Date: May 29, 2015
Guest: Sen. Rand Paul, Jonathan Capehart, Matt Schlapp, John Stanton
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The gospel according to Paul.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Charlotte, North Carolina.
If you hated the war with Iraq, if you believe we`ve been led into too
many Mideast wars, too many so-called regime changes, Senator Rand Paul is,
as far as Republican candidates for president go, the only game in town.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a good chunk
of the Republican Party who thinks that we should think before we act, that
war is not always the answer, that war may be the last resort, not the
first resort, that we have to defend ourselves, we have to have a strong
national defense, but that sometimes, we`ve gotten -- we`ve intervened in
the Middle East, and sometimes we`ve had unintended consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Nor does he stop with that. In the upcoming interview, he
suggests that Hillary Clinton is more of a hawk than he is.
And I`ll say this for him, he`s also unique on another Republican
bugaboo, evolution. Unlike presidential wannabes like Mike Huckabee, he
says that the latest scientific evidence of human life on earth going back
millions of year is fully harmonious with his religious beliefs.
Well, earlier today, I sat down with the senator, Senator Paul, who
has a new book out, "Taking a Stand," it`s called. He was campaigning in
Rock Hill, South Carolina.
MATTHEWS: Senator, thank you for this. In your book, "Taking a
Stand," you give a very particular prescription for how we deal with the
fight against ISIS -- protect our embassies, our consulates and then leave
the fighting to the Arab states in the region.
What happens if that doesn`t work and they end up building a caliphate
that seems to last?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think that`s
exactly what I said. I don`t say we leave it to them. I`m more than
willing being a part of the fight. I think providing air support is
reasonable, providing armaments to those who are willing and able to fight.
So I would provide armaments to the Kurds, as well.
In fact, I`d go one step further. I`d promise them a homeland and a
state. But I would do it in conjunction with talks with Turkey. It would
have to be a three-way discussion, Kurds homeland, but I`d like to get the
Turks involved, as well.
I`d really like to see, and I think the ultimate answer is going to
have to be Sunnis that are civilized Sunnis, civilized Islam rooting out
this aberration because you`re never -- in Mosul, they`re never going to
tolerate a Shi`ite garrison.
PAUL: They`re also never going to tolerate an American garrison,
either. We could win the war with our power, by going in with half a
million troops again, but at what cost? And really, the question, is if
the people who live there are not willing to fight for it, is there an
ultimate victory that we can give them?
MATTHEWS: If the choice comes down to us going in big-time with
ground troops and winning the war ourselves and leaving the Caliphate,
what`s your choice (INAUDIBLE)
PAUL: I think what we have to do is...
MATTHEWS: If that comes to that.
PAUL: I think what we have to make a decision is, is when are
American interests involved and what does that mean? And sometimes we get
too glibly (ph) there. We say there`s an American interest. That`s the
conclusion. To me, the beginning of the debate is, What is an American
interest? And does it change as circumstances change?
I think that we had an American interest in Benghazi. It`s one of the
things I`ve faulted Hillary Clinton over. I don`t think she did enough to
defend our consulate there. And I think there`s an analogy in that there`s
a consulate in Irbil and in Kurdistan. There`s also a large embassy in
Baghdad. Those are American interests. If we are going to stay in the
region, we`re going to have diplomatic outposts there, we have to defend
The debate, though, should be in Congress, not just in the executive
branch. War was very clearly that power -- the initiation of war was given
to Congress, not to the president. So I`ve been asking and asking, and I
introduced, actually, a declaration of war against ISIS. So it`s not that
I want to do nothing. I want to do it constitutionally, and I really want
to do it in a way that will be a lasting victory, and I think that would
include Arab boots on the ground.
MATTHEWS: You know, we lost four people, good people over in Benghazi
because somebody left the door open, you could say, and yet we lost 3,000
Americans in 2001, and the Democrats haven`t been hitting that issue ever
Doesn`t bad -- don`t bad things happen? Why does the Republican Party
keep banging on the door of Benghazi politically, when the Democrats really
said, You know, we got hit, even though we got warned we were going to --
bin Laden was going to attack the United States back in 2001. He did. We
lost 3,000 people.
But you don`t heart the Democrats spending the last 14 years talking
about it, do you?
PAUL: Well, I think there`s an important question...
MATTHEWS: What`s the difference?
PAUL: Well, I think there`s an important question. I think there`s
an important analogy, really, between Hussein and toppling Gadhafi. And I
think if there`s one true thing that we know from the Middle East is every
time we`ve toppled a secular dictator, whether it was Hussein or Gadhafi,
we have gotten chaos. We`ve gotten more of the rise of radical Islam.
And I believe we`re more at risk in Libya, not just the Benghazi
thing, but because of Gadhafi being toppled and it being a chaotic, failed
state. I think we`re more at risk for attacks from Libya.
But I`m pretty ecumenical with the blame on this thing. I`m more than
willing to say toppling that Hussein made Iraq, really, essentially, and
for all purposes right now a failed state. And we are more at risk for
attacks from ISIS or others because of Iraq being a failed state.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you -- your book is pretty clear. You say some
people are too eager to go to war. And I`ve watched you over the years,
and I think you`re very consistent on that. It`s almost like (INAUDIBLE)
reading in the party, people like Bill Kristol, or saying you ought to be
Bernie Sanders, a liberal Democrat. Are they going to get -- suppose they
-- suppose they`re right?
