updated 8/5/2015 9:46:28 AM ET 2015-08-05T13:46:28


August 4, 2015



Guest: Robert Costa, Haley Barbour, Dan Kildee, Jeremy Ben-Ami, John

McCormack, Francesca Chambers

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The Trump 10 are in, Perry`s out. Yes, it`s

oops again.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, we`ve got the lineup. It`s Trump at the top, John Kasich just

squeezing in. We now know that 10 Republicans will meet in a primetime

debate two nights from now that could well decide who goes on to Iowa and

New Hampshire and who begins to fall by the wayside.

Here`s the lineup announced by Fox just in the past hour. Front and

center, Donald Trump. He`s followed by Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike

Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and

finally, yes, John Kasich made the cut.

And here`s who`s been left out of the main debate and relegated to the

kids` table, or the happy hour, whatever you want to call it, earlier in

the evening. Rick Perry didn`t make the cut. Oops again, as I said. Rick

Santorum -- boy, he used to be a big-timer. Not anymore. Bobby Jindal, no

way. Carly Fiorina, out of the game. Lindsey Graham, out of the tame.

George Pataki and Jim Gilmore, the latest contestant. He is also out of

the game.

I`m joined right now by the former chair of the Republican National

Committee, Michael Steele, Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh, and "The

Washington Post`s" Robert Costa. Thank you all.

Joan, I`ll start with you because you`re smiling and I like you so

much. But the fact of the matter is, I think Kasich really timed it right.

He`s the one candidate who I think is the most appealing, if you`re center-

left or center. But the fact that he squeezed in, that Rick Perry`s out

and that Trump has got the catbird seat -- he`s the tent pole.


MATTHEWS: He`s the -- as we used to say in Catholic school, the May


WALSH: The May queen! I remember that.

MATTHEWS: Everybody`s going to be dancing around him, remember?

WALSH: The May queen. He`ll love that.

MATTHEWS: He`s going to -- and Megyn Kelly and everybody else is

going to be gunning for the big guy. It`s all about Trump, it seems to me.

WALSH: Yes. I think this is terrible news for Rick Perry, who`s

actually run a better campaign, at least a more coherent campaign this time

around, Chris. And it`s great news for John Kasich, who was really worried

about being left off the stage a couple weeks ago.

And I think it`s a huge opportunity for Kasich, who has wanted to set

himself up as a more compassionate conservative, as somebody who`s governed

more from the center, who`s done some good things around Medicaid, who`s

done some good things around drug treatment and really could be the person.

I would look to him to possibly be the person to stand up to Donald

Trump if things get ugly and lay out a different path to the presidency.

Jeb Bush has been hugely disappointing in playing that role. So I

would look to Trump -- to Kasich to be the person who wants to grab the


MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, that`s -- you have just framed my discussion

right now.

WALSH: Well, good!

MATTHEWS: Who will stand up to him besides the anchors, who will have

to score their own points?

WALSH: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Will any one of the members of the debating team here say

to Trump, Mr. Trump, you are so full of it? The stuff you say about

immigrants, the stuff you said about John McCain is rot (ph).



MATTHEWS: Is somebody going to say that?

STEELE: I think -- well, I think Joan`s right. John Kasich is in the

best position to do that. He`s got the home court advantage, if you will.

When it talks about governing and it talks about leadership...

MATTHEWS: It`s in Cleveland.

STEELE: He`s in Cleveland. And he can talk about, well, you know,

What we did down the road, how we fixed the bridge over there, how we

handled Medicare and Medicaid. So he has sort of that advantage, I think,

to play that card should Trump go there. And certainly, I think...

MATTHEWS: Why do you -- why do you assume in that, because I think

it`s all our assumption, that for some reason, Jeb thinks he can rope-a-

dope this thing, just skip past it, don`t fight with the guy. It`s like

road rage -- I`m just going to drive on.

STEELE: I don`t...

MATTHEWS: I`m going to let this guy yell at me...

STEELE: I don`t think Jeb is...

MATTHEWS: ... I`m not going to fight with him.

STEELE: I wouldn`t say that Jeb is taking that position. I think Jeb

is probably doing a wait and see. If attacked, he will respond, kind of

thing. But he doesn`t plan to be the one who leads the advance on that.

And I don`t think Kasich will, either.

MATTHEWS: Robert, who`s the fighting stance right now, going into it?


ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I just got off the phone with

Trump`s people. They say Trump spent all day today in Trump Tower in New

York. They said he`s going to hold back a little bit. He won`t take the

first shot...

MATTHEWS: Well, who will, then?

COSTA: Well, we see Ben Carson? No, soft-spoken. Kasich -- I think

he`s a firecracker! I think he`s someone who wants to get some attention.

He has a personality that`s in a way similar to Trump.



MATTHEWS: You start on this, Joan. Mike (INAUDIBLE) Mike Wallace,

Chris Wallace, his son, is going to be one of the obviously the top anchors

here. And he`s saying that some one of the -- one of the three anchors,

questioners, is going to put a fastball right down the front, high and in

the middle, for one of these candidate -- candidate -- for Trump, rather,

to take a shot at one of the other ones, like they`re going to fire -- what

do you think of Jeb Bush on this thing? What do you think about Jeb Bush

and, We come here for love -- illegal immigrants come here for love?

Somebody`s going to try to fire Trump up...

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... with some kind of a fastball. What do you think?

WALSH: Well, you know, I think...

MATTHEWS: That`s their goal, he said.

WALSH: Look, I think Trump is at a crossroads, too. He`s got to be

thinking about, Am I going to be a serious candidate, or am I going to be a

bully, a punchline, a carnival barker, all these other things. I mean,

he`s doing very well being who he is. But he`s got -- he`s got a ceiling.

