updated 3/30/2015 9:26:14 AM ET 2015-03-30T13:26:14

Show: HARDBALL
Date: March 27, 2015
Guest: Jim Tilmon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Unfit to work, ready to kill.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Police in Germany last night raided the homes of Andreas Lubitz, the
27-year-old Germanwings co-pilot who`s accused of deliberately crashing
Tuesday`s flight into the French Alps, killing all aboard. Among the items
recovered by investigators was a torn-up doctor`s note that indicated that
Lubitz was suffering from an illness, that he was unfit for work for
several days and should be excused from his job during the time of the
crash itself.

Prosecutors said Lubitz, who locked the pilot out of the cockpit
before the crash, apparently had concealed his illness from his employer,
Germanwings, which is owned by Lufthansa. Germanwings released a statement
today, saying the sick note was not submitted to the company. Back in
2009, Lubitz did take a month-long hiatus from his training in Arizona due
to what "Der Spiegel," the prominent German magazine, called "burnout
syndrome."

In his press conference yesterday, Lufthansa`s chief executive
described the airline`s stringent hiring practices and said that Lubitz had
passed medical checks. Let`s hear it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARSTEN SPOHR, LUFTHANSA CEO (through translator): When we choose our
candidates, we don`t only look for technical skills, but in particular, we
look for psychologically healthy co-workers. He passed all medical tests.
He passed all aviation tests. He passed all checks. He was 100 percent
able to fly without any limitations, without any reservations. His
accomplishments were excellent. Nothing was noticed that wasn`t proper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: NBC`s Claudio Lavagna`s at the crash site in the French
Alps. Claudio, thank you for -- Claudio, thank you for this.

What do we know about the meds he was taking? Do we anything know --
when they said he was in psychological good condition, did they have a
recent test of that? What are they talking about when they say -- make an
assertion like that?

CLAUDIO LAVAGNA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, what they told
us yesterday is that pilots from not only Lufthansa, but also the other
European airlines, undergo a psychological test only once, when they are --
when they have to get their license.

Later on in their career, they need to get regular medical checks, but
certainly not psychological. Now, they rely on the pilots themselves, of
course, to hand in any medical notes such as the one that was given to
Lubitz to -- so that the -- they make the company know about their
condition.

Well, that, of course, is raising -- this new development is raising
more questions than it`s giving answers. For instance, what is this
medical condition? Is it related in any way to that burned-out syndrome or
depression that he suffered from about six years ago?

Also, shouldn`t there more -- shouldn`t be more strict regulations in
place, whereby if there is someone, like a pilot, who`s in charge of
hundreds of lives, given a medical note that says, You`re unfit to work --
should you really leave it to the person, to the pilot to hand it in into
the company? Shouldn`t it be the job of a doctor or the hospital to tell
the company, since this person is in charge of hundreds of lives?

Also, did Lubitz decide prior to boarding that plane that he was going
to down and fly the plane into the mountain, bringing with him 149 innocent
lives? Or was it just a decision he made on the spot, where, obviously, he
wouldn`t have known that the pilot at some stage would leave the cockpit to
go to the toilet?

Also, the investigator said they did not find a suicide note or
anything -- any claim of responsibility written anywhere. So that suggests
that Lubitz may have just made an instant decision when the pilot left that
cockpit, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes, you`re so -- good analysis there. Thank you so much,
NBC`s Claudio Lavagna at the crash site in the French Alps.

We turn now to Greg Feith, MSNBC News aviator -- actually, aviator
(sic) safety analyst, and Jim Tilmon, who was an investigator with the
National Transportation Safety Board, as well as being a former pilot.

Gentlemen, let`s go over this. What -- first of all, your reaction to
that conversation, Greg, about the whole fact that we now know the doctor
gave him a note to give to employers -- he never gave them the note -- that
he was unfit, the fact that he had that burnout experience in training.
What else do we -- and by the way, that assertion by the CEO of Lufthansa
that somehow -- asserting there affirmatively that this guy was in good
psychological health, when the only evidence he had of that was a test he
apparently was given when he was given his wings.

GREG FEITH, MSNBC AVIATION ANALYST: Yes. And that`s really an issue
here, Chris, is that they`re going to have to try and see how each of these
things are related with this early depression, his burnout syndrome in his
early 20s and whether or not the company actually knew about it because he
was employed by Lufthansa or Germanwings at the time, going through his
training. He interrupted his training. So did the company know something
was going on, and did they require periodic monitoring?

And then, all of a sudden, the young man goes to the doctor, he`s
unfit to fly, he fails to put in his form. What was he concealing?
They`re going to have to try and draw those together and see if they are
interlinked. Was it physical, was it mental, or was it a combination of
both that made him unfit to fly?

MATTHEWS: Jim Tilmon, let`s get to that. It`s the end of the week
now. We`re trying to figure out what we now know and what we now know is
certainly that the company -- the company is now protecting itself by
saying, We knew he was -- we believed he was -- in fact, we had reason to
believe he was psychologically fit, when, in fact, it turns out they don`t
have periodic psychology tests of any kind. They simply have the original
one when you`re given your certification. So he doesn`t have any idea
whether the guy`s in good shape. Certainly, he wasn`t in contact with the
doctor. The doctor trusted the co-pilot, Lubitz, to deliver the message to
the boss.

