updated 10/15/2015 9:44:47 AM ET 2015-10-15T13:44:47

Show: HARDBALL
Date: October 14, 2015
Guest: Carol Lee, Steve McMahon, Reid Ribble, J.C. Watts, April Ryan,
Jonathan Allen, Ari Rabin-Havt

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hillary and Bernie -- did both win?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

And could it be that Hillary Clinton did what she had to do last
night, grabbed the Democratic mother lode? Could it also be true that
Bernie Sanders roused his troops and also used his first great national
audience to enlist many new recruits?

You`ve heard the conventional wisdom and its take on last night. The
major headlines are strong today in declaring Hillary Clinton the victor.
"The Wall Street Journal" -- "Hillary Clinton dominates first Democratic
debate." "Time" magazine -- "Hillary Clinton takes control in first
Democratic debate." "The Washington Post" reported "a self-assured
performance by Clinton in Democratic presidential debate." "The New York
Times" -- "Democratic debate turns Hillary Clinton`s way after months of
difficulties." And Politico, "Clinton crushes it."

Well, after criticizing her all night in Twitter, Donald Trump also
ruled that Clinton came out on top. Here he was with NBC`s Katy Tur today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she did her job. I
think she got through the debate. I personally thought she won the debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: But the data from social media tells an altogether
different story. It shows that Bernie Sanders attracted far more interest
during the debate. According to Google, Sanders was the most searched
candidate of the debate overall, followed by Clinton, then Webb, O`Malley
and Chafee.

Interest in Sanders`s appeared to spike every time he spoke, like when
he called for the big banks to be broken up. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, it is my
view that when you have (ph) three largest banks in America are much bigger
than they were when we bailed them out for being too big to fail, we have
got to break them up!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Facebook data also revealed that Sanders was the most
discussed candidate last night, and on Twitter, Bernie Sanders attracted
more new followers than any other candidate, gaining more than three times
as many as Hillary Clinton, according to "Time."

Joining me right now is NBC News senior political reporter Perry
Bacon, "Wall Street Journal" White House correspondent Carol Lee and
Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.

I want to start -- let`s start with Perry, my friend. I have a
slightly different view of what happened last night. What I heard last
night was Bernie Sanders blowing the trumpet loud on the rich, the
billionaires. Over and over again, he said this country is totally unequal
in the way it distributes wealth, that the wealthy at the top are screwing
the rest of us, and something has to be done about it -- very clear unitary
message.

Hillary was very smart, very prepared, extremely well. But the
message you heard last night over and over again was from Bernie, and I
thought he had a trumpet to play there last night. I think he`ll have a
lot more numbers in the next polling. We get national polling out there.

I don`t care who gets declared the winner. I think he won because
he`s built up his troops and he`s going to have a lot more numbers coming
up in the next week or two in the polling. Your thinking.

PERRY BACON, NBC SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think both of them did
well, and one reason is, for Hillary, you had two hours where you did not
talk about -- we talked about gun control more than e-mails. So I think
it`s a great night for her, and lots of people heard her talk about her
policy as opposed to the controversy around her. In fact, Bernie saved her
from the e-mails in a lot of ways.

But I agree with you, Chris. Big night for him because we all
followed him a long time, but he had 12 million people last night hear his
message for the first time. He`s a new person. He did well last night.
He had no big gaffes. I do think he reinforced the fact that he is a big -
- big -- big challenge for Clinton.

I think it`s a bad night for Joe Biden in that you saw Sanders and
Clinton are very strong candidates. It`s going to be tough for Biden to
make up for that and to jump in this race at this point.

MATTHEWS: Carol, on message, I thought Bernie won because Bernie is -
- he`s blowing the trumpet. Hillary`s responding to it, to some extent.
She`s keeping her distance. She`s not running hard left. But he`s clearly
the clarion call.

I think -- just as Perry said so well, he never had a national
audience before last night. I`ve watched this before. We in the business
think we know it all. We think everybody else knows it all.

Most people weren`t paying attention until last night, and that`s why
social media went wild. Your thoughts. Because everybody (INAUDIBLE)
everybody`s out there saying Hillary won, Hillary won, he lost. I don`t
buy that. Your thoughts.

CAROL LEE, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I think, one, if Hillary
Clinton didn`t come out -- if the headlines didn`t say that she won after
this debate, she would have completely failed. She had to win this debate.
She`s debated more times than anybody on that stage...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LEE: ... so she had -- that was her challenge, and she clearly met
that. Two, when you look at who`s searching on line and who`s paying more
attention, Bernie Sanders is not the known quantity in this race the way
that Hillary Clinton is, so he`s going to pique people`s curiosity in a way
that she hasn`t. He was very forceful. He was, you know, flame-throwing.
He was giving progressives...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... made billionaires like (INAUDIBLE), like some rat, a
billion -- ratty billionaire, you know? Like most people -- I mean, he
really made it -- that`s well said.

Let me go to Steve on that, the same question, because I remember --
everybody else likes to forget this. I was the odd man out back in 2000.
Everybody said Al Gore gave the Goldilocks debate against George -- oh, it
was perfect debate. He didn`t him (ph). He didn`t sigh, do anything
wrong. It was perfect. And everybody said he won. And guess who won?
George W. won because all the polls after the debate showed George W. in
the lead.

