Date: May 27, 2015
Guest: Kathleen Parker, Matt Apuzzo, Ali Rezaian, April Ryan, Roger Simon,
Jackie Kucinich, Jonathan Allen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Rand Paul blows the whistle.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
And tonight, a Republican whistleblower, and a presidential candidate
to boot, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky calls his party out for ISIS and the
stupid, disastrous war that tore apart Iraq. Whatever you think of Paul,
this takes guts. It`s already drawing fire from the clown car.
Here he was on "MORNING JOE" today. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lot of people are
trapped inside the Beltway, and they think that war is always the answer.
But I`m asking some difficult questions of Republicans. Do you think the
invasion of Iraq made it more stable or us more safe? We now have ISIS to
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, "MORNING JOE": Lindsey Graham would say ISIS
exists because of people like Rand Paul who said, Let`s not go into Syria.
What do you say to that?
PAUL: I would say it`s exactly the opposite. ISIS exists and grew
stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately.
And most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.
These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS`s
job even easier. They created these people. Everything that they have
talked about in foreign policy, they`ve been wrong about for 20 years. And
yet they have somehow the gall to keep saying and pointing fingers
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined by "Mother Jones`s" David Corn, also an MSNBC
analyst, and syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker.
Kathleen, let me ask you first because I think I know where he`s
heading. I`m stunned. It takes a lot of guts to come out of the
Republican Party and say, This party, that I`m a member of, got us into
ISIS and blew up part of Iran -- I mean, it blew up part of Iraq.
(INAUDIBLE) they baathesized (sic) it did everything in the world. For 20
years, they`ve been wrong, and we`re still listening to them because they
have got the gall to keep speaking.
I mean, the Democrats do it -- don`t do it as well as Rand Paul`s done
it, blow these guys apart.
KATHLEEN PARKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, he`s done the opposition
research already, but I think this is what we call differentiation. This
is where Rand Paul is definitely trying to separate himself from the rest
of the herd.
MATTHEWS: But he believes it!
PARKER: He does believe it. And by the way, I think what he`s trying
to do is carve out a path between isolationism and neoconservatism. He`s
trying to -- there`s nothing wrong with asking the questions he`s asking.
I mean, when people are seeing some of the other candidates who are saying,
you know, We`re going to track them down, we`re going to rip out their
jugulars, we`re going to drink their blood...
MATTHEWS: I`m a little wilder on this. As you might expect, I`m a
little wilder, David, because I think he really believes what he says. I
think he`s an Ayn Rand objectivist, a -- what do you call it -- libertarian
all the way. And guys like Bobby Jindal, they make it up every day!
They`re day traders. Whatever`s working, they pick it up and throw it at
somebody. They don`t have any beliefs.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The interesting
thing about Rand Paul is like his dad -- remember, his dad got eaten
MATTHEWS: ... by the Giuliani express there, yes.
CORN: ... for being against the Iraq war. He does -- he is a skeptic
or he`s anti-intervention overseas. And his challenge has been -- and
we`ve seen this over the past year, that often, he talks from his heart, as
he did today, says what he really believes. I think it`s a solid critique.
But almost inevitably, within a week or two, he sort of comes back in
because he doesn`t want to get too far out of the Republican tent. He was
all for killing all aid to Israel and every other country, and then he
flip-flopped on that...
MATTHEWS: What`s that tell you? Is he covering for his true beliefs,
which would be what drives him if he were ever to be elected? What`s real?
CORN: I -- I think...
MATTHEWS: The cover (ph) or the reality?
CORN: No, I think he really believes in getting rid of...
CORN: I think he`s very far out of the GOP mainstream, and he`s
trying to find a way to keep a foot over the line...
CORN: ... and this fight`s going to keep on going for the next year.
PARKER: Well, I think it`s definitely going to hurt him, you know,
with the base. They`re just not going to listen to that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a lot at one of the shots that (INAUDIBLE) a
couple hours later. Didn`t take long for Senator Rand Paul`s statement on
ISIS on "MORNING JOE" to get attacked from a fellow Republican. Here`s
Bobby Jindal, a likely rival but an unlikely president today.
Here he said, "This is a perfect example," Jindal said, "of why
Senator Paul is unsuited to be commander-in-chief. We have men and women
in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and
Senator Paul has taken the weakest, most liberal Democrat" -- boy, there`s
a giveaway, "Democrat" as a -- as an adjective -- "position. We should all
be clear that evil and radical Islam are at fault for this rise of ISIS,
and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it."
So he`s supposed to attack evil!
MATTHEWS: What is this, the Middle Ages? This is exorcism! This is
MATTHEWS: The enemy here is evil!
PARKER: ... is an exorcist. You do know that.
MATTHEWS: Jindal is an exorcist. I know.
CORN: But it goes back to the "axis of evil" and these very grand
terms that they use to cover up sort of a neocon imperialistic
interventionist approach. He`s trying to make it sound like Rand Paul is
out of the mainstream conversation.
And then you have people like Jeb Bush, who the other day said ISIS
did not exist until Barack Obama became president, which was so wrong. It
started in 2004 and 2006. So Republicans out there like him and Bobby
PARKER: Try to name any candidate out there who`s a capable
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. OK, I understand.
PARKER: These are hard (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me explain my history of following politics.
