updated 4/13/2015 12:48:36 PM ET 2015-04-13T16:48:36

Show: HARDBALL
Date: April 10, 2015
Guest: Anne Gearan, Susan Page, Roger Simon, Betsy Woodruff, April Ryan,
Mike Lee


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Turn out the ballyhoo boys, Hillary`s coming!

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

For seven years, the country has waited for this -- friend, foe, and yes,
those few in the middle, the long-prophesied second presidential campaign
of Hillary Clinton, and now it`s upon us.

This Sunday, all now suspect, the former first lady, New York senator and
secretary of state will put out a video declaring her presidential
intentions. Reports say she`ll follow the declaration of candidacy with
meetings with small groups of voters.

So tonight we look at the how and the why Hillary Clinton is doing this and
how nasty it`s already getting from left, as well as right. We knew it
would be tough. And today, we light the way as brightly as we can from
here all the way to Iowa and that clincher we expect in New Hampshire next
year.

We`ll also show you how successful campaigns like this have started before.
It`s going to be a big night, especially for the Hillary partisans who`ve
waited so long for this great enterprise to begin anew.

I`m joined by Anne Gearan, political reporter with "The Washington Post,"
Howard Fineman, global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and NBC
political reporter Perry Bacon.

Anne, I want to start with you. You`re on this case. It looks like it`s
starting. Why -- well, not why now because it`s the right time. It`s
April, when they said they would do it. But why this way, a video followed
up by, apparently, small meetings with people, without a lot of press
around?

ANNE GEARAN, WASHINGTON POST": Well, because they`re doing the opposite of
what a lot of the Republicans are doing right now, which is to go big.
They want to go small. They want as many people as possible to be able to
see the initial part of it, so that will be on line.

She`ll probably tweet which has been her preferred medium of late to weigh
in on all kinds of things. So she`ll tweet and then release a video. She
also released a video in 2007. We`re pretty sure this one will be
significantly different than that.

But then rather than follow that up with some big rally, a big glitzy thing
with a lot of television cameras in tow, she will do deliberately small
events in Iowa living rooms and coffee shops, which the campaign thinks
better showcase her strengths in terms of being a policy maker and a
problem solver and a listener, and will help dispel, they hope, the whole
kind of juggernaut inevitability train which has dogged her, as you say,
for, you know, basically seven years since the last one fell apart.

MATTHEWS: Perry, it`s almost like Israel in a way that it`s -- Sunday`s
become the big news day because everybody watches television on Sunday.
You got "Madam Secretary," "The Good Wife," we got "Mad Men" back, we got
"60 Minutes," which is always up there, all the Sunday talk shows,
everything, it seems like.

If she rolls this baby out Sunday morning, everybody who`s aware of life on
this planet`s going to know she`s running for president.

PERRY BACON, NBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I think everybody was already aware
of that, I would say.

(LAUGHTER)

BACON: Also "Veep" on Sunday, too, another show that really fits into
this. It`s a big one, too.

I think this is a really smart approach to it. The big speech focuses on,
one, your ability to give big speeches. And two, it (INAUDIBLE) raise the
question of, What is her big, huge message?

I think doing it in a more gradual way is smart. She`s not Obama-style --
you know (INAUDIBLE) Obama`s speaking skills (INAUDIBLE) that she can be a
little more gradual. She can talk in a more intimate setting. I think
this is a good, smart approach (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: OK, especially, Howard -- I want you to weigh in here heavily.
We`ve watched rocky -- rocky declarations of late. Her book tour didn`t
start out -- with Terry Gross coming at her and Diane Sawyer coming at her
from the center and left, and you have just what we saw with Rand Paul, the
sharpshooting that went on there with Savannah Guthrie and everybody else
tackling the guy in his first step out of the gate. So this is risk-free,
pretty much.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, MSNBC POLITICAL
ANALYST: Well, and this isn`t, I don`t think, so much about avoiding
confrontational moments with the press corps. I don`t think it`s about
that. I think it`s more about the fact that she wants to run this time --
at least according to the people around her that I`ve talked to -- to
oversimplify slightly, as a civic-minded grandma.

OK, forget the fact that she was first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the
United States, United States senator, secretary of state, that she
represents this big, colossal machine that is the Clintons.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: She`s a new grandmother, newly refreshed and concerned about the
future of the country and the planet. She just wants to go listen to
people and be humble about it.

It`s more like the way she ran for the Senate. Remember when she ran --

MATTHEWS: Yes, very smart --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: -- New York. She low-keyed it because she knew she couldn`t
come off as a big shot. She wanted to be Ms. Local. Well, she`s going to
take that strategy national this way, and that`s exactly how she`s going to
approach it --

MATTHEWS: Well, now many --

FINEMAN: -- civic-minded grandma.

MATTHEWS: OK, OK. How many centrifuges does civic-minded grandma support
in Iran?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: How long can you carry this metaphor, Anne? I mean, I like it.
It`s comfy. But it (INAUDIBLE) go to the stratosphere of the things we
argue about.

GEARAN: She can`t hold it for very long, but it -- but it, they hope, is a
nice way to start. It`s --

MATTHEWS: I agree.

GEARAN: -- folksy, it`s --

MATTHEWS: It`s true to her.

GEARAN: Well, right. I mean, to the extent that she really is --

MATTHEWS: I`m married to a grandmother. We know grandmothers. Their
particular personality develops in that time of life, right?

GEARAN: Yes, I think you might see a little bit of baby Charlotte here at
the outset.

FINEMAN: You`re going to see a lot of her.

BACON: What policies she talks about in this video is what I want to see.
What does she talk about? Does she talk about being the first woman
president? Does she talk about foreign policy?

