updated 9/8/2014 6:43:21 AM ET 2014-09-08T10:43:21

HARDBALL
September 5, 2014

Guest: Brian Katulis, Greg Feith, Jeanne Cummings, John Wisniewsk

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The pressure builds.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.

In a few minutes, we`re going to get to the latest on that mystery
plane that crashed off of Jamaica. We`ll also jump into Hillary Clinton`s
announcement today that she`ll decide just after New Year`s whether or not
to run again for president, news that could influence both Democrats and
Republicans hoping to beat her in the 2016 contest.

And now that Secretary Clinton has set the shot clock, if you will,
we`ll also ask how a male candidate should debate a woman candidate. Are
there rules? We`ll also give you the latest in the investigation
surrounding New Jersey governor Chris Christie. What will be the impact of
yesterday`s big guilty verdict on the former governor of Virginia?

We begin tonight with President Obama`s challenge to Europe and the
countries of Arabia to go to war with the Islamic State. Does this mean we
won`t act against the beheaders, if they don`t? Or are we doing things,
sending in special ops teams that the president doesn`t want to go public
with just yet?

In Wales today, the president said he was working on building a broad
coalition and he ruled out U.S. boots on the ground in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our goal is to act with
urgency, but also to make sure that we`re doing it right.

It`s not going to happen overnight, but we are steadily moving in the
right direction, and we are going to achieve our goal. We are going to
degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL the same way that we have gone after al
Qaeda.

And we have been very systematic and methodical in going after these
kinds of organizations that may threaten U.S. personnel and the homeland.
And that deliberation allows us to do it right. But have no doubt, we will
continue and I will continue to do what`s necessary to protect the American
people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: How I hate that word, "homeland." It is pure neocon talk.

Anyway, Chuck Todd`s the moderator of "MEET THE PRESS" and political
director for NBC News. Chuck, you`re going to interview the president for
this weekend`s "MEET THE PRESS." And congratulations. You`ll be a bold
moderator for that historic program.

What do we know or what can you tell us as a reporter that might be
between the lines of what the president said today in Wales? How does it
work? If we sit around and wait for the Saudis, wait for the Jordanians...

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Right.

MATTHEWS: ... wait for them, they may never act, and therefore -- is
he going to act alone if he has to, the president, to go after ISIS?

TODD: Well, it sounds like -- well, no. I mean, he already announced
sort of -- we already know that he`s got part one of this coalition, right?
He`s got the sort of the Western powers that have agreed to be a part of
this coalition to go after ISIS, or as the -- the administration referred
to them as ISIL.

And then he talked about the sort of the next step. Well, in a couple
weeks, what`s the next gathering of world leaders? It`s at the United
Nations, the big General Assembly. I think that`s where they believe
they`re going to get the Arab nations on board.

It`s clear, when you hear this talk -- he ruled out boots on the
ground of the United States, but they`re not ruling out the idea that
you`re going to need boots on the ground to deal with ISIS in Syria. But
it`s clear that the United States wants it to be Saudi boots or wants it to
be Jordanian boots. He doesn`t want it to be United States boots on the
ground. So what is that? That`s another couple of weeks of putting this
coalition together.

And at its best, this looks like an administration, after a president
that seemed a little bit nervous about how to go about this, how aggressive
to get -- that has decided to go the Bush 41 route. And they`re doing this
full-court press. Think Jim Baker in `90, where he went and did build this
large coalition to go after Saddam. That`s what they want. They`re hoping
they can get one.

And I tell you, I had a snarky e-mail from just a viewer who said, You
know, when it comes to this issue, the United States gives a lot of
military support to Saudi Arabia. Are they ever going to use it? Why is
it that it`s always the United States that still has to come use their own
military, even after the United States sends so much military over to some
of these countries and some of these allies. It`s a little snarky, but you
understand...

MATTHEWS: I`m with it.

TODD: I think that`s what the president is channeling, that same sort
of war fatigue that is in the United States, saying, We know this is a
problem, but we don`t want to have to keep doing it by ourselves.

MATTHEWS: Would he have answered a direct question today -- if one of
the reporters gotten to him with a question that said, Do we or do we not
have special ops teams, contract workers right now in Syria going after
ISIL? Would he have answered that question negatively?

TODD: I don`t think he would have answered that question. I think he
would have talked about that there is a lot of operations going on. He
would have probably ducked the question, focused it more on Iraq.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: But there has been a large hesitancy here about the Syria
aspect of this problem. And when he`s asked about it, he talks up the
potential solution that they feel like they`ve put together in Iraq with
the new government, with the sort of reinforced Iraqi military there that
might be able to deal with this ISIS threat in a more direct way.

It`s the Syria aspect of this that has seemed to knock him a little
bit for -- not a loop, but he`s been very cautious, been very reluctant. I
think it`s clear his team has made the decision they got to go after ISIS
in Syria, but it`s not the United States. It`s not going to be just
Western powers. They`re going do this methodically and they`re going to
try to build this large coalition so that it is essentially Sunni states,
perhaps, that are going and doing this on the front lines, with the support
and the assistance of the United States military.

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re going to be on the pitching mound this weekend
against the president. What`s your best question?

TODD: Well, do I give it away now? Do I say it here?

