updated 10/19/2015 12:01:00 PM ET 2015-10-19T16:01:00

Date: October 16, 2015
Guest: Sabrina Siddiqui, Margie Omero, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Liz Mair,
David Catanese, Sam Stein, John Norris

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Two contenders, maybe three.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Hillary Clinton had a great week. We knew that. But challenger Bernie
Sanders did, as well. While the former secretary of state won the debate,
both candidates gained a point or two in the matchup.

And yes, the vice president worked hard to keep the window open to his own
entry into the battle. Could this be the real Democratic contest for 2016?
Well, it still looks powerfully possible for two reasons -- Bernie Sanders
is clearly onto something with his rage against the power of the
billionaires to corrupt our system, that and the one-man decision that
still awaits us from Air Force Two.

David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones," Sabrina Siddiqui
is political reporter for "The Guardian," and Margie Omero is a Democratic

As I said, there are new polls out today taken since the Democratic
candidates debated on Tuesday. An NBC News/SurveyMonkey on-line poll
showed that a majority of Democrats thought Hillary Clinton did the best
job in the debate, 33 percent said Bernie Sanders did. In fact, they said
he won.

However, when asked who they would vote for, both Clinton and Sanders got a
small bump. Back in September, 42 percent said they`d vote for Clinton, 29
percent said they backed Sanders, 15 percent supported Vice President Joe
Biden. Now both Clinton and Sanders have gained a few points, while Biden
has dropped by 5.

Meanwhile, there was more good news for Clinton in a new "Boston
Globe"/Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire Democrats. Clinton holds a
slim 2-point lead there over Sanders, that`s 2 points for her, in a poll
that showed the Clinton lead in that state -- it`s the first one to show
her above Sanders since summer.

Let me go to our distant friend out there, who`s looking every inch a
Hollywood agent, David Corn, on this Friday night. I guess you`re out
there hustling. But let me ask you this. How do you put it all together?
We`ve had a debate. I always believed debates have some impact, but you
don`t know what the impact is until you look at the lineup later -- not who
won the debate, how`s it stand in terms of who you`re supporting
afterwards, because that`s the bottom line.

In this case, the big loser in the debate was Joe Biden. He wasn`t there.
He must have been thinking, If I`d been there, I might have done better
than what I did, which was terrible. Your thoughts.

out of mind, right? You know, people paying attention, they have a choice
of the five candidates who were there, and Biden hasn`t -- you know, hasn`t
anted up yet. So until he does, he`s not going to get, unfortunately, a
good sense of what the audience for Joe Biden 3.0 might be. And he just --
you know, you got kind of pay to play to get in the game.

It doesn`t surprise me, the way these poll numbers turn out. A little more
than half Democrats, mainline Democrats, thought that Hillary Clinton did
well, performed well, and a third of the Democrats, you know, progressive
wing, whatever you want to call it, populist wing, looked at Bernie Sanders
and he really bolstered the case he`s been making and they`re still with
him and they -- after watching him for two hours, they`re just as much with

In fact, each camp kind of likes their candidate a little bit more. I
mean, it`s within the margin of error. But nobody fell down, and Biden got
dropped and the other two, you know, kind of stayed where they were and
gained a little bit.

So that was really, I think, good news for the Democrats overall, and it
shows, I think, a pretty high degree of satisfaction with the two leading
candidates, which you don`t have on the Republican side, if you look at the
establishment or people we think would have a chance in the general

MATTHEWS: No, I think it was a bad night for Trump. Let me go to Sabrina
on this thing because I -- there`s one point in the debate which still
bothers me. That`s when Bernie Sanders in a non-ideological assessment
said, Get off of this e-mail thing.

And I thought, OK, that`s grand and that`s nice and -- but you`re out there
busting your hump for this guy and you`re trying to get him to win the
election, you take any break you can get. You don`t just run on ideology,
you take all the breaks you can get.

And here he was -- you know, Seth Myers on that (INAUDIBLE) said Hillary
was laughing not because it was a funny thing he had done. It wasn`t
funny. He was giving her an issue that some people could have used against


MATTHEWS: Is this story -- is he running for president or is he just a
protest candidate? Because when he did that, I thought, Wait a minute.
He`s not trying to beat her on points. He just wants to get his message

SIDDIQUI: I think...

MATTHEWS: Why isn`t he running against her? I don`t get it.

