updated 8/19/2015 9:25:04 AM ET 2015-08-19T13:25:04

Show: HARDBALL
Date: August 18, 2015
Guest: Paul Singer, Gary Samore, Valerie Plame Wilson, Anne Gearan, Steve
McMahon, Jason Johnson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trouble in River City.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

So ladies and gentlemen, is Donald Trump the music man? Is he just some
traveling troubadour that comes to town selling us a bill of goods? Or is
he a real, live Professor Hill promising to bring us a boys` band with 76
trombones?

Or is Mr. Trump something different in American political life, a candidate
who`s not just figured out what ails the country, but what will cure us,
and is in the process of giving it to us straight? What is Trump, the same
old, same old in politics, full of empty promises, or is this something new
here, a true phenomenon?

Joan Walsh is the editor-at-large with Salon. Michael Steele is an RNC
chair of recent past history. And Paul Singer is Washington correspondent
at the great "USA Today."

Anyway, in Trump we trust. Donald Trump is dominating the Republican field
on all the big issues right now. Catch this. According to the new, brand-
new, CNN/Opinion Research poll out today, 44 percent of Republicans and
Republican-leaning independents say Trump is the best candidate running to
handle the issue of illegal immigration. He`s got a 32-point lead over Jeb
Bush, who`s at a distant second place.

By the way, one in eight Republicans and Republican leaners think Bush will
solve the problem. Republican voters apparently like what they`re hearing
from Trump on the subject of illegal immigration. And here he goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will build a great, great wall
on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my
words.

We have drug dealers coming across, we have rapists, we have killer, we
have murderers.

They have to go.

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, ""MEET THE PRESS": What if they have no place to
go?

TRUMP: We`ll work with them. They have to go. Chuck, we either have a
country, or we don`t have a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, have a country, don`t have a company. (sic) Let me go
to Joan Walsh. We`ve got three people joining us, Joan and Michael Steele
and Paul Singer. I`ll start with Joan up in New York.

Thanks for joining us, Joan.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: Of the people who care about illegal immigration, who don`t
refer to it euphemistically as "undocumented workers" or something like
that, who really don`t like illegal immigration, this guy seems to be
scoring.

WALSH: Yes, because he`s telling them what they want to hear, that it`s
going to be an easy problem. But you know, I mean, that proposal would
create essentially a police state to round up and move out 11 million
undocumented immigrants and possibly their American-born children. So it`s
not really...

MATTHEWS: I mean, who else has got a solution to illegal immigration?

WALSH: No, well, good question. I mean, there was...

MATTHEWS: Well, answer asked the question. I want an answer. Who`s got a
good answer to those who are concerned about illegal immigration? And by
the way, most people in most countries do worry about illegal immigration
to some extent. They`re not all feverish about it. They think it should
be stopped or cut down on.

WALSH: Well...

MATTHEWS: What do you think is the solution to illegal immigration?

WALSH: The Senate worked very hard on a bipartisan bill that wasn`t
perfect but that was going to make a difference. And you know, the answer
is definitely not rounding people up and putting them on cattle cars and...

MATTHEWS: But how was it going to stop illegal immigration?

WALSH: ... driving them out of the country.

MATTHEWS: I`m just trying to get to the point why I think he`s popular.
What is there out there that would actually stop illegal immigration
besides him talking about it?

WALSH: I think -- I think we`ve done a -- we`ve done a great job stopping
illegal immigration, actually. It has slowed down.

MATTHEWS: It`s stopped?

WALSH: I don`t know that you can ever -- ever you can ever stop it, Chris.
I`m not sure people can stop it. People are washing up on the shores of
Greece. I mean, when people want to get someplace, they get in. There was
a comprehensive...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... that answer will sell with people, that they`ve just got to
live with it?

WALSH: Well, I`m not running, you know? I`m not running for office. But
I think...

MATTHEWS: Well, that -- I`m asking a journalistic question. Name anybody
else who`s talking about a way to stop illegal immigration. I just want to
make my point. Maybe I`m being too rough here. But what is the
alternative to Donald Trump if you want to get rid of illegal immigration?
Who is the alternative? It ain`t Jeb Bush.

WALSH: No, it`s not Jeb Bush. But this is not a simple question. So if
you`re asking me, does anyone else have a simplistic answer...

MATTHEWS: No, any answer.

WALSH: ... that`s going to satisfy people -- but that`s...

MATTHEWS: Any answer.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Paul, your turn. Who out there is offering a solution for the
person angry about illegal immigration?

PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": Well, that`s two different questions. Now, is
someone...

MATTHEWS: How`s it different?

WALSH: Right.

SINGER: ... because the question is, do you want to solve immigration or
do you want to solve...

MATTHEWS: Who`s got an answer?

SINGER: ... or do you want to solve the outrage? Well, Marco Rubio was
part of this bill that was a Senate bipartisan bill...

MATTHEWS: Where is he now?

SINGER: Well, he...

WALSH: And walked away from it.

SINGER: ... decided he didn`t like (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: OK, so who is out there saying they`re going to do something
about illegal immigration?

SINGER: Well, you know, they`re all saying...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I don`t hear anybody out there!

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You guys are
being way too polite. The answer is no one, period. No one is answering
the question that the American people want asked. If you want to get a
sense of why he`s connecting on this issue, read his eight-page plan. I
read it again today. And I was sitting there going, I get it, I get it.
Wow.