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: No, I actually think -- no, I`ll be honest. I think the first
question is a simple question. Are we at war? ISIS is at war with us.
Are we back on war footing? This is a president that wanted to get us off
war footing. And now, all of a sudden, I feel this is a president that`s
trying to prepare the country that we`re going back on war footing. It`s
going to be similar to maybe how we were on war footing with al Qaeda, a
different type of war footing.

But that`s what it feels like that he is and that he`s preparing -- is
that what he`s trying to prepare the country for? I mean, I think it`s
a...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: I think it`s a basic question a lot of Americans have. I
mean...

MATTHEWS: Do you think he feels -- do you think he feels the pull on
him from the American people, who want a -- to use a phrase, they want a
Captain Kirk and not a Mr. Spock? They want somebody in the helm
controlling the ship, not somebody telling us which way it should be going.
Does he know that disconnect is there?

TODD: You know...

MATTHEWS: Or does he care?

TODD: Look, I don`t think it`s -- I think this is not who he is. And
you know, the American people elected him because he was not a guy who saw
everything in black and white.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: You know, his rise was because he did see gray. And maybe --
and now the criticism is he sees too much gray, that there`s too much
nuance. I think you see -- it does feel like, from an outsider`s
perspective watching this, that his entire national security team has been
publicly trying to push him into this position.

And he`s there now, but think about Joe Biden and his rhetoric or
think about Chuck Hagel or think about John Kerry. They all seem to be in
a more aggressive place about this ISIS issue than the president himself.

And I go back -- it`s not as if the president doesn`t -- they agree on
going after them. He is just so weary (ph) of opening up the Syrian can of
worms.

MATTHEWS: He should stop using Armageddon talk, this neocon talk,
WMD, "homeland." Drop that lingo. Say "America." Don`t say "the
homeland." We know where we live.

Thank you, Chuck Todd. Good luck. Break a leg this weekend.

TODD: Thank you, Chris. Appreciate it.

MATTHEWS: And great get, by the way. And Chuck`s going to interview
(INAUDIBLE) the president -- the president of the United States this
weekend. It`ll be his debut, Chuck`s, not the president`s, on "MEET THE
PRESS" this Sunday.

As I said earlier, the president ruled out U.S. boots on the ground in
Syria, saying the international community needs to do more to help moderate
opposition forces in Syria. Let`s watch right now, the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We will not be placing U.S. ground troops to try to control
the areas that are part of the conflict inside of Syria. I don`t think
that`s necessary for us to accomplish our goal. We are going to have to
find effective partners on the ground to push back against ISIL. And the
moderate coalition there is one that we can work with. We have experience
working with many of them. They have been, to some degree, outgunned and
outmanned. And that`s why it is important for us to work with our friends
and allies to support them more effectively.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is Brian Katulis, senior fellow
at the Center for American Progress. Brian, how do you get other people to
do the fighting?

BRIAN KATULIS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, essentially, what
he`s talking about there specifically is the Syrian opposition that`s
against Assad and against the Islamic State, ISIS. And for the last couple
of years, we`ve been providing some form of support. So have the Saudis
and so have the Qataris.

The problem is, the support has gone to different factions and it`s
not been organized. So what I hope he`s talking about there is to get
these boots on the ground, a little bit more organized, and that network
that`s behind him, the Saudis and others who know the Sunni tribes, which
could be the anvil against which we sort of hit the Islamic State.

But doing that is easier said than done because Saudi Arabia doesn`t
like Qatar very much. These countries don`t coordinate. So it`s not 1991.
It`s 2014, and these countries are quite often at odds with one another.
And part of the reason why the Syrian opposition that`s against Assad and
ISIS is in such disarray is because these oil-rich countries have actually
squandered a lot of money and weapons themselves the last couple of years
and haven`t been able to organize the effort. So I hope the president is
saying, Let`s get this organized better.

MATTHEWS: Chuck was talking about the president taking step one and
getting the Europeans behind it, but that was a very, I would say,
optimistic view of what the president was able to say. The president
really only said he faced no pushback at the meeting of NATO in Wales. He
didn`t say they were all joining up to join the army here.

KATULIS: Yes, I think it`s right. I mean, it`s important that some
of the NATO allies, the partners, have already joined us in giving
additional weapons to the Kurds...

MATTHEWS: Yes! They`re not fighting!

KATULIS: ... in northern Iraq -- no, they`re not. But let`s talk
about what kind of fight this is. We talk often in -- you know,
"homeland," and you were mentioning these comments. We use the word "war"
as if it`s a traditional combat here, a conventional military fight. It`s
not.

The intelligence networks, the sort of types of operations that we`ve
seen in Somalia, for instance, earlier this week -- that`s the sort of
fight. And I think what they talked about at NATO is the intelligence
collection on these networks that include 12,000 foreign fighters. So it`s
a different -- you know, not -- we`re not talking about fighting a state,
even though it calls itself a state. We`re talking about fighting a non-
state actor...

MATTHEWS: Those guys marching around with the black uniforms and the
black flags -- are they foreign fighters or are they Syrians?

KATULIS: Well, I can`t tell from the photo itself, but it`s a mix.
And what we know, again, is that there are 12,000 of these guys from either
the region, 3,000 of them coming from Europe and the United States. So my
point here, Chris, is we often talk about where we bomb.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KATULIS: And the big part of the challenge is actually can we get
intel on these guys? Can we actually contain them, using all sorts of
means? And I hope that`s what he`s talking about when forming a coalition.

