updated 7/16/2014 9:59:12 AM ET 2014-07-16T13:59:12

HARDBALL
July 15, 2014

Guest: Stephanie Schriock, Larry Sabato, Susan Page, Robert Costa, Carrie
Hessler-Radelet

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: More bread, less circus.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Sometimes -- not often -- I get the
impression that the president actually listens to HARDBALL. Call it
vanity, but that`s what I heard today in his call to get the United States
government busy rebuilding this country. There he was just outside of
Washington, down in Virginia, calling for the big-time push to fix this
country`s highways, bridges and railways.

Suddenly, I sense the builders are back, the people who believe in
government action, who believe the American people, not just American
business, but the people themselves have jobs to do, and job one is getting
this country in shape to rival the fast-competing world out there.

This isn`t about President Obama. It`s about what the country needs
to do to get its act together, to challenge the do-nothing stick-in-the-mud
Debbie Downer Congress to get off its butt and do something for the country
except that big, fat "no" it shuffles into its talking points.

I want to replace the smell of decay in this country with the smell of
construction, the smell of dirt being moved, of highways being laid, the
sight of road crews and some guy holding a flag because somebody right
there in plain sight is actually doing something to get this country
working, ready to move again.

Well, today President Obama, as I said, was the guy walking out of the
job shack with the blueprints saying, It`s time to get going. Let`s see
how the opposition goes with this baby.

Michael Steele was chairman of the RNC -- and I`m not talking about
you...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: ... and Ed Rendell was governor of Pennsylvania. Both are
MSNBC political analysts.

As Rahm Emanuel is fond of saying, you never want a serious crisis to
go to waste. Well, today, funding for the entire national highway system
was on life support, set to die in the heart of summer driving season.
Late this afternoon, however, the House passed a short-term patch, if you
will, basically a Band-Aid, which only puts off the crisis for the highways
a few months.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced a massive plan to
revitalize the country`s road system, a plan which the right wing of this
country rejected, or worse yet, simply ignored.

Well, just hours before Congress was set to kick the can down the road
today, President Obama slammed his enemies on the right for running a
legislative circus. Here`s the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In response, their plan
so far has not been to join me and say, All right, Mr. President, you`re
right. We do need to rebuild roads. We do need to spruce up our airports.
Instead, their big idea has been to sue me. That`s what they`re spending
time on, a political stunt that wastes America`s time and taxpayer dollars.
Keep in mind, it`s your money that they`re going to be spending on these
ridiculous pursuits, instead of just getting some work done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The circus, as he`s talking about. Anyway, President Obama
also attacked Republicans for rejecting a plan he outlined in February, a
$300 billion package to overhaul the country`s transportation system over
four years, a plan that transportation secretary Anthony Fox (ph) said
would create millions of jobs -- that`s not bad -- a plan to target the
country`s crumbling highways, bridges, tunnels and rail systems.
Republicans have dismissed that plan as a blank check.

Well, here`s more from the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So far, House Republicans have refused to act on this idea.
And they haven`t presented their own idea.

And I think that`s wrong. We shouldn`t be protecting tax loopholes
for a few companies that shift massive profits overseas. We should be
creating jobs, rebuilding the roads and bridges that help every business
right here in the United States. That is a question of priorities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Governor Rendell, you know, the old Roman expression from
Caesar`s time about, Give them bread and circuses -- I think we`ve had a
lot of circuses in this country. We`re talking about suing the president.
There`s some talk of impeachment from the nutty right. And even the
Democrats play ball (ph) with (ph) things (ph) that I`m not sure are going
to happen.

But building roads, fixing this country, fixing 95, fixing 80, fixing
70, all the highways that this country is connected by, seems to me pretty
primitive when it comes to government doing something good to get us moving
again.

ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You`re
absolutely right, Chris. And it used to be a truly bipartisan idea. In
fact, it was in the Republican playbook to spend money on infrastructure.
Jim Inhoff, probably as conservative a senator as we`ve got, said when I
testified before the Public Works Committee, the Senate Public Works
Committee -- he said infrastructure spending is the second most important
thing the government can do beyond military spending.

Everyone acknowledges that, that we have to do something. But no one
wants to pay for it. There can`t be gain without a little bit pain. And
that`s what the Congress is not grasping. And we`ve got to pay for it.
The president suggests paying for it by eliminating some of the tax
loopholes.

Let me give you a statistic, Chris. In 1980, we spent -- $600 billion
of our tax money was not collected because it was tax expenditures,
loopholes, a fancy name for loopholes. This year, that figure has grown to
$1.4 trillion in money...

MATTHEWS: Who`s protecting that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Governor, who`s protecting...

RENDELL: Lobbyists. Lobbyists.

MATTHEWS: ... kitty (ph)?

RENDELL: Lobbyists.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. Gucci gulf, they call it.

RENDELL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Michael here. And I think this is
nonpartisan. I know Democrats are more for bigger government and bigger
stuff, and I`m for that, too. But it used to be -- when I saw road crews
out there, I said election time`s coming.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right!

MATTHEWS: And I used to think (INAUDIBLE) both parties get it.

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: People want the roads fixed. They want jobs. They want
overtime. They want golden (ph) time. They wanted -- the construction
unions, you would think, would be out there pounding the door down for
jobs. Why are the Republicans now saying highways aren`t really what we do
anymore?