SINGER: But you can`t do it. You can`t do it...

WALSH: You can`t do it.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: No, there may be parts of it you can`t do, but there are aspects
of that plan that you can do and...

WALSH: Wait!

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: And that`s what people are excited about with him.

MATTHEWS: Joan?

WALSH: When you say "people" -- and Chris, I mean, we`ve said a couple
times this is what the American people want. Michael, you said this is
what the American people want.

No, it`s not! This is what a quarter of the Republican electorate, which
boils down to 10 percent of American voters, want. So if you`re talking
about who`s going to pander to really angry voters who don`t understand
what the problem is and don`t understand how to solve it, it`s Trump. It`s
only Trump. I can`t...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No one else but he is talking...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: But don`t confuse that...

STEELE: ... rallying the base of the Democratic Party!

MATTHEWS: What`s the Democratic plan to stop Illegal immigration?

STEELE: ... stop illegal immigration.

MATTHEWS: What`s Hillary`s plan?

SINGER: Wait a minute. But Obama has supposedly implemented...

MATTHEWS: What`s his plan?

SINGER: ... some plan...

MATTHEWS: What`s his plan? What`s his plan?

SINGER: He said he was sending troops to the -- sending...

MATTHEWS: Come on! Troops to the border!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You and I would get through the troops.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: He`s tripled border enforcement.

SINGER: They did stop the flow of children coming across the border...

MATTHEWS: You know what the dirty little secret is of the Republican Party
and "The Wall Street Journal?" I hope you`re listening, editorial page,
top of the editorial page today. They want illegal immigrants because they
want cheap labor. They want them to come in tomorrow night. They don`t
want to just look out for the people out of some compassion. They want the
guy racing across the border next week, next year, 10 years from now
because that guy will work for the cheapest amount and work the hardest!
That`s what they want.

And guess what? The Democrats want the votes. And that`s the secret of
this whole thing, and that`s why a guy like Trump, who may well be a
demagogue, is at least saying something that people can hear. And I think
that`s what`s going on.

Joan, you`re right about the numbers, but the people on the right who are
going to decide this nomination certainly are loud and clear saying Trump`s
the only guy they believe in.

WALSH: And then they`re going to lose the election.

MATTHEWS: Look at the polls today...

WALSH: And then if they listen to him...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... see what Hillary has to say about it.

STEELE: That`s if Hillary is the nominee.

MATTHEWS: I said last night there`s been three people out there with the
guts to stand up on the Senate bill who are even involved in politics
today. Lindsey Graham, of all people, has been solid on this. The late
Ted Kennedy was solid on this. And Chuck Schumer, who I disagree with on
other things, has been solid on this. The rest of these guys are pander
bears.

On the economy, Trump runs ahead from the field again, 45 percent of
Republicans say -- believe it or not, people, Joan, I find he`s hard to
believe, too. He`s the best candidate on the issue of the economy right
now. He leads Jeb Bush by 37 points. When it comes to the economy, Bush
is -- Trump has promised to make everyone rich. I know it sounds absurd.
But look at this number. Eight percent trust Mr. Establishment, brother of
and son of presidents.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Eight percent. That is nothing! Look at Trump, 45 percent.
Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We`re going to be thriving as a country, thriving! It can happen.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I
tell you that.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I`m really rich. I`ll share (INAUDIBLE). And by the way, I`m not
even saying that in a brag -- that`s the kind of mindset, that`s the kind
of thinking you need for this country.

So -- because we`ve got to make the country rich. It sounds crass.
Somebody said, Oh, that`s crass. It`s not crass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: This is so close to "The Music Man"...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He comes to town. I`m going to get a boys` band with the
uniforms. Now, give me the money. And I`m going to -- in this case, give
me the votes. But you know what? I think people (INAUDIBLE) a lot of
regular guys out there and women say, (INAUDIBLE) money, but that guy`s
really rich. He must know what he`s talking about. Look how rich he is.

SINGER: And it`s also...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You tell me why they believe him.

SINGER: It`s the voice of winning. It`s -- how many people do you know
who have that kind of confidence to say, I`m going to make us great.
America, oh, yes! We`re going to go get `em! I mean...

MATTHEWS: Don`t the other guys do that? Doesn`t Hillary do that?

SINGER: No. Everyone says, Well, we have problems, the government`s not
doing it right, things aren`t proper. There`s fear abroad. You know,
Trump doesn`t have to (INAUDIBLE) he just, We`re going to go over and go
into...

MATTHEWS: Michael, you`re the Republican here...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What is it in your party that`s so hungry for what you just
said, a little rah-rah?

STEELE: Well, part of it is you`re talking about a base that`s been lied
to for 30 years. They`ve been lied to about jobs and the economy.

WALSH: Right.

STEELE: They`ve been lied to about health care. They`ve been told all
these things were going to get fixed. Elect us, and we`ll take care of it.
You know, give us the Supreme -- you know, we`ll give you the Supreme Court
to deal with these -- and none of it`s come true.