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re all wearing those uniforms. They should be
easy to spot.

KATULIS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: They dress like they`re Darth Vader coming to town!

KATULIS: No, and even moreso now. I mean, in the last week or so,
we`ve been doing surveillance in certain parts of Syria, aerial
surveillance. But we need good intelligence on the ground. Remember, it
took two months -- two months from...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I can just tell you, politically, we got to stop those
beheadings. We can`t do that every -- watch that every two weeks and say,
I`ve got...

(CROSSTALK)

KATULIS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Brian Katulis, we`ll have you back many times. Thank you.

And coming up: Hillary Clinton starts the shot clock -- you know, like
in basketball? She says she`ll make a decision about running for president
in the first of the year. That`s coming up on New Year`s. So the
timetable is set for a Democratic contest. Let`s see who joins that fight.

Plus, there are new developments in the George Washington Bridge lane
closure, one year afterwards. Those lanes were closed up a year ago.
Somebody yelled "Shut up" to the police there. They weren`t supposed to
even talk on the radio about what was going on. What`s going on in the
investigations now? That`s what we want to know. And what does it hold
for the future of Christie?

And the debate this week between North Carolina senator, U.S. Senator,
Kay Hagen and Republican challenger Thom Tillis showed, I think, how a man
should not run against a woman candidate. Here`s Tillis in that debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOM TILLIS (R-NC), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: That`s reality and that`s
math. And that`s something that Kay needs to accept.

The answer leads me to believe she hasn`t been in North Carolina
lately.

Kay`s math just doesn`t add up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What a sarcastic being. Anyway, he`s sniping at a United
States senator, calling her "Kay" as if they`re buds. Anyway, does this
stuff work?

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the decision by organizers of the St.
Patrick`s Day parade in New York to allow gay groups to join in. That`s a
great decision.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back. And if you missed it earlier today, there was
a sad drama in the skies over eastern Florida, the Caribbean and Cuba this
afternoon. F-15 fighters trailed a plane with an unresponsive pilot until
he crashed off the coast of Jamaica. Two people were on board the doomed
flight, a New York real estate developer and his wife.

Greg Feith is a former NTSB investigator and he`s with us now. Greg,
what do you think happened to that plane? What do we know?

GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB INVESTIGATOR: Chris, one of the things that
is a telltale sign of hypoxia and cabin depressurization is what the F-15
pilot saw. That is, the ice that was built up or the frost that was built
up on the windows of the airplane. And we`ve seen that before in prior
accidents. So most likely, there was some sort of pressurization problem,
and the pilot trying to deal with that and then succumbing in some way,
shape or form to the effects of hypoxia.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. We`re going to know more about that
tomorrow morning. Greg Feith, thank you so much, formerly with the NTSB.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, today, Hillary Clinton,
speaking in Mexico City, of all places, laid out a political timetable.
And here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: So I do have a unique
vantage point and set of experiences about what makes the United States
operate well and what doesn`t and what a president can do and should be
doing. So I am going to be making a decision around, probably after the
first of the year about whether I`m going to run again or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, just like that, probably after the first of the year.
A declaration like that puts a lot of political action into motion not just
on the Democratic side, of course, but the Republican side as well.
Hillary Clinton just started, as they say in basketball, the NBA, the shot
clock for 2016.

Joining me right now is Perry Bacon, NBC News senior political
reporter and Bloomberg deputy managing editor Jeanne Cummings.

Perry, you first, then Jeanne. Tell me all that you think about this
because I`ve been thinking a lot about it today. Your thoughts.

PERRY BACON, NBC SR. POLITICAL REPORTER: I was surprised she was so
explicit about it, but it makes sense. I talked to a couple of Democrats
who are likely to work on her campaign, and what I was told was two things.
The reason you want to announce early in January is -- the first reason is
the Republicans are going to be attacking her anyway. Like, Rand Paul, Ted
Cruz are going to be on the campaign trail by that time. So you want to
have an apparatus defending Hillary Clinton formally in a campaign.

Second reason being, Democratic donors already want to start rallying
around her, and you can`t drag it out until April or May because they`ll be
wondering, Do we have a candidate? Who is our candidate. So she can
announce in January, but still not start going to Iowa and New Hampshire
all the time until July or August, or much later in the year.

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Jeanne? I love all that.

JEANNE CUMMINGS, BLOOMBERG: I think that she had to do it for the
party. I mean, the party needs to know she`s in because if there`s some
notion that she might not run, she can`t wait until April or May and then
leave somebody to have to start from scratch at that point. It`s too late.

I agree with Perry. She`s going to be attacked anyway. She might as
well prepare herself. There is -- in a modern campaign, there`s so much
work that has to be done in building that broad base, building those e-mail
bases and building out that computer infrastructure. It`s a lot harder to
build a modern...

MATTHEWS: You need a war room.

CUMMINGS: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And by the way, one thing I think you`re right about,
Jeanne, is that for the -- when she was getting hit during her book tour,
she had a couple people from the publishing house probably with her, but
they`re not going to help her politically. And she had -- she didn`t have
that war room with old George Stephanopoulos and James Carville sitting
back there batting down all the shots against her. You want that team, and
therefore, she has to announce (INAUDIBLE) have that team.

