updated 5/27/2015 10:00:15 AM ET 2015-05-27T14:00:15

Show: HARDBALL
Date: May 26, 2015
Guest: Richard Clarke, Ian Bremmer, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jeffrey Sachs,
Susan Page


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Hell, no, we won`t go.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Hillary Clinton has a rival for the presidency, a Democratic rival. Does
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who declared his candidacy today, have a
chance? Does a declared socialist have a chance in a country where less
than one of five of us even calls himself an economic liberal?

You know what? All that said, I think the man is going to enjoy this run
for president. Why? Because that one in five figure includes one hell of
a number of Democratic caucus and primary voters. Two, because a number of
people want to see Secretary Hillary Clinton pulled leftward on economic
issues. And three, because Democrats, Americans, tend to root for the
underdog. And four, because let`s be honest, it`s the only game in town.

Here`s Senator Sanders announcing his campaign up in Burlington, Vermont.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, with your
support and the support of millions of people throughout our country, we
begin a political revolution to transform our country economically,
politically, socially and environmentally!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly enough is enough!
This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to
a handful of billionaires!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Steve Kornacki is the host of "UP" here on MSNBC. Steve, what a
crowd there on Lake Champlain. What a setting. Your thoughts on what
happened here today?

STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Yes, on, I mean, very
impressive turnout here, you know, a late afternoon rally in Bernie
Sanders`s hometown.

You know, it`s interesting you set it up there and you talk about the
relatively small number of Americans who maybe on paper say they agree with
Bernie Sanders. But yes, a higher concentration in the Democratic Party
and a much higher concentration, I think, when you look at the first state
that`s going to vote on the Democratic side, Iowa.

The caucus goers, the most committed activists on the Democratic side, a
very liberal constituency in Iowa. It`s a state where Hillary Clinton
obviously had plenty of problems in 2008 where she came in third place
behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. And I think if you look at it from
Bernie Sanders`s standpoint here, yes, obviously, this is a monumental
challenge to even talk about the possibility of maybe some way, somehow
beating Hillary Clinton.

But I think more realistically, if you want to talk about his prospects and
what he can do here, I think he`s potentially better positioned than any of
the other Democrats who are lining up to run against Hillary Clinton to
make her sweat, to give her some headaches.

It would start in Iowa. That is an electorate -- I mean, if there`s any
electorate out there outside of Vermont that is most conducive to what
Bernie Sanders has to offer, I`d say it`s the caucus electorate in Iowa.

And where do you go after Iowa? You go to the next-door state for Bernie
Sanders of New Hampshire. So those first two states do set up pretty well
for him.

MATTHEWS: It`s going to be a hell of a campaign for us to cover. Steve
Kornacki, thanks for joining us from Burlington. I love Burlington.

More from Senator Sanders`s announcement speech just late today. Let`s
watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: There`s something profoundly wrong when the top one tenth of 1
percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This
grotesque level of inequality is immoral It is bad economics. It is
unsustainable.

Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions
in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out.
If a bank is too big to fail, that bank is too big to exist!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by the global editorial director for the
HuffingtonPost, Howard Fineman, and the former chair of the Republican
National Committee, Michael Steele. Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Howard, the last part of it grabbed me -- if it`s too big to fail, it`s too
big to exist. I think that`s something that people can say, whether it`s
Glass-Steagall, whatever it is, something`s got to be done structurally
about the American economy to make us safe.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL
ANALYST: Chris, whatever the labels might be on Bernie Sanders--

MATTHEWS: Well, he calls himself a socialist!

FINEMAN: Whatever people identify with or call themselves, a lot of things
he talked about today -- raising the minimum wage, a jobs program,
increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans, billionaires paying their fair
share, breaking up the big banks -- these are all things that are not just
on the Democratic left. These are mainstream at least Democratic stands,
and in many ways, mainstream American stands.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How do you explain only 19 percent of the people say they`re
liberals on economic matters?

FINEMAN: The labels don`t matter.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: The labels don`t matter. Here`s -- here`s the problem.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: Here`s the problem. Hillary Clinton probably -- and I know she
now will say that she agrees, not with the fervor or the Brooklyn accent of
Bernie, but she agrees on -- she`d be able to agree on most everything that
he said there. But she doesn`t have the credibility to say it
convincingly.

MATTHEWS: Well, he means it.

FINEMAN: He means it. She`s tiptoeing to the left. She`s going to cover
most of these positions to some extent, OK?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: She will run alongside on most of these issues, but it`s going to
be all about authenticity. Who believes it and who has the record? Now
he`s saying he`s not going to run a negative campaign. He said that also
in his speech, which we were watching earlier.

MATTHEWS: What`s that mean?

FINEMAN: That means that he won`t run a negative ad, but lots of other
people will -- including some Republicans who wouldn`t mind making some
mischief in this campaign.

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s one right here.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- look, I--

MATTHEWS: Michael, I wonder, what do you make -- Howard is challenging the
label thing. People say "progressive" with such pride these days. Why
don`t they even say "liberal" when they talk about their own economic
attitude?