So the idea that this -- I don`t buy the cognoscentis` (sic)
expressions of who won or who lost. Your thinking. I thought Bernie did
great last night. Your thinking, Steve.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: OK, so I think you got to kind
of break this a number of different ways. The winner of the debate, in my
view, is anybody who goes in and comes out having significantly improved
their position.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

MCMAHON: I think by that standard, Hillary Clinton obviously was a
huge winner last night because she wasn`t talking about e-mails all the
time. She was talking about issues that she wanted to talk about. She
opened up Bernie Sanders like a pinata on gun control. So that was a bad
moment for Bernie.

On the other hand, I think Bernie certainly went in and reinforced his
base. A lot of people donated. $1.3 million was raised last night. But
if you go in and you make your 25 percent base harder, that`s not
necessarily a win. I don`t think he had a bad night...

MATTHEWS: OK, I disagree with you!

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: ... but I don`t think he improved his position.

MATTHEWS: He had 11 million people watching him for the first time
who were not in his base. A lot of them were not in his base. And I can -
- my bet is that a lot of people are going to join and recruit with this
guy the next couple of weeks. You disagree.

MCMAHON: That`s my point. The polls will tell us, Chris, who
improved their position. Hillary Clinton had a good night. She reassured
a lot of people. People are no longer saying, Can she win a general
election?

I think today, the calculus for Joe Biden is a lot different than it
was yesterday. I still think he`s got a reasonable opportunity here, but
the door is closing and he`s going to have to put his hand or his foot in
it pretty soon or it`s going to close on him all the way.

MATTHEWS: So what do you say if you`re Joe Biden and you decide after
this debate you want to get in? What would you say is your first answer to
the press when they say, Why are you jumping in when Hillary`s already in?
What does she not have that you have?

MCMAHON: Well, I mean, I think the argument for Joe Biden is the same
today as it was last week, which is if you`re concerned about whether or
not Hillary Clinton can win a general election, if you`re concerned about
whether or not Bernie Sanders can win a general election and you want to
make sure we protect the gains of the Obama administration, including
Affordable Care and the Supreme Court and all the things that a
conservative president, conservative Congress might threaten or take away,
then maybe Joe Biden is somebody you ought to look at. That`s the
rationale, I think.

It`s not -- it`s not, you know -- with all due respect, it`s not, you
know, anything personal about votes. It`s something about the country and
the Democratic Party and winning next November. And there are still people
who are worried about whether or not Hillary Clinton can win, and the drip,
drip, drip, the faucet, has maybe turned down a little bit, or turned off,
but you know, she`s out in Colorado right now and she was just answering
questions with an NBC reporter about the e-mails.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The beauty of Bernie is he looked like -- he went over
there and jumped over the net last night and shook her hands -- they both
shook hands and said, We`re not going to talk about it. Well, they`re not
the ones who are talking about it.

MCMAHON: That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, a focus group of Florida Democrats conducted by FOX
News last night showed Sanders was the big winner last night, but
participants did have reservations clearly about his ability next November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK LUNTZ, GOP POLLSTER: How many of you walked in here supporting
Hillary Clinton? Raise your hands. Half of you. How many of you are
still supporting Hillary Clinton? Only a small percentage. So who won the
debate?

FOCUS GROUP: Bernie Sanders!

LUNTZ: Give me a word or a phrase to describe Bernie Sanders tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE For the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE Strong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straightforward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE Confident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Insider and outsider.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE Direct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sincere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE Powerful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Educator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE Smart.

LUNTZ: But he`s a socialist. He actually answered the question about
being a socialist. I know you`re nodding your head, No. He`s proud of
being a socialist. Do you really think this guy can win? Do you?

In the back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE I don`t think he can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Bernie -- let`s talk about the disequilibrium in these
judgments. The Sardi`s (ph) review last night where I was, was Hillary won
big. I was the only one saying I thought (INAUDIBLE) initially I was
outvoted by our producers and everyone else. I thought Bernie roused that
crowd up like nobody.

He -- every single applause line made sense. It was how the rich have
all the money, they`re dominating and corrupting American politics because
of Citizens United. They ought to pay the price of college tuition. They
ought to help us with Social Security benefit increases. (INAUDIBLE) do it
all. It was basically a class argument against people of absolutely
supreme wealth.

And got -- crew guys were agreeing to that last night, who were
working with me. I heard resonance there with real people. Now, Hillary`s
maybe the smarter person, certainly the better politician, but -- let me go
back to this. Why do you think social media roused up last night for
Bernie, not for Hillary?

BACON: Social media`s -- Bernie`s been better on social media
throughout the year, so I`m not surprised that -- he`s got a younger, more
enthusiastic, more -- people are very passionate about Bernie. People are
for Hillary. I think that`s broadly true.

But I think, Chris, two things can be true at the same time. I think
it is the case that Bernie was strong last night, but I do think the people
in the focus group are right. There`s a big doubt in the country about,
Can a socialist be elected?

I think you can -- right now, if you say you like Sanders, you`re --
it`s a little bit of a protest vote at this point. I don`t know if people
have really -- if you`re for Sanders, you`ve thought about, Can a person
win a general election who is a socialist? Because I think most Democrats,
even those who like Sanders, assume Clinton...

MATTHEWS: OK...

BACON: ... or Biden will win the primary.

MATTHEWS: Let me get a reality check in the real world, Carol Lee,
"The Wall Street Journal." It seems to me that if Bernie Sanders had
appeared on the horizon eight years ago, even four years ago, people would
have said, We in this country don`t like class politics. We don`t run
against rich people. We`re not the British Labour Party.