And we`ve got -- we don`t know if the ceiling is 20 percent, 25 percent, or

higher, 30, 35. I don`t know that...

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s it take to get you through to, say, South

Carolina? Maybe only 25 percent...

WALSH: Well, absolutely right...

MATTHEWS: ... because you know, as long as there`s four or five


WALSH: He may think that that`s enough for him. But he could be

thinking that, Look, maybe this is a time for me to think about laying out

a policy agenda. Maybe this is a time for me to show that I can be a

statesman and not just a blowhard.

I`m not -- he`s not calling me, so I`m not saying I have any



WALSH: But it`s an interesting time for him. I think it`s an

interesting inflection point in the campaign, to see if he feels like he

has the room to develop a little bit more of a serious side. I doubt it,

but somebody over there has to be saying, Look -- take a look at this.

MATTHEWS: Well -- well, let me go to Robert. (INAUDIBLE) story that

got pushed this afternoon -- "New York" magazine pushed the story that

Trump called Rudy Giuliani for help with dealing with Roger Ailes, who runs

Fox News, to get Megyn Kelly to go light on him? It turns out, Rudy denies

it. We called him.

But (INAUDIBLE) kind of story floating around like that? Why would

Trump ever get caught, or why would he ever expose himself as that chicken

that he had to call for, Gee whiz, help Megyn to lay off me?

COSTA: No, I don`t think Trump people -- Trump...

MATTHEWS: How did a story like that get going today?

COSTA: Because...


MATTHEWS: ... news organization.

COSTA: Trump`s allies are calling around to friends, and they`re

saying, We`re a little concerned about Fox News. We`re a little bit

concerned about this debate. They`re...

MATTHEWS: Who would his friends be?

COSTA: Well...


MATTHEWS: ... the old guys that`s been around forever, Roger Stone


COSTA: You know who`s around Trump (ph).


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s Pat Caddell now. There`s all kinds of names

floating around.

COSTA: Carter`s guy, he`s floating around. But look, Trump`s people,

they thought they could ride this summer, get a lot of energy.


COSTA: But they`re -- they -- they`re -- they are concerned, Wallace,

Megyn Kelly going to come right at him, as you say...

MATTHEWS: Of course, they`re going to come after him!

COSTA: ... with the fastball.

STEELE: Well, because he`s...


COSTA: ... and they want to have an answer, and they don`t want to

overdo it with Fox, knowing how...


MATTHEWS: Fox is going to have the highest rating it`ll probably ever

have in history.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: And it`s got to come out and show it`s not just...


COSTA: ... Trump got high. He got high fast in the polls. He wants

to stay there. He...

MATTHEWS: Who will prick the balloon? Who will put a big puncture in


STEELE: I still believe...

MATTHEWS: Anybody?

STEELE: ... the only person who punctures that balloon is Trump

himself. I don`t think -- look, you look at how -- what happened after his

comments on McCain. You look at...


COSTA: They think Walker may. They think Walker`s donors are telling

him maybe it`s time to pick a fight.

STEELE: I just don`t -- I think...

COSTA: Walker has seen his campaign a little flat, not...


COSTA: ... going to take an aggressive shot...


MATTHEWS: I think Walker wins -- if this guy lasts three or four

months, Walker or Kasich picks up after him.

Anyway, on "MORNING JOE" today, Trump explained why he thinks the

polls show him doing so well. Isn`t that a nice question? Why are you

doing so well, Mr. Trump?


MATTHEWS: Here, let`s watch.



tired, they`re sick and tired of incompetent politicians. Nobody knows the

politicians, you know, better than me. Don`t forget, three months ago, I

was on the other side of the ledger. I was the fair-haired boy in the RNC.

When I get up and speak, I get the biggest crowds. We get standing

ovations. And all we do is talk about how great our country could be. And

I mean that. Our country has such potential. But if it continues to go at

this path, it`s going to be almost impossible to bring it back. It`s

really far down the line.


MATTHEWS: Joan, what happened to the old notion that, man (ph), in

order to woo support from other people, had to be a little humble, that you

couldn`t go around bragging about yourself all the time? This guy is

breaking all the rules. And I think I used to act like him when I was

younger. But the fact is, he`s getting away from being boorish. He is

doing all this stuff that Chris Christie did, but he`s doing it -- he`s

much worse to reporters than Chris Christie ever was.

WALSH: Right. And he`s...


MATTHEWS: ... seems to be doing well, and the media hasn`t tagged

him. And he has these self-sealing tires he drives on. He gets punctured

-- he punctures himself, and they just seal up again and he keeps rolling!

WALSH: He`s also running down the country. I mean, the way he talks

about the country is so negative. And that appeals to a segment of the

Republican base. We know that. But you know, one thing I think he`s right

about is that people do feel like...

MATTHEWS: That doesn`t appeal -- who -- how does running down the

country appeal to anybody?

WALSH: People -- look, people who think that Barack Obama is an

illegitimate president, who`s...

MATTHEWS: No, the country, you said!

WALSH: Well, the -- people feel that way -- listen to what he said.

I`m saying, that`s what he said, Our country is in danger. And it...


MATTHEWS: ... not running down the country, it`s worried about our

country is different than...

WALSH: If you replay that...

MATTHEWS: ... talking down.

WALSH: There`s something very negative about the way he talks about

where we are now. We`re still actually a great country, and by many

measures, we`re doing better than we were eight years ago.

But at any rate, I think one thing he`s right about is this notion

that his base is very frustrated with the Republican Party. And why not?

They have promised time and again and broken their promises.

They`ve promised crazy things. We`re going to repeal "Obama care."

They can`t do it. We`re going to shut down the government and we`re going

to defund "Obama care." No, can`t do that. We`re going to refuse to lift

the debt ceiling. We`re going to defund Planned Parenthood. No, you can`t

do that.

