updated 7/24/2015 9:42:14 AM ET 2015-07-24T13:42:14

Show: HARDBALL
Date: July 23, 2015
Guest: Sen. Ted Cruz, Paul Singer, Ben Cardin, Cornell Belcher, Michael
Duffy, Heidi Przybyla

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Stopped at the border.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Our guest tonight is Texas senator Ted Cruz, candidate for president.
Senator, we all know that Donald Trump dominated the TV screen today,
traveling down to the Mexican border. His mission was to speak with the
U.S. border guards themselves, but once in the air, he learned that the
guards were not to make the rendezvous.

By the way, here`s the back-and-forth that accompanied Trump`s trip
down there. In an interview yesterday, Trump said the Border Patrol
invited him because, They want to honor me, actually, thousands and
thousands of them.

Well, just hours before his scheduled visit, the local Border Patrol
union was forced to ditch Trump saying, just to be clear, the endorsement
was never discussed for any presidential candidate. They also announced
that they had, quote, "decided to pull out of all events involving Donald
Trump."

Well, trump addressed the conflict in two press conferences today at
the border. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They`re the ones that
invited me. They wanted to give me an award. And the Border Patrol --
they`re petrified of saying what`s happening.

The Border Patrol invited me, and then they canceled because, frankly,
they don`t want to get involved. So they invited me. And then at the last
moment -- I mean, we were virtually in the air, and they said, We can`t get
involved. And I heard they got those orders from Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Senator Cruz, thanks for coming back on so soon after your
last visit here. I appreciate that. I just want to ask you a bigger
picture than the little kerfuffle at the border today, which could have
been anything, whatever it was or wasn`t anything.

What has Donald Trump got hold of here, in the biggest possible
picture? I don`t think it`s just immigration. What is it that is grabbing
the emotions, the thoughts, the hopes or whatever, the fears of the
Republican voter who`s talking to these pollsters?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, listen, I like
Donald Trump. I appreciate that he`s focusing on illegal immigration.
It`s an issue I`ve been fighting a long, long time. I think people are
very concerned, for example, about the problems of sanctuary cities. And
that is something that -- that people are finally turning their attention
to.

You know, we had just this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee a
number of the family members of people who have been murdered by illegal
aliens with criminal convictions the Obama administration has released.

I had an exchange with the head of Immigration Enforcement under the
Obama administration where I asked her why the Obama administration in 2013
released 104,000 illegal aliens with criminal convictions, including 198
murderers, over 400 people accused of sexual assault, over 16,000 drunk
drivers.

She couldn`t give an answer, and I think people are understandable
very concerned that this administration refuses to enforce the law and is
releasing people with serious criminal convictions that shouldn`t be in
this country and are here illegally.

MATTHEWS: Are you against local cities like New York City under
Giuliani, where they basically didn`t turn in everybody every time there
was a police incident? Or how strong would you be in terms of turning
people in at the local level to ICE?

CRUZ: Look, sanctuary cities are wrong. The city of San Francisco,
we`ve seen the murder of Kate Steinle...

MATTHEWS: I saw that.

CRUZ: ... who was out on the pier, was short and murdered. San
Francisco`s a city that proudly calls itself a sanctuary city. With the
case of the illegal immigrant and career criminal who murdered Kate
Steinle, the federal government had put in what`s called a detainer, a
request that when he was released, they be notified so he could be
deported. And the city of San Francisco refused to honor that detainer,
violated, defied federal law, and Kate Steinle is dead because of it.

And I`ve joined with a number of senators in a common sense amendment
in the U.S. Senate to provide that federal funds will not be provided to
cities and local jurisdictions that defy, that actively frustrate federal
law, and that, in effect, release violent criminals to endanger the safety
and security of men and women across this country.

MATTHEWS: When somebody is arrested in a locale like San Francisco or
New York, do you think they should be -- if they`re arrested and they find
out that they`re not here legally, should they be turned over to the
immigration authorities?

CRUZ: I think we should enforce federal immigration laws. And I
think we should not have...

MATTHEWS: So cities should do it.

CRUZ: ... local officials...

MATTHEWS: Cities should turn them over.

CRUZ: I think we should comply with the law. You know, it`s an
amazing thing that people treat it as unusual that we should follow the
law. When I asked the head of Immigration Enforcement, why did the Obama
administration release 104,000 criminals...

MATTHEWS: Right.

CRUZ: ... people with separate criminal convictions who were here
illegally, she couldn`t answer me. You know, Chris, I asked the question,
how many murderers did the Obama administration release yesterday who was
here illegally?

MATTHEWS: OK.

CRUZ: She said, I don`t know. That ought to trouble anybody, anybody
with children...

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, maybe you should...

CRUZ: ... that doesn`t want murderers on the streets.

MATTHEWS: Maybe you should talk to -- I think you should talk to Rudy
Giuliani about this because the urban officials, like mayors of bit cities,
they`re afraid, I think they`ve learned to be afraid, that if you turn
everybody you deal with over to ICE, to the immigration authorities, you
won`t get any cooperation from the communities in getting information.
They`ll just see you as the deporters.

Isn`t that a danger to consider, or not?

CRUZ: I will suggest the very simple principle that we should enforce
the law and we should keep violent criminals off the streets.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CRUZ: So in 2013, 16,000 people with drunk driving convictions...

MATTHEWS: Right.

CRUZ: You know, imagine if your loved one, if someone in your family
was killed by a drunk driver that the federal government had in custody,
who was here illegally, and they simply released that drunk driver -- the
testimony at the hearing in the Senate -- we heard testimony from a man...