MATTHEWS: The person who wins the presidency is the man, so far,
probably a woman next time. Still, I think it`s her advantage, Hillary
Clinton -- who figures out what is it in the American soul at that time
that is really motivating them. What`s the thing that you get to? It`s
sort of like romance. You`re trying find out what that other person is.
And right now, I think there`s a surprising level of war-weariness...
MATTHEWS: ... in the Republican rank and file -- not the big shots,
or the people with money to spend $200 million on a candidate, but the real
regular person in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio and Iowa are really
ripped about these wars. And if one of the candidates will stand up and
say, You know what? I`m willing to say it. We`ve made mistakes. We
shouldn`t have been so hawkish, that guy might visit have it figured out
because the rest are just off-the-rack hawks!
PARKER: Right. Well, there`s got to be a different way of
approaching it. I mean, really, who`s willing to put boots on the ground,
and that`s the only way?
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the weird thing.
PARKER: That`s the only way...
MATTHEWS: So they say they`re for war...
PARKER: Nobody is.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take...
CORN: There is a fear, I think, of ISIS out there in the -- in the --
amongst the public that they`re trying to exploit by sounding tough without
committing to anything real...
MATTHEWS: So well said.
CORN: ... like boots on the ground.
MATTHEWS: You saw what we did last night the cartoon of the little
animal on "Lion King." You know, Let me at him, let me at him...
MATTHEWS: Anyway, when it comes to foreign policy and national
security, talking tough seems to be essential for Republican contenders in
2016. Let`s watch the acts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Leading from behind is not a
foreign policy. We need to reengage with the rest of the world, that our
friends know that we`re not just here this week or next, that we`re in it
for the long haul. And our enemies need to twitch a little bit. They need
to fear us a little bit.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is
heartbreaking to see Iraq fall apart. And the only way I know to defend
this nation is for some of our soldiers to go back and partner with the
Iraqis to stop ISIL before it`s too late.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People ask what our
strategy should be on global jihad and terrorists, I refer to the movie
"Taken." We will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: And let there
be no doubt, Israel will know, as will the whole world, that we are their
trusted friend, and the ayatollahs of Iran will know that hell will freeze
over before they get a nuclear weapon!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, that is not an appeal...
MATTHEWS: That`s an appeal to the evangelical religious right...
CORN: Oh, yes. That`s what it`s all about.
MATTHEWS: ... that sees all these wars in biblical terms.
PARKER: Not necessarily because, by the way, there`s a large
contingent of those folks whose children do go to wars often.
MATTHEWS: Well, then why are they -- why are they cheering that?
PARKER: I`m not sure they are. I`m not sure they are. They may be
cheering Huckabee for a lot of reasons. But look, they`re all afraid.
Everybody`s worried about ISIS.
CORN: You know, we talk about...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. See, I helped you there!
CORN: Please, Kathleen.
PARKER: I`ve already forgotten what I was going to say.
MATTHEWS: Kathleen, verbal aggression doesn`t win here.
PARKER: I just don`t think bellicosity will work this time around.
And by the way, the Republicans do have to win a general election and not
just a primary. So when they`re appealing to all these -- you know, to the
-- to the base, as these four that we just witnessed did, I think they`re
completely off base. I really do.
Who -- because when you get right down to it, the question is, Exactly
what are you going to do? How you going to hunt these people down and how
you going to kill them? Are you going to put our troops in there? Are you
going to put our women in there, have them be captured? We know what they
do to hostages. Are really going to do that?
MATTHEWS: That`s my fear.
MATTHEWS: ... that`s my number one fear, what happens when one of our
MATTHEWS: ... gets grabbed in uniform...
PARKER: You bet!
MATTHEWS: ... and gets two or three weeks to sweat the fact they`re
going to be burned alive and we watch all this happening. Then what`s our
MATTHEWS: We can`t let that sit there.
CORN: We used to talk about chickenhawks, people who hadn`t served
who were very bellicose, to use your word. I think what...
MATTHEWS: You took a shot at Bill Kristol in that front.
CORN: What these guys are doing...
MATTHEWS: I read the column. I read the column.
CORN: I would call them hollow hawks.
CORN: You know, they talk the talk, but they really don`t know what
to say. So Marco Rubio thinks he can become president by using movie
slogans? Now, Ronald Reagan did that with "Make my day" and things like
that, yes, but he also had some policy behind it -- which you and I didn`t
agree with. You know, I think Marco Rubio really thinks that just
MATTHEWS: What did we disagree with -- my memory is not that long.
When did we last disagree? When was that?
CORN: Oh, when was the last time? I don`t know. Was it...
CORN: Eugene McCarthy? I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: I was with McCarthy. Who...
MATTHEWS: I was with Gene. But what -- what were you telling me?
MATTHEWS: I want to know what you`re willing to fight about here.
CORN: No, I don`t want to fight!
MATTHEWS: What was it where once disagreed?
CORN: No! We disagree with Ronald Reagan, but I`m saying there
MATTHEWS: I disagree with Ronald Reagan!
CORN: Yes! I`m saying the same thing.
MATTHEWS: All right. OK.
CORN: But I`m saying he used movie slogans. He thought it was
useful. But he also had policy behind it. Rubio has ditched the policy.
He`s just using the slogans, thinking that that somehow is going to
PARKER: I don`t know...
CORN: These guys all are setting themselves up for a general fight,
election fight against the female candidate. Do they think talking tough
is a way to work there?