So now along comes Trump, who`s, like, You know what? They`ve lied to you,
and I`m just going to tell you straight up what I`m going to do and how I`m
going to do it. And people are, like, You know what? OK.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll see. Anyway, Trump`s the most trusted Republican
candidate when it comes to handling ISIS! This guy has no military
background, no diplomatic background! Look at this, beating Bush 2 to 1,
beating Bush, Mr. Establishment. Trump has made brute strength by the --
(INAUDIBLE) Joan -- foreign policy his mantra.

Let`s watch how he talks.

TRUMP: I would hit them so hard and so fast that they wouldn`t know what
happened.

I would bomb the hell out of those oil fields. I wouldn`t send many troops
because you won`t need them by the time I got finished.

You go in, knock the hell out of the oil, take back the oil. We take over
the oil, which we should have done in the first place.

TODD: It`s going to take ground troops.

MATTHEWS: If you -- OK...

TODD: What you`re talking about is ground troops.

TRUMP: That`s OK.

TODD: Maybe 25,000?

TRUMP: We`re going to start -- (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Joan, you got to sympathize with Chuck Todd there
because he says this stuff, and what is your next journalistic reaction?
Well, let`s go into how much ordnance it would take...

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... and what`s your targeting method here, and who are your
ground spotters to tell you where to hit?

WALSH: Right, but that`s not...

MATTHEWS: Those are normal questions. But with him, it`s just bomb and
turn them into a parking lot...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: ... ground troops, we`ll throw ground troops in if we need them,
but we probably won`t need them, Chuck.

MATTHEWS: By the way, there are real people in those countries that are
not part of ISIS.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: We can`t just blow up the whole country because they happen to
have ISIS there, can you?

STEELE: Can I address one part of that? Why it works is because I tell
you, across America in living rooms that`ll be watching Donald Trump talk
about this, someone just turned to a cousin, aunt, a brother or a husband
and said, You know what you need to do, is just bomb the hell out of them.
And then he...

MATTHEWS: Who`s them?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: And then -- and then Trump comes on the air and he says exactly
what the cousin, the brother, the uncle just said...

WALSH: He does.

STEELE: ... 20 minutes ago. And that`s the connection because it`s real.
It`s authentic. It`s what people are thinking.

WALSH: He`s says -- he says exactly what your crazy uncle says. You`re
right. He says exactly...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: It`s not your crazy uncle, Joan. That`s -- Again, that`s the...

WALSH: That is crazy! That`s crazy, Michael!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go -- I`m going to -- Joan...

WALSH: We`re going to bomb the oil fields? That`s not crazy? What am I
hearing?

STEELE: Again...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Joan, let me ask you something, a hard question. I don`t know
the answer yet. That`s why I end my show with it -- show tonight with it.

WALSH: All right.

MATTHEWS: Is he -- is he same old, same old? Every couple years along,
somebody comes along, some character with a shtick and he has something to
offer and it sounds like it`s great, whether it`s 999 Cain or it`s
something else or it`s briefly what`s her name, Michele Bachmann? Is he
one of them?

I`m going back -- I want to set this up a little bit.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: When Bill Clinton said that Barack Obama, who really was and is
a phenomenon, I think, in American political history, a phenomenon...

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... his name and his background, the whole way it sort of worked
for him, even though working better than ever. But is he that or is he --
remember how Bill Clinton -- Oh, he`s just Jesse Jackson.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: You know, some of the old characters -- I won`t use the usual
"F" word, old people (INAUDIBLE) they always say, Oh, it`s like everything
else. I remember this in 1942!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I mean, I am so tired of people saying he`s just another
whatever. I think he`s something different...

STEELE: I do, too.

MATTHEWS: ... or maybe the times are different. But there`s a hunger for
something out there, and this guy`s offering up at least the snack, at
least -- what do you think`s going on? You`re as good as I am at this.

WALSH: I think he is -- I think he`s something different. And I don`t
think -- he`s not Herman Cain. He`s not Michele Bachmann. I think he`s
got staying power. He`s going to stick around for a long time. There`s no
reason to believe that these other guys are going to rise.

I mean, that big debate that we all watched and Marco Rubio was the winner.
He barely moved in the polls. I mean, nothing is seeming to matter. These
guys are all kind of lifeless and wan and sad. And he...

MATTHEWS: Wan. Thank you, a word, "wan." It`s right -- the word is
"wan."

WALSH: They are.

MATTHEWS: I keep saying a hot knife through soft butter, but that`s
better. They`re just -- there`s not a lot of competition in that...

(CROSSTALK)

SINGER: And we waited for Trump`s numbers to drop after that debate, and
they didn`t.

MATTHEWS: We waited -- a lot of us waited for John Kasich to zoom, but
people didn`t -- they didn`t see it.

Anyway, John (ph), great -- you`re all part of America`s pastiche of
wonderment here...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Where`s my dictionary?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Paul Singer.

Coming up -- no surprise here, New Jersey governor -- actually, Senator Bob
Menendez under federal indictment right now and facing huge legal fees has
come out, big surprise here, against President Obama`s nuclear deal with
Iran. He says it`s a matter of, excuse me, principle.

We`ll talk to a former president of a group opposed to the deal who quit
because he now supports the agreement, the nuclear deal with Iran.

Plus, new reporting on the 2016 race. Democratic sources tell NBC News
today that Joe Biden is not ready to challenge Hillary Clinton for the
Democratic nomination. We`ll get to that biggie with the roundtable
tonight, so stick with us for that. Biden is fascinating.

