updated 6/17/2015 9:54:00 AM ET 2015-06-17T13:54:00

Date: June 16, 2015
Guest: Liz Mair, Brad Woodhouse, Susan Milligan, Heidi Przybyla


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

It`s happened. After four campaigns of promising to enter a presidential
campaign, Donald Trump has made the leap, at least into the first debate.
The question now splashing from the pool of candidates is what this wave of
human push and ego will do.

Will it swamp the front-runners, those who were already Trump`s ready
targets? Will it displace the battle for the nomination with a battle
simply to be heard above the din of the Donald and all his celebrity-driven
sturm and drang? Will we be able to hear or even see anyone else when the
spotlight shines on the golden boy from Gotham?

And let`s never forget, not for an instant, how Trump has these past years
grabbed and clutched the media`s attention with an unbending indictment
that the president of the United States is foreign and illegitimate, that
he somehow forced his way not only into the country`s highest office but
into the country`s life itself. Can the man who led this indictment,
championed it to his signal advantage, now be taken seriously as his
wannabe successor?

Michael Steele is the former chair of the Republican National Committee.
Joan Walsh is editor-at-large for Salon. Both are MSNBC political

In his announcement speech today, Donald Trump talked about migrants from
Mexico this way. Let`s watch him do it.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These aren`t the best and the
finest. When Mexico sends us people, they`re not sending their best.
They`re not sending you. They`re not sending you. They`re sending people
that have lots of problems, and they`re bringing those problems with us
(sic). They`re bringing drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists.
And some, I assume, are good people.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was nice, wasn`t it, Joan?


MATTHEWS: In other words, some -- first of all, where is this sort of
operations chief somewhere in HQ down in Mexico, Guadalajara somewhere --


MATTHEWS: -- these people sending people off in droves in different
complements of troops to sic the needy, whatever, the drug dealers -- it`s
all organized by some capital in some province in Mexico. I mean, God,
even the notion that he talks in seems fictitious.

WALSH: It`s crazy.

MATTHEWS: Is that too strong a word?

WALSH: No, it`s not too strong a word. I mean, I also think it`s racist.
I think we can use that word. I mean, this -- look, this sounds like --
this is like calves the size of cantaloupes, except it`s not as funny. And
it`s really dangerous for the Republican Party.

I mean, I felt like what we were seeing was kind of a bizarro-world version
of Jeb Bush`s speech the day before. Jeb breaks into Spanish, Donald Trump
breaks into nativist. And I think it`s terrible for the party.

I am so happy about one thing, and that is that my friend Michael does not
have to preside over this circus.


MATTHEWS: You know, Michael I was looking out to the crowd. And I don`t
know whether black or white or a mixed crowd of whatever It`s really not
important. But he says to the crowd, in saluting their native-borndom, he
says, They`re not you. They`re not sending you. You`re good people. What
a pander that is -- not people like you, these dregs, these losers, these
criminals, these dealers.


MATTHEWS: First of all, who was he going for? Let`s talk politics.

STEELE: Chris, this clearly wasn`t the "Give me your tired, the poor, your
hungry" --


WALSH: Nothing!

MATTHEWS: Don`t give me any more of them, is what it was!

STEELE: Yes. This wasn`t that speech. Look, you know, that`s Donald.
Donald throws down. He throws down hard and stuff splatters everywhere.

And an interesting challenge for the Republican -- other Republican
candidates is what type of check they`re going to be on that kind of
language, that sentiment. Is that going to be the brand that goes forth in
the 2016 campaign, or is it something else?

And I think Joan touched on a very important contrast between what we heard
come from Jeb Bush yesterday in reaching out to the Hispanic community and
what we heard today, not so much.

MATTHEWS: Well, as I mentioned, Trump -- the Donald, as he is -- was one
of the most outspoken birthers in the country for the last half dozen
years, questioning the president`s place of birth again and again and
again, saying he`s basically -- somebody snuck in under the fence from
Kenya. Let`s watch him at it. Let`s watch this record.


TRUMP: Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate? And you know what? I
wish he would because I think it`s a terrible pall (ph) that`s hanging
over him. He should show his birth certificate.

Let me tell you, I`m a really smart guy. I was a really good student at
the best school in the country. The reason I have a little doubt, just a
little, is because he grew up and nobody knew him. Nobody ever comes
forward. Nobody ever knows who he is until later in his life. It`s very

If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications,
and if he gives his passport applications and records, I will give to a
charity of his choice --


MATTHEWS: As recently as this February, 2015, Trump continued to play the
birther card. Let`s watch him at it.


TRUMP: I still would like to see his college records. I mean, I`d like to
see a couple of things. I`m not looking at his marks. I`d like to see
where he put on -- hey, look, he wrote a book when he was a young man, and
it said, Born in Kenya, blah, blah, blah. I don`t know where he was born.
I would like to see his college records. I think it`s important.

Trump comes along and said birth certificate. He gave a birth certificate.
Whether or not that was a real certificate, because a lot of people
question it -- I certainly question it.


MATTHEWS: OK, where do we start with this, Joan, this attempt to
delegitimize the president and say he snuck into the country, somehow snuck
into American life? He may not even have been in American life. He may
not have gone to those schools because nobody knew him at those schools.