And so Trump is somebody who doesn`t really have to deliver on

anything, but he can point to these guys who`ve raised the hopes...


WALSH: ... of the right-wing minority, and then they can`t deliver on

any of it because the country doesn`t want it.

MATTHEWS: I agree with all. Let me go back to the Republican Party

and its general failure. You know, I`ve got -- Haley Barbour is going to

come on in a few minutes. I taped this a few minutes ago, an hour ago, so

-- and he gets in to the question of how he wants Trump to say, I`m not

running third party. He wants a commitment to that. So that`s going to be

interesting, commit to that...

COSTA: Every single insider -- they want that. They`re really

fearful Trump`s going to continue...


MATTHEWS: I want to get back to the problem...

STEELE: So what if he does? You really think at the end of the



STEELE: ... he`s going to hold that?

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to the problem in the Republican Party. The

number two guy in the polls that set up this debate is Jeb Bush, the one

everybody -- every money person I talk to in the Democratic Party, I think

every Republican money guy thinks it`s Bush. They just think it`s Bush

because he`s got money, and money people think money talks. OK, fine.

But look at what happened to his numbers. The latest NBC/"Wall Street

Journal" poll found that Jeb Bush -- his favorability has dropped

dramatically. Only about a quarter of Americans view him positively. Four

in ten Americans have an unfavorable view of him.

Among Republicans, only about half view him favorably, a decrease from

last month. According to NBC`s "First Read," these aren`t just tough

numbers for Jeb, they`re hard to get the nomination numbers.

I believe, if we spend this fall talking up Donald Trump, there`s no

way you can go to Bush after that. You got to go to somebody more working

class, more regular, more new, like Walker or Kasich. You can`t go back to

the old establishment. You`re shaking your head.

STEELE: Well, I -- I...

MATTHEWS: You think you can go all the way back...

STEELE: I think -- I think that number two spot is a sweet spot for

Bush right now. It gives him cover. It gives him opportunity on the

ground to continue to build out his base.

MATTHEWS: But where`s all the anger go?

STEELE: The anger -- we had anger in `08.

MATTHEWS: Well, where`s it going to go?


MATTHEWS: I`ve got my hands up like Trump!

STEELE: Chris...

MATTHEWS: My hands are up!

STEELE: Chris -- Chris, we had...

MATTHEWS: Where is the -- where does the anger go?


MATTHEWS: You can`t do that.

STEELE: I mean, but at the end of the day...

MATTHEWS: You can`t do this!

STEELE: At the end of the day, the base understands and the base --

you know...


MATTHEWS: They take it again from the rich guys.


WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: We`re not going to run another Bush.

STEELE: But this rich guy who`s in the lead right now they consider

to be one of them.

MATTHEWS: That`s right. But I`m talking about...


COSTA: The debate`s not about playing...



MATTHEWS: Joan, do you think they`re going to tuck it in again and

say, OK, we`re going to run with the old WASPy Whig Party...


MATTHEWS: ... the same old wealthy people with good notions to make

them feel a little better.

WALSH: I think that`s a really -- I think that`s really a big worry

for the Republican Party and for people like Michael. I really think

you`re right that it`s going to be very hard to accept a Jeb Bush.

And can we also say, my God, Jeb Bush is running a terrible campaign.

I mean, I don`t know how being number two and sometimes number three

actually is good for him.


WALSH: He seems to be counting his money. He made another

misspeaking today, where he said, oh, he thinks, why do we need a half

billion dollars for women`s health? And then he had to walk it back and

say, Oh, I only meant that about Planned Parenthood. He walked back the

size of ISIS. He walked back the question in Iraq. He walked back...


WALSH: ... the minimum wage.


WALSH: He`s terrible.

MATTHEWS: Can we agree both front-runners are not doing that great?

Hillary`s not doing that great, either.


WALSH: ... a lot better than he is.


MATTHEWS: But you had to say that out of the side of your mouth. You

didn`t say that with enthusiasm. You just said...


MATTHEWS: OK, much, much -- OK, great. We`ll argue about that. I

just -- we`ll see.

STEELE: Bernie...

MATTHEWS: Anyway, I think -- I think she`s doing better than he`s

doing. Bush is shrinking.

WALSH: We can agree.

COSTA: It`s summer. It`s summer.

STEELE: It`s summer. It`s summer...

COSTA: I`m just saying you can`t write him off.


WALSH: You can`t write him off. He`s counting his money. You can`t

write him off, it`s true.

MATTHEWS: God, money talks. BS walks. Remember that? Ozzie Myers

(ph). Anyway, Michael Steele, on that sad note, Robert Costa and Joan


As we get ready for Thursday`s Republican debate, we`re going to talk

to former presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani tomorrow night. He`s coming

to HARDBALL here.

Coming up, by the way, the Republican establishment never saw it

coming. Donald Trump`s on the top of the field heading to the first

debate. He`s the tent pole right in the middle. And now former party

chair Haley Barbour wants Trump to use Thursday`s debate to promise on the

record he will not make a third party run for president if he doesn`t get

the Republican nomination. We`ll see if he does that.

MATTHEWS: Plus, today, of course, Tuesday. Clown Car Tuesday keeps

coming around, finds Scott Walker behind the wheel this time. He`s playing

the ugly game of pretending he doesn`t know what religion President Obama

is. What pandering to the worst in the far right!

And Donald Trump`s creating his own party, it seems, building a

movement. Now he`s got Sarah Palin in his cotillion. He`s working to get

street cred with conservatives.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with those working men and women out there

backing Donald Trump right now.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRES. CANDIDATE: And I will tell you, it`s

three agencies of government when I get there that are gone, Commerce,

Education -- and the -- what`s the third one there? Let`s see...



PERRY: Oh, five? OK. So Commerce, Education and the...