And it`s clown car Tuesday, of course, and tonight, Jeb Bush is behind the
wheel. He says taking out Saddam Hussein was a good deal, even if it cost
200,000 lives and it gave Iran control of Iraq and led to the creation of
ISIS. Great deal for all of us.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the historic fact that things actually happen
in American politic that are not always rational, not always smart, not
even necessarily sane.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton took questions from the press out in Las Vegas
today, and she defended her use of e-mail while she was secretary of state
in a tough exchange with reporters. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: The FBI believes that you tried to wipe the entire server. Did
you try to wipe the entire -- so there would be no e-mail, no personal, no
official, wipe the whole thing?

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well,
my personal e-mails are my personal business, right? So I -- so we went
through a painstaking process and turned over 55,000 pages of anything we
thought could be work-related.

Under the law, that decision is made by the official. I was the official.
I made those decisions. And as I just said, over 1,200 of the e-mails have
already been deemed not work-related. So that`s all I can say.

QUESTION: Did you try to wipe the whole server?

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: I`m -- you know, I don`t -- I have no idea. That`s why we turned
it over.

QUESTION: But you were in charge of it. You were the official in charge.
Did you wipe the server?

CLINTON: Well, like with a cloth or something?

QUESTION: I don`t know.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Did you try to wipe the whole server?

CLINTON: I don`t know how it works digitally at all.

MATTHEWS: We`ll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: The agreement that has been reached
failed to achieve the one thing it was set out to achieve. It failed to
stop Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state at a time of its choosing.
In fact, it authorizes and supports the very road map Iran will need to
arrive at its target.

I have looked into my own soul, and my devotion to principle may once again
lead me to an unpopular course. But if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb,
it will not have my name on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was New Jersey senator Bob
Menendez, the indicted lawmaker who faces huge legal bills on corruption
charges. According to "The New York Times," his legal defense fund
includes support, quote, "from some of the country`s most prominent pro-
Israeli billionaires," including Sheldon Adelson. Menendez is one of two
Senate Democrats to oppose the Iran deal.

Despite some loud opposition to the agreement, it`s unlikely opponents can
get enough anti-Obama votes to override a presidential veto, as Senate
majority leader Mitch McConnell conceded this week.

And three more Democrats have announced their support just now for the
deal. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, both
Democrats, and Senator Maisy Hirono of Hawaii, also a Democrat.

Also today, a nonpartisan group of arms control and nuclear proliferation
experts backed the deal, calling it a net plus for international nuclear
nonproliferation efforts.

Meanwhile, one of the most prominent groups opposed to the deal suffered an
embarrassing defection, its president. According to "The New York Times,"
quote, "When the bipartisan advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran
decided last week to mobilize opposition against the nuclear deal with
Tehran, Gary Samore knew he could no longer serve as its president. The
reason, after long study, Mr. Samore, a former nuclear adviser to President
Obama, had concluded that the accord was in the United States` interest."

Gary Samore joins me, along with Valerie Plame, a former CIA undercover
officer who specialized in weapons -- well, in nuclear weapons. She signed
today`s letter supporting the agreement.

Mr. Samore, thank you very much.

Give us your story, your account of when you decided to break with those
opposed to this agreement.

GARY SAMORE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER ON ARMS CONTROL: Well, after the
agreement was announced in mid-July, I took a couple of weeks to study it,
weigh up the strengths and the weaknesses.

And I concluded, after looking at it, that the agreement, while not
perfect, certainly, was acceptable in terms of preventing Iran from
building nuclear weapons for at least 15 years.

MATTHEWS: The opponents of the agreement, those who don`t agree with
President Obama, and including obviously Chuck Schumer and now Menendez,
who has a couple of motives, I think, here, it`s fair to say, they say that
they can -- you could get a better deal -- Bob Corker, who is not a bad
guy, from Tennessee, we can get a better deal.

I wondered how that argument works to someone like you. Can we go back to
the table, get a table somewhere, whether it`s Geneva or New York or
wherever, and getting together all these people from all these countries,
including China and Russia, not exactly the Bobbsey Twins, bring them all
together with us, and the people from Iran, and cut a better deal?

I`m just asking, who believes that that`s feasible or plausible? Does
anybody really believe that, or is that a red herring?

SAMORE: I think people genuinely believe it, but I think it`s a risk,
because certainly if we reject this agreement, at least in the near term, I
think it would create disunity within the coalition that negotiated the
current agreement.

It would at a minimum lead to some erosion of sanctions. I think the
Iranians would take advantage of our rejection to unfreeze elements of
their nuclear program, and so they would advance further in terms of
bringing additional centrifuges online and so forth.

Now, at the end of the day, you might get back to the bargaining table
after some additional time and additional economic pressure, but I`m not
convinced that you would be able to negotiate a significantly better deal.

And many of the -- many of the critiques of the current agreement call for
measures that I think are probably not attainable in the absence of much
more pressure, such as a military ultimatum, which this country`s not
prepared to issue.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

I`m not even sure the hawks are willing to say that, that they`re -- oh,
yes, sign this paper or we`re going to blow you up, sort of like Luca
Brasi-style. Your signature is on the table or your brains.

