, to show how your
wisdom has grown over time. And now, you`re actually, and let`s face it,
an opportunity, a golden opportunity to say how you`d be a better
candidate, a better president because of this delay, if you will, this
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts about the question and what her answer was.
WALSH: First of all, I thought it was a good question, and I thought her
answer was great because there`s not a woman in America, Chris, who
wouldn`t say the exact same thing to her younger self. That`s a thing that
women struggle with I think a little bit more than men, is taking criticism
personally and being rocked by it. And I think, you know, one place that
we do see that --
MATTHEWS: Oh, I take criticism great. I just love it myself!
MATTHEWS: Joan -- Joan, I hate it!
WALSH: I know, Chris.
MATTHEWS: But your thoughts. Go ahead.
WALSH: You`re uniquely sensitive, my friend --
MATTHEWS: OK, I am, maybe. But go ahead.
WALSH: -- all right, for a man. It`s a good thing, Chris. I`m giving
you praise. But --
MATTHEWS: But explain that. Unpack that, as David Gregory would say.
Unpack the difference between taking criticism, as she has certainly taken
MATTHEWS: -- a lot of it, seriously, but don`t get -- you know, become a
porcupine about it. Don`t, like, Oh, I`m mad at you for saying that, or
I`m mad at you for asking the question. Go ahead.
WALSH: Or I`m -- or I`m full -- I`m wracked with self-doubt or I`m thrown
off my game by it. I think, you know, look, that is wisdom and that is
maturity that you understand the truth in criticism, that you don`t tune it
out. We all know people -- I`m not going to mention names -- who just tune
it out, they can`t think of a mistake they ever made if they`re asked a
question like that.
She`s not saying that, but she`s also -- I think we saw, for example, on
the campaign trail, once she dropped the script, once she stopped trying to
be perfect, once she stopped trying to be the inevitable restoration of the
Clinton presidency and she was kind of an underdog and running for -- you
know, for her own self-respect, she was connecting to voters much better,
and she was a much more compelling and genuine candidate, articulating some
differences with Barack Obama that at the -- in 2008 that resonated
And she was a more human candidate. And that`s largely why she`s the
front-runner today, I would argue.
MATTHEWS: Joy, one of our brilliant producers here pointed out that an
example of her actually living that advice she would have accepted from
herself, if she was younger, her older herself, was Iraq, where she has
very plainly laid out in the book that she wouldn`t have done that again,
that vote authorizing the war in Iraq -- not saying she`s for it, but
authorizing it, even, she would not do that again.
JOY REID, HOST, "THE REID REPORT": Yes, and it`s interesting because, I
mean, I don`t know if maybe you have to be too much of a Clintonologist to
sort of read the subtleties of everything that she says. But she was asked
the question about her time as first lady, in which you could say that
there were a lot of things that Hillary Clinton did take personally.
She was the one, after all, who coined the phrase, there`s this "vast
right-wing conspiracy" that`s been conspiring to get my husband since
Arkansas. She was the person who really was the forward -- sort of leaning
forward to push back during the Lewinsky stuff and sort of defending Bill
Clinton in very personal terms, which you can understand because, you know,
obviously, she was talking about her husband.
But during the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton really did
seem to fall prey to this tendency to take what is normal politics,
hardball tactics from the Obama campaign, and really get really small ball
with it. They made a lot of unforced errors, particularly in South
Carolina. She made a lot of unforced errors when she was questioned about
her comments about Lyndon Johnson. They didn`t respond in a smart way.
So I feel like, yes, Hillary Clinton was answering that question about
herself as a first lady, but I almost feel like she was also answering it
about her 2008 campaign self.
MATTHEWS: Well, now that we`re all being honest here and we`re all trying
to get to the truth and not flacking for anybody -- and none of us are --
what I want to get to, especially with my friend, Joan, and you, a more
recent friend, Joy, is I think a lot of that sensitivity among African-
Americans, the way Bill`s words were taken -- this is just -- what is it?
This is a fantasy, that kind of thing, which became taken as a general
assault and dismissal of Barack Obama. What is this guy, he`s just another
Jesse Jackson. He`s not going anywhere. He`s going to be way back in the
That was taken as a general attack on African-Americans` aspirations in
this country. And I learned in that whole campaign the hard way that every
time I took a shot at Hillary Clinton, every single time, it was taken as a
general assault on the aspirations of women. And you learn these lessons
the hard way, I can tell you. Anyway -- and Bill Clinton learned them. I
learned them. I`m not in the same league. Well, mentally maybe sometimes.
Anyway, Diane Sawyer in last night`s ABC interview asked Hillary Clinton
about Benghazi. Let`s watch this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, ABC "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" ANCHOR: You famously said, whether
it was a protest or a group of guys walking up, deciding to kill some
CLINTON: What difference, at this point, does it make? It is --
SAWYER: Doesn`t make a difference?
CLINTON: In the moment, it did not. In the moment, what we had to be
focused on was saving American lives.
SAWYER: Does it make a difference now?