JIM TILMON, FMR. AMERICAN AIRLINES PILOT: Well, in flying for an
airline, you depend on the trustworthiness that existed for the policing of
one`s health and ability to fly to the pilot. And I got to tell you, I`m
concerned about a lot of this, but one of the things that puzzles me -- he
was burned out and had -- sometime, he had to stay on the ground because of
it? Burned out from what? I mean, this guy only had 600-some hours in the
airplane, in the whole airline. What was he burned out from?

MATTHEWS: Well, training, apparently.

TILMON: Yes, well, if he can`t train -- I`m sorry, I don`t find how a
person that can`t even go through the training successfully because of
burnout, but he can fly these people around in the sky as an airline pilot
-- doesn`t make sense to me.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that`s the question raised by other people
here. Let me go back to Greg with that question. Why would Lufthansa
place the trust of an airplane in the hands of a guy who had just failed to
get through training, even, without burning out?

FEITH: I think that`s going to be a major question that needs a very
good answer from Lufthansa. In the United States, a pilot with 660 hours
would never be in the cockpit of a commercial airliner. You need at least
a minimum of 1,500 hours and an airline transport pilot certificate.

Here you have a young man at 21 years old, he goes through burnout,
takes a hiatus, and now he`s back in his training program, into the cockpit
of a commercial airliner. I know that he has met, supposedly, all the
rigors of training and passed all of his check rides, but does he have
really the maturity, one, to make the decisions that are necessary? But
two, it`s obvious that there were some psychological and possibly
physiological conditions that he wasn`t being forthcoming with the airline
that he was flying for.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of Claudio`s question about opportunity?
I mean, he didn`t know -- maybe he knew the habits of his senior pilot,
that he liked to go to the bathroom once they reached cruising altitude.
But if the guy hadn`t gone to the john, what would have happened? There
wouldn`t have been a crash, at least not that flight.

I mean, what do we make of this? Is this premeditated, or is this
impulsive or opportunistic, which would be a combination of the two, or
somewhere in the middle? You`re waiting for your chance, you don`t know
what day it`s going to be.

FEITH: I think from the standpoint, Chris, that this was basically a
crime of opportunity. I mean, you know, they`re going to look and see if
this was a premeditated act. We don`t know when he went to the doctor. We
just know that he had a form that said he wasn`t fit to fly for several
days, including the day of the event.

If he had gone to the doctor and he had some life-changing news, that
he had cancer, he had a brain tumor, he had something, could that have
culminated with the depression to then cause him to say, You know what?
I`m going to lose my career as an airline pilot. He gets in the airplane
that day. It`s a crime of opportunity. He found an opportune time and
decided on his terms that he was going to do harm to himself, and
unfortunately, 149 people with him.

MATTHEWS: Jim, what`s your initial -- my initial impulse when I
watched this thing unfold this week and hearing about it was the Egypt
pilot, Egyptair guy. Somebody did this. This -- all the information
didn`t add up, except for a personal decision. And it turns out it`s not
actually terrorism in any sense that we use the term.

But now the question is, when did the guy decide to do this? When the
guy went to the john, he said, Oh, the guy`s going to the john, let`s kill
everybody? I mean, how do decisions like -- I don`t know how anybody can
figure these out. What do you think?

TILMON: Well, I think it`s probably a crime of opportunity, too. I
mean, unless he had flown with his captain enough to know that he had a
habit of once you reach cruise, he goes to the john or whatever else --
unless he had that kind of a history with this guy, I think it was a matter
of just opportunity because that`s all it takes.

Guy`s out of the cockpit, he immediately takes care of certain things.
He flips switches to lock that door so you can`t get through it. He sets
up the autopilot to make that descent. He does all these things overtly,
not accidentally or anything else. I think that it was a crime of
opportunity, based upon his feeling that this would eventually happen and
he`ll be able to do these things.

MATTHEWS: What do you think should be done about this? Should there
be any kind of correctives about who gets in the -- the whole discussion
today in the newspapers here in the States was whether we were too
stringent after 9/11 in putting all these locks on the door that you can`t
really get through, doors that can`t be smashed down, no axes aboard to
smash through them, certainly no firearm to break through them or cut
through them.

What do you think we should have? Should we have impregnable doors to
the cockpit, sir? You first, Jim.

TILMON: Well, we already have impregnable doors. I mean, the thing
is, we -- the thing that I see is we need a protocol and a policy and an
ability to override something that`s coming out of the cockpit.

But it has to be something that is sensitive information for the
airline and airline crews. We can`t jump on television and say that, OK,
here`s what we have to do. We have to push this code in, and then we`re
going. It has to be information that`s kept. And I think that it can be
done with what we have right now. It`s just a matter of protocol and a
matter of following certain systems.

MATTHEWS: Well, what about the slit throat problem, where you get a
flight attendant and you say, I`m slitting your throat unless you give me
that number? I mean, is that the thing we`ve always been afraid of with --
with terrorists?

