updated 6/9/2015 10:22:49 AM ET 2015-06-09T14:22:49

Show: HARDBALL
Date: June 8, 2015
Guest: Anne Gearan, Lynn Sweet, Stan Brand, Fred Boenig, Stan Brand,
Robert Costa, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jamelle Bouie

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hillary heads left.

Let`s play HARDBALL

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

The big news this Monday is that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic
front-runner, will offer herself this week as the candidate of the
Democratic left. There`ll be no center course for her, as there was for
Bill Clinton in the 1990s, no Democratic Leadership Council, no third way.
Already, she has steered left on immigration and gay marriage and attacked
Republicans on voting rights and promises to be equally tough on other
ideological matters.

Is this the smart move? Is this, perhaps more important, the
necessary strategy to win? Is it a position she`s taking to ward off
challengers, or is it truly her philosophy? Is her lean to the left to get
her through the primaries or a set of principles she will defend all the
way to November?

Well, according to "The New York Times," Mrs. Clinton`s aides say it
is the only way to win in an era heightened polarization. When a declining
poll of voters is truly up for grabs, her liberal policy positions, they
say, will fire up Democrats, a less difficult test than trying to win over
independents in more hostile territory, even though a broader strategy
could help lift the party with her.

Well, Secretary Clinton has backed a constitutional right for same-sex
marriage. She`s tweeted back in April, quote, "Every loving couple and
family deserves to be recognized and treated equally under the law across
our nation."

She`s also spoken about issues of race and criminal justice. Here she
is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become
unmistakable and undeniable. There is something profoundly wrong when
African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched
by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms than
are meted out to their white counterparts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Last week, she took up voting rights and efforts by
Republicans in various states to make it harder to vote. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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: Well, here she is talking about immigration and going
further even than President Obama on extending relief from deportations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path
to citizenship. Congress continues to refuse to act, as president, I would
do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more
people, like many parents of dreamers and others with deep ties and
contributions to our communities, who deserve a chance to stay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She`s also spoken about paid leave and issues of pay equity
for women. Here she is on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It is outrageous that America is the only country in the
developed world that doesn`t guarantee paid leave to mothers of newborns.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: It is also hard to believe that so many women are still paid
less than men for the same work, with even wider gaps for women of color.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by HuffingtonPost global editorial
direction and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, NBC News senior
political reporter Perry Bacon, and "The Washington Post`s" Anne Gearan.

All of you, this to me, I think, is a profound statement in the
campaign. If you look at her issues -- on issues like blacks and how
they`re treated by police, she could be Al Sharpton, and she`s just as
tough, laying it out like that. On immigration, as tough as any
immigration lawyer fighting for the rights of Hispanics. On voting rights,
she sounds like me, OK?

She is really hitting the hard -- I don`t think there`s much room to
her left, if you`re Bernie Sanders. Where are you going to go, Howard?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL
ANALYST: No, I don`t think there is, either. And I think what she`s doing
is both a primary season strategy and a general election season strategy.

You can learn what she`s doing by comparing her with her husband. A
generation ago, when the electorate was different and the Democratic Party
was different, Bill Clinton got on a bus right after the Democratic
convention in New York and worked the seam of white middle class voters
along Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia. He was going for ancestral
Democrats...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... white swing voters. Well, in 25 years, the demographics
have changed. The electorate and the Democratic Party were not talking
about Hispanics...

MATTHEWS: I was in Waco, Texas, with him!

FINEMAN: We`re talking about Hispanics, we`re talking about women,
we`re talking about African-Americans, we`re talking about a new
demographic America. Hillary is addressing them on social issues, but
she`s going to also have to address them on the tough economic issues,
which are a little less low-hanging fruit than...

MATTHEWS: Yes, she`ll have to make a decision about carried interest
and all those big...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... hot issues. And it seems to me that Howard has laid it
out because that diagonal that goes down through Appalachia, white people
have been here in the mountains for years, Americans to the roots all the
way back. They are the hardest folk for the Democrats to catch. Obama
never caught them. And it sounds like Joe Manchin should be mad that
Hillary`s gone to the left because that`s the crowd -- his crowd that...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: They`re not coming back to the Democratic Party.

MATTHEWS: But he wants them back. Anyway...

ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Well...

MATTHEWS: ... she`s made a decision to go to the big cities, the
Great Lake states, the Rust Belt.

GEARAN: I mean, the campaign would say they`re going to fight for
every vote in every state, and so forth, and clearly, they would love to
win Ohio among the states along that seam at the very least. They`d love
to win as many of the rest of them as they can.

But Howard`s right, they`re going to slice and dice the rest of the
electorate and try to target, both with positioning on some of these
issues, and on turnout, on motivation and get...

MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s the old George W. Bush strategy of work the
base, right?

GEARAN: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

GEARAN: George Bush meets Barack Obama. I mean...

MATTHEWS: This is a second term strategy.

GEARAN: There`s technology at work here that wasn`t available to
George Bush, and there`s a whole kind of motivation of getting people to
come out and vote again.

MATTHEWS: Here`s Joe Manchin of West Virginia saying the plan was a
recipe -- catch this -- for the status quo in Washington to continue. He
told "The New York Times," quote, "That`s not good for the country. If
they go too far over there, it`s going to be more difficult to govern. It
truly is."