PAUL: Well, here`s the interesting thing...
MATTHEWS: Are they right that you`re the only, really, person who`s
not a hawk in your party...
PAUL: Here`s the interesting thing. Some of these pundits, who know
nothing but glory for war, they live inside the Beltway and have not yet
been to America. So I invite them to come to Iowa. I invite them to come
to New Hampshire. I invite them to come to South Carolina.
There was a poll in Iowa a couple of months ago, and it said, Do you
believe in more intervention, more foreign intervention like John McCain,
or less intervention like Rand Paul? It was almost evenly split.
There`s a good chunk of the Republican Party who thinks that we should
think before we act, that war is not always the answer, that war may be the
last resort, not the first resort, that we have to defend ourselves, we
have to have a strong national defense, but that sometimes we`ve gotten --
we`ve intervened in the Middle East, and sometimes we`ve had unintended
And I don`t know how you can be an honest intellectual person to take
an approach in the Middle East and not believe that we`ve gotten some
things we really didn`t intend to happen.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think -- I think the polling shows that you`re
right. I mean, you`re beating Hillary Clinton in a fairly recent poll in
Pennsylvania head to head. You`re certainly doing best head to head with
And yet everybody else in your party is trying to be a hawk, and
you`re the only one that says, No, I don`t think the American Republican
voter, the regular Republican, not a neocon, not somebody who reads "The
Weekly Standard," but a regular Republican voter is tired of these wars,
PAUL: Yes, I think people...
MATTHEWS: Well, why does Bill Kristol have all this influence?
PAUL: He hasn`t traveled outside the Beltway enough. You know, once
he gets outside into the rest of America, where we live, in Kentucky, or
those who live in middle part of America, or really anybody outside the
Beltway, there`s a disconnect between the Washington insiders and the rest
of us in both parties, frankly.
PAUL: Hillary Clinton is much more hawkish and more likely to get us
involved in another war than most of America, Republican or Democrat. You
see this little boomlet for other people out there...
PAUL: ... on the Democrat side. The people who aren`t so eager to
believe that Hillary Clinton was right taking us to war in Libya -- and so
I think you`ll find that as it gets out to the regular voters outside of
Washington, there`s a much more mixed and nuanced feeling about war.
MATTHEWS: On a scale of 1 to 10, a dove being 0, hawk being 10,
PAUL: You know, I`m not sure exactly.
MATTHEWS: Is she a 7?
PAUL: Yes, well, I think what she is, is I think she`s been
indiscriminate in the use of force and I think not thinking. There are
people on both sides that are rational, good thinkers. There`s Brent
Scowcroft. I`m not sure which side of the fence he`s on.
MATTHEWS: He`s a realist.
PAUL: There`s -- there`s Brzezinski, both realists, but maybe one a
little more Republican, one a little more Democrat, but both, you know,
thoughtful men who I think have a profound understanding of world events.
And then there are people who are knee-jerk reactionaries that really think
war is always the answer.
And I meet the young men who have lost their limbs, who have
sacrificed their lives. Not one of them is flippant about war. They`re
very serious about war, and I think we need more of that maybe in the White
House, but also more of that in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me be tough (ph). I`ll get to the next point,
your book. But is big money driving the Republican Party to the hawkish
side, these big godfathers of candidates who just come in there and say,
I`ll give you $200 million but talk the line?
PAUL: Big money drives both parties. Big money is...
MATTHEWS: To the right.
PAUL: Big money is in control of both parties. And I have one...
MATTHEWS: To the hawkish position.
PAUL: Well, yes, I mean, just big money in general for a variety of
But I have one proposal that I`ve been putting forward that I think
might work. Most of the campaign finance reform has been shot down as in
defiance of the 1st Amendment. There`s another way that you can go about
this that I don`t think would defy the 1st Amendment at all what. What I
would do is say that anybody who does business with government, I write
into their contract limitations on their influences of elections -- giving,
lobbying, you name it.
You could have anything because it would be voluntary. If you get a
billion-dollar contract from government, you`re going to provide something
for government, you should maybe not be allowed to lobby. Maybe you
shouldn`t be allowed to give at all. Maybe we should regulate your top 20
officers. But you could do it by making it part of the contract. They
would voluntarily accept these restrictions. They would not be mandates.
They would be voluntary contractual restrictions.
I think if we can get unified both Democrats saying they`d be willing
to restrict the unions and Republicans willing to restrict big contractors
that do business with government, I think you might get some of the special
interest money out of politics.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Dick Cheney and Halliburton would go along
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the -- you`ve been tough on the
Republican Party. You`re running as sort of an outlier because you say the
party sucks. There`s a nice millennial term!
PAUL: No, no, no, no. I said the brand sucks.
MATTHEWS: OK, the brand...
PAUL: There`s a difference...
MATTHEWS: What`s the difference between the brand and the image?
MATTHEWS: ... the brand and the reality?
PAUL: What I`m saying is there is hope for redemption, in the sense
that -- you remember Domino`s? They said, Our brand sucks.