CLINTON: Well --
SAWYER: Do you want to change that? Do you want to --
CLINTON: No. No, I don`t because the point of what I said at the time
was, you know, if you`re going to stay fixated on things like talking
points or fixated on whether or not everybody was affected or not by the
video, you`re missing the larger picture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Diane Sawyer then brought up that House Republicans have
announced yet another investigation into Benghazi and asked Secretary
Clinton if all this was another reason not to run herself for president.
Mrs. Clinton leaned in and said, Actually, it`s more of a reason to run
because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league
ball. We ought to be in the majors. And I view this as really apart from,
even a diversion from the hard work that the Congress should be doing about
the problems facing our country and the world.
But a new "Washington Post" poll shows that among independent voters today,
there are still unanswered questions about Benghazi. Fifty-two percent of
independent voters support a new Benghazi investigation.
Joy, here`s my -- and I want to start with Joan on this, and then Joy, the
same question. Hillary Clinton has to face reality today. Even though
it`s been confected and built up by the right, even though weeks and months
and months, actually, months, almost a year now, of pushing this Benghazi
button has succeeded to the point where 52 percent of independent voters
now think they have questions about it.
Does she have to deal with that new reality, even though she knows it was
confected, or not? Or can she do what she`s been doing in these
interviews, saying, Play serious baseball here and stop wasting time with
WALSH: Well, let me take that in two parts. I loved her answer to that
question. I loved her answer on, I`m not going to take back what I said to
Ron Johnson when he was being an idiot to me. And she`s -- I think that`s
great. What I -- where I thought she --
MATTHEWS: What did she say? What was that context? What did he --
WALSH: The context was basically, you know, chasing down the talking
points and the issues --
WALSH: -- of what Susan Rice had said on the Sunday shows and -- but
here`s the danger. You know, she`s gotten very good at deflecting those
kinds of questions and calling them the political circus that they are.
Where she, I think, fell down a little bit in that interview is answering
the real policy and practice implications of the -- the Pickering-Mullen
You know, when I read that report, it did exonerate her. There was -- the
things that she was accused of were awful and ridiculous and scurrilous.
But there were some management flaws. And you know, beyond saying the buck
stops here, I think that she probably has to get a little bit more in the
weeds in terms of what the security situation was and what might have been
done differently because if she doesn`t, those questions will dog her.
MATTHEWS: Joy, this is the question, this Benghazi thing. I don`t know
whether she can dismiss it and belittle the people asking the question now.
And by the way, when she admitted in that interview, the last 24 hours, I
think it was with Diane Sawyer, that it was a systemic problem out there in
the State Department -- my God, a systemic problem is what cost Shinseki
I think she went too far in the confessional booth there. My view is, Get
with it, guys. We live in the third world. We got a country like Libya
that doesn`t really have a government. We`re relying on the local militia
to protect us. It`s a late night over a weekend. The ambassador there,
who she really liked personally as a friend, took a risk and went out
there, and it was a bad move.
You can`t control the universe! The idea that you somehow have to blame it
on some systems fault always seems to me like an overreach of confession.
I wish somebody out there could just say on Hillary`s behalf, Damn it, it`s
a real dangerous world out there. And if we`re all going to retreat from
there and pretend we`re -- and hide and don`t do what Chris Stevens did,
the ambassador, retreat back and hide in a bunker at the embassy, you know,
in Tripoli or wherever, of course we`re never going to have relations with
the third world.
But you got to get out there take risks, and sometimes you get -- you get
killed. And that`s part of the business. And just be tough and talking to
people about the real world and stop playing baseball -- I mean, playing
games with little people, like, Oh, we have to protect everybody out there.
We have soldiers killed every hour!
Go ahead. Your thoughts.
REID: No, absolutely. Listen, the thing is, is that, look, the bill of
particulars against Hillary Clinton, if and when (INAUDIBLE) when she`s
going to run for president, is not going to be about her time as first
lady. I know that Rand Paul wants to play around with this stuff about
Bill Clinton`s infidelity. That`s just going to hurt Republicans with
REID: The bill of particulars is going to mainly focus on her time at the
State Department. So she can`t avoid altogether the Benghazi thing, even
though, if it is something that`s being trumped up on the right, but it`s
also the sum total of her most significant experience to be president of
the United States.
REID: So she`s got to answer it. But I do agree that the thing she
doesn`t want to do is to be fighting this backing away. She doesn`t want
to be fighting this like a rear guard thing, where she`s fighting on the
REID: I actually think that moment where she said, "What difference does
it make" -- that testimony was one of her finest moments --
WALSH: I agree.
REID: -- because it showed her in command and saying back to the
Republicans, Let`s talk about the real issue here, which is not whether or
not fantasy things happen, like Hillary Clinton watching it on a closed-
circuit TV, but whether or not the United States wants to be engaged in
deep micro-detail in the Middle East anymore. And Americans don`t.
The idea, as you said, that we`re in a dangerous country where, look, we
got rid -- we helped get rid of the dictator there. That was the win. And
Chris Stevens was a brave man. She should defend him.