TILMON: We still have that kind of a fear, and it`s very realistic.
And the attitude that I have understood is that if that`s the case, you
give up the life of that flight attendant, but you`re going to put the
airplane on the ground for the sake of all the passengers. It`s a horrible
thought that you`d have to go through that, but it sounds to me like that`s
what the policy has been.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Greg Feith and Jim Tilmon. Thanks for your
expertise.

Coming up -- with the Middle East in crisis and the Obama
administration trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, is war and
peace going to be the top issue for 2016? And if so, how far right will
the current crop of Republican contenders go?

Plus, businesses in Indiana can now refuse service to customers and
claim religious beliefs as a defense. Well, the law`s defenders call it
religious protection, but critics say it looks an awful lot like legalized
discrimination against gays.

And in the roundtable tonight, Hillary Clinton`s going back to the
strategy that certainly worked for her in the past,+ listening, while the
Republicans who want to beat her are out there shouting.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this, that reactionary move in Indiana.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate is retiring. Senator
Harry Reid of Nevada says he won`t run for reelection come 2016, when his
current term is up.

That means the Democratic caucus will likely be led by Reid`s heir
apparent, New York`s, Chuck Schumer, who`s currently the third highest-
ranking Democrat in the Senate. Reid endorsed Schumer for the top job
earlier today. Reid`s retirement also creates one of the most competitive
Senate races in the country.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In what is literally a matter of
war and peace, negotiators in Switzerland are rushing to finish a framework
deal with Iran before an end-of-March deadline. But there are hardliners
both here and in Iran who don`t want a deal to happen, and the issue is
looming large ahead of 2016.

That was clear this week, when Wisconsin governor Scott Walker
threatened to rip up any agreement President Obama and the world signed
with Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you disown an agreement that this president
signs with Iran that leaves Iran with uranium enrichment? Would you reject
that deal if you took the Oval Office?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Absolutely. On day one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Day one. Of course, some on the right go much further than
Walker. John Bolton, the former ambassador to the U.N., has called for
bombing Iran now. He wrote, "The inconvenient truth is that only military
action like Israel`s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein`s Osirak reactor in Iraq
or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor designed and built by North
Korea can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a
strike can still succeed." That`s John Bolton.

He has support, by the way, from other right-wingers such as U.S.
Congressman Louie Gohmert.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS We need to encourage this
administration to go take out Iran`s nuclear capability. I don`t think
that we ought to put Israel in the position of having to save both
themselves and the United States. I think it`s time to bomb Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. And Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has also talked
about the need to keep a credible threat of military force on the table.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Israel struck Iraq`s nuclear program
in 1981, and they didn`t reconstitute it. Israel struck Syria`s nuclear
reactor in 2007. They haven`t yet reconstituted it. Rogue regimes have a
way of getting the picture when there`s a credible threat of military force
on the table that we will not allow the world`s worst regimes to get the
world`s worst weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: How far right will the Republican Party go in 2016? Howard
Fineman, of course, is global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost, and
Eugene Robinson is a columnist for "The Washington Post." Gentlemen --
both, by the way, are MSNBC political analysts.

Howard, you first. This seems like we`re facing -- most elections are
about bread and butter, unemployment, inflation, the usual stuff. I tell
you, this one is getting hotter, maybe because the Republican Party`s
getting hotter, maybe because it`s a trickier path for this president to
try to find peace with -- even with Iran, let alone all the other...

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, Chris, one reason is the economy`s doing better, and "Obama care" is
actually working. And I think on cultural issues, the Democrats -- the
Republicans realize they`re not going to fight on that ground because it`s
out of the mainstream for them now.

So by process of elimination, foreign policy`s big, in addition to
which, this is the most complex problem, it turns out, that the president
has to deal with. I think when we look back at history, from the
perspective of history, we`re going to see that this era has been the
beginning of what amounts to a full-scale war between Sunni and Shia.

MATTHEWS: Yes. We`re not even -- we`re not even relevant to that,
are we.

FINEMAN: In that sense, we, and in some respects Israel, aren`t even
relevant to that. So that complicates everything in a historic way that I
think George Bush started out by getting rid of Saddam Hussein. That
pulled the piece out of the Jenga...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: ... out of the Jenga tower. The tower collapsed, so to
speak, and the president is left to deal with the consequences. It`s very,
very difficult. And that makes foreign policy the key issue in the 2016
race.

MATTHEWS: That`s why I love you. Not just your brain but your
agreement with everything I talk about!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I was watching that Woody Allen movie the other night, and
they talk about going down that rabbit hole in Iraq. We went down the
rabbit hold. This thing about the Christian right -- I`m not sure this
fight over Israel and how much we love them, because this country is very
pro-Israeli, is about the Jewish community. I get the sense it`s about the
early Republican voters in Iowa and places like that...

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... who are very Bible-driven. Not knocking it, but they
are very Bible-driven. They vote at church, basically. They think about
Israel as Israelites, as the Old Testament, as the people they root for
instinctively. And they can`t be wrong on any politics.

And therefore it`s not about Likudniks or about Bibi. It`s about that
devotion. And these guys all play into it, Cotton and Gohmert. And then
leading the -- is guys like Ted Cruz. It seems like the first 20 percent,
30 percent they have to get to win the nomination is on that hard right.

