Date: July 7, 2015
Guest: Rudy Giuliani, Susan Page, Robert Costa, Jimmy Carter, Liz Mair,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Fast times at Republican High.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with where things stand in the Republican
contest for president and the man sucking up most of the oxygen in the
room, Donald Trump.
Rudy Giuliani is the former mayor of New York and knows Trump well.
By the way, Mr. Mayor, thanks for coming on.
On CNN this afternoon, Hillary Clinton was asked about Donald Trump`s
comments on immigration. Here`s what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRES. CANDIDATE: I`m very
disappointed in those comments, and I feel very bad and very disappointed
with him and with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and
saying, Enough. Stop it.
But they are all in the -- you know, in the same general area on
immigration. You know, they don`t want to provide a path to citizenship.
They range across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile
And I`m going to talk about comprehensive immigration reform. I`m
going to talk about all of the good, law-abiding, productive members of the
immigrant community that I personally know, that I`ve met over the course
of my life, that I would like to see have a path to citizenship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mr. Mayor, what do you make of that? That was -- you`re
chuckling away there, but what do you think of Hillary Clinton`s attack on
your guy, basically, a Republican guy from New York who`s making all the
noise right now?
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Well, first of all, her
general statement about the Republican party is untrue. I mean, it was
President Bush who proposed comprehensive immigration reform, which
included a path to citizenship. It`s Senator Lindsey Graham who paid a
pretty big price for it in South Carolina in the primary.
I have always been in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. John
McCain -- and the last comprehensive immigration reform was passed by my
boss, Ronald Reagan, and I helped to work on that back in 19 -- was it `86,
MATTHEWS: Yes, that was a big one. It never got enforced.
MATTHEWS: It was a great bill that never got enforced.
GIULIANI: Which is part of the problem! And so I think it`s a
mistake for Hillary to make it a partisan issue because one of the
candidates, you know, made the statement that he made.
Donald`s a friend of mine. I respect him. He is an unbiased man. I
think he said it in reverse. What he should have said is that most people
who come across the border come across the border for economic reasons.
GIULIANI: But -- but -- hidden -- hidden...
MATTHEWS: I think he said to rape people, basically.
GIULIANI: Well, hidden with them, because they`re coming across
unchecked, are people who rape people, murder people, kill people, and are
terrorists. I`ve prosecuted all of them.
And the reality is neither side wants to meet each other here.
Republicans want to secure the border, which could be done with about
20,000 border patrol agents 50 miles apart, stop them from coming in.
Then on the other side, you have to allow people to come in with visas
so they can do the jobs that have to be done in America. If you were to
literally close the border, you might as well give up the wine industry in
California. I mean, it`s gone.
MATTHEWS: I know.
GIULIANI: So you`re going to have to set up a visa program to allow
MATTHEWS: Of course!
GIULIANI: ... to come in.
MATTHEWS: But Mayor, we all know the answer! The -- look, you`ve --
you`ve sized it up...
GIULIANI: It isn`t just the Republicans. It`s the Democrats, too.
MATTHEWS: Would you trust either party to enforce the laws about
illegal hiring? Would you trust either party...
GIULIANI: Well, neither party...
MATTHEWS: Either party...
MATTHEWS: I know you don`t believe in it.
GIULIANI: It used to drive me crazy.
MATTHEWS: They want cheap labor!
GIULIANI: When I was -- it used to drive me crazy.
MATTHEWS: Cheap labor. And the Democrats want votes.
GIULIANI: Well, when I was the mayor...
MATTHEWS: Let`s face it.
GIULIANI: When I was the mayor of New York, you know I had a very,
very big crime problem. So what I wanted the immigration service to do was
to deport the criminals that we convicted. I would go to them, and they
would not put the criminals on the front of the line. They`d be throwing
out the guy who was working in the back room of a restaurant...
GIULIANI: ... or a gardener before they`d throw out the drug dealer.
MATTHEWS: You and I agree on a lot. I think you`re a practical
person. I am, too. And I know no matter how partisan you have to be when
you come on these shows, you know that neither party has the guts to come
down with a fair, progressive, flexible immigration policy...
MATTHEWS: ... that they intend to enforce. Every other country in
the world does that except us.
Anyway, I got to get back to Donald Trump. All these big-shot
business guys, I mean, all these companies, have gotten rid of him, NBC,
the company I work for, Univision, Televisa, Macy`s, Certa, Farouk Systems,
NASCAR, ESPN, the PGA. Is that the -- and now the mayor of New York right
now, de Blasio, says he wants to get rid of Trump...
MATTHEWS: ... doing any business with him. Are they being fair to
GIULIANI: They`re overdoing it. It`s a pile-on, and they`re
overdoing it. I don`t agree with Donald`s comment. As I said, I would say
it totally differently. But I think they`re overdoing it.
And the conclusion that he comes to, that we have a porous border that
needs to be controlled better, is the correct conclusion. And if we could
do that, then -- if we could do that, if we could stop illegal immigration,
and if we could have a visa program for the workers that we need, then I
would be very much in favor of a legalization program for the people that
are here because it`s unrealistic to think that we can...
MATTHEWS: I`d put a different order (INAUDIBLE) I`m with you on
that. By the way, isn`t the reason why people like Trump, who can -- who
are outliers -- I won`t say demagogues because it won`t get any further
(ph), me saying it, although I think there`s some demagoguery here --
they`re popular now because they don`t think either of the establishment
parties are doing anything.