I`m not sure we`re going to pull that number internationally. Anyway,
we`re not that kind of country.

Valerie, it`s great to have you on in an area which you have always been an
expert on, not how you got well known, but certainly not because of your
fault. But you were sort of outed as an agent, an undercover agent. But
you`re -- this is your specialty.

Tell us about how you have looked at it and how you look at it now, the
deal.

VALERIE PLAME WILSON, ANTI-NUCLEAR ACTIVIST: Well, good to be with you,
Chris.

As it turns out, I just came from lunch with a Nobel laureate nuclear
physicist, Murray Gell-Mann. And he`s in favor of the deal. So, that`s
good enough for me. I don`t know who is advising Senator Menendez. I
would not question his motives, but he`s wrong, because the truth is, if
this deal does not go through, it is not approved, Israel and the United
States will be isolated.

Iran will continue with its nuclear program. There will not be daily
inspections, robust verification. And, without question, as what Mr.
Samore just said, the sanctions are going to go by the wayside, maybe not
immediately, but already our allies in this, Russia and China are very, as
well as many other countries, are looking to get in and take part of the
Iranian economy.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you first, then back to Mr. Samore.

Valerie, I know you, because -- I can call you Valerie. But is this a deal
where we can use ratification? And can we actually watch this --
verification, rather. Is this something we have to trust the Iranians for
or do we have -- is it good enough we don`t have to trust them, we just
watch them, Valerie?

SAMORE: I don`t think there`s any trust.

I mean, given Iran`s track record of cheating and lying on their nuclear
program, it would be foolish to trust them. So, what I`m impressed with is
that the inspection and the monitoring system has a number of measures
which I think will improve our ability to detect efforts by Iran to cheat
and, in particular, to try to build clandestine facilities to produce
nuclear material.

That doesn`t mean you will catch everything. No inspection regime is going
to be perfect. And certainly this regime is unlikely to be able to detect
small-scale research and development activities. But in terms of major,
substantial cheating involving production of nuclear material, I think the
inspection regime is an asset.

MATTHEWS: Valerie, do you trust our ability to keep an eye on them?

PLAME WILSON: I do.

We have absolutely state-of-the-art verification inspections that are in
place and that will -- you know, will go ahead. Without question, it`s not
-- no one`s saying that this is a perfect deal, but I disagree with those
that say this is somehow overblown rhetoric that the other option is war.

It might not be right away, but ultimately that`s where the neocons, who
brought us the Iraq War, will lead us. So if this falls apart, and Iran
then will, of course, go back into their nuclear program, and the neocons,
deja vu all over again. They will say, oh, we have no choice, but we need
to go forward into war.

MATTHEWS: By the way, you don`t have to think through the neocons.

Norman Podhoretz. It`s John Bolton, people out there saying they want to
bomb now, right now. They`re doing it right in the op-ed page, their
favorite way of thinking, the op-ed page.

PLAME WILSON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Gary Samore, for joining us and for your
courage.

And, Valerie Plame Wilson, thank you again.

Up next, nearly a decade after the devastation of Katrina, we`re going to
look back at the country`s greatest storms. This is an odd one, isn`t it?
But guess who is coming to tell us about it? A great guy, Al Roker. he`s
coming here. Stick around for this. You are going to learn something
about the strange weather we have been having.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It seems extreme weather conditions are now the norm in this country. In
Washington State, there are close to 1,000 firefighters right now battling
wildfires that have consumed homes and damaged thousands of acres. And in
California, of course, there have been more than 12,000 firefighters
battling 18 active wildfires out there.

In Idaho just last week, a firenado was caught on camera as -- look at that
-- extreme conditions formed a flaming vortex that went hundreds of feet in
the air. Look at -- imagine looking at that.

And a NASA climatologist says we should we prepared for more epic weather
coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL PATZERT, CLIMATOLOGIST: It`s been building and building and building,
and at this point, it definitely looks like it`s going to be the real deal.
This potentially could be the El Nino of our generation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, the National Hurricane Center says a tropical
depression has formed in the Atlantic. If named as a storm, it will be
called Danny.

Of course, next week marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina that
wrecked the whole Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. Here`s a look back at
the cruelest victim of Katrina, the state of New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: There`s a big part of this story that you can`t pick up on
television alone. And when you come here, you get that part of the story.

And the other thing you notice is the absolute desolation. We have been
driving in here for 20 miles from the outskirts of the city and there`s no
one here. Imagine someone at a viewing when they have died and they seem
like they`re OK because they have been made up by the undertaker, but
they`re dead, they`re gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s what it felt like then.

Joining me right now is "Today Show` co-anchor Al Roker, who is author of
the new book "The Storm of the Century: Tragedy, Heroism, Survival, and the
Epic True Story of America`s Deadliest Natural Disaster: The Great Gulf
Hurricane of 1900."

Al Roker, it`s an honor to have you on, sir.

Quickly, I have got to let you talk about the hurricane of 1900, but I
obviously want to talk about climate change tonight and what`s going on in
a place like D.C., where we always like knowing it was going to be
horrendous in July and August, but at least it was predictability hot,
humid, 100-degree weather. You can`t even predict that anymore.

Tell us what is going on, but start with 1900.

AL ROKER, "THE TODAY SHOW": Well, we start with 1900.