MATTHEWS: Right. But...

CRUZ: ... whose brother was killed by a drunk driver that had been
released by the government. It doesn`t make any sense.

MATTHEWS: But you`re coloring the immigration issue heavily in the
area of crime. Do you think it`s fair to say that when you`re talking
about immigration, to quickly to go the issue of crime levels in big
cities? Do you think they`re related that closely?

CRUZ: Well, I`m focusing very directly on illegal aliens with
criminal convictions. When the Obama administration releases 104,000
illegal aliens, all of whom had a separate criminal conviction -- yes,
there`s a direct connection there. When you release 193...

MATTHEWS: Right.

CRUZ: ... illegal aliens with homicide convictions, yes, there`s a
direct connection there.

MATTHEWS: Well, I agree with that, of course. Let`s go back to the
latest polling here. It`s fascinating. Look at the "Washington Post"/ABC
poll. Donald Trump is up there, and many others are down. Trump`s up by
20 points just since May, just a few weeks ago, while Rand Paul`s down 5,
you`re down 4. Rubio, Christie and Santorum are down 3.

And so there`s an old -- remember, Gresham`s law from economics, Bad
money drives good money out of circulation? What`s it feel like to be
driven out of circulation? Because everybody else seems to be pushed down
while Trump goes up. Is that good for the Republican Party?

CRUZ: Well, I`ll tell you, what we`re seeing on the ground is
enormous support and enthusiasm from the grass roots. You know, everyone
just filed their fund-raising records. Out of 16 Republican candidates,
you know which candidate may (ph) raise the most hard money of the entire
field? We did. We raised...

MATTHEWS: I know.

CRUZ: ... $14.3 million. We beat Jeb Bush, who`s in second place
with $11.3 million. And what`s amazing, Chris, is that came from 175,000
contributions in all 50 states, all five territories. The average
contribution was $81.

It came from roughly half the zip codes in America. And I`ll tell you
why. People are looking for someone who will stand up to the Washington
cartel. Right now, I`m in the Senate. And the reason is, we`re having a
fight over the Export Import Bank, a classic example of corporate welfare.
And let me say, Chris, your party, the Democrats, who use...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... thank you.

CRUZ: ... a lot of rhetoric about opposing big business and big money
-- the Democrats, virtually all of them, are supporting this cronyism and
corporate welfare. The one person who`s standing up strong is Bernie
Sanders. This is an issue where Bernie and I are in complete agreement.
We need to end this corporate welfare. But far too many Democrats -- and I
will readily admit far too many Republicans -- are supporting hundreds of
billions of dollars of loan guarantees to giant corporations at the expense
of the taxpayers.

I think people are fed up with that. They want someone who will stand
with the working man and woman against the bipartisan corruption of
Washington!

MATTHEWS: Is that a strategy on the right to build up Bernie Sanders?

CRUZ: Well, I`ve said for a long time, I like and respect Bernie
Sanders...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... you`re building him up. You just did it. You took an
opportunity for a call-out there to build -- what is the strategy to build
up Bernie Sanders from the right-wing perspective? You`re right wing...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... now that we`re identifying each other.

CRUZ: I respect honesty in politics.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CRUZ: Bernie admits he`s a socialist. We can have an honest
debate...

MATTHEWS: Well, he is a socialist! (INAUDIBLE) admit. You admit
you`re a Tea Party guy. That`s not an admission, it`s a fact.

CRUZ: But the difference is I think there are an awful lot of
Democrats in the United States Senate whose policies are every bit as
liberal or every bit socialist as Bernie`s, but they don`t admit it.

I`m enjoying watching Hillary Clinton explain to the voters how she`s
just as much of a socialist as Bernie Sanders. I`d rather an honest
debate...

MATTHEWS: Well, that would be a mistake, and you know that would be a
mistake and that`s why you`re saying it. If she goes out there and matches
Bernie and lets her -- lets him lead her around, she`ll end up looking and
sounding like him, which will take her from the center.

CRUZ: Well...

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you...

CRUZ: ... but -- but -- but Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: Let me ask you a question on this. We were talking about the
Export Import Bank. The reason I focused on Bernie Sanders is that he`s
one of the few Democrats with the courage to stand against it.

Let me point out another Democrat that had the courage to stand
against it, then senator Barack Obama. When he was a senator, he said the
Export Import Bank is a classic example of corporate welfare. Now that
he`s president, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party,
they get contributions from big lobbyists...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CRUZ: ... in Washington. Now he`s for corporate welfare. Bernie is
being honest about this, and I wish both...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You are building him up! I mean, you`re getting so
enthusiastic. I know what you`re up to. It`s called trouble-making.

Let me ask you about your party. We`re watching how this debate`s
working out, top 10 -- Roger Ailes (INAUDIBLE) top 10 limit. Some are in,
some are out. What happens if the convention next summer picks Jeb Bush
and John Kasich to be your ticket, and the other side picks Hillary Clinton
and Sherrod Brown? So you got two -- you got two centrist tickets, at
least at the top.

Isn`t that going to drive the Tea Party crazy, crazy that you`ve been
cut out of...

CRUZ: Let me -- let me...

MATTHEWS: ... the presidential (INAUDIBLE)

CRUZ: Let me be clear, by the way. No one in their right mind would
describe Hillary Clinton and Sherrod Brown as a centrist ticket. That
would be a far-left ticket. And let me clear also, if that race...

MATTHEWS: Really? Hillary Clinton`s far left?