The fact that neither Democrats nor Republicans have been able to get
through an effective policing of the border, an effective policing of
illegal hiring, and some kind of path to citizenship, gives an opportunity
for somebody to come in from the cold. because nobody`s gotten that done,
Trump can walk out to say, At least as bad a language as I use, as
ethnically obnoxious as I can be, at least you know I mean it.
That must be why people are for him in the polling. I don`t know how
else to explain it.
GIULIANI: I think -- I think that has something to do with it. And
he has focused on one major part of the problem. But there are four other
parts of the problem that have to be solved as well -- the visa part, the
road to some kind of regularization for the people here and a sensible
policy for how you deal with the people in the U.S.
Now, they talk about sanctuary cities. In New York City, I allowed
illegal immigrants to use our hospitals when they reported crimes. I
didn`t report them because I wanted their information so I could catch
other criminals. And if they put their children in school, I didn`t report
However, if they committed a crime, I not only reported them, I put
them in jail, and then I tried to get the INS to deport them. And the INS
would deport, you know, maybe one out of five, and I was constantly
pressuring them to do more.
So for example, what happened in California shouldn`t have happened.
The guy who was convicted that many times should never have been allowed
back in the United States.
GIULIANI: So we have a policy that is all messed up.
MATTHEWS: I agree. Let me ask you about this Republican race because
you -- you were in, you`re pro-choice and you`re for opportunities -- in
fact, you were for gay rights pretty much down the line.
And now the Republican Party seems to have three brackets -- the
hawks, which is just about everybody`s a hawk in the Republican Party, the
evangelists, who are very much against same-sex, against gay rights at all,
basically, and certainly against abortion rights. And they`re still
fighting that battle.
That includes people like Santorum, Cruz, Huckabee, Walker. And then
you got one Libertarian out there, Paul, who you don`t like, probably,
because he`s like his dad. He`s against wars in the Middle East, period.
He`s kind of a guy who says, Stay out of the Middle East.
How`s that all going to get brokered together in your party, where
somebody`s going to come out on top, who`s both hawkish enough, traditional
enough and Libertarian enough -- in other words, less government enough --
to add up into a party that can get 51 percent against Hillary Clinton?
GIULIANI: Well, I think -- I think it has to be emphasis on the
economy and national security. I`m a Republican for those two reasons. On
the other reasons, I`m a moderate or whatever else you would like to call
me. I am -- I don`t mind being called a hawk on national security policy.
I am. I believe in a strong America that has to assert itself.
MATTHEWS: Nobody`s arguing with you, Mr. Mayor.
GIULIANI: I believe -- I believe in fiscal discipline. I lowered
taxes dramatically. I would do it if I was sitting in the White House.
But I also believe -- I have a theory about the Republican Party. If we`re
the party of lesser government, if we`re going to stay out of your
pocketbooks, shouldn`t we stay out of your bedroom, as well?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. Can the Republican Party win if it
opposes a path to citizenship down the line?
GIULIANI: I think they have to -- no. I think the Republican Party
has to say that if you get proper control over the border, then there`s
going to be a road to -- a lot of them would like to say regularization,
you know, legal status. I`d like to see them say citizenship. And I
believe Governor Bush says citizenship. So I`m pretty...
MATTHEWS: If they stay the pro-life party, can they get away with it
nationally with women who are out there for Hillary? Can they convince
enough American women to vote pro-life and anti-Hillary both?
GIULIANI: I think so. I think so. I think there`s enough
established that that`s now the constitutional law of the United States,
including with this...
MATTHEWS: Well, so it`s safe to say...
GIULIANI: ... fairly conservative court, that no president can really
interfere with that.
MATTHEWS: So it doesn`t -- it`s (INAUDIBLE) Let me ask you about --
about -- about climate. Can they continue to be skeptics about science,
the Republican Party?
GIULIANI: I think the Republican Party has to admit that 90, 95
percent of the scientists look at it in a certain way. Whether you agree
with them or you don`t agree with them, carbon emissions, all these
emissions aren`t good for you anyway. So I don`t know why we don`t support
clean air. Even if...
MATTHEWS: I`m with you.
GIULIANI: Even if 5 or 10...
MATTHEWS: But I don`t think your party is.
GIULIANI: Even if 5 or 10 percent think it isn`t man-produced, what`s
the difference? It still is, you know, dangerous.
Now, if you want to go so far as to destroy businesses and to destroy
energy -- we have to do it in a careful way. And some of the way-out
environmentalists are just as bad as the ones who are unwilling to accept
any form of climate change.
MATTHEWS: Jerry Seib said something -- I always like Jerry Seib in
"The Wall Street Journal." He goes to my church. I just like the guy.
And he said something smart today. He`s not a big fan of Donald Trump in a
lot of rounds (ph). But he said, The Republican Party is a lot of working
guys in the party. It`s not all elite money guys. It`s some working
people that work with their hands, work hard. And they look up to
Giuliani. They -- they look up to you. I`m sorry. I made a mistake.
They look up to Trump.
GIULIANI: Well, I hope they do!
MATTHEWS: They look up to -- they look up to Trump. They see him as
a guy who`s, like -- you know, they can imagine. He`s got a beautiful
wife. He`s got a gold tower. He says what he feels and thinks like. He`s
a wiseass. And they sort -- explain that appeal, if you can -- if you
GIULIANI: You know, it doesn`t matter. John Kennedy was a multi-
millionaire, and he was able to speak very, very well to the regular guy.