REID: She should defend what he was doing there. She should defend
herself. And she`d better have a defense because that`s going to be a lot
of what this campaign`s going to be about --
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you --
MATTHEWS: Joy, hold on there because you`re up next. Both of you,
quickly, ask the question you would ask Hillary Clinton right now if you
were one of these chosen three or four people. Let`s face it, Diane Sawyer
and the others have had a great opportunity here. What would you have done
with that opportunity, Joan?
WALSH: I would ask her to talk about whether she really understands that
there`s a populist impulse in the Democratic base, a lot of concern about
income inequality and that she`s perceived as the candidate of Wall Street
and Goldman Sachs. I`d ask her if she would have signed the repeal of
Glass-Steagall, like her husband did.
MATTHEWS: That`s a -- Glass-Steagall -- now, there`s a hard question.
MATTHEWS: I like the hardness of that --
MATTHEWS: You didn`t just do the generalized, You ought to shift left.
You said, Wait a minute. A mistake was made. Your thought, Joy, some
question for -- pretend I`m the first -- former first lady, former
secretary of state, former United States Senate from New York. Hit me.
REID: Oh, I would say, Hillary Clinton, you know, you were the head of the
State Department on issues of foreign policy. If you were president right
now, would you go into Syria? How deeply invested would the United States
be in countries like Syria, in -- on the African continent, where you still
have very dangerous people in the world, but the United States wants to
pull back. What would be your posture, for instance, in the Ukraine?
You know, I think she should be asked very substantive questions. I think
the temptation is going to be, you know, what difference would it make to
have a woman president, and I think she`s going to get a lot of that,
MATTHEWS: Well said.
REID: But she was the head of the State Department. We should ask her
about the world, ask her about foreign policy.
MATTHEWS: That`s a question because you`re forcing -- as they say in
Philadelphia, you`re forcing her to -- you`re middling (ph) her. You`re
forcing her to choose between what she knows is the popular view, Don`t go
into another country, but her own predilection is to do something more
positively in Syria. I love the way you asked that question. It`s a real
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Joy Reid. And thank you, Joan Walsh.
REID: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Chris Christie`s escape attempt. The New Jersey
governor`s out there putting a smile on his predicament with Jimmy Fallon.
Is Christie looking to whip up a PR circus to distract everyone from the
legal specter awaiting him in the months ahead?
And do you have to sell your soul to survive the Tea Party? Let`s watch
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham go nasty on Benghazi, call White
House officials scumbags, threaten impeachment. Is there anything Graham
won`t do to save his seat in the U.S. Senate?
And another school shooting, this time in Oregon, just two days after that
horrific ambush in Las Vegas. I want to know why these shootings keep
happening here in the U.S. and not in other countries, it seems.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with my prediction, on an unpredictable world,
that Hillary and Bill Clinton are not about to quit their quest. This book
tour is the start of something big.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Take a look at this new Pew poll showing Americans` opinions of
that prisoner exchange that freed Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Overall, 43
percent say it was the wrong thing for the president to trade five Taliban
prisoners for Bergdahl`s release. Only 34 percent said it was the right
But here`s the "but." A majority of voters out there, 56 percent, say
America has a responsibility to do all it can to bring its captured
soldiers home, no matter what the circumstances. Just 3 in 10 said that
because Bergdahl left his post, the U.S. was not obligated to secure his
We`ll be right back. You see the problem?
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Is New Jersey governor Chris Christie
attempting an escape? Well, yesterday, we told you about how the state
investigation into Christie was accelerating. Christie`s own chief of
staff testified yesterday that Christie basically sat on his hands for four
months before directing him, his chief of staff, to look into the growing
We also heard testimony that back in December, Christie was shown evidence
indicating that Bridget Kelly knew about both the lane closure and
allegations of political payback. But he, the governor, told reporters at
that time that no one on his staff had any knowledge of what had happened.
And that`s just the latest in this movement surrounding one of the five
active investigations ongoing right now into the governor`s office, two of
which are criminal.
Now it appears that Christie`s response to the legal circus going on right
now is to whip up a PR circus, a political circus, if you will. This week,
he`s set up to appear on the "Tonight" show with Jimmy Fallon. He`s making
a trip to Mitt Romney`s Utah summit. Then he`ll speak to the conservative
Faith and Freedom Coalition, and he`s scheduled RGA pit stops in early
primary states like New Hampshire, Iowa, and of course, South Carolina,
completing the trifecta.
And in interview after interview, Governor Christie remains defiant that he
can escape this mess in Trenton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I am what I am. And for some people,
they love it. I will tell you, when I travel around New Jersey, I hear
from most people that that`s the thing they love the most.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what about Iowa?
CHRISTIE: Oh, well, I think they love me in Iowa, too, Diane. I`ve been
there a lot. I think they love me there, too.
I`m not the first chief executive who had someone on their staff do
something they didn`t know something about that they disapproved of and
later had to fire them. I don`t think that that hurt anybody`s career, and
it`s not going to hurt mine.
I think this will be a footnote by the time any of those decisions needs to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still thinking about running for president?
And when will you make a decision on that?
CHRIS: Yes, and later.
I hear people all the time saying, Oh, you know, you wouldn`t play well in
the South or you wouldn`t play well in Iowa. It`s all garbage!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s got a good radio voice.