SIDDIQUI: I think (INAUDIBLE) to which he wanted to get his message out.
He certainly had impact on the primary by pushing Hillary Clinton to the
left on a number of issues. But I also think that for Bernie Sanders, a
lot of his reputation rides on authenticity. So that was a moment where we
he felt like that`s what draws people to him. He`s a straight shooter.
He`s not playing the politics. I also think that he`s looking at Democrats
and realizing that the majority of Democrats don`t actually see the e-mail
issue as controversial.

MATTHEWS: Of course not. Well, it`s a partisan issue. Why would they?

SIDDIQUI: Right, but so he doesn`t want to stand up there and get involved


MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he use that moment to talk about something important?

SIDDIQUI: Well, that`s the point for him is, Let`s refocus the
conversation on the issues...

MATTHEWS: Well, why didn`t he?

SIDDIQUI: ... that I care about.

MATTHEWS: He didn`t -- the whole -- he created a "Bicentennial Moment" of
him jumping over the net and thanking Hillary. I don`t get it. You know
what it told me? He`s making a point. He`s selling a good message. A lot
of Democrats like to hear it. They cheer it like mad. It may change the
direction of the election, but it ain`t helping him being elected.


MATTHEWS: Why would you -- Hillary wouldn`t have done it. Hillary
wouldn`t have conceded a point to the opponent that she didn`t have to
concede! She`s a fighter!

OMERO: I think both candidates...

MATTHEWS: Would she? Would Hillary have done that?


MATTHEWS: If this guy`s on the horns of a dilemma, like the e-mail thing -
- Oh, let me get you out of that one. That doesn`t mean anything to me.
Let`s get over it. Would she have ever done that? I`ve never seen her do
that to an opponent.

OMERO: I don`t know. But I think in this...

MATTHEWS: You don`t know?

OMERO: I think in this particular debate, it was clear that neither of
them were going to go into this debate to try to really attack the other
one personally. They both indicated that, and in fact, that`s what they

MATTHEWS: But he didn`t just not attack her. I don`t want to browbeat you
because you disagree with me. Are you for Hillary?

OMERO: I just -- I just...

MATTHEWS: Are you for Hillary?

OMERO: ... call it like I see it.

MATTHEWS: I`m just trying find -- are you for Hillary?

OMERO: No, I call it like I see it. I`m an undecided...


MATTHEWS: OK, good. OK, good. That`s what I like.

OMERO: ... undecided Democratic primary voter.

MATTHEWS: Do you think that that sent a signal to voters out there that,
I`m not really running to win, I`m running to make a point?

OMERO: I don`t think that that`s how people saw it. I mean, that`s
certainly not how the folks in all the focus groups I saw the various
networks held -- that`s not how they saw it. It`s certainly, for a
Democratic primary audience, whether they`re Clinton voters or Sanders
voters, they saw it as refreshing.


OMERO: Let`s talk about the issues.

CORN: It also -- it also was an -- it also was an attack on the
Republicans. It was an attack on the Republicans. It was Bernie Sanders
saying, Hey, I`m not going to let -- you know, take advantage of a
Republican attack on a Democrat. And for the 40 years that he`s been in
politics, he has not run a single negative campaign. He`s a guy who really
wants to win on the message.

So I see your point in conventional terms, Chris, but he`s not running that
type of campaign. If you agree with him on populism and going after the
billionaire class and free college tuition and all that stuff, you know,
that`s great. That`s what he wants. And you know, he couldn`t give a you-
know-what about the rest of the stuff.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, help -- thank you for helping me keep up with this
new politics that`s going on out there. I -- I really appreciate the...



MATTHEWS: I`m kidding.


CORN: It`s not hardball, Chris! It`s not hardball!


MATTHEWS: I know. Sabrina`s right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think David brings up an important point, though.
For Democrats, a lot of this remains drawing a contrast with Republicans
because there`s less substantive disagreements among Democrats.

MATTHEWS: That`s true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it`s more stylistic.

MATTHEWS: Less so since Hillary moved over to Bernie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, exactly, but she wants to portray herself...

MATTHEWS: Let`s try something...


MATTHEWS: Let`s see if this good will works because I don`t think she
wants Joe Biden in this race because I think Biden`s more of a threat to
her moderate wing of people that support her.

Former senator Ted Kaufman, who is close to Vice President Biden, sent an
e-mail yesterday to various Biden supporters around the country. He said
he couldn`t add much about the timing of an announcement, but he did
characterize what a theoretical Biden run would look like.

Quote, "If he runs, he will run because he is -- of his burning conviction
that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the
political structure to restore the ability of middle class to get ahead.
And what kind of campaign? An optimistic campaign, and a campaign from the
heart, a campaign consistent with his values -- his values and the values
of the American people. And I think it`s fair to say, knowing him as Joe
Biden, as we all do, that it won`t be a scripted affair. After it`s Joe."