No one`s saying that right now. That silence, that quiet out there,
the dog that`s not barking right now, I believe is the realization of the
American people there is incredible inequality in wealth in this country
and it`s going to get worse. And that`s why when he talks in what we used
to call "labor hall yelling," pounding the drum, if you will, it seems to
work with people (INAUDIBLE) extent they go, yes, he`s right even, if
they`re not going to vote for him. Your thoughts, Carol.

LEE: Well, I mean, that`s true because we`ve been through -- the
country has been through a massive recession. The economy is, you know,
doing better in some ways, but not in others, including wages. And you
know, people are not fully employed in the way that they should be or want
to be, and people are still struggling out there. And so Bernie Sanders is
clearly tapping into that sentiment.

And to go to your earlier question on Vice President Biden, you know,
I think one of the rationales for his candidacy, were he to get into this
race, is that authentic character about him, that he would -- you know, he
understands these types of problems in a way that`s less socialist, you
know, than Bernie Sanders, but -- and more mainstream, but that he could
make that argument to the country. And I think if he were to run, that he
would make that argument, and also contrast himself with Hillary Clinton
and how -- and her background compared with his background.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that (INAUDIBLE) He`s more of a kitchen table
guy.

Anyway, I want to go with Steve`s thoughts. Steve McMahon, I think
you`re right because this is what I believe, obviously. The next couple
weeks, we`re going to look at the polls. And don`t listen to anybody who
says who won the debate. The person who wins the debate is the one who
goes up the most in the polling.

MCMAHON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And who do you want to be the next president? That`s how
you score these things. And just remember, Al Gore was hands down declared
by the establishment, all the establishment types up here in New York and
everywhere else said he won that big third debate. Funny thing. People
liked George Bush a lot more than they liked Al Gore. Gore came off as
geeky and weird.

Anyway, thank you -- to real people, anyway. Perry Bacon, Carol Lee
and Steve McMahon.

Coming up -- Donald Trump`s on the attack -- no surprise there -- but
this time, he`s just sort of grazing (ph) Hillary Clinton and hitting hard
at Bernie Sanders because maybe he saw what I saw last night. What did
Trump see from Bernie last night that put the Vermont senator in Donald
Trump`s sights?

Plus, with Trump and Ben Carson riding high in the Republican polls,
Republican voters are rejecting the old guard. That`s for sure. And
that`s true on the campaign trail, but also up on Capitol Hill, where the
party can`t seem to get together and find itself a leader.

And back to the big debate last night, Hillary Clinton and Bernie
Sanders, each had a strong night last night? Will the race tighten? I
think so. And will Biden think twice about getting in -- maybe three
times?

Finally, some of other candidates didn`t expect (ph) help -- help them
themselves in the national spotlight last night. We`re going to look at
those who did not do well in the debate last night, and know who they are.
We know who you are.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Tonight, stay up late and catch me on "Late Night." I`ll
be a guest for the great Seth Myers. That`s coming up on NBC tonight at
12:35 Eastern time.

HARDBALL back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American
people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
Thank you. Me, too! Me, too!

SANDERS: Enough of the e-mails! Let`s talk about the real issues
facing America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Thank you, Bernie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It`s, like, enough already.
Anyway, Bernie Sanders is riding high with the Democratic base after last
night`s debate. But according to Donald Trump, Bernie blew it last night
big time. In an interview today with NBC`s Katy Tur, Trump praised Hillary
Clinton`s performance. He says Bernie gave it away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie made a mistake. He
got a great couple of seconds, but he took the situation that`s a very
serious situation, where Hillary is being investigated by the FBI, and he
gave it away. He just gave it away. He can never bring it up again. And
it`s not like he`s winning. He`s losing. He`s losing, actually, big, if
you look countrywide. So I think he made a mistake.

I think she did her job. I think she got through the debate. I
personally thought she won the debate. I thought Bernie was off. He was
not doing so well. I thought that the other people shouldn`t even be up
there, to be honest with you. I thought a couple of them were ridiculous.

They left her alone. They didn`t hit her. It was an amazing things.
I mean, even taking away the e-mails -- I mean, that`s a big thing to take
away. All of a sudden, he just gave that up, which for him I think is a
very big mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, from a Trump point of view, clearly, it is. And he
characterized Sanders as clueless on the issue of trade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The one thing I noticed he was saying is that he thinks a lot
of these trade deals are bad. The difference is I`ll make them great
deals, whereas he doesn`t know where to begin. He wouldn`t know where to
begin because I watched him talking about trade, and he would have no idea.
He`s not a negotiator. That`s not what he does. And he can complain, but
he won`t be able to change it, whereas I`ll change it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that sounds smart. Anyway, today Trump campaign
ripped into Bernie on social media, describing Sanders as unfit to be
commander-in-chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world is a dangerous place. We need a tough,
strong leader. And it`s not this guy!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Bernie can`t defend his own microphone. I thought they`d
say something sophisticated, like he was a conscientious objector. No,
they just go with he can`t stand (ph) up.

Well, you would -- let me ask you about having become an expert on Mr.
Trump.

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Trumpologist.

MATTHEWS: Does he go after the skinny kid on the beach or does he
take on the challenge? It seems like he goes after the losers, rather than
the challengers.

TUR: I think he does both. I think he does both because he -- you
know, we saw him hit Jeb really hard, and Jeb was not the skinny kid on the
beach by any -- by any stretch. He was -- he has been the presumptive
nominee in a lot of ways. We`re seeing him hit Marco Rubio, as well, who
could come up in the polls.