ROBINSON: Exactly. That`s where you`re going to get those votes
from.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: And I think they`re playing to those voters.

I think it takes a lot, though, to move an election off the domestic
terrain to the foreign policy terrain. And...

MATTHEWS: Why are they shooting their big guns on foreign policy
then?

ROBINSON: Well, because -- because they don`t have anything else to
shoot at right now, basically. That`s it.

But I think it takes a lot for that to really sink in with voters and
for voters to decide on that basis. Now, we may get there, but when is the
foreign policy election? It`s usually when we have an actual war.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s two options. Suppose they cut a deal, the
president does manage to go through this very tricky, almost Indiana Jones
kind of path through the caves. Don`t step on the wrong rock. If he gets
to a deal, calls it a deal, is that more treacherous for him than not
getting a deal because the French pull out or something happens or because
Menendez and all those guys just pull the plug on him at some point?

What`s better for them in terms of this 2016 election? Because both
results could lead to a call for bombing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, for the Republicans.

FINEMAN: For the Republicans. Oh.

MATTHEWS: If we don`t have a deal with the Iranians to stop building
the uranium...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Oh. Republicans -- for the Republican red meat right, OK --
and, by the way, a lot of this is about appealing to the evangelicals in
Iowa, South Carolina, et cetera, early in the process.

They want a deal, because they`re going to denounce it, whatever it
is.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: They don`t want the whole thing to fall apart. They want a
deal.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Will they call for bombing or a Republican president, or
both, or what?

FINEMAN: Well, they will call for a bombing and they won`t like the
deal, because what has happened is, this has become so polarized, this has
become so a part of the basic terrain of American politics, the Middle East
politics and American politics have almost become one in a way that I
haven`t seen as long as I have been covering politics.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And the Republicans, especially the conservatives, but even
Jeb Bush and the others, they`re all in.

MATTHEWS: Hawks.

FINEMAN: They`re to the right of Likud in most respects.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: Well, exactly, because you`re not going to hear Bibi
Netanyahu calling for bombing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Gene, I dare to challenge you. You said you think it won`t
be about foreign policy.

Isn`t hawkishness, as we understand it, let`s go to war, bomb, bomb
Iran, as McCain loves to joke, isn`t that the one unifying belief in the
Republican Party right now, the one thing they all agree on?

ROBINSON: If you don`t count Rand Paul, yes. Yes, absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Krauthammer today, your colleague, basically
marginalized him, saying...

ROBINSON: He did.

MATTHEWS: ... given the current environment, Krauthammer doesn`t -- I
mean, Krauthammer always has a chance. No, Rand Paul doesn`t have a
chance.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON: Yes. No, that`s right. Maybe it is. Maybe that`s the one
unifying thing. And...

MATTHEWS: So maybe you`re wrong.

ROBINSON: Sort of projecting this image of American strength and
American control and America bestride the world, that`s a big selling point
for the Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: However, projecting it from the safety of not having
anything to do with it...

MATTHEWS: Well said.

FINEMAN: ... because none of them want -- are going to commit to
putting troops on the ground again in that region.

ROBINSON: There we go.

FINEMAN: They`re talking about bombing from long distance. They`re
talking about letting the Israelis -- letting the Israelis to go do it.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: The American -- the Republican right is not going to -- you
haven`t heard a single one of them, including Ted Cruz, talking about
putting American troops back in the region. They`re not talking about
that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What`s interesting about it, because they are so hawkish,
and they love to use these phrases like we shouldn`t be ashamed to use
America`s muscle, like that`s some kind of -- once you start to fight, it`s
always a disaster, it seems.

ROBINSON: Scott Walker has opened the door, actually. He opened the
door to that. He said he would consider maybe in Iraq or some place like
that. So, we will see. We will see.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson. Have a nice weekend.

Thank you, Howard.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: You too.

MATTHEWS: Up next, that new law in Indiana that could make it
possible for businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians, all in
the name of religious freedom.

This is HARDBALL -- boy, this is going to be a hot topic -- this one
is a hot topic -- the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Today, I signed the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act, because I support freedom of religion for every Hoosier of
every faith.

As we all know, the Constitution of the United States and the Indiana
Constitution both provide strong recognition for the freedom of religion.
But today many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack
by government action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was Indiana`s Republican Governor Mike Pence
just yesterday after he quietly signed a new bill into law called the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Restoration Act, that`s interesting.

The always prohibits states or local governments in Indiana from
burdening a person`s ability or a company`s ability to exercise their
religious freedom unless government can show it has a compelling interest.
But opponents of the bill say that it sanctions a new form of
discrimination, specifically against the LGBT community.

Pence responded to that claim yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: This bill is not about discrimination. And if I thought it
was about discrimination, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it doesn`t even
apply to disputes between private individuals, unless government action is
involved.

I think there`s been a lot of misunderstanding about this bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: But, as CNN reported about Pence and his motivations, his
allies who pushed it in the legislature, led by Eric Miller, the head of
Advance America and a powerful lobbyist on socially conservative issues in
Indiana, who stood behind Pence at Thursday`s bill signing ceremony, touted
the protections it affords businesses against gays, lesbians, and
transgender Hoosiers.

