updated 9/21/2015 8:19:43 AM ET 2015-09-21T12:19:43

Show: HARDBALL
Date: September 18, 2015
Guest: Steve Israel, Stephanie Armour, Jonathan Allen, Janice Min, Ted
Johnson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump blows it.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles.

Donald Trump should have cut his losses. He should have dumped this
birther thing when the president released his Hawaiian birth certificate.
He should have done it last night, when he had a really fat chance to do
it. He didn`t. He didn`t take it back before. He didn`t take it back
last night. And now he has to live with it.

If the president of the United States is a usurper, someone who snuck
into this country, falsely claimed the identity of someone born in
Honolulu, pretended to have gone to schools he didn`t attend, if he`s a
21st century phantom who`s conned his way into the Oval Office through
identity theft, that would be quite a story.

And if Donald Trump truly or even partially believes that story, he
should either come forth with his evidence or recant his claim here and
now. To keep this conspiracy theory of his floating out there, playing
into the minds of those who can`t accept Barack Obama as our president, is,
I would still like to think, below him, below anyone who cares about our
democracy and our country.

"Let Me Start" with that one tonight. By the way.

Here was the first question Trump took from the crowd of supporters
last night in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK, this man. I like this
guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) from White Plains. Amen. OK? We
have a problem in this country. It`s called Muslims. We know our current
president is one.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know he`s not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Birth certificates and...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway, we have training camps growing where
they want to kill us. That`s my question. When can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We`re going to be looking at a lot of different things. And
you know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying
that bad things are happening out there. We`re going to be looking at that
and plenty of other things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it shouldn`t be that surprising that someone at the
Trump rally is claiming the president`s a Muslim. In the past, Trump
himself has suggested the same thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: People have birth certificates. He doesn`t have a birth
certificate. Now, he may have one, but there`s something on that birth --
maybe religion, maybe it says he`s a Muslim. I don`t know. Maybe he
doesn`t want that. Or he may not have one. But I will tell you this. If
he wasn`t born in this country, it`s one of the great scams of all time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. But I don`t think that`s the case.

TRUMP: Well, I mean, you don`t but I`m starting to think...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And of course, Trump was the most vocal champion of the so-
called birther movement, which he has yet to disavow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate? And you know what?
I wish he would because I think it`ll a terrible pall that`s hanging over
him. He should show his birth certificate.

If he has a birth certificate, he should release it.

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

Let me tell you, I`m a really smart guy. I was a really good student
at the best school in the country. The reason I have a little doubt, just
a little, is because he grew up and nobody knew him. Nobody ever comes
forward. Nobody knows who he is until later in his life. It`s very
strange.

Whether or not that was a real certificate -- because a lot of people
question -- it I certainly question it. But Hillary Clinton wanted it,
McCain wanted it and I wanted it. He didn`t do it for them. He did it for
me. So in one sense, I`m proud of it. Now all we have to do is find out
whether or not it was real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You sent investigators out to Hawaii to find out
whether or not Obama -- which you said was not born here.

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And turned out to not be true.

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: According to you, it`s not true. I don`t know. You know...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He released his birth certificate.

TRUMP: You know, if you believe that, that`s fine. I don`t care.
It`s an old subject.

Whether he did or not, who knows. A lot of people don`t agree with
you on that, by the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I am joined right now by the HuffingtonPost`s global
editorial director, Howard Fineman, Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" David Corn and MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid.

I want all three of you -- starting with Howard, then David, then Joy.
What do you make of this guy`s refusal to take the opportunity he was
handed last night to move on and say, OK, he`s an American, let`s stop
that? Instead, he played right into that crowd and to that guy`s
prejudices. Your thoughts, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL
ANALYST: Well, faced with the choice between correcting himself and saying
that he was wrong or plunging ahead further into the thicket that he
created to begin with, he chose the latter.

I think if you look at that video, you see he wished that he could
maybe go on to another topic, but he is suffering the consequences of the
world and the issue that he created. And that`s where he is.

MATTHEWS: David, it was original sin in my religion. He created
himself. He became a national political phenomenon on this issue, just
remember. And he can`t say, Well, that`s how I got started, but I don`t
believe it anymore. I guess he is caught. Your thoughts.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he`s --
well, he`s caught because also, 54 percent -- 54 percent of Republicans
nationwide in a poll say they believe the president is a Muslim. One third
of Republicans in Iowa who are likely caucus-goers say that they believe
the president was born in Kenya and he`s not an American.

So one reason he doesn`t want to disavow his own actions is because
that would put him against the Republican base. This is one reason why
we`ve seen Republican after Republican after Republican play footsie with
birtherism and not come out strong. There have been very few -- John
McCain did it when he was running, but very few Republicans who have come
out and said no to this nonsense.

And now, you know, Trump -- you know, Howard says he will suffer the
consequences. I think Howard is being optimistic. I`m not sure he will
suffer many consequences for not telling that guy, You are wrong, sir.

MATTHEWS: Joy?

JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And you know, I find it really
interesting that we have now returned to the original bigotry of Donald
Trump. It was...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: It preceded his bigotry against Hispanic Americans because
remember, during that time, when he was pandering to the fevered right-wing
base, he also said that President Obama was simply clearly not smart enough
to have gone to Harvard law school, playing into this idea that this black
man can`t possibly have been smart enough to be the law review president
and that he doesn`t belong in the White House.

And I think in order for Donald Trump to have refuted this person who
asked him that question at the rally, the question would have had to have
sounded absurd to him. But it didn`t sound absurd to him because, as you
said, the reason that David Corn`s figures are correct, that so many
Republicans believe this nonsense about the president being born in Kenya,
is because prominent figures who were well known to them supported the idea
that he did so, and Donald Trump was probably the most prominent among
them.

He was an original birther, and he can`t walk away from it now because
it is part of his persona. He is a rich crank running for president. And
some of these cranks believe that the president was born in another
country.

MATTHEWS: I want to (INAUDIBLE) you this for a moment here because I
always get this job, but I want to take this job with joy. You know, this
racial aspect to this crap, it always comes down to this charge, Well, he
must have been head of the Harvard Law Review because of Affirmative
Action. And there`s a little factoid that the racists ought to remember
and get into their heads. It was a blind review. He got the job because
he had the best -- he had the best application for it, the best on paper.
Nobody knew what his ethnic background was. And just -- he was the best.
That`s how he got the job.

Number two -- help me with this one, Joy. What did it mean to say
that the people in school he claimed to have gone to school with don`t
remember him?

REID: Right.

MATTHEWS: This is the phantom part of it, that he was some one of
these names that was created out of nowhere. All you guys can -- this is
an amazing conspiracy theory.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: IT`s not that he lied about his birth records, it`s that
he`s not the person who supposedly went through high school, college and
all these places he went to. He was not there.

REID: That`s right. Remember...

MATTHEWS: What is that accusation? Please -- I want to get back to
Howard because I`ve talking to you for years. I want to get how your mind
works on this thing. How do we put our minds around a charge...

FINEMAN: Why stop now? Right.

MATTHEWS: ... that a guy was not him? Your thoughts, Joy.

FINEMAN: Well, it...

MATTHEWS: First.

REID: Well, no, you remember that there was even efforts put in to
travel to Kenya to try to sort out the mystery of this non-person whose
mother, you know, was lying about where and when she was pregnant, who was
just an invented personage designed to trick the American people into
putting a Manchurian candidate into the White House.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: You have people that actually believe this madness, and now you
have one of them who`s being taken seriously as a potential president of
the United States.

But remember, African-Americans have known Donald Trump a lot longer
than the rest of America has because we go back to him wanting to put to
death five young black and Hispanic boys who were wrongly accused of rape
in the Central Park jogger case. And he took out a full-page ad saying
they should be executed. They were later exonerated.

And he`s been making racist cracks for many, many years. And it was
only -- it`s only now that he`s being noticed by everyone else. But you
know what? Now he`s at 30 percent in the polls.

MATTHEWS: Howard, how do you figure this theory? Just how wide is
this theory that the guy is, in fact, a phantom? I don`t know -- I don`t
know of a better word for it. It`s going to go in the history books some
day, 20 or -- an asterisk, never really was president.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris...

MATTHEWS: Never was Barack Obama. Just didn`t happen.

FINEMAN: Right. There are two versions of the fear and the race
consciousness that Joy`s been talking about. One of them is flat-out, you
know, We don`t want a black man in the White House. And there`s a lot of
that.

The other is, for a lot of people around the country, he just doesn`t
compute. I mean, and you -- and they have to find a sort of extra --
extra-logical, extraterrestrial almost explanation for...

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: ... something that they just simply -- that frightens them,
but they can`t understand. There has to be something wrong. It couldn`t
have happened this way. A guy with these credentials and these brains and
this skill -- it can`t be, somehow.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.

FINEMAN: And I think -- and so it`s either the act of old-fashioned,
good old-fashioned race hatred, or it`s this kind of weird -- it`s
unexplained. It`s too mysterious for words. And that`s just as corrosive
politically.

Let me also say, whatever else about -- you want to say about Donald
Trump on this thing, and that he can survive anything and David may be
right that, you know, he`ll surmount this, too.

It doesn`t work to be known as a bigot when you`re trying to become
president of the United States. You can get a following. You can stir up
-- you can anger (ph) up the blood, as others used to say. I don`t think
you can become president of the United States as a known outfront bigot of
the kind that Donald Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be.

CORN: Well, the question -- the question is whether you can become
the GOP presidential nominee as a bigot. And you know, there`s, you know,
maybe a third, quarter, half chance, one out of two chances, that Donald
Trump might get that far.

And this is -- you know, we`re talking about him as a crank and a
bigot. But the whole strategy for the last eight years has been for
Republicans and conservatives to depict Barack Obama as the other.