I so think the Sanders stuff is interesting. I think maybe there`s
some psychological stuff going on with the fact that Sanders gets really
big crowds (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

TUR: Maybe that`s why he`s hitting him.

MATTHEWS: He appeals by -- with the anti-establishment message.

TUR: They also sound similar on some things, trade for one, also
Citizens United, campaign finance. So I don`t think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Maybe he didn`t like the billionaire thing. I mean,
Bernie`s biggest lines last night, when you go to these groups that were
all rooting for out there, it`s all billionaires, billionaires,
billionaires, billionaires (INAUDIBLE) and there`s Trump, a billionaire.

TUR: But Trump says the same thing on the trails, that he wants to
make it harder for -- or wants hedge funders to pay more taxes. So in some
ways...

MATTHEWS: But he doesn`t hate them.

TUR: No -- well, in some ways...

MATTHEWS: Bernie makes them the villain.

TUR: Yes, he does, definitely.

I think that Sanders is an interesting new enemy for Donald Trump.
But I think -- I don`t think anybody is off-limits from him. Ben Carson so
far has been off-limits in some ways. Ted Cruz, he hasn`t hit, which I
find surprising.

MATTHEWS: Because Cruz is drafting him. Cruz is riding right behind
him.

TUR: Yes, but he has no instance where he has just backed off.

MATTHEWS: Does Trump behave differently? There`s a great interview
you did with him where he said something the other day, that he is going to
change his tone, be a little less obnoxious about ethnicity and things like
that that drive me crazy, about people, about Mexicans, about Obama being
from Africa and all this nonsense. He is going to play down what he calls
political incorrectness.

TUR: He said that today -- earlier today, he said to me that -- I
said would you change anything about the way you have campaigned this past
119 days? And he said that he would change some of the wording.

MATTHEWS: Here he is. I have it on tape. Here, Trump, he said he is
going to watch his words ahead. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: What have you learned for the next 118 days?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I could be perhaps
a little bit -- I can watch my words a little bit and maybe be a little bit
more politically correct.

But, to be honest with you, I think one of the reasons I am doing well
is because I don`t want to -- being politically correct takes a lot of
time. It takes a lot of effort. I can be more politically correct than
anybody that you have ever interviewed. But it takes a lot of time to do
it. And you are going around in different circles and you are never
getting there. We don`t have time for it anymore, Katy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It takes a lot of time not to make fun of your opponent --
your female opponent`s face. It takes time not to do that.

Are you kidding me? It is easy not to be a cad. It takes a lot of
time not to say the president is an illegal immigrant. It takes a lot of
time to say that Mexicans are rapists. It is a lot easier not to do that.
It is a lot easier to be reasonable.

TUR: This is Donald Trump. And when Donald Trump says that maybe he
would change some things, that is surprising, but it is still Donald Trump.
And he is still not talking about policy specific. He may sound nicer in
that interview, but he is not getting into the issues.

MATTHEWS: Does he know he`s crested?

TUR: I think that maybe the campaign thinks they have to change
tactics a little bit.

MATTHEWS: He is always under 25. He is just around there. That`s
his ceiling.

TUR: Well, in order to get anybody -- to get the nomination once this
field starts to narrow, he is going to have to widen his base of support.
To do that, a lot of people you speak with say...

MATTHEWS: You knock out Carson. Just knock out Carson.

TUR: Well, a lot of people you speak with say they don`t like him
attacking other people. And if he can get the Carson votes, he is going to
have to stop attacking people.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s got to use Carson for a while and then dump
him.

Anyway, Trump seems eager for a brawl with Dr. Carson, who is running
closer to him than any other candidate. Here is more from Katy`s
interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will negotiate deals that nobody can negotiate like I do.
Nobody. I know everybody that I`m running against. Nobody is going to be
able to do the kind of things I can do. Ben is -- that`s not his thing,
but he certainly seems to be resonating.

And the two of us together, I guess we`re at 50 percent or something
like that, and everyone is sort of amazed, because we haven`t been
politicians. I have been doing this now for three months and he has been
doing it for about the same time, which is not saying much for the
politicians, frankly.

He has been very nice to me. I have very been nice to him. I don`t
know that that is going to continue. In a certain way, I hope not, because
everybody that has attacked me is down. They have gone down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

TUR: He can`t attack Carson because if...

MATTHEWS: Do you ever laugh at his insufferability? Do you ever
laugh at that ego when it just starts going like that? Like, anybody who
has ever attacked me, I have killed. He is like a vampire movie. In 1,000
years, and everyone who has challenged me has been destroyed. He talks
like he`s a character in a novel.

TUR: I can`t answer that.

MATTHEWS: You can`t answer that.

TUR: I can`t answer that. You know I can`t answer that.

MATTHEWS: No, I just think you have to wonder about what he`s doing.

TUR: I think that Donald Trump is an entertaining person. I think
that he is interesting. I think he`s tapped into something, an anger out
there.

And I think that it does actually extend past the Republican base that
he`s speaking to. I think there are a lot of Democrats out there and
independents who are just as sick of politicians as the people that he is
rallying.

MATTHEWS: Are we dying? Are we all dying? Excuse me, Katy. Are we
all dying for a Hillary vs. Donald night? How about three of them, three
big national debates between the two of them?

(CROSSTALK)

TUR: It would be interesting. At the very least, it would be
entertaining.

