updated 6/5/2015 11:01:24 AM ET 2015-06-05T15:01:24

Show: HARDBALL
Date: June 4, 2015
Guest: Judith Browne Dianis, Michael Waldman, Susan Page, Ruth Marcus

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Is income inequality job one for both parties?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

We`re seeing a new phenomenon in American politics. Yes, people are
angry about stagnant incomes, have been for a while, but now there`s
something more. They seem to deeply resent it that billionaires are
getting even wealthier.

According to a new "New York Times"/CBS poll, a huge majority of
Americans now say income inequality is getting worse, and it must be dealt
with now. Seventy-five percent of Americans say corporations have too much
influence on American life and politics.

And nearly 7 in 10 want the uber-wealthy to pay more taxes. Two
thirds say wealth should be more evenly divided here in America, and 57
percent say government should be doing more to reduce the income gap. As
you`d expect, this number breaks heavily along partisan lines.

Howard Dean was DNC chair, governor of Vermont and a presidential
candidate. Michael Steele was the chairman of the Republican National
Committee, and also served as lieutenant governor of Maryland.

Gentlemen, this is a ripe conversation, front page of "The New York
Times." My question -- it`s a biggie -- has it changed? Everybody knows
that incomes have been stagnant for the middle class now for 25, 30 years,
at least. But now is there a new attitude, Well, not only are we getting
hurt, we`re getting screwed, if you will, but the rich are doing really
well in the billions, and this has got to stop?

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FMR. GOV. FMR. DNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
I think this goes back to the great recession of 2008, when Wall Street
really did some unbelievable unethical things that were easy to understand
by ordinary people.

When you create, as Goldman Sachs did, a vehicle that you know is
going lose money so that John Paulson could make money shorting it, people
get that. They don`t know what carried interest is and all this, but they
get that. So they, I think for the first time in a long time...

MATTHEWS: Who`s John Paulson?

DEAN: John Paulson is a big hedge fund guy.

MATTHEWS: OK.

DEAN: A very big hedge fund guy...

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Very big.

DEAN: ... who just gave, I think, $400 million to Harvard yesterday.
So...

MATTHEWS: And neither one of them need it.

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN: Right. So I think -- and I find -- I think you`re going to
find this in the Republican working class, not just the Democratic working
class. It`s not, Let`s screw all rich people. I don`t think they resent
wealth. That`s never happened in America. But they resent cheating,
especially when they get hurt by it.

STEELE: And I think that`s...

MATTHEWS: What do they care more about it? I`m going to stick with
you for a second. What does a person care about who`s got big student
loans facing them, maybe somebody in their 30s now, or kids they`re still
trying to help out? Do they care more about getting a break on student
loans or hurting...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: No, no. They want the get to break on student -- they want to
do better for themselves. That`s job one.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DEAN: But they resent what`s happened in America. And I think you
laid it out in the opening. It`s corporations who have too much political
influence. A lot of this has to do with...

MATTHEWS: Koch brothers.

DEAN: ... the Koch brothers...

MATTHEWS: Citizens United.

DEAN: A lot of it has to do with Citizens United, as Hillary talked
about when she opened her campaign.

MATTHEWS: OK. Michael, here`s Hillary first, then you can jump on
the way she handles this because...

STEELE: OK.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is out there
going after CEOs and hedge fund managers in particular. And she knows
these people. And here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
The deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top. And
there`s something wrong with that. There`s something wrong when CEOs make
300 times more than the typical worker. And there`s something wrong when
hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I
saw on I-80, as I was driving here over the last two days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It`s amazing to hear her talk like that from the tool shop
there. But it is really true. Your thoughts, Michael.

STEELE: No, I think -- she makes a valid point. You heard Rick
Santorum in his announcement, again, frame, I thought, probably so far the
best framing of the economic argument by a Republican candidate, sort of
blue-collar, grass-roots oriented.

But here`s the reality when you`re talking about a Hillary Clinton and
anyone. What are you going to do about it?

MATTHEWS: My question.

STEELE: As you take a check from them for your super-PAC, what are
you going to do about it as you take a check for your own campaign, as you,
you know, hobnob with these same folks?

MATTHEWS: Why do these people give money to people who are talking
against them?

STEELE: Because they know they`re not going to do anything about it.
(INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Are you that cynical too?

DEAN: No. I think you take it because it`s legal and you`ve got to
raise as much money as you possibly can. But I think...

STEELE: But they`re still not going to do anything about it.

DEAN: I actually think they will do something about it...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: What`s changed between 2008 and now?

MATTHEWS: Let`s listen to all the contenders. Here`s Bernie Sanders,
of course. He`s charged up the anti-Wall Street rhetoric to 11. Here he
is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is
something profoundly wrong when the top one tenth of 1 percent owns almost
as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This grotesque level of
inequality is immoral, it is bad economics, it is unsustainable.