MATTHEWS: OK --

BACON: Does she talk about the minimum wage? Does she talk about paid
leave? That`s where I think we`re going to learn --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let her talk. Here she is --

FINEMAN: I predict it`s going to be more generic than --

MATTHEWS: Yes, but she`s got a new edition to her book out, of course,
"Hard Choices." And here she is. Hillary Clinton posted a new epilogue of
her book, "Hard Choices," on HuffingtonPost. Writing about her
granddaughter, Charlotte, she offers clues on the message she`ll use in her
run for president.

She writes, "I have always believed that every child should have the chance
to live up to his or her God-given potential. That principle has animated
my entire career. Now, that I`m a grandmother, I believe it even more
passionately. Unfortunately, too few of the children born in the United
States and around the world today will grow up with the same opportunities
as Charlotte. You shouldn`t have to be the grandmother of a president --
granddaughter of a president or a secretary of state to receive excellent
health care, education, enrichment and all the support and advantages that
will one day lead to a good job and a successful life."

Well, what`s very positive. You know what`s interesting about the gender
thing? And you can start on this. Will it -- you know -- I remember when
-- as a kid, Jack Kennedy ran for president, Roman Catholic first time.
It`s seems like nothing now, but it was an issue back then. And everybody
wondered how it would hurt or help.

Well, it sort of helped him in the big states, we all know that, and
probably hurt him in states like Kentucky and a few other states, Ohio.
But other states, it helped him, clearly. So it may have been a wash.

Look at this number for Hillary. And you never know if people are being
honest about this. "I`ll vote for Hillary because it would be the first
female president," the new Bloomberg poll today. "Does not make much --
does not much matter to me," 83 percent.

Is that true, or is that just a good thing to say, showing that you`re
gender-neutral?

GEARAN: I suspect that when we finally get to people voting, it will be
somewhat less than that. But it -- it -- that number is --

MATTHEWS: You mean people will admit that it`s more (INAUDIBLE) gender.

GEARAN: Yes. Right. But people -- more people saying that it isn`t a big
deal than those for whom it is a big deal has been the trend for quite a
while now. I mean --

MATTHEWS: Is it a wash?

GEARAN: It -- more or less, I think it is.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a growth.

GEARAN: I mean, she -- she --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- progress.

GEARAN: Right. Exactly. She --

MATTHEWS: That`s progress for a woman that it`s a wash.

GEARAN: Because she ran the first time, now it`s not new. However,
interestingly, she`s going to emphasize it more this time than she did last
time.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GEARAN: They were a bit afraid of it then. They thought it -- it would
make her look too soft. And so she stressed her capability --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GEARAN: -- and her -- her --

MATTHEWS: OK --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- do you think it`s a wash or a --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Older women our age, my age, I believe it`s a help.

GEARAN: I think it`s pretty much a wash, but I also think that the
demographic breakthrough politics has to a certain extent been devalued by
the fact that Barack Obama was such a historic figure last time around.
The sort of the sensationalism of, A-ha!

MATTHEWS: You think?

GEARAN: -- we`re breaking a barrier here, has been lessened just a
little bit by the passage of time and the fact that Obama was elected.

BACON: People tend to lie on questions like this, so I don`t think polling
is very helpful. That said, I do think it might be an asset (INAUDIBLE)
people do want to break -- Harry Reid said this. People do want to break
this next historical barrier. I think you`re going to maybe see some
increase in women`s vote for Hillary Clinton. And that could help her. I
think (INAUDIBLE) more of an advantage --

MATTHEWS: I think --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I want this to be nice. The guy has to have a little something
extra to beat her. He can`t just be the guy running about (ph) like her.

GEARAN: And you can`t say certain things about her --

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s true.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know, I got to be careful how I say this, but I think
attacks on Hillary can boomerang --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway -- it happens. Anyway, here are a few moments from
Hillary Clinton`s 2008 campaign. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m running
for president, and I`m in it to win it.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: When you are attacked, you have to deck your opponent.

You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don`t
want to see us fall backwards.

Over the last week, I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own
voice.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Although we weren`t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass
ceiling this time, thanks to you, it`s got about 18 million cracks in it!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anne, there`s so much emotion in those pictures. I mean, I
remember every moment. It was when she thought she was going to beat him,
when she thought she was going to lose to him, when she beat him --

GEARAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- and then later on when she lost to him.

GEARAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: I mean, it was all the cycle of that campaign. It was a
thrilling campaign. And I remember -- (INAUDIBLE) reminding myself, as we
all should, you didn`t know who was going to win that one for a long time.

GEARAN: Well, right, and that`s actually, this time out, a bit of a
problem for her because it`s not any secret who`s going to win the
Democratic primary, unless something really untoward happens.

MATTHEWS: Did "The Post" report that now?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I agree with you! I`m just teasing.
(INAUDIBLE) what the facts on the ground are. We know.

GEARAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Perry?

BACON: But I covered her campaign, and she got better, you know, and I
thought she started off pretty weak, but by the 18 million speech -- I was
in the room. That was a very moving speech. When she was in Ohio and
Texas, she really connected with voters in a way she didn`t in Iowa, and
that was partly why she lost.

The biggest factor, of course, though, is that there`s no Iraq war and
there`s no Barack Obama. I mean, she ran a really strong campaign last
time.