MATTHEWS: It would be bigger than anything.

Anyway, you asked Trump if he is readying any impressions ahead of his
gig on "Saturday Night Live" next month. Let`s see his reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Got any impressions under your belt?

TRUMP: No, I don`t know. They are going to give me something.

(CROSSTALK)

TUR: Hillary did you. Will you do her?

TRUMP: That`s right. Well, I would her. I would certainly do her,
if they want me to do her.

TUR: Can I see it?

TRUMP: No, you are not going to see it now. We will have to save it
for Lorne.

TUR: What about Jeb?

TRUMP: Well, I`m amazed at how he has not resonated.

TUR: Do you have an impression of him?

TRUMP: No, I don`t. Well, I don`t want to be wise. I was going to
fall asleep on the chair, but I didn`t want to do that.

He hasn`t resonated. He just hasn`t resonated. And, in a way, it`s
too bad. And, in a way, it`s a little bit sad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It`s weird. When you first asked him about impressions,
his face crumpled into a Robert De Niro. It was weird. He really crunched
his face in. I don`t know what he was doing there.

TUR: I think in another life he wanted to be a stand-up comedian.
And I think he would have been a pretty good stand-up comedian.

You see him at the rallies, and he does -- he gets the crowd going.
He makes them laugh. Whether or not that is enough to be president of the
United States, I`m not sure.

MATTHEWS: It`s enough to get him to show up, though. Will they --
here`s the big question. They will show up for the rally. They will show
up and they love watching him on the interviews and the crazy stuff he
says. Will they show up in Iowa?

TUR: I`m not sure.

And I think that what they`re doing in Iowa is they do actually -- are
at least starting to have a ground game out there. They are trying to
rally people to go to those caucuses, and they`re telling them how to do
it. Tana Goertz out there, who is his Iowa co-chair, from "The
Apprentice," is holding these "Apprentice"-style competitions to find
caucus leaders.

They are trying to inject some excitement into this otherwise very
complicated process. Will they be able to get over the hump? I`m not
sure. I think that is the big question out there. Are these people who
are just entertained that are showing up for him? The ones in the polls,
are they just people who know his name?

You`re making faces. You`re making faces.

MATTHEWS: No, I`m just thinking. I`m thinking. I was thinking that
you will never have a better assignment than Donald Trump. This is one for
the record books.

TUR: I`m going to retire after this.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s got a better chance to win the nomination than
anybody else, any other single individual. I`m not sure he beats the field
yet.

TUR: I got to tell you, I talk to Democrats out there. And a lot of
Democrats say of all the Republicans that are running right now, they like
him the best because they do think, at his core, he is the most reasonable
and they don`t believe that for the others.

And so Donald Trump may be trying to win primary voters right now, but
who is the Donald Trump that we`re going to see if he does get the
nomination? Are we going to see a more moderate version of him, the one
that we have seen in the past, somebody that doesn`t necessarily care about
gay marriage?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think we`re going to meet the same guy we have met
already, somebody very smart and very cagey. He knows exactly what he`s
doing.

Thank you, Katy Tur.

It`s a great -- it must be something to cover this guy regularly and
try to figure him out. It`s like anthropology.

Up next, the success of Donald Trump on the campaign trail could also
be fueling the Republican crisis on Capitol Hill. And they`re not getting
anywhere picking a leader up there. Nobody wants to be the leader. That
is a problem. Can a team run without a captain or a quarterback or a
pitcher?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump continues to dominate a crowded field of Republicans in
two early primary contests. According to new numbers from CNN/ORC, Trump
leads in Nevada at 38 percent. Dr. Carson is 22 percent. In South
Carolina, it`s roughly the same, Trump at 36 percent and Dr. Carson down at
18 percent. Those are the front-runners.

But the same anti-establishment fervor is fueling the rise of
outsiders like those two in the 2016 presidential contest is stirring up
chaos in the Congress, where the Republican Caucus is coming apart right
now.

Like GOP primary voters, Republicans on Capitol Hill appear in no mood
to crown another insider as their leader.

Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Reid Ribble, a Republican
from Wisconsin who up until last week was a member of the House Freedom
Caucus, the group credited with driving out John Boehner as speaker and
keeping Kevin McCarthy from going for it. Congressman Ribble resigned from
the Freedom Caucus just last week. And also with us tonight, former
Congressman J.C. Watts from Oklahoma. He was a Republican from Oklahoma.
He`s a Rand Paul supporter right now.

Gentlemen.

Congressman Ribble, let me ask you about the state of play on the
Hill. Is it possible to select a speaker in the Republican Caucus? Is it
possible?

REP. REID RIBBLE (R), WISCONSIN: Well, sure. It`s absolutely
possible, Chris.

I think the person that emerges, that crafts a big vision to focus the
conference on specific policy reforms that we want to bring to the American
people and gets us moving in that same direction -- we all have similar
political ideologies and beliefs. But this conference will come together.

And we don`t -- we shouldn`t be in a hurry to get this done
necessarily. We should be in a hurry to get it right. And so, yes, we are
going to find someone that will come forward. And I think we`re all going
to be fine.

MATTHEWS: But what about the mathematics that more than half your
caucus is only there for five years so far. They are only there for five
years altogether, each of them, and they want to have a lot of power. They
want to be able to offer amendments on the floor, completely open rule.

How can you have the leadership ever agree to such a system which
would be -- it would just institutionalize chaos?