PERRY: EPA, there you go.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about


PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about the agencies of

government. EPA needs to be rebuilt. There`s no doubt about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you can`t name the third one?

PERRY: The third agency of government I would -- I would do away with

Education, the...


PERRY: Commerce, and let`s see -- I can`t, the third one. I can`t.

Sorry. Oops.


MATTHEWS: "Oops." Who can forget that infamous moment from Rick

Perry back in the 2011 CNBC debate among Republican primary candidates.

Thanks to a surge from John Kasich, by the way, Rick Perry has now sunk

down to the kiddie table or the -- what`s it called, the happy hour this

Thursday, narrowly missing the cut for the primetime debate.

But we`ll be there with full coverage of both events. Join me

Thursday night live from Cleveland, the home of the Indians, from 7:00 to

9,:00 and back again from 11:00 to 1:00 in the morning Eastern time. We`ll

be right back now.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. With a record 17 candidates

vying for the nomination, the Republican Party has a long road before their

convention next summer. Their fortunes in 2016 will rest entirely, of

course, on the person they choose to eventually face their likely

Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Well, back in April, former Republican National Committee chairman

Haley Barbour urged his party to pick a candidate who can win voters in the

middle of the ideological spectrum.

Quote, "When Democrats move further to the left and Republicans

further to the right, you risk -- the risk is you hollow out the middle.

Never let purity be the enemy of victory. If you demand perfection in your

candidates or your party, you`re going to be disappointed because only one

perfect person ever walked the earth, and he ain`t going to be running for

election next year."

Well -- but when Republican voters were asked in a new NBC/"Wall

Street Journal" poll what was most important to them in selecting the

Republican nominee, only 12 percent said their top concern was choosing a

candidate who can beat the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Fifty-four

percent said it was more important to choose a candidate who comes closer

to their views on issues.

I`m joined right now by the long-time former Republican Party chair

Haley Barbour, who was also for a long time governor of Mississippi during

Hurricane Katrina. He`s written a new book called "America`s Great Storm,"

which comes out later this month in time for the tenth anniversary of that


Governor, we`ll have you on for that. I`ve read the book. I`ve

blurbed it. You were the only good guy to come out of that whole hell,


Let`s talk about the -- your party because you`re a pragmatist, and

yet your party seems to do what the old liberals used to say in the

Democratic Party, "NDC," "November Doesn`t Count.` We`re going to vote for

who we care about, who we like the most.


I think any time you ask people in a poll, What`s the most important thing

-- agrees with me, strong leader. And that`s very natural. But as you get

closer to the election, it gets more and more on your mind, We got to win.

You don`t get to govern unless you win. And in the two-party system, where

both parties are broad, diverse parties, both parties, purity is the enemy

of victory. And I see the Democrats going hard to the left and saying so.

You have seen fluff and...

MATTHEWS: You think that Bernie Sanders is pulling Hillary over?


BARBOUR: I don`t. I think Hillary`s campaign plan is to run hard


They have said publicly, we`re not going to do what Bill Clinton did.

We`re not going to try to capture the center.


MATTHEWS: You don`t think that`s a smart move, do you?

BARBOUR: I really don`t.

I had the privilege of working for Ronald Reagan, a guy who got more

than 60 percent of the vote. And he flew under bold colors. But he had

divided government the whole time. And he wanted to get things done. So,

when the time came, he compromised on virtually everything to make a huge

amount of progress.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Republican candidate Ted Cruz says the party should

avoid what he calls the mushy middle, directly the opposite of what you`re

saying. Here`s what he said on CNBC late last year.



candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or a John McCain or Mitt Romney, we

will end up with the same result, which is millions of people will stay

home on Election Day, which is what happened for all three of them.

If we run another candidate like that, Hillary Clinton will be the

next president.


MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? He`s saying don`t go anywhere

near the middle because you will end up with mush.

BARBOUR: Well, everybody is entitled to their opinion.

My view is that we have to have somebody, a solid conservative, who

will be for the right things, but who understands that you don`t get to

impose things unless you have huge, huge majorities.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s usually a governor, because governors have to

work with the other side most of the time.

BARBOUR: That`s right. And that`s my experience.

MATTHEWS: You have got Kasich out there. You have got Walker out

there. You have got Jeb Bush out there. They all know how to work with

the other side.

BARBOUR: You have got seven governors in the race. Well, eight when

you count Jim Gilmore, who got in yesterday.


BARBOUR: I do believe you should run your party, run your campaign so

that 60 percent of voters think I might vote for that guy. I might vote

for that party.

That`s what Reagan did. And he and Nixon in `72 were the only

candidates in my lifetime that got over 60 percent of the vote.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this, because you know what`s going on

right now this week. It`s called Donald Trump.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump first won the attention of the

political world back in 2011 by making the outrageous claim that President

Obama wasn`t born in the U.S. Let`s take a look.



fact that Barack Obama should give his birth certificate.

Three weeks ago, when I started, I thought he was born in this

country. And now I really have a much bigger doubt than I did before. If

he has a birth certificate, he should release it.

All I want to is see this guy`s birth certificate.


TRUMP: If he weren`t lying, why wouldn`t he just solve it? And I

wish he would, because, if he doesn`t, it`s one of the greatest scams in

the history of politics and in the history, period.


MATTHEWS: Of course, President Obama did release his birth

certificate, but as recently as last month, Trump said he still doesn`t

know if the president was born in this country. Let`s watch him.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: I`m asking you now, do you accept that

President Obama was born in the United States?


TRUMP: No, I don`t know. I really don`t know.


MATTHEWS: What`s this game about? And can you run a guy that doesn`t

even accept the legitimacy of his predecessor? How can he succeed

President Obama in office after he says he shouldn`t have been there

because he`s not a citizen? He wasn`t born naturalized -- or natural-born


BARBOUR: I don`t think that`s the biggest problem for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Why he is doing this?