PARKER: Well (INAUDIBLE) for you on that score. I remember being in
the Bush White House and their being more in favor of Hillary Clinton
because they felt that she could handle the foreign policy issues that were
going to come up than they were for Barack Obama. So they did have faith
in her as a potential commander-in-chief...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think...
PARKER: ... as opposed to many others, let`s say.
MATTHEWS: I think the line you were trying to remember from Ronald
Reagan was, Mr. Breene (ph), I paid for this microphone!
CORN: Make my day!
MATTHEWS: When you were duking it out with Kathleen over who got the
mike. Anyway, thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Kathleen Parker.
And just a reminder. Rand Paul will be here on HARDBALL, or rather,
we`ll be with him on Friday.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton heads back to South Carolina where Barack
Obama beat her by close to 30 points. Will the base of the party, meaning
African-American voters, give her a better reception there today?
Plus, Rick Santorum announces he`s running for president. He finished
second behind Mitt Romney in 2012, but he`s got a lot of competition on the
religious right this time, and you better believe it, including Marco
Rubio, who`s out there warning that Christianity could soon be labeled hate
speech because of the pressure to support gay marriage.
And "The Washington Post" reporter on trial for espionage in Iran.
The trial has begun in secret, for (ph) his brother is coming to us
tonight. And I`ve got the button on.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a salute to the country`s number one
Republican whistleblower. That`s Rand Paul.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: The state of Nebraska has now abolished the death penalty,
becoming one of the most conservative states in the country to do so. The
state`s legislature voted last week to repeal capital punishment in the
state. They sent the measure to the state`s Republican governor, and he
And late today, in a dramatic vote, the legislature overrode the
governor`s veto. They needed 30 of 49 votes to do it, and they got 30
votes to override, making Nebraska the 19th state to abolish the death
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You talked about
Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your husband did.
H. CLINTON: You -- well, I`m here. He`s not. And...
OBAMA: OK, well, I can`t tell who I`m running against sometimes.
H. CLINTON: I know. Well...
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
H. CLINTON: ... you know, I think we both have very passionate and
committed spouses who stand up for us. And I`m proud of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Barack Obama and
Hillary Clinton duking it out, of course, in the South Carolina
presidential primary debate back in 2008. A few days later, Obama crushed
Clinton in the state`s Democratic primary by nearly 30 points.
Well, for the first time since 2008, Hillary Clinton was back in South
Carolina today, courting the state`s sizable black population, specifically
Democratic women and a group of minority small business owners, all in an
effort to hold President Obama`s successful coalition of young, female and
minority voters in 2016. Well, here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CLINTON: You`re right. I am running to live again at 1600
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
H. CLINTON: And I do know how hard this job I`m seeking is.
H. CLINTON: I have seen it up close and personal. All our presidents
come into office looking so vigorous. Think about what they look like on
inauguration day. And then we watch them. They grow grayer and grayer.
And by the time they leave, they`re as white as the building they live in.
H. CLINTON: Now, let me tell you, I`m aware I may not be the youngest
candidate in this race, but I have one big advantage. I`ve been coloring
my hair for years.
(LAUGHTER AND CHEERS)
H. CLINTON: You`re not going see me turn white in the White House!
And you`re also not going see me shrink from a fight. I think by now,
people know I don`t quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid is on the ground in the
Palmetto State. You know, Joy, you just saw an example of my definition of
spin. Say something really true and candid that gives away everything,
like coloring your hair. And then as you get that moment of belief, when
everybody`s listening and believing every word you say, stick it in -- I`m
the real fighter. That`s when you make your case. Create the opening and
then exploit it like hell. Brilliantly done and wonderful, I thought,
What did you think today?
JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I thought -- you know, what it
reminded me of, Chris? It reminded me of that famous Ronald Reagan moment
when he said that he`s not going to hold his opponent`s youth and
inexperience against him, right, sort of flipping the whole age question
against his opponent.
It was really good. It played really well in the room. And as you
said, Hillary Clinton knows that that is one of the impediments in her
path. She spun it beautifully.
MATTHEWS: She also admitted ambition, which I wish -- all the guys
have ambition. Why can`t a woman have ambition? She said, I want to live
at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A lot of people would like to be president of
the United States. You and I would probably like it under certain
conditions, like -- whatever conditions those are, like you can get
MATTHEWS: But the fact is -- you wouldn`t want it any other way. But
the fact is, it`s breathtaking to have a politician say, Hey, I want to be
president. What`s wrong with that? That`s how it works. Jack Kennedy
wanted it. Roosevelt wanted to be president. Teddy Roosevelt wanted to be
Anyway, do you think it went well down there with the African-American
REID: And every one of the 18 guys on the other side want it.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about the African-American community. Is there any
redolent anger about the frisson, if you want to call it -- the fancy word,
the fighting that went on last time around involving Jim Clyburn and the
rest of the political grandees down there?
REID: Yes, and Chris, I came down here with that same question in
mind and talked to a lot of not only people who were operatives on the
Obama side, supporters on the Clinton side, as was as just, you know,
regular civilians who were part of the campaign. And I didn`t get a sense
that people are holding a grudge against the Clintons.
What I heard were things like, No, there`s no grudge there, but we
want to be courted. This is a -- look, this is a frustrated Democratic
electorate down here. They matter a lot one time, and that`s the
Democratic primary. This is an electorate down here on the Democratic side
that`s something like 55 percent, at least in 2008, African-American. So
this is a large African-American voting bloc, that this is their one chance
to really get courted...