RIBBLE: Well, no, it wouldn`t necessarily institutionalize chaos.

I think there`s a way of offering amendments or offering legislation.
I think what really members want is they want a clear system of rules that
are applied equally to everybody and know what those rules are and then
enforce those rules completely, so that if you have a policy solution, if
you do the work under those rules you are going to get a shot at having a
vote on the floor.

And then if it passes, if you convince 218 of your colleagues that
it`s a good idea to pass this, you get to move forward with it. If you
don`t, you have to go back and figure out a new policy solution.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to J.C. Watts.

What is this talk about you being a candidate for speaker as former
member? Is that credible?

J.C. WATTS, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Chris, that has about as much
wisdom as going beyond the next two or three weeks to find the speaker.

I agree with the congressman that they need to do it right. And I
would say do it quickly, because I think the longer that it goes, I think
the more it plays into the narrative that we`re dysfunctional.

And, of course, I think all majorities have their dysfunctions. It`s
just a matter of degree. But, nevertheless, I do think it would be wise
and there is a lot of wisdom in getting it right and doing it quite
quickly. They need a permanent leader. I don`t care if it is Abraham
Lincoln. You don`t need a nonmember of Congress being the speaker of the
House.

MATTHEWS: Let me get back to Congressman Ribble, because in the
presidential field, when you keep watching it, as I do, and you do probably
every day or so, you notice that the people getting votes in the primaries
according to the polling are people with no government experience, no
congressional experience, no Washington experience.

They have never taken the oath to serve their country, their district
or their state. And that`s Trump. That`s Dr. Carson. That`s also Fiorina
to some extent. And they are killing the people that have any kind of a
resume.

Isn`t it the same thing that is going on with your party, that if you
have got any kind of stature on Capitol Hill, you are considered an insider
and by definition a villain? Isn`t that the problem?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s why Boehner went down. They are figures of some
stature in Congress. And that`s not a good thing to be these days,
apparently.

RIBBLE: Well, yes, I think there is some of that -- to that, Chris,
but I think don`t it`s the total story.

I think, quite frankly, that members have seen a system of order that
has come apart in the Congress. And when that order has come apart and
it`s not reliable, a new order has emerged.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RIBBLE: And you are seeing it, quite frankly, in the Democrat Party
in the House as well.

And so you have got the Freedom Caucus. You have got the Tuesday
group. You have got the Republican Study Committee. You have got defense
hawks. You have got deficit hawks. But you have got the same thing going
on in the Democrat Party, with the New Democrats, the Progressive Caucus,
the Blue Dogs.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: When Nancy cracks that whip, it`s pretty united,
Congressman. It`s very united Democrats.

Last call to J.C. I`m sorry.

WATTS: Let me add to that.

Over the last 10 years, we are over $18 trillion in debt. The deficit
has gone down, but we still have deficits as far as the eye can see. We
are talking about Planned Parenthood. And, Chris, you are a passionate
guy, but you`re a decent guy. We all have to question what is going on
there.

Well, you consider that Republicans, we have been in charge for most
of the last 10 years when a lot of these things have happened. And so we
are losing our brand. And I would hope that all Republicans would get back
to the basics, the blocking and tackling and making sure that we can tackle
these major issues, even illegal immigration.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you.

WATTS: We can`t say that everything that comes forward, that it is
amnesty, or neither can we not be concerned about the border.

There is a lot of problems. And that`s why I say the sooner
Republicans can get a speaker, the better off the country is going to be.

MATTHEWS: And don`t pass an immigration bill unless you believe in it
and want it to be enforced. No more B.S. on immigration.

Congressman Ribble, it`s great to have you on.

Do you have a last word? I want to give you a chance.

RIBBLE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. I like that.

(CROSSTALK)

RIBBLE: Well, I was just going to say, I agree with J.C. That`s a
big vision.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, sir.

Thank you both, gentlemen, J.C. Watts and Congressman Reid Ribble.

Up next, after strong performances last night from Clinton and
Sanders, I believe, is there race -- and room in this race, I should say,
for Joe Biden to still squeeze into this thing in the next couple weeks?

You`re watching -- maybe tomorrow -- you`re watching HARDBALL, the
place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Former NBA champ and reality TV star Lamar Odom remains in a Las Vegas
hospital. According to our system network, E!, he suffered brain damage,
at least one stroke, and is on a ventilator. Odom was found unconscious
yesterday at a Nevada brothel. According to reports, he had multiple drugs
in his system, including herbal Viagra.

At a news conference earlier, authorities said that, in a 911 call,
they were told he had been using cocaine.

We will continue to follow this developing story -- now back to
HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

What happened last night in Vegas was on HARDBALL tonight. It was a
wild night. The marquee matchup, Clinton versus Sanders didn`t disappoint.
Hillary Clinton highlighted his leadership and experience. But more than
that, she had this clear message to cut through all the noise -- a vote for
her is a vote for history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will work together
and, yes, finally, fathers will be able to say to daughters you can grow up
to be president.

(APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER, DEBATE MODERATOR: Secretary Clinton, how would you
not be a third term President Obama?

CLINTON: Well, I think that is pretty obvious. I think being the
first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we had
until this point including President Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow.

Bernie`s retort, a vote for me, Bernie, is a vote for revolution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that the
power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug
companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way
we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and
working class desperately need is through a political revolution when
millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say, our
government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of
billionaires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow, the corporate media. We have to talk about that, Mr.
Sanders.