The indictment here is so colossal that he`s a phantom -- a fiction
himself, that Obama never really existed in these schools because nobody
knew him, so how could he prove he ever went to these schools?

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: I mean, to get down to the level of this indictment is pretty
raw. And what I -- I got a thought about it, but your thoughts first. I
have some thoughts about why he does this.

WALSH: Well, it is raw, and it trades on all the worst right-wing
stereotypes about the president. He`s Kenyan. He`s foreign. Also, he`s
not very bright. We don`t know what he really did in school. He may be
fabricating that. He`s not competent.

So it pulls them all together in this massive questioning of his identity.
I mean, I thought the day that the president had to show his long form
birth certificate was a truly sad day, when this man, this carnival barker
gets the president to show his papers.

MATTHEWS: His papers.

WALSH: He`s not going to get -- he`s not going let up with this.

MATTHEWS: Like he stops him -- he stopped him in his car and said, Show me
your license.

WALSH: Right. Show me that you deserve to be here. It was disgusting.

MATTHEWS: OK, Michael, my friend, I want your thoughts, and then I`ll give
you my thoughts because I`m going to expand on them later, about why he
does this.


MATTHEWS: OK, here`s my thought. I`m in North Philadelphia during the
campaign in 2008, a tough -- you know the neighborhood.


MATTHEWS: It`s down around Temple, and the neighborhood`s never really
changed. It`s a working class black neighborhood, and it`s kind of tough,
tough neighborhood. And it`s never really gotten off the ground.

So when Obama came in there and gave his big speech, I thought, well, he`d
be promising people benefits or something like you`d think, a lot of big
city Democrats do. No, all he did was go in there and say, I want to bring
this country together. I`m going to unite you people with the rest of the
country. We`re going to be one country.

That got the biggest applause from these people who have nothing, who could
have asked for anything and they don`t have it. And all they wanted was to
be 100 percent accepted as not just equal Americans, fellow Americans, one
of us, one of us, LeBron James just as much an all-American as Tom Brady,
one of us. That`s all they wanted, just be fully accepted as American.

And this guy comes along and plays the card, your guy -- The one we`ve
elected president, even he`s not one of us. He`s a foreigner. He snuck in
the country. He`s a liar. I mean, I think -- I want to go -- what do you
think of that, Michael?

STEELE: Well, look, I --

MATTHEWS: I think it`s a calumny aimed at the heart of American hope, at
the very idea this country we`ll never quite get to perhaps in our
lifetime, but the idea of unity and equal fellowship. And he says, Oh, no,
even your best guy is a fraud and a foreigner.

STEELE: Well --

MATTHEWS: I think he knew exactly what he was doing because the 20 percent
of the country that still have a problem with this proposition cheered it.
They --


MATTHEWS: -- his business partners.

STEELE: There`s no doubt --

MATTHEWS: His business dealings he makes with people.

STEELE: Well, it plays --

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.

STEELE: -- to the lowest common denominator, there`s no doubt about
that. And I think -- I think that in large measure, the vast majority of
the American people have rejected that argument and have moved away from
that --

MATTHEWS: When are the Republican Party going to reject it?

STEELE: Well, that -- look, I can assure you --


MATTHEWS: Why don`t they just say --

STEELE: I would be willing --

MATTHEWS: -- one of thee fellow debaters say --

STEELE: Chris, I will be --

MATTHEWS: -- I will not debate a man --

STEELE: Chris --

MATTHEWS: -- who goes after the president that way? Just a thought.

STEELE: Well, that -- I hope they do. And if he does, I hope in that
moment on that stage that one of those individuals rises to the occasion
and puts the appropriate check in place. I really do. I think they would.

But I don`t think that`s going to be Donald`s play this time. I think
Donald wants to have a more serious, if I can use that term, conversation
about some of the things that are important to him.

But this was not the way to start that conversation, when you use the name
calling, when you --


STEELE: -- make pejorative comments about people. And look, you know,
you`re sitting there, you build a wall and you`re going to send the bill to
Mexico as president?

WALSH: Right.

STEELE: You`ll be waiting a long time to get that check. So that is now
how -- that`s not presidential, and that`s a tone that he`s going to have
to change, I think.

WALSH: Michael, you are so optimistic.

MATTHEWS: There`s no excuse here for lack of intelligence. Donald Trump
is as smart as anybody who`s run for president. He`s up there. He knows
how to make money --

STEELE: He knows.

MATTHEWS: -- knows how the business world works --


MATTHEWS: -- and he does this. I don`t know why he does it.

WALSH: (INAUDIBLE) he had a speech and he chucked it. I don`t know if the
racist line was in there. But he`s not disciplined. He is running for
these hot button issues. Michael is way too kind, way too optimistic.

The only thing I`ll say, the only proviso I`ll put on this is he may not
really run. This is not, quote, "official." He has not filed papers with
the FEC. We may have just watched a 45-minute infomercial, where he got to
claim that he`s worth $10 billion --


MATTHEWS: He`s in first debate, Joan. I think we can be sure of that. He
will qualify --


WALSH: I actually hope so.