Meanwhile, "The National Journal`s" Ron Fournier agrees with Manchin -
- he`s going to join us tomorrow night -- he wrote, quote, "The 2016
campaign can`t be merely about winning, it needs to be about winning in a
way that makes the successful candidate a successful president. Until a
bold new leader breaks the cycle of negative partisanship, support for the
two major parties will continue to bleed away. Lesser of two evils voters
will dominate a sad electorate ,and more Americans will check out of the
system altogether." As I said, Ron Fournier`s going to be on here, on
HARDBALL, tomorrow.

Perry, it seems to me she`s made a decision. According to this, it`s
going to be announced this Saturday. We`re going to get the Democratic
base out. We`re going to get the Northeast. We`re going to get the
industrial Midwest, the hurting -- what do you call it -- the Rust Belt.
We`re going to work for them. We`re going to give up on the South, give up
on the border states, basically, and give up on the prairie states, give up
on the Rocky Mountains, and work our base.

PERRY BACON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Of course she`s doing this. Two
things to note here. Her president was so -- her president -- her father -
- her husband was so unifying, he was impeached by the Republicans. That`s
where his strategy got him (ph). He was impeached.

(LAUGHTER)

BACON: And think about 2014, where you saw Clintons went over and
over and over again to Arkansas and Kentucky. And what happened? Those
candidates were blown out. Democrats are not voting in Kentucky and
Arkansas in high numbers. Those are Republican states. Hillary is doing
the only...

MATTHEWS: OK...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The time -- OK, now that you`re really going here, I like
this. Train`s moving here. If Hillary is right to go to the left and work
her base, get her 270 electoral votes that way, what does that do to
Democrats` chances of ever carrying the Congress again? Because according
to "The Times" in their lead, about the two paragraphs down, they said this
is not a broad strategy for the -- you take this -- a broad strategy to
grab the House. They might squeak the Senate back, but no 60 votes and no
218 in the House. Therefore, no legislation, no budget, no tax changes, no
fiscal changes, no policy changes.

What kind of presidency is that? My question.

GEARAN: I mean, part of it...

MATTHEWS: If that`s the way she wins.

GEARAN: I mean, part of it depends on whether she`s got some
coattails and is able to bring Democrats along with her.

MATTHEWS: Will this strategy bring coattails?

GEARAN: It doesn`t appear to...

MATTHEWS: It might knock off Kirk in Illinois.

GEARAN: Right. I mean, it doesn`t -- on the face of it, it doesn`t
appear to have a lot of coattails, and you saw what happened in the
midterms, right, I mean, despite her best effort and the best efforts of
other...

MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t blame her for that.

GEARAN: No, but I mean, she -- Perry`s right, she did campaign in a
lot of places where it looked like a lost cause, and guess what? It was.
But I mean, she`s likely by pursuing a fair amount of the Obama strategy to
have a version of the Obama problem, which is...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Can I say -- can I say a couple things? First of all, the
Republicans right now don`t sound to me like they`re speaking to the whole
country. They have tremendous demographic problems. Why isn`t somebody
saying, Well, if they want to govern the whole country, why aren`t they
reaching out more to minorities? Why aren`t they reaching out more on
women`s issues? Why aren`t they expanding their demographic base?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Part of the problem that Ron points out here is that the
Republican...

MATTHEWS: Ron Fournier.

FINEMAN: ... the Republican -- Ron Fournier -- the Republican Party
is in danger of becoming a monochromatic white people`s party. Let`s be
blunt about it. And key Republican strategists understand, and they`re --
almost in the middle of the night, they`re trying to figure out how to get
out of that.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: That`s the Republicans` problem. The other thing is that...

MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. Somebody must be right. Are both
parties giving up the center?

FINEMAN: Yes, they are. Yes, they are. That`s exactly right. And
that`s why turnout is down. Also, the House is so hopelessly
gerrymandered...

MATTHEWS: I know.

FINEMAN: ... the districts are so hopelessly drawn using that new
technology that Anne`s talking about, you can`t move the House one way or
another. You just can`t. I don`t think it`s Hillary`s responsibility.
Her responsibility as a Democrat is to get elected.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GEARAN: To an extent, a lot of -- I think a lot this is based on they
don`t think -- neither party seems to think that there`s a lot of center
left.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Perry -- I`ll let you finish, but I`ve been telling
people -- I`ll make one prediction for next year. I think Hillary`s still
the favorite, but I predict that it`s going to be another midnight. It`s
going to be close. We won`t get results until maybe after midnight.

The country is like this. It`s just like that, 50/50. And so maybe
that was Hillary`s calculation, or people around her, the Clinton people
said, You know what? Let`s live with the world we live in. Let`s fight
with the army we got, as Rumsfeld used to say years ago.

BACON: (INAUDIBLE) two kinds of swing voters. There`s one, the
people who are Democrats or Republicans in Kentucky. The other kind is the
people who don`t vote at all and maybe (INAUDIBLE) to vote if Hillary
campaigns to them better (ph). There`s a way in which you turn out
minority (INAUDIBLE) minority (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: OK...