At a press conference today, President Obama was asked about Vice President
Biden and the current crop of Democratic contenders. Here goes the


what Joe`s doing or not doing. I think you can direct those questions to
my very able vice president.

The one observation I`ll make about the Democratic debate was that those
are all some very fine people. They share a belief in an economy that is
working for everybody, and not just the few.

I was very impressed with all of them, and I know them personally. They`re
good people. Beyond that, I think it`s up to the American people to


MATTHEWS: David, you were chuckling. I think it was because he was
clearly taking a shot at Hillary there. I mean, this about "scripted."
Joe Biden, we know he`s not scripted. That`s been a problem for years.
But the fact is, he`s...

CORN: Yes, that`s why I was laughing.

MATTHEWS: ... muscling in as Mr. Guy, regular guy in the street corner,
the guy who`s got -- he`s suggesting there there`s something of those
values missing in this current battle between Bernie and Hillary. What`s
missing that he`s pointing to?

CORN: Right. And I think -- I think Biden can use sometimes a little more
scripting. I mean, he does speak from the heart. He has a great amount of
enthusiasm and joy about many of the same issues that Hillary Clinton is
raising in terms of making the economy work for the middle class, and
that`s what Bernie`s talking about, too, from a more progressive, sharper

You know, it seems to me that Ted Kaufman`s e-mail was rather an obvious e-
mail. Doesn`t give us really any clues. Every day that we take a step
forward without a Biden presidency (sic), I think a Biden presidential --
campaign, that is -- a Biden campaign is less likely.

At some point, he has to make a decision. You know, they have to start
raising money. There are ballot deadlines. And from what I hear from
talking to people, you know, there`s no decision until Biden makes the
decision, although everyone around him wants to have the jet fueled up and
ready to go.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at what`s missing in this campaign.
(INAUDIBLE) latest NBC poll, first of all, it`s that Clinton does very well
among African-Americans, I mean, really well, 62 to 8 against Sanders.
That`s powerful stuff. And just while we`re at both of these things, young
voters, Clinton is 26, Sanders doubles that at 54.

What do you think, Margie?

OMERO: Well, and this is a -- this is a...

MATTHEWS: Is this an opening for Biden, who`s very popular among African-
American voters?

OMERO: Well, polls so far show that he pulls more from Clinton than he
does from Sanders. That may change as...

MATTHEWS: Biden does.

OMERO: Biden does. That may change as he enters the race. It may change
if Sanders becomes better known nationally in some of the national polls.
So we may expect that to change, but that`s where it is currently.

And Biden is actually stronger in some general election matchups than
either Clinton or Sanders. Biden and Carson are the stronger...

MATTHEWS: Yes, we`ve shown those polls. At least, they were before the
debate. Sabrina, what`s Biden bring into this race that he can say was a
rationale that he can sell to Dan Balzes of the world, the political
gatekeepers, and say, You know what? There was an opening. I don`t see it
exactly, what the -- moderate Democrats, I would argue, since Hillary`s
being pulled over to the left, but Biden may be pulled over there, too,
given the Sanders challenge.

SIDDIQUI: I don`t see how he can`t be also pulled over to the left. I
think that`s the big question surrounding a potential Biden candidacy is
what void is he really filling? Is it just authenticity? Because
authenticity isn`t enough. That`s not enough, I think, to move the
Democratic base significantly away from Hillary Clinton. Of course, he
will take from some of her supporters if he were to jump in, whether that
would be a substantial enough shift to really give him a chance...

MATTHEWS: Did you notice they all stuck pretty close, David, last night or
this week to the president? And there would have been an opening to be the
Obama candidate. And clearly, Hillary was pro-Obama this week.

CORN: Well, yes, Obama still polls really high with Democratic voters. No
big surprise. And you know, in a general election, I think Hillary is
planning to be a little more hawkish and have some separation...

MATTHEWS: Oh, wonderful.

CORN: ... and maybe say that she would do more on guns or issues that now
appeal to progressive voters.

But it`s -- you know, it`s always hard for, you know, someone who`s running
after a two-term president on how to relate to that person. Gore had a
tremendously difficult time figuring out how to deal with Clinton and his
legacy, partly because of the Lewinsky scandal. But it is always
difficult, but it`s no surprise that, you know, Democrats are generally
satisfied with Obama, and if you look at the big macro numbers. And so
these candidates, they`re not going to score points in the primaries by
going after Obama in any really hard and fast way.