STEELE: He wants to be on that first -- he wants to be on that stage on
that first debate in August. He is running second, third in most national


STEELE: He is going to want to be on that stage. But I think Donald`s
going to have to do a little bit a different approach in order to stay on
that stage.

MATTHEWS: Yes. We`ll see.

Anyway, Donald Trump did what he does best today, he sold the brand. He
sold Donald Trump. Let`s watch him in action.


TRUMP: Our country needs a truly great leader. And we need a truly great
leader now. We need a leader that wrote "The Art of the Deal."

I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.

I don`t need anybody`s money. It`s nice. I don`t need anybody`s money.
I`m using my own money. I`m not using the lobbyists. I`m not using
donors. I don`t care. I`m really rich.

I`m proud of my net worth. I`ve done an amazing job. It was even reported
incorrectly yesterday because they said he had assets of $9 billion. I
said, No, that`s the wrong number. That`s the wrong number. Not assets.

I`m not doing that to brag because you know what? I don`t have to brag. I
don`t have to, believe it or not.


MATTHEWS: Joan, what do you make of this guy? I mean (INAUDIBLE) I mean,
I get the point. He`s $9 billion in net worth. It is an amazing success


MATTHEWS: There`s no doubt about it.


MATTHEWS: I give him credit for it. But this -- I was always taught,
Don`t ever say you`re rich. Don`t ever say you`re -- you`re supposed to --
We`re comfortable. He breaks all the rules! I mean, this braggadocios --


STEELE: Chris, if I could, that is -- that is a very important point. He
breaks the rules.


STEELE: He`s a guy that walks into the china shop and just goes through
it. And that`s where the party is right now with him. You`re going to
have a lot of very staid, very coiffed and prepared candidates --

MATTHEWS: HE`s pretty coiffed.

STEELE: -- standing on that stage, and to their right or their left will
be Donald Trump --

WALSH: Who will say anything.

STEELE: -- who, coiffed as he is, will just --


MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t go after his coif, if I were you!


WALSH: He will say absolutely anything, and it`s going to be very
entertaining for us. But Michael, what if he keeps somebody like John
Kasich off the stage? I mean, I would --


WALSH: It`s a big problem. I would think it`s a big problem for you guys,

STEELE: And I would almost bet you that a John Kasich or a Bobby Jindal or
any -- any -- Carly Fiorina, who are going to be sitting at home that night
because they didn`t reach the magic number -- a real problem.

MATTHEWS: Let`s right -- let`s agree now -- we have some common ground
coming up here. Donald Trump did talk about the need to rebuild our roads,
bridges and airports. Let`s watch some common ground here, I think for all
of us. Let`s watch him.


TRUMP: We have to rebuild our infrastructure, our bridges, roadways, our
airports. You come into LaGuardia Airport, it`s like we`re in a third
world country. And I come in from China and I come in from Qatar and I
come in from different places, and they have the most incredible airports
in the world. You come back to this country, and you have LAX -- disaster.
You have all off these disasters -- airports.


MATTHEWS: Donald Trump, a broken clock is right twice a day.


MATTHEWS: He`s right on that one. I`m telling you, it`s --


MATTHEWS: Down in South Africa, a new country, newly democratic, a country
that has the most beautiful airport in the world, and we`ve got JFK.

Anyway, thank you very much, Michael Steele. Thank you, Joan Walsh.

Coming up -- there`s a hot fight brewing between the right wing in this
country and Pope Francis. The holy father is about to release an
encyclical saying climate change is man-made and we need to take urgent
action, he says, to combat it. So now we have conservatives, including
some who are running for president, caught between their ideology and their

Plus, the story that everyone`s talking about, Rachel Dolezal, the white
woman who resigned as head of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington. She says
she identifies as black. We`ll get to that with our roundtable tonight.

And what`s a Republican debate going to look like with Donald Trump on the
stage? The guy`s a gifted bomb thrower. We`ve got some of his most
outrageous attacks later in the show.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a matter Donald Trump needs to settle before
we look at him as a serious presidential candidate.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Don`t look now, but Bernie Sanders is coming on strong in New
Hampshire. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a new poll from Suffolk University, Hillary Clinton`s lead in
the New Hampshire Democratic primary is now at 10, 10 points. Clinton`s at
41, Bernie Sanders at 31.

The battle for the hearts and minds of progressives is on. As I said here
last night, it`s for real. And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Man-made climate change is real and
we must act on it now. That`s the big headline in the pope`s encyclical, a
highly anticipated pronouncement from the church that is due out Thursday
this week.

A draft was just leaked to the press, and according to the draft, the pope
will make a moral and scientific call for urgent action on global warming,
saying that, quote, "Plenty of scientific studies point out that the last
decades of global warming have been mostly caused by the great
concentration of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide
and others, especially generated by human action. The poor and the earth
are shouting, Care about the world that we inhabit."

Anyway, the pope`s words are a strong denunciation of what we`re hearing on
the hard right, especially among presidential hopefuls courting Christian
conservatives. Here`s just a sampling of the flat-earthers, if you will,
running for president.


human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate, the way
these scientists are portraying it.

hundred years` data is in a earth that`s 4.6 billion years old. My guess
is that the conclusions that you make from that are not conclusive.

say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest
with you.