STEELE: Well...

MATTHEWS: What happened to these guys?

STEELE: ... I don`t know if they`re simply saying that highways
aren`t what we really do anymore. But what you do have from Heritage
and...

MATTHEWS: Club for Growth.

STEELE: ... and Club for Growth is this push to have this bill
devolve its funds back to the states, just put it in the hands of the
states to decide how much they want to spend on that infrastructure within
their state because, you know, there is a disparity of sorts. You know,
what they need in Mississippi is not necessarily what they need in
Michigan, and so forth. And so that`s the -- that`s the underlying push by
a lot of the conservatives in the House to send (ph) to say, We`re not
against building the roads. We`re all for that...

MATTHEWS: But what are they going to do with the money...

STEELE: ... but what we want to do...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What`s Mississippi going to do with it so enlightened
besides building highways?

STEELE: Well, come on. You assume that the leadership of the state
know what roads they need to have fixed. I mean, they put that in the
proposal to the girlfriend for the money in the first place. So you
just...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... chain gangs out there...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... get the roads fixed free? Is that what`s going on?

STEELE: But understand that that is the underlying thinking here.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: Again -- but again, this is something, as you said, Chris,
rightly -- and the governor knows this, too -- that Republicans often led
on. I mean, this was something that, you know...

RENDELL: Absolutely.

STEELE: Creating the interstate...

RENDELL: Absolutely.

STEELE: ... highway system is something we did.

MATTHEWS: It was Eisenhower.

STEELE: It was Eisenhower. So it was something that we`ve always
bought into. And Inhoff`s comments, I think, reflect that.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me get back to reality. Every time you get on a
highway in the East Coast...

STEELE: Reality!

MATTHEWS: I`m just talking about this region of the country. You`re
on 95.

STEELE: Yes. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Everybody travels 95. It`s the only way to get to New
York, Baltimore, Philly, everywhere, Delaware. (INAUDIBLE) up and down
(INAUDIBLE) Every time (INAUDIBLE) on a weekend to go to Ocean City or
anything, you`re on 95 at some point, at least from here. Every time I go
up there to Massachusetts-...

STEELE: Sure. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... 95. People of middle class, working class people,
they`re on -- Maryland (ph) house (ph)...

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... (INAUDIBLE) hamburger (ph). Everybody`s there, right?

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: Everybody needs that highway. This is not just for a few
people -- 95. 80 -- if we didn`t have 80, which Eisenhower built -- give
credit to the Republicans...

STEELE: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: ... 80 across the country, 70 below that...

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... right across the country, we`d be taking state roads...

STEELE: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: ... through Indiana...

STEELE: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: ... trying to get across the country. Why doesn`t your
party praise the work of Eisenhower, starting with the work of TVA and
Eisenhower and putting a man on the moon? What`s wrong with the government
doing things?

STEELE: Because the...

MATTHEWS: Why is the government just a clearinghouse for checks?

STEELE: It`s not -- the mindset changed in Washington where it`s not
just about the government doing things or how the government`s going to pay
for the things you want done. And so when you`re dealing with -- when
you`re dealing with deficits and you`re dealing with debt and you`re
dealing with the crises that we`ve had financially, I think it is...

MATTHEWS: OK, where`s this money coming from?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... when you guys want a war?

STEELE: It`s coming -- it`s coming...

MATTHEWS: Where`s your money come from?

STEELE: Chris, I mean, look, we can...

MATTHEWS: Where`s this money just come from?

STEELE: Chris -- Chris, we can relitigate that battle...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where`s the money come from magically when...

STEELE: ... war`s not paid for. We got that.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: It comes from taxpayers. All the money comes from taxpayers.

MATTHEWS: Oh, I see. The money comes from somewhere when you want a
war.

STEELE: And so the question is, you have some who are arguing about
raising the gas tax to pay for this. You have others talking about
eliminating the gas tax. So the question...

MATTHEWS: You know what you do when you want a war in your party?
You borrow the money. Don`t kid me about raising taxes.

STEELE: I get that, but...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Chris, you`re talking about a Congress that was not in place
when W. was...

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: ... in the White House. This Congress is a different...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s your crazy aunt in the attic now.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: No, I`m not denying him...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They don`t know the guy. They never heard of Iraq.

STEELE: They weren`t in power.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, my question is somewhat rhetorical. But Governor,
I want you to answer it. Have you noticed whenever W. decided we got to go
into a new country and -- and (INAUDIBLE) of course, they were going to
liberate them and was only going to take a week-and-a-half and all that
stuff. But every time we went in, there was never anything -- Oh, we got
to have set-asides for this. We got to have pay-fors. We got to find some
new funding mechanism. No! We`re going to just blow that bugle, and the
money comes from somewhere!

STEELE: And what happened in 2010? Those members were replaced by
those members that are now drawing the line.

MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, President Obama -- the Republicans rejected
the president`s plan, of course, and now the hard right is even rejecting
the pint-sized Republican plan designed to put off disaster, sort of the
patchwork on the highway.

As the HuffingtonPost reports, the Tea Party group Heritage Action has
come out against the House`s short-term highway funding (INAUDIBLE) as you
pointed out, Michael, because it said it resorted to budget gimmicks and
budget transfers.