Anyway, the round table tonight: Jonathan Allen is chief political
correspondent for "Vox", April Ryan is White House correspondent with
American Urban Radio Networks, and Ari Rabin-Havt is the host of "The
Agenda" on SiriusXM.

Thank you all for joining us.

And I guess we have to talk about history and Hillary. I better start
with April on this just for political purposes.

April, this idea -- I don`t think Barack Obama said African-American
first ever. It was always implicit. But this is a real bugle call, I
think to women and men who are supportive of women, obviously, that this
can break history and break that glass ceiling. Let`s do it for this
reason. If there`s a doubt in your mind, at least go with that.

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, when it comes to
Barack Obama, race and politics will follow this president because he is
indeed the first African-American president of the United States of
America. If Hillary Clinton were the president of this country, she would
be the first female president.

I`m going to give you one better than that, Chris. I`m going to go to
Nancy Pelosi, something she says. It`s not the glass ceiling but it`s the
marble ceiling. You can break glass. It`s hard to chip away at the
marble. And in this town, this is a white male dominated town, a white
male dominated town. And for her to possibly accomplish that feat, or even
Carly Fiorina for that matter, it would be a major first, and you have as
woman, you have to be proud about that.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it is good to be so declarative about it? I
don`t think Obama was. Your thoughts?

RYAN: OK. Obama could not be because he had to strategically
navigate the waters to become president of the United States. And they
understood if they talked about race his chances of being president of the
United States would be nil because the issue of race is very polarizing in
this country.

Now, being a woman is different. Both groups have had struggles but
she has a little bit more playing power, leeway to talk about gender as
women has fought for the right to vote, the right to work, equal pay.
Women are the next minority in this country.

MATTHEWS: Ari, let me ask you about that question because it`s going
to be an issue. Hillary wants it to be an issue. Is it smart to put it
out front like she did with a smile? She`s very debonair about it. Very
breezy.

But I don`t think she did that when she was with Mark Penn eight years
ago doing the same thing at all.

ARI RABIN-HAVT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Right, like eight years ago,
she was scared of showing her femininity. That was the opposite of Mark
Penn strategy. But why not playing to the obvious? She`s a history-making
candidate. She will be the first woman president of the United States if
she wins.

Why not put out that out there, say to the young women as she did last
night, I`m going to break this glass ceiling for you. It makes sense.
It`s the obvious. And it`s one of her strengths, frankly.

MATTHEWS: You know what`s really interesting last night, Jonathan, and
it`s interesting that always like the dog that doesn`t bark. We don`t mind
talking about class politics like we used four or eight years ago.
Certainly, we had a lot of it last night.

The fact of age -- now, if the Republicans pick a young candidate like
Marco Rubio I don`t think there is a big age difference between her and
him. I think Hillary looked in fabulous shape, last night, wide awake,
alert, clear-eyed. I mean, she was totally ready for any kind of
appearance test, if you will. I think that thing -- another thing that
disappeared last night, this worry about age.

JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie
Sanders is older than Hillary Clinton is.

MATTHEWS: Maybe that helps.

ALLEN: Seventy-four. And Joe Biden sitting on the sidelines also in
his 70s.

MATTHEWS: I`m talking about up against somebody like Marco Rubio,
who`s definitely, what, in his 40s, mid-40s.

ALLEN: There will also always be a generational divide. But I think
presidential campaigns are about the issues. I think they`re about the
candidate who`s got the forward looking vision. Marco Rubio talks about
that a lot, says that Hillary Clinton is looking backward, and he is
looking forward.

But I think as long as a candidate looks like they are capable on the
campaign trail, Hillary Clinton obviously very capable right now on the
trail and in the debates. Bernie Sanders, if you go out and see him at
events, he`s got a lot of energy. So, I think that`s what matters a lot
more. You remember that great Ronald Reagan line, that he wouldn`t hold
his opponents youth and inexperience against them, and talking about Walter
Mondale with the very wide hair at the time.

MATTHEWS: Well, Mondale kept laughing at the Reagan jokes.

Anyway, you know what I think last night? I think preparation
mattered a lot. I think we talk about people being spontaneous probably
too much. Hillary Clinton was the most prepped candidate I have seen long
time. I give all the props to Ron Klein and Bob Barnett, they did the job.
She was ready to every question. She was ready to jump at it, not to
handle it, but to grab it, and that`s prep.

Anyway, the other big moment last night, Hillary Clinton calling out
Sanders` record on gun control. Boy, did she go at this aggressively.

April, you pick up on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns?

CLINTON: No. Not at all. I think that we have to look at the fact
that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. This has gone on too long
and it`s time that the entire country stood up against the NRA.

(APPLAUSE)

The majority of our country supports background checks and even the
majority of gun owners do.

He was going to give immunity to the only industry in America.
Everybody else has to be accountable but not the gun manufacturers. And we
need to stand up and say enough of that. We are not going to let it
continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That was something, April.

RYAN: It was. It really was.

She sent out this clarion call. I mean, there has been a clarion call
already from the president, this president, someone she worked with, you
know, after almost every shooting that we have seen, mass shootings and
other shootings. For her to call out Bernie Sanders that was strong, but
Bernie Sanders also had a moment in that debate last night where he said,
you know, the NRA has given him a D-minus. So Bernie Sanders may fight
against them, but Hillary Clinton owned that moment to make it seem like
Bernie Sanders is not doing enough with gun violence.