BARBOUR: Well, you will have to ask him why he`s doing it.

But Donald Trump`s biggest problem for having a chance to win the

Republican nomination is, he will not rule out running as an independent or

a third-party candidate. Every Republican -- literally, there was a poll

the other day; 80-some percent of Republicans said, if Trump runs as an

independent, that gives the White House to the Democrats, just like Ross

Perot gave the White House to the Democrats, when Bill Clinton only got 43

percent of the vote in one 1992.

I think that is what people...


MATTHEWS: Is he a loyal Republican, Haley Barbour? Is he a loyal


BARBOUR: I don`t know him well enough to make that assessment.


MATTHEWS: You`re saying you want...


BARBOUR: But what I`m saying is, if he is, he should say it in the

debate. I will not run as a third-party candidate. I want to have a

Republican president.

And, of course, he`s going to say he would like for it to be him. But

if it`s not him, then he`s not going to sabotage the chance to elect a

conservative Republican president.

MATTHEWS: If he runs third-party, is that the end for anybody you

nominate in your party?

BARBOUR: I don`t see how we can win if you get a guy who can get 3 or

4 percent as a third-party candidate. And I don`t see how anybody who is

serious about running for the Republican nomination cannot rule that out.

MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense when you look at Donald Trump in his

history -- he`s been back and forth on a lot of issues, like abortion

rights and things like that, the usual issues we argue about.

Do you think he`s a Republican? Do you look at him as a fellow


BARBOUR: I take it at face value.

MATTHEWS: Well, has he ever said he`s a Republican?

BARBOUR: Well, he hasn`t said he`s a Republican to me, but he and I

don`t talk all the time.

MATTHEWS: Right. Well, I`m going to give you a shot...


BARBOUR: But, look, here`s the fact.


BARBOUR: The guy has touched a chord in the country. The country is

angry. The country is unhappy. It`s got good reason to be.

Both on our economy and our national security, we have been going the

wrong direction. And he`s tapped into that. But you and I both know

polling taken in the summer of this year is not predictive of what`s going

to happen in the spring of next year.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but let me just ask you this. You`re the best guy I

know off the record when it comes to politics. If it`s off the record and

nobody`s watching, you`re absolutely down the middle, straight.

You don`t have to be a partisan. And it seems to me that this is

leading somewhere. How do you go from the big polls all supporting Trump

right now to an establishment figure like Bush? It seems to me that`s a

hell of a move, where somewhere in the middle between the two of them are

Kasich, Walker, people like that, that are a little more working-class, a

little more regular, a little more like the Trump voter than a Bush.

Do you think he`s influencing your election by being such a big deal

now, or will he vanish in importance by next year? Is he an influence on

your party?

BARBOUR: Well, I think that remains to be seen.

MATTHEWS: Really? You mean it may not have an influence?

BARBOUR: What I do believe strongly, that this is largely about


I thought Rand Paul made a very important point over the weekend. He

said to some reporter, well, if you all put me on TV twice an hour from

8:00 in the morning to 8:00 at night every day, I would go up in the polls,


MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, you put most of these people on the air

from 8:00 to 8:00, we`d all be asleep.


MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. I don`t buy that theory one bit. I don`t buy

it at all.

Anyway, thank you, Haley Barbour. You`re a loyal Republican. We will

have you back when the book is out. It`s called?

BARBOUR: "America`s Great Storm." It`s the story of the worst natural

disaster in American history.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re the expert on it, because you`re the one guy,

I would say, who looked good in that whole thing.

Up next: President Obama continues his lobbying campaign in support

of the Iranian nuclear deal, but can he convince Jewish groups to back the

agreement? Well, he can in some cases.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



CRUZ: I believe this Obama Iranian nuclear deal is the single gravest

national security threat facing America. It is a catastrophic deal. Over

a hundred billion dollars will flow into Iran. Iran is the world`s leading

state sponsor of terrorism. I pointed out a couple of weeks ago that if

this deal goes through that the Obama administration will become the

world`s leading global financier of radical Islamic terrorism.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran have been using near

apocalyptic warnings like that one to kill the agreement. But it`s not

clear it will work. President Obama continued his lobbying efforts today

meeting with Jewish leaders, both supporters and critics of the deal.

But in a dueling address today, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu

told 10,000 participants in a live Webcast aimed at American Jewish people

that the nuclear deal -- quote -- "paves Iran`s path to a bomb."

I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, Democrat of

Michigan, and Jeremy Ben-Ami, who is president of J Street, a progressive

pro-Israeli group, pro-Israel group that supports -- I want to start with

Jeremy, who is here.

How do you make the case against this onslaught of big money, big ads

in "The New York Times"? You would get the sense that the American Jewish

community is scared to death, thinks it`s the worst deal in the world, and

yet the polls show the opposite.


be rooted in the fact that this is actually a good deal.

The facts actually are 100 percent on the president`s side. It is not

a question of whether or not Iran is a good regime. We will stipulate that

it`s a bad actor. The question is, does this stop the country`s pathways

to a nuclear weapon? And every single expert on the topic -- put aside

politicians and fear-mongers -- the people who are experts, nuclear

proliferation experts, security experts, military people, say this deal is

a good deal and it stops Iran`s pathways to a bomb.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, I read the papers, like we all do.

And I get this sense day after day that the pressure, political

pressure from AIPAC, the American-Israel political action committee, and

the others is so strong, the money they`re spending, $40 million -- now

maybe that is not the biggest money in the world, but it`s a lot. They

have now formed a new group to spearhead the effort. Citizens for a

Nuclear-Free Iran released this ad. Look at this ad and tell me what it

does to members of Congress, sir.


