updated 7/23/2015 10:00:07 AM ET 2015-07-23T14:00:07

Show: HARDBALL
Date: July 22, 2015
Guest: Susan Page, Jay Newton-Small, Ali Rezaian, Susan Milligan, Clarence
Page

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Firing back.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Donald Trump`s attack machine has finally encountered armed
resistance. Today, Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, hit back hard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R-TX), FMR. GOV., PRES. CANDIDATE: I can only ask, as
Senator (sic) Welch did of Senator McCarthy, have you no sense of decency,
sir?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Jeb Bush, who`s tried to stay above the crap storm,
said that Trump has been ugly in his description of Mexicans as a people
and John McCain as a person.

Question. Is this attack from within going to do the eventual
Republican nominee such huge harm next year, even if Trump stops short of
running third party?

Howard Fineman is global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and
Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief of "USA Today."

Today, Rick Perry, as I said, came to Washington to launch an all-out
assault on Trump. He called him "a cancer on the party," and that was just
the beginning. Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Donald Trump is the modern-day incarnation of the know-nothing
movement. He breathes the free air thousands of heroes died protecting.
And he couldn`t have endured five minutes what John McCain endured for
five-and-a-half years.

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: When he would seek to demonize millions of citizens, when he
would stoop to attack POWs for being captured, I can only ask, as Senator
(sic) Welch did of Senator McCarthy, have you no sense of decency, sir?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Howard, you know, the words are tough. I`m not sure it has
the same boffo delivery, or whatever you want to call it, the firepower of
the initial attacks by Trump. Can anybody stand up to his withering
assault...

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL
ANALYST: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... which I`m sure he`ll hit back at this guy by midnight
tonight.

FINEMAN: Sure. Well, that`s the -- that`s the organization of the
ballgame right now on the Republican side. It`s to attack Donald Trump.
It`s to be attacked by Donald Trump. It`s to raise your own profile by
getting in a fight with him. That`s sort of what`s happened now. That`s
what Rick Perry is doing.

And this Rick Perry, compared to the one who ran last time, is pretty
impressive by comparison. He`s using -- he`s found a way to, at least for
a, day demonstrate his compassionate conservative, the fact that he has a
more modulated view on immigration, the fact that he wants some kind of
reform in that. And he does it by making a contrast with Donald Trump. I
think it was pretty successful.

MATTHEWS: You know, we all grew up -- I think you did, to -- growing
up watching "Gunsmoke." And every week, somebody came into town tried to
get a reputation by taking on Marshall Dillon. And they always ended up
dead at the end of the show. I mean, dead in that saloon, right? Same --
has this guy got it? Does he have enough sustaining power, Rick Perry --
Rick Perry -- who`s been humiliated by Trump, by -- called the guy with the
glasses, but you can still tell he ain`t smart? Can he go into this or is
this an "oops" on his part to do this?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Oh, no, I think it`s the right thing for him
to do because, for one thing, otherwise, he`s not in the conversation. The
conversation -- political conversation is entirely about Trump, or Trump
and fill in the blank.

MATTHEWS: So Howard`s right.

PAGE: The debate is to be...

MATTHEWS: Howard`s right.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Occasionally. How do you get to be the person to fill in the
blank? You know, Lindsey Graham got to be the guy. Trump and Lindsey
Graham...

MATTHEWS: Oh, we got that one, too. That`s coming up tonight.

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Trump, as you would expect, is firing at Perry.
Trump released a photo of Perry next to him smiling to the cameras. Trump
says it`s a picture of, quote, "Governor Perry in my office last cycle
playing nice and begging for my support and money. Hypocrite."

Well, Trump also announced that he`s heading to Perry`s back yard in
Texas tomorrow to tour the border near Laredo, Texas. In an interview the
morning, he said, "I may never see you again, but we`re going to do it."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He`s now going off on a frontier mission that could be
dangerous, he`s suggesting. In other words, going near the Mexican border
is life-threatening.

FINEMAN: Yes. He`s now -- you know, and he may end up being
captured, so...

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: But he won`t be a hero.

MATTHEWS: You`re not going to (INAUDIBLE) getting captured,
especially by the Federales.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That won`t count. Anyway, this -- we got -- we got to take
a look here at -- what is Lindsey Graham up to? He put out this amazing
commercial.

PAGE: Hilarious.

MATTHEWS: Let`s watch. Yesterday, Donald Trump gave out Senator
Lindsey Graham`s personal cell number, as we (INAUDIBLE), in retaliation
for Graham calling him a jackass. And today, Senator Graham tried to outdo
that stunt by teaming up with the conservative news site IJReview. They
put out this video entitled "How to destroy your cell phone with Lindsey
Graham."

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRES. CANDIDATE: Or if all else fails,
you can always give your number to the Donald.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Who came up with using the "Four Seasons" as the music
there? I got to tell you, that was -- is that pathetic or is that clever?
He stayed up all night producing this thing.

PAGE: In what other circumstances -- if Lindsey Graham gave a speech
about the Iran nuclear deal, would we be talking about it? No. He got
himself -- you know, he`s at 2 percent in the polls...

MATTHEWS: He goes to the movies last night...

PAGE: ... but he got himself into the story.

MATTHEWS: ... with Kelly Ayotte to see some movie. While he`s at the
movies last night -- this is being produced by this group IJReview. And
therefore, he comes in and -- I guess he did the stand-ups in the morning.
And he got in the...