And that socially conservative group, Advance America, who lobbied
Pence celebrated the new law by posting on their Web site that now
Christian bakers, florists, and photographers won`t have to participate in
-- quote -- "homosexual marriage" -- close quote.

Pence is facing a fierce backlash from business leaders here,
celebrities and activists who disagree with him and are voicing their
public disapproval of the law. Hillary Clinton weighed in on the
controversy, tweeting, "Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America
today. We shouldn`t discriminate about people because of who they love.
#LGBT."

Steve Kornacki is my colleague and host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH STEVE
KORNACKI." Elizabeth Birch is the former head of the Human Rights
Campaign.

I want to start with you, Steve, up there.

What is going on there and is this an anti-gay move by Pence and the
legislature?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, you sort of trace
where this thing comes from and it`s sort of -- it`s clearly in response to
-- there`s been this rising tide of public opinion, rising tide of court
decisions around the country to legalize gay marriage and to advance gay
rights.

And this is sort of a rear guard action. I think it`s the only way to
view this. But in terms of the politics of this, it`s not terribly
surprising to me that Mike Pence, of all governors, would sign this. Mike
Pence has always had strong ties sort of to the Christian right. I
wouldn`t necessarily discard Mike Pence as a 2016 prospect, as somebody who
thinks he has a future as a national Republican leader.

There would be an incentive for him politically to cater to that
socially conservative base of the Republican Party. But I think the much
broader story here about the political implications of this is that when
you get to this level, we`re not even talking gay marriage here, we`re
talking about, as you said, bakers and cakes for gay weddings and should
they be able to deny gay customers services, when you get to this level,
the Republicans -- the Republican Party itself I think is divided on this.

I think the Democratic Party, what you heard from Hillary is pretty
much what you would hear across the board here. But when you look at the
Republican Party, they said it themselves after the 2012 election. That
autopsy report Reince Priebus commissioned, it called gay rights a gateway
issue. They said young voters are not going to look at the Republican
Party until they have a different tone on gay issues.

And this is a perfect example of it, where I think you have got the
more pragmatic wing of the party that would take a very different approach
on this than Mike Pence is taking.

MATTHEWS: If I were running the Democratic Party`s campaign, in 2016
with Hillary Clinton, I would say, you may be undecided, you may be a
conservative person. You may like lower taxes, less government. But you
look at this and say, I`m getting off the train here.

ELIZABETH BIRCH, GAY RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Exactly.

So the louder voices than even civil rights or human rights voices in
this are business. The Indiana corporations hate this law. It`s an image
issue. Marc Benioff, the...

MATTHEWS: Is this going to kill the convention trade?

BIRCH: Yes.

Marc Benioff of Salesforce already announced he`s moving a major
convention out of Indiana to New York. Eli Lilly is furious. Alcoa --
household names. The Chamber of Commerce was against this bill. It`s not
about a hyper-technical legal analysis. It`s about the image of Indiana.

This will hurt. And it was a very kind of public relations bone-
headed move in this era. And the only reason they passed it is because of
the proliferation and the constitutional analysis around gay marriage.
That`s why it was passed.

MATTHEWS: Steve, you`re an expert in so many areas. I`m going to
push you on your envelope here. Does this mean that Notre Dame wins the
championship in basketball in their home state of Indiana? Is that what
this means? They can`t even win it there because they won`t be allowed to
play there?

KORNACKI: Well, so you`re looking at -- the NCAA, headquartered in
Indianapolis, this year`s final four coming up about 10 days from now in
Indianapolis, the indications are that this year`s Final Four will still be
in Indianapolis. They`re not going to pull that out.

But Indianapolis is a frequent site for the Final Four. Will they get
any Final Fours in the future? Will the NCAA itself, which about 15 years
ago it was a big coup for Indianapolis to get the NCAA, I think, from
Kansas, Overland Park, Kansas -- will it stay in Indianapolis? I think
there`s a longer-term question there.

MATTHEWS: So that`s the 4th and the 6th, anyway, of April. That`s
coming up too fast to change probably.

But former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, who was the first member of
Congress of course to voluntarily come out of the closet, reacted to the
new Indiana law last night here on HARDBALL. Here`s Mr. Frank.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARNEY FRANK (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSMAN: Well, what if
you`re a wedding planner and a divorced Catholic comes in who hasn`t gotten
an annulment?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FRANK: That`s a violation if you are a very devout Catholic of that
rule.

What if you are a Muslim who owns a store, and a woman comes in, in
short shorts? Can you refuse to serve her?

(LAUGHTER)

FRANK: Because if you`re Muslim -- seriously. So, this isn`t
something -- you can`t have it for gay people only. And I don`t think
America wants that.

Look, if you personal want to discriminate, fine. If you don`t like
me, I don`t want to see you. But if you get a license, in effect, from the
community to run a business and all the support that you get, then the
obligation is to serve anybody who is well-behaved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I wonder where this goes.

Elizabeth, give me the sense. You`re an advocate. And you know this
issue a long time.

BIRCH: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I have known you for all this time.