This campaign, starting today, is going to send a message to the
billionaire class. And that is, You can`t have it all!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: You can`t get huge tax breaks while children in this country
go hungry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think he`s got something. On the Republican side, former
Texas governor Rick Perry, who announced he`s running for president today,
came out guns a-blazing on the challenges facing many Americans. You won`t
believe what Rick Perry says here. Here he is. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R-TX), FMR. GOV., PRES. CANDIDATE: I know you face rising
health care costs, rising child care costs, skyrocketing tuition costs,
mounting student loan debt. I hear you, and I`m going to do something
about it!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PERRY: To the one in five children in families who are on food
stamps, to the one in seven Americans living in poverty, to the one in ten
workers who are unemployed, underemployed, or just given up hope of finding
a job, I hear you! You are not forgotten!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PERRY: I`m running to be your president!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You don`t think things have changed? Watch this. His
remarks, Governor Rick Perry, stand in sharp contrast to the way he, Rick
Perry, was talking even last year. He told "The Washington Post" as
recently as December, "We don`t grapple with income inequality here in
Texas. Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or
fashion."

Well, just a few weeks before Perry gave that interview, "The Houston
Chronicle" ran this headline, "Texas income inequality gap continues to
grow."

Howard Dean, it seems like they`re getting the message. It seems like
they`re -- this is Texas talking.

DEAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: It`s not Ted Cruz, but it`s one of the big guys.

DEAN: There`s a lot to be said here. First of all, under Perry,
almost a quarter of Texans had no health insurance and 22 percent of
children had no health insurance. This is the big problem for Republicans.
They have no history at all in caring anything about ordinary working
people. Now, the Democrats...

STEELE: Oh, that`s not true.

DEAN: That`s absolutely a fact.

STEELE: Come on, Howard.

DEAN: Tell me one thing -- tell me one single -- Michael, one single
thing that a Republican has done in the last four years that`s helped
working people. One. Tell me one.

STEELE: Oh, the last four years. I thought you meant at all. I
mean, look, we haven`t run the government in the last four years. You have
the Democrats controlling the government...

DEAN: Well, actually, the Republicans...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: There have been health care proposals. There have been
economic proposals.

DEAN: Like what?

STEELE: There have been tax cut proposals...

DEAN: Name one?

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: Yes, for who?

STEELE: For everybody!

DEAN: No! Tax cuts for the people who make a billion dollars a year.

STEELE: Your own president supported those same tax cuts, those Bush
tax cuts that you`re so against. Look, you just sit here and demagogue on
the issue, you still have to boil down to the one key point. Whether it`s
a Rick Perry or Elizabeth Warren, the question is, How do you do this? If
you`re going to start penalizing people in this country because they are
wealthy or because they make wealth, that is the wrong message. I think --
I don`t want -- I don`t think you want that message out there...

MATTHEWS: OK, respond to that.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: ... if your party is about penalizing wealth in this country.

MATTHEWS: How would you equalize income?

DEAN: The first thing I`d do is forgive 50 percent of all the student
loans. Secondly, I`d commit to debt-free college. That`s the most
important thing you can do for the middle class.

MATTHEWS: What would be the pay-for? Would there be a pay-for there?

DEAN: Get rid of carried interest. There`s no...

MATTHEWS: That`s the tax break the people in the hedge fund business
make.

DEAN: Right.

STEELE: Right.

DEAN: And there`s tons more tax breaks.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s a good answer. I like the answer!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What do you think of that question? Take it away from the
very rich who make money on Wall Street and give it to people...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: We`re not asking to take something away from the rich. We`re
just...

STEELE: Oh, that`s not...

DEAN: ... asking -- we`re asking to level the playing field.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: But either do that, or you know what you do? You allow a mom
and dad who`s writing a tuition check to take that off their tax return
when they file their taxes.

MATTHEWS: The Republicans always want to do that. In 2012,
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who`s back again, praised
income inequality as a good thing. Here he goes. Or here he did go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., PRES. CANDIDATE: There is income
inequality in America. There always has been. And hopefully, and I do say
that, there always will be. Why? Because people rise to different levels
of success based on what they contribute to society and to the marketplace.
And that`s as it should be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Does that sell anymore, the idea that people work harder
make more money, and that`s just the way it is?

STEELE: No. Because that`s not the reality for most folks...

MATTHEWS: I don`t think that sells. I think that`s a big change.

STEELE: That`s not been the reality for 40 years, as we talk about
income stagnation, wage stagnation. You can look at the trend lines. That
has not been the case for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... even Bill Clinton, who was a masterful politician, we
all agree, said, people who work hard and play by the rules. That was good
enough then. But now people who work hard and play by the rules don`t
think they`re going to get a break. And that`s different.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That is dangerous for a stable society, when people start
thinking that.

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: I agree. But I still think we`re a lot better branded for this
fight than the Republicans are.

STEELE: Oh, we`ll see.

DEAN: Yes, we will. I`m looking forward to it.

STEELE: We`ll see. I think Rick Perry and Rick Santorum have
something to say about that, as will others. And I think they understand -
- to your point, they understand the dynamic that`s at play there because
they`re listening to those Republican voters and Democrat and independent
voters, as well. They get it. And let`s see how they frame the argument.

MATTHEWS: Look how far your party has gone since last time, with Mitt
Romney and his 47 percent. Right?

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Tell me I`m right.