Let me ask you about the Democrats running against her. I mean,
there`s always this outside thing that Joe Biden may just figure his last
hurrah. What`s he got to lose? Go after her. But it seems now when she
announces this in January, she`s going to announce she`s going to run,
probably. We all think that, probably. Does Biden make an announcement
before that, or does this shut him off and he says, Well, I can wait until
January? And if he wants until January, he`s not going to run because he`s
not going to announce after she announces.

Your thoughts on that interesting scrabble over who`s first.

BACON: Chris, my -- my understanding is Biden is unlikely to run if
Hillary does sort of period.

So, if she waited until April, maybe he could maybe rumble. But I
think by her talking about January, that would kind of close the door.
It`s hard to see him announcing. The big problem is, Joe Biden had trouble
running -- raising money in 2008 when he ran last time.

If donors know that Hillary Clinton is going to announce in January,
I`m not sure who is going to say they`re going to give money to Biden or
who is going to join his staff in December if they know Hillary is going to
announce the week afterward and she will be ahead of him by 70 points in a
lot of polls.

MATTHEWS: Who does Hillary want to run against? Because my hunch is
she wants sparring partners. You don`t want to walk in. And, by the way,
hold the convention in New York and then be crowned? That`s too much, I
think. But what do you think she thinks?

CUMMINGS: Well, I do think that it would benefit her to have some
kind of primary, because we saw early in the book tour she stumbled on many
questions because she was out of practice, on gay marriage, on the
reference to their wealth.

Her language wasn`t sharp. And it wasn`t ready for the campaign
trail. So, red flags had to have gone up. And to have some kind of
sparring partner would be good, preferably from her left, so that she even
looks more centrist.

MATTHEWS: Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

CUMMINGS: That would do. That would do the trick.

MATTHEWS: A socialist.

CUMMINGS: The real pressure...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I mean, he is a socialist. I`m not knocking him. He is
one.

(CROSSTALK)

CUMMINGS: On Biden, I mean, Biden -- he doesn`t have a super PAC.
He`s not running. It`s just that simple.

MATTHEWS: Martin O`Malley from the -- Maryland, governor of Maryland.

CUMMINGS: He`s trying to raise money.

(CROSSTALK)

BACON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Brian Schweitzer? What are you hearing, Perry? Brian
Schweitzer was in the thing for a while there.

BACON: The names I have heard are O`Malley, like Jeanne said, Bernie
Sanders, and then Jim Webb is making a lot of flirtations about running as
well.

The Hillary people I have talked to, what their view is they want
someone to run because they want to have debates, they want to practice.
They don`t want someone who is going to attack them on the 1990s or talk
about Monica Lewinsky a lot or make it a very personal campaign.

They want an opponent who is going to be sort of above the fray and
make it issues only, as opposed to any kind of personal thing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where do you find opponents like that?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: This is 2015 you`re talking about. Where do you find nice
fellows like that? Well, I don`t want to say anything against the
secretary. What kind of a candidate is that?

(CROSSTALK)

CUMMINGS: Well, the hard -- if you look at that lineup that Perry
just listed, Jim Webb is the most interesting one.

MATTHEWS: Sure.

CUMMINGS: Because he can do income inequality with a lot of
authenticity.

MATTHEWS: OK.

What do you make -- Perry, you`re down there in Florida. I`m hearing
Jeb is running. Mitt is certainly trying to make noise, running op-ed
pieces. Nobody does that unless they`re running. It looks to me like the
field is going to be very crowded on the Republican side, maybe eight or 10
people, really across the board, including maybe even Huckabee.

I hear everybody wants to run. They must think it`s worth it to run
against Hillary all of a sudden.

BACON: I don`t think it`s worth it necessarily for Hillary.

I think the real story, Chris, is how far Marco Rubio and Chris
Christie have fallen. A year ago, we thought those two people would be
pretty strong candidates and clear the field in some ways and do a really
good job. And now it feels like anybody can win. I think Jeb would be the
favorite. I think he`s still probably too establishment for the party. He
hasn`t ran in a long time.

But I think it`s going to be a free-for-all and I think those guys are
going to really try to announce early. I think some Republicans might be
on the ground in Iowa January 3 or so, because this is a full sprint. It`s
not clear there`s -- this is the widest open field a long time. There is
not really any favorite I can see right now.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BACON: If I were a Republican, I would just go for it. Paul Ryan
maybe could run as well.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I agree with that. I think it`s a wide field, but a lot of
people think they can win the general or else they wouldn`t be running.

CUMMINGS: That`s right. And I think he`s right. Anybody can win
this. They`re already in Iowa. They aren`t waiting.

BACON: Right.

CUMMINGS: And Hillary -- if she makes that call in early January,
that is going to turn everything on, because that means Christie has got to
make a call. That means some of these other people who have been thinking
about it, Rick Perry, got to make a call, because they have to get in the
game, and start raising money and building a machine.

MATTHEWS: To two you, quick question. Do you think there will be any
distance between Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, after she comes out of
her convention and the Republicans come out of their convention? They`re
both done their conventions. Will there be a wide spread between her and
the Republican candidate?