The LGBT community -- and I was thinking, does this go all the way
from you don`t want to do the wedding planning, you don`t want to be the
night clerk at the hotel that checks in a couple that`s same-sex because it
looks like they`re together...

BIRCH: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... or you don`t want to serve gas to a guy at a gas
station because two guys in the front seat look like they`re lovers? So,
no gas for you, buddy, next gas station.

How far can you carry it? I`m a Baptist. I don`t believe in this.
Who is -- how far can this stretch in Indiana?

(CROSSTALK)

BIRCH: It`s -- the problem is the perception that is it is sanctioned
behavior.

But the funny part to me is, are you kidding me, wedding planners?
What if the wedding planners decide they don`t want to marry born-again
evangelical Christians because they`re gay?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BIRCH: Where does it end? It`s a slippery slope.

MATTHEWS: Well, we will see. I guess we are -- we are going to have
to wait for cases, I guess, to see how this thing works with people that
start using the sanction. That`s a nice word.

BIRCH: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Steve Kornacki.

Good to see you, Elizabeth Birch.

Up next: Hillary Clinton is going back to her listening tour -- it
worked the first time -- while the Republicans are hoping to beat her while
engaging in their shouting who can be the furthest right campaign.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Italy`s highest court has overturned the murder conviction of American
Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend. Knox`s roommate, Meredith
Kercher, was found dead in the apartment they shared in Italy in 2007.

American astronaut Scott Kelly has blast off -- blasted off into space
for a year-long mission at the International Space Station. He is
traveling on board a Russian-built Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakstan.

And Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has made her last official
appearance before she`s due to give birth to her second child -- back to
HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2008)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Over the last week, I
listened to you, and, in the process, I found my own voice.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, together, let`s give America the kind of comeback that
New Hampshire has just given me.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that night in New Hampshire, I think the first lady
there at the time, she was a senator, thought she`d won. That was a big
night. That was the scene more than seven years ago in the New Hampshire
presidential primary the night that she won.

Hillary Clinton`s campaign in the Granite State was a notable bright
spot in an error-prone campaign up until then. But she won praise in New
Hampshire for finding a voice of authenticity while campaigning with
voters. She credited that to her listening tour to them.

We`re learning right now that Clinton`s presidential launch will try
to recapture that kind of authenticity. Politico reports today that
Clinton is going to announce her presidential run with a listening tour
through Iowa and possibly New Hampshire, as they report -- quote -- "Her
team is keen to speed her transition from aloof, global personality to
down-to-earth campaigner."

It`s worked before. It was that same listening tour which propelled
Hillary Clinton into the Senate back in 2000.

This was Hillary, by the way, launching that effort more than 15 years
ago at a forum in Upstate New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY: I`m starting a listening tour of
New York. I must say I`m very humbled and more than a little surprised to
be standing here today. But when New Yorkers began talking to me as they
did shortly after the senator announced that he would not run again, I
listened very hard. And the more I listened, the more excited I became
about the possibilities of what could be done on behalf of the people of
New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In stark contrast to Hillary`s listening tour, you have
something of a Republican shouting match as Ted Cruz ignited starts a
primary war of conservative purity. It`s not exactly a campaign of
inclusion.

Anyway, the roundtable tonight, Michelle Bernard of the Bernard Center
for Women, "Washington Post" writer Jonathan Capehart, and "Daily Beast"
special correspondent, Michael Tomasky.

Let me start with you. And all of you, just tell me, what do you
think of this? I don`t need to ask the right question.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Is it too late? Is it too soon? Is it what?

MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: It feels like here we go
again. It`s like it feels like the campaign or not campaign, whatever you
want to call it, has been going on and on and on and on, and what we want
from Hillary Clinton is why do you want to run for president? What`s your
message? And does she really need a listening tour to tell us what she
plans on doing if she`s elected?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Look, it worked for her when
she ran for Senate in New York. At the time I thought it was a great thing
she did. She went to all the counties in New York. She sat, listened to
people talk, listened to their questions. And then when she announced she
was running, you learned what she learned. She not only listened to
people, she internalized what she heard.

And so, when she talked about the issues facing New York -- she came
in for an editorial board meeting at the --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Weren`t there two reasons why she did that?

CAPEHART: Say it again?

MATTHEWS: Well, she wasn`t from New York. So she --

CAPEHART: Of course.

MATTHEWS: And number two, she was going up state where they had
reason to be skeptical of her of a big city liberal at that time thinking
is she going to be humble enough to listen to us. What`s the reason now to
do it?

CAPEHART: Well, I think you put it --

BERNARD: I think the reason to do it --

MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: I`ll tell you why. The reason to
do it now is to establish this thing of humility. That was the main word
in the piece today.

This was the main error she made in 2008. They tried to establish
this aura of inevitability. It`s going to be Hillary, it`s going to be
Hillary, it`s going to be Hillary. That backfired. It didn`t work.

Now, she is the presumptive nominee. She doesn`t have serious
competition. Exactly what she has to do is not take that for granted and
say, make it clear that I`m not taking that.

MATTHEWS: You guys all know, I don`t need a list to know what you
guys think because we`ve all lived this. Politics is a vernacular. It`s a
language. You`ve got to get in it. It`s diving into cold water. You got
to get over it.