STEELE: Well, that`s -- that`s a very good point. It is something that I
think Bernie Sanders is going to force Democrats to deal with inside the
party. We had the same thing on the right. I mean, you know, I was
sitting there listening--

MATTHEWS: Who`s your Bernie Sanders?

STEELE: Well, you`ve got Newt Gingrich. You`ve got Santorum. You`ve got
strong conservatives, Ted Cruz, who believe very fervently in the cause and
can rally that base around strong conservative principles, just as we saw
Bernie Sanders with that very impressive crowd rally his base around the--

MATTHEWS: Let`s get one thing straight bout--

STEELE: -- liberal progressive agenda.

MATTHEWS: Look, I think Burlington is great. It`s like Berkeley back
East. It`s great. It`s not representative of the burbs, which people vote
Republican (INAUDIBLE) Democrat, depending on the candidates. I don`t
know. But I do think there`s an excitement to this guy.

FINEMAN: But all--

MATTHEWS: I think he has a bit of the old romance.

FINEMAN: Chris--

STEELE: He`s got the romance, but at the end of the day, I think Howard`s
right. He`s going to have to deal with a Hillary Clinton who is going to
try to--

MATTHEWS: She won`t go after him.

STEELE: She`s not going to go--

FINEMAN: No, no, no.

STEELE: She doesn`t need to go after him.

FINEMAN: She`ll say I agree with him.

STEELE: She`ll just agree with him.

FINEMAN: She`s going to say, Well, Bernie, you know--

STEELE: Exactly.

FINEMAN: -- we agree on many, many things. My only point about the labels
is, if you ask Americans individually, Do you want a jobs program for
infrastructure? Heck, you`ve talked about jobs--

MATTHEWS: I`m huge on this stuff!

FINEMAN: OK, you`re with Bernie on that. If you talk about suspicion
about the trade bill, millions of Americans--

MATTHEWS: I know.

FINEMAN: -- are worried about that. If you talk about breaking up the big
banks -- my point is if you take these one at a time, Bernie Sanders is not
some charming grumpy crank on the shores of Lake Champlain with Ben and
Jerry clapping.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: They were there, by the way. Plus Bill McKibben (ph), the
ultimate -- the ultimate environmentalist.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: A lot of the things he`s saying are meat and potatoes, sensible--

MATTHEWS: OK, let me--

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: -- old-fashioned American sense. That`s all I`m saying.

MATTHEWS: If you`re Hillary Clinton and you`re thinking this through and
watching that today, are you happy with that performance? Does that make
you happy, does it make you nervous?

STEELE: I think it makes her a little bit nervous. I think it makes her a
little bit nervous because to Howard`s point, she`s got to figure out how
to box herself in such a way that she pulls some that energy that--

MATTHEWS: OK--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- let`s play HARDBALL.

STEELE: -- but without going after him--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, what percentage would she, like, be scared of him getting?
Is it good for her he gets 25 percent but she gets the 75 percent in New
Hampshire? Is it good for her that he gets 35 percent or 45 percent? At
what point does it ring the bell and say, There`s something wrong with
Hillary because she`s not this guy?

FINEMAN: OK--

MATTHEWS: At what point?

FINEMAN: Let`s play HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: What percentage?

FINEMAN: Let`s play HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: What percentage?

FINEMAN: OK. If she`s wins Iowa and New Hampshire, it`s over.

STEELE: It`s over.

MATTHEWS: Even if he gets 45?

FINEMAN: Yes, yes, even if he gets 45.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Doesn`t matter how well he does--

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: -- a scenario, to Kornacki`s point, where Hillary Clinton could
find herself on the ropes in a place like Iowa very early.

MATTHEWS: Who picks up the pieces if she loses the -- if she loses New
Hampshire to him?

STEELE: Oh, I think -- I think Bernie--

MATTHEWS: There`s nobody to pick up the pieces.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: It falls back to her, but I`m just saying the possibility--

FINEMAN: Right now, he`s at 15 percent. She`s at 60 percent in Iowa.

MATTHEWS: By the way, Gene McCarthy was in the low teens in January of
`68.

FINEMAN: Yes, but this isn`t the Vietnam war.

MATTHEWS: OK. So history doesn`t repeat itself.

FINEMAN: No.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Howard Fineman, for the definitive answer.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Boy, you`re passionate!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re passionate!

STEELE: He`s looking forward to this race.

MATTHEWS: I tell you, we want a fight! Anyway, that`s what we all want.

Michael Steele, thank you, sir..

Coming up -- we got one in Iraq. Iraq`s launching a major military
operation to fight back against ISIS, but the Obama administration seems
less than confident that they can do the job. Defense Secretary Ash Carter
said Iraqi troops lost the key city of Ramadi because they showed no will
to fight. Those are fighting words.

And speaking of fighting ISIS, the Republicans have a strategy. It`s
called "blame Obama" but don`t count the troops. We`ll get to that with
the roundtable tonight.

Plus, what`s going on when Houston, the fourth largest city in the country
is under water, while California is suffering its worst drought in decades?
What`s the science saying about this? What`s the climate impact here?

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with why I think the presidential campaign of
Senator Bernie Sanders is something to look forward to. You bet!