CRUZ: ... Hillary and -- Hillary and Sherrod would win because you`d
turn out the far-left base and millions of conservatives would stay home.
That race would make you very happy, Chris, because the way for
Republicans...

MATTHEWS: You are beating the drum for Bernie Sanders and Sherrod
Brown tonight! This is your game! I know what -- you`re trying to get
Hillary out of position, go chase them (ph).

I`m asking you, are you in a position to decide between a third party
candidate of the Tea Party people if you have to take on Jeb Bush in a
general election because you`re stuck outside the contest? If you get a
Jeb Bush in there, you can`t vote for Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`d never vote for Bush!

CRUZ: Listen, I`ll be -- I`ll be unequivocal. I am not a third party
guy. I am running in the Republican Party. I will support the Republican
nominee. But if we nominate another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or
a John McCain or a Mitt Romney -- all of whom are good, honorable men, but
what they did didn`t work. If we do it again, the same millions of
conservatives who stayed home in `08 and `12...

MATTHEWS: Right.

CRUZ: ... will stay home in `16, and Hillary wins.

MATTHEWS: Well, just to tie up that thought, and you`ve been very
clear tonight, is Jeb Bush in that mold?

CRUZ: You know, I`m going to let him speak for himself and the
Republican primary voters answer that. I agree with Reagan. The way we
win is we paint in bold colors, not pale pastels.

And I`ll tell you something that`ll worry you, Chris. As I travel the
country all over the place, men and women stop me who say, I`m a Democrat,
but you`re fighting for me and I`m with you.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CRUZ: That`s something that`s got to terrify heck out of a lot of
Democrats. We saw...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CRUZ: ... in the last 50 years, there`s one Republican who has a
group of Democrats named after him, Reagan Democrats. When you paint in
bold colors, you build a broad coalition.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re a Bernie Sanders Republican, from what I`ve
heard tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But thank you for coming on. I understand entirely the
strategy you`re up to. Senator Ted Cruz...

CRUZ: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... being very strategic tonight.

Coming up -- Donald Trump`s run to the border comes just as he`s
making his biggest threat yet about running third party. Trump says if
he`s not treated well by the Republican Party, he may just run for
president as an independent. And right now, the polls suggest that would
lead to an easy win for Hillary Clinton.

Plus, the hot question now for President Obama -- will enough
Democrats support the nuclear deal with Iran?

And the political odd couple, tonight, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
Talking about the 2016 election, a contest that could well pit one ex-
president`s wife against the other`s brother.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with Donald Trump`s ability on offense,
Hillary Clinton`s on defense. She can take a punch. Can he?

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The newest Republican presidential candidate, Ohio governor
John Kasich, campaigned in New Hampshire today. But his most important
event may have been the one that wasn`t televised, lunch with the 2012
Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, at the Romney family home on Lake
Winnipesaukee. Well, this month, Romney has also met with Marco Rubio and
Chris Christie.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL right now. While in Texas today, Donald
Trump got into a heated conversation with Jose Diaz-Balart of MSNBC and
Telemundo over his comments about Mexicans. Here`s what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSE DIAZ-BALART, MSNBC/TELEMUNDO: Many feel that what you said, when
you said that the people the cross the border are rapists and murderers...

DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, no, no. We`re
talking about illegal immigration, and everybody understands that. And you
know what? That`s a typical case...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Wait! That`s a typical case of the press with
misinterpretation.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: They take a -- they take a half a sentence -- by the way, they
take a half a sentence, then they take a quarter of a sentence, they put it
all together...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: It`s a typical thing. And you`re with Telemundo, and
Telemundo should be ashamed. So I want to just again -- I want to thank
you.

DIAZ-BALART: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: No, no. You`re finished. You`ve obviously been...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For reaction to that and my interview with Senator Cruz we
just had, I`m joined right now by former Republican National Committee
chair Michael Steele, Joan Walsh of Salon and Paul Singer of "USA Today."

Joan, you have some thoughts. You thought there were some misquoted
numbers by Senator Cruz.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I admire Senator Cruz
for sticking to his script, Chris, but those numbers that he was giving out
-- the Obama administration did not release all those people. About half
of them were released by judges.

We`ve also got a situation where immigration combines illegal and
legal immigrants, so you talk about criminal aliens -- they`re not all
subject to deportation. Some of them are here legally. So it`s a very
complicated situation, and he`s come up with this really scary number, but
it`s not what the Obama administration has done.

MATTHEWS: Why is there a perception that illegal immigrants have a
lot of criminals in their ranks?

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
mean...

MATTHEWS: Or even -- I mean, I`ve heard the story that the number,
the incidents (INAUDIBLE) talk about generalities, but the first (ph)
people to get here, when they get across the border, they go to work.
They`re the hardest workers in the country.

WALSH: They`re least likely to commit crimes. They are!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Maybe second generation, you have the big city crimes,
ghetto crimes, whatever you call them...

WALSH: But then you`re not an immigrant.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": You start with an illegal immigrant. They
have broken the law already, right? So...

MATTHEWS: That`s by definition, yes.

SINGER: Right. So it`s easy then to say, Oh, well, there you got
(ph) all these criminals and...

MATTHEWS: But why this perception that he`s been able to promulgate
in that interview -- well, everybody`s doing it now.

SINGER: Because I think...

MATTHEWS: He jumped -- and Cruz jumped on it. Trump`s selling it,
that these people all come in here with...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... criminal intent.

STEELE: It`s fear combined with anecdotal information, or examples,
as we saw in San Francisco, that get blown up and really conflated into a
larger narrative. There are a lot of things that feed into it. I mean, to
Joan`s point, you know, when you break down the numbers, you -- you begin
to see where it falls.