BACON: ... women in a way where you might win (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Last question, everybody. You may want to take a bite at
it as a completely straight reporter. But maybe you`re right. No, you can
do (INAUDIBLE) Is it an astute assessment of Hillary to do it this way --
bring out the base, go left, don`t try running to the center. Is that
smart, based on all the numbers you look at?

GEARAN: By the numbers, it looks like it`s (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Perry?

BACON: Of course.

MATTHEWS: Is it smart, or is it smart to go to the center?

FINEMAN: If she takes on the more difficult issues from the left --
namely, going after the big banks, showing that she`s got the guts to go
after that part of her coalition and her past...

MATTHEWS: The money.

FINEMAN: Her husband did it a generation ago from going to the right.
She`s got to have the guts to do that going to the left.

MATTHEWS: It`s tougher.

FINEMAN: Real guts to do it from the left.

MATTHEWS: OK, it takes more guts to go after Wall Street than...

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... Sister Souljah.

FINEMAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, guys. You are smart. I think I might agree
with you. We`ll see.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But you know what? It matters. I think we`re talking
about (INAUDIBLE) really matters because we`ll be talking about this a year
from now. Anne Gearan, thank you. Perry Bacon, thank you, and Howard
Fineman.

Coming up, former House speaker Dennis Hastert will be in court
tomorrow for his arraignment. This is coming at him. He`s got a new
lawyer, and tonight there are new questions about whether Hastert set up
his retirement to yield big money payouts immediately so he could use them
to make those payments to conceal his past misconduct. It`s all coming
together here.

Plus, standing up to the war hawks. We`re going to meet a father
tonight right here who lost his son in Afghanistan. He`s now taking on
Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, one of the Senate`s biggest hawks, about the
neverending push for war in the Middle East. By the way, I call Tom Cotton
"Bates Motel." You figure it out.

And the fight for Iowa. We`re just two months away from the first
debate. The Republicans are revving their engines, and an early front-
runner may be emerging in the Hawkeye State, the guy who I predicted two
years ago was going to be the front-runner. It`s going to be Scott Walker.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with that close relationship we saw in that
little Italian church on Saturday.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`ve got the latest now on that manhunt for two convicted
killers who broke out of a jail in upstate New York. State police, the
Department of Corrections, federal marshals and FBI are hunting for Richard
Matt and David Sweat. And today, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, quote, "They
definitely had help" in their escape from New York`s largest maximum
security prison.

NBC`s John Yang is outside the Clinton Correctional Facility in
Dannemora, New York. John, what`s the latest?

JOHN YANG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, they are looking at the
possibility that there was inside help, that someone who worked in the
prison helped them in this escape.

There also, we`ve learned -- NBC News has learned that these two
prisoners were kept in the "honor block," where they had more privileges,
that their freedoms -- they had a little more freedom to move around within
the prison than other prisoners.

Meanwhile, they say they`ve got about 300 tips as to where they are,
but they also admit they could be anymore. They really don`t know where
these guys are. They could -- don`t know if they`ve left the state, if
they`re still in New York state, if they`ve gone across the boarder to
Canada, about 25 miles to the north.

Along that border, by the way, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has
introduced lanes to search cars as they leave the state, something they
didn`t do before. And there`s a heightened state of awareness, according
to officials up there.

They`re also -- alerted officials in Mexico because one of the
escapees had spend time in Mexico after committing his crime and being
extradited from there to face trial. So that they`re trying to figure out
just how this happened, how they got those power tools, how they managed to
navigate the maze of steam tunnels and pipes and tunnels in that -- this
almost more than century-old building and try to figure out where they are
now -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, it sounds like the movie rights are already being
prepared. Anyway, thank you very much, NBC`s John Yang outside the Clinton
Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Former Republican House speaker
Dennis Hastert is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Chicago in a
courtroom there tomorrow on federal charges of lying to the FBI and evading
bank regulations. We know all that now. The charges are in connection
with Hastert`s $1.7 million payout, which, according to federal officials,
was being made to conceal a relationship of a sexual nature with a male
student from Hastert`s time as a high school teacher and wrestling coach.

Well, "The New York Times" reported over the weekend that the former
speaker tried to boost his income just before he made his first payments to
the person known as "Individual A." According to e-mails obtained by "The
New York Times," Hastert made an unusual request to one of his business
associates to find a financial adviser who could come up with a plan for an
annuity that would generated a substantial cash payout each year.

Well, the former speaker also asked that the adviser not be told of
Mr. Hastert`s involvement. So he wanted to do it anonymously. The purpose
of his inquiry was to find a way to pay someone discretely over perhaps as
long as a decade.

Well, I`m joined right now by Lynn Sweet of "The Chicago Sun-Times"
and Stan Brand, former general counsel to the House of Representatives.
Thank you, Stan, because he`s one of my favorite lawyers in town here. He
knows how to deal with public officials who get into trouble or...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, I think some people get -- let me ask you about this.
One thing that`s bothered me about the case. First of all, the evil that`s
involved with child molestation is -- everybody knows that. That`s what we
agree on.

But what about the FBI`s handling of this case, when they suggested to
him, The reason you were making these withdrawals below the $10,000 number
was because you didn`t trust the banking system. He said, yes.