MATTHEWS: Well, good luck out there, David Corn. You look like you`re in
your realm out there. Anyway, thank you so much for coming on tonight, and
have a nice weekend.

CORN: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: As always, I`m your big fan. Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you. And
thank you, Margie Omero. You haven`t been on in a while.

OMERO: I know.

OMERO: (INAUDIBLE) come back.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, Hillary Clinton is getting ready to testify before
the Benghazi committee next Thursday. And today, her top aide and closest
confidante, Huma Abedin, was there behind closed doors. My question --
what are the Republicans getting at? What are they after? Are they
finally willing to say what they`re accusing Hillary Clinton of? The top
Democrat on the committee joins us next.

Plus, Donald Trump says something you just don`t hear from Republicans. He
said 9/11 happened on George W. Bush`s watch, and that has reignited
Trump`s fight with Jeb Bush.

And RNC chair Reince Priebus says his part is cooked if it doesn`t win the
White House in 2016. Does he think the party can win by continuing to
slander immigration, Muslims, raising the specter of Nazi Germany?

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a lost hero.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling for the battleground state of
Pennsylvania, and for that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a new PPP poll, Hillary Clinton leads Jeb Bush by 5 points, in
Pennsylvania. It`s Clinton 45, Bush 40. But that`s the only matchup
Clinton is winning.

Against Carly Fiorina, Clinton is down 1, 43-42. Against Donald Trump,
she`s down 2, 45-43. Clinton`s trailing Marco Rubio by 3 in Pennsylvania.
It`s Rubio 45, Clinton 42. And Dr. Ben Carson holds a 4-point lead, Carson
47, Clinton 43.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There`s been a flood of activity in
Congress ahead of next Thursday`s showdown when Hillary Clinton testifies
before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

U.S. Congressman Richard Hanna of New York state joins House majority
leader Kevin McCarthy and an ex-staffer on the Benghazi committee itself as
the third Republican on Capitol Hill to openly acknowledge that the
strategy of the Benghazi investigation is to simply take down Hillary
Clinton`s presidential candidacy.

Here`s what Congressman Hanna said just the other day.


REP. RICHARD HANNA (R), NEW YORK: Sometimes, the biggest sin you can
commit in D.C. is to tell the truth.


HANNA: You know, and I -- this may not be politically correct, but I -- I
think that there is a big part of this investigation that was designed to
go after people, an individual, Hillary Clinton. You`d like to expect more
from a committee that spent millions of dollars and tons of time.


MATTHEWS: Well, four Americans died in Benghazi. But here`s something
worth noting. For the first time now, a Republican has blamed a fellow
Republican for the deaths of 3,000 Americans who were killed on 9/11.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you talk about George Bush,
I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his
time. If you look at Sandy Hook...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold on! You can`t blame George Bush for that!

TRUMP: Well, he was president, OK? Don`t blame him or don`t blame him,
but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.


MATTHEWS: I don`t know about that reporter that said you can`t blame
George W. Bush for something that happened on his watch? We`ll see.

Anyway, today the Benghazi committee plowed ahead with its work conducting
a closed-door hearing with one of Hillary Clinton`s closest confidantes,
Huma Abedin. The committee`s ranking member, Democrat Elijah Cummings,
spoke to reporters gathered outside the hearing room. He denounced the
Republican-led committee`s work as an insult to the wishes of the victims`


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: They basically begged us. They said,
Do not make this a political football, we beg you, I mean, some of them
with tears in their eyes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think that no matter how you look at it, when you
have the number two person in the Republican Party who comes forward, the
person who makes plans with the speaker and the person who will continue to
be -- who was one step away from becoming the speaker, to tell you that
this is all about a taxpayer-funded political effort to derail the campaign
of Hillary Clinton -- ladies and gentlemen, that is a problem.


MATTHEWS: Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland joins us now. Thank
you, Congressman.

Thank you, Congressman.

Can you tell from the questioning if they think they have anything on
Hillary Clinton today?

Can you tell where they`re headed?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I -- I honestly do not know. I don`t
-- I think it -- they brought Ms. Abedin up. And she is the vice chairman
of Hillary Clinton`s campaign now.

And the interesting thing, Chris, is we still have not asked one question
of the secretary of Defense.

We brought Sidney Blumenthal up. We`ve never talked to the head of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. You know, and so we -- I`m not sure -- and we`ve
never talked to the head of the CIA.

But yet and still...

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s important...

CUMMINGS: ... we will bring in -- I`m sorry?

MATTHEWS: That`s important because it seems to me behind all the lyrics is
this music out there they keep playing which is somehow Hillary Clinton is
responsible for the death of those four Americans, somehow, during the
reality of that tragedy, during those hours when word got to Washington
they were used attack, she didn`t do something she was supposed to do.