Those who don`t go into birtherism say he doesn`t really get America.
He doesn`t believe in American exceptionalism. You know, John Sununu said
that when -- during the Romney campaign. Others have come about it at more
subtle ways, but the bottom line is that this guy ain`t one of us. He
doesn`t really believe in America. He doesn`t care about America.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

CORN: He may want to destroy America. And that goes much wider than
the birther base that Donald Trump is trying to appeal to.

MATTHEWS: And the regular guy on the barstool tonight after four or
five beers is going to say -- Friday night -- is going to say, You know,
that guy`s got a lot of money. He must have something.

REID: He must know something.

MATTHEWS: There must be something to this thing.

Anyway, a number of Republicans have called out Trump for his lack of
a response last night. They said he should have acted differently. Let`s
watch some people take him on here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I suspect that if he gets
that question again, that`s exactly what he`ll do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you (INAUDIBLE) Would you (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: I think I would, yes.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if somebody
at one of my town hall meetings said something like that, I would correct
them and say, No, the president`s a Christian and he was born in this
country. I mean, I -- I think those two things are self-evident.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You had a chance
here to show who you were. You know, this happens to all of us. It
happened to John McCain. You know, you`ve got to push back. We`re trying
to be the leader of a nation here. And you got people like this in every
country and every party, and it`s a chance for you to display your
character. And we`re looking for a leader who will push back against this
kind of hateful stuff on both sides of the aisle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Good for Lindsey. Anyway, this afternoon, Ted Cruz was
asked about the Trump controversy. He answered, well, this way. He
actually refused to answer. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand the press
wants to get Republicans throwing rocks at each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Obama a Muslim?

CRUZ: You know, President Obama`s faith is between him and God. What
I can tell you is this. The president`s policies over the last six, six-
and-a-half years have done enormous damage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was a direct answer, wasn`t it, Howard. That
really cleared this whole baby up. Why -- is Cruz still playing Slim
Pickins riding this Trump rocket all the way down? Is this -- it`s just
right out of "Dr. Strangelove." And does he know it`s going to explode
when it hits the ground, or is he just deliriously wanting to ride this
guy? He won`t say a word against him, no matter what he says.

FINEMAN: Well, may as well use a NASCAR analogy since we`re talking
about Texas and Ted Cruz. He`s drafting. He`s in the slipstream of Donald
Trump.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And he`s being pulled along by the vacuum of Donald Trump.
And that`s exactly what he`s doing.

CORN: But what he wants, too...

REID: But even...

CORN: You know, if Trump, you know, crashes and burns, which I don`t
think is necessarily going to happen, but if that happens, those voters
who`ve been whipped up by Donald Trump have to go somewhere else. Ted Cruz
is positioning himself to be the next best thing for them. That`s why he
won`t say word one against him.

REID: Chris, you know, and I think the thing is, it says some things
about Donald Trump because it reminds me a lot of the Palin rallies, when
Sarah Palin was whipping up I think really much the same base and people
were screaming, Off with his head, and just madness at her rallies, and she
wasn`t saying anything. And until John McCain sort of found his voice and
found his dignity, really, and refuted that woman who said that Barack
Obama is a Muslim -- as if there`s something wrong with being a Muslim, by
the way...

MATTHEWS: Oh, I know that part. But you know the way it`s used.
It`s used as a negative.

REID: Right, and it`s (INAUDIBLE) Exactly. But I think, again, it`s
not just Donald Trump. It`s the party. The Republican Party has used this
kind of conspiracy mongering and whipping up resentment and hatred against
people of color for many, many decades. They`ve done it through their
media, through talk radio, through the Web. Remember Glenn Beck said
Barack Obama hates white people and the white culture?

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s...

REID: He said that. He said that on TV. So the thing is that...

MATTHEWS: Who said that?

REID: Glenn Beck did. And it`s...

MATTHEWS: Well, he doesn`t matter. Let me tell you something. There
are a lot of Muslim Americans...

REID: They`ve been doing it, and...

MATTHEWS: ... who are good Americans...

REID: ... they`re stuck with it. They`re stuck with it.

MATTHEWS: ... as good as us or better than the four of us. And it`s
horrible that this is used as some sort of card to use against a
politician.

Thank you all for joining us. Have a good weekend, everybody,
Howard...

REID: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... David and Joy.

Coming up -- how far will Republicans in Congress go to defund their
new enemy, Planned Parenthood? The hard right is at war with its
leadership right now. It`s threatening a government shutdown, which they
love to do. In fact, top Republican presidential candidates are pushing
hard for that shutdown. And Democrats -- I hate to say this -- are
giggling over it, watching Republicans unravel in this fit of dysfunction
again.

Plus, Hillary Clinton is sending a not so subtle signal to rivals
Bernie Sanders and -- catch this -- Joe Biden. She`s signing up
endorsements from Vermont and New Hampshire and throwing an elbow at Vice
President Biden over a credit card issue.