PAGE: Yes.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris...

MATTHEWS: So it`s all done now, less than 24 hours.

PAGE: And it`s got a sense of humor.

FINEMAN: Chris, he is the sort of weird orange-haired maypole...

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: ... around which everybody is dancing at this point. And an
example of it is yesterday, showing the thing with the cell phone. John
Kasich, a serious, substantive guy, governor of Ohio...

MATTHEWS: Actually a good guy.

PAGE: ... head of the Budget Committee, you know, the real deal as a
potential president, announces his campaign. Does anybody pay much
attention? No. The number one story on CBS Radio News at 4:00 o`clock in
the afternoon, the most straitlaced news broadcast that there is, recent
winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award, OK...

MATTHEWS: Is Keith McBee (ph) still doing that?

FINEMAN: I don`t know. But who do they -- who do they talk about?
What presidential candidate do they talk about at 4:00 o`clock?

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I agree -- I turn on XM radio coming in this morning. I
flick all the stations, Fox, CNN, us, everything. They`re all on the same
topic. He`s dominating.

Anyway, last night, Jeb Bush, who`ve been trying to stay above the
fight, picked a fight with Trump. He finally did. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRES. CANDIDATE: The problem with Mr.
Trump`s language is it`s divisive. It`s ugly. It`s mean-spirited. If we
embrace this language of divisiveness and ugliness, we`ll never win. We`ll
never win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So there you have a gentleman, right -- we all know he`s a
gentleman -- "Mr. Trump" he calls him -- "Mr. Trump." He talks about
embracing language. But in the middle of the shot. "It`s ugly." He`s
calling Trump ugly in his language. I think Trump is going to come back on
this.

PAGE: I think it`s not -- I think it`s risky for Jeb Bush, actually,
because Trump, whatever you think of him, is appealing to a significant
faction of the Republican Party that`s got a lot of energy and that doesn`t
trust Jeb Bush, right?

So Jeb Bush is putting off those people, and he`s already got some
conservatives raising questions about whether he`s a true conservative.
Maybe he`s got no alternative but to push back to some of this. But I
don`t think it`s a slam-dunk for Jeb Bush, who`s near the top of the polls.
I mean, at least he`s in the first tier of candidates...

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s counting on being...

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Look at this. Look at this. He also -- Jeb Bush so counts
on the fact that he can outspend these guys and out-wait them -- here he is
trying to cozy up to who I think he wants as his running mate. Here he is
saying he wants to make sure John Kasich -- if he doesn`t get in this Fox
debate this August, he`s going to give him a shoutout.

What is all this matchmaking at this point? Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: John Kasich is an effective governor and has a great record.
And he`s the host governor of the first debate in Cleveland, and he may not
be on it. It`s odd. But I`m looking forward to being a participant in it,
and I`ll give a shoutout to Kasich if he is not on it. Maybe he`ll be in
the -- in the -- in the crowd if he`s not in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What`s that? Is this, like, the establishment wing cozying
up and buddying up?

FINEMAN: Yes. He`s already setting up the Florida-Ohio general
election ticket.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Meanwhile, as we make fun of Donald Trump, you don`t make
fun of the people who might vote for him...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... and who are now supporting him. And it`s the same
crowd, mostly white, mostly working class, people who are afraid of
"Them"...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... the outside "Them." The genius of Trump is that he`s --
as my colleague Zack Carter (ph) wrote -- a great piece -- he`s the
plutocrat populist. And he`s not blaming Wall Street. He`s blaming China.
He`s blaming Mexico. He is blaming the outsiders.

That`s the whole thing for him, which conveniently lets the Wall
Street people, including him, off the hook. Donald Trump is saying, I`m
for free enterprise. I`m a billionaire.

MATTHEWS: Well, he (INAUDIBLE)

FINEMAN: It`s a little bit of Reverend Ike. It`s a little bit of Lee
Iacocca. It`s a little bit of Ross Perot.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And it`s a little bit, and it`s a lot of Pat Buchanan...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... who ran the same thing, against trade, against the
"them" on the outside...

MATTHEWS: Yes. Pitchforks.

FINEMAN: ... and that`s -- that`s...

MATTHEWS: Well, I think he got...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: ... pitchfork, but not against Wall Street.

MATTHEWS: It`s so smart. Anyway, Marco Rubio threw out a two-fer on
Fox this morning, no surprise, putting Trump and President Obama in the
same -- into the same attack zone. I don`t like what he says here. Let`s
watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To conduct the
presidency, it has to be done in a dignified way, with a level of class.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe Donald Trump...

RUBIO: I don`t think that the way he`s behaved over the last few
weeks is either dignified or worthy of the office that he seeks. We
already have a president now that has no class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, that`s the kind of slur -- that`s not a political
charge. That`s a slur against a man, against the president, that he
doesn`t have any class.

One thing about this -- well, there`s a lot of things I can say about
him. But look how he`s led his life. He`s done everything right. He
worked hard in school. He got into the good schools. He got to be head of
Harvard Business Review (sic), in a blind test to get in. (INAUDIBLE)
minority or Affirmative Action. None of that.

He got all the way through, and instead of going and grubbing the
money on Wall Street, he went out to people, helped his community. He`s
ran statewide, faced the electorate the way we say you should do, risked --
citywide and then statewide.