And that`s right. Why don`t they ask the people that we do know the answer
to those questions if there was anything there?

CUMMINGS: But yet and still we -- we are trying to Hillary Clinton`s
speechwriter and anybody who`s been close to her, by the way, has been
paraded up to the Hill and the Republicans have announced exactly what time
and where their interviews would be.

This happened with Cheryl Mills, Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Sullivan, who was
the -- the deputy chief of staff.

I mean -- and anybody close to Hillary Clinton, this is the way they`ve
treated them. And I`m -- and I`ve got to tell you, when I listen to what
Congresswoman -- Congressman McCarthy said and then I listened to the
Republican staffer who turned whistle-blower...


CUMMINGS: ... and, by the way, describes himself as a conservative
Republican, and then when I put it together with -- with what Congressman
Hanna said, all they are doing is affirming things that we on the
Democratic side have been saying for months, that this basically...

MATTHEWS: All right...

CUMMINGS: ... is a -- derail Hillary Clinton campaign by any means

MATTHEWS: Well, here today on CNN, Hillary Clinton was asked about what
she expects from next week`s hearing.

And here`s what she said.


the Congress, standing committees with very experienced members and staff,
have all looked into this and basically just rejected the conspiracy
theories that are still floating out there in some circles.

So, I really don`t know. I will do my best to answer their questions, but
I don`t really know what their objective is right now.


MATTHEWS: Do you have any outstanding questions about the secretary of
state`s conduct in those tragic hours yourself?

Are there any questions worth asking, if you had a legitimate committee?

CUMMINGS: No, I -- I`ve -- the answers we`ve -- I`ve read all of the
reports that -- the eight reports that were done previous to us starting
the select committee and I`ve heard the testimony. I`ve read the
transcripts. I don`t have any questions.

One of the things that I`m hoping will happen is that all -- after all the
dust settles, that we will come up with a report that will make sure that
we debunk a lot of the rumors that have been out there, because I think
that`s fair to the families, too.

And what has happened so often is there have been leaks by -- by our
Republican colleagues and -- but yet and still, they do not put out the


CUMMINGS: ... information, which I think is very important, Chris. And
I`m going to insist on that.

MATTHEWS: Well, catch this, your committee chair, Trey Gowdy of South
Carolina, put out a lengthy statement last night dismissing that
congressman from New York`s statement, who said there was nothing here but

"There are seven members of the Benghazi Committee," Gowdy said, "who are
intimately familiar with the work of the committee, the motives behind the
work and the results of that work. Congressman Hanna is not one of them."

Well, let me just make this point, Congressman. It must have grabbed you,
that there`s 12 members of your committee. Five of you are Democrats. And
he just basically cut you out of the action officially. He said you don`t
know what you`re up to there.

So does -- he`s admitted it`s a partisan operation of just the majority

CUMMINGS: Well, I`ve got to tell you, I was very surprised to hear that
statement, because we have four very distinguished members of the Congress
on this committee. They have been working very hard. And I`m just
surprised that he would say that.

But I -- you know, I don`t know what that means...

MATTHEWS: Maybe they`re doing...

CUMMINGS: ... but the...

MATTHEWS: ... well, maybe the motives are shared by those seven and they
don`t share their motives with you. Could be.


MATTHEWS: I mean I wonder what it...

CUMMINGS: Could be.

MATTHEWS: ... I think he gave a -- by the way, I`ve been asked by
everybody here to ask you -- I think I know the answer -- are you running
for the United States Senate and are you willing to give up your seniority
and position in the House of Representatives?

CUMMINGS: Well, the -- Chris, I`m going to wait until after all of this
Benghazi stuff is over with to make that decision. But I do not want to do
what I think the Republicans have done, politicize and use this as a
political stepping stone. I`m not going to do that.

So I`m going to wait until after that and I`ll make my decision. I was
very glad to see that although I`m not even in the race, I`m leading with
double digits. But that -- that`s a good thing. And I feel humbled, you
know, by the citizens of our state, that they feel that way about me.

MATTHEWS: Well, everybody is watching, sir.

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

I`m joined right now by The Huffington Post White House correspondent Sam

Sam, it looks to me like just a joke, what they are going to do next week.
They are going to parade Hillary Clinton in there, pepper her with
questions that have all kinds of innuendo attached. And I just wonder, if
this was a grand jury, what would be the indictment they were going for? I
don`t even know what they are willing or ready or thinking about accusing
her of. Would somebody -- can you take a shot at that? What is their
charge here?