QUESTION: Do you believe climate change is real?

troubled by a theory that fits every perfect situation.

TRUMP: This whole global warming hoax -- this winter is brutal! I mean,
I`m in New York right now. The airports were closed. Everything`s closed.
It`s freezing!


MATTHEWS: Susan Milligan is a political writer with "U.S. News & World
Report" and Brad Woodhouse (ph) is a former communications director at the
DNC and president of the pro-Hillary group Correct the Record. I love



MATTHEWS: Just the facts, ma`am.

WOODHOUSE: Just the facts.

MATTHEWS: You know, the pope is a strong force in the world.


MATTHEWS: I mean people, friends of mine who are Jewish, whatever.

MILLIGAN: Exactly. Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s not just the Catholic Church. He seems to have a moral
authority and maybe now an intellectual authority that we haven`t seen on
this issue.

MILLIGAN: Absolutely.

And, first of all, I think we just have to say that from a historic
standpoint here, it`s just so profound what he`s saying, that an
institution that has always been focused on what happens just after we
leave this Earth is saying we have to pay attention though this Earth while
we`re here. It`s a gift from God. We have to take care of it.

And I also think it`s interesting. The pope has been a leader not just on
this issue, but on income inequality and trickle-down economics.


MILLIGAN: And here you have these world leaders who can`t get their act
together on it. And it`s the pope who is stepping up saying we need to pay
attention to this.

And I do think it creates some problems for some of these conservative
candidates, these Christian right candidates who are sort of using the
church for their world view.


MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at Jeb today. He`s a Catholic, of course, who
reacted to the news at a town hall today in New Hampshire. Here`s Jeb


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope I`m not like going to get
castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don`t get economic
policy from my bishops or my cardinals or from my pope. There are parts of
Florida that -- Miami that with a couple of inches, three or four or five
inches of rising sea level could create huge problems.

My attitude is, I don`t think the science is complete, but I do think we
need to create long-term policies of adaptation, because the climate is
changing. Whether men are doing it or not, in the case of the sea level
rising in Miami, is kind of irrelevant.


MATTHEWS: So what is his proposal for dealing with the sea level rise?

WOODHOUSE: Well, exactly.


MATTHEWS: Does it become Venice?


MATTHEWS: In other words, don`t fit -- don`t go to the cause, but deal
with the solution. So the water`s coming up, so let`s all have boats and
move around in the city.


WOODHOUSE: We have boats. Maybe we can use Marco Rubio`s boat.

MATTHEWS: That`s all he can -- that`s really what he`s saying.

WOODHOUSE: That`s exactly right.

Sometimes, I think there are 25 people left in this country that don`t
believe in climate change. It`s the Koch brothers, the head of the RNC.


MATTHEWS: As a former flack, tell me this. How do you explain why the
Republicans as a party now don`t believe in the science? Why are they
rejecting it?

WOODHOUSE: Well, look, I believe a couple things. One, the Koch brothers
are a huge influence.

MATTHEWS: Are they -- oil and gas.

WOODHOUSE: Oil and gas.

MATTHEWS: It`s what they sell.


MATTHEWS: Fossil fuels is not what they want limited.

WOODHOUSE: That`s exactly -- they don`t want that limited.

They have actually sent a group over to the Vatican to protest the pope. I
mean, these are -- the Koch brothers are fighting with the pope. The GOP
is fighting with the pope. The base of their party does not believe in
this type of science.

By the way, there are some in their party that don`t believe in the science
behind vaccines. And they`re playing to this crowd in the Republican

MATTHEWS: If human life -- a lot of the -- you know what I`m talking about
-- a lot of the church, the stuff about sexual behavior, it`s always --
whether it`s same-sex or it`s abortion, it`s not really about life, but
it`s -- it`s about life, but it`s about sexual discipline and behavior.

MILLIGAN: Right. Right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: This is a life issue, life on this planet. That`s why the
pope`s involved in it. If conception from life -- life begins with
conception, how about human life begins with human life on this planet?
It`s endangered over time. It`s a legitimate concern of a moral leader, it
seems to me.

Rush Limbaugh is calling the pope a Marxist for his views on climate
change. Let`s listen to Rushbo.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Every other word seems to be about
how unfettered capitalism is destroying the world and how the rich
countries have to give more money to the poor countries to make amends. I
mean, that`s -- call it what you want, Marxism, socialism, what have you.


MATTHEWS: Rick Santorum, a traditional Catholic and the runner-up of the
Republican primary race four years ago, is criticizing the pope. Santorum
has called global warming a hoax. Here`s Rick`s message for the pope.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would just say this, that the
church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think that we
probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on
what we do -- what we`re really good at, which is theology and morality.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was a punch to the stomach, going back to the old
medieval church.


WOODHOUSE: Well, I mean, Chris, what`s incredible about that comment is
Republicans don`t want to listen to anyone. They don`t want to listen to
the pope.