But the generic conversation that most Americans have and the
perception that they have is what Ted Cruz is talking about, and again,
even what Donald Trump is talking about in this area of immigration.

WALSH: I wouldn`t say most Americans. I` not even going to say most
Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, that San Francisco case doesn`t help.

STEELE: It doesn`t help, and...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about that perception, and the larger sort of
disquiet on the right, and it`s largely on the right or somewhere close to
the right. Trump -- I believe in polls. I don`t buy the fact they`re just
-- if you don`t like the results, you throw them out. You look at results
-- as we used to say in politics, pay attention. You don`t have to always
-- just act on polls. Something`s coming -- don`t act like that didn`t
happen. It`s somewhere, Paul, in your thinking.

So why is Trump bouncing all these other candidates? And why is he
now in a position, if he doesn`t like the way he`s treated -- meaning he
doesn`t win -- he goes third party? Because I think if you have two
establishment candidates, Hillary Clinton probably, and say you do get Jeb
Bush...

SINGER: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... the Tea Party right is going to say, Wait a minute!
That`s what we hate. And they`re going to find a candidate, if it`s not
Trump, and he`s got the money to do it!

SINGER: I`d be -- I`d be stunned if Donald Trump runs as a third
party...

MATTHEWS: Why?

WALSH: Why?

SINGER: ... independent. Because it is going to be an enormous
organizational feat to get it done. It`s a pain in the neck to do.

MATTHEWS: He can buy it!

SINGER: You can buy it, but you have to manage it. All 50 states
have different ballot rules. Someone...

MATTHEWS: You can buy managers.

SINGER: ... has to oversee it.

MATTHEWS: You don`t think he is a good manager?

SINGER: I just think -- I think it is a pain in the neck. I think it
requires too much policy, too much work.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: In an interview with "The Hill" today, Trump was asked
whether he would run as a third-party candidate if he doesn`t White House
nation Republican nomination.

And his answer was a shot across of the bow of the Republican Party --
quote -- "So many people want me to. If I don`t win, I`ll have to see how
I`m being treated by the Republicans. And if they`re not being fair, that
would be a factor."

Well, if Trump does decide to wage an independent bid for the White
House, his candidacy is likely to be a spoiler for whoever gets the
Republican nomination, because, according to the "Washington Post"/ABC News
latest poll, Trump would get 20 percent of the vote in a hypothetical
three-way matchup against Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Clinton would win with 46 percent, a healthy third, by the way, and
Bush would be down to 30.

Joan, this is great news.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And it`s so weird how each party tries to be strategic on
the other. You watched Ted Cruz there very smartly pushing up Bernie.
Come on, Bernie. Come on.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re telling Hillary what to do.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Then, if Hillary agrees with him on anything, he`s leading
the band.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, on this side, I`m enjoying Donald Trump. I`m enjoying
Donald Trump.

WALSH: Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Because it shows the right wing can be really crazy.

WALSH: Absolutely, which we know that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The right wing, not Republicans, but right-wing.

WALSH: But my question is, when you look at him there, and he`s so
upset, who is he talking about, if the Republicans are fair to me? Reince
Priebus? Jeb Bush? Michael Steele? If some Republican -- if too many
Republicans criticize him...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Does he want them to throw kisses?

By the way, Jeb Bush is throwing kisses. His running mate, his future
running mate, John Kasich, he says, I want to make sure he gets a callout.

What is this, the buddy system?

STEELE: They will want to make the landscape as nonvolatile as
possible between now and this first debate. They want to bring the
rhetoric down. They want to bring the noise down. I do not think that you
will see a third-party candidacy emerge here longer-term.

MATTHEWS: If Jeb runs, they will let it go?

STEELE: Let me tell you why. Because, at the end of the day, at the
end of the day, conservatives are the ones that will control the outcome of
the primary process. If they want a Ted Cruz, if they want a Rand Paul,
then they have got to muster up the ballots to get it done.

You can`t sit back and do as you have done in the past three
presidential cycles and blame the establish...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Will there will be a third-party candidate?

STEELE: No.

WALSH: Maybe.

You want me to say yes, but I have got to say maybe.

SINGER: There will be a third-party candidate. It will a libertarian
candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

SINGER: And there will be a Constitution Party candidate who the
conservatives, the real rock-ribbed conservatives, actually love...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Will Donald Trump third party? Will a right-winger run
third party?

SINGER: I believe that Donald Trump will not run third party.

But I believe he will dangle it out there as long as he can.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s crazy not to run, because the opportunity to
sit there with the three people up there on a national stage, including
Hillary Clinton, a worldwide celebrity, and the Republican Party nominee
and be up there in that three-seat situation three times...

SINGER: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... is brand.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is even bigger than "Apprentice."

STEELE: But the result has shown in the numbers what the outcome
would be. And Donald Trump wants that?

WALSH: But the idea that the Tea Party is going to get together,
they`re not. They`re splitting the vote.

MATTHEWS: By the way, he might be within striking distance of the big
one.

Any way, thank you, Michael Steele. Thank you, Joan Walsh. Thank
you, Paul Singer.

Coming up, can President Obama rally his party to support him on the
Iranian nuclear deal? I think so, but I`m going to ask a top Democrat of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is coming here next.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If this deal is rejected, we
return immediately to this reality, except that the diplomatic support that
we have built with all these other countries, that we have accumulated,
would disappear overnight.