He`s done everything right. He`s been immaculate in the presidency.
Nobody`s accused him of any corruption. His kids are perfect. His wife is
perfect. He`s done everything that these right-wing white conservatives
say we`re supposed to be in this country. He`s done everything right!

And this sleazy comment that he has no class -- what does that mean?
I`d love to get him under sodium pentothal and say, Buster, what do you
mean by no class? What do you mean by that? And find out what he does
mean. It`s a cheap slur that works with the cheap seats in the Republican
Party. You know it does.

PAGE: It wasn`t even part of the theme of...

MATTHEWS: It doesn`t mean anything!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He has plenty of class. And I watched the guy last night
on "Daily Show." He can take any shot. He smiles with it. He has charm.
He`s debonair about it. I mean, you don`t have to agree with what he does
or say he`s a fantastic president. But class I think he`s got.

FINEMAN: Well, that was Marco Rubio crudely trying to play to his own
crowd while simultaneously...

MATTHEWS: Who is this crowd that likes that, this peanut gallery?

FINEMAN: Yes. I don`t think it would play even among a lot of
Trump`s...

MATTHEWS: It`s a rotten thing to say. It`s a rotten thing to say.
And they get away with it because of the attitudes -- let me just say that
-- of a lot of those people out there. Do you agree with me?

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, both of you, Howard Fineman, Susan Page. I know
you`re hard to argue, you`re so objective. But I think that`s an objective
fact, the president has class.

Coming up, what damage will Donald Trump do to the Republican Party
and its eventual nominee between now and next summer? A lot. Could Trump
actually help Hillary Clinton and the Democrats by keeping the heat and
undermining his fellow Republicans, even if he doesn`t run third party?
That`s coming up.

Plus, today marks one year since "Washington Post" reporter Jason
Rezaian was jailed in Iran. Well, tonight, his brother`s here to talk
about new efforts to get him home here.

And conservatives in this country are turning against His Holiness,
Pope Francis. Could that have something to do with the pope`s call to do
something about climate change and income inequality? You betcha.

Finally, President Obama makes his final appearance on "The Daily
Show," as I said, with Jon Stewart last night. He gets a few good licks on
against Dick Cheney -- that`s how you pronounce it -- and Donald Trump.
And that`s how you pronounce that name.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Vermont senator Bernie Sanders today introduced a bill
calling for a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, $15, nearly double the
current rate of $7.25 an hour. When asked about his 2016 competitor,
Hillary Clinton`s, stance on the issue, Sanders replied simply, "I support
$15 an hour. She`ll do what she wants." Clinton`s supportive of a raise
in the federal minimum, has yet to endorse a specific hourly wage.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump`s incendiary
rhetoric about the Mexican people and his vicious personal attacks on his
primary opponents could haunt the Republican Party, haunt them on election
day 2016. Next year`s Republican nominee could wind up with a similar fate
as past presidential nominees who have been burned by nasty primary
attacks.

Back in 1960, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller`s attacks on
Richard Nixon undercut him in his campaign against John F. Kennedy. And
Kennedy jabbed Nixon over their feud at the Al Smith dinner that fall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN F. KENNEDY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cardinal
Spellman is the only man so widely respected in American politics that he
could bring together amicably at the same banquet table for the first time
in this campaign two political leaders who are increasingly apprehensive
about the November election...

(LAUGHTER)

KENNEDY: ... who have long eyed each other suspiciously...

(LAUGHTER)

KENNEDY: ... and who have disagreed so strongly both publicly and
privately, Vice President Nixon and Governor Rockefeller.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in 1976, Ronald Reagan`s challenge to incumbent
president Gerald Ford proved to weaken Ford`s chances against Jimmy Carter.
In 1980, it was Tennessee senator Al Gore`s criticism of Michael Dukakis
over prison furloughs that gave George Bush a central line of attack in
that year`s general election.

And in 2012, Mitt Romney`s GOP rivals attacked his business record,
labeling him a "vulture capitalist," which the Obama campaign used to
define Mitt Romney well before the general election. And now the Democrats
are united in making sure the Republican Party, no matter who becomes the
nominee, owns Donald Trump and his positions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRES. CANDIDATE: It`s
shameful, and so is the fact that it took so long for most of his fellow
Republican candidates to start standing up to him. The sad truth is, if
you look many of their policies, it can be hard to tell difference.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: But I noticed that the
other Republican presidential candidates immediately jumped on him for
that, and good for them. But where were they when Donald Trump shot off
his mouth about Mexican-Americans? Where was he (sic) then? The answer
was they hid in the shadows.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: So all the rest of the
Republican presidential hopeful (sic) may not engage in the same repugnant
rhetoric, make no mistake, they`re all on the same page with Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Jay-Newton Small`s with "Time" magazine. David Corn`s an
MSNBC political analyst and Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones."

You know, I don`t know how they`re going to get this stench off them.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And (INAUDIBLE) because they`re -- as we said in the first
block tonight, either you take the crap he`s throwing at you or you throw
it back at him. In any case, you get crap on you. It`s just is the case
of this campaign. It is really dirty and smelly at this point.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, "TIME" MAGAZINE: No, they wanted -- they`re rolling
in mud and it`s going to keep going. And I think what the Democrats are
really -- what they`re really hoping for is what -- is that Trump continues
into the general election, right? He hasn`t ruled out running...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Even if he doesn`t. I`m going by the assumption he may not
because it`s going to cost him a ton, although there`s a tremendous appeal
to getting in a national debate three evenings of primetime...