Meanwhile, the right-leaning Club for Growth, as I mentioned, took it
a step further, saying, This bill uses budget gimmicks and fee increases to
bail out a wasteful and inefficient program that shouldn`t even exist.

Now, my question to you, Michael, is -- I`ll go back to the governor
on this -- what`s wrong with a highway tax that has always been -- you pay
a couple cents for gas.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: It was 2 cents, now it`s 18. But of course, you`re paying
4 bucks for regular anyway, in some places.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: So it`s -- as a percent, it`s not very big. My question
is, what`s wrong with that going to keep the highways going? Why -- why...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Well, presumably that 18 cents...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Club for Growth doesn`t like it.

STEELE: Well, presumably that 18 cents is already going to that. And
what`s happened to the transportation trust fund? It`s why we got to
refund it.

MATTHEWS: Expensive.

STEELE: Yes, expensive, but the question then again goes to the
bottom line, Chris. Where does the money come from? How do you get this
money into the system without raising taxes? And there is not a desire
right now in this House especially...

MATTHEWS: OK, governor...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... how this is going to play out in the next couple years
politically.

RENDELL: Well, first of all...

MATTHEWS: I assume that Hillary Clinton is going to be a bread-and-
butter Democrat. That`s what my hope is. Of course, I can`t write her
script. I think I`ve been pushing the president in this direction, and you
have, certainly, as head of the infrastructure push with Schwarzenegger and
Bloomberg. But it took him a while to get into this thing, and he`s into
it today. I think we got to keep him up there. Be a builder. Be Robert
Moses. Do something!

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL: Absolutely. Interestingly, the Chamber of Commerce and the
AFL-CIO, who barely could agree that today is Tuesday -- they`ve agreed
that we ought to raise the gas tax. The gas tax was last increased 21
years ago. Does anybody think that they could have gone 21 years without a
raise, without a raise in their income their -- or supplements? You
couldn`t do it. The gas tax is now worth 11 cents in 1993 dollars -- 11
cents. It`s gone down...

MATTHEWS: OK...

RENDELL: ... down, down. It`s a user fee. It`s the best way to pay
for transportation. But having said that, Chris, you, Michael and I could
in the next 24 hours find $300 billion in tax expenditures that are not
necessary. Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney advocated getting rid of some of the
tax expenditures, the mortgage deduction...

MATTHEWS: Carried interest!

RENDELL: ... on second homes.

STEELE: Carried interest.

MATTHEWS: Carried interest.

RENDELL: ... carried interest...

MATTHEWS: All the money people make in the equity market.

RENDELL: The three of us could do it in 24 hours, and the nation
would not be at all...

STEELE: Harmed. That`s right.

RENDELL: ... hurt by the elimination of those loopholes.

MATTHEWS: OK, we`ve figured it out, guys. And I think big
government, when it comes to highways, is something we all believe in.
Thank you...

RENDELL: We want big government, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: I know. By the way, Richard Trumka`s a great leader of the
AFL-CIO. Wish he`d get his guys down here, raising hell with Congress
instead of worrying about knocking off some knucklehead governor somewhere.
Anyway...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Even though there are a few knucklehead governors. Anyway,
thank you -- I`m sorry, Ed Schultz. Sometimes priorities are creating
jobs, not just throwing people out of them. Anyway, Michael Steele, thank
you, Ed Rendell.

Coming up: Mind the gap. New polls by NBC News and the Marist
organization show the Democrats doing surprisingly well in must-win states
that they`re going to need to hold onto the Senate, if they can. And once
again, it`s women, the gender gap, that`s making the difference. It`s
women to the rescue. Wait until you see these numbers coming up. If
you`re woman, you`re going to be so proud you`re having such influence.

Also, I`ve always said that populism is where -- when a losing
candidate goes to bump his numbers at the last minute, at the 11th hour,
from 42 to 46 percent just before he loses. But when both Rand Paul and
Elizabeth Warren, who`s pretty smart, are singing the same populist tune,
you know something`s out there in the air in America right now.

Plus -- Hey, Governor, just answer the question. Rick Scott of
Florida is unintentionally hilarious as he tries to avoid an embarrassing
question -- four times. He can`t answer it. He won`t answer it. He
pretends it`s not been asked.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with a peaceful statement from Senator
Schumer on why Israel is doing the right thing with the horrible killings
of those young people down there in the Middle East, and his neighbors are
not.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Are 18 and 19-year-olds more conservative than people in
their 20s? Well, there seemed to be some evidence of that, which gave
Republicans hope that their fortunes could soon improve. But "The New York
Times" published this graphic based on work done by Gallup, the answer
seems to be, No, that`s not true.

Conservative is red in this graph, and you can see as people get
older, moving from left to right on the chart, they are more likely to lean
to the right, but the data seems to show that there`s very little evidence
that older teens are more likely to be conservative than people in their
20s. We`re getting pretty fine in these arguments.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, it`s no secret that
Democrats face an uphill battle in holding onto the U.S. Senate this year.
Republicans only need to pick up six net seats to take the chamber, and the
Democrats are largely playing defense with most of the vulnerable seats
coming from their side -- in other words, their incumbents in trouble.

But they got some good news today in the latest NBC News Marist polls
in Colorado and in Michigan. Both are states that usually have a
Democratic advantage, but where lately, the president`s approval rating has
been dismal, to put it lightly -- and I can`t put it lightly. And yet in
Michigan, Democrat Gary Peters leads Republican Terri Lynn Land by 6
points. And in Colorado, Senator Mark Udall, who had been -- seemed to be
in trouble, leads his opponent, Cory Gardner, by 7.