Now, let me underscore, the alternative to the deal that we have
reached is not what I have seen some ads on TV suggesting disingenuously.
It isn`t a -- quote -- "better deal," some sort of unicorn arrangement
involving Iran`s complete capitulation. That is a fantasy, plain and
simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Secretary of State John Kerry again there making the case for
the nuclear deal with Iran there at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
hearing today. Kerry faced hostile questions from many of the Republicans
on the committee, who accused him of making a bad deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This deal is
fundamentally and irreparably flawed. I believes it weakens our national
security and it makes the world a more dangerous place. And throughout
this process, by the way, this administration, in my opinion, has
repeatedly capitulated on some important items.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Not unlike a hotel guest that leaves
only with a hotel bathrobe on his back, I believe you have been fleeced.

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Anyone who believes this is a good deal
really joins the ranks of the most naive people on the faith of the earth.

With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Will that hostility translate to a congressional rejection
of the deal?

Joining me right now is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. Also joining us,
Steve Clemons, who is Washington editor at large for "The Atlantic" and an
MSNBC supporter.

It seems like the Republicans were trying to outdo themselves in terms
of metaphors and interesting language there. I don`t know what it means to
leave a hotel with a bathrobe on. I don`t know what you were doing.
Anyway, that`s the strangest one I have ever heard.

But, barring that, these guys are getting to the point where they seem
to be talking to the other side over the other part of the world over in
Iran, talking to them, trying to talk them out of a deal they have already
made. I don`t get why they`re saying to the other side, the minute we get
in, the Republicans get in, we`re going to erase whole thing.

Why would they do that as a tactic at this point?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Chris, I really don`t understand.

We`re in day four of a 60-day review. And, as you can see, many
members have already made their decision on this agreement. And as
Secretary Kerry said, there`s two parts to this. First, yes, we have to
understand the agreement and determine whether it is worthy of support or
not.

But the other issue that Secretary Kerry raises that each one of us
has to take up very seriously is, what`s the consequences if we don`t go
along with this? What are our options if we`re isolated from the
international community?

MATTHEWS: Well, what are they saying on the other side? Are they
saying we go back to the bargaining table and get a tougher deal? That
seems to be what Bibi Netanyahu over in Israel is saying. They all seem to
be saying that one thing, we can get a better deal.

CARDIN: Well, that question has really not been answered.

Yes, it is always possible that Iran, because of the U.S. sanctions,
will feel like it continues to negotiate. But would they negotiate with a
president who already has shown with one agreement he could not get it
approved by Congress? I think it is hard to see how Iran negotiates with
all members of Congress.

I think it is going to be a challenge. Now, look, I have not made up
my decision on the merits of this agreement, but I do recognize there will
be a real challenge as to how we could go forward rejecting this agreement
with international partners who look at us as being -- as blowing up this
deal, and with Iran and its hard-liners who would otherwise say, look, we
told you, you couldn`t trust America. How can you negotiate now?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CARDIN: So, I think it would be very challenging.

MATTHEWS: Well, at one point during the hearing today, Republican
Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio told Secretary Kerry a
Republican president can and should rip up the deal on their first day in
office. That`s if they get elected. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: The Iranian regime and the world should know this deal -- this
deal is your deal with Iran, I mean, yours and this administration. And
the next president is under no legal or moral obligation to live up to it.

The Iranian regime and the world should know that the majority of
members of this Congress do not support this deal and that the deal could
go away on the day President Obama leaves office.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I am confident that the next
president of the United States will have enough common sense that, if this
is being applied properly, if it`s being implemented properly, they are not
just going to arbitrarily end it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Marco Rubio is clearly running for the prize as most
hawkish candidate in the Republican side. And he has got backers that are
so fiercely, fiercely hawkish in that part of the world. I don`t know what
he`s up to.

But this idea that a president, presidential candidate would undermine
a negotiation which is still being put together internationally by saying
it won`t carry any influence in the next administration, it`s almost a
Logan Act violation to me.

STEVE CLEMONS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it`s crazy.

It is absolutely unpresidential, number one.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLEMONS: Number two, it assures that, on day one -- say Marco Rubio
makes it through the muck and becomes the next president of the United
States.

It assures that, on day one, he has a global crisis of confidence in
his leadership. And you have the possibility for precipitous decline in
U.S. power, because we will be walking away from the rest of the world.
That is what this is doing.

You have a unique moment of a 15-0 U.N. Security Council support for a
very -- for an interesting deal. And he saying the next -- Barack Obama,
when he came in, didn`t walk away from what George Bush and what Dick
Cheney had done. A lot of it was continuous. People want to believe that
Obama was completely different. But presidents continue important foreign
policy and national security positions that their predecessor has taken.

And the next president, Republican or Democrat, will as well.

MATTHEWS: Senator Cardin, thank you for joining us.

Can you give us a sense of how this looks? I know to sustain a veto,
the president needs 34 votes out of 100. Or in the House, he needs 146.
He needs one or the other. He would like to get both. How does it look
for him now? I don`t know where you stand yet.

CARDIN: Well, quite frankly, I think most of the members of the
Democratic Caucus are using this period to try to understand it before
reaching a decision.

I think there`s a lot of undecided members at this time. Clearly,
though, we know that a lot of Republicans have already expressed their
view. The question that will be asked, what happens if we reject it? I
think it is too early to make a prediction, but I can tell you that, when
Marco Rubio makes his comments and really undermines the president of the
United States, there`s only one president at a time, I don`t think he`s
helping his cause.