And this was -- still to this day, it is the deadliest hurricane, natural
disaster -- forget about hurricane. This is the deadliest natural disaster
this country has ever suffered. An estimated 10,000 or more perished in a
town of 37,000 in Galveston.


And the devastation was complete. Cut off from the mainland, this sand bar
that a hundred years earlier was occupied, was a little outpost occupied by
the pirate Jean Lafitte.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROKER: And it had become one of the most prosperous cities in America.

In fact, there were more millionaires per capita in Galveston in 1900 than
there were in any other city in America, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And there were hurricane deniers back then. You`re right.

ROKER: There were.

MATTHEWS: That people, just like today, they deny climate change.

ROKER: Exactly.

They wanted -- the city fathers wanted to put up a seawall. Well, one of
the preeminent hurricane experts, Isaac Cline, who was also in charge of
the Galveston U.S. Weather Bureau, said that there was no need, that there
was a natural curve to hurricanes and that no major hurricane would hit the
Texas coast.

And, of course, unfortunately, on September 8, that was proven wrong. By
the way, Chris, National Weather Service -- National Hurricane Center now
naming Tropical Storm Danny, our fourth named tropical storm this year.
And it is expected to strengthen to hurricane strength by Thursday.

MATTHEWS: What do you say to the climate change deniers when they bother
you, bump into you somewhere, because I think you believe in the science?

(CROSSTALK)

ROKER: Yes. I say it`s -- you can deny it at your own peril, much as the
folks, the deniers in Galveston did, and 10,000 people lost their lives.

I think that the deniers are behind the science and behind most -- most
Americans. I think most -- you look at the surveys, most Americans believe
there is climate change going on. And they want something done about it.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at some of these deniers. These are among the
2016 Republican candidates who publicly deny the science you understand.

Senator Ted Cruz says he`s got the scientific data to show we shouldn`t
even be worrying about it. Here he is, Cruz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They scream you`re anti-
science when someone points out, for example, that in the last 17 years,
satellite has shown there`s been no warming whatsoever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Donald Trump says climate change...

ROKER: Well, I don`t know what data...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m going to give you more of this to feed you more of it.

Here`s Donald Trump, Al. Take a look at this guy. We have got a whole
list of these guys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s freezing all over the
country. You look at places like Texas, they`re setting record lows. And
Oklahoma, where they never had problems, they have snow.

QUESTION: Sure.

TRUMP: So what`s gone on? And it`s not the -- the hoax doesn`t bother me,
if it didn`t mean anything.

QUESTION: Now, what do you mean hoax?

TRUMP: Well, it`s a hoax. I think the scientists are having a lot of fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Jeb Bush, he`s the sophisticate. He says there`s simply a
lot of confusion on the issue. Here he is with his confusion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s convoluted. And for the people
to say the science has decided on this is just really arrogant, to be
honest with you. It`s this intellectual arrogance that now you can`t have
a conversation about it even.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Go ahead, Al.

ROKER: Well, gravity, it`s convoluted.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you something. I want to use a Rokerism here.

In our neck of the woods, our neck of the woods down here in super humid
Washington, where it used to be you take a shower in the morning, you go
outside, a hot wool blanket would be thrown over your head, and you
couldn`t breathe for two months, how come it is not exactly like that
anymore? It`s unpredictable now. What`s going on?

ROKER: Well, that`s -- see, that`s what climate change does. It creates
instability.

I mean, look, you look at what`s going on in California right now. I mean,
this is the fourth year and counting of a horrendous drought. We have got
drought right now in the Northeast. There`s drought down in Florida. And,
yes, you have got -- and, by the way, Houston set a record for 95-plus
degree days or more.

I don`t know what data Mr. Trump`s looking at. But the fact of the matter
is -- and we don`t just look at one place. You have to look at the globe
as a whole. It`s not just us. We have to look at the entire globe. And,
by the way, other countries have to do their part as well. We can`t do
this by ourselves. It has to be a global effort.

MATTHEWS: You should be president.

Thank you so much, Al Roker. You`re very impressive.

(LAUGHTER)

ROKER: Who can take the pay cut?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Don`t talk that up too much.

Anyway, Al`s book -- by the way, did you make up the phrase neck of the
woods? Was that yours?

ROKER: No. No, I did not. My grandfather used to say that. It`s, I
believe, an old colonial term. But my grandpa used to come in and say,
hey, grandson, what`s going on in your neck of the woods?

MATTHEWS: I love it, N-E-C-K, your neck of the -- find out -- I`m going to
look up what a neck of the woods is.

Anyway, Al`s book is called "The Storm of the Century." What a great book.
I think he`s taking David McCullough`s job away from him there.

Coming up: Democratic sources say Vice President Biden is not ready to run
in 2016. Well, that`s new reporting on the subject. We will have that
next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

As we`ve been reporting here on HARDBALL -- Vice President Joe Biden has
been thinking about jumping into the 2016 presidential race for the
nomination. But today, NBC News` Kristen Welker report that multiple
people around the White House say it`s unlikely that Biden will run. A
Democratic strategist familiar with the thinking inside the White House
says while the vice president is reaching out to allies and supporters, he
does not seem to be putting together the ground game or actually taking the
concrete steps that one would take to launch an actual bid for the White
House.