Rick Santorum said, well, the church doesn`t do science, well, but they
won`t listen to the scientists. They -- 97 percent of the scientists say
that manmade global warming exists. Republicans won`t listen to them.

And their great -- their great quote here all the time is, I`m not a
scientist. But they won`t listen to the scientists. It`s extraordinary.

MATTHEWS: When are the Democrats going to listen to the economists on


MATTHEWS: Just keep moving. Keep moving.


MILLIGAN: The thing is, is that they`re suggesting that there`s no moral
component at all to either the economy or the environment, and that`s
really I think the fundamental problem here.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here we go. Senator -- Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of
the oil patch down in Oklahoma chairs the Senate Committee on the
Environment, surprisingly. He`s perhaps the biggest science denier in the
Republican Party. This February, he brought a snowball on to the Senate
floor to disprove global warming.


SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: I asked the chair, you know what this is?
It`s a snowball. And that`s just from outside here. So it`s very, very
cold out, very unseasonal, so, Mr. President, catch this. Mm-hmm.


MATTHEWS: Point made.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Inhofe has said that he doesn`t believe in manmade
global warming because according to the Bible, God controls the climate.

Let`s listen.


INHOFE: My point is, God`s still up there. And this is -- the arrogance
of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what he
is doing in the climate is, to me, outrageous.


MATTHEWS: It`s kind of ayatollah-ish, isn`t it, going to religion on these
questions and that kind of point of view.

WOODHOUSE: Well, I mean, they go to religion and then ignore the pope.


WOODHOUSE: They say that we should let the science dictate, but they then
ignore -- ignore the scientists.

Who they`re listening to is really the base of their party and the Koch
brothers. The Koch brothers are all over this. They sponsor an exhibit at
the Smithsonian --


MATTHEWS: You`re like me. You`re like me, Brad. You`re one of those
people that really tries to understand politics as economics.


MATTHEWS: And almost everything is explicable.


WOODHOUSE: Everything is about the money.

MATTHEWS: Almost everything. I agree. I am a determinist on a lot of
that stuff.


MATTHEWS: And I think the Koch brothers have an economic interest. They
should get a tax deduction for their campaign contributions, because it`s
all in their interests.


WOODHOUSE: It`s all in their interests.


WOODHOUSE: That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, I don`t mean that, though, by the way.

Thank you.


MATTHEWS: Mr. Matthews says we can have one.

Susan Milligan, thank you, my friend, and Brad Woodhouse.

Up next: new information about the manhunt for those two escaped killers.
Seriously, what do you think about these guys? Have they gotten -- have
they probably done something right in their life, to learn how to get away?
Anyway, the trail looks cold right now.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, the manhunt for those two convicted killers who broke out
of that New York state prison is now into its 11th day.

And, according to a senior New York official, authorities have received no
solid intelligence over the past four days as to where they are. Also
today, the husband of Joyce Mitchell, that prison worker who has been
charged with helping the convicts escape, visited his wife in jail today.

MSNBC`s Adam Reiss joins us from Morrisonville, New York, with the latest.

Adam, are they in that forest that they have been checking for, or they
have given up there yet?


They`re expanding their search to other areas around Dannemora. They`re
expanding their resources and their search. There have been 1,000 tips;
800 searchers are out here, but there hasn`t been one solid lead. And it
looks like the trail has gone cold -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, that opens the question, could they have gotten away in
those six hours before the prison authorities were alerted to their escape?
Could they have gotten a hitch somewhere?

REISS: It`s quite possible. We have learned that -- we have learned that
they haven`t really set up the checkpoints until a period of time after
they left. So it`s quite possible they made their way out of the perimeter
before all of these checkpoints were set up.

MATTHEWS: We`re looking at a guy right now on the stock film or the recent
film here of a guy going down, way down into a hole. Are they looking for
them in holes? What are they doing?

REISS: They`re looking -- they`re looking everywhere, Chris. They`re
going through the forest. They have got dogs. They`re talking to people
inside the prison. They`re talking to corrections officers. They`re
talking to people in the town.

They`re still going house to house. They`re talking to residents. They`re
talking to everyone. They might be talking to people in Canada, people in
Mexico, as far away as California. They say they`re looking everywhere.
Nothing is out of the question.

MATTHEWS: What about the meeting today between the prison worker who has
been charged with helping them escape and her husband? What do we know
from that meeting? Anything?

REISS: Despite allegations that she wanted him dead, her husband still
supports her. He went and visited her. They met through Plexiglas window.
They talked over the phone.

And she told her attorney she was actually happy to see him. She also said
that she`s distraught, weepy, upset, remorseful that she helped these two
guys escape jail.

MATTHEWS: What a story this is.

Thank you so much, MSNBC`s Adam Reiss, at Morrisonville.

Up next: Imagine a Republican presidential debate with the bombastic
Donald Trump on the stage. We will get to that next with the roundtable.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


what`s happening.

Tropical Storm Bill made landfall this morning between Houston and Corpus
Christi, Texas. It is bringing heavy rain and flooding to parts of the

NBC`s Jay Gray is in Houston.

Hi, Jay.