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... against the two nominees.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And you know, we
look at the history of how primary battles may or may not affect the
general election, as you went through in the setup. But I think what`s
here is different. This isn`t Trump undermining Jeb Bush or Scott Walker
in a particular way because of their own policy failures or problems in the
past. It`s really tainting the entire Republican Party and making it hard
for anybody else to get a line of thought through.

NEWTON-SMALL: To breathe that oxygen.

CORN: Yes. Yes.

So, what you have, you have, in the last couple of days, the only
attention any candidate has gotten other than Donald Trump is when they
have attacked Donald Trump. So they`re not making -- they`re not getting a
message out to the party.

MATTHEWS: Or else destroyed their cell phone.

CORN: Yes, destroyed their cell phone.

Even when Rand Paul went through the tax code, he would have had more
success if he was going through Donald Trump`s financial disclosure forms.
And that`s -- he is going to keep making the Republican circus look circus-
like, or more like a mud wrestling pit.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s get ethnic here. If you`re an Hispanic-American
and you`re a voter, and 13 percent of the voters are Hispanic in their
background, you`re going to notice that the Republican Party was going
headstands over this guy.

Look, he was leading the poll among that party. Would you want those
voters to set your future and say anybody who ever voted for Donald Trump
in a poll, I don`t want them calling the shots who the next president is?
And a lot of Republicans have been saying yes to Donald Trump.

NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, yes, that`s certainly Hillary`s criticism.
It`s certainly the Democrats` criticism, is like, he was -- everyone was
totally silent him when he was criticizing Latinos because it`s such a big
issue, immigration. It`s like the third rail right now. You don`t want to
say, oh, I`m even remotely for any kind of pro-immigration stance.

MATTHEWS: Amnesty.

NEWTON-SMALL: Amnesty, which is the A-word, right, like that everyone
avoids like the plague.

And so -- but then it`s like he said -- everything else he says,
increasingly, they`re just like, oh, well, that`s not good. Well, that`s
not -- oh, that`s really not good. And then -- and it just snowballs then.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How do they kill him? How do they kill him?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What do they do with the body? What happens if he fails
and doesn`t get the nomination? Let`s assume he doesn`t get the
nomination. I think it`s a pretty good assumption. But I`m not sure.

CORN: Well, I`m not sure.

MATTHEWS: OK. He doesn`t get the nom. What do they do with the
body? Where do they send him off to?

Because unless they trash him and deny his credibility, which, if they
do that, they lose all his votes in the general, or a lot of them. How do
they get rid of him?

CORN: He is operating under a different set of rules.

MATTHEWS: I know. But what are they going to do with him, the
Republicans?

CORN: I mean, unless they know two guys in Jersey and they go to
the...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: ... field...

NEWTON-SMALL: Which may have been tried before with Donald Trump.

CORN: Yes. Unless they do something like that, he is here to stay
for as long as he wants to stay.

(CROSSTALK)

NEWTON-SMALL: And he can afford to stay for a while.

CORN: In the Republican primary -- because the thing is, if you call
him on anything, he just says, you know what? That`s just the media.
That`s the losers. And I can negotiate better...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s speaking at the Republican National Convention in
Cleveland, right, in prime time, the way it`s going?

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes.

CORN: Well, I don`t know. He may be independent by then.

MATTHEWS: If he is not, he has...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Well, yes and no. They don`t always put the losers up on the
platform. Maybe they do...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You guys are both missing my point. What do you do to kill
this guy if you`re a Republican opponent?

CORN: I don`t think they can.

NEWTON-SMALL: They can`t.

MATTHEWS: You got to get rid of him.

CORN: They can`t.

(CROSSTALK)

NEWTON-SMALL: It`s why, like, Ted Cruz literally still hardly has
criticized Donald Trump, because he wants all those voters.

MATTHEWS: He wants to be Donald Trump.

NEWTON-SMALL: He wants to be Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: He wants to get those voters if Donald Trump actually goes
someplace or he, you know, explodes or self-implodes.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: I think the problem is, he can decide to stay in this race for
as long as he is willing pay to stay in the race, which means until the
very end.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Does he want a platform speech at the convention, or does
he want to be in three national debates?

I think he wants be in national debates.

NEWTON-SMALL: Three national debates.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: He may want to be in that house over there, Chris.

MATTHEWS: The White House?

CORN: The White House. Put a big Trump sign on it.

MATTHEWS: Is that what`s behind me? I never looked.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much.

I think he is going to be big news. I don`t think they`re going to
get this stuff off them very easily in this election...

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... because I think he`s going to make more noise, and he
is the only one -- Hillary even. That wasn`t very exciting stuff from her
right now. She has not exactly grabbed the attention of the American
people. He has drowned her out.

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, but she is happy about that.

MATTHEWS: And she is expected to be the next president.

CORN: That`s OK for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you think she likes that?

NEWTON-SMALL: I think she does.

CORN: For the next six months, it`s fine.

NEWTON-SMALL: Let the circus go.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Fine. More of him, less of her.

CORN: Yes. She can buy her time.

MATTHEWS: That`s the most unusual campaign in history. Don`t watch
me.
(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Jay Newton-Small of "TIME" magazine,
David Corn of "Mother Jones" -- up next -- and us, both.