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, I think that Congressman Cummings
was right, in that a lot of this is covered ground.

There are general, broad inquiries that they could talk about which I think
will be illuminating. I`m not sure it what they want to do, for instance,
going over the initial decision to send -- to invade Libya and to put our
personnel in Benghazi, what we are doing in terms of specific
recommendations for embassy security around the world.

Those are very broad, technical, geopolitical questions that I think would
be helpful to go over in this type of hearing, but I don`t suspect that
that is what we`re going to get.

MATTHEWS: I mean, how many soldiers or Marines can you have in an embassy
in a country that doesn`t even really have a government? We were in there
at the sufferance of the rump leaders of the country at that point?

STEIN: And this is a big point of debate.

The security at the embassy, obviously, they flagged it. They said it was
insufficient. According to the ARB report, it never got up to Secretary
Clinton`s level, but the ARB report did fault the State Department for not
responding to those requests.

But on the flip side, if you talk to people in our diplomatic corps, they
say they don`t want sort of bulky, visible, overimposing security measures
because it hampers their mission. They want to get out there and talk to
people on the ground. So, that is a constant balancing act here. And I
think that it is actually a worthy topic of discussion for a committee on
Benghazi to go through, but we haven`t really had that conversation yet.

MATTHEWS: It seems not. Thank you so much, Sam Stein.

STEIN: Sure, Chris.

MATTHEWS: We will be right back after this.

what`s happening.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is holding a rally right now at a
school in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, just south of New Hampshire state
line. Let`s listen in to a bit of Donald Trump.



And then inside the story, she said he had a great week with the polls.
And I say, how could I say leveled out? Maybe it was a bad guy who wrote
the headline. And I said, well, wait. How are we leveled out?

Then they talked about Nevada, where I`m up at 38 percent and win the
Hispanics. You believe it?


TRUMP: And Peggy -- and, remember, I like her a lot. I think she`s great.

And then she said, great week. But the title was not so good. And then so
Nevada, she said great week. So, I`m at 38. Then, in South Carolina, I`m
at 36. Right? And then in Connecticut, which just came out, that`s
Quinnipiac, great pollster, I`m at 34-14. And she puts these in.

And I`m saying, how did I level out? It`s the press. And then -- oh, and
then a Romney person -- and, you know, we all like Romney, right? But he
should have won. Give me a break. I supported him. I supported McCain.
I supported these people.

And this time, I said you know what? Did you ever have it, like you`re
with your wife, you`re with your husband and you`re really competent, and
you`re tired of seeing things done wrong? And you just say, you know, this
time, I`m going to just do it myself? Do you understand that?


REHBERGER: That`s Donald Trump boasting about his poll numbers. We will
continue to monitor that event.

HARDBALL returns after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

She covered senators, congressmen and was a personal favorite of
presidents. But legendary Washington columnist Mary McGrory never
completely shed her working-class Boston Irish Catholic roots.

The new book "Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism" details
McGrory`s rise from book reviewer at the old "Washington Star" to one of
the most popular newspaper columnists for more than four decades. McGrory
was one of the first female journalists of the 1950s to leave the society
page behind for the newsroom.

And her pieces on the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954 were overnight
sensations. And later her columns offered insights on presidential races
and the era`s smoke-filled backrooms, all coupled with her personal
advocacy for social justice. She also ended up on Richard Nixon`s enemy
list and in 1974 was the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

John Norris wrote the book and joins me now, a great book. Great, great

And anybody who is watching on this Friday night and get near a bookstore
this weekend, because what it has it is the three big ingredients of my
life, journalism, politics and Irish. You have got it all here.

more could you ask for?

MATTHEWS: No, it has -- and I think -- I say this to all the journalists I
work with. I say, it will make you love the business even more.

What I want to know about is just give me the fun stuff, first of all,
1954. OK? I remember going home and the TV was on, black and white
television, Admiral TV. And all day long was hearings. I had no idea what
they were. They were Army-McCarthy hearings. And that`s when she made her

NORRIS: It was her big breakthrough.

Her editor, Newby Noyes at the old "Washington Star," pulled her aside and
after asking her if she didn`t plan on having a family, they wanted to do
more with her at the paper, asked her to add color and flare to the news
pages. Maureen Dowd`s dad, who was a Capitol Hill policeman, escorted her
a front-row seat at the hearings. She did a column for every single day of
the hearings and became an overnight sensation in the process.

MATTHEWS: I was with both Maureen and her at the Good Friday accords over
in Belfast back in `98.