REID: ... he way Iowa voters do. So they really want that, and they
crave that. I think they`re not willing to give the Clintons a full pass
because they don`t want to be passed by. They want the Clintons to make a
case, make a case to them, and sell them on her candidacy. And that`s what
she was here to do today. But they were asking for it. They`re saying,
Sell us. Tell what`s you`re going to do.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Joy Reid.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, as I said, it was in South Carolina that Hillary
Clinton saw an exodus of African-American voters which would only help cost
her the Democratic nomination in 2008. Her husband, former president Bill
Clinton, angered some black Democrats by marginalizing Barack Obama as
simply the black candidate, comparing his campaign to Jesse Jackson`s
presidential bids of the past. Here`s the problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it say about Barack Obama that it takes
two of you to beat him?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s just day
two. Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in `84 and `88. And he ran a
good campaign. And Senator Obama`s run good campaign here (INAUDIBLE)
everywhere. He`s a good candidate with a good organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Former president Bill Clinton accused the Obama campaign of
pushing out stories that he was -- he, Bill Clinton -- was playing the race
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Once you accuse somebody of racism or bigotry or something,
facts become irrelevant. There are facts here. They`re feeding you this
because they know this is what you want to cover. This is what you live
for. But this hurts the people of South Carolina. You don`t care about
it. What you care about is this, and the Obama people know that. So they
just spin you up on this and you happily go along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Talking about you, huh?
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Carolina`s favorite son, U.S. Congressman Jim
Clyburn, attacked Bill Clinton for dismissing Obama. In his book, Clyburn
recalls the former president`s fury in a late-night telephone call. Let`s
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: After several intermediate
conversations, this powerful voice came on the other end. "If you bastards
want a fight, you damn well will get one."
I needed no help identifying that voice. It was Bill Clinton, the
former of the president of the United States.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Great voice there.
Anyway, Robert Gibbs was President Obama`s White House press
secretary, and April Ryan is the White House correspondent for American
Urban Radio and the author of "The Presidency in Black and White."
Robert Gibbs, he is sort of saluting in a dark way your success,
because I remember the fight, and I was for Obama in that fight. And I
remember Clinton used the phrase fantasy. It`s all a fantasy. And the way
it was put or spun, I think, by you guys, I bought it, was that he was
saying this whole Obama thing is a fantasy. He is not going to be
president of the United States. It`s just another symbolic campaign, a
moral campaign, but a symbolic campaign like Jesse Jackson`s campaign.
They weren`t going to win. They`re just going to be marginalized.
And that really enraged the black community.
ROBERT GIBBS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and, you know...
MATTHEWS: To be treated like that.
GIBBS: Interestingly enough...
MATTHEWS: The base of the party being treated as like a margin of the
GIBBS: And an argument that might have made more sense before Iowa,
because national polling showed before Iowa that Hillary Clinton led among
African-Americans. After Iowa, when African-Americans saw a mostly white
state support an African-American nominee for president...
MATTHEWS: Could win.
GIBBS: ... African-Americans began to believe.
MATTHEWS: Boy, that`s so smart.
GIBBS: They began to think this isn`t just something that is being
built up to be pushed back down.
MATTHEWS: Did you start getting guys like Charlie Rangel, if you
like, the leaders of the Black Caucus, big shots? Did you start getting
them after that? Did you start getting after that or they go before? When
did you start picking up leaders like Jim Clyburn?
GIBBS: My guess is it was probably -- I would have to look back, but
my guess is, it was probably after that, when people began again to really
think it was possible.
MATTHEWS: I do buy the theory about the fact that now that he seemed
winnable in the white community, which has the most vote, it was a
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Let me say this.
And, Robert, my recollection may be a little bit similar to yours, but
I differ a little bit. Jim Clyburn at that time was neutral.
RYAN: And the problem was -- when South Carolina happened, the
problem was, here you had an African-American, the first time a really
viable African-American could be president and won Iowa, people in Iowa saw
that his values kind of lined up with theirs.
And then you had the issue with South Carolina that the -- President
Clinton`s statements about Jesse Jackson kind of tipped the scales. And
Jim Clyburn went to Obama after that, after that fight. And then you had a
lot of CBC members who ultimately came to Obama a little later on because
it was toss-up at one point for many of them -- for many African-Americans,
because there were like, wait a minute, we have the first viable African-
American who could be president. And then you have the Clintons, who we
RYAN: It was kind of hard.
But I`m going to say this. With that fight, when it comes to that
fight in South Carolina, I talked to Jesse Jackson prior to. And I know...
MATTHEWS: Prior to coming here?
RYAN: Yes, prior to coming here.
MATTHEWS: And I know that Congressman...
MATTHEWS: Do you often do that?
RYAN: I talk to a lot of my sources quite a bit, including Robert
RYAN: But, no, I talked to him. And he -- on that issue about the
controversy that happened with Bill Clinton and Clyburn, he says Reverend
Jackson says that we must forgive, redeem and move on. He said...
MATTHEWS: You get the floor now. How goes the coalition?
I don`t see any opposition to Hillary Clinton that is going to stop
her from the nomination right now. How goes the Democratic coalition for
the president of the United States? It`s a bit in tattered shape
occasionally, but it`s still there. Look at the numbers; 87 percent of
Democrats support Obama. It`s there.
RYAN: Well, you have got that. But you also have to remember, when
Obama leaves, you are going to have -- you have a lot of African-Americans
who came to the table for Obama.