PAUL: And they redid their crust and redid their presentation, and
Domino`s is doing fine.
MATTHEWS: That`s right. It`s in the book.
PAUL: Yes. And so the thing is...
MATTHEWS: What was wrong with the pizza crust?
PAUL: I`m not exactly sure. They...
MATTHEWS: Too much crust, I think it was.
PAUL: Well, I`m not sure what it was...
MATTHEWS: It was too much.
PAUL: ... but they listened. And so I was in the south side of
Chicago yesterday, campaigning in the south side of Chicago saying, I`ve
got something to offer for poverty. I`ve got something to offer for your
crummy schools. And I`ve got something to offer for the fact that both
Republicans and Democrats have taken a generation of young black men and
put them in jail. And I think it`s wrong and we`ve gone way too far.
And I think people are taking notice of me coming there, and I don`t
take the vote for granted. Not only do Republicans not go there typically,
Democrats don`t, either, and Democrats take all that vote for granted.
And you know what the biggest thing they talked to me about on the
south side of Chicago? They don`t like the machine. They don`t like --
They say money is directed towards helping us poor people, but it`s sucked
up by the machine in Chicago, and so the government unions soak it all up
and we still live in poverty here and nothing gets better.
MATTHEWS: Two of the top Republican leaders in Pennsylvania have
praised voter ID laws they`ve been trying to push through -- the courts
have been holding them up -- as ways of Republicans winning elections in
Pennsylvania. You`ve called that kind of pressure, push for voter ID laws,
dumb. Where are you on that? Do you think it`s voter suppression? I
think it is.
PAUL: I don`t think it`s voter suppression. I think the thing that
is the biggest limitation on voting in our country for African-Americans
and for many minorities is having a felony record. There`s two million
people can`t vote in our country because of felony record. Nothing else
comes anywhere even close.
I think our side has overstated fraud. I know -- I`ve seen how fraud
works in elections.
MATTHEWS: Where? Where have you seen it?
PAUL: Well, I`ve read about it. I don`t think I`ve actually seen
PAUL: Well, in my father`s elections for Congress, there were
elections where there was fraud committed, we believe, and we went to court
over it. But the fraud typically in elections, from my understanding,
isn`t people coming up, borrowing someone`s ID and falsely voting. It`s
when you leave a desk unattended, and only one party is sitting at a
precinct, and 3,000 votes are done by one person.
So it`s not really an ID thing. It`s a matter of both parties need to
be represented in every precinct in America. And I think there`s probably
less of it than there once was. I think there was...
MATTHEWS: That`s true.
PAUL: ... more in the `50s, `60s, `70s. So I don`t think fraud...
MATTHEWS: It`s very hard to find a Republican precinct worker in some
places in big cities. But I also wonder, would you like to push for voter
ID requirements or not? Yes or no. Where are you on that?
PAUL: Well, it`s complicated because I`ve made answers, then people
misinterpret, so I want to be clear how I answer the question. I`m not
against voter -- people showing their driver`s license. I show my driver`s
license. States have every right to make sure the elections are not
But where I am on the other side of it is, is I think from a political
perspective, it`s really dumb of us to make a big linchpin that we`re going
to go after, you know, making sure that you can`t vote early and the
drivers (ph) -- I think we`ve overemphasized an issue that really doesn`t
need to be so much emphasized.
MATTHEWS: You`re a tree hugger.
PAUL: Absolutely. I`ve been trying to grow a giant Sequoia in my
yard for 15 years, probably 15 different trees, and I`ve succeed in one
getting about 15 feet tall. But there`s some kind of blight out there.
It`s hard to grow a giant Sequoia outside of California. But I read about
one in northern Georgia growing 150 feet tall, and I said, I can do that.
But I haven`t succeeded yet.
MATTHEWS: This is the question that always gets me in trouble and the
reason I probably won`t moderate many Republican debates. I am
PAUL: I heard you`re on the short list. I heard you`re on the short
MATTHEWS: It`s a longer list than that! 3.5 million years ago --
this just blows me away, and I know you`re an intellectual anyways -- about
Lucy`s another relative out there, one of these prehistoric men, humanoids,
whatever they are.
What does that tell you about history? I mean, does it give you a
sense of the length of human experience on this planet, I mean, about
evolution and how long it`s taken? I`m blown away by it. And apparently,
the big animals were 16 million years. What do those things mean to you,
PAUL: One of my favorite depictions of evolution was a pizza place in
Atlanta, Fellini`s (ph), I think, and I think they showed, you know, the
different evolutionary stages of man, and then the last -- the final sort
of incarnations of man were like Elvis, Elton John -- so that`s (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Are you going to try to slip this question?
PAUL: No, I`m...
MATTHEWS: Where are you on evolution? Where are you on evolution?
PAUL: Obviously, we evolved.
MATTHEWS: And those millions of years are all part of our history.
PAUL: Well, billions. I mean, the planet`s about 4.5 billion years
MATTHEWS: Yes, but human life. It doesn`t offend your religious
beliefs to accept the fact there`s been human life for millions of years.