And it`s Emmy time this weekend, and the big political shows, "House
of Cards,` "Homeland," "Veep" and "The Good Wife" could be big winners.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with what happened out here this week and
what really didn`t.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, earlier this week, I was lucky to interview Bill
Maher to preview the Republican debate this weekend. Tonight, I`ll be a
guest on Bill`s show, "Real Time." I`ll be on the roundtable with
Univision`s Jorge Ramos, presidential candidate George Pataki and Dallas
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. That`s at 10:00 o`clock tonight Eastern on
HBO.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The battle lines are being drawn
on the upcoming political showdown over Planned Parenthood. Today, House
Republicans passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood for one year unless
the organization certifies that it will not perform abortions.

While the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, it`s called, is
expected to be blocked by Democrats over in the Senate, it does foreshadow
what many expect to be a messy budget fight this year which could result in
another government shutdown this October 1st.

President Obama threatened to veto any bill that killed funding for
Planned Parenthood, but hard-line Republicans like Ted Cruz have vowed to
oppose any government funding bill that extends funding to Planned
Parenthood.

Cruz is encouraging his party to follow suit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Obama`s
committed to his principles. His liberal principles, he will fight for
them. He says...

QUESTION: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: ... I will veto any budget that doesn`t fund Planned
Parenthood, and Republicans surrender. We need to stop surrendering and
start standing...

QUESTION: Thank you...

CRUZ: ... for our principles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in an interview yesterday, Democratic presidential
candidate Hillary Clinton defended Planned Parenthood and warned against
the prospect of another government shutdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What this is
about is the fact that some of the Planned Parenthood facilities perform
abortions, which is legal.

I think it deserves not only our support, but the continuing funding
from the federal government. I would hope that the Republicans, and
particularly the Republicans in the House led by Speaker John Boehner,
would not put our country and our economy in peril pursuing some kind of
emotionally, politically charged partisan attack on Planned Parenthood to
shut our government down.

I think that would be a very, very unfortunate decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman Steve Israel of
New York.

Steve, thank you for joining us.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, what are the Republicans up to? Because it is
clear that the president will never go along with this attempt to defund
it. But we`re going to have a shutdown, it looks like.

ISRAEL: Well, now we know why Republicans are at their lowest job
approval in history, which is hard to beat.

You watch the presidential debates, the Republican presidential
debates, you say they are crazy. You watch what they are doing on the
floor of the House today and over the next 10 days, and you say they are
crazy.

It is very simple. I support a woman`s right to go to Planned
Parenthood for health care. Some people don`t support that. You can
support Planned Parenthood, you can oppose Planned Parenthood. They are
willing to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood. And that is
fundamentally wrong.

And, Chris, I`ll break it down for you. Why are they doing this?
Because they are in a civil war, because the right-wing lunatics in the
Republican Caucus are saying to the speaker of the House, if you fund the
government, and that includes funding for Planned Parenthood, we not only
will bring the government down, we`re going to bring you down, we will
depose you.

So, this is a result of a civil war that the Republicans are fighting.
I wish they would fight more for people`s paychecks and less over their
extreme ideology.

MATTHEWS: Well, they are not all united completely, because Kelly
Elotte -- Ayotte, rather, from New Hampshire, she`s a Republican senator,
wrote a letter to Senator Ted Cruz just yesterday asking him whether he has
any plan to avoid another politically damaging government shutdown, like
the one in October of 2013.

It reads -- quote -- "During the last government shutdown, I
repeatedly asked you what your strategy was for success, when we did not
have the votes to achieve the goal of defunding Obamacare. But I did not
receive an answer. I`m now again asking this question and would appreciate
your sharing your strategy for success with all of us before any damaging
government shutdown becomes imminent."

Congressman, I remember -- and you know better than I -- that
shutdowns are not popular even among regular Republicans. And, by the way,
isn`t Planned Parenthood fairly popular in the country as a whole? I
thought it was.

ISRAEL: Well, it is.

And shutdowns should not be popular. The problem is -- I respect the
fact that Senator Ayotte sent a letter. What she needs to do is stop the
shutdown. Two years ago, they did the same play. And I was on your show
and others. And people were saying, will they actually shut down the
government in 2013?

I said, I don`t believe they are really going to go that far. And
guess what? They did. Veterans went without checks. Parks were closed.
Social Security recipients were nervous about whether they would get their
checks. They did it before. They are on track to do it again because they
are right-wing ideologues who are willing to bring down the government over
their civil war against Speaker Boehner and over the prospect of a woman
getting fundamental health care at Planned Parenthood.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

U.S. Congressman Steve Israel, thanks for joining us on this hot...

ISRAEL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: It looks like we`re previewing another big shutdown.

Anyway, Carly Fiorina was the big victor in Wednesday night`s debate,
people said, in part because she scored a huge applause line against
Planned Parenthood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As regards Planned
Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton,
Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the
table, it`s heart beating, it`s legs kicking while someone says we have to
keep it alive to harvest its brain.

This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up
in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s a horrendous story. Did it ever happen?