And so was Ronald Reagan. I mean, Ronald Reagan was an actor. I guess he
was a multi-millionaire. I`m pretty sure he was. And...
MATTHEWS: But they were polite. This guy`s not polite!
GIULIANI: Well, but you know, he appeals to people. Also, you know,
Donald did make it on his own. He`s had his ups and downs.
MATTHEWS: Well, he started with a pretty good grub stake.
GIULIANI: he started -- he started off with a Queens business that
his dad had, and he built it into an empire. I think people respect that
in America. And he talks their language. He tells them what he thinks,
and I think people are starving for that because everything is sound bites.
GIULIANI: Everything is scripted.
GIULIANI: You know, you finish one of these presidential debates, and
if you said one thing a little bit wrong, you`d have, like, a revolution.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you a question. Spontaneously now, who
would you like to see win the nomination of your party?
GIULIANI: Well, I got to give you a couple of people. I mean, I like
-- like Bush a lot. I still -- I still admire very much my friend Chris --
Chris Christie, Kasich, Scott Walker, Rubio...
MATTHEWS: Rubio, too? You...
GIULIANI: You know who would be a fine president? George Pataki, who
I became very close to. He`s certainly -- and Carly Fiorina looks to me
like a great vice -- vice presidential candidate.
MATTHEWS: You are -- you are kissing everybody on the cheek! You
don`t have a favorite!
GIULIANI: Maybe -- maybe you have to look at the order in which I
said it to get a hint.
MATTHEWS: It was such a long list, I forget where it began. Anyway,
thank you, Mayor...
GIULIANI: It began with Jeb Bush.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. I think Jeb Bush still can win this thing in
the long run, in the very long run. Thank you, Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New
York. Thanks for coming on.
Coming up, reaction to what we just heard from Mayor Giuliani about
Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and how the big money men in the Republican Party
are getting a little nervous about the brass knuckles nastiness we`re
seeing in that Republican field out there. It is nasty.
Plus, former president Jimmy Carter is coming to HARDBALL tonight
live. We`re going to ask him about the hot topics of the day from the
Iranian nuclear talks, gay marriage, the Confederate flag, and why he`s not
ready to support Hillary Clinton yet. Well, maybe he`ll do it tonight.,
And it`s Tuesday, so it`s time for the right-wing clown car tonight.
It`s coming by. Between defending Donald Trump and sounding the alarm
about same-sex marriage, there`s plenty of room in that car for all those
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with why now is the time to reserve judgment,
not to pick a president, because nobody`s serious yet.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Tomorrow, Ted Cruz is the latest Republican candidate to
come to HARDBALL. The Texas senator`s among the most outspoken, of course,
in the Republican field. You don`t want to miss my interview with him
tomorrow night on HARDBALL. That`s tomorrow night right here on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It looks like some big
Republican donors are getting a little nervous about how things are going
in the Republican Party.
According to the Associated Press, Foster Friess, who backed Rick
Santorum in 2012, wrote to the 16 candidates out there, quote, "Would you
join the effort to inspire a more civil way of making their points? If
they drift off the civility reservation, let`s all immediately communicate
that to them." Well, he said he had the backing of fellow big money people
like Sheldon Adelson and Todd Ricketts of the Chicago Cubs.
Another Republican donor, John Jordan, said the party should block
Trump from the debates. Quote, "Someone in the party ought to start some
sort of petition saying if Trump`s going to be on the stage, I`m not going
to be on there with him. I`m toying with the idea of that," he said.
Meanwhile, "The Washington Examiner" quoted one Republican operative
who warned candidates to stay away from Trump. He said, quote, "Trump is a
suicide bomber. As a competing campaign, your only hope to avoid the blast
is that he doesn`t find a reason to show up at your doorstep. Anyone who
utters the name Trump runs the risk of a seven-day jihad from a guy who has
absolutely no sense of appropriateness or decency."
By the way, that operative kept his name out of this.
I`m joined by Eugene Robinson, columnist for "The Washington Post" and
an MSNBC political analyst, and Susan Page Washington bureau chief for "USA
Today," and Robert Costa, who`s national political reporter for "The
Robert, why don`t you start. It seems like nobody has the nerve to
take on Trump except this one guy who takes him on but hides his name.
ROBERT COSTA, WASHINGTON POST: Nobody wants to get into the ring with
Donald Trump because they -- the country barely knows them. The Republican
voters see 14 official candidates out there. They`re all staggering (ph)
around 5 percent in the polls. Why get into a fight with Trump, a $9
billion celebrity, and have a fight you may not win?
MATTHEWS: And by the way, Gene, how do you avoid the fight? It`s --
remember those scenes in Baghdad of Uday and Qusay? You don`t want to be
at the restaurant when it`s...
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly!
MATTHEWS: ... (INAUDIBLE) looking -- who`s looking at my girlfriend
EUGENE ROBINSON, ``WASHINGTON POST,`` MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No eye
MATTHEWS: And no eye contact!
ROBINSON: No eye contact.
MATTHEWS: You don`t -- you want to avert your glance.
MATTHEWS: From this guy.
ROBINSON: ... in his sights...
MATTHEWS: So how do they avoid that? How do you -- if you`re George
Bush and you do have a family which is related to Mexico...