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The declaration today by Bernie Sanders is the first in a flurry
of presidential campaign launches scheduled for the next two weeks.
Tomorrow, Rick Santorum gets into the race. On Thursday, it`s former New
York governor George Pataki`s turn. Then on Saturday, former Maryland
governor Martin O`Malley will launch his campaign. Next Monday, it`s
Lindsey Graham`s turn. And on June 4th, next Thursday, Rick Perry jumps
in.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Iraqi security forces today launched
an offensive to drive ISIS from the Anbar province and retake Ramadi, which
ISIS captured earlier this month. As the capital of Anbar, the fall of
Ramadi was a major setback in the war against ISIS, and it`s led to a blame
game.

U.S. officials told NBC News last week that the defeat was due to
Baghdad`s, quote, "total neglect of Ramadi," and on Sunday, Secretary of
Defense Ashton Carter blamed the Iraqi military for cutting and running.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Iraqi forces just showed no will to
fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the
opposing force. And yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the
site. And that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an
issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: But in a BBC interview later that day, Iraq`s prime minister
said that his forces would retake Ramadi within days, and he pushed back
against Secretary Carter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAIDER AL ABADI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: I`m surprised why he said that. I
mean, he was very supportive of Iraq. I`m sure is he was fed (INAUDIBLE)
he was fed with the wrong information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, "The Wall Street Journal" also points out today that the
ISIS takeover of Ramadi showed a kind of tactical sophistication that we
haven`t yet seen from the militant group. Quote, "An examination of how
Ramadi fell indicates that Islamic state commanders executed a complex
battle plan that outwitted a greater force of Iraqi troops. The group also
churned out dozens of formidable new weapons by converting captured U.S.
military armored vehicles designed to be impervious to small arms fire into
mega-bombs with payloads equal to the force of the Oklahoma City bombing."

We go now to NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel for the
latest on the battle for Ramadi. Richard, these two sides seem asymmetric.
One side has suicide bombers driving these vehicles across the lines and
breaking the lines of the Iraqi forces.

On the Iraqi side, I`ve got to wonder what are they fighting for, what is
the motive, the patriotic drive for someone to give up their life or even
risk it in such a battle if they don`t really have a country behind it? Is
there an Iraq? Is there such a place?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I don`t -- I think by the day and the
week, we`re seeing Iraq disintegrate. There isn`t really a sense of Iraq
anymore. It feels much more of Kurdistan in the north, a failed Sunni
state in the center, and an increasingly Shi`ite, an increasingly Iran-
dominated south that starts in Baghdad.

So if you are an army and you are supposed to be representing the united
Iraq, a united Iraq that increasingly looks like a memory, then I think
you`re -- you`re not finding the will to fight.

MATTHEWS: If you`re an Iraqi military commander -- say you`re halfway up
the ranks, you`re a major or whatever -- and you say to your troops, Hold
the line. Don`t give up. They`re coming at us, but don`t -- don`t give --
what is your incentive? What do you say to these guys, remember the Alamo?
Remember the Maine?

I mean, what`s -- what do you say to these people?

ENGEL: Well--

MATTHEWS: I`m dead serious. Wouldn`t most people say, I`m getting the
hell out of here? They gave me the uniform, they gave a monthly salary,
but I`m not going to die for this thing.

ENGEL: Well, not always they give you the uniform or not always they give
you the monthly salary. Once U.S. troops left Iraq, the Iraqi military
became incredibly corrupt. The Iraqi state became synonymous with
nepotism, with false rosters and with -- in which soldiers` names were put
on the rosters and they were told by the commanding officers, Don`t come
in, but give me half your salary.

We spoke to many mid-level police officers and army officers who had been
purged from their jobs because they weren`t in favor with the right Shi`ite
group.

So if you are working for an institution that steals from you, that is
corrupt on every level, that doesn`t supply you with the equipment that you
need in a timely basis, yes, you`re absolutely right, you`re not going to
lay down your life for it.

You`re not going to go up against a group like ISIS, which is incredibly
dedicated, incredibly willing to die, knowing that if they catch you,
you`ll be executed in the most horrific way, maybe set on fire, maybe put
into a big execution pit, that you are going to die and die badly.

So yes, the corruption and the rot in the Iraqi army combined with a very
motivated adversary is not a favorable one for the Iraqi government right
now.

MATTHEWS: As always, thank you, Richard Engel. You are the best. Thanks
for coming in.

ENGEL: Oh, thank you.

MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by Richard Clarke, former national coordinator
for security and counterterrorism and the author of the new book, "Pinnacle
Event," as well as Ian Bremmer who`s joining us. He`s president of the
Eurasia Group and author of "Superpower: Three Choices for America`s Role
in the World."

Richard Clarke, you know, just listening to what Richard said, imagine if
we embedded American troops with the Iraqi army, as bad as it is, as
corrupt as it is, and one of our guys gets picked up, and they threaten him
-- and burning him alive and the -- he`s in uniform, and they do this for a
couple of weeks, then they do their dance of horror and humiliate the guy
before they kill him.

And what do we do then? I mean, I just don`t know why we want to slip into
this role. People like George -- I mean, it`s Jeb Bush this time --
talking that. Your thoughts.

RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Well, Chris,
I think we have to decide how important is it that we stop ISIS. And I
don`t think we`ve done that. I don`t think we`ve had that national
conversation. And then we have to decide how much are we willing to do to
stop ISIS, and we haven`t had that national conversation.

I can imagine an answer that says, yes, we really do want to stop them. We
don`t want another Afghanistan, where people can plot attacks against the
United States. That`s -- that`s a logical position. And if you believe
that, then maybe you should do more.

And there are things you can do more than we`re doing. You can arm the
Kurds. You can arm the Sunni militia. A lot of these guys didn`t have any
arms, which is one of the reasons they fled there. They`d run out of
ammunition.

You can provide them close air support, which we weren`t doing. So there
are things more short of Lindsey Graham`s invasion and return to Iraq.

MATTHEWS: Ian, your thoughts about what the United States could do if it
decided it was worth getting killed for, something worth putting guys close
to the action because they will -- you start bringing guys with close air
support, somebody`s going to get shot down. You do anything like
embedding, you`re different going to get guys picked up. It`s part of the
action--

(CROSSTALK)

-- part of the reality of life.

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Oh, I think -- I think that`s
right.

And I think of the great realities of U.S. foreign policy since the Cold
War is over is that one consistency is that we overreact when something
happens to us, whether it`s a couple of Americans showing up with Ebola
after us not paying attention to it, or whether it`s two Americans getting
their heads chopped off by ISIS.

And I`m not trying to minimize these issues, but I think a lot of Americans
look at the trillions of dollars that were spent after 9/11 in Afghanistan
and Iraq and they want out. I think the Obama administration responded
very strongly to that and now they`re trying everything possible to say,
look, let`s just stick with the present strategy, which is absolutely not
destroy ISIS.

We say we want to destroy ISIS, but there`s no decision point that we have
taken at any time that would actually say that we`re going to do it.

MATTHEWS: Well, listen closely. Here`s the president`s interview. It`s a
print interview, but listen to the word we and wonder who he is talking
about. This was last Thursday with "The Atlantic."

President Obama reacted to the fall of Ramadi, saying -- quote -- "I don`t
think we`re losing. We are going to have to ramp up, but not just
training, but also commitment. And we better get Sunni tribes more
activated than they currently have been. We`re eight months into what we
always already anticipated to be a multi-year campaign."

Senator John McCain slammed the president`s approach on "Meet the Press" on
Sunday. No surprise there. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FACE THE NATION")

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to have forward air controllers.
We need to have special forces. We need to have more of those kinds of
raids that were so successful into Syria.

We need to have a strategy. There is no strategy, and anybody that says
that there is, I would like to hear what it is, because it certainly isn`t
apparent now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was on "Face the Nation," Richard. My question to
you and then to Ian is, who is we, because if we is the Iraqi army, we
ain`t nothing, because the Iraqi army is going to cut and run. We have
gone over this with Richard Engel, just now in the field. Who is the we
here?

Are we the Jordanian air force? Are we the Kurds? Are we the so-called
Sunni militias that are operating or the Sunni liberation front over in
Syria? I don`t think we have a front against ISIS, do we?

CLARKE: Well, we have. In a few battles to date, we have. But it`s not a
consistent front.

The we should be the Sunni militia, the Shia militia, the Iraqi national
army, and the U.S. military, and our Gulf GCC partners. Where is their
skin in the game, except for an occasional airstrike?

MATTHEWS: OK. Who is the Red Army in it?

Richard, who is the Red Army in this in 1942-`43 terms? Who is the army
pushing hardest against the bad guys here, against then the Nazis, now
ISIS? Who is the one they might be afraid of?

BREMMER: Look, when I used to say we to my mom when she was alive, she
would say, what, do you got a rat in your pocket?

(LAUGHTER)

BREMMER: And that`s kind of the way I feel right now, you know?

The United States, the we are the Air Force that is providing significant
strikes in Iraq and not very much in Syria, and also some special forces,
very significant.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BREMMER: You absolutely saw them. And I thought that was a win, when you
get the effective CFO of ISIS, because you`re getting data and you`re
getting network capabilities and you`re trying to shut down ISIS capability
for attacking more broadly.

But that`s a containment strategy for ISIS at best in Iraq and a little in
Syria. It`s not a let`s destroy ISIS. There is no we for destroying ISIS.
And the American people, people like Hillary Clinton as well, even Jeb
Bush, seeing very clearly that if the Saudis, if the Iraqis, if the GCC,
they are not really going to stand up and fight to destroy Iraq, it`s going
to -- ISIS in Iraq, and no one is going to do it in Syria, it`s a really
hard argument for them to put to the American people for the 2016
presidential election.

And if you`re on the ground in Iraq, you see that the conversation that
Richard Clarke is calling for right now, which is starting to happen, has
Americans all over the map, not the kind of commitment that are going to
make them feel like they have got the support for the long term.

MATTHEWS: Richard, go ahead.

CLARKE: But to have that conversation, we need to have somebody paint for
us a picture of what happens and what`s the cost to us if we do nothing.
And we don`t -- the president hasn`t done that. The secretary of defense
hasn`t done that.