Michael Steele is an MSNBC political analyst and former RNC chair. And
Mike Feldman is a Democratic strategist.
I want to start with the R here.
I get the sense that he`s doing -- not to take anything away from it -- but
just what Anthony Weiner tried to do. Go into the public, face the public,
be cleansed by public opinion, and hopefully be cleaned by it.
The trouble is, he still has to face all these legal hurdles to survive
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Now, there`s no reason to presume him guilty, except there`s a
lot of people around him who are going to be learn that they`re going to be
indicted, the way this is going.
STEELE: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Can he walk away from indictments? Let me set the bar right
here. If any of his people get indicted, any of his people in his office
get indicted, can he run for president effectively?
STEELE: I think he can run for president, but the question is how much
blowback there is from those around him who, if they are indicted, how much
of that taint falls to him.
If it`s one of those things that they acted without his knowledge
completely, or where he was just totally out of loop on it, and they hid
this from him, yes, I think he survives it.
But, yes, I think he`s got to be concerned about exactly what the federal
prosecutors are looking into, and how they come out on that. We get the
Democrats and what they`re doing in the New Jersey legislature, but even
MATTHEWS: You think they haven`t behaved well in these investigations, the
Democrats? The way we have had them on, they seem pretty serious.
MATTHEWS: But they`re seriously trying to find out what happened.
STEELE: No, they`re seriously trying to find out.
But I`m saying that -- that tends to fall more on the partisan, so you can
sort of brush that to the side as a more partisan play. The federal play
is the one I think a lot of people are really interested in --
MATTHEWS: I agree with you, federal U.S. attorney.
STEELE: -- and really concerned about that.
And I think Chris Christie is as well. But, to his great credit, he`s
going on, he`s moving on. He has got responsibilities at the RGA and he
got has responsibilities with a budget hanging over his head in New Jersey
that he has to deal with.
And if he doesn`t deal with that issue, that can upend him more than
MATTHEWS: Mike, what I`m waiting to hear -- and I haven`t heard it yet --
is some direct testimony, that he put together a ring, an operation here,
an enterprise to get reelected where he said, put out the word to every
mayor in this state, especially the Dems who are holding out, you`re going
to pay if you don`t back me.
And somehow that message got to Bridget Kelly. It certainly got to
Stepien. It got to everybody. Your job is to be tough here. We`re
playing hardball. I want to get reelected with 60-some percent, and you
better do your jobs out there, without ever saying close the bridge.
MIKE FELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.
MATTHEWS: Because Nixon, all the evidence we have so far -- it`s always in
dispute -- he was never caught saying, you know, hit the Democratic
headquarters at the Watergate and go look for Larry O`Brien`s papers, but
everything else, break into the Republican headquarters, break into
Brookings, all that is on the tape.
So, it seems there`s two questions outstanding on the legal front. Do his
people go down? Does he get tied into it?
FELDMAN: Well, we don`t know the answer to that, Chris.
But I will tell you, already, there`s been a significant amount of damage.
And to the extent that he`s out there trying to prove his viability --
MATTHEWS: Why is he only four points behind the front-runner then? I know
he`s at nine and there`s no real front-runner, but he`s pretty close to the
front of the pack.
FELDMAN: Sure, but that`s -- look, largely that`s name I.D. And if you
look deep into some of the polls that have been taken recently, his
approval rating is suffering as a result of this. The shine has come off
the apple a little bit, but, look --
MATTHEWS: Why is he four points within Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania,
where I believe Hillary Clinton is really, really strong? Why is he within
four points of her there if he`s tarnished, if he`s tainted? I`m playing
devil`s advocate here.
MATTHEWS: I`m stunned at his -- at his endurance here politically.
FELDMAN: Yes, look, and he`s -- obviously, he`s trying to carry this on
But I agree with Michael that if the U.S. attorney gets involved here in a
serious way -- and it looks like he`s going to -- and subpoenas start
flying, he`s got more issues now to worry about just than whether or not he
can get the nomination, the Republican nomination, or be elected president.
Then he`s got real legal issues. And the problem is, all that stuff, those
five investigations that you are talking about, they`re not on his time
frame. So, he can be out there raising money and demonstrating political
And, Chris, that`s really what he`s trying to do now.
FELDMAN: I think why he`s out there traveling is trying to show that he`s
viable, that he can push through this, that he can take a punch and get
And that`s all well and good, but the problem is the facts and the legal
issue will drive this, not to mention the fact the guy is -- like, the
economy in New Jersey is imploding. So, his argument, his argument for why
he could be a competent president is imploding all around him at the same
time. That`s the hard part.
MATTHEWS: Michael -- back that up, Michael.
What -- why is he gaining by going on "Jimmy Fallon" and shows like that,
going out to Utah, going to all the -- if he`s in trouble, facing trouble -
- I guess I think I know, which is -- well, you tell me why you think he`s
doing all this. His biggest problem is legal.