MATTHEWS: Will they vote for Hillary Clinton? Will they show up?
RYAN: That`s the question. That`s the question.
You had John Kerry receive around 88 percent, Al Gore 92. We have to
see what happens, the lay of the land, if she can energize the African-
American vote. Saying the things that she said in South Carolina...
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not the percentage of the vote. It`s the
percentage that shows up, right?
RYAN: Right. Well, yes, voter apathy -- yes, voter apathy in the
African-American community is at its height in many cases, especially when
Obama is not on the ticket. But she has to come out and energize...
Let me ask about the torch. It looks to me like the president has --
resigned is probably a tougher word than you might like. He seems to be
committed to the fact that Hillary Clinton will be his successor.
GIBBS: I think the president -- and not something I have talked to
him about. But my guess is, he sees her as far and away the most likely
And I do believe he understands that having a Democrat in the White
House for four more years means keeping whole some of the things he was
able to do in eight years.
GIBBS: I will say, as it relates to this South Carolina set of
primaries, I don`t think there is anything that would preclude African-
Americans from supporting Hillary Clinton. They have always had a strong
record with African-Americans.
GIBBS: Bill Clinton was referred to as the first African-American
president before Barack Obama was the first African-American president.
RYAN: And John Kerry even wanted to resemble that. In page 82 of my
book, he said something about he wanted to be the second black president.
And Jim Clyburn said, Barack Obama is the first black president in his
GIBBS: I think there is no doubt that everybody, every constituency
is going to want to see them come down and earn it. There is no doubt
about that. I think, though, they are -- the Clintons are very well
positioned to put as much of that coalition back together as possible and
be very, very successful.
MATTHEWS: Remember, Clinton only got 43 percent the first time in
`92, 43 percent of the vote. And he did it by going not for the African-
Americans and the regular Democrats, but he also leaned over. I can`t
believe the number of police academies I went to covering him in that
campaign, executing that guy. Remember that guy with the mental problems?
He sent a lot of -- work hard and play by the rules. He sent a lot of
conservative messages, along with having the black vote. So he managed to
fuse that together really brilliantly.
Anyway, thank you so much, Robert Gibbs. Thank you.
Of course, by the way, here is the book, April Ryan. I`m her chief
RYAN: Yes, you are.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
Up next: "The Washington Post" reporter on trial in Iran. His trial
started this weekend in total secrecy. And his brother is coming here
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For nine months, Jason
has been imprisoned in Tehran for nothing more than writing about the hopes
and the fears of the Iranian people, carrying their stories to the readers
of "The Washington Post" in an effort to bridge our common humanity.
As was already mentioned, Jason`s brother Ali is here tonight. And I
have told him personally we will not rest until we bring him home to his
family safe and sound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
That was President Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner
calling for the release of journalist Jason Rezaian, one of four Americans
being held captive in Iran right now.
Rezaian, who was born in America, but also has Iranian citizenship,
was working as bureau chief of "The Washington Post" in Tehran last July
when he was arrested and later charged with spying for the United States.
He spent the last 10 months in Iran`s infamous Evin prison, where American
diplomats were held during the Iranian hostage crisis 36 years ago.
Well, yesterday, Rezaian was put on trial in a closed-door session of
Iran`s -- of Tehran`s Revolutionary Court, and the judge is known to hand
down harsh penalties there. A state-run news agency reported yesterday
that he maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
Anyway, the State Department has called the charges absurd and has
called for Rezaian`s release. An article in "The New York Times" suggests
today that his imprisonment might be more about leverage than about
justice. Quote: "If history is a guide, his fate may be tied to Iranian
political tensions and calculations in the estranged relations between Iran
and the United States that may have nothing to do with the accusations,
according to political experts, relatives of prisoners and former
I`m joined right now by Ali Rezaian, the brother of Jason Rezaian.
What do you think it`s about? Do you think it`s politics, something
to do the nuclear deal, something to do with geopolitics?
ALI REZAIAN, BROTHER OF JASON REZAIAN: You know, I think it`s changed
over time. We don`t really know why they took him.
He never did anything that they spoke to and said, this is what he did
up front. They picked him up in the middle of the night, took him away,
interrogated him for five months and then they came back and said we`re
going to charge him with these things that they have basically pulled out
of his e-mail.
MATTHEWS: And his e-mail was something about some letter to the
president of the United States that was some form e-mail thing, right?
REZAIAN: Yes. Call it a job request. He was saying, I live in Iran.
I love Iran. I`m from California. I love the United States. I want us to
have better relations. Let me come and help you guys understand the
relationship between Iran and the United States better.
MATTHEWS: And your brother wasn`t some antagonist. He wasn`t -- he
was trying to calm things down, it sounds like.
REZAIAN: Well, Jason loved Iran. He loves the U.S.
What he was over there trying to do was give a better impression of
the people of Iran, let people know what it was like over there outside of
the country. He loved telling stories. He loved letting people know about
that. He wasn`t throwing hand grenades.
MATTHEWS: To the people of Iran -- by the way, the Iranians you meet
in this country, Iranian-Americans, businesspeople, they`re all
unbelievably great Americans. And your family became American.
And the only reason you have dual citizenship is because the
government of Iran insists on giving it to you, right?
My dad came here in 1959. OK? So, he decided to live here, he chose
to live here. And because he was born in Iran, they consider us Iranians
as well. And they don`t recognize our American citizenship.