CUMMINGS: On what issue?

MATTHEWS: The matchup.

CUMMINGS: On the matchup?

BACON: Oh.

CUMMINGS: Wide spread coming out of conventions? Right now, Hillary
is running strong, but anything can happen.

MATTHEWS: Perry, what do you think? Close one coming out of the
chute?

BACON: Polls are showing even right now that Hillary was really high
for a while. But now the Republicans are back to normal. They`re back to
their normal view that Hillary Clinton is a politician. They do not like
her.

I think the polls will be pretty much tied at the end of the
convention times.

MATTHEWS: I think so, because the country is tied. And it comes
back...

(CROSSTALK)

BACON: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know women will have a particular concern about the first
woman president. There will be some other guys out there on the wrong side
of that issue. But we know that.

But I`m telling you, a lot of people are going to vote and not tell
their spouse how they are voting too.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: There`s going to be a lot of that.

I think it`s going to be tight as a drum. Thank you very much.
Because everything is now.

Perry Bacon, thank you.

Thank you, Jeanne Cummings.

Have a nice weekend.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Up next, Dick Cheney`s knee-jerk Obama bashing gets him a
knockdown out in his home state of Wyoming. That`s ahead.

As we head to a break, California Governor Jerry Brown leads
Republican challenger Neel Kashkari by double digits. They met last night
for their lone debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEEL KASHKARI (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: If you had a
choice between fighting for civil rights of poor kids and fighting for the
union bosses who funded your campaigns, you have sided with the university
union bosses. You should be ashamed of yourself, Governor. I`m going to
fight for the kids. I`m going to fight for the kids. I want you to know
that.

(CROSSTALK)

GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: That makes no sense at all.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: That is so false. I feel like I`m getting a sales pitch from,
I don`t know who.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Yes, Neel.

Well, you learned your job well there working at Goldman Sachs and the
rest of the people who wrecked the economy. We had -- you bailed them out,
though. It`s kind of like the arsonists putting out the fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time now for the "Sideshow."

The Wyoming state bar is getting hit in advance of its annual
convention next week. The organization which is partially funded by
taxpayer money is featuring Dick Cheney as its keynote speaker. When it
announced his upcoming appearance, it published a bio of the former vice
president that had been given to them by Cheney`s own office.

The only problem is, the Wyoming bar never edited the copy they had
received from Cheney before they released it. Readers later found out that
the bio contained some unusually subjective criticism of President Obama in
the text -- quote -- "President Obama began to dismantle the security
policies that had kept the nation safe. His policy decisions have led to a
reversal of the gains America made in the war on terror in countries like
Iraq and Afghanistan and a weakening of America across the globe."

Well, look, all we know -- we all know, rather, that Cheney will use
almost any opportunity to stick it to the president. But we also know
you`re not supposed to editorialize in your official bio. The Wyoming bar
heard from several lawyers who said they wouldn`t even attend the event
because of the inappropriate material. And the group later apologized.

Anyway, next up, the news that Russian forces moved into Ukraine was
verified by NATO satellite imagery last week. But Russia has denied
involvement. Well, a separatist leader said the Russian are troops are
really just freelancing while on vacation. That`s what they say.

But while the claim flies in the face of the evidence, the Russian
Embassy in the United Arab Emirates took the charade a step further,
thumbing their nose at NATO with this photograph of toy military trucks,
toy tracks -- trucks and tanks. The caption reads, "NATO`s latest evidence
of Russian armor invading Ukraine has been leaked. Seems to be the most
convincing ever."

Well, this juvenile attempt to mock NATO is just the latest in an
ongoing Twitter showdown with Canada that began late last month after
Canada`s delegation to NATO posted a map showing Russia`s border with
Ukraine, a border that didn`t include Crimea as a part of Russia.

"Well, geography can be tough," they wrote. "Here is a guide for
Russian soldiers who keep getting lost and accidentally entering Ukraine."

We will see how all this plays out.

Anyway, finally, health-conscious first lady Michelle Obama has
participated in a new comedy sketch by the folks at Funny or Die. This
time, it`s a fake trailer for a movie called "Snackpocalypse," which
depicts a nightmarish world where healthy food has been replaced entirely
by candy, turning its population into zombie-like gluttons, that is, until
the hero of the story comes along. Here`s how it ends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Don`t you hate when trailers give away
the whole movie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

OBAMA: Can we just watch "Frozen" again?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Up next, new developments in the George Washington Bridge
scandal. We`re going to, like, grab a look at where the investigations
stand right now and what it means to Governor Christie.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Frances Rivera. Here`s
what`s happening.

More than 100 American contractors on board a charter flight have left
Iran after being grounded for hours. The flight operated by Flydubai was
ordered to land in Bandar Abbas because of bureaucrat issues. It was on
its way from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to Dubai. But since it took
off three hours` late, the flight plan didn`t match what Iranian officials
had on record. Iranian air controllers ordered the plane to land or
Iranian fighter jets would be scrambled to intercept it -- now we take you
back the HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Vivid new details have emerged about those infamous lane closures on
the George Washington Bridge which almost a year ago today set off a legal
and political domino effect inside the Christie administration. "The
Bergen Record" says that police officers were said to have been muzzled,
told to -- quote -- "shut up" by high-level officials at the Port Authority
after they raised alarms about the scheme they saw being undertaken.