Yesterday, ABC`s George Stephanopoulos strongly challenged Fiorina`s
recounting of that. Let`s watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Sarah Kliff actually, in writing in
Vox, watched all 12 hours, and she concluded: "Either Fiorina hasn`t
watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting
the footage, because what she says happens in the Planned Parenthood videos
simply does not exist."

FIORINA: Rest assured, I have seen the images that I talked about
last night. Rest assured that human lives are being aborted fully formed
in order to harvest body parts.

Rest assured that this erodes at the character of our nation. And
once again, I will say I dare Mrs. Clinton and President Obama to --
defenders of Planned Parenthood -- to watch these videotapes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, fact-checkers at also looked at Fiorina`s comments
and they rated them mostly false.

And "The Wall Street Journal" spelled it more plainly in their
headline, "At Debate, Carly Fiorina Described Scenes Not in the Abortion
Videos."

Well, I am joined right now by the author of that article, the
reporter, Stephanie Armour of "The Wall Street Journal," as well as by
Jonathan Allen of Vox.

Both of you, let me just get one fact straight. Is it possible that
Carly Fiorina is telling the truth, that she did see pictures of that fetus
with its legs kicking and its heart beating on a table somewhere? Did she
see such a picture? Is that possible, Stephanie?

STEPHANIE ARMOUR, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": There is on the video
that the anti-abortion group made, as well as video that her campaign staff
pointed me to and said that she was referring to, that does show a fetus in
a bowl with a leg kicking.

However, there is no evidence that it is being kept alive to have its
brain tissue harvested. In fact, the image itself is cited as coming from
a third party. So, it may not -- there is no evidence that this fetus that
they showed came from Planned Parenthood.

As well, there is another image of a fetus that comes from a third-
party anti-abortion group, and it appears that that image came from the Web
site of a woman who had a stillbirth at 17 weeks.

So there are some things that you could look at and perhaps walk away
from with some confusion or thinking that that is what is there, but that
is not actually in the video in terms of what she described.

MATTHEWS: And it`s not -- by your reporting, it`s not something that
had anything to do with Planned Parenthood?

ARMOUR: Well, in the videos that were released by the anti-abortion
group, they certainly did under cover videos at Planned Parenthood and they
certainly showed some images of post-aborted fetuses and parts, which is
difficult and graphic to see. But at the same time...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But the particular -- the particular reference she made to
a baby, a fetus, if you will, alive, kicking, breathing on a table, there
is no evidence that that occurred at a Planned Parenthood facility, right?

ARMOUR: No, there is no evidence of that.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Let me -- hang in there.

Jonathan, your thoughts about -- your evidence, your reporting on
this, because you basically had the same report. This was not an accurate
portrayal by her of Planned Parenthood.

JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX: Well, my colleague Sarah Kliff at Vox went
through this.

Look, I think Carly Fiorina thinks she saw what she said she saw. And
I think the reason that she thinks that is because the video -- the Planned
Parenthood videos were put together in a way that was intended to confuse
the audience into thinking that.

There are these images, these stock images that were inserted into the
video that Carly Fiorina is talking about that aren`t -- that, as Stephanie
just said, don`t really match up. And so...

MATTHEWS: Well, that is propaganda.

ALLEN: Yes. Correct.

MATTHEWS: If you take something outside of Planned Parenthood and jam
it into a set of pictures from Planned Parenthood and say it is Planned
Parenthood, that is propaganda. That`s not -- that`s not the truth.

ALLEN: Correct. I think Carly Fiorina was confused by exactly what
the filmmaker intended us to be confused by, not just Carly Fiorina, but
everybody else.

ARMOUR: And the voice of the individual that is talking in the video
is a former employee of a separate company, a tissue procurement company,
about what she claimed she saw.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. I thought -- I saw that part and read that
part.

You know, it`s the thing we in journalism always seek to do is go to
primary sources and not derivatives, anyway, because these are secondary or
tertiary sources that have their own editorial agenda, which includes
primarily propaganda.

Thank you so much, Stephanie Armour, for the reporting and the
analysis.

And same with you. Have a nice weekend to you, Jonathan Allen.

Still ahead: Hillary sends a warning to Bernie Sanders and a little
elbow thrown by her at Joe Biden.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "VEEP")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I have had enough. I`m gone.

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, ACTRESS: Well, I guess she`s finished with her
little -- oh, nope. Look at that. There`s more.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You have achieved nothing...

LOUIS-DREYFUS: Uh-huh.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: .... apart from one thing. The fact that you
are a woman means we will have no more women presidents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s that time of year again in Hollywood. It`s Emmy weekend. And
that was a scene of course from HBO`s "Veep," which is nominated for
outstanding comedy, which it should be.

The Emmys will broadcast this Sunday night. And a lot of nominations
are shows about politics, anyway, the shows like "The Good Wife,"
"Homeland," "Veep" there and the popular Netflix series "House of Cards."
Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HOUSE OF CARDS")

KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: What do you want? What is the (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) alternative? Please, Claire, tell me, because I don`t understand.
All I am hearing is, it`s not enough, that the White House is not enough,
that being first lady is not enough, not enough.