MATTHEWS: OK --

BACON: She happened to lose to a better --

MATTHEWS: So next time we all meet together, the four of us, it will be --
Hillary will be in the race. It will have started. And we will be talking
about the presidential campaign going on right now! That`s so great. We
love that. Thank you. We like the season, and it`s coming. Anyway --
this weekend. Anne Gearan, thank you, of "The Washington Post." Howard
Fineman, global director of the HuffingtonPost and Perry Bacon -- I love
it! "global" -- planetary --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Much more about Hillary Clinton`s big rollout coming up. And
when we come back, what we can learn from successful launches of winning
president -- we`re going to show you the sort of the role model coming up
in a minute.

And later, how she can beat back the most nasty knocks against her because
the rivals have already started. Here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Benghazi-gate, e-mail-gate,
white (ph) server-gate -- Hillary Clinton has more gates than a south Texas
cattle ranch!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, attacks like that, from Wayne LaPierre of NRA, are coming
already on the day before she`s even announcing this weekend, and both from
the right and the left. You`re going to -- not going to believe some of
the knocks already thrown against her.

Plus, United States Senator Mike Lee of Utah`s going to be with us. He
says the Constitution has been willfully subverted by the Congress, by the
president, by the Supreme Court. He makes his case here tonight, and you
can argue with him as you watch.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this historic moment we`re watching this
weekend in American politics.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary Clinton`s expected announcement this Sunday may
rob some of the excitement from another presidential campaign kickoff.
Senator Marco Rubio is expected to announce his presidential campaign on
Monday down in Miami. The first-term Republican senator was elected to the
Senate in 2010.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN F. KENNEDY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am today announcing
my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary Clinton is expected to launch
her second bid for the White House this Sunday. But is it possible to
understand where a campaign is going based on where it starts? I think so.

Back in February of 2007, on one of the coldest days ever, Illinois senator
Barack Obama made clear why he was running for president. Opposition to
the war in Iraq was a big part of it. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I opposed this war from
the start. I thought it was a tragic mistake. It`s time to admit that no
amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies
at the heart of someone else`s civil war!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, as Hillary Clinton runs to succeed her 2008 rival and
former boss, President Obama, what will we learn from her presidential
announcement, and what direction does she want to take the country?

Roger Simon is chief political columnist for Politico, and Susan Page is
Washington bureau chief of "USA Today."

Susan, do you think (INAUDIBLE) give us a -- I mean, Obama made it clear --
I`m running against that damn war in Iraq, you know, That nitwit made us
fight this war, I`m getting out of there. And that -- I think that`s how
he beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I think we agree on that.

Will Hillary Clinton have that sharp a statement as to why she wants to be
president and what she`s going to do?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, I think the risk for her is with this
approach that she`s taking, is that she won`t make a clear statement. And
I think the biggest imperative she has is not to convince people she`s a
nice person or to talk about her new granddaughter, but to say, This is why
I should be president in your life. This is what I will do for you. This
is my vision for the direction of country. It`s easier to do that in a big
speech, in a big forum, to say, This is what I`m about, than it is in some
of these softer, more indirect --

MATTHEWS: What did you make of her releasing the epilogue to her book,
"Hard Choices," which talks about being a grandmother and wanting every kid
in America, if not the world, to have the advantages of her granddaughter,
Charlotte, which is a hell of a commitment, to be honest with you. It`s a
great commitment. It`s a Great Society commitment.

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: This is about her 18th chance to make a first
impression. She`s redoing herself yet again, and it`s a good image. It`s
softening her.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s real.

SIMON: It`s real.

MATTHEWS: She is a grandmother.

SIMON: She is a grandmother and she -- it`s a human thing that everyone
can understand. It is not necessarily the true Hillary Clinton. It not
necessarily has anything to do with how you`d be president, but it works.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at how Bill did it. Then Arkansas
governor Bill Clinton announced his campaign for the presidency in Little
Rock in October of 1991, promising to turn the country around and be a
champion for the working middle class. Here he is. I think this is a good
leading indicator of Bill`s presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BILL CLINTON (D-AK), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ve got to turn this
country around and get it moving again. We`ve got to fight for hard-
working middle class Americans for a change!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: People who work hard and play by the rules. I mean, there it
was -- I`m going after the soddy-buster (ph) out there, the regular person
working hard, not keeping up with costs. I`m not that aloof George Herbert
Walker Bush from Walkers Point, Maine.

PAGE: And he wasn`t -- you know, it seems to me the announcements that
work best are when you actually get a sense of the authentic person, when
the person is who they are, and they`re not trying to be somebody else.
They`re not trying to answer some question that`s been raised about them or
address some vulnerability.

They`re saying, This is whom I am, and that`s what you saw with Bill
Clinton. And I think that`s what you saw with Barack Obama in his
announcement speech. That`s a --

MATTHEWS: I think the fact that we call him "Bubba" tells you all you need
to know about Bill Clinton. All right, he went to all the Ivy League
schools. He was a Rhodes scholar. But he`s still a kid from Arkansas from
almost the wrong side of the tracks, you know what I mean? That`s who he
is.

SIMON: Well, here`s what you get from a big announcement speech.
Springfield, subzero, tens of thousands of people, Bubba Clinton, thousands
of people -- the speaker draws energy from the crowd. Every speaker you
talk to, every presidential candidate talks about, you know, I felt the
crowd, the crowd brought me up. When you`re doing it on videotape --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SIMON: -- when you`re doing it in a living room with 12 or 20 people,
you don`t get that energy.

MATTHEWS: But it is the way you want it.