Somebody should put on a map, put in a speech what it would look like if
these guys win, and they set up a terrorist sanctuary nation, and they take
Baghdad, and they hold on to these other four or five cities that they have
indefinitely. What`s the cost to us? No one has laid that out.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, we have to lay out the cost the other way, like Churchill
did in World War II. Somebody has to come out just say, we just lost one,
but we can win again. But here`s what we`re going to have to do. And it`s
going to be tough before it gets better.

And these are real defeats. We have to talk about real defeats like Ramadi
when they occur. And then we have to be real about the cost of victory.
Victory is expensive.

(CROSSTALK)

CLARKE: And how much are we willing to pay for it? How much are we
willing to pay?

BREMMER: And then Richard is saying, what`s the cost of doing nothing? No
one is suggesting doing nothing. That`s not actually -- there`s no one in
the American political system that is saying we are going to completely
withdraw.

It`s a question of, what is going to be the impact of allowing ISIS to
persist and not truly destroying them, as opposed to, what is the cost of
actually trying to really defeat them on the ground?

MATTHEWS: OK.

BREMMER: And that is the conversation that`s a much more real one that we
need to really have. And both sides are straw-manning far too much.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

CLARKE: It`s not a straw man. What I`m saying is, we need to understand
what more we need to do, not that we are doing nothing. We are doing
something. But what more do we need to do, and why? Why?

MATTHEWS: OK. Why is a good one, and then, of course, recognize that some
guys are going to get caught, they`re going to get tortured, they`re going
to get burned alive, they`re going to be humiliated before the world, and
then they are going to be killed. We have to face that eventuality,
because it`s going to come.

Richard Clarke, thank you so much. Ian Bremmer, thank you both for this
rather very grim discussion of a war that doesn`t seem at this point, at
this point, winnable.

Up next: Texas has been hammered by devastating flooding. Part of
Houston, the country`s fourth largest city, is underwater. And it`s a
stark contrast to the severe drought going on right now in California. Is
there a climate aspect to all of this? Is this somehow related?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I assured Governor Abbott
that he could count on the help of the federal government. We have FEMA
personnel already on the ground. They are coordinating with Texas
emergency management authorities, and I will anticipate that there will be
some significant requests made to Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There are now more than 10 confirmed deaths from that 500-year flood that
hit Texas and Oklahoma. The search is still on for at least a dozen of
missing residents in Wimberley, Texas, where more than 400 homes were
destroyed.

Authorities are still searching for one family whose cabin was swept away
by the Blanco River. And overnight in southwest Houston, about 11 inches
of rain fell in just six hours. Imagine that.

Joining me right now is U.S. congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston.

Congresswoman, is the federal government serving the people down there in
this drastic situation as well as they should?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Well, first of all, let me express my
sympathy to the many who have lost their lives throughout the state of
Texas.

And, in my own district, they recovered a body and they are missing others
that they are looking for. I was standing by as they recovered the
firefighters` inflated boat that was trying to rescues persons, and they
were able to save two firefighters, but they are looking for others.

Let me just say that the federal government obviously is the umbrella on
the rainy day, and it is an umbrella day today in Houston and all over the
state of Texas. What I think the federal government can do is what they
have done, at least in an immediate and quick response, to be able to get
help here for those who need recovery and, if you will, rehabilitation.

But one thing that we need from the federal government and that we in
Congress need to do is to rebuild our infrastructure and to make sure that
all of these unique situations, like Houston is a bayou city -- we`re proud
of it -- but as I have been knocking on doors in my district, been talking
to people in mud and looking in homes that had water almost midway up their
walls, surging into their home, it is clear that we need to be able to have
a set of plans and future investment, so that we can enjoy our bayous, but
don`t have them do what they did over the last 12 hours.

Clearly, we need to look at a futuristic plan of infrastructure, but right
now most people are looking for homes. They are looking for clothing.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JACKSON LEE: They are looking for their cars to be restored. All of these
cars were destroyed.

In this particular area that I was in near the White Oak Bayou, everyone`s
car had been covered by water that was way over the hood of the car. So,
the federal government has to stand ready. And I did write and join with
the city and government officials to the president to ask for a natural
disaster declaration, particularly for Houston, to be able to help these
people.

MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, in this
terrible situation.

According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change contributes to
harsh weather conditions like the flooding in Texas and the drought in
California happening right now. Experts predict changing extremes in
precipitation are projected across all seasons, including higher
likelihoods of both increasing heavy rain and snow events and more intense
droughts all at the same time.

Joining me now is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia
institute, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs.

Dr. Sachs, when you look at these two situations, I`m just going to
freefall it here -- or free-flow it in terms of information -- what do you
see in terms of the terrible drought, the terrible flooding down there? Is
it something that`s moved across the Pacific, water that was supposed to
drop historically in California now is dropping somewhere else? How do you
see it?

JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY EARTH INSTITUTE: Well,
there`s a lot of disruption around the world. This is going to be the
hottest year on record. There are massive heat waves. There are droughts.
There are floods.

I can tell you I just spoke with the scientists around Columbia University.
They say they can`t put all the pieces of this puzzle together. One thing
is, this is weather. In other words, this is just an extraordinary
occurrence of the jet stream dipping south, but they also point out that
there are underlying factors, like the very warm waters of the Gulf of
Mexico, which have brought a lot of very humid air and that collides with
the colder air brought by the jet stream. And that`s what gives these
massive storms.