Well, why would you script a guy to commit perjury? Why would the FBI
write the lines so the guy could dodge the truth?

LYNN SWEET, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": One of the disadvantages you have if
you`re being investigated by the FBI is that when they decide -- they never
put the whole transcript in, or even a portion. We get a sentence
fragment. The indictment says, Chris, that the agent wanted to confirm
what he understood Denny to say, So you don`t trust the bank. Well, what
exactly did he say? That...

MATTHEWS: We don`t know whether he...

SWEET: We don`t know.

MATTHEWS: We don`t know whether Denny Hastert ever said, I don`t
trust the banks.

SWEET: We know that -- we know, in the indictment, that the agent
rephrased something he said.

So, I see your point. Who wouldn`t want to see the questions before
and the other follow-up...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, according to the indictment now, the agent
specifically asked if distrust of the banking system was a possible
explanation for his explanation for taking out the money the way he did.

Well, specifically, in response to the agent`s question confirming
whether the purpose of the withdraws was to store cash because he did not
feel safe with the banking system, as he previously indicated, John Dennis
Hastert stated: "Yes, I kept the cash. That`s what I`m doing."

Let me ask you about the handling of this case. You have got to
defend people like this. Not this guy. And he has apparently a good
lawyer, Tom Green, right?

STAN BRAND, FORMER COUNSEL TO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: That`s why my
rule at my house is, if the FBI ever shows up, don`t talk, because this is
what happened to Martha Stewart. This is what happened to Roger Clemens.
This is the Stradivarius.

MATTHEWS: Do people know that? They don`t have to talk?

BRAND: They don`t know that. They think that somebody shows up with
a badge, you`re retired to talk to them.

On the technical issues of his false statements, there is 100
defenses, including the fact that it`s not criminal for him to suspect that
the banks are unreliable. That`s not a crime. This statute was written
for drug smugglers, organized crime, and not people unwillingly be
approached by the FBI about why they withdrew money from the bank.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who makes the decision -- you guys both know this -- who
makes the decision this guy is a bad guy, we will get him whatever way we
can get him? In other words, they went after Al Capone on tax evasion.

Tax evasion wasn`t Al Capone`s problem. He was a thug and a killer
and a gangster. Why did they -- did somebody at the FBI decide, oh, we`re
going to get this guy because of what he did to these boys back when he was
a coach, and the way we`re going to get him is through the banking laws?
Does somebody make those decisions?

SWEET: I think it`s kind of the other way, that even if the payments
to the bank tipped off the investigators, maybe they knew about Individual
A -- that`s the unnamed person who was molested.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SWEET: I think the issue for Denny Hastert is that he`s one of the
most prominent political figures in America, and I think you don`t get a
benefit of a doubt.

You guys know this. Lots of people withdraw cash and attempt to skirt
the laws that -- the federal authorities have a lot of that. They don`t go
after everybody. In this case, I think his prominence worked against him.

MATTHEWS: They never notice it.

Let me ask you about -- what does he face right now, from what you can
tell? Is he going to prison?

BRAND: Well, the money...

MATTHEWS: Because the statute of limitations on the initial crimes --
and that`s what they are -- they`re felonies, to abuse a kid. He had local
loco parentis relationship with those kids, an adult in a situation of
authority. So, that`s all guilty. But that`s all apparently passed
because of the law.

BRAND: Yes, right. The statute has run on that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why didn`t this guy sue him?

BRAND: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: I mean, I don`t know what he could have done.

BRAND: I thought part of this was actually a settlement of some kind
when I saw it. I thought, well, they reached an agreement and the
agreement was to pay this guy off.

These are federal felonies. These are crimes that generally would
under the sentencing guidelines entail some incarceration. So this is very
serious. What most people also don`t understand is that probably three-
quarters of the convictions that the government gets are over false
statements.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Most people think about this. Nobody wants to go to
heavy security, maximum security, or even security, because a guy like him
in a child molestation case wouldn`t survive. So does he go to some place
like Allenwood, where they play tennis and lift weights and watch TV
together, or is he going to go to a real prison?

BRAND: Don`t know. That`s up to the sentencer.

MATTHEWS: Would you cop the plea if you were him?

(CROSSTALK)

BRAND: No. Look, bringing up all this stuff in the past is not going
to be fun, but the strength of this case is a false statement bank -- money
laundering case? This is a very triable case from his standpoint, I think.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He can win?

BRAND: Yes, absolutely. The government loses these all the time.
They just lost one in Louisiana.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How can you lose when it`s all on the record and it`s all
them documents?

SWEET: But the sex might not -- the sexual misconduct might not --
won`t be part of it, right?

BRAND: Right.

SWEET: It won`t be.

MATTHEWS: They keep it out of the jury?

BRAND: Well, I don`t know. Certainly, the government would want to
use that.

But just on the contours of what has been charged, he`s got defenses.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, if he had you, he`d have a defense anyway.

BRAND: He`s got a good lawyer.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Lynn Sweet, thanks.

Why does Chicago have got so many problems, you know?

SWEET: It`s the water.

MATTHEWS: Blagojevich. You had five of the last seven governors.
You have got this.