MATTHEWS: ... and here`s the guy pounding away at the rapists coming
across the border, how do you avoid the fight? It`s personal.
ROBINSON: Well, if you`re Jeb Bush, I don`t think you can, right? I
mean, Bush had to come out and rather...
ROBINSON: Right. Exactly -- and say he was wrong. If you`re Ted
Cruz, on the other hand, or -- or...
MATTHEWS: Cruz has agreed with him!
ROBINSON: Well, he -- you know, he agreed with him, said nice
MATTHEWS: He`s rubbing up against him...
ROBINSON: ... say, Well, I disagree with him, but I still like him.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, responding to Trump`s inflammatory language about
immigrants, Marco Rubio said in a statement, "Trump`s comments are not just
offensive and inaccurate but also divisive."
He wasn`t the only Republican to go after Trump. Let`s watch them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRES. CANDIDATE: Everybody has a belief
that we should control our borders, but to make these extraordinarily ugly
kind of comments is not reflective of the Republican Party.
Trump is wrong on this. Politically, we`re going to win when we`re
hopeful and optimistic and big and broad, rather than, You know, Rrr, Rrr,
just angry all the time. This is an exaggerated form of that, and there is
no tolerance for it.
RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump does not
represent the Republican Party. I was offended by his remarks.
He`s going to have to defend those remarks. I never will. And I will
stand up and say that those are offensive, which they were.
GEORGE PATAKI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, let me tell you
right now, I`m willing to debate you here in New Hampshire mano a mano any
time on the issue of immigration and pit your ideas against my solutions.
I hope you say yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So he`s talking Spanish and defending Mexico. That`s kind
of interesting, mano a mano.
Anyway, not surprisingly, Trump punched back. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know Pataki well. And
he`s a sad figure. He`s got zero in the polls, and he was a terrible
governor of New York. As far as Rubio, he`s very weak on immigration.
And he`s -- I have been saying that for a long time about him. He`s
weak on immigration. When I look at somebody like Perry, who was the
governor there for a long period of time, well, he could have done
something a little bit, maybe a lot more in terms of protecting people.
It`s hard to believe I`m second to Bush, because Bush is not going to
get us to the promised land, folks, I`ll tell you. This guy, I don`t want
to say he`s a stiff, because that`s too rude. And then they will say I`m
not a nice person. But, you know, can you imagine him negotiating against
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t know whether he`s the kid in high school
who was the bully or he`s the guy Robert De Niro played. You talking to
me? You talking to me? It`s that guy on the subway waiting for someone to
come after him. And he`s amazingly aggressive.
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": And if he said Bush
was stiff, then we`re going to say he`s rude?
PAGE: And ignore all the other -- I guess I disagree with my
MATTHEWS: Do you want to get in a fight with them, with one of these
PAGE: I think an opportunity -- I mean, number one, Jeb Bush has no
recourse. He has to respond to the attacks on him.
But for the rest of the field, it`s a chance to be a part of the
debate. Donald Trump is taking all the oxygen out of the room. And for
the candidates who aren`t Jeb Bush or Donald Trump, combating Trump, coming
back at him is a way to get into the conversation, get some attention and
to stand up to a guy who appeals to only a part of the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: OK. He finds this one issue. Archimedes, you know, the
one thing he loved was the...
MATTHEWS: And he`s found illegal immigration.
And it doesn`t sound like there`s anybody on the other side pushing
back. We`re taking care of that. You don`t have to do this, Donald. We
have got it under control, because nobody has it under control. No
politician in either party says, I have got this thing figured up.
Maybe, of all people, Lindsey Graham, who actually has -- and Chuck
Schumer have been pretty good on immigration reform. But among the
candidates, I don`t know who else has been serious about what to do.
PAGE: But the opposition to Trump is not, we have got immigration
under control. It`s that your remedy isn`t a real remedy and your analysis
of the problem isn`t factual. And here`s what I would do. That`s the
MATTHEWS: Who is going to do that?
PAGE: Well, I think Jeb Bush better do it.
MATTHEWS: Is he credible as a guy who is going to stop illegal
immigration? Is he credible?
PAGE: Well, we will see. I think he could be credible.
COSTA: Bush people love Trump as a foil. Bush is able to come across
MATTHEWS: They`re telling you that?
COSTA: The Bush allies are.
MATTHEWS: Are you reporting?
COSTA: I am reporting. I have been talking to Bush people all day.
They say, bring on Trump. He provides a contrast. Have him on the debate
stage against Bush. They like that contrast. Know who is unhappy, calling
around the campaigns? All of the conservative contenders, because those
small dollar donors, those activists, they`re applauding Trump. They are
rallying behind Trump.
You have Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee. What happened to your
support? This was supposed to be the summer of a groundswell. They`re not
MATTHEWS: And so he`s taking the oxygen out of the room.
COSTA: He is.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, in "The Wall Street Journal" today, Jerry Seib
warned Republicans not to dismiss Trump. He said Trump taps into a vein of
populist anger among the base of the party, especially among working-class
voters sideways -- quote -- "Today, many of them feel economically
threatened and marginalized by cultural change. And some cite a decline in
moral values as the most alarming trend in the country. They aren`t the
genteel patricians of Republican stereotype, but they are Republicans
nonetheless, and, yes, the Donald is speaking to them."
ROBINSON: As a moral paragon?
MATTHEWS: But they don`t like -- they don`t like same-sex. They
don`t like all the other new stuff.