"The Record"`s reporting is based on the summary of police testimonies
provided to New Jersey lawmakers investigating Governor Christie. They
reports that during the closures, a police officer radioed that those
closures were creating hazardous conditions on Fort Lee streets. "Shut
up," a Port Authority police adviser at the bridge allegedly replied.

Well, that officer was then visited in person by two officials to
reinforce the message to shut up. To date, the New Jersey lawmakers have
heard public testimony from six key witnesses, including top aides to
Christie himself. But the legislative committee is not the only
investigator of Christie`s tale -- on his tail.

According to "The Wall Street Journal," the U.S. attorney in Newark
has impaneled a special criminal grand jury exclusively devoted to the
bridge closures. The Manhattan district attorney has opened up his own
investigation into several matters surrounding Christie, including a $1.8
billion transfer of funds which may have been carried out illegally to plug
a hole in the state`s infrastructure budget.

And the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC commission is said
to be investigating whether or not the governor`s office misled public
bondholders in documents to raise money for infrastructure projects.
Christie has denied doing anything improper in all of these cases.

Steve Kornacki is the host of "UP" on MSNBC, and John Wisniewski is
co-chair of the New Jersey legislative committee that is investigating
Christie.

Mr. Wisniewski, thank you so much.

Give us a sense of what you see operating in your committee and also
in the various criminal investigations or civil investigations -- criminal
investigations, they are, surrounding the governor.

JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: Well, these
reports of the Port Authority police behaving badly are really troubling.

When you have a traffic jam as monumental as you had at the George
Washington Bridge, you would naturally think police officers would run to
aid motorists and try to clear up the problem.

What happened here is, you had a police officer trying to do the right
thing and being told by his superiors to shut up, to not do anything about
it. And so what`s troubling is, it appears that the hierarchy in the Port
Authority police had some level of understanding or complicity in the
attempt to conceal what was happening.

MATTHEWS: So it was all coordinated. And somebody was at the pretty
high level knew exactly what the mission was here. Was to do what? How
else could they read...

(CROSSTALK)

WISNIEWSKI: Well, that`s the unanswered question.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... that the police knew that this was punitive.

(CROSSTALK)

WISNIEWSKI: We have been looking for the opportunity to interview Ms.
Kelly, Mr. Stepien, Mr. Wildstein. They have obviously sought refuge in
the Fifth Amendment to not incriminate themselves.

But, really, the question remains is what Bridget Anne Kelly the idea,
who told her or who gave her the authority to close these lanes? What gave
the police officers who now seem to have had some level of involvement in
this, what gave them the authority or the belief that it was OK to shut
down this whole thing to make sure there was no public comment?

MATTHEWS: Steve, you have been out in front on this thing from the
beginning. And we have relied on you. We rely on you again tonight.

What`s the most likely route for any investigation or possible
prosecution, the bridge itself, the Pulaski Skyway, the diversion of funds
there, or that -- what looked to be the pressure put on the mayor of
Hoboken to approve that waterfront development by the governor?

KORNACKI: You are actually looking at three different things there.
I think the expectation is that when it comes to the closures, when it
comes to the bridge shutdown itself, you talk about different principal
players, Bridget Kelly, David Wildstein, you know, my old boss, Bill
Baroni, maybe Bill Stepien, a former aide to Chris Christie. Within the
group of four people, the expectation is that, at some point, in the
probably not too distant future, there`s going to be indictments, whether
it`s all four, whether it`s one of the four, you know, indictments, plea
deal. There`s some kind of shake out there from the bridge deal.

When you talk about the Pulaski Skyway, when you talk about some of
the other reporting that`s come out as a result of the scrutiny that`s
going on with the land deals that the Port Authority was involved in, then
you get into questions about David Sampson, Chris Christie`s confidant,
chairman of the Port Authority, whether he`s going to get into legal
trouble, something the federal prosecutors indict him on over the land
deals, the stuff that sort of came to light as a result of this.

And then, of course, as you say, the issue with the mayor of Hoboken.
The allegations that she lodged, they could involve potentially David
Sampson as well. But whether there is a shakeout, that`s probably the
toughest one to tell.

The key factor here is so much of this had to do with what the
decisions that are being made in the U.S. attorney`s office, in this U.S.
attorney`s office, is the complete 180 degree opposite of the U.S.
attorney`s office under Chris Christie. It is opaque. It is very
difficult to get a read on. You have seen a lot of false starts in terms
of reporting. People who think they have a clue what`s going on. It
hasn`t turned out that way.

MATTHEWS: You know, Mr. Wisniewski, I worked in politics for years.
You always knew what the boss wanted done. He didn`t always tell you how
to do it, in fact, rarely did. But you knew what the mission was at work.
That`s why you went to work for the person.

STATE REP. JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: How does Bridget Kelly get the notion that she does thing
like stop bridge traffic across the Hudson River, interstate commerce shut
down? If that`s not a mission set by the governor, who did set the
mission? That`s my question.

Did this she -- did this employee, this nonelected person, just come
up with the idea, we are going to shut down traffic between New York and
New Jersey, we are doing it for a month?