And that`s one of the big issues in this nation that people are trying
to push forward, trying to reform the gun control issue, gun control
reform. That`s what they`re trying to do. And the NRA is listening to
every word each of those candidates are saying.

MATTHEWS: I give Hillary Clinton every bit of credit for her
toughness in that, because it`s not like giving hawkish speeches about
China or Syria or something like that. When you take on the NRA, that`s
for real. She`s going to deal with that in Kentucky, Ohio, all the western
states are not going to be easy because of what she just said there.

The roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, what not to do in a presidential debate? Here they are,
coming up now, the low lights, the blooper reel from last night`s debate.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia`s police commissioner and the
former top cop in Washington, D.C., announced his retirement today, drawing
praise from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and President Obama. The 65-
year-old Ramsey has spent 47 years in law enforcement. He oversaw crime
jobs in both cities and just ran the massive security effort for the pope`s
visit to Philadelphia.

But could we be seeing him again soon? Ramsey said, quote, "I`m not
tired. I`m not burnt out. I`m actually in my prime."

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with tonight`s roundtable, the HARDBALL
roundtable: Jonathan, April and Ari.

Well, last night`s Democratic showdown offered a number of lessons on
what not to do in a debate. Here are few examples -- starting with the
stunning answer from Lincoln Chafee, trying to explain a way a past road he
took by essentially saying he was just too green.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Governor Chafee, you have attacked Secretary Clinton for
being too close to Wall Street banks. In 1999, you voted for the very bill
that made banks bigger.

LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Glass-Steagall was my
very first vote, I`d just arrived, my dad had died in office. I was
appointed to the office. It was my very first vote.

COOPER: Are you saying you didn`t know what you were voting for?

CHAFEE: I`d just arrived at the Senate. I think we`d get some
takeovers, and that was one. It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5.
It was the --

COOPER: Well, with all due respect, Governor --

CHAFEE: But let me just say --

COOPER: -- what does that say about you that you`re casting a vote
for something you weren`t really sure about?

CHAFEE: I think you`re being a little rough. I`d just arrived at the
United States Senate.

I`d been mayor of my city. My dad had died. I`d been appointed by
the governor. It was the first vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Jonathan Allen, was Anderson Cooper just a little too
rough?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: That is first time I ever heard somebody plead for mercy
from a moderator.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: It wasn`t that rough. It was just, why did you vote that way?

Look, Lincoln Chafee in another point in the debate said that he was a
granite block. I think he`d be better in the polls if he were, in fact, a
granite block and not giving such terrible answers.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s one from Jim Webb. Jim Webb offered a good
lesson of what to do in a debate, constantly complained about how little
time he`s getting.

April, you get in here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM WEBB (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We go back and forth here for
ten minutes here.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, you can respond.

CLINTON: Well, first of all --

(CROSSTALK)

WEBB: Can I get in this discussion at some point?

COOPER: Well, yes, you`ll be coming in next. But she was directly
quoted.

WEBB: Thank you. I`ve been standing over here for about 10 minutes
trying. It`s going back and forth over there.

COOPER: Madam Secretary --

You`re over your time.

WEBB: I was -- well, you`ve let a lot of people go over their time.

With respect to the financial sector, I mean, I know the time has run
out, but I mean, in speaking of changing positions and the position in how
this debate occurred is kind of frustrating, because unless somebody
mentions my name, I can`t get into the discussion.

COOPER: You`re wasting time. So, if you would, finish your answer
and we`ll move on.

WEBB: I`m trying to set a mark here so we can get into more later on.
This hasn`t been equal time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Very edifying.

It turns out Jim Webb got six more minutes speaking time than Lincoln
Chafee got.

April, does that work to whine?

RYAN: No, it doesn`t. You`re presidential material. Want to be.

And you can`t go up there saying oh, I lost my turn. You have to find
a way to get in here like here on HARDBALL, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RYAN: You`ve got to find a way to get your point in without looking
like oh, I`m a loser and I can`t get in and make a big stink. He was
having a temper tantrum.

This is not a Monopoly game where you lose your turn or pass go and go
to jail or whatever. This is real prime time TV. This is real stuff.

And people want to hear the issues. I talk to Bishop TD Jakes this
weekend. He said we need to hear the issues, not all this crazy stuff
around the debate.

MATTHEWS: Well, finally, we`re looking at -- we want to talk about
running for president of the United States. It`s probably not a great idea
to tell Americans that you look to Denmark and countries such as that for
how we should behave -- just what Bernie Sanders last night and trying to
explain what he means by Democratic socialists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you look
around the world, you see every other major country providing health care
to all people as a right except the United States. Those are some of the
principles that I believe in and I think we should look to countries like
Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished
for their working people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ari, he put Denmark on -- or Denmark -- Denmark on the map
last night. My God, it never got so much attention. Your thoughts?

RABIN-HAVT: I mean, Americans, we don`t want to be Scandinavians.
And, look, I think Bernie Sanders has had a good explanation in the past of
what democratic socialism is. But here I think this was a bit of a flub.
We don`t want to be Scandinavians. We barely want to go to IKEA, except
for the subsidized Swedish meatballs, right?

MATTHEWS: Let`s not talk Nordic ideal anymore.

Thank you so much, the roundtable -- April Ryan, Jonathan Allen, Ari
Rabin-Havt.

HARDBALL is back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for tonight. Thanks for being with us. Be
sure to catch me on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" tonight at 12:35 Eastern.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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

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