STEELE: No, you`re absolutely right. There has been -- there`s been
sea change. And it`s long overdue. But there`s more to come. It`s not
just on the income side of it, it`s on the other sides, as well, from
foreign policy to social policy.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the Republican fallback plan, apparently, is to
blame the whole income inequality mess on President Obama. Here they go.
Watch this one. No surprises.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should be asking
the president, if he is truly concerned about income inequality, how come
it`s worse under his watch?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is true that the top
1 percent are doing great under Barack Obama. Today, the top 1 percent
earn a higher share of our national income than any year since 1928.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: You`re going
to hear a lot over the next couple of years from the liberals. They`re
going to tell you that the greatest challenge facing American workers and
American families is income inequality. Now, folks, sometimes I think the
greatest challenge we face economically is intelligence inequality.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What is he doing with that? Is that Shockley? That`s
William Shockley...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Intelligence being smart about how to deal with some of these
issues and the fact that, to be honest, we have, both parties have let this
issue set on the back burner for a long, long time. And to her credit,
Elizabeth Warren and others have sort of put this out in front.

But the question still remains, do you do -- are you going to solve
this problem solely on the back of the people who make a billion dollars?

MATTHEWS: We used to think all boats rose with the tide, and now we
don`t.

STEELE: Well, you got to have a vote today, Chris. And that`s the
problem. A lot of people don`t have a boat.

MATTHEWS: Are you messing with my metaphor?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you, sir, for that correction. I have to
think about it, though. It`s deep. Anyway, thank you, Howard -- I mean
it. Let me think about it. Howard Dean, thank you, sir. And thank you,
Michael Steele -- heavyweights tonight.

Coming up -- Howard -- Hillary Clinton`s taking on the Republicans
bent on rolling back voting rights. She`s calling for 20 days -- catch
this -- of early voting in every state as a standard. It`s going to make
it easier for people to vote, and that`s what she wants and that`s what we
all want, I think.

Plus, there are new calls out there for a viable independent third
party candidate for president next time. But voter beware. Third party
campaigns generally end up playing spoiler, like Ralph Nader did to Al
Gore.

And Ted Cruz goes too far, even for him. He makes a lame crack about
Joe Biden just as the vice president is mourning the death of his son. And
now Cruz called the joke telling "a mistake in timing."

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with what the fall of the Berlin wall tells
us about America in 2015.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Breaking news now. A massive data breach has compromised
the personal information of some four million current and former federal
employees. Officials say the breach happened at the Office of Personnel
Management. A congressional aide confirms to NBC News that the breach
could potentially affect every federal agency. "The Washington Post" says
the hack happened in December and was first to report that Chinese hackers
were behind this cyberattack.

We`ll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary Clinton today called out
Republican voter restriction efforts in recent years. There have been a
slew of new laws out there, put in place across the country, including
stricter voter ID rules, cutting down early voting and limiting voter
registration efforts.

The effect is to make it more difficult for people to vote, especially
low-income and minority voters in big cities -- in other words, Democratic
voters. Well, today, Hillary Clinton blew the whistle on those shenanigans
and she called for a 20-day early voting standard nationwide, as well as
universal automatic voter registration. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
What is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise
people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country
to the other.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Here in Texas, former governor Rick Perry signed a law that
a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of
discriminating against minority voters. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott
Walker cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it
harder for college students to vote.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation to extend
early voting. And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state
authorities conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the
presidential election in 2000.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately
trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of
democracy are they afraid of?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 21 states have
imposed new voter restrictions since 2010. In 14 of those states, 2016
will be the first presidential election -- presidential election the
restrictions will be implemented in.

I`m joined right now by Michael Waldman, who`s president of the
Brennan Center for Justice, just mentioned, and Judith Browne Dianis, who`s
co-director of the Advancement Project.

Judith, first question to you. What do you make of Hillary`s proposal
for 20 days of early voting for the states, every state, as a standard?

JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Well, I think it`s a
good standard. I mean, we need standards in this country. Right now, we
have a patchwork of laws, so that one state to the next, you`re voting
differently, you have a different amount of time.

A lot of her agenda actually was covered by the president`s bipartisan
committee looking at voting issues. So that`s important. And there are
good things in there. Most importantly is she took it to the GOP, to their
front doorstep, to Texas, where they have tried to disenfranchise millions
of voters.

And two is that she put this issue of voting rights on the agenda for
this presidential election. So those are important pieces.

MATTHEWS: Michael, let me ask you -- this is what you may call a
gopher pitch in baseball, an easy one down the middle, and high. Why do
the Republicans seek restrictions on who can get the vote? Why do they
want to reduce the size of the electorate?

MICHAEL WALDMAN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: I better not swing and
miss, or I`m in trouble.

(LAUGHTER)

WALDMAN: You know, throughout American history, people who see change
and demographic change have tried to stop the clock. And it`s the rising
electorate that`s affected most by these various proposals. But they
really have stalled in many instances.

And what`s interesting is we`re now seeing in the states just as much
new legislative effort to expand voting as to cut back on it. And that was
a lot of what...

MATTHEWS: Who`s doing that good stuff?

WALDMAN: Well, you see that, for example, in the state of Oregon,
just a few months ago, passed a law that was a breakthrough for automatic
voter registration. Automatically, you go on the rolls at the DMV.

And what Secretary Clinton did today, I agree, was very important in
putting this at the heart of the political debate and pointing to some
solutions. In particular the universal automatic registration idea would
really shift the paradigm...

MATTHEWS: How would that work? Would that be, when you get your
driver`s license at 16, or what -- when would -- well, you don`t register -
- yes, you still register for the draft. Men do, I guess.

WALDMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: When would you become registered under that system?