MATTHEWS: And I wonder whether it`s even legal and diplomatically
acceptable, yes or no, for someone running for president who has a shot a
at the presidency basically writing foreign policy to undermine the current
president, who is the only president we have.

(CROSSTALK)

CLEMONS: Well, they can do it as long as they`re not in a foreign
country.

MATTHEWS: Oh.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDIN: It was very similar to what Senator Cotton did in his letter
signed by most of the members of Republican Caucus when he told the supreme
leader disregard what the president of the United States is doing.

It is over the edge. It should have no place in American politics.

MATTHEWS: I think people should remember when they observe the
Constitution and their oath of office, they should remember that -- all
laws coming from that Constitution. And the Logan Act is one of those
laws. You`re not supposed to negotiate for the United States unless you`re
in fact the United States government.

Anyway, Senator Ben Cardin, it`s an honor to have you on tonight, sir.
Thank you.

CARDIN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Steve Clemons, as always.

CLEMONS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the game of thrones, the unlikely alliance between
George W. -- we call him W. here -- and Bill Clinton, revealing new details
from the former presidents themselves on how these guys are getting along,
this new buddy system.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.

Turkey has reportedly agreed to let the U.S. use an air base in the
southern part of the country to launch attacks on ISIS in Syria. Turkey
has been facing escalating violence from the militant group.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says U.S. efforts
to counter ISIS on social media need a broader platform.

And Defense Secretary ash Carter made a surprise visit to Iraq, where
he spoke to about 200 U.S. troops in Baghdad`s Green Zone. He also met
with Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi -- back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Jeb and
I`m confident Secretary Hillary will elevate the discourse. I can`t attest
to their surrogates. I can attest to this surrogate. I`m not going to be
a surrogate, but it`s...

(LAUGHTER)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: we have got a
lot of tough decisions to make. That`s all I really care about. Besides,
I know who I would like to win.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: But the more important thing for America is that we know
what the heck we`re deciding on and we make a pretty good decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Those are familiar figures, aren`t they? That was former Presidents
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appearing together earlier this month.

The former chief executives and current political odd couple sat down
for a rare joint interview with "TIME" magazine to discuss how they will
handle the 2016 contest, which could very well pit Hillary Clinton against
Jeb Bush.

President Clinton told "TIME" magazine`s Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
-- quote -- "I think most of my role will be giving advice, if I`m asked
for it. And I try not to even offer it at home unless I`m asked. But
she`s been pretty good about asking every now and then."

Isn`t that humble?

President Bush said -- quote -- "I can`t tell you who is going to win,
but I can tell you what`s going to happen. There`s kind of a general
pattern. And there will be a flash in the fans -- or the pans. There will
be this crisis and there will be this funding thing and there will be all
these things that happen, but, eventually, the person who can best lead
their party will be nominated."

I don`t know how you to translate that guy.

Anyway, time for the roundtable. Michael Duffy, in charge of
translating W. is "TIME" magazine`s deputy managing editor. Heidi Przybyla
is a politics reporter for Bloomberg News, and Cornell Belcher is a
Democratic pollster.

Cornell, you start.

Let me ask you, first of all, this is a little chummy. What do you
think of it? Do you think this country, in the midst of its revolt against
the establishment, is happy to see the ultimate establishment figures
charming each other?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Do they like that scene or dislike it?

CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: No, I think what you
see in the rise of Trump is a really anti-establishment mood.

MATTHEWS: So what about the scene of these two guys? Was that
revolting, that scene?

BELCHER: No, it`s not revolting, that scene. And I think the
Republican base in particular right now is very much revolting -- revolting
again their incumbents.

You saw that -- they didn`t go, you know, easily with Mitt Romney, and
now, you have them being fed --

MATTHEWS: Are you getting my particular point? And it is a
particular point. If you don`t like the Bushes because you`re anti-
establishment in the Republican Party, and you don`t like the Clintons,
might you dislike even more them sitting around having fun together? Just
a thought. You won`t come back on this, will you?

BELCHER: No, I`m not.

MATTHEWS: You`re holding back, aren`t you? He`s holding back because
he knows I got it. Go ahead.

MICHAEL DUFFY, TIME MAGAZINE DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR: I think people`s
heads will explode to see them on the cover of the magazine. That`s one of
the reasons we did it. We thought, in this very anti-establishment moment,
here are these guys, you know, appearing together. It`s not an accident
that they`re doing it now. They have something --

MATTHEWS: Well, why are they -- they`re running against this
undisclosed fact of revolt in those two parties. You`ve got Bernie Sanders
and Donald Trump and everybody else on the wings of the party, saying we`re
tired of the inside players.

DUFFY: Clinton had this wonderful quote in the interview. He said
people don`t like divisive environments but they frequently reward them in
elections. And that in some ways is the best summation, the Clinton
political theory that it`s -- yes, divisiveness is difficult and unpleasant
and people don`t like it but they often reward it if you`re willing to walk
toward it. And the Clintons are always not -- they`re not afraid of it.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but they`re also seen as centrists. They don`t want
to hear that, but they are political centrists. They`re not lefties.

DUFFY: Oh, compared to some of the people, forces on the extremes of
both parties right now, both Jeb and Hillary are centrists and these two
men who used to be president are certainly trying to be sort of --

MATTHEWS: What do you think the public`s reaction going to be to the
cover story on "Time" magazine we got featured and previewed here, of these
two insiders talking about how great it is to be insiders?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, BLOOMBERG NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, actually
putting back on my Midwestern Detroit hat here, I don`t think people
believe it. Honestly. They know the history of the father, George Bush
Sr., and Bill Clinton. But the history between Clinton, Bill Clinton and
George Bush is much more recent. And I don`t think it will take much to
kind of scratch that.