NARRATOR: Iran keeps their nuclear facilities. Military sites can go

uninspected. Restrictions end after 10 years. Then Iran could build a

nuclear weapon in two months. Iran has violated 20 international

agreements and is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. Congress should

reject a bad deal.


MATTHEWS: But what that ad doesn`t tell you, Congressman, is that

Iran could build a bomb in two months right now. The only thing standing

between them and building a bomb right now is this deal. Your thoughts?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: That`s the thing.

And, first of all, members of Congress really should think about what

legacy they want to leave, not what the politics of the moment are. This

deal, we can criticize it and scrutinize it, but the only way to evaluate

this deal is against what the real possibilities are if this deal does not

go forward.

And that is that, as you said, Iran could have a bomb within months.

And we really have to measure the quality of this deal, what it does. It

gets us years and years with scrutiny, with eyes on the ground in Iran, so

that, if they cheat, we will know it. The alternative is much more

treacherous than any of the criticism that this deal, you know, might


And I think members of Congress are going to have to think about what

legacy they want to leave. Are we going to embrace diplomacy and give it a

chance, knowing that all of the other options that we might use are still

available to us if Iran cheats or goes down the wrong path? And I think

that`s what members of Congress should think about, not the politics of the


MATTHEWS: I get a sense, gentlemen in the end it is going to be Nancy

Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House, that is going to have to

save this for the president. It`s getting very tricky, treacherous even.

BEN-AMI: Well, you have seen some really important Democratic leaders

in the House who had not really shown their cards before come out in the

last couple of days supporting the president, Adam Schiff, senior Democrat

on the Intelligence Committee.

MATTHEWS: Barbara Boxer, senator from California.

BEN-AMI: Barbara Boxer.

MATTHEWS: I was so impressed by Durbin coming out, Senator Durbin.

BEN-AMI: Sandy Levin.



BEN-AMI: You`re seeing some momentum.

MATTHEWS: These are people I have known all my political life and I

have always respected.

But I understand this is strong pressure from AIPAC.

Congressman Kildee, how does it look to you, as a politician, when you

look at your caucus over there? You are not going to get much help from

the Republicans. Can you hold 146 members against this effort?

KILDEE: Well, the number, it`s probably going to be close. We hear

members, you know, coming out every day announcing their position.

My view is -- and I know something about Iran. I, for the last 2.5

years, have represented a family that has one of the Americans being held

in Iran.

MATTHEWS: Yes, Hekmati.

KILDEE: So, I think members who really look at this deal and really

evaluate the deal against the logical alternative that is in front of us,

they are going to come out in favor of it.

I think if members look at this it`s in terms of a political

calculation and not what it means in terms of the security of the region

and the security of the world, they may come to a different conclusion.

But I think you`re right. I think we will have the votes in the House, but

I think we`re going to have to be persuasive.

My goal is to call on members to examine their conscience and examine

the deal and come to a conclusion, and I think they will say yes.

MATTHEWS: I think they should read a copy of "Profiles in Courage" on

this occasion. I mean it.

KILDEE: I think you`re right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee.

And thank you, Jeremy Ben-Ami.

Up next, it`s clown car Tuesday, a little lightening effect here. And

today it`s how Ted Cruz cooks his bacon and a new page in the birther

playbook, as if it needed one.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


DARA BROWN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Dara Brown. Here`s what`s


The massive Rocky wildfire burning in Northern California continues to

grow. It`s destroyed more than 100 square miles and is threatening nearly

7,000 homes.

Jurors deciding the fate of Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes

heard testimony today from victims` family members. The jury is deciding

whether Holmes should receive the death penalty or life in prison without


And three major U.S. airlines have barred the transport of animals

killed by trophy hunters. The move was sparked by outrage over the killing

of a protected lion in Zimbabwe -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s clown car Tuesday again. And with Donald Trump sucking all the

oxygen out of the GOP field, his rivals will do and say anything, it seems,

to get some attention -- some attention.

Last month, Lindsey Graham set his cell phone on fire after Trump gave

out his personal cell phone in a campaign event in Graham`s home state of

South Carolina.

Rand Paul took a chainsaw to the tax code as a rock `n` roll rendition

of "The Star-Spangled Banner" played in the background.

And Mike Huckabee claimed that the president`s nuclear agreement with

Iran is, quote, "marching the Israelis to the door of the oven."

And then, yesterday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz became the latest

Republican contender to distinguish himself from his opponents, in a new

video produced by the conservative media outlet "IJReview", Cruz

demonstrates how to cook bacon, as he put it, Texas-style, wrapped around

the barrel of a machine gun. Here he is.



a little differently than most folks.


CRUZ: Mmm, machine gun bacon.



Kasie Hunt is an MSNBC political reporter, John McCormack is senior

writer for "The Weekly Standard", and Francesca Chambers is White House

correspondent for "The Daily Mail".

Kasie, I don`t know how to make fun of people when they do that.

Where do we go from there? What`s the satire on that? That seems like it

carries the satire with it.

Bacon wrapped around a gun at the time we have police shootings, we

have people getting killed, people shooting cops, we have murder rates in

Chicago and Baltimore that are frightening. This guy is out there enjoying

his machine gun. By the way, machine guns have been outlawed since the


Your thoughts?


yes, we`re undergoing difficult things. I think on the lighter side of

this, obviously, this "I.J. Review" has done this with several candidates.

MATTHEWS: What`s the message?

HUNT: Well, look, I think the message is he`s trying to reach out to

people who, you know, respond to that.

MATTHEWS: Who like machine guns?

HUNT: Who like machine guns, who like -- I mean, look, I`ve been

hunting with Ted Cruz, I will say, full disclosure. The guy is pretty

comfortable with a gun. This is not something that is out of the ordinary.