There have just been so many strange patterns with the patterns of the jet
stream itself. We had a hugely cold winter in the Northeast because of
that, whereas rest of the world was baking. And so, Chris, you know, it
remains true that, an individual event, you can`t call it, but what you can
say is, there`s a lot of disruption going on. The underlying warming of
the sea surface and the land, the drying of the moisture in the soils where
farmers are trying to grow crops, all of this means that we`re disrupting a
lot of activity, and then we`re seeing more tragedies like the one we saw
in the last couple of days in Texas.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, just looking at it anecdotally, I look at the
incredible snowfall in the Northeast this year. Like, I mean, they had
igloos where parking spaces were supposed to be. You parked your car in an
igloo and fought for it.

And then we had Katrina. We have had such biblical weather lately. You`re
waiting -- you`re waiting for the snakes and the rats to arrive. When you
put it all together -- I forget my biblical history, but when you put it
all together, do you see anything going on, on the planet? It used to be
worried about August and there would be a lot of thunderstorms at 4:30 in
the afternoon in D.C., for example. It was pretty predictable.

In the winter, you had a few inches of snow, maybe up to five or seven, but
you didn`t have these huge dumps of snow. We just looked in Texas. They
just had 11 inches in, what, six hours? I mean, excuse me. This is
unusual, I think.

SACHS: Chris, absolutely.

You know, we`re pushing the planet into dangerous territory. So when
Katrina -- or when Superstorm Sandy hit us in New England and in the
Northeast, the sea level is already about a foot higher than it was a
century ago, so that the flooding surge was that much greater.

When we had these massive snowstorms, the water off the coast of the
Northeast was warmer and therefore containing a lot more warmer. The Gulf
of Mexico is a lot warmer right now, containing a lot more moisture.

So, yes, we`re creating conditions for disruption, and there`s no doubt
that the underlying patterns in the planet, the temperature especially, but
also the precipitation patterns, even the ocean circulation patterns are
changing now.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SACHS: You can`t figure it out exactly because we`re seeing it for the
first time, but we`re pushing hard and making big threats. And this is --
this tells us, hold back a little bit. Let`s be careful before we push
things into completely unlivable conditions.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Well, Dr. Sachs, I have to tell you, because you`re used to seeing denial
in your face -- I was in California this weekend for a wedding and for a
commencement exercise, and I met two reasonably intelligent men who really
denied there`s a drought going on in California.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: So denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Anyway, thank you.

An old joke.

SACHS: Great to be with you. Thanks so much.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs.

Up next: a huge victory for marriage equality in Ireland. How long can
Republicans in this country keep saying no? And that`s ahead with the
roundtable.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC
newsroom.

The death toll from the severe weather in Texas and Oklahoma -- we`re
watching that -- has now climbed to 18 after a weekend of heavy rain and
severe flooding. Parts of Houston remain underwater. And in the central
part of the state, the Blanco River surged, washing away trees and homes.
Authorities say 16 more people are still missing in Texas -- now back to
HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

In an historic vote, Ireland became the first country in the world to
legalize same-sex marriage by popular election. Sixty-two percent of
voters over there approved of the measure legalizing same-sex marriage, and
the referendum drew 61 percent of Ireland`s 3.2 million eligible voters out
to the polls.

Well, over here in the United States, Hillary Clinton offered her
congratulations of support by tweeting well done, Ireland, making it clear
where she stands on marriage equality.

But what about the Republicans? According to a Gallup poll, a record 60
percent now support same-sex marriage of this country, 60 percent of the
overall population which is up from 55 percent from just last year, and up
from 37 percent a decade ago, yet the 2016 GOP candidates are nowhere near
where the American people are on this.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This week, I introduced in the United States
Senate, a constitutional amendment to preserve the authority of the states
to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: This whole debate about the definition of
marriage, I remind everyone that marriage as an institution existed before
even government itself, that the institution of marriage is one man and one
woman existed before our laws existed.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: In Wisconsin and other places across the
country, marriage is defined between one man and one woman.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I believe in traditional woman, between
a man and a woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`ve always wondered why they have to say one man and one woman.
Something about Mormonism from the last election. They aren`t just going
to say it.

Anyway, as support for same-sex marriage gaining momentum in this country
and around the world at a high rate of speed, can the GOP still get away
with saying no to marriage equality?

The roundtable tonight -- this should be fascinating -- Michelle Bernard is
president of the Bernard Center for Women, Jonathan Capehart is opinion
writer with "The Washington Post", of course, and Susan Page is Washington
bureau chief with "USA Today."

Susan, I want to start with you. You and I are not the same age but we
know the same history very much. This country has been warp speed.
Ireland, what do the Republicans do now that they are behind Ireland --

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: -- the only legalized same sex -- same sex sexual behavior
fairly recently in?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: In a generation, I mean, it was 1993 that Ireland
repealed anti-homosexual laws there. So, so in less than a generation,
they have gone from criminalizing homosexuality to accepting by popular
vote.

MATTHEWS: When is the GOP going to make this leap?