MATTHEWS: OK, because they were like brothers from a different
father, mother. Anyway --

PRZYBYLA: Right.

MATTHEWS: Same father.

Any way, there was a time when Hillary Clinton said she would never
get into politics. Bill told "Time" magazine that Hillary long ago told
him, quote, "I`ll never run for office. I`m too aggressive and nobody will
ever vote for me."

Cornell, is that the real Hillary talking about? It`s very much self-
recognition that she can be very aggressive as a politician. Is she
saying, "I`m not electable" way back when she was -- when they were first
dating?

BLECHER: But I think politics now awards aggressiveness. I mean, you
are rewarded for jumping out there.

Look, I work for a guy by the name of Senator Obama who once upon a
time they thought he was being too aggressive when he was jumping the line.
But our politics award aggressiveness. Trump I would argue is being
awarded because he is being really aggressive and going out on issues that
a core of his party loves in a way that Jeb Bush and others are holding
back on.

MATTHEWS: Will that work for a woman, Heidi, aggressive? Let`s just
throw the word there.

PRZYBYLA: That was the issue. She was absolutely right on at the
time that she made those comments. Not only it`s harder as a woman, but
especially --

MATTHEWS: The rules changed. Can a woman be tough -- rough and ready
as any other candidate?

PRZYBYLA: I don`t know that they have changed all that much, to be
honest. I mean, look at her whole approach to today versus the previous
cycle, is to kind of soften up a little bit, to show her grandmotherly
side, to focus on her relationship with her mother.

So, I don`t know that things have changed, you know, all that much.
But she`ll have plenty of surrogates, as they discussed.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anybody has ever gotten nasty with her like Rick Lazio,
when he sort of served with her papers that time with that debate, he lost
big.

PRZYBYLA: Right, that`s something the Republicans have to be
conscious of. And that`s - believe it or not, the whole reason why George
Allen`s campaign said they could be a good candidate against Hillary
Clinton, because he was a southern gentleman.

BELCHER: And remember New Hampshire, what happened to us in the
primaries in New Hampshire when it looked like Barack Obama went too hard
after her, it backfired. I will say this, I think --

MATTHEWS: When he said likable enough?

BELCHER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That was not likable enough.

BELCHER: No, that was --

MATTHEWS: Anyway, I want to bring up another thing here. W also
talked about the likely scrutiny of his brother Jeb, which is likely to
come, telling "Time", I`m sure there will be moments when somebody says
something about Jeb or somebody writes something about Jeb that will
sting." Bush says, "I shouldn`t say I`m used to it, but the emotions I
felt when our dad was criticized really got me for a while. I think I`ll
feel the same thing about Jeb. It will be interesting to see how affected
I become."

That`s kind of an amazing admission --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- that you hate when your relatives are hit.

DUFFY: That`s one thing that does bind them together. They both have
a loved on this race. It`s different being a spouse than a sibling. But
Bush is far more sensitive in this interview, talking about he feels when
his family members are criticized.

MATTHEWS: OK. He missed one point. The attack will be on W. him.
Not on Jeb. And Jeb will have to defend his brother that started the war
that cost of lives of 200,000 people.

DUFFY: As the attacks be on Hillary Clinton`s husband. So --

MATTHEWS: Really?

DUFFY: I think so.

MATTHEWS: That`s kind of old news. How do you attack Bill now?

DUFFY: It`s not impossible.

MATTHEWS: How do you go after Bill now?

DUFFY: Well, whose e-mail server was it?

MATTHEWS: Oh, is that investigative reporting?

PRZYBYLA: He is still the most popular politician in American
politics. The likelihood of him being used as a surrogate is much higher
than George Bush. I can only seeing him be used in a fundraising.

MATTHEWS: He is the best there is.

BELCHER: With Democrats.

MATTHEWS: When Bill Clinton comes in and puts his big, canine, big
arms over -- you know, big paws over the edge of that lectern and feels
completely at home, he is at home.

BELCHER: We look like a bunch of old people. A large part of the
swaths that elected Barack Obama, they have no idea. They weren`t around
when Bill Clinton was president. Or they were kids --

MATTHEWS: How old are you?

BELCHER: I`m 41.

MATTHEWS: Stay in your box.

The roundtable is staying with us.

Up next, Bernie Sanders is trying to pry the Democratic nomination
away from Hillary Clinton. Good luck with that. But can he do it with
very little support from the core Democratic constituency? What we call
the base, African-Americans.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s movement in the race for the United States
Senate seat in Pennsylvania currently occupied by Republican Pat Toomey.
Katie McGinty, the chief of staff to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
resigned today. And she is expected to challenge former Congressman Joe
Sestak in a Democratic primary. Sestak ran for the Senate seat in 2010 and
was defeated narrowly by Toomey, 51 percent to 49 percent. But the state
Democratic establishment has voiced concerns about Sestak.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MODERATOR: Hold on one second. Hold on, hold on.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s OK. Listen.
I know black lives of course matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting
for dignity. But if you don`t want me to be here, that`s OK.

MODERATOR: No, sir. We want you -- we want you to be here.

SANDERS: Ii don`t want to out-scream people.

MODERATOR: No, no, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Michael, Heidi and Cornell.

Well, that was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders being interrupted at the
Netroots Nation conference by young African-American activists in Phoenix
recently. Sanders has gained some traction in the Democratic race against
a dominant Hillary Clinton. But a recent poll puts his support among
African-American Democrats at around 2 percent. Sanders and his supporters
point to his work in behalf of civil rights back in the `60s, but black
progressives say that`s the past, saying who`s got the message.