PAUL: No. I think that you can see God in a lot of different forms,
and I think that it`s really harder to argue the contrary, that there was
no God involved, sort of whether it`s a big bang or some kind of beginning,
that we came out of nothing. I think it`s harder for the human mind to
conceive of coming out of nothingness than it is...
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
PAUL: ... that there is something behind what we are.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you for your time.
PAUL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Again, Senator Paul`s book is called "Taking a Stand."
Coming up, reaction to my interview with Rand Paul. Actually, polls
shows he runs pretty strong against Hillary Clinton, but can a non-
interventionist win the nomination of a party full of war hawks. Let`s
talk about the odd man out here.
Plus, the headline criminal case against former House speaker Dennis
Hastert. NBC`s Pete Williams reports that Hastert was paying a man to
conceal a sexual relationship they had when the man was a student at the
high school where Hastert coached.
And an important battle important close to me -- close to me and
millions of other Americans, the fight to beat Alzheimer`s.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with Rand Paul`s unique attraction to
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got new polling on the 2016 presidential race, and
for that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to the new Quinnipiac, Hillary Clinton leads Rand Paul by 4
points in a general election matchup. It`s Clinton 46, Paul 42. Against
Marco Rubio, Clinton again has a 4-point lead, Clinton 45, Rubio 41.
Clinton leads former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee by 7, 47 to 40.
And against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, her lead grows to 8. It`s
Clinton 46, Walker down at 38. She tops New Jersey governor Chris Christie
by 9 points, 46 to 37.
And look at this. She`s running ahead of Jeb Bush by 10 points, 47 to
37. Finally, Clinton beats Ted Cruz by 11 points. It`s Clinton 48, Cruz
It all makes sense to me, and we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to the HARDBALL.
Presidential candidate Rand Paul took a shot at Democratic front-
runner Hillary Clinton in my interview with the senator from Kentucky
earlier today, warning that she`s more likely to take us to war than most
Democrats or Republicans. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Hillary Clinton is much more hawkish and much more likely to
get us involved in another war than most of America, Republican or
You see this little boomlet for other people out there on the Democrat
PAUL: They`re people who aren`t so eager to believe that Hillary
Clinton was right taking us to war in Libya, and so I think you`ll find
that as it gets out to the regular voters outside of Washington, there`s a
much more mixed and nuanced feeling about war.
MATTHEWS: On a scale of one to 10, dove being zero, hawk being 10,
PAUL: You know, I`m not sure exactly.
MATTHEWS: Would she be a seven?
PAUL: Yes, well, I think what she is, is I think she`s been
indiscriminate in use of force, and I think not thinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me right now for reaction to my interview with
Senator Paul is President Obama`s former chief strategist David Axelrod,
and former White House Political Director under George W. Bush Matt
I want to start with Matt Schlapp.
What did you make that have calibration? He wouldn`t give me a number
between one and 10 there when I suggested seven on Hillary Clinton on her
MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS:
MATTHEWS: But he was pretty tough on placing her, it seemed to me, to
his right when it came to his hawkish side, when it came to starting wars?
SCHLAPP: Look, when you look at your interview and his answer to that
question and what he`s doing on the Patriot Act, it seems like Rand Paul
sees this lane, and this lane you is look at the poll numbers you threw up
on the screen earlier, you know, Rand Paul sees a lane that he can appeal
to independents. He can appeal to young voters. He can basically appeal
to voters who are war-weary, and I think your interview with him showed
MATTHEWS: What do you think, David? I think he`s working the only
game in town. In other words, he`s making himself among 18 candidates...
DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: ... for the Republican nomination the only one who says,
you know what, we have been too warlike. We have going instinctively too
AXELROD: No, you`re absolutely right.
The name of the game when you have such a large field is market
segmentation. How do you differentiate yourself from the others? And this
-- obviously, these views are consistent with the ones he`s been
articulating over a long period of time. And I think that the name of the
game in Iowa, in New Hampshire is, how do you expand the base, your base of
support? How do you bring new people into the -- into the electorate?
And he`s this is his path to doing that. The question is, when the
field -- I think he can get somewhere down the field doing this. The
question is, when the field winnows down, are a majority of Republicans
willing to accept that point of view? And I think that`s a very iffy
MATTHEWS: Yes. Right now, he`s running pretty much even with
Secretary Clinton in Pennsylvania, which I think is a state that`s deer
hunter country. It likes guns. It likes to go out and shoot deer. It
doesn`t like stupid wars, anyway, because they are the ones that have to
Anyway, on the issue of evolution, I know they hate talking about this
on the Republican side, Matt. A plurality of Republicans do not believe
that human beings evolved over time, but instead existed in their present
forms since the beginning of time. That`s the belief of most Republicans,
according to a Pew poll released in January `14, not a million years ago,
MATTHEWS: Here`s Senator Paul on that subject today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It doesn`t offend your religious beliefs to accept the fact
there`s been human life for millions of years?
I think that you can see God in a lot of different forms. And I think
that it`s really harder to argue the contrary, that there was no God
involved, sort of whether it`s a Big Bang or some kind of beginning, that
we came out of nothing. I think it`s harder for the human mind to conceive
of coming out of nothingness than it is...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Matt, what will Huckle Chuckle, Mike Huckabee, do with that
I mean, Santorum is another one of these Flat Earthers when it comes
to evolution. I don`t know what -- it`s not our religion, certainly not
Roman Catholic religion to believe anything but evolution, which is
scientific fact. But for some reason, the Republican Party has candidates
who want to keep selling the old-time religion of literal interpretation of
the Bible, of Genesis, and that`s where they are. Why is that a political
issue with your party?