STEELE: His biggest problem is legal. And he doesn`t need us to focus on
that. So let`s focus on my strengths. My strengths are my ability to
communicate, my ability to mix it up with folks, to be seen in a very
relaxed setting with Jimmy Fallon and others, to play the role of the
candidate running for office and the candidate or the governor in office
who`s dealing with a lot of complicated issues at times.
But the other times, he`s out there with the people. And as much as he
wants to do that, over his shoulder, he still has to be concerned about
what investigations are going on and the public perception overall about
As Mike noted, the numbers have been dipped for him. And the personal
appeal is a lot less than where it was. To your question of why he`s at
four points behind a Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, I think a lot of
that, as Michael said, is name identification, folks not certainly --
certain exactly how this thing is going to play out. They make a good
matchup. And that will be a great fight to see in a presidential.
MATTHEWS: Everybody wants that one.
MATTHEWS: Michael, Mike, don`t you want that one? Don`t you want that
STEELE: I love that fight.
MATTHEWS: This would be just in terms of -- I think Hillary would beat
him, Hillary Clinton, but I`m telling you, it would be two heavyweights,
literally. They really are powerful political personalities.
FELDMAN: And, look, he`s fun to watch. OK? I love him on "Fallon."
But that`s a fundamentally different criteria than whether or not he`s got
the portfolio to be president of the United States. And he has a huge --
like, that needle that he has to thread to both get the Republican
nomination and then swing back and have an appeal in the general election,
the eye of that needle has gotten really, really small.
And this whole Bridgegate thing has made it tougher for him. The general
electorate that used to just love him and love his personality are now
looking at him and wondering, OK, does he really have what it takes?
MATTHEWS: I part of the reason he`s doing well are these Hobbits he`s
running against out there. There`s not a lot whole lot of heavyweights out
STEELE: No, no, I wouldn`t say that. I wouldn`t say they`re Hobbits.
MATTHEWS: Well, OK.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s tough -- do you think it`s tough to beat Rand
Paul for the nomination? Do you think it`s tough to beat Ted Cruz?
STEELE: I think -- I think -- yes, I think -- I think -- I think Rand Paul
is going to be a credible challenger in -- challenger in a Republican
I think, should he get in, Ted Cruz will be a real -- because of what
Michael just said. That eye of that needle has narrowed so much now.
There`s a very thin space you have got to work your way through.
And the ability of a Jeb Bush or a Chris Christie or others to do that is
going to be the first hurdle of many tests that they have.
MATTHEWS: You`re trying to tease me. The idea of Ted Cruz running for
president as the Republican nominee --
STEELE: I`m just saying, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- I will sleep soundly at night --
MATTHEWS: -- thrilled at the prospect of Hillary being the better
candidate. It would be the greatest, easiest call in history.
STEELE: You don`t know what the crucible, that fire of running for the
presidency is like. It changes people and you don`t know how a Chris
Christie or a Ted Cruz will do.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what I think about Ted Cruz? I think one Joe
McCarthy was enough for this country.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Michael Steele. And thank you, Mike Feldman.
It`s bad enough to act like him. He looks like him.
Up next -- thanks, Mike Feldman.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Stephen Colbert`s strategic advice to Republicans
running for president in 2016.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Well, last week, I told you about Scott Fistler, the Arizona Republican
who, to win Hispanic votes in his second congressional bid, switched
parties and legally changed his name to Cesar Chavez.
Well, the real Cesar Chavez, of course, was a famous Latino American labor
leader back in the `60s and `70s.
However deceptive the scheme, Steve Colbert thought Fistler idea was so
good, that he devised a similar plan for the Republicans running in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Folks, Senior Chavez`s
strategy shows how the Republicans can win the White House in 2016.
Just field a slate of minority candidates. There`s lots of choices.
There`s Pancho Villa.
COLBERT: Martin Luther King.
COLBERT: Mahatma Gandhi.
COLBERT: Aung San Suu Kyi.
COLBERT: Harriet Tubman.
COLBERT: Sitting Bull.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: oh, Sitting Bull has got a real chance -- well, unless Hillary
Clinton decides to run.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Next up: The CIA got a lot of attention Friday when it
officially joined Twitter, a decision they announced by saying -- quote --
"We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet."
Well, what if every government agency followed their lead and tried to be
funny on Twitter?
Here`s what that might look like, courtesy of Jimmy Fallon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": Now, several
other agencies recently joined Twitter as well.
And their tweets are even jokier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
Like, take a look here. First, the NSA tweeted: "Sorry to bug you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
FALLON: It`s like cutesy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. That`s kind of cutesy.
FALLON: That`s -- yes.
Next, the IRS tweeted: "Oh, no we didn`t. Hah-hah. Seriously, you owe us
a lot of money."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.
FALLON: They got serious towards the end.
And, finally, the Census Bureau tweeted: "R.T. if you live in America
That`s -- that`s just lazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
FALLON: You`re making us do the work.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Up next: Is there anything Lindsey Graham won`t do to save his
Senate seat? He`s gotten nasty on Benghazi, threatened impeachment, called
White House officials scumbags, and in today`s Republican Party, it seems
to be working for him.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
A gunman open fired earlier at an Oregon high school, killing one student
and injuring a teacher, before killing himself. Police say, during the
evacuation process, another gun was found on a student who was then
Charges have been filed against the 26-year-old accused of fatally shooting
one person and wounding two others Thursday at Seattle Pacific University.