One of the main reasons in each case is the overwhelming majority that
Democrats enjoy among women voters. These numbers are something. In
Colorado, Udall leads women by 12. In Michigan, Peters leads by 13, and
he`s running against a woman.

It`s the same in other key states polled by NBC and Marist. For
example, in Marist (sic), Mark Pryor, the incumbent -- he leads Tom Cotton,
the Republican challenger, among women by 20 points. And in all three of
these states -- catch this -- the men`s vote is about even. In other
words, all the advantage of a gender split go to the Democrat because women
overwhelmingly go one way, whereas men are 50/50 in these races. And
that`s so fascinating.

But in Kentucky, an exception here. Although Alison Lundergan Grimes,
who`s the Democrat, leads Mitch McConnell by 7 points among women,
McConnell`s advantage with men is more pronounced, at 11 points. So men,
for whatever nasty or positive reason, they like Mitch McConnell more than
women like Alison Grimes. It`s fascinating to watch.

Anyway, women often make up a larger percentage of those people who
vote, however. So think about that. So can the gender gap be enough to
save the Senate for the Democrats this November?

Larry Sabato is the director of the University of Virginia`s muchly
(ph) gifted Center for Politics. And Stephanie Schriock is the president
of Emily`s List.

Larry, thank you for joining us. I first want your take on how it
looks. Do you think, if you had to put the house on it right now, your
house, would you say it likes the Democrats will lose the Senate, or don`t
you want to go there yet?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I`m not ready to go there yet.
I`ve seen some analyses even today giving Republicans, you know, enormous
odds to take the Senate. I don`t see it that way. I think it`s right on
the edge of the fence post. If Republicans win the Senate, it will be by a
seat or two. If the Democrats hold it, it`ll either be 51-49 or 50-50.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think -- anyway, I`ve been thinking a good night
for the Democrats is to lose five seats and keep the Senate. But I begin
to think there are other factors. Women -- talk about the women. What is
it that bugs women even in a downer period of time, when nobody is
particularly cheerful? Why would women still vote against the Republican
challengers, against incumbents?

SCHRIOCK: Well, like you said, women are going to decide this
election, as they have been deciding the last few.

And they are looking for candidates that are for a set of agenda
policies that are going to give women and families a fair shot. It really
is about economics, economic opportunity. They are feeling the pain of
equal pay or lack of equal pay.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Minimum wage? Minimum wage?

SCHRIOCK: Minimum wage, a huge issue, access to health care and total
access to health care, a big issue.

But this is bread-and-butter issues for women. And they are just
trying to make ends meet. And so when you see Republicans continue to
stand against equal pay, stand against the minimum wage, this is energizing
women across the country. And that`s what you are seeing in all of these
numbers.

MATTHEWS: Well, one challenge Democrats have, of course, is the
general dissatisfaction the American people have right now, as I said, the
sort of Debbie downer mood in the country, which is not just one gender.

In last month`s NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, only a quarter of
Americans said the country was heading in the right direction. And 63
percent said things were off on the wrong track.

Let me go back to Larry, who is an historian on this stuff.

If you put together the normal tendency of the sixth year of a
presidency being very dangerous territory for an incumbent president and
his party, because all the accumulated anger about six years, OK, I will
screw this guy running as a Democrat in this case, and then you take the
problem the president is at 40 percent, not much higher anywhere else, or
lower in places, and then you take the sort of general mood thing going up
that comes up in our polling on right direction, wrong direction, where
only a quarter of the country say they`re happy, what`s that do to your
thinking, those atmospherics?

SABATO: Well, look, Chris, put all those things together and what do
you come up with for 2014? It is probably going to be a typical sixth-year
election for the Democrats.

But all that tells you is Republicans are likely to gain seats in both
the House and the Senate. Now, the House, the election is already over
with. Everybody knows that. It`s just a question of whether Republicans
gain five seats, or 10 seats or whatever.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. That`s what I think.

SABATO: It won`t make that much difference.

In the Senate, I think the worst the Republicans can do is probably
plus four. And depending on where the numbers go, the ones you just cited,
between now, July and November, will determine whether the Republicans get
the six or six-plus that they need to take control of the Senate.

MATTHEWS: What do you think about the weird factor that Mitch
McConnell could lose to Alison Grimes, could, and...

SCHRIOCK: Very possibly.

MATTHEWS: ... and Cornyn could be the majority leader? It is so
weird. How much do you think there is a mood out there, if you could give
me a bipartisan statement here, of just, we have had enough of these guys?
The thing that knocked off Eric Cantor, to think of -- that could knock off
Mitch McConnell. These guys have been around too long. And they are just
never going to change.

SCHRIOCK: Well, that`s definitely the case for Mitch McConnell.

He`s one of the most unpopular senators.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, you want to like him less? You want to like him
less? Listen to this. Here he is today, Mitch McConnell. The comments
made last week are coming under attack. They`re just coming out now.

McConnell was asked at a campaign stop on Thursday, what are the most
important issues facing women in Kentucky? He said women are concerned
about the same things men are. Fair enough, at least he thinks. He
blasted efforts to claim that Republicans are hostile to women. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We have come a long way
in pay equity.