SCHLAPP: Well, because I think people keep asking them.
And I think it`s perfectly clear in America that we have a religious
zone and people can have their religious views. Look, the world just lost
Father Ted Hesburgh, the longtime president of Notre Dame, and he taught me
as a student and the rest of us that religion and faith are compatible.
SCHLAPP: That scientific fact comes from our understanding of
religion and faith, and I think...
MATTHEWS: That`s what I was taught, too.
SCHLAPP: The fact that, you know, God created us and created us as
human beings is perfectly consistent with the idea that also human beings
have improved or changed over time.
MATTHEWS: Why do so many in your part have a problem with science?
SCHLAPP: Because -- because a lot of people think the theory of
evolution means that I evolved from a tadpole. And that`s also wrong.
So let`s get the science right and let`s also get the science right in
the womb, where a lot of Democrats fail to look at the science.
David, it seems to me that part of this is the absurd belief by people
like Huckabee that there`s been somebody around the world salting the earth
with old phony bones. And they honestly believe that those million-year-
old bones like Lucy, 3.5 million years old, were put there by bad lefties
from the West Side of New York or something.
I don`t know where they get the idea, but they hate it when somebody
says there`s science involved in the history of humanity. And that`s why I
brought it up today, just to cause trouble, but because those people should
be outed, the people that think like that.
AXELROD: Yes, although those people will find a constituency in, for
example, the Iowa caucuses, where there`s a big social conservative -- over
time -- and, again, in a general election, you talk about the swing
constituencies in this country, Rand Paul`s position would be a comfort to
But if you`re going to be supportive of science, be supportive of
science all the way. You can`t be a tree hugger and deny that the planet
is warming and that human beings have something to do with it. That`s a
hump that Senator Paul hasn`t gotten over yet. So there are questions that
will arise over time.
He`s doing a good job of passing this first test and answering these
questions at first level, but, as you drill down, it`s going to become more
difficult for him.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s something we talked a lot about. Senator Paul
agreed that big money in politics is in control of both parties. I pushed
him to say -- he wouldn`t quite go there, but I said, is it pushing both
parties to the right on war policy? But here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is big money driving the Republican Party to the hawkish
These big -- these big godfathers of candidates who just come in there
and say, oh, I`ll give you $200 million, but talk the line.
PAUL: Big money drives both parties. Big money...
MATTHEWS: To the right?
PAUL: Big money`s in control of both parties. And I have one...
MATTHEWS: To the hawkish position?
PAUL: Well, yes, I mean, just big money in general, for a variety of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about that, Matt, again.
And it`s a tricky question, but we have well-known billionaires out
there, you know, like Sheldon Adelson and this guy Braman behind Rubio, who
openly have hard-right, hawkish positions on the Middle East, very hard-
right. And they have these candidates. It`s almost like they`re little
devotees. It`s getting pretty blunt.
Money is pushing us to the right, I think. What do you think?
SCHLAPP: Well, my criticism of my party and many of its candidates is
we`re not doing a very good job of kind of being respectful in this
conversation with the big donors. It`s done in such a kind of gaudy and
But we also have our big donors on the right who are more libertarian.
So I`m not sure it`s all coming from the one side.
MATTHEWS: Why are they all hawks? But they`re all hawks.
SCHLAPP: Well, I don`t think that`s right. I think there`s plenty of
MATTHEWS: Name one. Name me a dove with billions of dollars in
SCHLAPP: Peter Thiel, the Koch brothers. There are plenty of people
that have a different view on...
MATTHEWS: Koch brothers? Oh.
SCHLAPP: But let me just finish one thing.
MATTHEWS: The Koch brothers are doves. OK. I didn`t hear that
SCHLAPP: My party is a party that is trying to find its way back on
these sets of issues.
Ronald Reagan said peace through strength, and they are looking at
what they got in the latter years of the Bush administration, and they are
rethinking. So I think your interview with Rand Paul really shows that
this is a conversation the Republican Party is currently having.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Ronald Reagan would have taken us into Iraq?
SCHLAPP: Are you asking me that?
MATTHEWS: Yes, Matt.
SCHLAPP: Yes, I don`t. I actually don`t.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. We agree on that. You learn something at Notre
Dame. I think that`s so proving of that point.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to my friend David.
What do you make -- these are all sad cases and anybody who gets a
kick out of this has got a problem. I`m just saddened by this story of
Denny Hastert. I don`t know all the facts, but what we`re hearing now
looks like a case, if he did something when he was a coach and he tried to
cover it up. That`s what it looks like. And there may have been blackmail
involved. We don`t know, but the details of this charge against him is
AXELROD: No, this is a terribly, terribly sad story. It`s -- it`s
sad for everyone involved and it`s shocking to those of us who knew him.
I ran, Chris, the first race against him, the first Democratic race
against him when he ran for Congress as a state senator, and it was a hard-
fought race on issues. There was -- but there was never any doubt about
his character or about any of this stuff.