Once you get in the water, you get used to it and you can talk -- the
metaphor is losing me here. You basically get used to the temperature.
She has to get into that water again. At some -- can you get into it more
slowly by listening? Is that the advantage that she`s really talking about
here? As sort of establishing, here`s where I stand on this, here`s where
I stand on this, what do you want to me to talk about?

BERNARD: I think the only benefit to her doing this listening tour is
it can give America a chance to figure out who is the real Hillary Clinton.
You sort of alluded to it when you talk about trying to get necessarily
prove she was from New York. Is she from New York? Is she from Arkansas?
Is she from Chicago? Is she the woman that we heard on video with a very
strong Southern accent? Is she the New Yorker?

What is Hillary Clinton -- who does is the stand for and what is she
going to do not just for --

MATTHEWS: So, you are a Republican?

BERNARD: No, but I think this is important because I would love to
see a female as the next president of the United States. But if she`s
going to do it, she has to give us an overriding reason why it`s her time
and --

MATTHEWS: OK. There was a knock on Al Gore one time. He was
arriving somewhere maybe Tennessee and he was asking the guy welcoming, the
guy setting up the trip, what should I say? That`s the danger at your age
that she`s at. She`s younger than me.

But, I mean, at some point, you ought to know what you want to say,
not what you ought to be saying. Is a listening tour a way to get somebody
else to script her?

CAPEHART: No. I think that`s just too cynical. I think the
listening tour is not jumping in the water. It`s standing on the diving
board, getting ready. And then when she makes her announcement and she
tells the American people why she --

MATTHEWS: What`s she going to hear in the weeks? OK. She`s
announcing in April. What`s she going to hear in two weeks that`s going to
help?

CAPEHART: Well, wait a minute. If you -- I`m sorry.

BERNARD: Here`s what she`s going to hear. She`s going to hear what
we already know, right?

MATTHEWS: What she`s going to hear in two weeks? Oh, now, I know why
I`m running.

BERNARD: She`s going to go and talk to the American middle class.
What I would love to see her do is do something different and not just talk
to the middle class but talk to the underclass, because what she`s going to
hear is we have an education system that is broken. We have a health care
system that still doesn`t work for the people who need it. There are so
many other issues she can talk about that would show her as being humble
and not as the Hillary Clinton who --

(CROSSTALK)

TOMASKY: It`s like a little preseason. You know? It`s like a little
warm-up.

CAPEHART: On the diving board.

MATTHEWS: How many weeks of listening?

(CROSSTALK)

TOMASKY: That was the book tour.

Everybody knows she`s running, Chris. It doesn`t really matter. She
can trot it out this way. And it insulates her a little bit. One thing
she`s never had a great instinct for, how to talk to the press, you know,
you and press --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Will this warm-up best for us?

TOMASKY: You know, maybe that`s part of the idea.

(LAUGHTER)

TOMASKY: I`m sure she`d love to come on here.

MATTHEWS: She will.

TOMASKY: She will.

BERNARD: Look, when she`s talking about the issues that really matter
to her, when she talks about children, when she talks about women`s issues
--

MATTHEWS: She`s good on that.

BERNARD: -- she is humble, she is articulate, she is somebody who
grabs you. So, I want to see her do the same thing but I also want to see
her do it --

MATTHEWS: Jonathan, take a minute here.

(CROSSTALK)

CAPEHART: I`m sorry. But why isn`t it humble, a sign of humility
that she would go to Iowa, go to New Hampshire, go to those voters in one
state that rejected her, another state that propelled her and listen to
what they have to say after years of politicians coming in and telling them
what they think they want to hear? Why isn`t that humble?

BERNARD: I think New Hampshire is too easy. They`re too comfortable
there. She won New Hampshire. But I think even launching a campaign from
Iowa to me would be a stroke of brilliance, because Iowa is every man`s
land for the United States. I think that would be brilliant for her.

TOMASKY: People will like it, Chris, you know? I was --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s all how you pull it off, if you pull it off well.

TOMASKY: I was on the first listening tour. Reporters sat there and
made fun of it, rolled their eyes --

CAPEHART: It was brilliant. It was brilliant then. It will be
brilliant now because the American people want to know that the person that
they`re going to entrust their lives and livelihood to is listening to
them.

MATTHEWS: And we will hear the echo of those thoughts when she starts
to campaign.

CAPEHART: Yes. True.

MATTHEWS: We`ll hear that.

CAPEHART: Yes.

BERNARD: My vote is to start in Iowa.

MATTHEWS: The roundtable staying with us.

And up next, Harry Reid is out, Chuck Schumer may be in. What`s that
mean for the Democratic Party?

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado created a
political action committee to stop Chris Christie`s potential run for
president to stop it.

But now, Tancredo, a Republican, is shutting it down because he says
Christie has no chance of winning anyhow. Tancredo, an anti-immigration
right winger tells MSNBC.com, quote, "We have not tried to raise money
because we frankly assumed it probably would not be worth the time we put
into it because now, nobody believes the guy has a chance. I don`t think
anyone is going to give money to stop Chris Christie, someone who they
believe is probably stopped already." Well, that`s tough.