Anyway, the Irish power, I love it. let`s talk about her loves of these
guys. She fell for a lot of people just emotionally and aesthetically. I
don`t think she had relations, obviously. She loved Jack Kennedy. She
loved Gene McCarthy, hated Joe McCarthy, loved Bobby Kennedy.

NORRIS: Absolutely.

She was an emotional observer of politics, that she put her heart into it.
And she really believed in politicians that were out there and willing to
take a chance and willing to raise their voice, particularly for social
justice, as you say.

MATTHEWS: Why did Nixon hate her?

NORRIS: They were perfect enemies. If you designed two people, you
couldn`t make them more dissimilar.

He saw her as an enemy of the state. He had the IRS investigate her
returns. She got a bigger return.

MATTHEWS: Three years, her taxes were audited.

NORRIS: Yes. She got a bigger refund because she donated to orphans.

And she just thought that Nixon was terribly miscast as a president and a

MATTHEWS: She said in your book he should have never been in politics.

NORRIS: Oh, absolutely. And she wrote to one of her friends, "If he was a
horse, I would not buy him."

MATTHEWS: Let me ask about LBJ. What was the role with him? You want to
give us the dirty on that?

NORRIS: Well, LBJ was desperate to woo her.

MATTHEWS: Literally.

NORRIS: Literally, as well as a columnist. And it shows how important it
was that perch as a columnist in that era, that what she was writing and
appeared in the paper...

MATTHEWS: Look at this picture in the backroom next to the Oval Office.
That`s notorious for other reasons these days, that room.

But there is Mary in there and there is LBJ sort of giving her the eye.
What was that about?

NORRIS: With feet up, you know? And that was part of his campaign to woo
her, and literally he took it to a very personal level, showing up at her

MATTHEWS: He propositioned her, didn`t he?

NORRIS: Yes, showed up with the Secret Service at her apartment late one
night, said, "You love the Kennedys, you should love me," and made a pass
at her.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me just use a modern word for that, creepy.

NORRIS: Creepy.

MATTHEWS: Yes, OK, thank you, buddy.

This is a great book. I know it`s Friday, a good time to go to the
bookstore, if you can find a bookstore anymore.

"Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism," if you are interested in a
journalistic career, read this book.

Thank you, John.

NORRIS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, John Norris.


MATTHEWS: Up next, Donald Trump picks another fight with Jeb Bush, saying
that 9/11 -- I love this -- 9/11 happened on George W. Bush`s watch. Well,
it did, didn`t it?

The HARDBALL roundtable is coming up here next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump has done something the Republicans just don`t do. He took a
swipe at former President George W. Bush, saying the attacks of September
11 happened on his watch. Here he is in an interview with Bloomberg.


TRUMP: When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want. The
World Trade Center came down during his time. If you look at Sandy Hook...

QUESTION: Hold on. That -- you can`t blame George Bush for that.


TRUMP: He was president, OK? What -- don`t -- blame him or don`t blame
him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his


MATTHEWS: Jeb Bush jumped in to defend his brother tweeting, "How pathetic
for Donald Trump to criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked and
my brother kept us safe."

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable: Jonathan Capehart is an opinion
writer with "The Washington Post", Liz Mair is a Republican strategist, and
David Catanese is reporter with "U.S. News and World Report".

Let me start across the line here. What did you make of that exchange?
It`s refreshing, I must say.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: It was Donald Trump being honest
Donald Trump saying exactly what is on his mind. Just factually speaking,
what he said was true. The World Trade Center, the towers came down when
George W. Bush --

MATTHEWS: So, what did Jeb Bush mean when he said he kept our country

CAPEHART: I`m still trying to figure out what that meant. And what I`m
assuming he meant, Jeb Bush means, is that after that happened, after we
were attacked, and the country was scared and not sure another attack was
going to happen, George W. Bush kept us safe. But the towers came down and
we were attacked when George W. Bush was president.


LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think Donald Trump has become an expert
of provoking Jeb Bush to lineup right new to his brother, as close as
humanly possible, which set aside this particular topic and the merits of
what Trump said versus the merits of Bush`s response. In terms of the
substance, that is not really a good political position for Jeb Bush to be
in. People still have a certain weariness, including Republicans, about
George W. Bush.

What I thought was really interesting and telling is I think Jeb actually
missed a good opportunity to attack Trump back here. If you look at what
else he said there, it`s pretty clear that Donald Trump seems to have
Hurricane Sandy confused with Sandy Hook.

If I were Jeb Bush, rather than lining up --


MAIR: Well, he was talking about how these people are still waiting for
help. He is either advocating gun control which is real popular with
Republicans --

MATTHEWS: The periphery of New York City.