ROBINSON: Well, exactly. Well, there`s not a total, neat connection
there, but, nonetheless, I take the point that there is this segment of the
Republican Party that he does speak to, clearly he speaks to. Look at his
numbers in the poll. They have been going up.
MATTHEWS: They`re looking up at that gold tower. That guy lives up
there. He owns it.
ROBINSON: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: He can say what he wants.
PAGE: But, to be clear, he is at 10 percent, 11 percent, 12 percent.
And he`s got a -- see, so, when you have got 16 candidates, that looks
MATTHEWS: OK, Madam Establishment.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you who else is in the teens. Everybody in
America knows who Jeb Bush is, and eight out of nine -- or -- I`m sorry --
eight out of 10 or nine out of 10 regularly say somebody else.
MATTHEWS: I think Bush has got a much bigger problem with this. He
has all the name I.D. and no...
PAGE: Bush and Trump are not the only two options the Republicans
COSTA: I was talking to Trump`s people.
And they actually disagree with this characterization that he`s
populist. Everyone keeps calling Trump a populist. He`s an outsider.
He`s anti-establishment. He doesn`t have a coherent political philosophy.
He`s not pushing some agenda. This is the outsiders vs. the insiders,
period. It`s not a political campaign in an ideological sense.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, it`s the summer before the election, and I
think right now -- I`m going to say it at the end of the show -- this isn`t
a time to pick a president. It`s a time to make a statement.
And if you vote for him, you make a statement, a lot of people feel.
That`s why I think he can get some votes coming out of the -- not votes,
MATTHEWS: That`s all you get right now, is pollster votes.
Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson, Susan Page and Robert Costa.
Will he be at the top of the polls after the debate?
ROBINSON: After the debate?
ROBINSON: Maybe, actually. I don`t know.
PAGE: I don`t know.
COSTA: Expectations will be so low, if he exceeds them, maybe.
MATTHEWS: I think he might be number one.
Anyway, up next, former President Jimmy Carter is coming here with his
thoughts on the Iranian nuclear talks -- that`s serious business -- and the
2016 race coming up next year. That`s ahead with President Carter.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
From his humble beginnings in rural Georgia to the highest office in
the land, Jimmy Carter`s story is as remarkable as it is unlikely. His
victory in 1976 was the result of character and timing. His earnest
campaign vow to never tell a lie struck a nerve with an electorate still
reeling with distrust after Watergate.
Yet, after Carter himself would point out, his four years as president
represents a fraction of the very long career that he has shaped his
outlook on politics. Now he`s out with his 29th book, "A Full Life:
Reflections at Ninety." It`s Carter`s appraisal of his achievements over
nine decades, as well as the lessons he learned when he fell short.
I`m joined right now by the author himself, former President Jimmy
Mr. President, sir, I`m glad to have you on the show.
Is it still possible -- you write in your book the old story of how
one guy can go out there with a lot of character and say, I`m Jimmy Carter,
I`m running for president, with not a ton of money, retailing it, person to
person out there in Iowa. Can a person, man or woman, Democrat or
Republican, still get elected the absolute clean way, without the big bucks
and the super PACs?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a good answer.
CARTER: No, not at all.
Well, it`s impossible now. I think the whole democratic process in
America has been subverted by the massive influx of money brought about by
the stupid ruling of the Citizens United.
CARTER: And now I don`t think anyone can hope to get the Democratic
or the Republican nomination unless they`re able to raise, say, $200
million or more.
When I ran against Gerald Ford, who was an incumbent president, he and
I raised zero as far as contributions were concerned. We just used the $1-
per-person check-off, and that was done until -- through the 2004 election.
And it was after that, that people began to cry for money, and donors
were willing to give as an investment for the benefit -- their own benefit
in the future. And, of course, the Supreme Court has been the main
culprit, I think, in subverting this -- our democratic system in this way.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about that whole question -- well, first of
all, let`s go back to some of the ideas you have had.
Now, I`m not sure. I didn`t find this in the book, but I knew you
believed in it, that we would better served -- I will get back to the book
in a second -- that we would better served with a six-year term, that the
process of running for reelection is not healthy. A six-year term, you
could actually get done your program and then get out of there.
Are you still of that belief, or have you changed?
CARTER: Yes, I am. It`s not a major burning issue with me. And I
think it would be impossible, almost, to get any kind of constitutional
But I think a six-year term would be the best for our country.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Iranian debate. You write in the
book about, of course, the thing we all went through, but nobody like you
had to go through it, the Iranian hostage situation.
MATTHEWS: And you did get them home alive, all 50 people, which was
quite an achievement. And they did screw you at the end by making sure
they didn`t get out until after you actually left office.
CARTER: I remember that.
MATTHEWS: I think you weren`t the only one that remembered that, Mr.
MATTHEWS: But you had to pay the price politically.
And now, when you watch the -- I think the good work that John Kerry`s
doing over in Vienna, how do you think your experiences redound to you
during the night when you think, wait a minute, I went through that hell
for a year?
CARTER: I know.
MATTHEWS: They`re trying to deal with those same people, some of whom
have been promoted into big positions, those so-called students.
CARTER: Well, after the shah was overthrown, what many people don`t
remember is that I quickly normalized diplomatic relations with the
Ayatollah Khomeini and his revolutionary government.