AXELROD: So I think for everyone who knows him, this came out of the
And let me add that for someone from Illinois, the thought of a
scandal where the politician was actually paying out the cash, instead of
receiving it, that`s a whole new thing out here.
MATTHEWS: You have got a hell of a queue of governors that all went
into the big house.
Anyway, thank you very much for your honesty as always, David Axelrod.
Matt, it`s great to having on the show. I almost went to Notre Dame.
I got a better offer from Holy Cross.
SCHLAPP: Oh, come now. Win one for the Gipper.
MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, thank you. Well, we had our stars too.
Up next, more on those shocking new developments in the criminal case
against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. NBC News is reporting Hastert
was paying a man to conceal a sexual relationship they had when the man was
a student at the high school where Hastert coached wrestling.
And that`s ahead. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, there are new developments today in this story that`s blaring
right through Washington. Former Republican House speaker Dennis Hastert
of Illinois was indicted yesterday on federal charges of lying to the FBI
and evading currency reporting requirements. Court documents say that
Hastert allegedly paid out $1.7 million cash in apparent hush money to a
person referred to only as Individual A.
It was part of a larger payout of $3.5 million rMDNM_to Individual A
intended to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct that occurred
Well, a federal law enforcement official has now confirmed that
Individual A is a male and that the incident in question involves sexual
misconduct during Hastert`s time as a high school teacher and wrestling
coach. NBC News also confirmed that the man who was Individual A was a
student at the time.
I`m joined right now by NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Pete, is that as far as we have gotten right now, that it was a
student, it was a male, something to do with sexual misconduct? What do we
know more, anything more?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that`s the
essence of my reporting, Chris. There are a couple of other aspects here.
One is some officials have described this as -- quote -- "sexual
abuse." The people I have talked to have not described it that way, but
that may be semantics if the person was a student. We don`t know whether
the student was underage under Illinois law, or whether it was just because
of the teacher-student relationship.
And, of course, the second thing about this is, no matter what
happened, it -- Denny Hastert cannot be charged with this now. He can`t be
charged with whatever conduct that was now, for a whole bunch of reasons.
All the time that has passed would make it very hard to bring a case, and,
secondly, the statute of limitations would have long since expired.
So we have, I think, now a greater understanding of why this case is
shaped the way it is, with the currency violations and the lying to the FBI
charge. So it sort of gets around it, but it doesn`t deal with it
MATTHEWS: Do we know where this story was sourced, how it got out,
how the whole thing began? And Individual A was getting the money, it
would seem to me that that person would want to continue to get the money.
They wouldn`t want to blow the case. So, do we know how this got out?
WILLIAMS: Yes, the implication in the government documents is that it
was the banks that became suspicious. They have to report any transactions
The first 15 withdrawals from his banks, the government says, were
$50,000, and according to the court documents, the bank started asking him
about that, at which point he cut the size of his withdrawals down to
$10,000. And so the bank thought, well, you know, maybe he`s trying to
cover up something suspicious.
The FBI came in. And that`s how they got on to the case.
MATTHEWS: Pete Williams, thanks so much for the reporting tonight
from NBC News.
Let`s bring in the roundtable for us tonight. John Stanton is with
BuzzFeed. He broke this story yesterday, as well as Susan Milligan, who is
on all the time, political report with "U.S. News & World Report," and
Jonathan Capehart of "The Washington Post."
So, John Stanton, I guess congratulations are in order, but it`s not
so much my human feeling for Denny Hastert. I don`t know the man, but I do
have a feeling about the reputation of our public officials. This isn`t
just bad for Illinois, which has had a bad history, as David Axelrod
pointed, of corrupt officials. This is about a man in this case, a man who
has been given great respect as a public official for many years and seen
as one of the rare clean-cut guys in the business, with no problems of
ethics, and here we go.
JOHN STANTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, BUZZFEED: Yes.
You know, well, it`s actually even -- for the House of Representatives
in particular, it`s really sort of terrible, because under his watch as
speaker, they had, you know, scandal after scandal involving impropriety
with earmarks, with potential sexual misconduct by members. And -- but he
was always sort of seen as this figure that, while it was going on, on his
watch, he was never directly involved in any of this.
And for this to come out, it really sort of brings back that sort of
stark problem that Congress had for, you know, 10 years or so.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan Capehart, you study Washington and the Congress.
How does this fit? Did anybody ever have a whisper about this guy having
had a past problem or anything that he was covering, covering up?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No, I mean, the reputation
of former Speaker Hastert was that he was squeaky-clean, almost boring
compared to his predecessors.
CAPEHART: And that was a good thing in the House, you know, someone
kind of boring, but someone with a steady hand who could keep the place
And that`s why I think this took everyone by surprise because this was
the -- Hastert is the last person you would equate with any kind of scandal
and most certainly this kind of scandal.
MATTHEWS: Susan, you know, his reputation as a former wrestling coach
was part of his charm, because it was, here`s a small-town guy who looked
out for kids.
SUSAN MILLIGAN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Yes.
MATTHEWS: He was a good -- everybody likes high school teachers.