Here he is giving another speech a few hours after that earlier
confrontation out in Phoenix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: While we have overcome a lot of racism, we have come a long
way, we still have a long way to go!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Sanders represents one of the whitest states in the
country. The latest census figures show that there`s only 7,500 African-
Americans in Vermont. So, Sanders has some work to do to expand his appeal
to a more diverse group of voters.

Let me go to Cornell.

It seems to me that, you know, he`s a socialist and therefore, an
ideologue, and therefore, everything comes down to economics, an economic
determinism and need for restructure in our economy. He doesn`t like to
depart from that message. I could tell in that Netroots event. He didn`t
want to get into ethnicity or race, he wanted to stick the basics of his
ideology.

BELCHER: There`s a disconnect here. He has a wrong tone, and
culturally, there`s a big disconnect here. I think what you see at the
Netroots contest --

MATTHEWS: You mean blacks don`t have a Brooklyn accent?

BELCHER: I think more than accents. I work for a guy named Howard
Dean who wasn`t (INAUDIBLE) connecting. But I think this is what was
happening at debates here where you have these young minority voters,
African-American voters who see the gay rights, and they see immigration
rights and they see gender rights, and there`s all these groups that have
their rights pushing forward.

And in this country, apparently, we can`t talk about group rights when
it comes to African-Americans. And I think when Obama`s not in office or
when Obama steps back from politics, I think you`ll see a lot more pressure
placed on these white politicians to say specifically what you`re going to
do for the African-American community, just the way you said what you`re
going to do for the Hispanic community, just the way you said what you`re
going to do the gay and lesbians --

MATTHEWS: Yes. Say my name. What`s that mean? Say my name. Those
people in the back of the room were yelling that.

PRZYBYLA: It means that black progressives feel shut out in a way
from the broader progressive movement. And what you saw in that clip was
an old curmudgeonly white man saying get off my lawn. Instead of welcoming
them into his house saying let`s talk about this new era of civil rights
movement and how I can be your leader. I want to learn from you.

He screwed it up. Now, as you saw in the following clip, he`s trying
to make up for it. But as we all know in politics, the first time, you
know, foot in the mouth, that`s the reel that gets played over and over.
So, he`s going to spend a long time making up for it.

MATTHEWS: You know, I was wondering, because we have a country that`s
increasingly diverse, especially on TV, and you see it, and you see it at
airports, you see everywhere you go.

But African-Americans are losing their position. They were here
before any of us. And yet you see all these new people from South Asia,
different parts, West Africa even coming here freely and they`re doing
pretty well. And I wonder whether there`s a sense there was a historic
wrong done to African-Americans here with slavery for 250 years, and that
has to still be righted, whether it means breaking up families, which they
did, or, you know, or killing their work ethic -- one way to kill a work
ethic is to make somebody a slave for 250 years.

So, there`s a lot of wrong done. And I`m not making the case for
reparations here right now, but I understand exactly why African-American
activists are saying don`t forget the historic wrong done to us in
particular.

DUFFY: Historic wrong done over --

MATTHEWS: Not to other people. Not to Asians or South Asians or
Indians or Pakistanis. No, to the people brought here as slaves.

DUFFY: I think that empowers this reaction. So does what happened
over the last 30 or 40 years when Democrats had moved away from those kind
of politics, but also in the last year. There`s just a huge amount of
stuff that hasn`t been talked about in this campaign in the last year in
the realm of criminal justice.

MATTHEWS: Is there no elitism buried in the Bernie Sanders campaign?

DUFFY: I`m sorry?

MATTHEWS: Is there an elitist? Are they college guys? Are they
college people? Are they `60s people of a certain kind of vintage
intellectually?

BELCHER: Don`t give that just to the Sanders campaign. Give that to
the progressive elites in Washington and New York. I mean, it looks a lot
more like older white guys than it does to those people -- those young
people in Netroots.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Duffy, Heidi Przybyla, and Cornell
Belcher.

When we return, let me finish with Trump`s ability in offense,
Hillary`s on defense. She can take a punch. Can he?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. It`s about Trump. You`ve
heard the expression of bull in a china shop. Well, to paraphrase my hero
Winston Churchill, Donald Trump is a bull who brings his china shop around
with him.

He`s leading the polls because he`s getting the attention, pretty much
all of it. He`s getting it because he`s out there smashing into people,
smashing any name that pops up before him.

What happens when he runs out of people to attack or they stop
smashing back? Will he still be there? Will he still be up there in the
polls? He seems to have the opposite problem that Hillary Clinton faces.
Unlike Trump who`s at the best, at his best on the attack, the recent
secretary of state seems to be at her best when people are attacking her.

She didn`t look great when she was beating Barack Obama in the polls
early in the 2008 race. It`s when the going got tough in 2008 that people
said she`d found her voice, that she`d come across as the most appealing as
a person and as a candidate.

So what is it we have here? We`ve got a guy leading the Republican
polls who is up there because he`s constantly on the attack. We`ve got a
woman at the top of the Democratic polls because I assume people see
through the attacks on her and respect her for her lifelong commitments,
positive commitments, personal commitments.

Well, this could get interesting if it ever gets that far. What if
Donald Trump who makes his name attacking his rivals one day stands across
the debate stage from Hillary Clinton who rises to the attack? Yes, it
could not just be interesting but downright wonderful. Wonderful.

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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