Yes, and we continue to see bands of rain moving through the downtown area.
It`s been that way throughout the day. As you talk about Tropical Storm
Bill making landfall around midday here in Texas, the effects of that could
be seen on the coast, Galveston, with punishing waves there, winds that
picked up in excess of 60 miles an hour at times there.

But it`s not the wind that`s the issue. It`s the rain. Some areas could
see four to eight inches. Others hard-hit could see a foot of water, this
coming after catastrophic flooding just three weeks ago in the Houston
area, so, many of the rivers, the bayous, the ponds still very full, close
to their banks. And this extra rain could cause problems.

That`s the latest here in Houston. We will continue to watch it -- back to
you, though.

REHBERGER: Thank you, Jay Gray, in Houston -- now back to HARDBALL.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s been no crowd like this,
and I can tell you some of the candidates they went in, they didn`t know
the air conditioner didn`t work. They sweated like dogs.


TRUMP: They didn`t know the room was too big because they didn`t have
anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS? I don`t think it`s going
to happen.



MATTHEWS: We`re back.

That was Donald Trump, inimitably, earlier today declaring his candidacy
for the presidency and making some jokes about the announcements of a few
of his new GOP rivals. Republicans better get used to Trump taking
personal shots at them. And assuming he makes the cut, just wait for those
GOP debates coming up in August.

Today was no exception. Trump wasted no time going after Jeb Bush and
Marco Rubio. Here he goes.


TRUMP: I mean, you looked at Bush. It took him five days to answer the
question on Iraq. He couldn`t answer the question. He didn`t know. I
said, is he intelligent? Then I looked at Rubio. He was unable to answer
the question, is Iraq a good thing or a bad thing? He didn`t know. He
couldn`t answer the question. How are these people going to lead us?

How are these people going to lead us? How are we going to go back and
make it great again? We can`t. They don`t have a clue. They can`t lead
us. They can`t. They can`t even answer simple questions. It was


MATTHEWS: Well, he looked pretty good there. Trump didn`t stop there. He
continued his assault on Jeb. Here he goes.


TRUMP: Bush is totally in favor of Common Core. I don`t see how he can
possibly get the nomination. He`s weak on immigration. He`s in favor of
Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can`t do


MATTHEWS: So what happens when Donald Trump actually gets on the stage
with the rest of the crowded 2016 GOP field and how will his rivals respond
to that?

Joining the roundtable tonight, Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer with
"The Washington Post." Liz Mair is a Republican strategist, and Heidi
Przybyla is a reporter for Bloomberg.

Why don`t we -- let`s start right down the line here. You throw this guy
into the pool, the water splashes like mad, everybody gets swamped. Nobody
gets a lot of attention once he shows. That`s my thinking.


Well, when you have that many people on the stage, no one`s going to get a
whole lot of attention. And so the thinking will probably be get your
sound bite in. Donald Trump, as we know from years of watching this guy,
is a sound bite machine.

And so you take that. Plus, I`m still not convinced the guy is actually --
we`re going to be talking about him come January, February.

MATTHEWS: But let`s talk August.



MATTHEWS: Because he`s going to be there, I think.

CAPEHART: No, he`s going to be there. And if he knows -- if he -- let`s -
- he`s a guy who doesn`t -- just really doesn`t care. So he will say

MATTHEWS: Suppose -- let me suppose he goes from, say, seventh or eighth,
which he is now, Liz, and he pops -- he does one of the Ross Perots and
pops up to third. Will he quit then? Would he walk away if he`s actually
in contention?

LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I have no idea what the ultimate game
plan is here.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know either.

MAIR: Because, generally, my assumption with Donald Trump is that this is
all a publicity stunt and this is all about generating --


MATTHEWS: Even if he`s doing well, you think he would quit?


MAIR: -- TV show.

I don`t know. It`s just very hard to say. But what I will say is that,
with regard to the debates, if I were advising any of these candidates, I
would tell them to work on the presumption that he`s going to be there.
Make sure that they have done their opposition research on everybody else
who is going to be on that stage, including him, and be ready to fire back
at him if he comes at them.

MATTHEWS: Would you fire back?

MAIR: Yes, I would.


MATTHEWS: You would --


MAIR: Yes, I would. I would absolutely fire back. If I were Jeb Bush and
he attacked me on immigration --


MATTHEWS: Heidi, would you fire back or try to shake it off?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, BLOOMBERG: You`re going to have to fire back.

MAIR: You have to.

PRZYBYLA: Because, you know, there`s no one who is happier right now about
this announcement than the Democratic National Committee to fire it up and

MATTHEWS: Well, explain, is this macho where you can`t let a guy knock
your head off and act like it didn`t happen. You got to respond, right?

PRZYBYLA: You`re going to have to respond. But the problem is, like Liz
says, they`re going to have to come in and do extra research, because what
is Jeb is going to say when he starts bashing China for example, or I`m
going to steal your line. What is Ted Cruz going to say when he starts
asking him for his birth certificate? His birth documents. I mean, he`s
going to create some awkward moments.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Trump -- Donald Trump said all he hears is talk. Isn`t
it funny? All he hears is talk from his Republican rivals in the GOP.

Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I watched the speeches of these
people and they say the sun will rise, the moon will set, all sorts of
wonderful things will happen. And people are saying, what`s going on? I
just want a job. Just get me a job. I don`t need the rhetoric. I want a


MATTHEWS: Look, I have a theory about this guy. It`s so simple. The
average working guy out there, a male, sees him as their idea of what rich
mean, glamorous wife, big houses, golden buildings, right? Gets all --
he`s a comic figure, a comic book figure. He has a lot of dash to him,
splash to him.

Do you think people connect and say, maybe he can create jobs? Seriously,
is there any chance they`ll see a connection?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: They might see a connection. But
going back to the debate stage, if he does one of these zingers that hits a
little too close to home, that is a little too rude, a little too over the
line, he will fizzle. People like bite in candidates but they don`t like
the bite to go in so deep that it`s offensive.

MAIR: Right.

CAPEHART: And he said some things today that were offensive. I mean --

PRZYBYLA: Called people losers.

CAPEHART: Immigrants coming up, some of them are rapists.


MATTHEWS: Some of them are good, actually.

CAPEHART: Yes, some of them are good.

MATTHEWS: He also once said about George W. Bush. He may not be the worst
president in history but he`s certainly the stupidest. He just says that
stuff. What happens if Jeb`s standing there when he says that, huh, Heidi?
My brother, you`re talking about my brother.

PRZYBYLA: I think it will be an awkward moment and he`ll probably just
dismiss it, you know, elegantly and move on.

But back to your point on the jobs argument, we are talking about a time in
American history when there`s no other issue that creates more anxiety in
this country than job losses. Here is the guy that actually patented the
trademark on the phrase, "you`re fired."

I mean, he is --


MATTHEWS: Anyway, President Obama --

MAIR: I think there are a lot of people out there who are just angry and
pissed off and are probably going to be drawn to some of the rhetoric, but
the firing back will be important because people are going to have to shut
that down.

MATTHEWS: Obama has speechwriters, of course. Here`s how you handle who -
- if you have enough time to set up the artillery. Here he is, President
Obama took up Trump at the correspondents dinner last year, actually it was
a couple of years ago.

Let`s watch.




Now, I know that he`s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one
is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald.
And that`s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that
matter like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell?
And where are Biggie and Tupac?


MATTHEWS: That`s like Roosevelt in Fala speech. But it took time to get
that ready, bring in the artillery, get jokes ready and a -- anyway,
roundtable staying with us. We`ll be right back.

And up next, is it possible to identify yourself as black if you`re white?
We`re going to talk about that with our expert here. Jonathan has been
writing about it. We`re going to talk about that.

And the interview with the woman, we`ll show a bit of that, too. That said
she was black and now, I don`t know what she`s saying. We`ll be right


MATTHEWS: It turns out Hillary Clinton is leading the pack on social
media, too. Facebook has released a snapshot of how its users are reacting
on the day the 2016 candidates made their announcements. And when Clinton
announced, she had nearly 5 million unique Facebook users share more than
10 million interactions on the popular social media site. And that`s about
double the second place candidate Ted Cruz. And it`s ten times what Jeb
bush had when he announced his campaign just yesterday.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Jonathan, Liz and Heidi.

Well, 37-year-old civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal resigned yesterday
as the chapter president of the NAACP out in Spokane after she was accused
of, quote, "being dishonest and deceptive with her identity", close quote.

It all began last week when she was asked this question --


REPORTER: Are you African-American?

RACHEL DOLEZAL, FORMER NAACP LEADER: I don`t -- I don`t understand the

REPORTER: Are your parents, are they white?


MATTHEWS: Well, according to her parents, Rachel Dolezal is a white -- is
white but had been presenting herself since 2007 as an African-American.
Further scrutiny revealed she had identified an African-American man as her
father on Facebook, and that she had invented stories about her childhood.

Well, her claims had sparked outrage across the country but she`s now
speaking out to try to explain why she identifies as a different race.
Here`s what she had to say in an interview with MSNBC`s Melissa Harris-


DOLEZAL: From a very young age felt a -- a spiritual, visceral just very
instinctual connection with black is beautiful, you know, just the black
experience and wanting to celebrate that. And I didn`t know how to
articulate that as a young child. I mean, kindergartner, whatever, like,
you don`t have words for what`s going on.

But certainly that was shut -- that was shut down. I mean, I was socially
conditioned to not own that and to be -- be limited to -- to whatever
biological identity was thrust upon me.


MATTHEWS: Jonathan, you`ve been talking on this, you`ve been writing about
it. I want to hear what you think.

CAPEHART: Look, had Rachel Dolezal simply said, yes, I identify as an
African-American, I strongly feel a connection to that community, that
would have been great. If she had done that and not fabricated her own
life story, if she had just said I identify as black, yes, I`m --

MATTHEWS: What does that mean, identify as black? What does that mean?

CAPEHART: Well, someone who identifies with the culture, who identifies
with the people, who feel strongly not just here, but here.

MATTHEWS: What about the makeup, the makeup and the hair and all this,
this effort to look black? Is that all right with you?

CAPEHART: That`s fine with me, too. If that`s what she wants to do, if
that`s how she wants to express her black identity as she sees it, fine.