MATTHEWS: What is -- do the people of Iran over there and who read
the paper know this is going on, that an American is being held on these
REZAIAN: You know, they have done a really good job of not getting
information out. They have held the information very closely. They
haven`t put a lot out in the papers. And when they have, it`s been
fiction. It`s been calculated at specific times. And...
MATTHEWS: What is this intel that they believe, that they claim your
brother gave to the United States? What is the nature of the intel they
say he gave to us?
REZAIAN: Jason didn`t have access to any information. They never
even claimed that he had access to any secret information. The information
that he had that he published was things that had been published before.
REZAIAN: He`s a reporter. That`s what he does.
They said he was reporting on the domestic policies and the
international policies of Iran. That`s what he was doing.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, good luck.
REZAIAN: Thanks for your help.
MATTHEWS: And I mean that deeply. I`m wearing the button for Jason
MATTHEWS: And it`s just an outrage. And I used to think, don`t get
this involved in the nuclear thing. And we might as well get this
resolved, because if they`re going to treat people like this, they`re not
to be trusted on any deal. Any deal.
Thank you, Ali.
REZAIAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ali Rezaian, for coming here for your brother.
What better cause could you have?
Up next: Attorney General Loretta Lynch takes on the biggest sport in
the world, at least the organization behind it, with a stunning arrest and
corruption charges today against the top officials of soccer`s governing
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
The death toll from the weekend floods in Texas and Oklahoma has risen
to 23. Another 10 remain missing in Texas. More severe weather is
expected later this week.
And the CDC is investigating the accidental shipment of live anthrax
bacteria from a Department of Defense lab to facilities in nine states.
The samples were shipped commercially via FedEx. Four people are
reportedly taking medication as a precaution, though officials say there is
no risk to the general public -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: These individuals through these
organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where
the games would be held, and who would run the organization overseeing
organized soccer worldwide.
RICHARD WEBER, IRS CHIEF OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS: This really is
the World Cup of fraud. And, today, we`re issuing FIFA a red card.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
This morning, Swiss authorities raided a Zurich luxury hotel and
arrested seven officials at the top of the world`s most powerful sports
organization, FIFA, the agency which runs the World Cup. Authorities
shielded the defendants with bed sheets as they were loaded on to police
vehicles. One of the executive`s wives was reportedly crying in the hotel
lobby during the raid.
Well, the arrests were part of a bombshell 47-count criminal
indictment unsealed today by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI
Director James Comey and IRS investigations chief Richard Weber in a
massive case that has rocked the world`s most popular sport.
Well, the scale and scope of this case is enormous. It alleges a 25-
year scheme of bribes, kickbacks, racketeering, fraud, and money laundering
involving that sport`s governing bodies, marketing executives and financial
intermediaries. Fourteen people have been charged. Six additional guilty
convictions have been unsealed.
On top of all that, Swiss authorities announced they were
investigating possible criminal wrongdoing involving Russia`s winning bid
to host the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar`s bid to host it in 2022. The
United States, by the way, competed in that 2022 bid, but lost.
Matt Apuzzo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with "The New York
Times" who helped break this story today.
Matt, was the United States sort of outbid or screwed out of a bid for
hosting the World Cup? Is that part of the info here?
MATT APUZZO, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I mean, the allegations
surrounding the 2018 and the 2022 bids for the World Cup have been swirling
As you just said, I mean, it was no secret that -- that those were
controversial bids. In fact, when word came that the Justice Department
was investigating corruption in FIFA, I think a lot of people just assumed,
well, they have got to be talking about the `18 and `22 bids.
But what came out here today was, it was much broader. I mean, they
said listen, it`s not just about one or two bids. It`s a systemic problem
of who gets marketing money, who gets media money, who gets to -- where the
game is going to be played, every aspect.
If you want to tap into the river of money and prestige of FIFA, you
got to pay.
MATTHEWS: Are these kickbacks? Did these people working in FIFA take
the money home? They don`t disclose it as taxable money, they just put in
their pocket and hide it somewhere? Is that what was alleged here?
APUZZO: Yes. I mean, the Justice Department, it`s funny. They`re
using laws and they`re using language that makes it sound more like a mafia
family or a Mexican drug cartel.
You know, sometimes, it`s crude stuff where it`s literally just hey,
I`m going send my guy over to a hotel and he wants -- you know, fill his
briefcase up with stacks of $100 bills. And sometimes it`s these really
complicated financial instruments to move money in a furtive way. It was a
remarkable in-depth indictment.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Matt Apuzzo. What a story. People are
going to be really caring about this one.
For more, we`re joined by tonight`s roundtable: Roger Simon, columnist
for "Politico", Jackie Kucinich, senior political editor at "The Daily
Beast", and Jonathan Allen is "Vox`s" chief political correspondent.
Jackie, I don`t think this involves cheating in games, throwing
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: FIFA soccer, there has always been
this air of just sketchiness. You saw with the Russia bid, it was sketchy.
Now, the Qatar bid, when they won, it was scandalous, because you can`t
even play soccer in Qatar at that time of year.
MATTHEWS: A hundred twenty degrees Fahrenheit.
KUCINICH: It`s too hot. Not to mention all the human rights abuses
that are currently going on and were going on.
MATTHEWS: So money went into the pockets of these people in
Switzerland basically where they`re centered, right?