ROBIN WRIGHT, ACTRESS: No. It`s you that`s not enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow.

Joining me right now for a preview of how these shows and characters
are going to do is Janice Min of "The Hollywood Reporter" and Ted Johnson
of "Variety."

That is one of the most frightening scenes, because it is about a
marriage that has gone to hell.

JANICE MIN, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Right.

MATTHEWS: And, all of a sudden, they realize they are both in hell
and they`re both burning and they just don`t like each other.

MIN: Yes. Uh-huh.

MATTHEWS: It is horrible.

MIN: Ah.

MATTHEWS: I gave you the White House. I made you first lady. I
don`t like you.

MIN: Well, isn`t that the insatiability of people in politics? A lot
of people say that, if you are in office, if you`re in that position of
power, it is never enough, that you`re power-hungry and it doesn`t die once
you`re elected. And that show exemplifies all of that.

MATTHEWS: Well, it is like Lady and Macbeth himself deciding that
they got there by killing the guy.

MIN: Totally.

MATTHEWS: And they did it with blood on both their hands. And now
they are looking at their hands. We did it this way. We are both bad, I
think.

TED JOHNSON, EDITOR AT LARGE, "VARIETY": Yes. Actually, that scene I
think capped what I didn`t think was one of the better seasons for "House
of Cards." I think that kind of made...

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: Yes. I think it was one of a hell note.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: I thought it made up for it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk politics because, for years, they did --
people in right business -- Jerry (INAUDIBLE) was in the business and all.

People would tell me, you can`t do a movie on politics. You have to
do a movie called a thriller.

MIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: But even if has to be like the "Three Days of the Condor."
It can be about politics, but it has to be a thriller. Now they just say,
no, it can be about politics, about being vice president when the president
never calls.

MIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: That is what that whole show is about.

MIN: Totally.

Well, OK, ask Roger Ailes and Jeff Zucker right now how they feel
about putting politics on TV.

MATTHEWS: Because what were the ratings Wednesday night?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Twenty-four million.

(CROSSTALK)

MIN: Yes, and probably counting.

And you look at how -- that debate on CNN. No more Malaysian
airplane. Like, this is -- it`s now the third biggest show on television
of the year, after the Oscars, after the Grammys. It will far outrank the
Emmys.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think Zucker is getting a little tired doing the
toilet overflows of Carnival line. And now he has got the real -- he has a
real story to cover.

MIN: The Oscars of the election is what he had -- what he has.

MATTHEWS: Well, we are just in the grandstands. I keep telling
everybody in this business. We`re watching the arena. But the arena is
politics for show business too.

And I want to ask you about "The Good Wife." It may not be nominated
this year, but certainly the character, Alan Cumming, is incredibly
popular.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. I actually...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: As sort of the clever political operative out in Chicago.

JOHNSON: I actually thought this was one of the standout seasons for
"The Good Wife." And I was really surprised that Julianna Margulies did
not get it. This was the season, the state`s attorney.

MATTHEWS: I was on that show.

MIN: Right.

JOHNSON: I remember that, yes.

MATTHEWS: Moderated the debate.

So what is it about politics? Are we going to see more of this with
Trump? Is Trump going to pump this thing now because has been such a big
show business of overflow into politics? Are we going to have more showbiz
about politics, funny and not so funny?

JOHNSON: Well, just imagine if Trump self-destructs and gets out of
the race, the rush to sign him up, I could even see for another prime-time
series. That`s going to be the big competition.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I like the middle-level actors, maybe because my kid is
trying to make it as an actor, and is an actor.

But I like Anna Chlumsky, last scene in "My Girl" going down to the
basement and her father is the undertaker, Dan Aykroyd, right?

MIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: And she is going downstairs. There is a body down there.
You get the -- I was a -- little kid, and now she is back as the top aide
to the vice president of the United States.

MIN: Who would have thought she would have outlasted Macaulay Culkin,
right, her co-star in "My Girl"?

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.

MIN: And it just goes to show you, some kid actors, like, you can
count them on one hand, end up with real careers.

MATTHEWS: Michael Kelly. I love Michael Kelly. What a character.
What a character on "House of Cards."

MIN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: I thought he had a breakout or a standout year as Doug
Stamper.

MATTHEWS: Revenge.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.

And I have to say, it`s a testament to these shows that the minute --
especially "House of Cards," the minute someone is becoming a little bit
sympathetic, he commits a murder, not to give away...

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: ... who haven`t watched it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Sure. But he also -- his whole goal is to win back the
trust of the master, Kevin Spacey`s character. That is so political, so
inside. You want the boss to need you.

Anyway, thank you, Janice Min.

MIN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: That`s from experience.

Ted Johnson.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: warning call. Hillary Clinton is trying to fend
off her competition. Do her moves show strength or weakness? Well, she is
getting tough, going against Bernie, going against the president.