But I think he`d be the first person to tell you that, as he told me,

it`s not something that he necessarily grew up with right away. It`s not

something that`s been incorporated into his life even though he does have

the basic knowledge of how to do it. I think you`re seeing him try to

reach out to that --

MATTHEWS: What does this got to do with running for president, John?


campaigning in the age of the internet. IJReview, they seek to be a

conservative sort of "BuzzFeed". The Internet loves bacon, conservatives

love guns. You put the two together and you get instant equals clicks.

I think that`s really all there is to it. It`s meant to be a goofy

thing. I don`t think it`s meant to be a serious, or a statement about


MATTHEWS: Why would it get me to vote for him, or anybody in the

middle politically? Why would it appeal to anyone?

MCCORMACK: People who like guns, people who like someone who`s laid

back enough to make a goofy video like this. I think a lot, to younger

voters, I mean, this is what "IJReview" --

MATTHEWS: Younger voters who are into machine guns.

MCCORMACK: I know. I mean, there`s people who are -- it`s not a

machine gun, first of all. A machine gun is fully automatic.

MATTHEWS: I thought they said it was a machine gun.

MCCORMACK: I think he`s -- it`s exaggeration. It`s an exaggeration.


MATTHEWS: Explain. Was it bup, bup, bup, bup, or just hold the

trigger down?

CHAMBERS: It was actually not a machine gun.

MATTHEWS: So, it`s semi-automatic.

CHAMBERS: Rachel Maddow spent a lot of time --

MATTHEWS: Semiautomatic.

CHAMBERS: It was an AR-15.

You asked who the audience is for this. Absolutely, I think that

you`re right, that it`s young people. And not necessarily young people on

the right. Young people of the Internet age that like viral videos and

like to see bacon cooked on a gun. I think that`s the audience for this.

And I think as you said earlier, Chris, that Trump is sucking all the

air out of the room, so some of the candidates are getting desperate to

make headlines, and to get earned media. I guess what we`re talking about

right now. We`re talking about Ted Cruz and this video and we`re not

talking about Donald Trump. So it`s successful.

MATTHEWS: But you`re positive about this?

CHAMBERS: I`m not necessarily saying that I`m positive about it. I`m

just saying --


MATTHEWS: You guys, look -- look at your hands. I just caught your

hands. This the Donald Trump day. Hey, isn`t this great?

CHAMBERS: I`m saying it was effective at stealing back headlines from

Donald Trump. Effective.

MATTHEWS: Like this, hey, it`s this.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker earns a seat in the

clown car because he says he still isn`t sure President Obama is a fellow



MODERATOR: Is President Obama a Christian?


get different answers than I said before. I said I don`t know. I presume

he is by his comments in the past, but I`ve never asked him about that.

And as someone who`s a believer myself, I don`t presume to know someone`s

beliefs about whether they follow Christ or not unless I`ve actually talked

with them and understand them. But he said he has, so I`ll take his word.


MATTHEWS: What`s the answer for it, Francesca? I don`t know. Why do

people question -- if somebody said to me, I`m Jewish, I say, you`re

Jewish, you just said so, you are. You are in this country what you say

you are. That`s how people accept other`s religious decision making and

identity. Why would you say, I don`t know? He says he is, but I don`t


What does that mean?

CHAMBERS: Well, I think he now has to stick with the original answer

that he gave, because if Scott Walker now comes back and says, I`ve decided

that President Obama is a Christian now, and then he would look like he`s


MATTHEWS: Why are people questioning? There`s no religious test for

office in this country. It`s in our Constitution. Why are people

questioning each other`s religion, John?

MCCORMACK: I think the smart thing to say politically is just, "yes,

next question." But a charitable interpretation of this is that Walker is

saying, "I believe there`s more than just a label." You got to have some

level, maybe he`s an evangelical who thinks a personal relationship with

Jesus or some credo beliefs. I don`t know what it is.

The question I would ask Walker is, what would Obama have to say to

you to convince you of that? I think that`s the most charitable


You know, Hillary Clinton got the trouble when she said I assume Obama

is not a Muslim as far as I know. So, anytime you --

MATTHEWS: Why talk like that?

MCCORMACK: Yes, when you hint at this, you get this trouble. I don`t

read anything sinister in this, unlike, you know, Mark Penn, Hillary`s

chief strategist. He said in 2007 that Obama was fundamentally un-American

in his thinking and values. Now, that --


MATTHEWS: The questionnaire you fill out. You really believe the

guy`s religion is what he says it is?

HUNT: I think what you saw there is an example of -- to a certain

extent Walker being his own political strategist and saying, you know, he

took a lot of heat for saying this the first time from people who might

have otherwise been considered in his own camp. He`s obviously not taking

that advice and he`s also probably concerned as being viewed as a flip-

flopper, if you put that in context.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a fairly depressing roundtable so far. We`re

going to stick them. We`ll give them another shot.

Up next, the big city billionaire and self-described mama grizzly.

Why Donald Trump and Sarah Palin have come together in this race for 2016?

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, happy birthday to President Obama who turned 54

today. In honor of the occasion, former President Bill Clinton tweeted,

"Happy birthday, POTUS. Hopefully when FLOTUS isn`t looking, you can have

some cake." He also used the #44turns54. How hip.

And for her party, First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted "Happy birthday

to a loving husband, wonderful father and my favorite dance partner." I

didn`t know Obama danced. Anyway, "54 looks good on you." That`s pretty

good line.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Back with our roundtable, Kasie, John and Francesca.

You know, I think it`s really smart that Sarah Palin has been brought

into this cotillion with Donald Trump. He`s now building kind of a team

Trump, a Trump party.

What do you think, John?

MCCORMACK: I think it`s smart. I mean, she`s got a very intense,

passionate base. It might not huge, but it`s so intense.