And officials tell NBC News the five American troops killed by friendly-
fire Monday in Afghanistan were special operations forces working with the
Afghan military -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
If there are any Republicans out there running scared of a Tea Party
challenger and looking for a playbook to victory, he or she might be
tempted to take a page from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Graham is expected to crush his Tea Party challengers in tonight`s
Republican Senate primary in South Carolina and perhaps get over 50 percent
of the vote, according to -- avoiding a runoff thereby altogether.
He`s been public enemy number one in the past in the eyes of the Tea Party.
And his cardinal sins? Well, here are a few. Co-authoring the bipartisan
gang of eight immigration bill. He`s pushed for real immigration reform.
Supporting climate change legislation, cap and trade, voting for two of
President Obama`s Supreme Court nominees, opposing a government shutdown.
And just how far did Lindsey have to go to get to safe territory and I
think tarnish his reputation for being a reasonable Republican? Here are
some things. He did it by opposing the bipartisan budget agreement
brokered between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, embracing the GOP`s obsession
over Benghazi, hurling insults at the White House, calling them scumbags
who lied about the Benghazi attack, and putting impeachment in play, the
word, in fact, by merely uttering the word, saying it might just come to
Graham has been so dragged so far to the right by the red hots in his
party, yes, it`s hard to recognize the guy.
Kasie Hunt is a political reporter with NBC News. And Jeanne Cummings is
deputy politics editor at Bloomberg News.
Jeanne, you start.
I have been watching Lindsey, and I always liked the guy, from the
beginning, way back when he was in John McCain in that very difficult
campaign in South Carolina. I remember having spaghetti at some little
restaurant way out in the middle of the boonies out there, where he grew
up. And I always thought he was a regular Republican conservative.
The vitriol coming out from him lately, the use of words like scumbags, the
craziness over Benghazi, this talk of impeachment, is not the Lindsey
Graham I have known. Tonally, substantively, he has veered over into that
territory of anti-government attitude, against the government, as opposed
to a guy who has been proud to be a member of the United States Senate and
has worked his way up in the tradition of the South of being a really
important senator from the South.
JEANNE CUMMINGS, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, I do think that the rhetoric will
calm down once his primary is over. I think what --
MATTHEWS: You mean, the way it was with John McCain against J.D. Hayworth,
when he went crazy to beat Hayworth?
CUMMINGS: Right, exactly.
He -- this is rhetorical change, but it`s not substantive change. Even
down on the campaign trail, he still talks about immigration reform. He
still talks about the importance of their party reaching out to minorities.
MATTHEWS: How about climate change?
CUMMINGS: He talks about that too. So, he has stayed substantive --
MATTHEWS: Well, how does he change -- how does he stick with the old --
well, most of the old lyrics and go to this new music?
CUMMINGS: Well --
MATTHEWS: How does he send the idea that he`s one of the Tea Party types?
CUMMINGS: Well, he -- he -- he increases the rhetoric on their side.
These are words they want to hear. They want to see him fighting. And
that, he will give them. He will show himself fighting. With Benghazi, he
probably would have been in this fight in the same place under in -- any
He`s there now. The rhetoric is ratcheted up. But he would always -- that
was in -- those are foreign affairs. That`s in his wheelhouse.
MATTHEWS: So, we`re going to be filled with a United States Senate filled
people who begin to talk like Tea Party people?
CUMMINGS: Well, I think, actually, the Tea Party is gaining a lot more
I think that they are pushing candidates to the right. When Mitch
McConnell lost, the Tea Party people said, well, he won on our values. And
with the threat of the primaries --
MATTHEWS: When did Mitch McConnell lose?
CUMMINGS: I`m sorry, when Mitch McConnell won, and the Tea Party lost,
they said, well, we did sort win because he was running on our values.
CUMMINGS: The Tea Party is definitely having some success in the party in
moving them policy-wise further to the right.
MATTHEWS: OK. You say the whole Senate (ph), too. Tell me about the
pattern here. I see Lindsey as a guy I used to be comfortable listening to.
Now, I hear a vitriol out there. A hatred of -- he doesn`t hate Hillary
Clinton. He doesn`t hate the Democrats. But he`s acting like he hates
them. Does he hate them?
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: I think -- I don`t think so. And
I think that Jeanne makes a fair point. When you go down on the campaign
trail, the Lindsey Graham that you see in South Carolina is really
different from the Lindsey Graham that you see when you watch the Sunday
shows here in Washington. The rhetoric is, as she said, sort of him
But I actually interviewed him before --
MATTHEWS: Did the yahoos watch the Sunday shows?
You`re telling me that the Tea Party watches "Meet the Press" and "Face the
Nation." Do they? Tune in on Sunday morning for public affairs
HUNT: He`s running against the Tea Party in South Carolina. He`s running
as somebody who wants to government. He is down there saying, I`m fighting
for my brand of conservatism. I have laid down a gauntlet, my challenge is
very clear. I want to come out of this stronger.