KUCINICH: Right. I mean, yes, they`re Swiss bank accounts. This is
just -- this is a huge scandal. I think the fact that there was a FIFA
scandal, everyone was like that makes sense -- but the depth of it.
MATTHEWS: Will this make soccer more interesting to Americans?
KUCINICH: I think it will be slow and it will be fast.
MATTHEWS: Corrupt like wrestling or something? That was a little
interest in it, because I think the way to save soccer in this country and
make it really exciting, give people seven points for a score. So then the
score would be 14-7. Now that sounds American, you know, 21-14. Now,
there is a score. You know, like 2-1, what`s that?
MATTHEWS: Would you watch? I think so.
Anyway, what do you think is going on? Because I`ve watched --
JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX: Extradited from Switzerland? Nazis didn`t get
extradited from Switzerland. The folks who are hiding money in Switzerland
don`t get extradited. What do you have to do to get extradited from
MATTHEWS: But haven`t we grown up with the smell of some of these
international competitions where it looks like the French or somebody has
been paid off and these weird calls over the years. This doesn`t grab you
as a big surprise.
ALLEN: It`s hard to watch soccer and think everything is on the up
and up just from the flops, I mean, that you see on the field.
MATTHEWS: Qatar has money. And maybe not charm, but it`s got a lot
of money. And it`s easy for them to write another check.
ALLEN: Absolutely. Look, I don`t know if the Justice Department is
going to be able to prove this case or not, but I don`t think anybody --
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t Eric Holder grab this before he left? This is
good stuff for -- I mean, if you want to get points with the American
public, be a tough gang buster. Go after the bad guys. Go after foreign
bad guys. Go after Middle Eastern bad guys, Swiss bad guys.
This would have made hold area popular guy. Now, Loretta -- it`s a
bouquet he gave her. She comes in and she gets a great case to break.
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Every day he waited
was the risk of another black guy getting shot by a white policeman. I
think he wanted to get out, to tell you the truth.
SIMON: The thing about this, as Apuzzo was saying, some of the
charges are so basic. One of the charges, my favorite is bulk cash
smuggling. This isn`t, you know, wire transfers. This is a guy with two
MATTHEWS: Spiro Agnew was just a big manila envelope.
SIMON: Yes. Why would you bother for only a couple of million doing
the financial transfer? Just send a guy with a couple of shopping bags and
MATTHEWS: So, these people just stole the money?
SIMON: It stuck to some hands, yes.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, closer to home, Rick Santorum is in, but he is far from
alone. The fight for the evangelical right is red hot. We`ll get to that.
The Republican Party is getting pushed around by the bible people.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, as the U.S. Congress considers that 12-country trade
deal with Asia, Americans say free trade is good for the country.
According to a new Pew poll, 58 percent say free trade agreements have
been a good thing for the United States. Only 33 percent say they have
been a bad thing. It`s worth noting that there aren`t significant partisan
differences when it comes to free trade. Sixty-two percent of
independents, 58 percent of Democrats, 53 percent of Republicans all say
free trade has been good for America.
We`ll be right back after this.
(BGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We are the water`s edge of the
argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech. If you do not
support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater. The
next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the
catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was Marco Rubio in an interview with a Christian
broadcaster saying he is worried some Christians will be called names for
opposing gay marriage. And just a month ago, Rubio said he`d attend a gay
But as the clock ticks down to Iowa caucuses, Rubio is racing to win
the vote of GOP evangelicals and get some early momentum. And now, former
Senator Rick Santorum has become the seventh candidate to declare his
candidacy for 2016. He did it today.
Here he is announcing in Cabot, Pennsylvania, earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud to stand here
among you and for you, the American workers who have sacrificed so much to
announce that I am running for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable: Roger, Jackie and Jonathan.
And let me start with Roger. It used to be only one guy was the
evangelical candidate. Now, we got seven in the race this time, all bible-
thumping, if you will, politically, which I don`t like, but there they are.
SIMON: It`s where the party`s gone. The strange thing is, though,
it`s all based on the assumption that Christianity is so fragile that it
can`t stand something like same sex marriages. I mean, I think
Christianity is doing pretty good for a religion that`s only a little over
2,000 years old. When did it get suddenly to the water`s edge?
MATTHEWS: I don`t know. I mean, somebody is talking about it being a
victim of hate speech, because I don`t know it`s all the politician has to
do, say, you know, call me old fashioned, but I`m different sex marriage,
I`m for traditional marriage. Nobody`s going to hate the person, that`s
just my opinion. Nobody`s going to go after you, Jonathan, and kill you
ALLEN: Yes, but he`s --
MATTHEWS: That`s your personal opinion.
ALLEN: He`s throwing out this victim card here, and it`s one that
resonates with the base. But he`s got to be real careful, because I think
the more he throws it out there and suggests that people who don`t agree
with same sex marriage are somehow being persecuted in this country, the
more he`s going to turn off the middle, and the further he inches toward
that base, the harder it`s going to be for him to snap back, if he is in
fact at some point the general election nominee.
KUCINICH: Well, and it`s the same candidate --
MATTHEWS: Here`s the biggest "if" I`ve heard.
ALLEN: It`s a huge "if".
KUCINICH: Well, it`s the same candidate who`s trying to be the young
guy, the guy who`s -- Marco Rubio. He`s the guy who said he would go -- he
would attend a gay wedding. So, I think this is --
MATTHEWS: Until the dancing starts.