And it was my ambassadors to Tehran, to the revolutionary government
that were taken as hostage. And they had about 50 representatives of Iran
here in Washington. So, I think now -- and I have always thought that it
was better for the United States and Iran to keep communications open.
And I believe that this present negotiation that might bring about a
change in Iran`s movement toward a nuclear weapon is very well-advised. I
pray that it will be successful. And I think, if it is successful, it
would be the best solution to this continuing problem.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go through the book again.
You make some interesting things. I think I remember this, but you
have certainly laid it out here. Ted Kennedy, the hero of health care all
those years, the champion of health care, basically undercut your attempt
to actually do it back when you were president. He did.
CARTER: That`s correct, yes.
We had six committees that had the responsibilities for that. All six
of us -- worked with us in a very harmonious way to develop a comprehensive
health program that would have been successful, it would have been paid
for, it would have been almost applicable to every human, every person in
And up until the last week, all of those six committee chairmen were
in favor of it. But, at the last minute, Ted Kennedy decided he would go
against it. And he did. And he was powerful enough and influential enough
to kill the whole program.
But I have to say that there was a major commitment of his on a
political basis, because it was about that time that he decided to run for
president for me. And I presume that he just didn`t want to see me get a
big advantage in the political polls by having a successful commitment.
MATTHEWS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: There`s another nugget in your book, which I`m not sure
what it is. But you said that Jerry Ford, reading of it -- when you were
talking about Alexander Haig, who you didn`t think much of when he was head
You because said that he had some kind of deal with Nixon through Haig
to get Nixon to resign the presidency in `74, under the agreement that he
would get -- definitely get a pardon from Ford. How do you know that
CARTER: I don`t know that it happened. I don`t have any way to know
that. And I didn`t say that in the book, by the way.
I don`t know what kind of arrangement Ford and Nixon had. If Ford
said they didn`t have it, I would completely agree with what he said
because I have absolute confidence that he`s a truthful and honest man.
MATTHEWS: Well, you did say, "Alexander Haig played a key role in
negotiating between President Nixon and Vice President Ford concerning a
full pardon for Nixon if he would resign."
CARTER: Well, I don`t think there`s any doubt that Haig went back and
forth between them.
But whether or not Ford agreed to that, I do not know. But I think
that`s what Haig wanted. And I think, obviously, Haig later said that he
was in charge of that and was involved in it.
I trusted Ford. I can`t say that I trusted Haig as much.
MATTHEWS: I notice that came pretty clear in book. And it`s a hell
of a book.
Let me ask you something. You have to sing for your dinner tonight,
MATTHEWS: What do you think of Hillary Clinton? Why haven`t you
endorsed her yet? She`s the front-runner. Will you endorse her tonight?
CARTER: I never have endorsed a Democratic candidate early in the
campaign or even much later.
And I don`t intend to endorse any particular Democratic candidate
before the convention. I don`t think there`s much doubt that Hillary is
going to get the nomination. And when she does, I will be eager to support
MATTHEWS: Would you be eager to oppose Donald Trump if he were the
CARTER: I think Donald Trump gives you a lot to talk about on your
MATTHEWS: He sure does.
CARTER: So, he contributes one thing to you and everybody else that I
have -- where I have been today.
CARTER: But I think what he said is absolutely wrong and obnoxious.
I think he did it deliberately to titillate interest, which he`s
succeeded in doing. I think there are probably maybe 10 or 15 percent of
the people in the Republican Party that agree with what he said. And he`s
capitalizing on that. But I believe that`s probably the limit to what he`s
going to get.
MATTHEWS: OK, one last thing, because I`m personally curious, Mr.
President. You know I`m a big fan of yours.
What do you do to live until 90? The name of your book is "A Full
Life." More important in the name of the book is you are 90. Is it a good
marriage? Is it not drinking? Is it not smoking? You`re a good Baptist,
so it may be one of those moral things. Or is it something more athletic?
What is it that has kept you so healthy mentally and physically?
CARTER: I would say the main thing is marrying the right woman, which
I did 69 years ago today. This is my anniversary, as a matter of fact.
And we -- that`s been the main...
MATTHEWS: Congratulations to you and Rosalynn.
CARTER: That`s been the main achievement of my life is marrying
Rosalynn. And so I`m very grateful for that.
But Rosalynn is a very wonderful dietitian. She`s our cook at home.
And so I eat the right things and we take a lot of exercise. And we have
been just lucky, I think, in our health care. Rosalynn is also -- she`s
three years younger than I am. She`s 87 and she`s also in good health.
Thank goodness for that.
So, we have been lucky.
CARTER: And we married the right person perhaps for ourselves. And
we try to live the best we can.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, some who people write memoirs, they have
nothing to talk about in their book. And you have written a memoir with a
hell of a lot to talk about.
MATTHEWS: The book`s called "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety."
Great cover picture there.
Thank you, Mr. President, Jimmy Carter. Thank you, sir, for coming
on. And thank you for letting me work for you so much. I mean it.
CARTER: Well, thank you for working for me, Chris. You were a good
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
CARTER: And maybe not good enough in 1980. But thanks a lot.
MATTHEWS: The best I can do, Mr. President.
MATTHEWS: Up next, if it`s Tuesday, it`s time for the right-wing
clown car, and this time, the red hots aren`t helping the party by
defending Donald Trump and fighting back against gay marriage.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s been a busy week in the crazy world of American politics. We`ve
got a loaded-up clown car Tuesday tonight. The conservative blowback
intensifies over the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages with Ted
Cruz and Iowa Congressman Steven King leading the charge.