WALDMAN: As I understand it, there are a lot of ways to do it, but
you could make it so that you have universal -- everybody who`s eligible to
vote is on the lists.

The states already have computerized voter rolls. It`s a matter of
getting people on the rolls when they turn 18 and keeping them there. And
that, Chris, would add tens of millions of people to the rolls permanently.
It would cost less. And for people who really are worried about fraud, it
would curb those opportunities, too.

It really is a game changer. And Judith is right. It`s a bipartisan
idea, recommended in many respects by the bipartisan presidential
commission. So that would be a very significant breakthrough measure, if
enacted.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Is there any chance of getting that through in even liberal states?

BROWNE-DIANIS: Well, I think...

MATTHEWS: Progressive states?

BROWNE-DIANIS: I mean, as long as we don`t get into the scary, you
know, phantom called voter fraud, yes, we should be -- we should be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, there has been voter fraud. I grew up in a big city.
Come on. There`s been some voter fraud over the years. There`s been some
in Chicago. There`s been some.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNE-DIANIS: But it is so rare. And the thing is that we have the
Republican Party trying to use fear as the reason.

But, really, their reason is that they want to manipulate the voting
rolls, so that they get -- particular people get to vote and particular
people don`t. And they`re trying to hurt people of color.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What did Mayor Daley of Chicago mean when he told Jack
Kennedy in 1960, on election night, with the help of a few good friends,
we`re going to carry Illinois? What did he mean? I will leave that with
you.

(CROSSTALK)

WALDMAN: It was voter -- it was sort of machines and it was the
people behind the table, not the voters themselves, doing the fraud. So
that`s what actually has gone on throughout most of the history.

MATTHEWS: I agree. I think that`s probably the case, the guys, the
boys, as they called them out there.

WALDMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, yesterday, I interviewed Marc Elias, a lawyer to
the Hillary Clinton campaign and other Democratic groups. He`s filed a
suit against several states, trying to stop their voter restrictions,
including the state of Wisconsin.

And here`s what he had to say about a new law there. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC ELIAS, ATTORNEY, HILLARY FOR AMERICA CAMPAIGN: In Wisconsin, as
you mentioned, they cut back on the number of early days of vote, the time
of day one could provide early vote, and they banned early vote on the
weekends.

Now, why would you do that? What reason would the state of Wisconsin
have to say that people can`t vote after work or people can`t vote on a
weekend, other than to simply make it harder for someone to vote and
therefore less likely to do so?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Republicans in Wisconsin had the answer. They
justified that law, cutting back early voting, as a matter of fairness.
They say people in rural areas in Wisconsin with fewer resources might
otherwise feel shortchanged.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said -- quote -- "It`s
difficult for people to turn on Channel 6 in Milwaukee and there`s a shot
of someone voting during a time when it`s not available to people in rural
areas."

Judith?

BROWNE-DIANIS: So open up access to everyone. This is the thing, is
that they can make up all these pretextual reasons, but really what this is
about is trying to make it harder for particular pockets of people to vote.

So, if you look at North Carolina, where we have a trial going on in
July, there`s a law there that cut back early voting; 70 percent of
African-Americans used early voting...

MATTHEWS: For Souls to the Polls.

BROWNE-DIANIS: ... in 2012.

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, thank God there are Republicans in
Pennsylvania, my home, original state where I grew up, who are so candid
about this, Michael and Judith. Here they go. Here they go. No, we got
watch a couple of these guys in action.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: In recent years, as I said, a number of local Republican
leaders have let slip the true goal of their efforts. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATEHOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter I.D.,
which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania,
done.

QUESTION: Do you think all the attention drawn to voter I.D. affected
last year`s elections?

ROB GLEASON, PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: Yes, I think a
little bit. I think we probably had a better election. Think about this.
We cut Obama by 5 percent, which was big. A lot of people lost sight of
that. He won, he beat McCain by 10 percent. He only beat Romney by 5
percent. And I think probably that voter I.D. had -- helped a bit in that.

DON YELTON, NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PRECINCT CHAIRMAN: The law is
going to kick the Democrats in the butt. If it hurts a bunch of lazy
blacks that wants the government to give them everything, so be it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it just so happens that a lot of those people
vote Democrat.

YELTON: Gee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You know, the sarcastic guy for the country boys there, I
mean, Michael, isn`t it great to have people that are your best witnesses
from the other side? I mean, geez.

WALDMAN: It`s like they were drinking truth serum before they went
on.

I say these laws affect people of color, they affect young people,
they affect poor people. Finally, a government program that works as
intended, you know? Look, the GAO, the Government Accountability Office,
very respected by both parties, found that when it looked at these laws,
that they really did bring turnout down.

And when you look at the Texas case, that -- there, there`s a voter
I.D. where you cannot use your student I.D., but you can use your
concealed-carry gun permit. They`re sort of surgically...

MATTHEWS: Wonder who that would help? Which party would that help?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

WALDMAN: But, you know, what`s interesting -- one of the things
about...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I mean, it`s hilarious. It`s -- I`m sorry. We have got to
go, Michael, on this segment. But you`re great and you have come a long
way from a speechwriter from President Clinton.

WALDMAN: Yes, yes, I try.

MATTHEWS: You`re doing great work.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I mean it. Thank you so much.

And Judith Browne-Dianis, thank you all for coming, two experts.