And there are a ton of women CEOs now running major companies. I
could be wrong, but I think most of the barriers have been lowered.

I`m a little skeptical about arguments that particularly people like -
- of my party who are hostile to women. What kind of nonsense is that? I
don`t think that kind of agenda or exploitation for political purposes
makes any sense.

The last time I ran, I got 50 percent of the women votes in the state.
So I don`t grant the assumption that we need to sort of give preferential
treatment to the majority of our population.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Hang on to that word, preferential, Stephanie.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, Majority Leader Harry Reid called McConnell`s
comments shocking and troubling.

Anyway, preferential treatment. Who is out there pushing preferential
-- what`s he talking about, McConnell? By the way, he`s really Mr.
Excitement.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHRIOCK: He is.

It`s just another sign of how completely out of touch he is.

MATTHEWS: What does he mean by preferential?

SCHRIOCK: I have no sense. Women are making 77 cents to the dollar.
I have no idea what he`s talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The producers around here think he might be referring to
the fact that a woman employee has the right to find out what other people
are making. I think guys have that right, too, but go ahead.

SCHRIOCK: Oh, that`s exactly right.

And a ton of women CEOs? Has he looked at the Fortune 500?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You mean like the binder full of women?

SCHRIOCK: There you go. There you go.

This is another sign of how completely out of touch he is. He`s the
leader of the Republican Party in the Senate. The Republican Party -- this
is -- we were talking about the numbers and how many seats we`re going to
lose. But the truth is, it`s about candidates. There is such a contrast
between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, Mark Udall and Cory Gardner, Mitch
McConnell, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

This comes down to who is on the ballot. I got to say our candidates,
our Democratic candidates across the board are in good positions,
particularly with women voters who will decide this election because of the
vision they have for the future. That`s what this election is going to be
about.

MATTHEWS: You know, Stephanie and Larry, no matter how traditional a
family or old-time it is or yesterday it is, when the woman walks into that
voting booth, she is completely free.

Thank you, Larry Sabato. It`s great having your expertise on. Don`t
get any more sun, though, sir. You got too much sun, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you for coming on.

And, Stephanie Schriock, thank you.

Up next, he`s ducking, diving and dodging when it comes to topics he
isn`t comfortable with -- how Governor Rick Scott of Florida, not my
favorite governor, has made avoiding a question a show in itself.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": The
National Governors Association held its annual summer meeting in Nashville
over the weekend, which came to an abrupt end during team building when
they let Chris Christie do a trust fall.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, time now for the
"Sideshow."

The boys of Comedy Central are back from their breaks and, boy, did
they have a lot to say. First, Jon Stewart returned with some, I think,
questionable humor about the tragedy at our border. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": You have got to
blame Obama`s immigration policy for this one. You don`t want migrant
children? You don`t put up these billboards. Yes, that`s right.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Or border-length ball pit. It`s not smart. It`s not a
smart move.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know.

Anyway, from immigration to Supreme Court. Steve Colbert took on the
Hobby Lobby decision during his show by spotlighting the religious roots of
some popular corporations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Oh, and it`s probably
not a big deal, but they also ruled that corporations have religious
beliefs.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: I mean, it makes sense. I mean, Hobby Lobby obviously
Christian. Panda Express is Jewish at Christmastime.

And Papa Johns, of course, is atheist because their pizza makes you
doubt there is a God.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Next, Florida Governor Rick Scott has been facing heat for
his use of on-duty polices as props at political events, including one last
week where he accepted the endorsement of the police chiefs association
itself.

But he has made clear that he will not talk about the matter. Watch
here as he dodges the question not once, but four times in a row.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you really think that all of those deputies
were off-duty?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I`m very proud that last week the
police chiefs endorsed me. I`m very proud that 40 sheriffs have endorsed
me. I`m very proud of all of the support from the law enforcement. We are
at a 43-year low in our crime rate. So, we invite them to our campaign
events. And I`m very appreciative of the ones that came.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But did you think it was a problem to have on-
duty law enforcement there?

SCOTT: I`m very appreciative of both their support and those that
come to my events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t answer the question. Should there be
discipline?

SCOTT: Look, I`m appreciative of very -- everybody that comes to my
events.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But do you think it`s OK for them to be there on
duty?

SCOTT: I`m very appreciative our police chiefs` endorsement last
week, the association.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow, four times. Hey, Governor, just answer the question.

Up next: Populism used to mean capital-D Democratic, but not anymore.
How both parties now are competing for the votes of the growing populist
movement.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.

An Egyptian cease-fire proposal to end the violence between Israel and
militants in Gaza has failed. The result is more rocket fire from Hamas
into Israel. Israel responded with airstrikes. Thousands of Gaza
residents have been told to evacuate before Wednesday morning.

Here in the U.S., severe weather in the Northeast has led to flooding
and rough conditions for travelers at airports throughout the region.
Airlines were forced to cancel hundreds of flights. Hundreds more were
delayed -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Senator Elizabeth Warren hit the ground in West Virginia yesterday
stumping for Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant. It`s the latest
in a series of her high-profile campaign stops designed to appeal to
working-class voters. She`s out there.

Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If West Virginia with
decides to send a senator to Washington who`s going to be there to fight
for Wall Street, for those who have already made it, or what it will mean
for West Virginia to have a person who will get up every morning and go to
work to absolutely work her heart out for the families of West Virginia.

I believe in Natalie Tennant. She is going to be your next senator.
Make it happen.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Warren may be, depending how you count it, be
to the left of most Democratic voters in West Virginia, but her appearance
there means that her trademark message of economic populism has a broad
enough appeal to work in a deep-red state like West Virginia even, even
though she hails from the culturally liberal state -- or, rather,
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

But while Senator Warren built her reputation as a champion of the
people over the powerful, there are similar strains of populism in the
Republican Party as well.

Listen to this. And perhaps no Republican has better articulated that
populist message than libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul. Here he is
speaking out against Wall Street at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit this
April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Rich companies don`t need your money.
And it is an insult to those among us that we say we don`t have enough
money for these other programs, but we have got enough money for our rich
friends.

If you want to be consistent, if you want to grow the movement, we
cannot be the party of fat cats, rich people, and Wall Street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I wonder what Chris Christie thought of that line.

Anyway, the esteem that both Warren, Senator Warren, and Senator Paul
have within their respective parties is another sign that our country may
be moving in a populist direction, with animus, hostility towards Wall
Street and Washington both shaping up to be the big motivators for voters
this November. They just don`t like things are going in D.C. or in New
York. And that could also be a big factor in 2016.

An NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll in late April found that a
bipartisan majority of Americans believe the following -- quote -- "The
economic and political systems in the country are stacked against people
like me." Do you got it? "The economic and political systems in the
country are stacked against people like me."

That`s a powerful number; 55 percent of Democrats and just about the
same number of Republicans, 54 percent, agreed with that statement. And
those are the highest numbers we have seen in that poll since the economic
downturn of 1992.

However, when it comes to presidential primaries in recent memory, we
haven`t seen any populist candidates actually win their parties`
nominations. Howard Dean, John Edwards both lost their luster early in the
primaries of 2004-2008, while blue-collar candidates like Mike Huckabee and
Rick Santorum also lost out to their establishment rivals in 2008 and 2012.

Well, joining me right now to talk about this is Robert Costa of "The
Washington Post" and Susan Page of "USA Today."

Thank you both for joining me.

Robert, I want to get this factually. And both of you are factual,
objective reporters, so let`s figure this out.

When you hear Rand Paul talk, you could take those lines, at least the
ones we just showed you, and give them to Senator Warren, Elizabeth Warren.
It`s about power, it`s about the government and seen to be by most people
feeding, in almost like a welfare state way, feeding the rich more than
they`re helping the middle. Your thoughts?

ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, Chris, both of these
politicians are trying to capture this populist moment.

And you see it playing out not only throughout the Democratic Party,
but throughout the Republican Party. Just look at the House GOP. They are
fighting this export-import bank. That`s part of that populism that`s
really bubbling up in Republican ranks.

MATTHEWS: Well, why doesn`t the president -- I will go back to him.
I want to go back to the president. I want to pound him today again.

Why doesn`t President Obama say, OK, if you`re populist, take out
these loopholes? Like, Mr. Brezhnev, tear down this wall.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": Yes.

MATTHEWS: Like just say to them, OK, you`re a populist, you`re for
the little people. Why do you have carried interest? Why does the guy in
equity business make a fortune and don`t have to pay taxes on it? Isn`t
that a reasonable question?

PAGE: Let me just with one thing that -- when Robert Costa said, you
know what, this is something that you feel bubbling up through the entire
Democratic Party.

This is something dividing the Republican Party in two, because there
is a lot of energy behind the populist message you hear from Rand Paul.
But there is a lot of pushback from the traditional mainstream Republicans
who think something like the Ex-Im Bank ought to be reauthorized without
any question_

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What about the overall sense that the rich are getting too
good a deal? Could a guy like Romney run as a populist? No. Could Chris
Christie run as a populist?

PAGE: Not in the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: These are big shot Northeastern people.

PAGE: Well, I don`t think they could, because that`s not where all of
their party is.

You could probably run that way as a Democrat, because Democrats
generally feel like the middle class and the little guy is getting screwed.
Republicans -- all Republicans do not feel that way.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, what about -- let me ask you, Robert. You`re
covering the campaign. That seems to me -- if this mood grows -- and I
think it will.

By the way, it all -- it`s tied up with the anti-war movement, too.
It`s all connected. This is populist Middle America. This is the Plains
states, it`s the Middle West. I`m looking at this and I`m saying if this
is growing mood that the rich have had it too well with all their tax
breaks and all the advantages they get generally, and having all the money,
how does a Jeb Bush win, who has inherited his position in life?

How does a Mitt Romney win, who has inherited his position in life?
How does Chris Christie who represents New Jersey, right up there near New
York, how do these establishment figures have a prayer if the party really
turns populist?

COSTA: I`m not so sure, Chris.

I think if this populism continues to grow, we`re really going to see
candidates like Jeb Bush struggle in Republican primaries and we may see
candidates like Hillary Clinton struggle in Democratic primaries.

Look, I was in West Virginia yesterday. This populism, this ability
of Elizabeth Warren to connect with the working-class voters of West
Virginia, it was real. There were 400 people packed into that room.

MATTHEWS: Tell me about that fighting. What do you think they were
reacting to what she said? Were they saying they -- what did you hear?