WISNIEWSKI: It`s just not believable, Chris. I mean, you know how
the governor`s office works. People aren`t freelancing. They`re not
trying to guess what the boss wants. They are following direction given by
their superiors. They are given instructions. They understand what they
are supposed to do.

What we have been asked to believe Bridget Kelly woke up and decided
it might impress somebody if she closed the lanes. David Wildstein thought
that this might perhaps get him a promotion.

The reality is I think a little different than that. The fact is that
somebody gave Bridget Kelly a specific or an implicit instruction that this
would be a thing to do because somebody thought it would be helpful or
accomplish something. What we don`t know is what they were trying to
accomplish. We know what the effect was, which is to put Fort Lee into
lockdown for four days.

We`re going to continue to look at these facts and try to get the
answers that the public deserves.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Steve, a little bit outside the orbit
here, but I think it`s all context.

Anybody in public office today who wants to face a jury right now must
be crazy, because it seems to me the juries aren`t in the mood to assume
laxness and, oh, that`s just politics. I don`t think that old attitude, I
grew up in a big city, oh, that`s the way politicians behave, is acceptable
anymore. What are you thinking? If I were Christie, I`d be worried about
the jury.

KORNACKI: Well, and I think about this way, too, the Justice
Department just took -- looked at the beginning like a risky shot at Bob
McDonnell, at a former governor. It was a bit of a risky case, people
thought, and they won. If they had lost yesterday, if the jury had not
come back like they did, would that make the Justice Department a little
bit more hesitant to be going into the matter of Chris Christie, or did the
fact that they put a win on the board now, they`re not looking at going 0
and 2, does that make it a little bit more likely?

So, no, I agree. I think there might be a link even if just
psychologically between what we saw yesterday in Virginia and New Jersey.
But the one thing I say again when we talk about Chris Christie is the key
when you start talking about legally and Chris Christie is, you know, did
he have -- can it be proven, can it be proven in a court of law, can it be
proven even to the point of indictment that this guy knew ahead of time, or
this guy was involved somehow in covering this up, because the only thing
that we`ve really seen right now that seems clear to me is that Chris
Christie had opportunities to know.

MATTHEWS: OK.

KORNACKI: Willful ignorance.

MATTHEWS: OK. Never forget the judge`s instructions this week to the
jury in Richmond. Circumstantial evidence is good enough.

Anyway, thank you, Steve Kornacki.

Thank you, Assemblyman John Wisniewski. Thank you, sir, for coming on
again.

WISNIEWSKI: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, perils for male candidates running against women
candidates. Exhibit A: this week`s debate in North Carolina in the U.S.
Senate race where the Republican challenger repeatedly sniped at U.S.
Senator Kay Hagan, keep calling her "Kay", never a senator. How about
senator once in a while? She was calling you "speaker."

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`ve got another new poll in what may well be the marquee
governor`s race this November in the country. Let`s check the HARDBALL
scoreboard.

In Florida, Republican Rick Scott leads Democratic challenger Charlie
Crist by five points. Now, that`s according to a new "Tampa Bay Times"/Bay
News 9 poll. It`s Scott 41, Crist 36 -- 41 still not enough. The
libertarian in the race, by the way, is grabbing six points.

Bill Clinton is visiting Miami today to help Crist make up that
ground.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Now that we are past Labor Day in the beginning of the campaign, we
are getting to know the men and women seeking political office this year.
But sometimes, the more we watch, the more we avert our eyes.

Just watch North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis debating Democratic
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan this Wednesday night. And watch Hagan`s response to
him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOM TILLIS (R-NC), SENATE CANDIDATE: That`s reality. That`s math.
That`s something that Kay needs to accept.

Kay`s answer leads me to believe she hasn`t been in North Carolina
lately.

Kay`s math just doesn`t add up.

Here`s something you should know a lot about being a senior
appropriations chair, Kay.

You know, Kay, if you actually read the budget.

I just think again that Senator Hagan really needs to understand and
maybe spend more time back in the states.

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: I`m actually insulted by his
comments. I was a vice president at a bank. I wrote billion dollar state
budgets in the state of North Carolina. I understand math. Even when I
was a teenager I worked at my dad`s tire store and did layaway for people
buying tires. I understand math.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, as one North Carolina reporter wrote, "Thom Tillis
stopped just short of calling Kay Hagan little lady."

Anyway, talking down to your female opponent may not be the best
strategy. Remember what happened when Vice President George Herbert Walker
Bush attempted to explain something to his rival Geraldine Ferraro back in
1984.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT: Let me help you with the
difference, Ms. Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon. Iran, we
were held by a foreign government. In Lebanon, you had a wanton terrorist
action where the government opposed it.

GERALDINE FERRARO (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me
just say, first of all, that I almost resent Vice President bush, your
patronizing attitude, that you have to teach me about foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Kasie Hunt, an MSNBC political correspondent, Jonathan
Capehart is an opinion writer with "The Washington Post".

Let me help you with your answer to this.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I mean, there`s something -- I think he learned that from
Roger Ailes because Roger Ailes got him to say, let me help you with that
one, Pierre, who`s running the (INAUDIBLE)

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I will say, on the Senator
Hagan and Thom Tillis -- I mean, he couldn`t address her that way on the
Senate floor if he were to actually get here. I mean, Senator Reid got in
trouble for that for addressing any senator, male or female, by their first
name. It`s disrespectful.