Anyway, up next, a year in captivity in Iran. We are going to speak
with the brother of a "Washington Post" American reporter who was jailed by
the Iranian regime a year ago today. Are we any closer to getting this
fellow home and the other three?

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re not going to
relent until we bring home our Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran.
Journalist Jason Rezaian -- Rezaian -- should be released. Pastor Saeed
Abedini should be released. Amir Hekmati, a former sergeant in the U.S.
Marine Corps, should be released. Iran needs to help us find Robert
Levinson.

These Americans need to be back home with their families.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Obama yesterday calling for the release of the four
Americans who are currently being held in Iran.

Among them is California-born journalist Jason Rezaian, who, as of
today, has spent a year behind bars in that country. He was working as the
Tehran bureau chief of "The Washington Post" last July, when he was
arrested and later accused of spying for the U.S.

And now that a historic nuclear agreement has been reached with Iran,
President Obama is facing renewed calls to secure his release, and that of
the other three Americans.

And here is how it came up at last week`s press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can you tell the
country, sir, why are you content with all the fanfare around this deal to
leave the conscience of this nation and the strength of this nation
unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?

OBAMA: The notion that I`m content as I celebrate with Americans
citizens languishing in Iranian jails, Major, that`s -- that`s nonsense,
and you should know better. I have met with the families of some of those
folks. Nobody`s content. And our diplomats and our teams are working
diligently to try to get them out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Iran`s deputy foreign minister confirmed today that
the prisoner issue did come up on the sidelines of the nuclear talks, even
though their release was not linked to the deal that was finalized last
week.

I`m joined right now by Ali Rezaian, who is the brother of Jason
Rezaian, and chief foreign correspondent of NBC News Richard Engel.

I`m so happy to have both of you on, for totally different reasons.

But, Ali, tell me how it`s going. Is there any sign of life, of
getting your brother out?

ALI REZAIAN, BROTHER OF JASON REZAIAN: Jason`s trial has been
ongoing.

He had his third day in court just the other day. And we now expect
that his next day in court will be the last day of his trial, and then at
some point after that, we will get a judgment from the court. We just
don`t know when.

MATTHEWS: Are you being careful? You have to be careful about what
you would say here, I would assume?

REZAIAN: I`m usually careful with what I say.

MATTHEWS: No, I mean in terms of what the hard-line -- hard-liners on
that court over there might react to?

REZAIAN: I think it`s fair to say that I don`t want to do anything to
hurt Jason.

MATTHEWS: Of course.

REZAIAN: But I think that our hope is, is they will look at the
evidence, that folks within the Iranian government will have time to look
at the evidence and do the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who calls the shot? If this is as we all see it, as a
complete injustice, that there was no spying, there was no reason to
believe there was spying, if it was complete injustice, a stunt, a
political stunt, international stunt, who would make the call and say we
have done enough, let`s let the guy go?

Who does that, the ayatollahs or who makes those calls? Or the
judges? It doesn`t seem like the judges have the power to do that.

REZAIAN: I don`t think people realize that there is a give and take
there.

Everybody has their own amount of political power, their chips that
they can put in. And so I think that it`s a combination. There is the
judiciary, there is the president, and there is the supreme leader.

MATTHEWS: How do we talk to the Iranian ayatollahs? Do we say, if
you let the guy go, we will say something good about you, we won`t -- you -
- won`t dump on you again? You know what I mean? They will get some pay -
- some sort of international payment in a sense of they will look good?
What do you do as an American to get a guy out of this situation?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have to
understand Iran is a very divided society.

It has a very divided political system, like this country has a very
divided political system. And there are three real centers of power. You
have the presidency, which is represented by the reformers, the moderates,
the people who were negotiating the deal.

Then you have the judiciary and the security services, who are holding
his brother, and they are hard-liners. They do not listen to the
presidency. And then you have the supreme leader that sort of oversees it
all. And you have to try and negotiate and direct your message to the
certain parties that are appropriate.

So, in the case of his brother -- and I can understand why he is being
cautious with what he says -- his brother is being held by the hard-liners
in the regime, the security services, the judiciary, who aren`t happy that
there is a deal going on, don`t necessarily want to see Iran...

MATTHEWS: Why did they grab him?

ENGEL: That`s debatable.

Some people have said they grabbed him because they were suspicious
that he was there. He was reporting. He was married to an Iranian woman.
It was uncomfortable. Some people say they grabbed him to embarrass the
government, which was going out to negotiate a deal. The negotiators, by
the way...

MATTHEWS: But he has press credentials. He is a professional
journalist with "The Washington Post," a very well-known organization.
Everybody...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... "The Washington Post" everywhere.

ENGEL: Zarif -- Zarif...

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL: ... said he was a friend of Jason`s, liked him personally.

REZAIAN: Yes.

No, I mean, the work he was doing was all credentialed. He was doing
his work by the rules that they have over there. And, you know, I think,
in general, he was fair. He showed a different perspective on Iran than we
saw. And there was no flamethrowing there. He was journalist, a
professional journalist.

MATTHEWS: Straight, straight news.

REZAIAN: Yes. And he had contacts that he used to make sure he was
reporting correctly.

MATTHEWS: I sometimes wonder if they understand that or even respect
that, free flow of information.

Anyway, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is running for president,
issued a press release today calling the four Americans held -- he`s
calling them hostages, actually, comparing their detention to the 1979
Iranian hostage crisis, which occurred under the presidency of Jimmy
Carter.