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: It was the message. It wasn`t the cult of personality. It
was the message. It wasn`t her charisma.

Elizabeth Warren can have a stilted delivery. She`s an imperfect
speaker. It was the message. She was going right at the banks. She was
talking about the millionaires, she was talking about the billionaires,
stitching up the tax code, getting rid of the loopholes. There was a lot
of nodding heads in that room.

These are people who have been out of work, they are struggling. And
they`re looking to her. She may not be their favorite, most popular
politician, but she connects.

MATTHEWS: My dad was a middle-of-the-road Republican.

And one thing he had against the Republican Party, which he always
seemed to vote for, except when it affected his pay raise in the city, was
these big shot corporations and their deals, whether it`s price fixing by
GE in those -- remember that scandal? He thought those people betrayed
capitalism. He just thought there shouldn`t be any special deal for the
rich. It should be true free enterprise.

PAGE: And look at the fuel that we have this time around on those
kind of issues with the bailout of Wall Street and the bailout of the banks
and the feeling that big corporations got bailed out after the great
recession, but a lot of Americans didn`t and are still struggling with
things like their mortgages being underwater.

I think that`s one of the -- I think that`s the element that makes
this such a powerful issue right at this moment.

MATTHEWS: I`m struck by this number. I want to go back to this
again as we end this discussion, because this is a number that I think
everybody is going to remember.

"The economic and political systems of the country are stacked against
people like me,` Robert, "are stacked against people like me." The
economic and political systems, in other words, the U.S. Congress, the U.S.
presidency, the political parties, the whole shebang that goes together is
hurting me, because on purpose it`s helping the better off.

And both Republicans and Democrats with almost precisely the same
percentage, 54, 55, which is the same, think that`s true.

COSTA: I think there is a real problem of inaction on Capitol Hill.

You saw Paul Ryan in West Virginia the same day as Elizabeth Warren.
Ryan has had this poverty agenda. But people are looking at the Republican
Party wondering, where is the legislation? And they are also looking at
the Democratic Party. They have the White House, they have the Senate.
Where is the legislation? Where`s the deals to help the working class?
There is a lot of frustration out there. And when you`re on the trail, you
feel it.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t those robots in the Republican Caucus on Capitol
Hill get the message? They are saying no to any effort to reform the tax
system, any effort.

COSTA: Well, part of the reason I think Republicans right now aren`t
moving a lot of legislation through is they feel like they got to play a
safe game ahead of November.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you.

COSTA: They think they can run on health care. They think they can
run on other things.

MATTHEWS: They`re freezing the ball, to use a basketball term, Susan.

I thought this all along. The reason nothing gets done on Capitol
Hill, even if it`s the smart move now, don`t make any move. Just pass the
ball around. Freeze it.

PAGE: Right. And don`t do anything that might give some credit to
President Obama. That`s part of the calculation as well.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s right. That`s so true.

Isn`t that something? Isn`t that a political purpose in life? Make
sure the other guy doesn`t get any credit.

PAGE: Because one thing with a compromise, you get something, but the
other guy gets something, too.

MATTHEWS: These guys are sweethearts.

Anyway, thank you, Susan Page.

And thank you, Robert Costa. You`re getting better and better, buddy.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re getting better and better at this.

Up next, a great idea whose time has come again. I was a part of this
country -- this organization for two years. It changed my life.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We know that Democrats and Republicans have been drifting,
perhaps speeding apart politically for years now.

And now a new study has found it`s not just the parties that are
separating ideologically, but the houses of Congress. A study by the Web
site fivethirtyeight.com has found that the House and the Senate are more
divided ideologically than at any time since the end of World War I.

In the 20th century, the houses generally moved left or right in
unison. But now the houses are moving in opposite directions. And it`s
true. As many suspected, the House of Representatives has moved farther to
the right than the Senate has gone to the left. So, it`s not symmetric.

And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Life as a Peace Corps
volunteer isn`t always easy. But, for many Americans, it is a life-
changing experience, one that offers a chance to live and work in
communities around the world, tackling some of the most pressing challenges
of our time.

So, if you`re looking for a way to serve, think about joining the more
than 200,000 Americans who have worked as Peace Corps volunteers in more
than 100 countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

That was, of course, President Obama in this case telling Americans
who want to serve their country to volunteer for the Peace Corps. Got to
agree with that.

But it was another president who inspired it all and how disappointed
he was with the people representing America abroad in the diplomatic
service. That`s the big reason why John Kennedy in March of `61 announced
the creation of an army of volunteers to live and work in developing
countries just like the people they`re working with. Here he is announcing
the Peace Corps.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will not be easy.
None of the men and women will be paid a salary. They will live at the
same level as the citizens of the country which they`re sent to doing the
same work, eating the same food, speaking the same language.

We`re going to put particular emphasis on those men and women who have
skills in teaching, agriculture, and in health.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, since then, more than 200,000 volunteers have served
in the United States Peace Corps, and, as President Obama said, their
experiences are life-changing. I agree with that.

I was one of them. I served in the African kingdom of Swaziland from
1968 through 1970, a little more than two years. Everyone I know, by the
way, who has served in U.S. Peace Corps around the world has said it was a
life-changer, best thing they did in their life.

Anyway, today, Peace Corps volunteers, who are the average age of 28
right now, are working in 65 countries around the world.