SWEET: Yes.

Well, Jesse Jr. is in a halfway house in Baltimore.

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET: You got it.

MATTHEWS: Unbelievable.

SWEET: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET: This is different. Even for us, this is a different...

MATTHEWS: It`s great to be a reporter.

Anyway, thank you, Lynn Sweet.

That`s sarcastic. Anyway, it`s a terrible story. It`s in the past,
but it`s still terrible.

Stan Brand, thank you, because you`re the guy people would go to.

Up next, taking on the war hawks. We`re going to meet a father. This
is serious business coming up, real serious. He lost his son in
Afghanistan. He confronted the Senate`s leading hawk, Tom Cotton, on the
constant need to bang the drums for war. And he did it personally because
he has a personal reason.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED BOENIG, ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST: I would consider you probably the
biggest hawk in Washington. Maybe Lindsey Graham, right? You would admit
that, right?

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I believe in strength and confidence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was of course Fred Boenig, a Pennsylvania Gold Star father,
confronting Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. Boenig`s son Austin died while
serving in Afghanistan. And he has other children, Mr. Boenig does, who
have served in the Marines and the Air Force. And he wants the war hawks
in Congress to stop the rhetoric and to think before sending more U.S.
troops back to fight again in the Middle East.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOENIG: When you hear you speak, all I hear is somebody knocking on
my door again. When do we get to hang up the mission accomplished banner
and when do I get my kids to come home safe again?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Freshman Senator Tom Cotton served for five years as an
active-duty Army infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton has
opposed efforts to avoid war with Iran and generally taken hawkish
positions on the Middle East, and we all know that. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COTTON: With the rise of a terrorist group like the Islamic State or
the risk of Iran getting weapons and weapons proliferating throughout the
world, of not only having our soldiers, sailors, airmens and Marines face
death on the front lines around the world, but to have another mass
casualty terrorist attack here in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now is Gold Star father and anti-war
activist Fred Boenig.

Thank you, Mr. Boenig. Thank you. And sorry for your loss. You lost
your son over there.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Tell me what it was like to confront probably one of the
biggest hawks in the Senate?

BOENIG: Well, I had planned on it. I have done it before. I caught
Adam Kinzinger off guard at a New York University thing. And I asked the
question, simple question, how many days has it been since the last
military casualty?

The actual number at this point is 61, if you don`t count the
noncombatant death that was recently, two weeks ago, but someone shot and
killed in action. That was 61 days ago. And prior to that, it was 116
days, which was the longest period of time since 9/11.

And I just think that nobody is paying attention to the peace, that we
don`t have our children dying every day. In 2012, I`m the morning guy on
the radio. I`m on WLVR with James Braxton Peterson. And I have read every
name since the beginning of the Iraq or Afghan war to now.

I have read every single name and I cried on air every day. And I
would do it at 7:00 in the morning in the drive time for my listeners. And
it`s been awhile since we have had any, so I haven`t had to read any, and
it`s nice, because I don`t -- don`t take a half-an-hour each day. So...

MATTHEWS: Why do you think we`re still in Afghanistan?

BOENIG: I don`t know, but I got a funny feeling either one of my sons
is going to be there soon. Or -- he`s training right now in Fort Carson.
They are on. They`re training right now, but they are training desert.
So, we don`t know. He`s a crew chief on a Black Hawk.

MATTHEWS: What do you think about Rumsfeld, the former secretary of
defense, who basically ramrodded the whole war on Iraq? Although but once
told me that George W. Bush, the president, never asked him if we should go
to war with Iraq -- I could never figure out that crowd of neocons.

And he comes out now and says that we should have not pushed for
democracy in Iraq. Wait a minute. The whole ideological campaign, the
whole war was ideology. How do you separate it out?

These guys were totally into this. And now they`re starting to pull
away. Oh, I wasn`t for democratization. I wasn`t for this. They were
totally into it.

BOENIG: Yes, they were.

But the thing that`s going on now is that with them admitting that it
was a bad idea, why would they want to do it again? That`s my question,
is, you know, here we are.

MATTHEWS: Well, they still want to do it in Syria and they want to go
to war with Iran. Tom Cotton is your number one guy going to war with
Iran, he and his partner, Bill Kristol.

(CROSSTALK)

BOENIG: Well, they have a lot of nations around there that have full
militaries. The Saudi have full militaries. The Jordanians have -- they
have tanks, thousands of tanks. They have -- even Turkey has 3,000 tanks
and...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, why fight if we will do it?

BOENIG: Right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, you say Senator Tom Cotton, Mr. Boenig, was ginning
up the threat of ISIS to the United States here at home for political
reasons. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOENIG: Seven thousand miles away riding around in white pickup
trucks is not going -- coming here and cutting our heads off.

COTTON: The threat environment that we face here at home and
throughout the West is graver, more grave today than at any time in any of
our lifetimes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: This guy, the Bates Motel, it`s always like that. He
always reminds of that Tony Perkins in "Psycho."

This guy is so hawkish. It`s always, we got to fight right now. We
have to fight for the world because they are coming to get us.