MATTHEWS: Why is he the first member to the Senate to use the word
impeachment about Clinton? Why did he do it?
HUNT: You know, I can`t answer that question, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question. Watching him, do you think he did it
HUNT: You know what I think freed him up to be able to do this, to be able
to sort of walk this line to win this is that he is a masterful politician
and he cleared the field early. There`s not a challenger in this field
who`s able to rise up and pose an aggressive challenge. The third party
group, the Club for Growth, all these party outsiders, they were dying to
MATTHEWS: Is he a Tea Party member now?
HUNT: Lindsey Graham, I don`t think he would if you asked him to say if
he`s a Tea Party member -- although I obviously can`t speak for him. I
mean, what I heard when I was down there with him was the opposite of that.
He was essentially saying we cannot have people in the Republican Party --
MATTHEWS: Here`s my difference with him. What I hear is the difference
between a guy I knew growing up as a congressman, a guy in the military, to
want to be a Southern United States senator. It`s a great tradition of
They were Democrats in the old days, now they`re Republicans. They love
the institution. They love working in the United States government. They
love the honor of serving in it. They believe in the body itself.
The Tea Party people hate all that stuff. And I think that`s what is
beginning to sound like, one of the haters out there.
CUMMINGS: But he has to do that in order to protect that institution, from
the Tea Party itself. He has to win first and that`s the first step. And
if you look at his record, he has acted like those Southern
representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike. He`s very much into
MATTHEWS: We have 50 or 60 Republicans doing what they have to do to
appeal to the right, they`re going to end up being a right-wing party.
CUMMINGS: If that`s what it takes to get through the primary, but then he
can vote differently in the Senate. He can talk about global warming in
the Senate, if that`s what he buys. Isn`t that what you want?
MATTHEWS: Or maybe he plays caterpillar so he can be a butterfly.
Anyway, thank you, Kasie Hunt. And thank you, Jeanne Cummings.
Up next, another school shooting -- it depresses me to do this - -this time
in Oregon. It`s the 74th shooting since the Newtown massacre. Why do
these shootings keep happening here in the United States? It seems that no
other country seems to have this pattern.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Democrats have one slim hope that a Tea Party victory in deep
red Mississippi could put that Senate race in play this November. Looks
like that could happen actually.
Tea Partier Chris McDaniel in a runoff against incumbent Republican Senator
So, let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard. According to a new Chism poll,
McDaniel has three-point lead now over Cochran. It`s McDaniel 51, Cochran
48. That runoff is on June 24th.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
Once again, we`re talking about another school shooting. This time it`s in
Troutdale, Oregon, a suburb of Portland. A little after 8:00 in the
morning, at Reynolds High School, a lone gunman armed with a rifle began
firing shots. One student was killed and a teacher was injured.
The police say the shooter likely killed himself. It was only two days
ago, of course, Sunday, that two police officers and a Good Samaritan
trying to help were gunned down in Las Vegas by a husband and wife duo
driven by anti-government and white supremacist ideology.
Well, today`s shooting was the 116th mass shooting incident in the country
this year. According to a website that tracks them, shootingtracker.com.
It was the 74th school shooting since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary
School in Newtown, Connecticut, according to the new group, Every Town for
Well, some of the names have become iconic in a perverse way. Virginia
Tech, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, Columbine, the Washington Navy Yard, the
Aurora movie theatre back in 2012 that killed 12 people. The Tucson
shooting where Congressman Gabby Gifford was shot and six people were
What accounts for this horror and why is this such a uniquely American
phenomenon among Western nations?
Jim Cavanaugh is a retired ATF special agent-in-charge and an MSNBC
analyst. And Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun
Sense in America.
Anyway, this afternoon, President Obama was asked about the recent mass
shootings. He said his biggest frustration as president so far has been
the fact that, quote, "this society has not been willing to take some basic
steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who do unbelievable damage."
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re the only developed
country on earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. And
it`s a one-day story. There`s no other place like this.
The country has to do soul searching about this. This is becoming the
norm. And we take it for granted in ways that as a parent are terrifying
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Why is this so American? And those of us who love this country,
which is everybody watching pretty much, we wonder why is it -- I know it`s
part of a cowboy culture, I know that part of it, every man has their own
car, every woman has their car, their own house, their own life, total
independence, but that part of it, the gun part, and the use of the
availability of guns to people who shouldn`t have them is now manifest and
known to everyone watching.
And they`re going to treat it like Groundhog Day and ignore it and laugh it
off -- not laugh it off but dismiss it. Or they`re going to try to keep
thinking what the president is thinking about, why here, why us?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Right, Chris. Well, when voters` real fear
of having their family slaughtered at the mall, at school, at college, cops
going down to the pizza parlor, you know, when the voters` real fear
eclipses the phony exaggerated fear of a tyrannical government coming to
confiscate your guns, then we`ll have change.
You know, I`ve seen you say it and you`re so right that people ought to
blame the gun lobby or the NRA, but those supporters in the NRA support the
NRA`s position. It`s up to the voters of America to vote for the
representatives, senators, congressmen, and state leaders, that will make
the necessary changes, not gun confiscation but the necessary steps like
the Moms Demand Action ideas and mental health issues that would make us
safer, make our kids safer, make America safer.