MATTHEWS: It`s a great brand, and you wonder if maybe that`s why he
was so sensitive and paid a zillion dollars to keep this story out of the
newspapers. I don`t know. Makes sense.
MILLIGAN: Well, of course, you would want to keep the story out of
the newspapers anyway.
And I think a lot of us when the indictment first came out last night,
and it was so cryptic in the way it described what happened and your
thought was that it must have been something with a student. Otherwise,
this amount of money wouldn`t have been paid or requested. We`re not
really sure who reached out to whom, of course.
And they talk about his high school years. But, again, I have to tell
you, I don`t shock easily. I was stunned when this came out, because he
really was about the last person. And keep in mind he got picked as
speaker because Bob Livingston, who was supposed to be next in line after
Gingrich was forced to step down, it was found out that he had had an
affair, and because they were impeaching President Clinton at the time,
they had to do it.
MILLIGAN: It really is just so stunning.
MATTHEWS: And it was a long series involving Jim Wright as well, who
was forced out as speaker.
MATTHEWS: Let`s look at a little item here. This is kind of -- I
don`t know how you describe. I better not give it a description because I
don`t know, but here`s somebody who called up C-SPAN when Denny Hastert was
on last year, in 2`14 -- 2014 -- who made this comment. Just read it for
yourself and what you think of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illinois is our next call. Here`s Bruce,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Denny.
DENNIS HASTERT (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Hey. How are you
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty good. Remember me from Yorkville?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bruce, you`re on. Go ahead with your question.
HASTERT: Yes, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: John Stanton, what do you make of that?
STANTON: I don`t know that it`s -- if it`s related to this case or
not, but certainly in the context of the indictment, it does have to raise
I mean, at a minimum, it`s one of the creepier things that`s ever
happened on C-SPAN.
MATTHEWS: Your word. And I agree.
The roundtable is staying with us. And we will have much more on
these allegations against former Speaker Hastert in a minute.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: I am saddened by, you
know, this news. And nobody wants to see a person`s career of public
service have this as their capstone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back to HARDBALL.
That was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served in Congress with
former Speaker Dennis Hastert.
We`re back with our roundtable, of course, John, Susan and Jonathan.
You know, Jonathan, back not too many years ago, the people in
Illinois on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, were pretty
close. You know, people like Bob Michel and Rostenkowski used to drive out
to Illinois every weekend together in a station wagon with two other people
of different parties. There`s a lot of political, I could call it,
camaraderie, if you will, comfort in each other`s company politically.
I`m not sure this is a partisan thing at all. I think they`re going
to feel bad about this in both parties. What went on with him and the kid
apparently, a student, is a bad thing, but also just tragedy all around
them now. This is just bad.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, right, and that clip
from Mayor Emanuel sort of exemplifies what you`re talking about, and what
we were talking about in the last segment. This is the last person you
thought this would happen to.
His reputation, Denny Hastert`s reputation in Washington, and on
Capitol Hill and as speaker was -- was one of someone squeaky clean,
someone who because he was squeaky clean and ethically pure, so we thought
then, that, you know, he could stand on his own reputation. And when you
see something like this happen to someone with that kind of reputation,
partisanship goes aside and you can only feel mournful for that person, for
the -- for that person`s family in particular, but also for the people of
their particular state who voted that person into office.
MATTHEWS: You know, John Stanton, you know, you alluded to it earlier
but during the course of Speaker Hastert`s term as speaker, there was the
case of Mark Foley down in Florida where I think he had problems obviously,
but he was, you know, flirting with whatever kids in the -- in the page
dorm, you know, that kind of thing was going on, and I guess that`s all
going to be brought back now.
JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: Yes, to a certain degree. I think people are
definitely going to look at how the speaker handled it. He was criticized
at the time frankly over his handling of it and not sort of immediately,
you know, pushing Representative Foley out and some of the ways that he and
his staff dealt with that, and I think -- but, you know, remember back
then, the question really wasn`t -- the political question wasn`t so much
the -- you know, the inappropriate relationship that Foley was having with
this boy and the pages group but that how leadership handled it.
And I think even then, you know, people tried to keep, you know, from
politicizing the bad act itself and more tried to keep it all in sort of
how he acted, but I don`t think there`s any chance that this isn`t going to
come back again and be a topic of conversation.
MATTHEWS: Susan, what does this tell you about the inside of
politics? Does this make you think oh, my God, I thought I knew these
things, someone like Mark Foley was the odd man out and maybe there`s more
of a problem here dealing with children -- young children and adult
responsibilities is probably the overall rubric here.
How do you deal with your responsibilities as an adult and in the
company of teenagers?
SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT POLITICAL WRITER: Well, yes,
I mean, look, there`s something going on here. If he`s having
relationships or relationship with an underage boy, we don`t know if he was
underage, has a whole different connotation than if he wasn`t a student
obviously and just another adult.
But I think John is right. It just brings back the handling of the
issue, but it`s a separate thing than some of the other stuff that`s gone
on, some of the corruption things. You know, Aaron Schock, the one who had
his office redone in "Downton Abbey," nobody was sorry to see that guy go,
nobody thought he was a serious stellar public servant.