BOENIG: Well, if you go along further into that interview, my
business partner from The Daily Ripple -- she`s the editor of The Daily
Ripple.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BOENIG: She, at one hour and eight minutes, asked another question,
and the question that she asked was, what about Africa and Latin America?
You seem to have all your interest on this, when, in those places, we`re
having the same kind of thing. And he didn`t really have an answer for
that.

MATTHEWS: Yes, he`s focused.

Anyway, thank you so much, Fred Boenig.

BOENIG: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thanks for those.

Up next: The fight for Iowa is on. We`re getting back to politics.
And after this weekend`s Roast and Ride event out there, Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker looks more and more like the candidate to beat. By the way,
he wants to go back in Iraq too for another war over there. Did you
believe that this weekend?

You`re watching HARDBALL the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

More than 250 law enforcement officers are involved in the search for
the two convicted murderers who escaped from a New York prison, an
investigation under way to figure out how those inmates got the tools they
used to escape.

Defense officials confirmed the Army`s official public Web site has
been hacked. No classified information or personal data was compromised.

And President Obama spoke at the end of the G7 Summit in Germany,
touching on a range of issues there, including a legal challenge to legal
reform. He says the Supreme Court should not have taken up that matter --
now back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Thank you, Iowa. Thank you. God bless
all of you. Make sure that, as these candidates come back through, you`re
giving them a very warm Iowa welcome. Thanks for the successful first
inaugural event.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there she is.

And welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was of course the hog castrator, as she called herself, Iowa
Senator Joni Ernst, who just got elected recently, who hosted her
motorcycle and barbecue themed cattle call of Republican presidential
candidates over this weekend, a Roast and Ride, as she called it.

The fight for Iowa has begun. I made it official. It happened this
week. Here is more from the event on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is what America is
about, ladies and gentlemen, living freedom, riding free, being with a
bunch of American heroes.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And so I was thinking this
morning, I really would be tempted on that general election debate stage to
ask Hillary if she has ever ridden on a John Deere tractor.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me tell you,
to Hillary Clinton, your definition of flat broke of mine are a little bit
different. Anybody who thinks they are flat broke after serving two terms
in the White House has lost their way.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to nominate
somebody in the Republican Party who has faced, fought and won against the
Clinton political machine, you`re looking at the one guy who has ever done
that and lived to tell about it.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I love a senator who knows how to
castrate a pig, ride a hog, and cut the pork from Washington, D.C.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WALKER: Now, wouldn`t it be nice to give her an ally in the White
House to help get the job done?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Politico calls Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the
man you just saw, the man to beat in Iowa. And he stole the show this
weekend at breaking away from the pack of Republican hopefuls in the
Hawkeye State.

Walker, a proud Harley-Davidson owner, rode the 39-mile stretch
through Central Iowa, along with Senator Joni Ernst and several hundred
other bikers. There they are. As "The New York Times" wrote on Saturday,
Walker enjoys a decisive lead in Iowa right now. He`s up about 17 to other
people down around 10, thanks to an unflashy style that resonates with
Iowans` Midwestern sensibilities and to an unusual appeal across a wide
ideological swathe -- or swathe -- of Republicans.

The latest "Des Moines Register" poll, as I said, has Walker up by
seven over his nearest rival, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Joining me in the roundtable right now are some real pros, Robert
Costa, political reporter with "The Washington Post," Sabrina Siddiqui, a
reporter with "The Guardian," and Jamelle Bouie is a writer with Slate.

Thank you all.

And I want you all to -- I believe that the battle for Iowa has begun.
It`s going to be won by a Midwesterner, as it often has. And that
Midwesterner`s name is Scott Walker, because he`s culturally evangelical.
He`s a real executive. He has a manner which is quiet, but he was the guy
that beat Ed Schultz and the labor guys. He knows how to fight.

But he wins in kind of a Midwestern way. He`s not a big talker like
Chris Christie. He`s not an East Coast guy. He`s very much Midwestern.
and I look at him with the hat and the chopper, and she -- the hog he`s
driving -- by the way, the hog castrator and the hog rider.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: I believe that is the case right
now. Scott Walker, look at his biography. He spends part of his childhood
in Iowa. His father Lou Walker, Baptist preacher, goes around the country
talking about his faith. Walker has a cadence of a preacher, just like his
father. He connects with Iowans.

MATTHEWS: Siddiqui?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: You know, he benefits on name
recognition, too, as the governor of the neighboring state and talked about
early years, he spent in Iowa. He`s really good also at retail politics
and he does that with that Midwestern you talk. He has this running rift
about discount shopping at Kohl`s and the crowd loves it. That`s the kind
of stuff they can connect with.

MATTHEWS: Those states are both bordering with Illinois, right?

JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE WRITER: Right.

MATTHEWS: Is there a common border? Let`s get a geography lesson
here. You said, are they bordering actually?

SIDDIQUI: Nearby. Bordering --

MATTHEWS: Very nearby, very nearby. Who`s picking a point here?

BOUIE: Walker`s big advantage here is that he has ideological
affinity with so much with the Republican Party. And he can point to --

MATTHEWS: Explain that, Jamelle.

BOUIE: He`s a small government, tax cutting, anti-union guy. He`s
not just anti-union, just talk about it, like Christie --

MATTHEWS: Now, he`s taking on professors, too.