I think she also protects him from his greatest vulnerable, which

people are figuring out that he`s a reality TV star, not a conservative.

That he`s supported partial birth abortion.

MATTHEWS: She`s got the bona fides.

MCCORMACK: I think so, yes. They`re impeccable.

So, I mean, he`s for partial birth abortion, the stimulus, he

supporter Canadian style single-payer health care. This is not a

conservative. This is a guy who wants to play to the crowd and get a lot

of attention. I think that --

MATTHEWS: It shows -- Kasie, I think it shows him a leader. I think

you always can tell if somebody is leader or not. You look behind, anybody

following? That was the problem with Obama for a long time, nobody back

there, just him.

This guy looks like he`s building a force in the party. Even Ted Cruz

seems to be hobbling along behind him saying, you know, your guy, the

hunting buddy of yours, you got to hunting with?

HUNT: That is a little -- that`s an over exaggeration.

MATTEHWS: I take it back. You only went with him once.

HUNT: I was covering him, OK? No, but they, look --

MATTHEWS: Was somebody shooting at him, you got to cover him?

HUNT: No, no one was shooting at him. He was with Steve King. No

one got accidental --

MATTHEWS: Steve King, the one from Iowa?

HUNT: Congressman Steve King in Iowa.


MATTHEWS: What is it? Cantaloupe leg Hispanics he was looking for up


HUNT: He has an annual pheasant hunt. I was covering Ted Cruz in

those annual pheasant hunt.

MATTHEWS: How did you do?

HUNT: I didn`t pick up a gun, full disclosure.

MATTHEWS: So, tell me about the serious question here. What about

Sarah Palin? Because I think Sarah Palin is a little bit yesterday. But I

think he brings her back in the game and establishes her gender balance

there. She`s a woman, sort of an Annie Oakley type, cowboy type,

Westerner. I think it`s smart.

HUNT: I think the reality is that there`s a lot of crossover between

people who were really excited about Sarah Palin, and people who are now

telling Republican pollsters they`re going to back Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: What`s the message? Is the message from the establishment,

OK, we didn`t go to eastern colleges? But we`re Americans as you are?

HUNT: That`s a big part of it. That`s a big part of it. I mean, a

lot of the people who are supporting Donald Trump, you know, they`re not

necessarily billionaires. He`s not tagged with what Mitt Romney was tagged

with. He`s viewed as somebody who has achieved something that a lot of

normal people feel like, you know what, if he can do it, maybe I can do it,

too. And if I have this money, I would live like that. And for Romney, he

didn`t come across --

MATTHEWS: That`s a Republican value by the way, self-made people.


CHAMBERS: Absolutely. To speak to your point, a lot of people who

are supporting Trump did not go to college at all, not just eastern liberal

colleges. They didn`t go to college at all. I think what Sarah Palin does

do is give him credibility. She may not have a large following --

MATTHEWS: She went to about 20 colleges in her case.

CHAMBERS: She has a quite large following when it comes to the

conservative movement.

MATTHEWS: In this show, she has a following. There`s producers that

really like her.

CHAMBERS: She has a very large following in the conservative movement

and she gives her credibility with that group.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at. Here`s Sarah Palin. She wrote this

Valentine online essay on Trump`s candidacy, "The folks I meet commiserate

about wussified slates of politicians, but then unsolicited they whisper

their appreciation for Trump because he has the guts to say it like it is".


MCCORMACK: I mean, I think Sarah Palin learned the wrong lesson which

is that anyone who`s being attacked by the media must be doing something

right. I think conservatives learned that lesson with good reason. But

this is one case where that`s wrong, this guy is not a conservative.

MATTHEWS: You don`t think it`s a conservative.

MCCORMACK: Not at all. I think he`s a show showman. And he`s --

MATTHEWS: You just called him out. I thought he was selling it

pretty well there. Another time I`m confused by this roundtable.

Anyway, Kasie Hunt, John McCormack and Francesca Chambers, you`re all

being challenging me quite well tonight.

When we return, let me finish with this -- those working men and women

out there backing Donald Trump right. They`re a fascinating group. Let`s

pay attention to them and what they`re saying about our country.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with something powerful about this

week`s Republican debate. It`s the belief that Donald Trump is drawing his

strongest support among those Americans who didn`t get the privilege of

going to college. I call it a privilege because while many didn`t make the

most of their four years of higher education, the mere opportunity to

pursue a university education is not something everyone gets, not by a long


So, let me just say this to those who did get this privilege and who

think they`ve got a right to look down on those who didn`t. Well, it`s

something you should put into your head and keep it there.

Many years ago, I was working as a U.S. capitol police officer and

spending a good deal of time with men who had served previously in the

military. And one was a fellow from West Virginia named Leroy Taylor, a

real country boy. He took me under his wing. He was the working guy

telling the college kid how the world worked.

"You know why the little man loves this country?" he asked me one

night during our evening shift. "It`s because it`s all he`s got."

I tried to hold onto that fact of life that insight into the ways all

these years since. And that one statement of basic fact that I think it`s

more human knowledge that whole courses you take in college. When I look

at the workmen and women out there now backing Donald Trump, I think back

on what I learned from that country boy I worked with back in the `70s, and

what he said about the little boy loving his country, because it`s all he`s

got comes home to me like a rocket.

The voter out there looking to Donald Trump has come to believe that

his country, the United States of America, is not being protected by the

political class, that is not protecting the border, that not protecting

against growing debt, not protecting our jobs. It`s giving away those

things to other countries and to people who come into this country


When you love your country and it`s all you`ve got, you put a very

high price on it. The support this going to Donald Trump right now strikes

me it`s going there because the big shot, well-educated types, the best and

the brightest have let the trust of the working fellow slip through their

hands. They don`t trust them and they`re showing their contempt by going

to Trump. Got it?

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.




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