You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. While the Republicans battle it
out, Hillary Clinton is making a swing through New Hampshire. She is
picking up key endorsements like this one today from the Granite State`s
governor, Maggie Hassan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MAGGIE HASSAN, D-N.H.: She is the right person to lead our
country and get things done. And that`s why I am so proud to endorse her
for president of the United States today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And yesterday while campaigning in New Hampshire with
neighboring Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin, Clinton reminded that audience
she is getting the backing of New Hampshire`s senior U.S. senator as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: A couple of weeks ago Jeanne Shaheen endorsed me. That
meant the world to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Clinton is ramping up her presence in the early voting
state after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders campaign started to gather
surprising strength, both nationally and in New Hampshire, where Sanders is
leading in the polls. Clinton isn`t going to give up on New Hampshire.

On her other flank, Clinton is sending some warning messages to Vice
President Biden, who is considering getting into the race. According to
the "Wall Street Journal," Clinton told New Hampshire voters in a diner
that she blamed fellow Senator Joe Biden for pressuring her to vote for a
controversial bill that credit card makers and banks wanted, that would
have made it harder for consumers to walk away from their credit card
debts. And joining me now is the HARDBALL roundtable, Heidi Przybyla of
USA Today and Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, and Sabrina Siddiqui,
who is the Guardian`s White House correspondent. Thank you all for this
Friday evening. Let me go to Heidi on this question. Who is threatening
Hillary? Who is taking away her poll numbers nationally? Let`s skip New
Hampshire for a moment.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: That is very important that you prefaced
nationally, Chris, because certainly there has been a huge and a real
populist surge behind Bernie Sanders. But if you look at the national
polls and the most recent shift away from her, it has been a very specific
segment, and that is moderate to conservative Democrats. What are they
doing? They are going to Joe Biden. We can`t ask all of them exactly why,
but we think we have a good idea of why they are starting to get cold feet
about her electability, about her ability to govern when she gets in, and
it is kind of like the continuing story of the tarnish of the e-mails. The
good news is that nationally, if you take Joe Biden out, which some people
might say is fair to do since he`s not a declared candidate, she is ahead
in the most recent polls by a whopping 30 points over Bernie Sanders
nationally.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Cornell. Same question. Are these sands
coming out of the hourglass? It seems like that kind of decline. Nothing
dramatic. Just a slow dropping of her support point by point to someone
like Biden. But if Biden is not the candidate, if he`s not a candidate,
who is that person who gets those votes or do they become dissatisfied and
support Hillary of necessity?

CORNELL BELCHER: I am going to do the unpopular thing and not say it
is time to hit the panic button on the Clinton campaign. Here is why. She
has been running 40 plus points ahead in the national polls. You are never
going to have a candidate who can maintain that. It`s not realistic for
her to run that far ahead. Of course the race is going to get more
competitive, of course it will tighten up.

But what is most interesting in the national polls is that when you
look at her favorability, it for months and months has not changed among
Democrats. So it`s not that they have become unfavorable now. I would be
worried if I was the Hillary campaign, if those core Democrats were
actually becoming unfavorable of her. But they are not. They are shopping
around because it is a very volatile electorate right now that`s shopping
around.

The other thing I am going to say and you heard her say this, Chris,
over and over in 2007, national polls don`t matter. It is a state by state
contest. It`s a state by state contest. The national results don`t
matter. What is more problematic is what is happening in New Hampshire and
Iowa.

MATTHEWS: That is an argument we could have made two or three years
ago. I`m trying to figure out what`s happening now, and it is a smart
analysis and it is true. You are teaching me how to watch an election.
That is your argument. I want to know why Joe Biden is going up. If
nothing is happening, why is Biden going up? I am going to give you
another shot at this. It is a phenomenon I`m looking at. (inaudible) 10
years ago, he is Joe Biden. We all know him. Why is he going up?

BELCHER: He is better. Chris, he is better. Joe Biden that walked
into that office with President Obama and the things he has helped
President Obama accomplish is not the Joe Biden of eight, nine years ago.
He has a track record that he can sort of sit side by side with the
president on. This is what I think is really problematic if you are the
Hillary Clinton campaign is does Biden say that I am a more valid authentic
person who can embrace the Obama coalition than Hillary Clinton can right
now? I think he can make a claim. It is also very interesting that
Hillary also put a shot out there against Biden. Clearly she thinks he`s
going to get into the race, or she wouldn`t be taking shots at it.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI: I always viewed Joe Biden as a break this glass
candidate, that in case Hillary Clinton implodes, he is there to step in.
But materially, what is really so different about Joe Biden? He is a
former senator with foreign policy experience. He is over the age of 70.
Some can argue that he has even more liabilities than Hillary Clinton not
just on bankruptcy bill but on crime legislation. Hillary Clinton`s
message is to him there is more of this where that came from.