And while Donald Trump has turned radioactive for the party, his clown
army on the right is growing.
The roundtable tonight, Perry Bacon, NBC News senior political
reporter, Liz Mair is a Republican strategist, of course, Brad Woodhouse is
the president of a pro-Hillary Clinton group Correct the Record, and former
communications director at the Democratic National Committee.
First up, Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. He`s
unbelievable. And Texas Senator Ted Cruz are driving the clown car as the
hard right continues its war with the Supreme Court`s ruling on same-sex
Here`s Steven King with his call to impeach the justices and retry the
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: If that were put up before me today, and I
think that I mentioned Ginsburg and Kagan as being two that had been
conducting same-sex marriages on their spare time and did not recuse
themselves, I would put up the vote to remove them from office. And I`d
like to see that case heard again. And it would come down 4-3 and in the
end it would come back to the states for that decision where it should be.
I don`t know if the public is ready for that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I know that -- ha! That`s a nice caveat. I`m from another
planet, in other words. Not to be outdone, here`s what Ted Cruz told the
local press yesterday out in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: There is right now a liberal intolerance
that seeks to punish and persecute those who follow a biblical teaching of
marriage. That is scary. It is wrong. And it`s contrary to who we are as
an American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Ted Cruz, the senator, is going to be on tomorrow.
Let me go to you, Liz. First of all, impeachment. It`s always the
play for the side that loses. Except for some reason the Democrats don`t
call immediately for impeachment, but conservatives do, it seems.
LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sometimes do. I mean, I think there
are plenty of Democrats --
MATTHEWS: Citizens United sucks a million times, with every liberal
friend I have, let`s get rid of these --
MAIR: It is true. Probably not in the judicial context so much as
the George W. Bush context. But yes, we --
MAIR: People definitely like -- yes, my point is just that there are
CLINTON: Bill Clinton got impeached by people not calling his
MAIR: Well, I think, one of the things that I find interesting
here is that you have Steve King and Ted Cruz going all the way while you
have some other candidates that are actually talking about judicial reform
not necessarily in the context of the gay marriage decision, but in other
CLINTON: How about election retention?
MAIR: Right. That`s what I mean, Ted Cruz is talking about that,
Rand Paul, Ben Carson and others talking about term limit.
MATTHEWS: So all judges are going to have super PACs? Can you
imagine these guys taking the robes off and doing talk shows and raising
money, like the money it costs to run for president, to keep your job as
justice of the Supreme Court you could so easily lose if you have an
opinion the country doesn`t like.
MAIR: I think there are bigger problems with that proposal, but yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, give me a better one.
MAIR: Well, I think, you`ve got four Republican candidates right now
that are talking about judicial term limits. I think that`s a more
reasonable proposal than what you`re seeing from Ted Cruz. When you`re
talking about recusal and ethics, I think a better question about who is
performing gay marriages is Elena Kagan was solicitor general. Maybe she
should have recused herself from the Obamacare case by virtue of that.
Interestingly, Steve King actually does have a proposal on judicial
reform that I don`t think is totally crazy, shocking, cameras in the
Supreme Court, right? There`s a lot of bipartisan --
MATTHEWS: Fruit cantaloupes.
MATTHEWS: FDR won a big election in `36, resounding reelection. What
did he do? He tried to pack the court and put age limits on the guys,
added judges that he`d like to pick. That didn`t work too well for him.
People don`t like people messing with the court.
BRAD WOODHOUSE, CORRECT THE RECORD: No, I think that`s right. I
don`t think this will be -- will sit well with most voters. But -- look,
it`s a primary play but it`s not benefiting the Republican Party. You
know, your friend and mine and Dan Balz had an article the other day about
what is happening with the identification in terms of who people are
identifying with. Democrat identification is going up, Republican
identification is going down. And it has to do with positions like this on
gay marriage. It has to do with immigration.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll see.
Well, Donald Trump`s following is actually growing. In addition to
Ted Cruz, presidential candidate Ben Carson`s defending Trump. Carson
blamed the blowback from Trump`s comments about Mexican rapists coming
across the border by saying, "It`s the PC police out in force. They want
to make very clear that this is a topic you`re not supposed to bring up."
Hmm. Hmm. So why are they defending him?
MAIR: I have no idea. As a communication strategist, I think
generally doing things that make your opponent in a primary look good and
make it look like you`re going "me, too, me, too", is probably not very
intelligent strategy. I would suggest you can maybe make a case that we
need to be talking about illegal immigration and we need to be talking
MATTHEWS: How about doing something about it?
MATTHEWS: But neither party seems to be able to get that together.
Anyway, Trump has Steve King in his corner, which is not surprising,
considering King`s previous comments that Mexican immigrants have calves
the size of cantaloupes from hauling marijuana across the border.
Here`s King praising Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ve been down to the border and checked across these places.
The number I come back with is 75 percent are sexually abused on their way
to the United States. So, I`d say in Donald Trump`s defense somebody is
doing that to these kids that are being raped and abused. And when they`re
coming across Mexico is a reasonable assumption to conclude that people
doing that are Mexican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, that`s not what Trump said, though. He said the
people coming here are rapists. He didn`t say they`re being raped on their
way here. He makes them the bad guys. The bunch who come here looking for
jobs, illegally but looking for jobs.