But I think what`s so painful about this is that Denny Hastert really
did sort of exemplify to people the idea of a serious solid public servant
and if something like this can happen involving him, you just don`t know
whom you can trust anymore really on the Hill. I think that the
institution takes a big hit because of this.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, the fight against Alzheimer`s. Are we doing all we can
to beat this deadly disease? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Be sure to catch "Meet the Press" this Sunday on NBC. I`ll
be one of Chuck Todd`s guests. That`s this Sunday on NBC.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
It`s been described as a slow motion time bomb and there is no cure.
I watched my own mother fight Alzheimer`s disease for a decade. It`s a
long good-bye. More than 5 million people in the U.S. suffer from it.
It`s a bigger killer than both breast cancer and prostate cancer
combined. And the big question, are we doing anything we can to fight it?
I spoke to actor/comedian Seth Rogan about it last year. He watched
his mother-in-law slowly succumb to the disease. He became somewhat of an
expert on the subject and testified in front of Congress. But he was
shocked by the lack of interest showed by our elected officials. Almost no
one on the committee even bothered to show up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SETH ROGAN, ALZHEIMER`S RESEARCH ADVOCATE: I think it`s indicative of
the mentality that we find so frustrating, is that it seems to be of a low
priority. It seems like these people don`t care. That`s the direct
message they`re giving by leaving during our testimony, is that they don`t
care. Two of them were falling asleep during the first part of the
testimony literally. I mean, I saw it happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, "The Washington Post" profiles the struggles of
Alzheimer`s activists battling to raise -- both raise awareness and fight
the disease for themselves at the same time.
And one of the activists, Michael Ellenbogen, delivered this message
to our government: "Will it take someone like me to have some sort of
shoot-out like Columbine before someone will notice? I would not to do
that, but I am trying to get your attention, and I am failing and dying at
the same time."
We`re back with the roundtable, John, Susan, and Jonathan. Obviously,
that fella didn`t do anything wrong, except he scared some people.
And, my view, John, is everybody who has been through this personally
knows what they`re talking about. You`ve got some experience.
STANTON: Yes, I`ve had a couple of family members who had Alzheimer`s
and my wife volunteers with an organization in Bethesda, Maryland, who does
hospice for people with Alzheimer`s.
And, you know, I think you`re right that there`s just not enough
money, not enough attention. You know, her organization, they often will
do fund-raiser to raise money to buy things like iPods to use in music
therapy and things like that. They`re literally just collecting this from
friends and family. And it`s kind of shocking that you would have to do
that for a disease that it`s widespread enough that most people had someone
whose family, in minimum, has been touched by it and we`re not paying a lot
of attention to a really sort of terrible crippling disease.
MATTHEWS: You know, Susan, I don`t think we should count on the
market to solve this disease. It`s something that we occasionally get to
the edge of thinking we`re almost there, figuring out things in the brain
that we didn`t know before, and we`re making progress. But waiting around
for the commercial markets to come up with a drug that will make them
enough money to justify their research doesn`t seem to be the right way to
go. We need the NIH here. There are some people like the Bradenburgs,
George Brandenburg and his wife, have done great contributions.
But I don`t think the private sector is up to it.
MILLIGAN: I agree. And the only thing that we can hope is I think,
you look at Congress and how they used to not fund cancer research, and as
more and more people had a family member or friend who suffered from it,
they took more of a personal interest in it. I`m surprised it hasn`t
happened yet with Alzheimer`s because there have been so many people
affected by it.
But I also think honestly, it`s such a terrifying illness and they
don`t want to think about it, because they don`t want to think that it
could happen to anyone of us. And the idea of having something happen to
your body physically is threatening enough. The idea that you could not
have control over your own money I think is terrifying to most of us. And
I think that`s one of the reasons they`re not really paying attention.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And when it strikes, like it strikes my mom, who was
all into civic action, everything, running for council and everything,
wanted to be alive at that age, and all of a sudden, it hits with some very
smart people get hit late in life and nailed on these things. Anyway, I
hope the government and all these private agencies that are working so
hard, private people like the Bradenbergs, keep up the good work. We need
the help. This thing can be beaten.
Anyway, John Stanton, thanks for your experience. Susan Milligan, as
always. Jonathan Capehart, my friend.
When we return, let me finish tonight with Rand Paul`s unique appeal
and it is one, to Republican voters.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Rand Paul`s unique attraction to
His libertarian views are a big part of it, of course, and the other
which grabs me is his opposition to the war hawks, who dominate the
thinking of his party. Except for him, the game seems to be, back the next
war, whatever it is, you back the war with Iraq, the knocking off of
Gadhafi, the effort to knock off Syria`s Assad, and look forward to blowing
the hell out of Iran. There`s always another war in the queue so let`s get
Well, listening to Senator Paul tonight, you heard a different voice,
someone who believes that the average Republican voter might well hear his
message and like it. We`ll see. The great thing about an American
presidential campaign is the effort to find the country`s sweet spot, and
to it, the nation sentiment that will convert a campaign appeal into a
Kennedy had it in 1960 with his promise to get this country moving
again. Obama had it in 2008 when he came out against the Iraq war. If
Rand Paul becomes the Republican presidential nominee next summer, the
reason will be basic -- it`s because he and he alone connected with the
company`s deepest urge, which is to end the endless call to Mideast war.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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