BROWNE-DIANIS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: the made-for-TV showdown between two heavyweights
in the highly charged 1960s, Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In 1968, this country was divided, reeling from political
assassinations, civil unrest over Vietnam, and the rise of the
counterculture. And that summer, as the Republicans and Democrats held
their party conventions, two renowned public intellectuals faced off in a
series of heated debates on live television, William F. Buckley Jr. of the
right, Gore Vidal the left.

Their confrontation changed the way politics would be debated for
years to come. A new documentary out in theaters next month, "Best of
Enemies," it`s called, tells the stories behind that made-for-TV showdown,
exploring how two partisan heavyweights came to define the modern era of
political discourse.

Here now, in its national debut, is an excerpt from the trailer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEST OF ENEMIES")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To help us extract meaning from these conventions,
two of America`s most eloquent commentators, William Buckley and Gore
Vidal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Buckley was the first moderate to see that
ideological debates were cultural debates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Buckley, do you think miniskirts are in good
taste?

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR., FOUNDER, "NATIONAL REVIEW": On you, I think
they are.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people at ABC asked him, well, is there
anybody you wouldn`t go on with? And he said, the only one I can think of
is Gore Vidal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gore Vidal is one of America`s most successful and
distinguished writers.

GORE VIDAL, WRITER: We are all prostitutes in one sense or another,
ethically, if not sexually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Buckley, Vidal was the devil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a happy warrior. I`m embattled. I`m enjoying
it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He represented everything that was going to moral
hell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two visions of America clashing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each thought the other was quite dangerous.

BUCKLEY: Freedom breeds inequality. Now, I will say it a third time.

VIDAL: No, twice was enough.

He`s always to the right and almost always in the wrong.

BUCKLEY: I confess that anything complicated confuses Mr. Vidal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They really do despite one another.

BUCKLEY: Now, listen...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCKLEY: Now, listen, you queer, quit calling me a crypto-Nazi or
I`ll sock in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) face, and you will stay plastered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I knew them both.

And I`m joined right now by NBC News historian Michael Beschloss.

That was, dare I say, the genesis of political argument on television.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think it really was, you
know, everything that we see now.

And that was 1968, when ABC was doing this because they had to liven
up a Republican Convention, first of all, where Nixon was pretty much of a
shoo-in, and also it was said at the time ABC News was fourth out of three
networks.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BESCHLOSS: They were trying anything. And they were amazed that
these debates got these enormous numbers.

MATTHEWS: The way that he handled that young girl in the miniskirt
question was certainly out of date. You can`t pull that today. That kind
of talk...

(CROSSTALK)

BESCHLOSS: I think the lawyers would have descended from the ceiling
in about three seconds.

MATTHEWS: And calling each other guys name. One guy called -- he
made one reference to his sexual orientation. We didn`t show that there.

BESCHLOSS: Right.

MATTHEWS: Clearly, from Buckley`s point of view -- and the other guy
called him a crypto-Nazi.

We think it`s tough now.

BESCHLOSS: No, that was -- that was pretty bad.

(LAUGHTER)

BESCHLOSS: But, you know, the other thing is that, you know, the
producers that put these guys on, they knew that both Buckley and Vidal
essentially detested each other personally.

Buckley particularly detested the way that Vidal lived his life in all
sorts of ways.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BESCHLOSS: And the other thing was that they disagreed about all
sorts of issues, but they did it at very high intensity, and this was
actually at a very high level.

MATTHEWS: You know, I missed that era, because, in the old days, you
could actually go home at night, stay up late and watch Dick Cavett or
something, and you would have Norman Mailer on arguing with...

BESCHLOSS: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... one of these guys, or arguing with Cavett, or -- and an
intellectual discussion about politics was pretty eloquent. You know, what
have we lost?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I don`t feel responsible entirely for this loss, but I tell
will you, I do think I want to say something -- I always do -- about Bill
Buckley.

In the 1950s, when he took over the conservative movement, really
modernized it with "The National Review," it was anti-Semitic.

(CROSSTALK)

BESCHLOSS: And he wanted to take...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: At he said, the end of that. And he just -- as an Irish-
American and an upscale one at that, he just said, end of that.

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely right.

MATTHEWS: And he also, I think, gave it an intellectual life, even
though he would defend -- though he didn`t so much defend Joe McCarthy, as
he didn`t like his enemies.

(LAUGHTER)

BESCHLOSS: Yes. No, I think that`s the best way of putting it.

And you know, kudos in the end for putting someone on ABC someone who
was actually as smart and substantiative as Buckley and, as it turned out,
Vidal was too.

MATTHEWS: And it beats some of today`s dogfights.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Michael Beschloss.

BESCHLOSS: My pleasure.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for rising the level of discourse, even in these
moments.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Up next -- I can`t wait for that movie to come out, by the
way.

Up next: There are new calls out for a third party. If you want to
have trouble, here it comes, third parties. But before we go down that
road, all remember now how different things would be if Ralph Nader, my
hero, didn`t run in 2000. He`s not my hero because he ran, by the way.
That`s next with the roundtable.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Frances Rivera with breaking
news.

A massive hacking targeting the federal government could be the
biggest cyber-attack on the U.S. government in history. The FBI now says
it`s probing a far-reaching intrusion, one that may have affected four
million current and federal employees. The December incident involved the
Office of Personal Management, the agency that handles security clearances
and employee records.