So, last night, CNN reported there are concerns inside the White House
about a possible Joe Biden candidacy.

Meanwhile, an important newspaper in South Carolina is pushing the V.P. to
run. The editorial from "The Post and Courier" last weekend, "Run, Joe,
Run."

Well, time now for the roundtable to take a look at the facts. Steven
McMahon is a Democratic strategist, Anne Gearan is a political
correspondent with "The Washington Post", and Jason Johnson is a radio talk
show host and contributor to NBCNews.com.

OK, Anne, you first -- the facts, what do we know from inside and around
the White House about this Biden boomlet or bomb -- is it a trial balloon,
or what is it?

ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, clearly, there`s been a trial
balloon, but it`s a different thing or --

MATTHEWS: Hunter put it up, his son put it up, did Mike Donilon put it?

GEARAN: And lots -- right, lots of people who are --

MATTHEWS: I`m asking you, who put it up?

DAVID MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: All of the above?

GEARAN: Yes, right, exactly, all of the above.

Biden has a circle of devoted loyalists, many of whom would like to see him
run. We have no indication from our reporting apparently, from Kristen`s
excellent reporting as well, that President Obama is among them. I think
if the president wanted his vice president to be his anointed successor, we
would know that by now. There`s absolutely no indication that`s the case.

MATTHEWS: OK. What are his people loyal to Obama trying to do? Are
trying to do to kill the buzz or kill the prospects? Because you can stop
people from talking about it. Does that stop Joe from running if you stop
people from talking about it?

GEARAN: No, I don`t think you can stop Joe Biden from doing anything.
And, certainly, Obama can`t be seen to be squelching this, right? However,
he`s not encouraging it either.

MATTHEWS: Is he afraid this will hurt Hillary?

GEARAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: If Joe runs?

GEARAN: Yes. And Hillary has clearly been selected as the most viable
vessel for the Obama legacy.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Was there ever a deal -- here`s a great question. Was there
ever a deal -- when Hillary gave that wonderful speech in 2008 when she
left the campaign, it was more than just, "gee, whiz, I lost, I guess the
other guy won." It was warm, wonderful, it was even powerful.

And I didn`t know then but I always like to think about this thing. Was
she promised secretary of state at that time or was she promised something
like it? Was there a hint-hint? And this time around, did he -- or maybe
back then, did he promise it was her turn next?

GEARAN: Well, she certainly was not promised secretary of state. That
actually came as a surprise.

MATTHEWS: Was she promised it`s her turn next?

GEARAN: We would love to know, wouldn`t we? I think a lot of people think
that`s true. I don`t know if my own reporting that it`s true.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s why I asked. I don`t know the answer.

Steve?

MCMAHON: So, I talk to people who are present in the first Obama
administration and asked them because a curiosity to me why is it that
there`s so much of the Obama machinery that moves so quickly and seamlessly
to Hillary? And why did nobody even --

MATTHEWS: This time around.

MCMAHON: Yes, but started moving six years ago. And why did no one even
consider Joe Biden. You know what they said? Nobody thought Biden was
going to run. Everybody loves Joe Biden. Everybody thought he would be a
great president. Everybody inside there believes he`s been one of the best
vice presidents a president could have.

MATTHEWS: What`s the age difference, five or six years?

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: Between the two of them, four years.

And nobody thought he would run. Now they`re sitting back there, geez, we
always liked Joe.

MATTHEWS: Did he think he would run? Do we know whether he had ever ruled
it out? I think Dick Cheney probably ruled it out.

JASON JOHNSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don`t think you could ever rule it
out. When you finally get this close after so many times of trying, I
don`t think you can ever rule it out. And honestly, I think it would
actually help. Hillary needs some real competition. I don`t think she`s
going to do well in this primary just steamrolling over everybody. I think
a Joe Biden --

MATTHEWS: Is that what you call this process, steamrolling?

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: She`s marching over everybody.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think one argument you make there is he has ran twice
before. Once a long time ago and once more recently. As Gene McCarthy
(ph), one of my heroes, once said, it`s easier to run for president than to
stop.

I probably said that too often, but it`s true.

MCMAHON: Well, I used to work for Senator Kennedy.

MATTHEWS: He ran.

MCMAHON: He ran. And once you believe you might be president, you believe
you should be president, it`s not something that goes away. Joe Biden
still wants to be president, believes he should be, like Mitt Romney. It`s
a dream that`s difficult to let go off.

MATTHEWS: Very close to that presidential chair. I mean, Hillary probably
sat in it a few times. Joe probably did when he`s not around.

Anyway, it`s only next door to his office.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, well, it`s clown
car Tuesday. You know that?

And driven today by of all people, Jeb Bush with Carly Fiorina riding
shotgun. All the Republicans are acting a bit wacko these days.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary Clinton has broken with the Obama administration
on a new decision to drill in the arctic. Clinton tweeted this morning,
the Arctic is a unique treasure. Given what we know now, it`s not worth
the risk of drilling.

Well, that statement comes a day after the Obama administration announced
it would allow Shell Oil Company to drill for gas and oil in the Arctic
Ocean. Environmental groups, of course, have come out against the White
House decision.

By the way, the former secretary of state has yet to take a position on the
controversial Keystone Pipeline.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Steve, Anne, Jason.

Well, it`s clown car Tuesday, of course, because it`s Tuesday.