PAGE: Although --

SIMON: It`s the way she wants it because --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at George Herbert Walker Bush. He did --
he did what Hillary Clinton has to do now, run for a new presidency
following a couple presidencies of your own political party. So you`re
change, but you`re not really an assault on what`s been going on. Here he
was making his bid for a third Republican term after Ronald Reagan and
being his vice president. Here he is in October of 1987, promising to stay
the course, actually.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m following a
great presidency and a great president. Ronald Reagan returned dignity and
good sense to the high office he holds.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was easy. And the reason he won, one of the big
reasons, besides destroying Michael Dukakis because of Willie Horton and
all that, was that it was pretty good times politically.

PAGE: Well, and he could say, I`m following -- he could say, I`m going to
offer you a third term of President Reagan.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: President Reagan was popular.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Will Hillary say this is a great presidency and a great
president?

PAGE: President Obama has fervent supporters that you can`t just say, he,
what he did was bad. On the other hand, a lot of Americans want to see
some change, including some Americans whose vote she`s going to need if
she`s going to win.

MATTHEWS: It`s hard to do this.

By the way, George Sr. would say things like kinder, gentler. Well, he
didn`t mean kinder and gentler than Mike Dukakis. He meant kinder, gentler
than Ronald Reagan.

SIMON: And how he conducted the last campaign, not the Willie Horton
stuff.

The difficulty for Secretary Clinton is that she does not want to be the
third term of Barack Obama, definitely. On the other hand --

MATTHEWS: She can`t say that.

SIMON: She can`t criticize him.

MATTHEWS: She can`t say that.

SIMON: She can`t say that. She even has a special difficulty.

MATTHEWS: OK. Does she want to be Bill Clinton`s third term? Are you
sure?

SIMON: Oh, she would be delighted to be Bill Clinton`s third term.

MATTHEWS: You think so?

SIMON: She may be Bill Clinton`s third term.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, that`s comforting.

SIMON: But Barack Obama is a whole -- we were in different economic times.
Barack Obama is a whole different thing. She cannot insult Barack Obama,
not only -- because she cannot, for one thing, insult African-American
voters.

MATTHEWS: Not -- let me ask you this. Do you think she will be like
Clinton?

PAGE: As president? No.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Will she be for free trade, will she be for reform and
different programs?

PAGE: Well, free trade, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: She will be with TPP? She will go with that? yes? She will go
with TPP, the big trade thing that Obama is pushing?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Clinton is for it.

PAGE: You could ask her, but, yes, I think she`d go for that. I think
that suits -- fits her view of the world.

MATTHEWS: Well, those are the questions I would ask. And she doesn`t have
to answer them for the first week or so, the way she set this up, because
the first thing we`re going to ask her in the economic press is, where are
you on trade?

First question. And the education press will say, where are you on charter
schools? These are all hot questions. Are you with Randi Weingarten and
the NEA and AFT, rather? Are you with them or are you with the reformers?
These are tough questions from people, regular working people.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Where are you with the Wall Street banks?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Are you going to break with Elizabeth Warren or are you going to
be your own person?

SIMON: It is going to be middle class, middle class, middle class.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think it`s going to be a hot debate, even without a tougher
candidate against her.

Anyway, Roger, thank you. Good to see you back.

And, Susan Page, thank you so much.

Up next, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, he says the U.S. Constitution is being
subverted. He`s coming here next to make his argument. This is going to
be interesting. This is going to be interesting.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There have been many constitutional fights waged over the long history of
our country, including the highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling coming
up on gay marriage that`s likely to come down, I hear now, in June.

But one lawmaker in Washington says that the Congress, the president, even
the Supreme Court itself often gets the Constitution wrong.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah makes the case in his new book, "Our Lost
Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America`s Founding Documents,"
going back, by the way, to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in
Philadelphia. Senator Lee explores the original and application of several
constitutional provisions through history, provisions that he says are now
viewed as nuisance, as a nuisance by many in Washington.

Well, I`m joined right now by the author, senator mike Lee.

This is going to be lively, because most of our lives, my life has been
taken up by what are called landmark decisions by the Supreme Court, the
Brown case in `54, when they said segregation in schools, separate but
equal can`t work because young African-American kids would look at dolls
and would prefer white dolls over black dolls, which meant that they got
the message from school that they were inferior.

This isn`t written in the Constitution, but it was a decision by the court
back then. Of course, you have the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which passed
constitutional review based upon what`s called the Interstate Commerce
Clause, which allowed the federal government to go into the littlest bitty
store and the littlest bitty gas station and say you cannot segregate, you
cannot be discriminatory against black people at this station because we
say so.

In your book, it says that`s covered by the 10th Amendment and it should
have been a local decision. Talk. These issues are all landmark. And now
we`re going to -- we had Roe v. Wade, where Justice Scalia said they found
this thing about penumbra of privacy, they discovered it, it was never
written in a law.

So much of our constitutional progress, liberals would say, progressives
would say is based upon finding things, seeing things that are inherent
that weren`t written. But you say we should go back to only what`s
written.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: Well, with respect to the Civil Rights Act of
1964, I think that`s justifiable and should have been justified under
Section 5 of the 14th Amendment. That would have been the more appropriate
way to do that. And I think that gives more dignity to the civil rights
movement to do it that way.

Brown vs. Board of Education, absolutely the right reasoning, absolutely
the right conclusion.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But where does it say in the Supreme Court -- where does it say
in this document, the U.S. Constitution, that you can`t have separate but
equal schools? Because Plessy vs. Ferguson, for years, they got away with
saying it`s just separate but equal, it`s OK.

LEE: Right, but Plessy was wrong, because separate isn`t equal and
separate can`t be equal. You`re treating people differently based on race.
That`s why Brown vs. Board of Education was right.

MATTHEWS: So, you would -- if you had sat on the jury, you would have
said, if you had been a judge back in `54 on the Warren court, you would
have voted to outlaw separate but equal?