However, officials tell NBC News the breach could affect every federal
agency -- now we take you back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In 1980, independent John Anderson siphoned millions of votes away
from Jimmy Carter. In fact, I watched it happen up close on Air Force One,
as Carter lost big to Ronald Reagan. In 1992, Ross Perot gobbled up nearly
20 percent of the popular vote, practically gifting the election to Bill
Clinton, who won with only 43 percent of the vote.

And, oh, how history would have been different if Ralph Nader had
stayed out of the election in 2000. Well, third-party candidates can
decide elections. Will 2016 be one of those years? We have seen it
before.

Well, the headline in The Daily Beast proclaims, "2016 Needs a Third
Party," while a recent Gallup poll found that a near supermajority of
Americans say a third party is needed now because Republicans and Democrats
do a poor job representing the American people.

Well, the left already has an independent among them. And he`s among
them. His name is Bernie Sanders. We`re seeing libertarian and
evangelical uprisings on the right. If Jeb Bush is the nominee, then will
one of those groups bolt?

Anyway, the roundtable tonight, Ruth Marcus, columnist and editorial
writer with "The Washington Post," Perry Bacon Sr., political reporter with
NBC News, and Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief with "USA Today."

Ruth, my question to you is, let`s say that he pulls a turnaround and
comes back, Jeb Bush, beats the polls right now, comes back and wins, as
the establishment candidate, wrong on Common Core, wrong on immigration,
wrong on just about everything, yes, with the right, with the Tea Party
crowd.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Will there be a walkout? Will they find their candidate
elsewhere?

RUTH MARCUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I don`t think so. I think this
is a party that has not had the White House for two terms. It desperately
wants it back.

It`s going to have gone through a bruising primary process. Hillary
Clinton, who I think will be the eventual Democratic nominee, as does
everybody, will not have gone through that kind of bruising process, and
this is a party that wants the White House and that knows how to fall in
line. I don`t think you are going to see a serious third-party challenge.

MATTHEWS: Well, at a recent town hall meeting, Jeb Bush was
confronted by one of those 1992 Perot voters.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, I voted for your father once and your
brother twice.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: What happened on the other
time for my father?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Ross Perot was there.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: And you got Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, not my choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was sticking it to the poor guy, wasn`t it?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You want to stand up at my meeting with your little speech?
I will shove it at you. You got -- you got Clinton, Mr. Republican.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": Yes, that was --
that was interesting. I think that could happen.

I mean, the thing is, you can see the ingredients for a third-party
challenge, clearly, as -- as...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s called the Tea Party.

PAGE: Yes.

But you don`t see the person who`s going to do it. That doesn`t mean
there isn`t a person who will step up. Sometimes, at this point, this far
out, you don`t know.

I think it`s entirely possible that Jeb Bush, if he runs true to what
he talks about on immigration, on Common Core, that he may well see a
challenger of somebody peeling off from the party.

MATTHEWS: I can see a Mike Lee, Perry. I can see a smart guy on the
right. Just say, you know what, I don`t want this to happen again. We`ve
been running moderates like McCain and Mitt Romney and we`re not doing it
again. We`re going to rebel.

PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I don`t think so.
Mike Lee is pretty much a party guy. I think it`s the other way. If a
Huckabee or Santorum somehow won the nomination, I can see a Bloomberg or a
Huntsman, a liberal Republican deciding to run that way. That`s where the
third party could come from.

MATTHEWS: If they go too right?

BACON: If they go too right, that`s what I think.

MATTHEWS: Ruth, what do you think of that idea?

RUTH MARCUS, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think --

MATTHEWS: Bloomberg would like to want --

(CROSSTALK)

BACON: If he wants to run, he could afford to run too.

MARCUS: And Perry makes exactly to point I was going to make about
the money. You need two things in order to be a third party candidate.
You need somebody with a big fat checkbook to help you or a lot of people.

MATTHEWS: He is the fat checkbook.

MARCUS: But Bloomberg is Mr. Checkbook.

MATTHEWS: He would get good coverage, too, wouldn`t he?

BACON: He`s from New York, he`s got the media base, he knows the
media well.

PAGE: Yes, we`ve got all these billionaires that are writing big
checks for this campaign. And I just think -- I think you can`t dismiss
out of hand the idea that somebody would be mad about what the people is
saying and be willing to keep writing checks to keep the debate going.

MATTHEWS: I agree. That`s what I`m positing here, there`s a good
chance of an explosion. We`ve seen candidates on both sides of the aisle
make some noise about running as independents. Mike Huckabee has
proclaimed that he will leave the Republican Party if they don`t fight
against gay marriage. Here he is, staking his claim.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the Republicans want to
loose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing
people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue and while you`re at it, go
ahead and say abortion doesn`t matter either.

HOST: Right.

HUCKABEE: Because at that point, you lose me. I`m gone.

HOST: Right.

HUCKABEE: I`ll become an independent. I`ll start finding people that
have guts to stand. I`m tired of this.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s fairly clear threat there, isn`t it?

MARCUS: He didn`t say he was going to run.

MATTHEWS: Well, he can`t put it in writing if he`s still trying to
get the Republican nomination. You`ve got to at least tease it a little.