BOUIE: Right. Now, he`s against --

MATTHEWS: That`s always a smart move.

BOUIE: Professors and students, and he can show Iowa voters he has
beaten them. He hasn`t just talked about and it danced around it, he`s
beaten these people on the other side.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think Ed Schultz, my colleague, and the labor
unions probably didn`t intend it but probably in a weird way gave him a
boomerang opportunity, right? He tried to recall him and didn`t work and
comes back and he`s there. He`s Lazarus.

BOUIE: He can say he`s won three statewide elections, not just two.

COSTA: He`s always talking about the Gipper. He knows that`s the
base`s sweet spot, and they like his political courage. They see as
someone who really battled the union.

MATTHEWS: Here`s the other contender out there, because these are --
I think there are four guys in the race, all guys, Bush somewhere maybe
might win this as he`s supposed to but he`s a sleeper at this point, you`ve
got Walker right now, you`ve got Marco Rubio and I think somewhere out
there, you`ve got Rick Perry, believe it or not, because I still think Rick
Perry is very likable.

Here is MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt asking Florida Senator Marco Rubio who
participated in the ride and roast event about his own experiences with
motorcycles. Let`s watch this.

(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: So, have you ever driven a
motorcycle? Can you drive one?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I haven`t. No, I`ve never been on a
motorcycle. I mean, I`m on jet skis. I`m more of a water sport person,
you know? So, my mom was also terrified of motorcycles as a little kid,
she used to traumatize us about them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, that was a -- that was sort of dingleberry.

SIDDIQUI: Not in Iowa.

MATTHEWS: A Midwestern express from Iowa.

(CROSSTALK)

SIDDIQUI: There is no excuse when you`re in Iowa, but I will say
about Marco Rubio, there is a lot of room for him and I think one of the
things that`s happened with primary voters --

MATTHEWS: Did you like that performance, about my mom said they were
--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s too traumatizing.

SIDDIQUI: Well, my mom thinks driving for me now is traumatizing.
But, look, I think that Marco Rubio, the more primary voters hear about
him, the more they like him. He made a big appeal that he`s the JFK of the
Republican Party in Iowa, that`s the approach that his campaign --

MATTHEWS: What`s the connection with him and JFK?

SIDDIQUI: Well, he`s made --

MATTHEWS: I knew JFK. Just kidding.

SIDDIQUI: He made the point and adopted the new frontier with new
American century and early 40s.

MATTHEWS: Did he fight in World War II? Did he save his crew?

SIDDIQUI: This is his campaign.

MATTHEWS: What is his connection to the courage of John F. Kennedy?

SIDDIQUI: Well, that`s what he`s probably going to have to lay out.
But I don`t think the Republican primary voters are too concerned with the
actual nuances of that. I think it`s more about contrasting to Bush and
Clinton who are part of political dynasties and he`s trying to make a
generational argument. That`s the big part of Marco Rubio`s pitch.

And primary voters are buying it. There are a lot of young voters, he
polls particularly well with them in the Republican side.

MATTHEWS: Because he`s young that makes him John F. Kennedy?

BOUIE: I think it`s so problem with the generational argument is that
if I am Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Rick Perry, I just say, listen, we just
elected a guy who is a first term senator and he was young and --

MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t you? How come Republicans can`t sight see that
irony?

SIDDIQUI: That`s why he`s bringing the JFK contrast because he`s not
trying to be compared to Barack Obama. And that`s where his campaign has
decided --

COSTA: Rubio --

MATTHEWS: Dan Quayle try that once.

COSTA: I think Rubio, beyond his generational talk and his talk of
vigor, he`s a threat to Walker because he does appeal to the conservatives.
He`s walked away from his stuff on immigration. He`s centered himself with
the conservatives and so, if you`re Scott Walker, you see Rubio not Bush as
your main threat.

SIDDIQUI: Yes. And Rubio has establishment plus conservative
support. That combination is really key. Only Bush and Rubio and Walker
have that going for them.

MATTHEWS: So, eight years from now, it would be a worse presidential
candidate than he is today. This argument about age is a little bit weird
to me.

Anyway, the round table is staying with us. And up next, the deep
bond between President Obama and Vice President Biden we saw this week on
display this weekend as I said at the funeral for the vice president`s son
Beau.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "The Washington Post" reporter on trial in Iran right now
is back in his second closer door hearing. Jason Rezaian, "The Post"
Tehran bureau chief, is facing charges of espionage and propaganda against
the Islamic Republic. Rezaian has been held since last July. And both his
family and "The Post" have strongly criticized Iran`s decision to hold him
so long. Rezaian`s mother who was at the courthouse today with his wife,
his wife says today`s hearing was in secret and she has no idea how the
trial is going or how many more hearings there is going to be.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Robert, Sabrina and
Jamelle.