MATTHEWS: You know, Shannon, I grew up watching cowboys on television. I
love gun smoke and all those shows. I know they were violent but I love
And one of truism of Wyatt Earp and all those shows was that there were gun
ordinances. Leave your gun and check them at the city line. There was a
notion you just didn`t walk around with impunity shooting each other and
the sense there were local laws to protect too many people with too many
And now, we got to this notion idea that any restriction on the use of a
gun, if we have anything short of open carry in any barroom in America,
we`re somehow unconstitutional. I think this interpretation of the
constitution has gotten crazy. By their theory, you should have a bazooka
walking around, just blowing away everybody in front of you if they cause
SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: That`s right. I mean, I do
blame the gun lobby and the NRA for this. They created a monster who no
longer obeys them.
But if you look at school shootings, you know, what the president said, the
country needs to do some soul searching. It isn`t the country, it`s
Congress. The country is clear -- we support background checks, 90 percent
of us support this background check --
MATTHEWS: Why don`t people vote on this issue?
WATTS: It`s Congress.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t people vote on this issue?
WATTS: We are voting on this issue. Watch the next election --
MATTHEWS: No, no, the gun lobby -- I want to explain something to you.
You know the difference as well as I, but I want to reiterate this. If
you`re like some people and all you vote on is gun rights as your only
issue, you beat the people who think about it once in a while.
WATTS: Yes, and that`s what we`re going to do.
MATTHEWS: And until gun control people go in the voting booth with nothing
else on their mind, not Benghazi, not anything else, but stopping the crazy
availability of guns in this country, will they be able to stand up to the
WATTS: You`re right. And we`re going to make this one the top voting
issues for women in this country. Watch us in these midterm elections.
We`re getting at least 1 million people to commit with gun sense in the
MATTHEWS: Your response to that, Jim?
CAVANAUGH: You`re both right, Chris. I mean, Shannon is right and you`re
right, but you`re saying it from different angles. But let me put it
together because you`re both saying the same thing. The people feel this
way, but the people don`t transmit that into action.
And so, when we say not one more, what that means is you need to register
to vote and you need to vote. You need to vote for a candidate that will
make the changes, whatever party or independent, it doesn`t matter. That
candidate will support to block the violence at some level, reasonable law,
reasonable restrictions on mental health issues, then, you know you`ll have
MATTHEWS: You know, I like -- I like the old argument of the NRA, or the
people who support gun rights, which is guns don`t kill people, people do.
OK, go with that, and stop those people from having guns, the ones you`re
The guns don`t just fire by themselves. Somebody, a nutty person goes out
there with some political attitude is using those guns.
Anyway, thank you, Jim Cavanaugh. We`ll be back on this issue a lot, I
hate to say, because of the news.
Shannon Watts, thanks so much for joining us. You have great points.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this huge day for Hillary Clinton.
You truly can`t predict politics, of course. Sure, you know certain
patterns are out there. There are rules in the world of politics. I wrote
about them in my first book, "Hardball" back in 1988. When someone breaks
one of those rules, you can almost hear the old timer saying, it just goes
to show, and then outcomes one of the ancient truths of how to deal
effectively with people if you want to get ahead and stay there.
And then, there are the unpredictables, the game changers, the events and
people who pop on the screen or squirm free from expectations and change
the course of mighty rivers.
I`m thinking FDR who came back from polio, and Harry Truman who came back
from the political dead. I`m thinking of Ronald Reagan who got beaten
twice for the presidential nomination, then came back to pick up all the
pieces, or Barack Obama who came out of nowhere to win two terms in the
The success of the Clintons is, dare I say the obvious, impossible to
predict. Bill got beaten for Congress in his first race, and then got
elected Arkansas governor at an implausibly young age, then got booted from
office, and then came back and won multiple terms. He got to give the key
note address at the 1998 Democratic National Convention, ended up
delivering a bomb. Came back with a saxophone to make himself a star on
"The Johnny Carson Show".
The next time around, he got himself elected president, only to lose
control of the Congress two years later. He got impeached in 1998, only to
end his term with high approval. He left the presidency in the shadow of
the Marc Rich pardon, but ended up hugely popular in the country.
Hillary`s trajectory is almost as unpredictable. She survived the
impeachment mess by maintaining her dignity, of course, showed her guts by
running for and winning the U.S. Senate seat from New York, ran for
president as the front runner, but fell short in the delegate race, came
back to serve the country as secretary of state, and is clearly positioned
now to run for president again.
No one can say what the future holds in politics. The one sure bet is that
the Clintons will carry on to the finish line. They ran initially as two
for the price of one, and then stopped saying that. Does anyone truly
believe they have stopped thinking that?
The Clintons are living proof of Winston Churchill`s argument, that there
are two kinds of success: initial and ultimate. In that second category,
ultimate -- I put my marbles on Bill and Hillary Clinton. If you haven`t
noticed, quitting isn`t in their game plan.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for joining us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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