LEE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: You would have voted to accept the constitutionality of the
Civil Rights Act of `64?

LEE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I think your colleague has a little more problem with that, Rand
Paul.

LEE: Which colleague?

MATTHEWS: Rand Paul. We will let him speak for himself, but he`s had a
few burps over that. And I understand because I was around at that time
and I remember the arguments. But the arguments were you got to do it this
way because we will never get three-quarters of the states to pass a
constitutional amendment to outlaw discrimination in public accommodations.

This is the only way to do it. We are going to stretch that Interstate
Commerce Clause and get it done that way.

You wouldn`t have done that?

LEE: I think that the same argument actually finds more support under
Section 5 of the 14th Amendment. I think that`s part of what Section 5 of
the 14th Amendment was there intended to do.

MATTHEWS: Which phrase?

LEE: Section 5 of the 14th Amendment is there to make sure that Congress
has the power to pass sort of protective legislation, to make sure that the
purposes of the 14th Amendment are carried out, including the Equal
Protection Clause.

MATTHEWS: Even in the private sector?

LEE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Let`s look ahead, gay marriage this summer.

LEE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it will happen 6-3? I keep hearing 6-3 with
Roberts, who is no -- you`re no fan of. Roberts and Kennedy join the
majority.

LEE: It wouldn`t surprise me. It wouldn`t surprise me to see a 5-4
decision.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where in the Constitution can you find protection of gay
marriage or acknowledgment of it?

LEE: Well, that`s the question before the court. And the argument --

MATTHEWS: Would you vote with the six or the three?

LEE: The argument made by those seeking that outcome here is that it`s
under the Equal Protection Clause.

I don`t believe that Equal Protection Clause covers that. I nonetheless do
believe the court`s likely to rule that way, either by a 5-4 decision or 6-
3.

MATTHEWS: Well, this follows the Lawrence case, liberty, too. Isn`t there
a lot of factors in here, when they struck down the sodomy clause?

(CROSSTALK)

LEE: Yes. That`s one of the reasons why I think the court`s headed in
that direction, if you look at Romer v. Evans from 1996, if you look at
Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 or 2004. That appears to be --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where would you vote, six or three? Where would you -- for or
against it, recognizing gay marriage?

LEE: I don`t think it`s in the Constitution. I don`t believe that the
Equal Protection Clause addresses that particular issue.

Again, I think the court is likely here --

MATTHEWS: But couldn`t you argue inherently that it`s discriminatory
towards people who are born gay not to allow them to bond?

LEE: Some of that depends on the definition of marriage.

And the traditional definition of marriage has always been something that
is up to the states to decide. Each state ought to be able to decide on
its own what marriage is. Marriage historically, traditionally has been a
union between a man and a woman.

MATTHEWS: But, historically, it was a union between the people of the same
race.

LEE: Correct.

MATTHEWS: In our law, in our legal system, you couldn`t marry across the
racial line, and now you can legally. Virginia had the law against that.

LEE: correct. Loving vs. Virginia was the case that decided that. And
those who were advocating for that outcome were relying --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is the Constitution a living document or is it a dusty old
document that must be adhered to in terms of original intent?

Because I keep thinking in high school -- this is a high school debating
point. Air Force, where is that in here? I don`t see that in here.
There`s no Air Force in there. No, there`s an Army and a Navy, and the
Navy includes the Marines. But -- and the Army Air Corps was OK. But when
they created a separate force called the Air Force, where is that in here?
They didn`t have airplanes back then.

LEE: I think it`s just fine because it contemplates our armed services,
our defense infrastructure.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But, in other words, it doesn`t have to be literal?

LEE: It doesn`t have to be literal. But the application of it is
sufficiently broad that it can cover things.

For example, there`s nothing in there that talks about the FAA or the FCC,
the ability to regulate interstate airwaves or airways.

MATTHEWS: Is that under the post office?

LEE: No, I think it`s more of the application of the Commerce Clause.
Those are channels and instrumentalities of interstate commerce. They`re
unavoidable national. They cross state lines. And in order to regulate
them appropriately, you need federal law.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about something that is going to come up again.

I keep thinking the gun case is never far away from -- the Heller case,
D.C. vs. Heller, in which you allowed -- have the right to own a handgun in
your house, which doesn`t bother me. I don`t mind holding a shot -- you
live out in the middle of Kansas, out in the middle of nowhere, you have a
shotgun in the house. Fine. You`re not going to kill anybody unless they
bother you probably.

But this question about whether the right to bear arms as a straight right,
separate from the need to have a militia, how did that get separated?
Because we grew up with the idea you were allowed to have a gun because you
had to be eligible -- you had to have a gun ready to join the militia with.
It was part of your right and your ability to join the militia.

But that`s now been separated. And apparently Kennedy did separate it.
You can now have a gun, whether you`re going to join a militia -- There`s
no militias in D.C., but you can have a gun in your house based upon that
ruling. Are you on with that ruling?

LEE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, the Second Amendment to you is a separate right to own?

LEE: Yes. It`s an individual right.

And this goes back not just to that ruling a few years ago in the Heller
case. This goes all the way back to 1791 at the time of the Bill of
Rights, including the Second Amendment, was ratified. And it goes back
further than that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Last question. If you`re a literalist, if you`re an original
intent person, why do you ignore the militia part of that phrase, of that
sentence? It`s all in one sentence.

LEE: Yes, it`s all in one sentence, but we`re also told that the right to
bear arms exists.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The need for a militia makes the right to bear arms.

LEE: There is also the need for a militia. But we have to remember --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It didn`t say also. It doesn`t say also.