KUCINICH: Right. Well --
MATTHEWS: Who`s the guy who said, I go to the rehearsal dinner, I go
to the service, but I won`t go to the reception, or I`ll go to the
reception but not the rehearsal dinner. They`re really carving this baby
up. This is --
ALLEN: I`ll use this fork, but not that fork?
KUCINICH: I have nothing to add.
MATTHEWS: OK. Rubio is consistently polling well in the large field
of GOP candidates in the April poll of just Republican leaning votes, Rubio
came in in the top five with 9 percent support. So, he`s up there.
Rubio`s up there.
I think right now, there seems to be certain conditions, you have to
be hawkish. The only exception is Rand Paul. And you certainly have to be
very right wing on social issues, meaning the social issues. But at some
point, someone`s going to break the line saying, I can live with gay
marriage, the courts are fine with it. I`m not going to spend the rest of
my life beating that drum.
Who`s going to do that first?
SIMON: Two weeks ago on NPR, Rubio said that if a state approved gay
marriage it became the law of the land in that state. Well, how do they
get from there to it being a hate crime? I mean, he`s the guy who said, if
Minnesota wants to do it, let Minnesota do it.
MATTHEWS: This is going to be embarrassing all the way to Iowa.
ALLEN: The reason this is so dangerous for Rubio I think is, he`s
done a really good job in the Senate of carving himself out, a reputation
of being pretty serious, he`s done it on national security. Particularly
for a young guy, he`s got to show that he`s got the chops, and I think he`s
done that, but you see the immigration bill where he pulled off of that,
you see him pulling back --
MATTHEWS: That`s another issue, you have to be hard ass, completely
against illegal immigration. Nobody gets to stay here. Nobody gets to
stay here, nobody gets to be a citizen. It`s so hard line. It`s
I mean, they don`t even say, look, if you`re here 10 years, we`ll let
you stay. Yes. Or you`ve been here 15 years, you haven`t broken a law,
we`ll let you become a citizen, there`s no give at all. If you`re here
illegally, you`ve got to go away, and take your kids with you.
SIMON: That`s where they don`t break ranks.
MATTHEWS: Really? When?
SIMON: They`ll read the demographics. They`ll head to Nevada.
MATTHEWS: Fifteen percent of the electorate is now Hispanic base.
SIMON: And they`ll say, here`s a way for me to get some votes.
ALLEN: But winning -- the problem is that winning the Republican
primary is completely about white male base. Some white female. But,
like, if you look at the percentage of African-Americans and Latinos voting
in the Republican primaries, it`s so miniscule that what you have to do at
this point to win Republican white males?
KUCINICH: And they don`t want another Mitt Romney.
MATTHEWS: And the gerrymandering, too. Gerrymandering. There`s very
few in the Hispanic-dominated, or even significant Hispanic population most
Anyway, the 2016 GOP field is crowded with candidates with plenty of
appeal for evangelical voters. Rick Santorum was down at the bottom of a
recent poll of Christians voters getting only 2 percent, coming in behind,
now this hurts, Chris Christie. So, I don`t think of Chris Christie as an
evangelical. He isn`t. He`s Roman Catholic. But he`s so East Coast, I
don`t think it`s a good sign when you come in behind him.
KUCINICH: Yes, Chris Christie has a little mountain to climb that he
didn`t have before. You have to wonder if he should have run last time.
MATTHEWS: We`ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Thank you, Roger Simon, Jackie Kucinich, and Jonathan Allen.
When we return, let me finish with a salute to the country`s number
one Republican whistle-blower, that`s Rand Paul.
You`re watching HARDBALL -- the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I`d like to salute the
country`s number one Republican whistle-blower, Rand Paul.
You see, you don`t have to agree with libertarianism to see the guts
that it takes. It means smashing through all the obligations, the right or
the left, applies to government and saying, guess what, I`d rather not.
I`d rather have no government than what you`re offering here.
And so, it`s not surprising that the country`s lone libertarian
presidential candidate is the one Republican with the courage to call out
his party for the disastrous route this government has taken since the
weeks after 9/11, when Dick Cheney and the neocons found a route to Iraq, a
route to the draftee mind of a president, a complicit mainstream media, and
a public dog trained to believe whatever a president says about national
Just tell me if you ever heard the phrase that sold us into that Iraq
war, by the way -- WMD, homeland, regime change. The vocabulary of war,
the strange foreign phrase is meant to incur in us some deep need to
attack, and to hate any country that saw the nuttiness in it. Remember
freedom fries? We weren`t even supposed to say French fries, because that
country thought the war talk stupid.
And here we are a dozen years later, and still, even now, the
Republican Party has one lone candidate who stands out there being
truthful. Rand Paul is like the skinny, quiet uncool kid who doesn`t get
picked for the intramural squad because he dares to think for himself.
Well, the Republicans like Bobby Jindal can mock Paul. I think he
deserves credit for his guts. His father got whacked by Rudy Giuliani for
daring to challenge the stupid hard Iraq war. Let`s see if the Republican
peanut gallery roars as loud when some dimwit goes after Senator Paul this
time. The war was bad.
If the Republicans want the White House, the first thing they have to
do is confess the horrible decision they had the last time they had it.
Hillary Clinton called her support for the war a mistake. I dearly
hope she means it.
Except for Rand Paul, the Republicans haven`t gotten that far.
Rand Paul will be here, by the way, on Friday to play HARDBALL.
And that`s HARDBALL for us, for now. Thanks for being with us all.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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