Anyway, President Obama delivered the eulogy, as we all know, for Beau
in his funeral on Saturday, up in Wilmington, Delaware. It was a fitting
and at times emotional tribute to a devoted public servant and family man
whose father has been at the president`s side -- at his side over the last
seven years. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What greater
inheritance is there? What greater inheritance than to be part of a family
that passes on the values of what it means to be a great parent? That
passes on the values of what it means to be a true citizen? That passes on
the values of what it means to give back fully and freely without expecting
anything in return? That`s what your country was built on. Men like Beau.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: As Juliet Eilperin of "The Washington Post" pointed out,
Vice President Biden selects President Obama to deliver the eulogy for his
son reflects the intimate bond ever since 2008. It was in that spirit that
the president described the personal kinship that he and his feels toward
the Biden. Here that is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I will tell you what? Michelle and I and Sasha and Malia,
we`ve become part of the Biden clan. We`re honorary members now. And the
Biden family rules apply -- we`re always here for you. We always will be.
My word as a Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know it amazed me being up there in the church and I
couldn`t see a lot of it, you can see it in television -- the neighborhood
feel of the whole thing.

COSTA: It comes back to Joe Biden`s roots. I mean, he`s someone who
comes from a blue collar background, and it really was a powerful moment to
see President Obama up there. It was the untold story, the Obama
presidency, the close relationship between those two. But the Biden`s been
out there as a fighter for the president, working Congress for him, and he
really saw the personal bond and it`s unique.

MATTHEWS: I think the press loves the gaffes and they miss the big
story.

You got your reason to cover and I understand why we all do. I do it,
too. But it doesn`t capture this bond. I once interviewed -- I was
meeting with the vice president back in the very beginning. He said I`m in
the office five hours a day. So, there`s a lot of working together.

SIDDIQUI: I think that the way that the nation has been moved by Beau
Biden passing speaks to the effectiveness of Joe Biden and this authentic
person. He is someone who`s extremely heartfelt and his, you know, wisdom,
he has spoken when he dealt with grief with the loss of his wife and infant
daughter, too. That often gets overshadowed. But the way that you just
saw the outpouring support from both sides of the aisle for Joe and his
family this time of loss speaks to what separates him from the run of the
mill politicians that we`re so used to hear in Washington.

MATTHEWS: Jamelle?

BOUIE: Joe Biden is just a remarkably authentic guy. It does not
seem like he is putting on the air. And that fact I think really -- in a
time like this, people connect to that and see that they can see he is a
man that`s hurting right now and not just someone trying to get their vote.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think that anybody knows what it`s like to lose a
child unless you`re in it, and you never get out of it, ever get out of it.

Anyway, the president talked about what made Beau Biden different than
most politicians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Anyone can make a name for themselves in this reality TV age,
especially in today`s politics, if you`re loud enough, or controversial
enough, you can get some attention. But to make that name mean something,
to have it associated with dignity and integrity, that is rare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Robert, he wrote it himself.

COSTA: He did. When you speak to Democrats about the Biden and Obama
relationship, you hear about Biden, he is part father/part brother to the
president. He plays both roles depending on the circumstance. You see
from the president, he really is a writer at heart.

MATTHEWS: He is a loner, too.

COSTA: But he respects people who connect with him on a deep level
and endure with him. And that just came through with almost every line.

MATTHEWS: Jamelle, your thoughts about this.

BOUIE: Again, that`s basically -- I have nothing to add to that. I
mean, this was a very lovely and wonderful eulogy. It think that it speaks
to sort of, again, the deep connection between Biden and Obama, and also
Obama`s literary talent, Obama`s ability to sort of communicate. That
exact feeling to a national audience and without losing the personal and
intimacy that is necessary for an occasion like that.

MATTHEWS: We don`t see that kind of personal affection in public life
too often and love. That`s the word the president used. Anyway, I have
more thoughts about this in a minute.

Robert Costa, thank you. It`s great to have you on.

Sabrina, thank you so much. And, Jamelle, what a great trio.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with something about the revelation
up in St. Anthony`s this Saturday.

Kathleen and I were back in the church, way back in the church, when
President Obama made that remarkable profession of love for his vice
president and the vice president`s family.

If you think this is normal in American politics these days, let me
break it to you -- love is not the word you hear, isn`t the bond you
notice. No, it`s not familiar to those of us who cover the political word
of this early century, isn`t the world around you when you get into
politics as so many of you who watch each night do.

Look, if this is a little gooey for you, OK, I`m not going to give
this commentary very often. But attention needs to be paid to the close
relationship we saw in that little Italian church on Saturday. People need
to realize what was revealed up there on that altar, when a president of
the United States not only admitted an affection for his vice president,
but celebrated it for all to witness.

He did it in his eulogy of the vice president`s son, he did it not
just because of the tragedy, but because as he said of the love that binds
them, and beyond that, their two families. I am a romantic about politics,
as most of you known now. I love stories of the Kennedys and Franklin
Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, and yes I got a
thrill from those earlier speeches of Barack Obama.

But nothing in that was as human as this weekend, and I say, good for
them. Good for them that they don`t mind us knowing that two people who
work together day after day through successful missions and mistakes and,
yes, gaffes, have found in their work and struggle at the top, the most
sublime of human emotions and the most basics.

And that was a nice little neighborhood up there in Wilmington where
that funeral took place, and Barack Obama and Joe Biden could have been
just two guys from the same block who shared the joys and pangs and
punishments of life together, like good human beings. Don`t you think?

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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