MATTHEWS: The roundtable is staying with us. Is Donald Trump in
trouble? It`s the big question of the week. After a poor debate
performance Wednesday night, at least an uneven one, and the refusal to
stand up to a voter who called the president a Muslim and a foreigner, an
illegal immigrant basically, can Trump keep up his wondrous command of the
polls forever, or another two weeks? This is HARDBALL, the place for
politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIORINA: I think women all over this country heard very clearly what
Mr. Trump said.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

TRUMP: I think she`s got a beautiful face, and I think she`s a
beautiful woman.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: All right. On that note.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: On that note. Carly Fiorina clearly got the better of
Donald Trump in that exchange over Fiorina`s looks, if you will. At
Wednesday night`s debate. We have yet to see how Trump`s recent debate
performance and his reaction to that anti-Muslim questioner just last night
will affect him in the polls. We`re back with the roundtable, Heidi,
Cornell and Sabrina. How about a caption for the week starting with you,
Heidi, then Cornell and Sabrina. I think he has to go dirtball to hold
that 20 percent, 25 percent. He`s got to be the worst part of Donald
Trump, to hold that crowd with him, ethnically, genderwise. They like that
(inaudible) way of him, that politically incorrect style of him. That
keeps him at 20, 25. And as long as nobody else can get that amount, as
you said, Cornell, he`ll be right there ready in Iowa in February. Your
thoughts, first of all, Heidi, with that approach he`s sticking to
including the birther stuff, will it carry him through the fall?

PRZYBYLA: Absolutely. Because that was the first thought I had,
Chris, with the anti-Muslim rant that we all saw, is that`s not necessarily
at all a deal breaker with that segment of the population that he is
appealing to. So I think what did happen, though, with the debate is he`s
capped it off, because there`s certainly a whole other universe of voters
who are now going to look at him very differently, because if there`s one
thing that Republican voters writ large hate, it`s a loser. As we`ve seen
with Donald Trump`s rhetoric lately. And that`s what he came out of that
debate as. He was very stumbly. He went dark for whole segments of the
debate. And I think that what he did was made sure that there`s going to
be a hard cap on that number going forward.

MATTHEWS: Cornell?

PRZYBYLA: But of course if the establishment can`t coalesce around an
alternative, we could very well still see him.

BELCHER: I`m going to go a completely opposite direction. I don`t
think anybody laid a hand on Donald Trump in that debate. I think he did
exactly what he wanted to do. I think he`s still the reality television
star that`s bringing people in. There are people who never watched a
Republican debate before in their lives. They were tuning in to watch
Donald Trump. Not a hand laid on him. 40 percent of Republicans think the
president in fact is a Muslim. So the Muslim stuff is not going to hurt
him at all. And in fact he may gain support from it. His poll numbers are
not going to drop.

MATTHEWS: Sabrina?

SIDDIQUI: I`m going to disagree with Cornell on the debate actually.
I do think several weaknesses were exposed the other night in terms of
Donald Trump`s candidacy, his viability as an actual nominee. He didn`t
have anything substantive to say with respect to policy. Sure, for a while
his supporters aren`t going to care. But as this field narrows, as we get
to crunch time, there are going to be people who are looking more carefully
at whether the eventual nominee is at all competent on the subject of
foreign policy. We saw a very clear contrast the other night when Marco
Rubio was discussing Russia, Syria and Donald Trump had nothing coherent to
say. We also saw moments in which other candidates got the better of him
when it came to immigration policy, when it came to shutting down his
comments about speaking Spanish. So I think he came out bruised. It`s
going to take a while for it to impact his poll numbers. But yes, I think
voters will start to look at their more serious options as we get closer to
the caucuses.

MATTHEWS: Okay, guys. Consensus lower ceiling, but he`s still on the
rise. Thank you.

When we return let me finish with what happened out here this week as
I see it and what certainly did not happen. You`re watching HARDBALL, the
place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with what happened out here this week
and what didn`t. The Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan presidential
library offered feisty action and what a great audience. What it didn`t do
is show us a Republican party converging on a candidate for president.
What I saw was a band of special pleaders all singing songs to their
particular factions. Marco Rubio was like Romeo singing up to the balcony
with Sheldon Adelson up there in the role of Juliet. I`ll bet the young
senator from Florida called right after the debate, his heart beating for
the casino man`s enrapture.

I watched Ted Cruz go after the Tea Party with all the subtlety of a
crow bar. Mike Huckabee wooed the religious right as if it were Sunday
morning, and he was a mid-life Marjoe (ph). Please, show me where the
presidency stood in all this.

Bush looked like somebody hoping to become president the way Gerald
Ford won the job, by appointment. Chris Christie was great as if the
bridge scandal trials were not looming ahead, which unfortunately they are.
Those darn facts. Like Carly Fiorina, he has to deal with those darn
facts, which include the one that those gruesome images she recounted
seeing of Planned Parenthood behavior were not in fact images from Planned
Parenthood.

There was a lot of sound and fury Wednesday night, but I wonder if it
signifies anything but for the relentless race to prove who was the
angriest, who hates Hillary Clinton the most, who is most apocalyptic, most
Biblical in their fears for this country. And that`s HARDBALL for now.
Thanks for being with us. Be sure to catch me tonight on Bill Maher`s
show. It`s at 10:00 eastern on HBO. And "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts
now.

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

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