PAGE: And a big turnout. I mean, this was an issue that energized people
in Ireland and especially young people in Ireland. So, what a warning sign
that is for Republicans here, because we know that a majority of
Republicans under 30 support same-sex marriage.

MATTHEWS: So, where`s the Log Cabin on this baby, Jonathan? Log Cabin is
Republican gay people. It`s a great group, and they`ve formed together.
But somehow, they have to keep rationalizing their presence in the
Republican Party.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, look, there`s only so much
Log Cabin Republicans can do. The candidates themselves have to come
around on this issue.

MATTHEWS: Who`s going to do it first?

CAPEHART: I`m not sure.

MATTHEWS: None of them are.

CAPEHART: But, you know --

MATTHEWS: But none of them are. Excuse me, I interrupted you, not a
single. There`s like 3,000 people running for the Republican nomination
and not one of them has broken the seals on this thing.

CAPEHART: But, Chris, we`ve gone through the crazy exercise of watching
them contort themselves over the question would you attend a same-sex
marriage of a loved one and we`ve gone from Rick Santorum --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Would you go to the reception? Would you go to rehearsal
dinner?

CAPEHART: Right, rehearsal dinner, not going --

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: But you know what, Chris? There`s something else you have to
keep in mind here, Ireland is just the second European example of -- an
example for Republicans on what to do on this issue. Sixty-one percent of
Irish people voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, who made this an issue in the
U.K. and everyone, all of his Tory supporters said, you`ve ruined the
party, you`ve ruined us, we`re going to lose in the next general election.
He just won reelection outright, no coalition government, nothing.

MATTHEWS: OK, they haven`t polled the Irish in this country.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But I think the dichotomies you draw are interesting, like one
of candidates said he would go to the ceremony but not the reception. He
didn`t want to be there when the dancing started.

MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Scott Walker, I think it was
Scott Walker.

MATTHEWS: It`s too weird.

Jonathan, your thoughts?

You`re an erstwhile Republican, aren`t you? I never figured out where you
stand.

BERNARD: I think what`s happened in Ireland is fantastic. I`m so glad
that they did it. I`m so glad that they are sort of catching up with the
times.

The big question will be, I`ve seen the vote that we saw in Ireland over
the weekend described as cultural Catholicism so people who want to go to
funerals, go to baptisms, but don`t necessarily go to church every Sunday.
I want to see if that`s going to happen here in the United States,
particularly within the Republican Party.

I mean, Ireland was behind. In 1971, it was still illegal -- contraception
was illegal.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BERNARD: They`ve caught up with the times on that. They`ve caught up with
the times on gay marriage and hopefully today`s Republican Party will do
the same.

CAPEHART: I think they are probably waiting for the Supreme Court.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: That`s -- I have said that.

MATTHEWS: You`re the lawyer. Whose that help?

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: Look, I`ve said it since day one, that the big strategy is if
they go to the states --

MATTHEWS: Recognize the right to same sex marriage.

BERNARD: It helps everyone who`s running for the president, on the
Republican ticket, because no one has to have their own stance. All they
can say is the Supreme Court is the law of the land and I`m following the
law of the land.

MATTHEWS: A lot of these guys like Huckabee don`t say that. They said, I
don`t recognize the Supreme Court.

PAGE: Remember who --

BERNARD: No one`s serious, though.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Republican primaries and participates in caucuses, there are a lot
of Republicans who are very fiercely opposed to same-sex marriage, find it
immoral, abomination, and will not I think let candidates off the hook with
saying the Supreme Court decided. I don`t think --

MATTHEWS: I don`t think the Republican Party is big on accepting Supreme
Court ruling. I`m not sure they`re big on judicial review.

BERNARD: Anyone who wants to be serious candidate --

MATTHEWS: Marbury versus Madison has not caught up with these guys.

BERNARD: Well, with Ben Carson, but I like to think the others recognize
it.

MATTHEWS: You speak wisely, but not

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, when it comes to fighting ISIS, the Republicans running for
president all have the same strategy, blame Obama but don`t get into a
fight yourself.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Bill and Hillary Clinton have made their first joint
appearance since the former secretary of state launched her presidential
campaign. They marched together in yesterday`s Memorial Day parade in
their adopted hometown of Chappaqua, New York, something they have done
virtually every year since they moved there. They largely steered clear of
talking about her presidential career and instead put the focus on the
military men and women who fight and die for our country.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

CRUZ: ISIS says they want to go back and reject modernity -- well, I think
we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age.

(CHEERS)

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: If these folks want to bring back
a seventh century version of Islam, then my recommendation is: let`s load
our bombers up and bomb them back to the seventh century.

(CHEERS)

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I would hit them so hard and so fast that
they wouldn`t know what happened.

RUBIO: You`ve seen the movie "Taken," Liam Neeson? He has a line. And
this is what our strategy should be: we will look for you, we will find
you, and we will kill you.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

I would not hold a Democratic convention next year. I simply show that
over and over again to the American people and they`ll make the right
decision.