Anyway, Bernie Sanders talked openly as running as an independent and
he`s running in the Democratic primaries right now. But he told supporters
back in January, "There are millions of people out there who feel that
Democrats have not been strong enough in standing up for the working class,
the middle class of this country, and taking on big money interests and
that suggests running as an independent."

BACON: Hillary`s talking about big money every day.

MATTHEWS: Liberals are talking about it.

BACON: That`s why she`s talking about this. She knows there`s a
desire in the country, among the left, to have somebody take on big money.
I know she`s taking all this money from the wealthy and so on, but Hillary
had heard that.

Now, in terms of talking about Huckabee, notice he said two things.
If the party abandons gay marriage and abortion, that`s not going to
happen. Jeb Bush talks about abortion all the time. So, he`s set up
conditions that are not really realistic.

The Republican nominee is going to be somebody who`s opposed to
abortion rights in almost all --

MATTHEWS: So, you`re running -- here are four options we`ve come up
with here. Everybody says, Mike Lee will not run against a bush nomination
now. OK, will Bloomberg run against a nomination of somebody on the hard
right?

BACON: That`s possible, I think?

MARCUS: Not yes, but I don`t think that`s where we`re going to end
up.

MATTHEWS: Will Huckabee run against the party if it these cultural --

BACON: He`s a party guy. Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: Will Bernie Sanders run if Hillary`s the nominee?

BACON: No, because he`s already running the Democratic primary to
make his point.

MATTHEWS: This is the most useless panel I`ve ever had.

MARCUS: I would disagree, Chris.

BACON: You disagree?

MATTHEWS: No, you disagree with my desire for drama and craziness.

PAGE: I disagree with them. I think there`s a dynamic to these
things and things take off and Hillary Clinton is definitely talking now
about the deck is stacked, but when push comes to shove, will she take
positions that will satisfy? People are really pulling her to the left on
things like trade. I can`t tell you who it will be, but I think it`s
possible. I think it`s possible we would see challenges from both sides.

MATTHEWS: And how about a platform fight on the floor.

PAGE: That would be fun.

MATTHEWS: If you don`t sign on to anti-trade positions, if you don`t
sign on to minimum wage of 15 bucks, we`re bolting.

MARCUS: Only Perry and I are useless. Just for the record.

MATTHEWS: My name is not no-drama Obama. Anyway, thank you.

The roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, the tasteless timing of Ted Cruz. This is one we can
agree on. He called it a mistake to make a joke about Vice President Biden
the other day.

Well, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, that accidental anthrax scare is getting even bigger.
Today, a lab in Rhode Island reported receiving a shipment of live anthrax,
bringing the total to 52 labs in 18 states, and three foreign countries.
The Pentagon still doesn`t know how those shipments got out, who`s to
blame, and how much worse the situation might get. But Pentagon officials
do say they`re certain there`s no risk to public health.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Ruth, Perry, and Susan.

While there`s a time and place to set politics aside, let`s agree, and
allows humanity to rule, and clearly the loss of a child is one of those
times.

This week on the campaign trail, however, Texas Senator Ted Cruz
didn`t get that message. He made a joke about Vice President Joe Biden
that he`s made many times in the past, saying that with Biden, you don`t
even need a punch line. Of course, the vice president is mourning the loss
of his son, Beau, this week, who died over the weekend of brain cancer.

Cruz later posted an apology on his Facebook page saying, it was a
mistake in timing.

And now today, another Texan, Rick Perry, with the best of manners,
entered the 2016 presidential race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Among our great people, there
is a spirit of selflessness that we live to make the world better for our
children and not just ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a tale to have two Texans vying for the White
House.

Now, Ruth, I think it`s fair, I`m going to let you comment on Ted
Cruz`s joke, that he somewhat, in a posting, he didn`t even do it like a
man, if you will, and come out and say, I shouldn`t have said that, he
posted something saying, it was a mistake in timing, to make fun of the
vice president at this point in time.

MARCUS: We -- people who give speeches tend to give the same speech.
So, let`s give him the benefit of the doubt, that he wasn`t thinking when
he did it, but you have to -- when you do something like that, you should -
- my view is, you should apologize at least in the same forum, in the same
manner. Don`t just hide behind Facebook or Twitter. Come out and say, "I
said a terrible thing. It was thoughtless, it was at a terrible time and I
grieve for the Biden family."

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, someone went afterwards apparently and
tried --

MARCUS: And he walked --

MATTHEWS: And ignored the guy.

MARCUS: He walked away. That`s not something you can walk away from,
not if you`ve got humanity.

PAGE: One thing that strikes me --

MATTHEWS: How do you explain this? Did he not have it in his head
Biden is going through this tragedy or didn`t care, or he`s in a universal
where you don`t connect with the reality of other people in the planet?

PAGE: I think it`s thoughtless. Surely no one could not care about
someone who suffered the loss of a child. One thing that -- putting these
two Texans together, one thing that strikes me, Rick Perry made a fair
number of mistakes last time around.

MATTHEWS: Oops.

PAGE: One advantage is he knows you`re always on. He knows you`re
always responsible for what you saying and you got to --

MATTHEWS: But that was during a debate.

PAGE: No, I`m not saying equivalent things, but I`m saying, you make
mistakes and that`s something he`s learned.