LEE: The way the early militias were formed were that the individual
citizens, having arms, exercising their right to bear arms, were able to
come forward with their own guns, with their own ammunition.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why did it even say militia if a right to bear arms was a right
in itself? Why bring it up? If the original intent was just to give
people the right to bear arms, why talk about the need for a militia?

LEE: Well, I think, again, it had to do with the fact that militias were
formed by free individuals with their own arms coming together for their
common defense.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

LEE: Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS: This argument will go on throughout the history of our republic.
I hope it never stops.

Thank you.

The book is called "Our lost Constitution."

Thank you very much for joining us. I think we aired all the issues.

Senator Mike Lee, an intellectual in the United States Senate.

Up next -- does that hurt?

LEE: Not too much.

MATTHEWS: The attacks on Hillary Clinton are coming now from both the
right and the left. Which ones have the most bite and how will Hillary
defend herself, which she will have to do? The roundtable joins us next.

You are watching it, HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s what`s
happening.

President Obama made a surprise visit to the Panama Canal before heading to
the Summit of the Americas in Panama City. He called the canal a testament
to human ingenuity and vision.

Illinois` governor has declared two counties disaster areas after
devastating storms tore through the northern part of that state, killing
two people.

College basketball player Lauren Hill has passed away at 19 following a
battle with brain cancer. She helped raise more than a million dollars for
pediatric cancer research -- and now we`re going to take you back to
HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: You
want me to go there? All right. All right. Let`s do it.

Whitewater, yes, you can`t make it up. Whitewater-gate, Cattle-gate,
Gennifer Flowers, Nanny-gate, Lincoln Bedroom-gate, Travel-gate, Trooper-
gate, File-gate, Paula Jones-gate, Vince Foster-gate, Helicopter-gate,
White House Coffee-gate, Web Hubbell Hush Money-gate, Pardon-gate, Illegal
Gift-Gate, Monica-gate, Benghazi-gate, E-mail-gate, Wiped Server-gate.

Hillary Clinton has more gates than a South Texas cattle ranch.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was the most worked-on performance I have seen in a
while. That was NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre hitting all
the hard right`s fun zones or erogenous zones, if you will, in his attack
on Hillary Clinton today.

As they say, all is fair in love and war, but with Hillary Clinton now
formally set to enter the field this weekend, we`re going to see one hell
of an assault on Fort Hillary. The Clintons, as we have seen, are capable
of launching one hell of a response, of course.

This was Hillary Clinton`s attack philosophy the last time she ran for
president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you are attacked, you
have to deck your opponent. And that is what I believe.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You have to deck your opponent. Not slap them, not hit them,
don`t smack them, deck them.

Anyway, the attacks from the right and the left are coming rapid-fire.
They`re going after her time as secretary of state, of course, her use of
private e-mails, her ties to Wall Street, her vote for the Iraq War, her
air of inevitability, you name it.


And Rand Paul has dropped this sugar plum into the water for reporters when
FOX`s Carl Cameron asked him a question about Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think there is big news coming on the
Clinton Foundation. I think there are things that went on at the Clinton
Foundation that are going to shock people and I think they`re going to make
people question whether or not she ought to run for president.

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS: Can you tell us what you`re talking about?

PAUL: Then, it wouldn`t be a secret any more, Carl. It`s a secret by now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a politician trying to lead the press to water.

Anyway, the roundtable tonight, Sam Stein, "The Huffington Post" senior
politics editor, April Ryan`s the White House correspondent for American
Urban Radio Network and author of "The Presidency in Black and White."
There it is, a great book. And Betsy Woodruff is a political reporter for
"The Daily Beast".

Thank you all for joining us. Welcome to you, Betsy.

Let`s just talk about this Hillary`s ability to punch back. There was a
great rabbi who I heard about who once said, "He who gives me burdens also
gives me shoulders." Hillary, does she have the shoulders to take the
punishment which he has already begun?

BETSY WOODRUFF, DAILY BEAST POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, I think she`s
certainly letting her haters be her motivators. It won`t be her first
time.

MATTHEWS: We lot of these --

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: We need more maxims. Let her haters be her motivators?

WOODRUFF: Exactly, that`s the line.

MATTHEWS: She`s got a lot of motivation.

WOODRUFF: Yes, absolutely. She`s been dealing with this for most of her
political career. I think the big question is will the people criticizing
her, will they undermine their own criticisms? For instance, Wayne
LaPierre who does not poll particularly well nationally goes after Hillary
and makes jokes about Texas cattle-gates, does that mean people will get
distracted and focus more on the messenger than the actual message?

MATTHEWS: You think? I don`t know.

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Chris, she`s got shoulders. I
ran into Erskine Bowls in Chicago at the airport this week, and he said he
is definitely working with Hillary Clinton and he said he`s going to do
everything to make her the next president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: That was Bill Clinton`s chief of staff.

RYAN: Yes, make her the next president of the United States. She`s got
some really good people out there helping her with --

MATTHEWS: How will -- left of the party, the Democratic Party respond to
her nomination right now?

On CBS yesterday, Elizabeth Warren gave a measured I would say careful
statement. Let`s watch her. Interpret her, Sam. Elizabeth Warren.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think she`s the future of the Democratic
Party?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think we have to see,
first of all, if she declares and what she says she wants to run on. I
think that`s really the interesting question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know her.

WARREN: I`ll tell you where I stand on all of the key issues. It`s up to
others to say whether they stand there as well or they stand in some
different place. I`ll tell you where I stand on minimum wage. I`ll tell
you where I stand on equal pay for equal work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Name me one thing that you would like to see -- name me
one thing that you would like to see Hillary Clinton do and say and commit
to that she has not committed to.