Quote -- this is Walker -- quote -- "Today, Iran`s rulers see our
sitting president as weak, much like they saw President Carter. Amid all
of President Obama`s dangerous concessions to Iran in the nuclear deal, he
has also failed to get Americans back home to their families. The Iranians
won`t release our fellow citizens until we have a commander in chief they
fear and respect."

In other words, you know what this sounds like? I think everything
Scott Walker says that doesn`t have to do with the unions and his own state
are written for him by somebody he has hardly ever met. This kind of cheap
shot at Carter, cheap shot at President Obama after this nuclear deal, when
the stakes are so high, just seems like low-level politics to me.

ENGEL: Well, it`s an oversimplification.

So, you have to also understand the dynamic. You mentioned that there
are four Americans detained in Iran. It`s actually three, three Americans
detained in Iran.

MATTHEWS: And one is, well...

ENGEL: And one is missing. He went missing from Iran.

MATTHEWS: What does that mean, in effect?

ENGEL: He went to Iran. And this is the one unlike the other. You
notice the three were Iranian-Americans.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ENGEL: And then you have...

MATTHEWS: Levinson.

ENGEL: ... Levinson, who is not an Iranian-American. He went there.
It`s unclear what happened to him.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But why wouldn`t they say, we don`t have him in custody if
we don`t have him in custody?

ENGEL: Because they don`t have him custody, as far as I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But they don`t say that.

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL: They say they don`t know where he is. And so, if you asked,
if you listen to the quote from President Obama, he didn`t say, release
Levinson. He said give us information to help find him.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ENGEL: So this goes back to the -- and these distinctions are
important. You have the three Iranian-Americans.

Iran considers them Iranians. So, Iran says, this is a domestic
issue. These are Iranians. We don`t recognize their American passports.
These are people who we are trying. They are in our court system. Leave
us alone.

MATTHEWS: So if you`re married to an Iranian, you become an Iranian?

REZAIAN: That`s absolutely correct. If your parents were Iranian,
you are an Iranian citizen. You don`t get a choice.

MATTHEWS: That is just like North Korea, isn`t it? In North Korea,
they just say everybody is a Korean as long as you live.

ENGEL: As long as you live, you`re a Korean.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... your family exists, you`re a Korean.

ENGEL: Exactly.

For Iranian-Americans going there and...

MATTHEWS: There is risk?

ENGEL: There is a special degree of risk, because we consider them
Americans who are of Iranian extraction.

The Iranians say, they are once Iranians, they are always Iranians.

MATTHEWS: But when he checked in and became a credentialed
correspondent in Tehran, there was no challenge to him then, was there?
There was no, oh, glad we got you here, we`re going to arrest you?

REZAIAN: No. For years, he was reporting. He was reporting fairly
and didn`t have problems. He had very good relationships with the folks at
the credentialing organization.

And, you know, what happens to folks like Jason and myself if they`re
over there is that you don`t get consular access. You don`t have access to
the Red Crescent or the Red Cross when you`re in jail. You`re denied those
kinds of consular access.

MATTHEWS: Has the foreign minister over there ever contacted you or
have you contacted him, the guy who negotiated the nuclear deal, Zarif?

REZAIAN: Zarif, we have been -- I have sent him e-mails and he has
sent me brief responses.

MATTHEWS: Brief responses. Can he help?

REZAIAN: I think that what he said is that it needs to work through
the legal process, the judicial process before anything can happen.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s as if it`s a legal process.

REZAIAN: That`s what they have been saying since day one. And that`s
what we have been asking them to do.

ENGEL: There is a possibility that -- he has one more session in
court. If the hard-liners convict him to something, maybe they convict him
to time served.

MATTHEWS: Time served.

ENGEL: Then the judicial system feels like it had its say, everyone
has respected the process, and then he could get out. That`s the best
scenario.

MATTHEWS: Well, this will tell you whether they want this nuclear
deal to go through, because an act of generosity or whatever you want to
call just...

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL: The negotiators, the negotiators, I think Zarif would be half
if he got out today.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think it`s going to -- it would help the
relationship dramatically if your brother gets out. Good luck. I have got
the button. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re great to keep coming on.

Ali Rezaian, thank you.

And Richard Engel, who is my hero. Just look out. I feel like the
cop in the -- what`s it`s called, "Hill Street Blues."

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL: Well, it`s great to -- I`m not sure if I have even ever been
on your...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s dangerous out there. It`s dangerous out there.

Up next, ahead of his U.S. visit here, Pope Francis, the people`s
pope, sees his popularity slipping somewhat among Catholics and
conservatives because he is taking positions.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A new Gallup poll shows that Pope Francis` overall popularity in the
U.S. has dropped markedly in the last year. Today, 59 percent of Americans
overall view him favorably, while in 2014, he was up there at 76 percent.

Well, the biggest drop was with political conservatives, going from 72
percent down to a minority position of 45 percent.

And with U.S. Catholics, the pope`s popularity dropped 18 points,
going from 89 percent to 71 percent, which is still pretty good.

This comes as the pope is becoming a factor in American politics.
Catholic presidential candidates are being forced to contend with the
pontiff`s policy positions on income inequality and his encyclical on
climate change. And in September, the pontiff will address a joint session
of the U.S. Congress here at the request of Speaker John Boehner himself, a
Roman Catholic.