MATTHEWS: Has anybody else ever done this that you`ve known?

CAPEHART: Not that I know of. But my problem here is her entire story is


CAPEHART: She said she lived in a teepee and they had to hunt with bows
and arrows for their food. Not true.

She put a picture --


CAPEHART: She put a picture of an African-American man, herself with an
African-American man on the Spokane NAACP Facebook page saying, this is my
dad, he`s going to come to the event.

That`s not her father. She made stories up. That`s why I think so many
black people around the country are angry. You don`t have to be -- you
don`t have to be black to run an NAACP chapter.

MATTHEWS: What`s your reaction? Everybody`s reaction is going to be
different on this --

PRZYBYLA: The part, Jonathan, this I`m hearing also from African-American
women is it`s not just a lie, but it`s a lie that`s basically parachuting
into this identity of being a black at a point where it`s beneficial for
her, furthers her career, without having actually lived the black
experience, going through the discrimination and the barriers --


MATTHEWS: Yes, but it`s also beneficial to her career that based on
Africana studies. I mean, she wants to engage and join that culture --

MAIR: I just can`t get over the weirdness of this story overall. I keep
trying to think of something really intelligent and meaningful to say about
this and I just think this lady is nuts. And --

MATTHEWS: Well, you know --

MAIR: I just hope -- I just hope what this doesn`t do is have this story
detract from my meaningful work that she actually was doing, because I`ve
had some of my African-American friends have expressed a little bit of
worry about that to me. So, but the whole thing just strikes me as
completely awful.

MATTHEWS: She can reboot if she wants to.

MAIR: Apparently, she`s very good at it.

MATTHEWS: Melissa Harris-Perry asked Dolezal whether she`s a con artist.
That`s a tough question. Here`s what she said.


MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, "MHP" HOST: Are you a con artist?

DOLEZAL: I don`t think so. You know? I don`t think anything that I have
done with regards to the movement, my work, my life, my identity -- I mean,
it`s all been very thoughtful and careful. Sometimes decisions have been
made for survival reasons or to protect people that I love.


MATTHEWS: You know what this sparks to me? My long -- maybe not profound,
but to me interesting question about the influence of African-Americans on
white Americans, over all these hundreds of years and how it has affected
our culture. That we`re different than Europeans. Because I think this
experience among us, between us, has been very powerful. And somebody is
going to write something brilliant about this some day, some anthropology.

It`s not just, you know, hip hop music or jazz even or anything like that.
It`s what`s more profound, I think.

CAPEHART: Well, yes, because African-Americans are in the bedrock of this


CAPEHART: That`s why.

MATTHEWS: But not Europeans.

CAPEHART: Right. But that`s why I think Rachel Dolezal, though, takes
that to an extreme in her appearance. But, again, I keep going back to her
fabrication of her own history, her own story is what thrusts her into the
national conversation. If she is just -- if she had just done everything
she`s done with the exception of lying about her history, with wouldn`t
even know her name.

MATTHEWS: This is wild.

Anyway, Melissa Harris-Perry`s full interview with Rachel Dolezal is coming
up next, in "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES". You got to watch that.

And thank you, Jonathan Capehart, Liz Mair and Heidi Przybyla.

When we return, I`m going to finish with this whole matter of Donald Trump
rather succinctly when I get back. I`m going to talk about him as a
presidential candidate, maybe.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. In the fall of 2008 in the
last days of that year`s presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama
spoke in a rough African-American neighborhood in north Philadelphia. I
know the neighborhood well, this area of Broad Street that has not yet
gotten itself off the ground.

And what was candidate Obama`s greatest applause line when speaking to this
audience? It came when he spoke not of greater government benefits or
anything of that kind. The crowd went into something near ecstasy however
when he spoke against the vision in this country, about the need to lead a
united America. I dare never to speak for African-Americans, but one thing
that I`ve discovered is the longing by this community to be accepted as
full Americans, 100 percent Americans, not separate but equal, but as much
all American as others -- LeBron James, for example, being as much
recognized as an all-American type as Tom Brady.

It`s this desire to be seen at 100 percent American, not 120 percent, not
80 percent or in some other category. The deal like Barack Obama seemed to
answer which is the reason I have found despicable the attempts by some to
say, knowing full well it`s not factually true that our president is some
sort of impostor, some African-American trying to pretend he`s one of us,
some foreign element had snuck his way into our country`s life some foul
malignancy offering himself up as all-American.

Why do I find it despicable? Because this challenge that Barack Obama`s
American-ness cuts to the very heart of what this country has promised
African-Americans and some still find too hard to deliver -- a full embrace
as not just equal, but fellow citizens, embraced as full compatriots.

Well, today, the man who`s pushed that grotesquery that the president is
not a legitimate claimant to his office for a half dozen years offered
himself up as a genuine presidential candidate. Donald Trump having traded
on this shameful calumny against the incumbent now presents himself for us
to consider as his successor.

I can only say this. Having been taught to hate the sin and not the
sinner, I must, therefore, taking seriously even Mr. Trump`s short-term
commitment to this contest await the sinner`s repentance.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



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