Ted Cruz is learning the first time. This is advantage of running a
second time, where you know if you made an error like that, we`ve all made
mistakes, that you instantly correct it and immediately apologize as
objectively as you possibly can.

MATTHEWS: That`s the best way.

PAGE: Ted Cruz has not done that.

MATTHEWS: That`s the ideal, if you can think of it in real time and
fix it.

Anyway, Perry`s rollout was, as I said, very impressive, Governor
Perry. He seemed to put his 2012 oops moment behind him, and he took a
swing at Ted Cruz` infamous green eggs and ham late night rendition on the
Senate floor. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Leadership is not a speech on the Senate floor, it`s not what
you say, it`s what you have done.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, some people, we were talking about it in the
green room, Susan and I, and I`ll run this by everybody -- do you think
this guy will be the sleeper? This thing nomination is not locked but I do
believe they want a governor. They want someone different than Obama who`s
got executive background clearly up front.

Your thoughts -- as governor?

MARCUS: I don`t think he`s a sleeper. I think he has and showed in
the last campaign tremendous skills as a retail politician. He could
really connect with voters in Iowa, New Hampshire might be a harder case.

But I think for all the benefits that Susan was mentioning the last
time around, that`s a pretty devastating clip that he`s carrying around on
his back, of the oops moment, and it`s not as if there are alternatives.
We got governors. We got sitting governors and former governors. We got
senators and we got Southerners, we got all the white guys you can possibly
want. So, I don`t quite see where his breakthrough moment comes.

MATTHEWS: So, you have kids, right?

MARCUS: I have two.

MATTHEWS: Do you ever trip up on the number or the name of the kids?

MARCUS: Never, ever, ever, ever. Julia --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Bruce, Chris, Michael, I mean --

MARCUS: If you have more, you know.

MATTHEWS: You have a hard time getting to my name, anyway.

BACON: I`m glad Perry is running as, he`s a really nice. The
contrast with Cruz is Perry, if you meet him personally, is a really
charming guy, nice guy, funny guy, reporters like him, everyone likes him.
I just don`t think he gets a second chance. I really think that --

MATTHEWS: How about the glasses? Perry, the glasses, do you think
they help?

PAGE: The last time, yes, it makes him look different at least from
where he looked last time. You know what, last time we over-estimated him.
He announced, he was immediately the front runner. This time, people are
underestimating him.

There is no front runner here. There are 15 people who could be able
to compete, and I think Perry is maybe just barely in that group of the top
ten who will make it into the debates and we`ll have a chance to the see if
you can have a second chance to make a first impression.

MATTHEWS: Do people want a class act like him or do we want a bomb
thrower like Ted Cruz?

PAGE: Well, it depends what you`re talking about, I suspect.

MATTHEWS: Well, how about talking to Republicans.

BACON: I think they want Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or Scott Walker.

MATTHEWS: They want someone that can beat Hillary.

MARCUS: That`s exactly what they want.

BACON: They don`t want oops in a debate in the general election.

MATTHEWS: That`s a practical thought. If I were Hillary Clinton, I`d
worry about that mentality. This is who wins, not November doesn`t count,
like the old days.

Fifty years ago, Texan Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and since
then the Lone Star State turned deep red. And the two Texans in the race,
Cruz and Perry will fight over the big money and big suburban vote.

In a statement today, Cruz welcomed Perry to the race saying,
"Governor Perry is a friend and patriot, he served the state of Texas with
honored dignity, integrity and compassion. Texas is a better state because
of his principle leadership and the GOP primary will be better because of
his candidate."

What staffer wrote that?

(CROSSTALK)

MARCUS: It sounded like on obituary.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s come out of washing machines, rubber (ph)
things, I don`t know.

Thank you, Ruth Marcus. Thank you, Perry Bacon, and Susan Page.

When we return, let me finish with the lessons I learned covering the
fall of the Berlin Wall, lessons that apply to this country right now.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this, people don`t mind being
used -- a friend of mine once was -- they observe a mind being discarded.

When I was covering the fall of the Berlin Wall, I interviewed Germans
and asked why the communist system was failing and why so many were rushing
to the West and so many more were hoping for a change.

And what struck me is it wasn`t the theory of communism or socialism
that had failed, but the actual practices of the East German government. I
discovered it was the true believers who were turning against the system.
Why? Because the people that kept the system working, the school
principals, the factory managers, the grownups, in other words, saw how
they were being made fools of in their daily lives.

The currency they were paid with was a joke. They were not even
permitted to enter major hotels, the hotels didn`t accept local, meaning
the currency of East Germany itself. If they wanted to buy a car, they had
to wait 18 months and even then got a hopeless smoking junker for the
waiting.

If they wanted to travel, they had two countries that would accept
their money, Hungary and Poland and if someone came along with hard
currency from the West like the West German mark, they were bumped aside.

I learned a lesson in those days of change in Berlin, don`t humiliate
the people who believe in this system, don`t humiliate especially the
people who keep the system working.

The United States is hardly in a position of life behind the old Iron
Curtain, but there are lessons here. If people have it tough, they don`t
like seeing those at the top having an easier and easier. They believe in
free enterprise, but only as long as it works to create a decently fair
society. People get angry, even rebellious when they see the system that
held their trust serve the interest of the few, but not of the many, and
certainly not of their own interest.

And that`s HARDBALL for now, because it is. And thanks for being with
us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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