MATTHEWS: Use some psychobabble if we have to, because we all use it
here. Was he using that to put her down, to show that he was so familiar
and unimpressed with her personage that he would dismiss her, somebody to
cock up, hey, Kay, come over here, you got to hear this joke? What kind of
strange -- I think it`s odd. I call every senator "senator" unless they
tell me not to.

And then I -- the only guy who ever told me not to is Pat Moynihan.
The rest of them said, call me Pat. They`re always -- I think you give the
person their title. After all, he`s going for that title.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: In part of the clip you
showed, he addressed her at Senator Hagan. He did do that throughout the
debate, sparingly, but the thing -- the reference that he made, the very
first reference to the senator in his opening remarks was, Kay Hay. That,
to me, struck me, whoa, that`s unbelievably --

MATTHEWS: Is that her nickname with friends?

CAPEHART: No, I think he maybe just made it up.

But, to me, it struck me as disrespectful. And probably just set the
tone. He just came off as rather highfalutin, smug, and probably trying to
prove that, oh, I`m not impressed by you, I`m the speaker, you`re just a
senator who`s lost touch with the constituents.

MATTHEWS: Well, first of all, he took a shot once or twice, but he
kept taking the shot, it`s only a 45-minute plane ride, I`m sure Kay Hagan
has been down there an awful lot the last six years, right? The idea she`s
never been to North Carolina like it`s billions of miles away is ludicrous.

HUNT: Well, it`s such a fine line, too. As we`ve seen in the other
clips you showed, this can really backfire pretty easily on a male
candidate who comes too close to that line, and remember, Hillary Clinton
and Lazio --

MATTHEWS: Here it is. Thanks for queuing it up. Kasie, here.

Heavy-handed tactics can backfire as you said, Kasie. Back in 2000,
Republican Congressman Rick Lazio crossed into Hillary Clinton`s debate
space pushing at her a sign to, as a campaign pledge. He wanted her to
sign, like divorce papers. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK LAZIO (R-NY), THEN-U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I`m not asking you to
admire it. I`m asking you to sign it.

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), THEN-SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I would be
happy to when you give me the signed letters --

LAZIO: Right here. Right here. Sign it right now.

CLINTON: We`ll shake -- we`ll shake on this, Rick.

LAZIO: No, I want your signature because I think everybody wants to
see you signing something that you said you were for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He`s leaning into her there. Lazio in a 2008 interview,
that`s eight years later, with the newspaper, calling a mistake saying,
"Even when your opponent is as tough as nails and there`s no way they`re
going to be intimidated by a challenge or a comment, the audience may not
see it that way."

Jonathan?

CAPEHART: Right, no, that`s absolutely right. I think he probably
thought he was doing the right thing.

But I remember watching that debate at home in New York and the more I
watched that particular clip, the more uncomfortable I got. I wasn`t
afraid that he was going to do something to Hillary Clinton. I wasn`t
afraid that Hillary Clinton couldn`t hold her own. But the optics of it
was really, really bad.

HUNT: People pick up on the type of --

MATTHEWS: What are the rules? Ms. Hunt?

HUNT: They`re always evolving, right? But I think in the larger
picture here, and you`ll hear both Democrats and Republicans talk about
this, this is the kind of thing that discourages women from running for
office in first place.

MATTHEWS: Really?

HUNT: And one of the things they talk about as far as one of the main
reasons why there aren`t as many women members of Congress as there might
otherwise be is because they don`t step up in the first place. They have
trouble recruiting women to run.

So, you see these kinds of situations where, you know, they`re having
to stand there and respond to someone who is sort of trying to knock them
down a peg. I mean, why would that be --

MATTHEWS: What`s the reaction, if you were running the ad, you`re
working for Senator Hagan, would you run that guy`s, Thom Tillis`, Speaker
Tillis` performance in your ads? Would you run ads and say, this is no way
to treat a person who`s a senator? When it`s that behavior you`re using
against him?

CAPEHART: I don`t -- I don`t think so. I mean, it`s not like George
Herbert Walker Bush`s treatment of Geraldine Ferraro.

MATTHEWS: He said afterwards, I kicked her ass or something. It`s
unbelievable.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, that`s what he said.

CAPEHART: He did say that. He had to apologize after that.

So, if I were Kay Hagan, I wouldn`t use that in an ad. To answer your
question, how should a male candidate treat a female opponent? Look to
Vice President Joe Biden and his debate with Sarah Palin. That`s how you
do it. Treat your opponent with respect.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Kasie Hunt, and Jonathan Capehart.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with some good news on the Irish
front.

Every March, New York City has this great historic St. Patrick`s Day
parade. And for years, there`s been a dispute between the parade
committee, itself, and gay organizations wanting to participate.

Well, starting next St. Patrick`s Day, the parade will begin to open
to those organizations. The first group, Out@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender group at my company got the go ahead this week.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan who will be the grand marshal of the 2015 parade is
said to be very supportive of the change. He said the parade should be a
source of unity.

I think this is great. St. Patrick`s Day gets bigger and bigger each
year. It`s become a popular holiday in this country not just for Irish and
now can be celebrated fully in a country where people do at their best
treat each of us as God`s true children.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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

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