WOODHOUSE: I think there`s important point you made about Steve King
appearing in this segment. The very first Republican cattle call in this
race in January was held by Steve King in Iowa. Not every Republican
candidate went to it, but most Republican candidates went to it to kiss
Steve King`s ring.
When this Trump issue kind of settles out and you take away his
outlandish comments, the positions are generally all the same. They oppose
the path to citizenship. They`re only for border --
MATTHEWS: OK. We`ll talk about the liberal side coming up. Thought?
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS: Rubio and Jeb Bush did not go to this event.
And that`s striking, they didn`t go to the Steve King event because they
BACON: Pretty strongly oppose --
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable`s staying with us.
And up next, could the success we`re seeing from Bernie Sanders bring
Elizabeth Warren off the sidelines and into the race? Could Bernie be a
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Is Bernie Sanders the stalking horse for Elizabeth Warren?
Could she get in the race seeing how well he`s doing?
HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In case you didn`t
notice, this is a big turnout.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
We have had great turnouts all over this country. We had some 10,000
people coming out in Madison. We have crowds in Minneapolis, in Denver,
all throughout Iowa, in New Hampshire. Look at this turnout in Portland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How can you not like that? That was Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders, who`s drawing huge crowds across the country as he campaigns for
president. The self-described socialist senator is presenting an
unexpected challenge, of course, to frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the
Democratic nomination next year.
Sanders is progressive wing of the Democratic wing, much like Bill
Bradley in 2000, Howard Dean in 2004. And many on the left now hoped
Elizabeth Warren would get in the race.
So, is Sanders Warren`s stalking horse? Could his momentum lead her
to actually getting into this race?
MATTHEWS: Why not? Why -- if she watches him win in Iowa, win in New
Hampshire, why not say I`m the presidential candidate? He`s too old. He`s
kind of a fuddy-duddy. I`m right for now.
BACON: To be fair, he`s rising. He`s still 19 points behind Hillary
in Iowa. He`s still behind in New Hampshire. It`s not clear to me Bernie
Sanders could win, or Warren could win. One thing to note also, is look at
the crowds, all white people, lots of Democrats.
MATTHEWS: So are Iowa and New Hampshire.
BACON: But so are the other states he`s gone are too. If you to
South Carolina, if you go to Nevada, when the states are more diverse
Hillary gets stronger. So, him getting 10,000 people in Madison,
Wisconsin, I`m a little dubious that`s telling me, he`s much more than --
he`s the Howard Dean.
MATTHEWS: I think we have a skeptic here. By the way, it`s Nevada.
Anyway, go ahead.
WOODHOUSE: Well, I`m skeptical that Elizabeth Warren will get in the
race. I mean, she had an opportunity --
MATTHEWS: When is she going to run for president if not now?
WOODHOUSE: Well, I don`t think she`ll probably --
MATTHEWS: Never will, ever ever run?
WOODHOUSE: I don`t think she probably will. I`m skeptical she would
MATTHEWS: Are you allowed to say it here if you thought she might get
in, you could actually say it?
WOODHOUSE: Well, I could see it. But I agree with Perry, I don`t she
MATTHEWS: I`m just wondering what`s going to happen. Liz, totally
non-ideological question. What happens if you win all the contests but you
know you`re not going to go the distance? What do you? Do you just start
losing because you run out of money? Do you start taking losses in Indiana
and places like that, in California?
I don`t know. Do you think he can still win? Can he beat Hillary
MAIR: I don`t think that he will beat Hillary Clinton. I do think
there are people if the Democratic Party that are very interested in his
candidacy and find him very exciting. He`s authentic, and he is grassroots
in a way that she is not. I think he speaks to their issues in a way that
she does not. But I think that --
MATTHEWS: You`re poisoning the well.
MAIR: Well, I think --
MATTHEWS: You are poisoning the well.
MAIR: But it happens to be true.
But I think in practice, what will actually happen here is that
Hillary Clinton will start addressing some of those concerns and try to
pull those voters back into her fold.
MATTHEWS: I think Hillary Clinton won the nomination for the
Democratic Party for 2016 when she endorsed Obama in 2008. That was the
night -- she gave a beautiful speech out there. That was the deal that was
WOODHOUSE: And worked hard for him after that.
MATTHEWS: It was good for him. It was good for her. The deal was
struck a long time ago.
Anyway, thank you, Perry Bacon and Liz Mair and Brad Woodhouse.
And when we return, let me finish with a reminder of this political
season, what`s really going on right now. We`re not picking a president
yet. We`re doing some other stuff -- sending messages right now.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: So let me finish tonight with a reminder of the season
we`re in right now. This is not -- let me repeat -- not a time to pick
presidents. It`s July of the year before.
Pay attention to what people are saying when they answer pollsters`
questions right now. They are saying who they like on the list as a way of
saying what they want to say. They`re sending messages, not picking the
next president. No, not yet. That will come later, this winter, when the
Iowa caucuses are held and a week later when that New Hampshire votes.
Right now, when voters get to nudge the thing this way or that by the
name he cites or she cites when the pollster calls. What do voters have to
lose? The call comes, you are asked who you like for president off the
list. You give a person a name and feel a certain satisfaction that you
nudged the process a little bit in the direction you wanted it to go.
Yes, we will enjoy the debates and yes, we will tell our friends who
we like now and do something that`s hard to do but we have a perfect right
to do -- reserve judgment.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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