WARREN: Well, I`d like to see her address all of these issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In other words, be me. Every one of her issues she wants her
out there as the champion on. That wasn`t an endorsement there.

Do you think -- what`s Warren up to politically?

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST POLITICAL EDITOR: I`ll tell you exactly
what she`s up to. She wants to maximize her leverage without jumping into
the presidential race, and the worst thing she could give --

MATTHEWS: What`s this "if she announces"? She said if Hillary announces,
what`s that about?

STEIN: I guess she had to wait a few hours to get the announcement.

But the worst thing Elizabeth Warren can do right now is be flattering
towards Clinton. She wants to drag Clinton, every other Democratic
running, towards her ideology plank in the party. And so, she`s got to be
out there and saying that Hillary needs to do more --

MATTHEWS: I saw Rob Nader do that to Al Gore. I`ve have seen this before.
And it will kill them.

STEIN: Yes. But I do not perceive a situation in which --

MATTHEWS: You drag somebody over to the hard left against their natural
political instincts, and what happens is they lose position in the center.
They give away ten votes for every one they pick up. You`ve got to follow
the position where you`re instinctively headed. You don`t just move over
because someone is scaring you.

Yes?

WOODRUFF: On the other hand, conservatives on the right and Tea Party
activists have been enormously successful at getting Republicans in
Congress to move their direction. We see the Democratic Party move more to
the center.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is that a better government? Is that what we want?

WOODRUFF: I`m not talking about better government. We`re talking about
basic strategy.

MATTHEWS: How`s that work? Assuming it might work. Would it help
Democrat win the nomination? Would it help Hillary Clinton win the
presidency?

WOODRUFF: It might.

STEIN: This is what I will say.

MATTHEWS: It might move her to the left.

STEIN: I actually don`t -- I actually don`t disagree.

MATTHEWS: Of course you don`t. No surprise. But go ahead.

STEIN: But I don`t see a left/right divide here.

MATTHEWS: People always say that when they`re on one side or the other.

STEIN: You have Ted Cruz talking -- I saw Ted Cruz in a speech a couple of
weeks ago saying there are two Americas. Now, who made that famous? John
Edwards.

RYAN: Barack Obama. 2009.

STEIN: John Edwards made that famous.

MATTHEWS: It was Mario Cuomo.

STEIN: Mario Cuomo, too.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: That`s a populist rhetoric from Ted Cruz. I think a lot of people
are actually talking like Elizabeth Warren these days. It`s not
necessarily right or left. It`s populism.

MATTHEWS: It was about populism.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: But when does it come to the party instead of personal agendas.
When does it come to where it`s all about the parties and pushing the
party`s agenda forward where the party stands on? When does it become that
instead of this is what I want? I think we should look at the economy. We
should look -- I mean, what --

STEIN: At the end of the day, Elizabeth Warren will endorse.

MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton has struggled, of course, to define her legacy
as secretary of state. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at your time as secretary of state, what
are you most proud of?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I really see my role as
secretary, in fact, leadership in general in a democracy as a relay race.
I mean, you run the best race you can run. You hand off the baton. Some
of what hasn`t been finished may go on to be finished.

DIANE SAWYER: People say, where is the marquee achievement? No sweeping
agreement, no signature doctrine.

CLINTON: We haven`t had a doctrine since containment worked with the
Soviet Union. But we`ve had presidents who have made some tough calls,
some hard choice, some of which have worked and some of which have not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, sometimes, the apparently the friendly or neutral reporter
will ask the best journalistic question. It was Roger Mudd who asked Ted
Kennedy, why do want to be president? Seventy some words later, he finally
got to the answer, Ted Kennedy, which was restoration. But it took him an
awful long time to get there. He wanted to bring back Camelot. But it
took him a long time.

Diane Sawyer, Terry Gross was tough on Hillary. These people -- I don`t --
maybe that`s why she`s going to talk to regular people next week because
she`s not talking to us. It`s more pleasant perhaps.

WOODRUFF: If anything, this highlights the fact that it will be tricky for
her to target her record as secretary of state, especially when you get to
the Clinton Foundation, you`ll get the fact that while she was secretary of
state, they took money from foreign governments after --

MATTHEWS: They`ve had a lot of time to -- all these years to think about
her major accomplishments there. Why don`t they carve them up and put them
out and say, here they are?

WOODRUFF: I mean, you can get this to an intern with a PowerPoint
presentation. Theoretically, it shouldn`t be hard.

MATTHEWS: It`s not a mean question.

STEIN: Foreign policy is messy. While two years ago, it may have seen a
drawdown from Iraq, today you don`t have a drawdown from Iraq, just --

MATTHEWS: You say it if you believe it.

RYAN: Well, let me say this --

STEIN: Not with ISIS roaming from Iraq.

RYAN: She -- you cannot take this from her. She was the woman of
diplomacy. You have to remember that.

And one of the major achievements I would think is lopping one of the heads
off a major terrorist organization, Osama bin Laden. She`s not quite --
she was part of that whole Situation Room night.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what she should say then. Before they tell you
what they`re going to do, first ask them what they`ve done? And that`s a
good thing for a voter to think of.

The roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, from the sublime to the ridiculous, the worst of the right
wing attacks on Hillary Clinton. They`re the ones for the clown car. And
she shouldn`t worry too much about it. The crazies are coming.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The highly anticipated meeting between President Obama and Cuban
President Raul Castro is expected to take place tomorrow. The two leaders
are both in Panama for the Summit of the Americas. They spoke by phone on
Wednesday, only the second time in more than 50 years that the presidents
of the United States and Cuba have done so. Now, they`ll take the next
step towards normalizing relations.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Bosses shouldn`t prey on young interns in their office. And I think
really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this. He
took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office.
There is no excuse for that.