Joining me right now at the round table is columnist Clarence Page of
"The Chicago Tribune", Susan Milligan of "U.S. News and World Report", and
MSNBC political reporter, Alex Seitz-Wald.

Alex, you start this thing. You know, I am Roman Catholic. I used to
-- the years of almost pick your cafeteria Catholics, the conservatives
love the pope`s position on certain things, obviously life and same sex.
The liberals like his position on war and capital punishment and
immigration.

So, it`s always been a case of, you know, pick the part you like and
ignore the other part. Here we go again.

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, you can pick
the pope, too, right? John Paul II was much more favorably viewed by
conservatives. Much more aligned with them than Pope Francis. And if
you`re a social conservative Catholic right now, you`ve been losing a lot
of issues, right? You just had the Supreme Court issue on gay marriage and
now you look at this pope that looks -- sounds more like Bill de Blasio
than a conservative, and you can`t be too happy about it.

MATTHEWS: Really? Big Bird? He`s like Big Bird?

SEITZ-WALD: I mean, he`s talking about climate change. He`s talking
about --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m sure.

Susan Milligan?

SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: What`s interesting -- I
mean, you`re right that the Catholic Church is against capital punishment
and the death penalty and so forth. But you never saw the bishops lobby on
that on the Hill or for aid for the poor. You saw them lobby on abortion.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

MILLIGAN: Because their issue was abortion. That`s pretty much the
only --

MATTHEWS: Does it worth like life?

MILLIGAN: I would think so.

MATTHEWS: Doesn`t climate change, the closing down of this planet at
some point in the distant future, the end of human life on this planet have
something to do with the life issue?

MILLIGAN: You read the encyclical.

The interesting thing to me about this pope, he is actually appealing
to the very people that the Republican Party needs to attract to a keep
that party viable, young people, gays and lesbians and so forth. And yes,
the church is still against gay marriage, but he is certainly much more
inclusive. And the interesting is that you see --

MATTHEWS: He took away the idea. You and I Catholics, I think we all
remember the Vatican II.

MILLIGAN: I`ve been to CYO.

MATTHEWS: Vatican II really said no more anti-Semitism.

So, this is now saying you can`t have all these attitudes about gay
people. No more homophobia and it`s not acceptable, even though we don`t
agree as a church, they`re saying. But no more attacking people because
they`re gay.

MILLIGAN: Right. But I think this goes beyond just Catholics. And
raising this whole idea of the connection between religion and morality in
his view of it, and the view of some of the candidates out there and how
religion is connected to morality. I think there is going to be a division
in the presidential race. But I think he`s really setting an example that
is just historic on the very issue.

MATTHEWS: I think most liberal Catholics that I know about, including
one I know very well, me, happens to like him a lot. And we wonder, a lot
of Jewish people I know who -- well, they`re religious in some cases, but
maybe not even religious at all.

MILLIGAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Find this guy wonderful.

MILLIGAN: Yes.

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I`m really struck by how timely his
remarks are. Rather than get hung up on issues that they know the church
is not going to move on like abortion or gay marriage.

MATTHEWS: That`s not -- that`s doctrine. That`s hard to touch.

PAGE: Exactly, exactly.

Keep talking about things like income inequality, which -- and the
environment, both of which are very timely issues right now, and the public
on the whole is moving in that direction. And I think he has speaking as a
Protestant who has lived for a long time in Chicago.

MATTHEWS: What are you?

PAGE: I`m a fallen away Unitarian at the moment. But Chicago got the
biggest archdiocese in the country, has always been a place where --

MATTHEWS: Conservative Catholics, too.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Bernardin was not.

PAGE: Bernardin was not. And he was, yes, Seamless Garment --

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

Six -- half dozen presidential candidates for 2016 are themselves
Roman Catholic. And the pope`s views on climate seems at odds with many of
them. On the eve of the pope`s encyclical on climate, Jeb Bush told
campaigners while campaigning in Iowa that he respected the pope, but he
would not take political guidance, he called it, from the head of his
church. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t go to mass for economic
policy or for things in politics. I have enough people helping me along
the way with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That was a little sarcastic. What do you think? During
the civil rights movement, we took a lot of leadership from Protestant
minister, Martin Luther King, all kinds of people, his father, Daddy King.
We did accept the fact that the church, broadly defined has a role in our
social and political life in this country and to the betterment of this
country.

SEITZ-WALD: Well, I mean, Jeb Bush and these other Catholic
candidates are kind of stuck in a little bit of a hard place here. They`re
taking the line that they`re not scientists. They have dug themselves in
on climate change. And you`re not just going to --

MATTHEWS: I mean, they don`t know whether you`re gay because you grew
up that way, were that way from the time you can remember or you had some
multiple choice tests later in high school and decided which ones to block.

SEITZ-WALD: Right, they`re not social scientists.

MATTHEWS: They all play this. This guy, Walker, says, I don`t know.
He doesn`t know anything, this guy -- it`s weird. They don`t look like
they think about anything.

SEITZ-WALD: But it`s that same pick your topic. On abortion, they`re
going to be with the pope here. And on climate change and on income
inequality, they`re not. But I think this poll also shows a little bit of
the honeymoon effect, right? So, liberals have fallen off. Others have
fallen off. When the pope came in, there is all this great expectation.

MATTHEWS: Why do they lose the honeymoon feeling?