Anyway, as you can see there, there`s not shortage of chest-thumping and
bravado on the campaign trail, when it comes to how the Republican field
likes to talk about confronting ISIS. Do they want to fight, though, or
just look like they want to fight? It`s like the classic movie line, why I
ought to -- hold me back, at number of boys, hold me back, boys, where the
guy wants to look tough but just for show. It`s right there in the "Lion
King."

Let`s watch this classic scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIMON: Why I ought to -- let me at him, let me at him!

Here, hold me back.

PUMBAA: OK.

TIMON: Let me at him! Let me at him!

PUMBAA: OK.

TIMON: I think you`re missing the basic point here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So true as "The New York Times" noted in their front page story
over the weekend. Quote, "Most of the Republicans are reluctant and
evasive when it comes to laying out detailed plans to fight ISIS,
preferring instead to criticize President Obama`s war strategy." In other
words, hold me back, boys.

We`re back with our roundtable. Of course, Michelle, Jonathan, Susan in
that order.

Nobody wants to sign an authorization to use military force. Boehner
doesn`t want to do it, the speaker of the house. They don`t want their
hands on it because I`m guessing they know the American people want to be
tough.

BERNARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Because it makes us feel stronger, of course, when we see the
horror in ISIS. But nobody wants troops in fight.

BERNARD: And they know that the American people are war weary. Anyone who
comes out right away and says I want to put -- you know, 10,000 troops,
10,000 boots on the ground or whatever the number might be becomes a war
precedent immediately. You know, to me, it looks like Hillary and Obama in
2008 on the Republican side and makes me wonder since Lindsey Graham is the
only person actually giving us a strategy, and there`s no --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

OK, what good is the strategy, Jonathan, once they grab one of our guys?
And they say we`re going to burn them alive on national television?
National television in two weeks. Let them think about it while we think
about it.

OK. That`s horrible. What`s the next step? Are we going to stand for
that? Then, we`ll escalate to the next level. The American people -- I
will go crazy. I want to just napalm them.

But the trouble with that is, that`s an impulse. Most of the people under
ISIS control are the same people that were living there people, happened to
get stuck in the area they control in Syria or Iraq. They`re just Sunni
people stuck.

CAPEHART: Here`s the thing. You know, the clips that you showed of
Santorum and Cruz --

MATTHEWS: Yes, bomb everybody.

CAPEHART: Let`s bomb them. What do you do after that? It`s not as simple
as dropping bombs.

MATTHEWS: Who do you turn the land over to?

CAPEHART: Exactly. And then, let`s say, you kill some key leaders. Who
comes in next?

MATTHEWS: They`re not talking about bombing leaders. They`re talking
about bombing them.

CAPEHART: Yes, bombing them, but as we learned with the Iraq war, if you
depose a leader who`s a bad guy, even worse things can happen. And so as
bad as ISIS is, if Santorum and Cruz and Rubio and all these folks are not
ready to --

MATTHEWS: Who takes over if you bomb an area? Who goes in and takes the
area you`ve just bombed?

CAPEHART: Well, yes --

MATTHEWS: The Iraqi army? There`s no such thing.

CAPEHART: Right. They`re throwing weapons aside and running away.

MATTHEWS: They`re saying we don`t like Assad either.

CAPEHART: Right. And so, that`s the complication here. They make it seem
as simple as dropping bombs and we put people in place. The Middle East is
much more complicated.

BERNARD: To me, watching the clips, that knocks all of them out of the
ballpark in terms of a serious contender.

MATTHEWS: Let`s try politics here. Could it be that like they see in
Vietnam War in 1968, all Nixon had to say is we need new leadership. We
didn`t have a plan. He said he did. Maybe they don`t need a plan. Maybe
they can just attack Obama personally. I don`t know.

Thank you, Michelle, thank you, Bernard. Michelle Bernard.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re not Bernard. You`re Jonathan Capehart. And Susan Page.

When we return, let me finish with why I think the presidential campaign of
Senator Bernie Sanders is something to look forward to.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: Personally, I find the
presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders which he declared today
something to look forward to.

I`m speaking as someone who loves the romance of politics because in
addition to duking it out over important issues I think the personal is a
big part of politics, especially in this country where we tend to want to
know the president, some sort of one-to-one connection. We pick the
president, after all, not like they do in other countries where the members
of parliament pick the prime ministers.

So, the personal matters. I have a tough for a harder reason to root for
Senator Sanders in this fight. I like to have the Democrats never forget
why they have the White House today. They have it because they ran a
candidate who opposed the stupidity and horror of the Iraq war. That was
war was sold to the American people on a fact that wasn`t a fact, the claim
that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons. He didn`t and that is
something people with a conscience will have to live with.

Anyone who goes into this presidential election with a mind that hasn`t
fully absorbed this fact of deceit should not be running. They`re either
too stubborn or too stupid or too ideological or too personally desperate
to accept the truth.

The truth is we were taken last time -- as Senator Sanders has made clear,
taken by a president lacking the intellectual heft to serve, a vice
president driven by a determination to kill, and by ideologues so gung-ho
to send our kids into battle they should not be allowed near a keyboard
again, a keyboard being their primary means of battle.

We`ve had too many wars, too many days and nights of killing Islamic people
on global television, too many people whose instinct is to exploit their
positions to pursue their ideological madness.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


END

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