And we have now the new leader of the Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-
Radelet, who is the newly named director of the United States Peace Corps.
She herself served in Samoa as a volunteer. And she joins us now.

So, this is a cause that I believe in I don`t push all the time, but I
mention.

Carrie, congratulations.

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET, DIRECTOR, PEACE CORPS: Thank you. Such a
privilege.

MATTHEWS: This is a great honor and a grave responsibility.

Look into the camera, and tell somebody in college now, boy or, girl,
whatever background they come from, rich, poor, whatever ethnic group, why
they should consider the Peace Corps, going overseas for two years.

HESSLER-RADELET: OK.

Well, I will tell you why you should join the Peace Corps. It will
change your life. It will open your eyes to a world of incredible beauty
and diversity. You will make a difference in a way that`s impossible to
imagine now.

You will have adventures that will exceed your wildest dreams. It
will set you on a career path that may be difficult to predict now. It
will probably be very different from what you`re thinking about at this
point in your life. It will change your life completely.

Not only that. Peace Corps volunteers are at the real forefront of
development. They are fighting climate change. They are helping girls
complete school. They`re helping their communities grow crops. They`re
making a difference in the lives of girls and women. They are reducing
(INAUDIBLE) incidents up to 90 percent.

They`re making a huge difference. As you heard from President
Kennedy, it is not easy, it`s life-changing, it`s challenging, it will open
your eyes to a world that is just absolutely spectacular and...

MATTHEWS: OK, now the scary part. What do you tell the parents? A
22-year-old kid, a boy or girl, especially a girl, says I`m going to some
"stan" over in Central Asia, or I`m going to someplace in Africa that`s had
problems, how do you assure them this is a pretty reasonable risk to take
for your country and yourself?

HESSLER-RADELET: OK, great question.

There are two reasons, basically. The first is, it will give you a
real leg up in the global job market. It`s tough these days to find a job,
and Peace Corps will definitely help you to get a job.

MATTHEWS: When you get back.

HESSLER-RADELET: When you get back, because it gives you the kinds of
skills and experience that employers are looking for in this global market.

In addition, we have just spent the last four years improving the
quality of our support for volunteers. They have never been safer or
healthier than they are now. And we have spent a lot of time improving our
training for volunteers to help them reduce the risks. We have also done a
lot to support our staff, so they can better support our volunteers.

MATTHEWS: And now you can pick your country.

HESSLER-RADELET: And now you can pick your country.

MATTHEWS: Well, we did -- I sort of did. I wanted to go to
Swaziland.

But now you can just say -- first time I applied, I said anywhere in
Latin America or anywhere in Africa or in Cambodia. They sent me to
Afghanistan.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You missed a huge part of the globe there. And I said, no,
try again. And they tried again and they said Swaziland. I said, I`m in.

HESSLER-RADELET: Yes, that`s great.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you for coming in. And good luck with this.

HESSLER-RADELET: It`s such a privilege.

MATTHEWS: I know it`s a challenge. And I hope you bring it back
alive like it was with Sargent Shriver...

HESSLER-RADELET: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... the greatest leader of the Peace Corps. And I will
back this up. There are risks.

HESSLER-RADELET: There are risks.

MATTHEWS: There are risks. There are traffic accidents, things like
that, especially traffic accidents. But it is one amazing adventure.

HESSLER-RADELET: Absolutely. It is an amazing adventure.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Carrie Hessler-Radelet. Thank you. And
congratulations again.

And we will be right back.

HESSLER-RADELET: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with the powerful case Senator Chuck
Schumer of New York delivered in today`s "New York Post."

I feel like starting this with, now hear this, because it`s been so
long that it`s not been heard, because it`s been so long since we have all
needed to hear it.

It`s this little precious fact. It`s about how Israel and its
Palestinian neighbors are dealing with the tragedy of the four young people
kidnapped and killed, the innocent three Israelis and the innocent
Palestinian boy.

Israel went out and found the killers of the Palestinian boy. They
arrested them. They charged them. They clearly mean business in punishing
the guilty.

Now, what about the other side? What about the Palestinians? What
have they done to render justice?

Well, here`s Senator Schumer -- quote -- "How did Hamas and too many
diverse parts of the mainstream Palestinian community respond to the kidnap
and murder of three young Israelis? They cheered. The official Hamas
spokesman called the kidnappers heroes. It gets worse. The mother of one
of the suspected Palestinian kidnappers said, if he, her son, truly did it,
she said, `I will be proud of him until my final day.`"

While there have been terrible statements made by at least one Israeli
politician, who called for the mothers of the so-called Palestinian martyrs
to be killed, the government of Israel, itself, has been just and effective
in this matter. It went out and caught the people suspected.

This has hardly been the case on the Palestinian side, hardly. I have
thought for a while about when we will have true peace between Israel and
its neighbors. It`s when the Arabs are ready to punish an Arab for killing
a Jew. That`s the day when the people of Israel will be ready to trust
their neighbors, the day when they show the most primitive respect for the
Jewish people, the respect for their right to their homeland, but, even
more, to their right to life.

Senator Schumer, you said it right. These killings and how they`re
being handled tells us all we need to know about what is right about the
Middle East and what is wrong. And, in this case, the right, even in this
horror, is tilting toward the government in Jerusalem.

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

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

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