SEITZ-WALD: Well, you know, you put everything you hope and expect
for any new leader. The same thing happened when Obama came in. Once the
rubber hits the road, liberals might be disappointed that these great
expectations that they had didn`t actually come to pass yet. I mean, it
hasn`t been very long at all.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s possible people just can`t stay in love
with anybody long?

SEITZ-WALD: Absolutely.

MILLIGAN: That`s it.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re making a personal --

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I think there is something about just looking up to anybody
for a long period of time, whether it`s Obama.

MILLIGAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: We just have lost the ability to stay entranced like they
used to be with Franklin Roosevelt.

PAGE: Well, especially when they`re dealing with controversial issues
every day.

MATTHEWS: Not the liberals. I think this guy has been pretty good on
all the liberals issues. Liberals should love him.

(CROSSTALK)

SEITZ-WALD: It`s faith in any institution. No one trusts the
military, the White House, or the Vatican.

MATTHEWS: The shelf life of greatness. It`s short.

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, President Obama makes his final appearance on Jon
Stewart`s "Daily Show." We got some great highlights from last night. I
stayed up and watched it. It was great.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: President Obama departs tomorrow, believe it or not, for a
two-country week-long visit to Africa. He`ll arrive first in Kenya, the
birthplace of his father for his first trip to that country since 2006.
And after Kenya, the president will head to Ethiopia before returning home.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can`t believe that
you`re leaving before me. In fact, I am issuing a new executive order,
that Jon Stewart cannot leave the show.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

It`s being challenged in the courts.

JON STEWART, COMEDY CENTRAL: Yes. I have to say, for me, this is a
states rights issue. It`s not --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Clarence, Susan and Alex.

Anyway, that was President Obama last night on "The Daily Show" with
Jon Stewart, making his last appearance before Stewart`s 16-year run comes
to a close on August 6th. That`s coming up. That`s before the debate
actually.

Anyway, President Obama talked about his hopes for his last 18 months
in office and the ongoing fight over the Iranian agreement. He threw a
little levity, too, regarding the Iran agreement take on some of the hawks.

Love it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When you hear the critics talk about, well, it`s a bad deal.
We could have got a better deal, you`re going to ask them, what represents
a better deal?

STEWART: Right.

OBAMA: What is it that you think could happen? Typically, they`re
vague and they fall back on -- well, if you beat your chest a little bit
more.

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: Done it in 2011, they`ll give you the country.

OBAMA: Or if you`d brought Dick Cheney to the negotiations, you know,
then --

STEWART: Let`s not get crazy.

OBAMA: Everything would be fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s Dick Cheney, Mr. President. Anyway, get
pronunciation right. That`s the family pronunciation.

You know, I was watching it last night, the whole 25 minutes, I kept
thinking, you know, maybe this is Obama worship. I don`t think so.

All the things he`s got on his mine in the world, every trouble spot
in the world is breaking out and here he is casually with this debonair
quality, chatting it up with a comedian, as if he has no other job except
being pretty good on the show.

PAGE: He`s a good multitasker --

MATTHEWS: That`s compartmentalization. How do you make that fit in
your head?

PAGE: He`s a good multitasker, for one thing.

But also, this is the relaxed Obama with the senioritis as Stewart
said early on.

MATTHEWS: He is coming off a 5-0, the win/loss record.

PAGE: I remember a time early in the presidency when he was playing
hard to get with "The Daily Show", you know? The best you can get was a
satellite feed. This time, he`s right there, live, man, taking up --

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this. Stewart gave President Obama
the opportunity to comment on his potential successor, Donald Trump. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If people are engaged, eventually, the political system
responds despite the money, despite the lobbyists.

STEWART: After seven years, is that the advice that you then bequeath
to future President Trump?

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Well -- I`m sure the Republicans are enjoying Mr. Trump`s
current dominance of their primary.

STEWART: Anything that makes they will look less crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Do you like that choice of words? Dominance.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Not up in the polls but dominance.

PAGE: He is enjoying the dominance.

MILLIGAN: Yes, I think it`s the president who is enjoying his stance
in the polls. But, you know -- I mean, obviously, it puts the Republicans
in an awkward situation.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Alex -- Clarence Page, Susan Milligan,
and Alex Seitz-Wald.

When we return, let me finish with the life Theodore Bikel, who just
died.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish with the life of Theodore Bikel. I first saw
him in the "African Queen" that starred Humphrey Bogart and Katherine
Hepburn. I remember reading the John Hughes and the film director told
Hepburn to pretend she was Eleanor Roosevelt. It turns out he asked Bikel,
a refugee from the Nazis in Austria if he could do a German accent which he
won`t to do, playing the World War I naval command who condemns Bogart and
Hepburn`s characters to death by hanging, but not without first letting
them marry.

The other night I saw Theodore Bikel in "The Enemy Below", his first
officer on a World War II German u-boat. He was a much bigger star on
Broadway as Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music", and later as Tevye
in "Fiddler on the Roof", and yes, playing southern judge in "The Defiant
Ones".

And when he was playing himself, Bikel was a renowned folk singer and
political activist, protesting in the civil rights movement and outspoken
against police abuse in 2015. He died yesterday at 91, a U.S. citizen
since 1961. A hero to the arts, a guy who could play anyone in any accent
but whose true allegiance was this country`s best values. The great
Theodore Bikel.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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

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