And leading the convoy today, and it is a convoy, Jeb Bush of all people,
the sanest among them.

Anyway, the former Republican front-runner -- former -- is again defending
his brother W`s decision to invade Iraq. And this time he`s calling the
disastrous war a good deal. Here he was at a national security forum in
Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MODERATOR: Isn`t it also the case that had we not invaded Iraq in the
first place we wouldn`t be dealing with this ISIS problem?

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, who knows? It`s such a
complicated hypothetical. Who knows? I can`t answer that I`ll tell you
taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, you have to wonder just in the Bush house, just where
there`s reasonable people like the old man, and Scowcroft and Jim Baker,
reasonable people have conversations. He asks like they`ve never had it.
That`s not a hypothetical. We`ve been arguing for the last 15 years
whether he should have gone to war. I was against it, he was for it, he`s
still for it but I can`t believe he`s bragging on it.

Why is he saying it`s great -- 200,000 people are dead now, 4,000 Americans
are dead. We have given Iran Iraq. We`ve blown up, we`ve given the entire
officer corps of Iraq to ISIS. These are facts. And he`s saying I think
it`s a pretty good deal.

JOHNSON: It`s cowardice. It`s plain old cowardice and it`s a bad
strategy.

And at the end of the day, look --

MATTHEWS: You mean cowardice because he`s afraid of the right?

JOHNSON: Cowardice, he`s afraid of the right, and you mentioned family.
He needs to have like that Godfather moment, he needs to take the old
brother on the lake and say, "Look, we got to separate."

MATTHEWS: You mean Fredo?

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: He has to treat him like Fredo. At the end of the day, if he
doesn`t separate, he can`t win this primary. He`s not going to win a
general election.

MATTHEWS: When Fredo was praying Hail Mary when he --

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: You have to separate. You have to give him the kiss and break
away or it won`t work.

MATTHEWS: Oh my God.

Anyway, Carly Fiorina has leveled the harshest attacks on Hillary Clinton
of any of the Republican candidates calling her untrustworthy,
unaccomplished and calling her a liar and she sure did at the Republican
debate.

But "BuzzFeed" today uncovered a 2008 video of Fiorina as a surrogate for
John McCain and when she praises Clinton. Here she is and here`s the clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have great admiration for her
because I know what it takes in some small measure to do what she has done.
She is obviously incredibly intelligent, focused, tough, determined,
empathetic of all the tens of millions of people that she was trying to
represent in her quest to become the first woman president of the United
States. And as a woman I take great pride in the fact that Hillary Clinton
ran for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, she`s no part of the sisterhood of the pantsuit or
whatever it is. She`s wonderful there and now she`s terrible.

What do you call her now? What is this about, this breakup?

GEARAN: Well, I mean, it`s politics, right?

MATTHEWS: Of course.

GEARAN: What`s really funny to me is that her spokeswoman was saying, "Oh,
you know, she doesn`t really remember saying that". Apparently, she said
it like eight times.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t video great?

GEARAN: It`s fantastic. And there`s actually a quote from Carly Fiorina
about how great Hillary Clinton is on the wall in the Clinton headquarters
and Carly Fiorina`s --

MATTHEWS: I don`t know, it doesn`t surprise me. It does somewhat depress
me. When you build somebody up that much, stick with them forever, at
least a couple years.

MCMAHON: It isn`t very often that one piece of footage can be both a
primary and a general election ad and that footage can be both.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Great to have you on. Steve McMahon, I guess Biden
isn`t running according to this crowd. Anne Gearan and Jason Johnson.

When we return, let me finish with the historic fact that things actually
happen in American politics that aren`t always rational, not always smart
and not even necessarily sane.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the police for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight where I began. I`m going through what
most of you are going through right now -- a bit of wonder. We know on the
facts not to take Donald Trump seriously.

On the fact, he`s told us, for example, that the president of the United
States was born in some far off country, that his mother baked up his Iowa
birth certificate as a pineapple pie to confuse those who might come
sniffing around. Yes, it was part of this woman`s plan along with marrying
a guy from Kenya and naming the kid Barack Hussein Obama to make her son
president of the United States.

So, on the facts, at least the facts of national American politics and at
least people who put a great deal of importance in getting the facts
straight, Donald Trump has not made a great first impression. That said, I
have loved following American politics all these years for two reasons --
one, you can learn enough to know the patterns of the thing, the ways
people get ahead in this business, how they make alliances that bring them
into power, how they deal with enemies, how they make deals and make big
names for themselves.

So, there is an art if not a science of the business of getting yourself
elected and keeping power. But there`s this other thing, this wondrous
fact that occasionally people don`t do what they`re used to doing -- like
when the Republicans start acting like Democrats now and have a wild free-
for-all for their presidential nomination or when the Democrats begin now
to act like Republicans simply asking whose turn it is. Well, yes, the
wild does happen, like it did in 1964 when the Republicans picked Barry
Goldwater over the nationally popular Nelson Rockefeller. Like in 1972
when the Democrats picked George McGovern over the much-admired Edmund
Muskie.

So before the masters of the political guild rule Mr. Trump out of power or
out of order, think about the historic fact that things actually happen in
American politics that are not always rational, not always smart, not even
necessarily sane.

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.
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