RICK JOYNER, TELEVANGELIST: Our secretary of state who is a mind has been
-- they`re advocating using Sharia and honoring Sharia law. This is mind-
boggling.

KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: I didn`t say she had brain damage. She had a
serious health episode. This will be an issue in the 2016 race, whether
she likes it or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

And the hard right isn`t afraid to go nuclear on their attacks on Hillary
Clinton.

As you saw there, they have warned us of sex offender Bill Clinton back in
the White House. Karl Rove at one point suggested Hillary Clinton might
have brain damage, when he spoke at a conference according to "The New York
Post", a claim which he walked back there, of course, sort of. And there
are even some who say that Hillary is a follower of, as you just heard
there, Sharia law. Of course, why not throw that at her?

I`m back with my roundtable, Sam, April and Betsy.

April, it`s just -- and Betsy, because you`re two women. I want to ask you
-- what is this conference zone that people on the right feel they can
throw anything they want at her? I mean, they don`t look back, I shouldn`t
have said, oh, that was too rough, or that was too little over the top.
No, it`s just throw it at her.

RYAN: That`s not their focus. Women are not their focus. We learned the
last presidential election -- did Mitt Romney forget his binder? Remember
that?

MATTHEWS: Binder of women.

RYAN: Yes, his binder of women. Women do not -- and we are one of the
biggest voting blocs in the nation.

MATTHEWS: You`re the largest one.

RYAN: Yes. So, the bottom line is, for you to say, oh, Hillary, they`re
going to beat her up. We`re going to see a lot of sexism. We`re going to
see a lot of -- and maybe even racism when it comes to challenging
President Obama. I think minorities and women are just under attack when
it comes to certain segments of the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s true?

WOODRUFF: I mean, look, you can always find a fringy, wacky person.

RYAN: Just say it`s true or not. Just say if it was true.

MATTHEWS: Is Rand Paul fringy, wacky? I mean --

WOODRUFF: I think it`s unfair to say that Republicans don`t like and are
attacking minorities --

RYAN: I said some.

WOODRUFF: Of course, you can find. You can always find the racist, and
we`ve all covered CPAC.

RYAN: And the sexist.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: I didn`t say all, I`m not saying all. And we have to look, the
Republican Party is very broad --

MATTHEWS: Let me join in here --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- which is, from Reince Priebus on down, they have had a
concerted effort in 36 states, three dozen states, to make it harder for
black people to vote and they admit it when you get them, that`s why they
do it. So, they do have a race problem. Go ahead.

WOODRUFF: I mean, you can certainly make that argument. But I think it`s
also --

MATTHEWS: No, that`s not an argument. That`s a statement of fact.

RYAN: The fact, yes.

WOODRUFF: Voter ID polls really well. And especially in the Republican
base, it has a lot of support and Scott Walker is going to pass that voter
ID.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: All I`m talking about is a Republican strategy.

MATTHEWS: You know, if you have a white population which is growing in
relative -- getting smaller in size, against a larger population of people
of color, what`s your strategy? Make it harder for them to vote.

RYAN: Let me say this. I want to go back to this voter ID issue. Many
African-Americans in the South do not have cars. Why do they need an ID if
they don`t have a car? OK? It`s almost like a polling tax or something
along that lines from back the `50s and `60s.

So, we have to go back into that issue again. I mean, there is race, there
are issues of race.

MATTHEWS: April, I double down on that because in the northern part of the
city where I grew up, they live in row houses and do not have cars, even
white people.

RYAN: That`s true, too, but the problems is in the South. We`re talking
the South.

WOODRUFF: Can I jump in?

MATTHEWS: I`m talking Pennsylvania.

RYAN: Well, I`m talking in the South.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m talking Pennsylvania where it was a big issue. Yes?

WOODRUFF: I`m talking about the kitchen sink idea.

Republicans also went very vociferously after President Obama, also went
pretty nuts when Bill Clinton was president. This idea they`re only going
after Hillary Clinton because she`s a women, I just -- I`m not sure that
that really do that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well said, thank you. We have all points of view here.
Sam Stein --

STEIN: Not my point of view.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: What`s your point of view?

STEIN: I`m not going --

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Betsy Woodruff. Good to have you on the show.

Taking on the latest here on the ladies to your right is a challenge and
you`ve met it.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Let me finish with this historic moment in American politics.

Looking at the field of candidates right now -- and assuming no great
champion is going to come in from out of nowhere -- I think Hillary Clinton
has a sound 50-50 shot at being our next president.

And this is an extraordinary position to hold at this point. Without
knowing whom the Republicans will nominate, it says that she has the
stature to stand up to whomever that ends up being, that there is no
candidate on the horizon who can close in on her in the late summer and
fall of 2016 from a commanding position.

I have another reason for calling this 50-50. I think the country is 50-
50. I think the political contest in 2016 is going to resemble a roulette
table with equal chances for the red or the black to win, which in this
case is the red or the blue.

So, as I said, it`s a big day today.

Let`s hope that the race for president will come down to differences of
true value, not "gotcha," not Willie Horton or other wedge issues, but to a
reasonable debate between a candidate of the center-left, that`s Hillary
Clinton, and one from the right.

If on the odd chance, the Republican candidate comes from the center-right,
I`ll have to adjust my prediction, but part of my prediction is that it
will be a candidate on the Republican side from the further right, and that
should be very good for Hillary Clinton.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


END

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