Christie has been dogged by the bridge scandal, of course. He`s
consistently trailed in the polls behind other Republican presidential
contenders.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Michelle, Jonathan, and
Michael.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is not going to seek reelection this
year for his Senate seat in 2016. Reid is wildly congressional veteran
with three decades of service on Capitol Hill. In his announcement today,
he said a New Year`s Day accident leaving him with serious eye injuries
requiring surgery made him pause and he decided to set a date to step down.

Reid wants New York Senator Charles Schumer, Chuck Schumer, he called
him, to take over as Democratic leader when he retires.

I want to give you a chance, Jonathan, because I never want to
frustrate you.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Tell me how in your experience as a reporter, working in
New York, how Hillary Clinton was able to use a listening tour to catapult
her into real winning circle position?

CAPEHART: So, what she did was she went around, she listened. She
didn`t take any questions to reporters, didn`t give any answers if they did
ask questions. She came in for an editorial board meeting, and we hit her
with everything, all of this Picayune questions of nitpicky issues from
around the state, including the dairy compact. She had answers and you
could only have those answers if you sat and listened to people, and it was
then that I felt vindicated when all of my colleagues were laughing, like
Michael was saying, everyone was laughing at her, Hillary Clinton, over
this listening tour, she proved me right.

MATTHEWS: So she could talk to you guys after she could talk to real
people.

CAPEHART: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, talk about Chuck Schumer. I believe he is an
acquired taste. I`ve acquired him. I have come to really like him as a
public leader and a guy, as a guy.

He is real. He`s Brooklyn. He`s exactly what you think he is.

TOMASKY: And he`s really smart. I have known Schumer since the early
1990s, covered him since then, had a lot of conversation with him, one of
the smartest political minds I know. The way he can break down the
politics of a situation and cut right to the chase, very, very smart, very
smart legislative mind. He once was going to run for governor of New York
in 1994. A lot of complications, he gave that up. He said to me, I
remember, he said, I`m a legislature. That`s what I am. I think he can be
a great majority -- minority --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I just want to underline, it will accentuate the Democratic
Party being the bicoastal party. Tip O`Neill, my boss, the lighting rod,
before that was Bill (INAUDIBLE), lighting rod, Nancy Pelosi, it is so
bicoastal. Is it going to reemphasize that, it`s a bicoastal party? Big
city left, East Coast, left coast.

BERNARD: It will reemphasize it, but I think it will resurrect a
Democratic Party that kind of seems to be faltering at the end of the Obama
administration. The only person who is exciting and exciting the base
right now is Elizabeth Warren. Chuck Schumer I think is -- he is an
acquired taste like you said, but he is smart, he`s energetic, and he`s a
bulldog.

MATTHEWS: What does he do in carried interest? What`s he do in the
interest important to Wall Street? I`m serious. You mentioned Elizabeth
Warren, she`s coming like Annie Oakley going after Wall Street. He`s Mr.
Wall Street.

BERNARD: Yes.

CAPEHART: I mean, their his constituents.

MATTHEWS: I want to get everybody --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: They`re in New York. They`re his constituents. But Chuck
Schumer has shown over all of these years that he balances his duties as a
senator from New York with his duties as a leader in the party.

Let`s not forget, Chuck Schumer isn`t coming from out of nowhere in
the leadership. He was brought in more than a cycle ago to be part of the
leadership because there was no message, there was no direction. If
anything, he`s going to bring direction to the party.

BERNARD: And money.

TOMASKY: And don`t forget that he ran the Democratic Senate Campaign
Committee twice, 2006, 2008, when they had two really good cycles.

MATTHEWS: I can`t wait for Chuck. He is good for TV, by the way.

The new words that your generation uses that I`ve never heard before,
the cycle. We used to call it elections, also trope and meme. These words
drive me up.

Anyway, thank you, Michelle Bernard, I know they`re all smart people
using them, including you. Thank you so much. I like your rightward tilt
tonight.

Jonathan, thank you. You`re very pro-Hillary.

Tomasky, New York.

When we return, let me finish with a retrograde move in Indiana,
reactionary move against gays.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this reactionary move in
Indiana.

When I first heard that the governor of Indiana, man of sound mind,
agreed to sign this measure, I was surprised. Mike Pence has always struck
as a reasonable conservative leader. I don`t get this message that could
be used to discriminate against gay people.

What in the world would it be like to have guys, say, working at the
gas station saying they won`t pump gas for two fellas in a car that appear
to be a gay couple. What kind of basis for judgment would be, my religion
supports traditional marriage.

We now get to the more predictable situations involving hotels where a
night clerk could say I refuse to check you in because I believe you`re
gay. Let`s see how this works out.

Well, we may have to wait for a case, an incident in which religion is
used as defense in denying someone or a couple, the access to a public
accommodation. There maybe differences in the struggle for gay rights and
the earlier struggle against Jim Crow, but this case has the same broad
features. People getting legal cover for saying they`ve got a right to
slam the door on people they don`t like. This is the right that should be
protected under the American Constitution. It`s the right to access to
areas of public accommodation that needs to be protected.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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