MAIR: I think he is talking -- he was asked about, he referenced Sandy
Hook when he`s talking about Hurricane Sandy, and that`s what Jeb should
have shot back.

MATTHEWS: There`s a lot more work to be done on Sandy around New York
area. Your thoughts?

DAVID CATANESE, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: I agree with Liz. I think Trump
is laying the bait for Jeb and Jeb is taking it every time, tying him to
George W. I think Trump wants that fight.

But it`s also a mistake to think of Trump as a regular Republican. This is
another example. He`s not really Republican candidate. He is an anti-
establishment --

MATTHEWS: He`s not defending the fort.

CATANESE: He is running against both parties. He`s not a neocon.


MATTHEWS: I know he`s not an ideologue.

Let me ask you this. Suppose the World Trade Towers had been attacked and
demolished under the watch of Barack Hussein Obama? Osama bin Laden had
attacked us, caught us with he door open, blew up our major financial
centers, would the Republicans have let it go at that and just move on?

CATANESE: Of course, not. They`d be barnstorming the White House at this

MATTHEWS: They would be saying he has something to do with it. He let it
happen. That`s what I couldn`t understand about the Bloomberg reporter
saying how can you connect him to that? He was president.

CATANESE: She was baiting Trump, too, don`t you think?


MAIR: But I think also, she specifically used the word blame there. I
think the question is objectively --


MAIR: Sure. But do you blame him or do you not?

MATTHEWS: Would the Republican Party --

MAIR: Sure.

MATTHEWS: -- do not blame Obama for --


MATTHEWS: Are you kidding me?

MAIR: And when we are talking about the underwear bomber plenty of
Republicans did.

MATTHEWS: Republicans hang him high.

MAIR: But it`s is also worth remembering, a lot of what we have heard out
of Democrats probably more in the base with regards to that, I think there
has been blame placed with Bush. I mean, we can re-litigate this to the
end of the earth, but the problem is that --


MATTHEWS: Democrats never jumped on George W. for this. They rallied for
the country, 90 percent for George W. Bush after 9/11. We all joined in
together. Nobody played the politics.

Anyway, here`s Jeb and Trump going at it in the last GOP debate over George
W. Bush`s handling of American security.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As it relates to my brother, there`s
one thing I know for sure, he kept us safe. I don`t know if you remember -


Do you remember the firefighter with his arms around it? And he sent a
clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic
terrorism and he did keep us safe?

TRUMP: I don`t know. Do you feel safe right now?


MATTHEWS: You just, I wonder -- I`m going to get into this, but I do think
the Democratic Party has gotten a little less ferocious and the Republican
Party is more ferocious about partisanship. Democrats have not jumped,
they did not jump when George W. the way Republicans have been jumping on,
four people who lost in some facility, somewhere in Lebanon, and murky
circumstances without a government.

CAPEHART: Sure, and think about this in terms of litigating the Iraq war.
A lot of people wanted President Obama when he was first selected to
litigate what happened, to hold people accountable and he put the country
first. He says, no, no, not going to do that. We are not going to do this
kind of partisanship.

And to your point, could you imagine? Well, it`s going on now. We are now
on the Benghazi -- we`re now on the eighth special committee investigating
Benghazi. All the other reports prove nothing happened. And yet here we
are --


MAIR: I also add, though, that it`s a little bit hard. I think Obama
would have known assuming the role of commander-in-chief that it would have
been hard to say, yes, we are going to prosecute Dick Cheney for war crimes
given a lot --


MATTHEWS: Why did you bring up the name Dick Cheney? Why did you bring
that name up? Because I was thinking of it the very second. I said, where
is that hanging tree? Because that guy, nobody went after him.

MAIR: I have no -- irrespective of that.

MATTHEWS: Why would Dick Cheney be held responsible for Iraq war?

MAIR: But the point that I`m making here, the point that I`m making, you
can substitute a number of names. You can say George Bush --


MAIR: Whatever. Well, he is the Darth Vader.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. By the way, when I say Darth Vader, Darth Vader,
you have to do this.

Anyway, the HARDBALL round table is staying with us.

And up next, it`s happened again, a top Republican presidential contender
faces a voter spewing hatred about Muslims.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.




MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable, Jonathan, Liz and

Anyway, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave an
interview to "The Washington Examiner" in which he acknowledged his party`s
in big trouble if it loses the presidential election next year.

"I do think that we`re cooked as a party for quite a while as a party if we
don`t win in 2016," he said. "So I do think that it`s going to be hard to
dig out of something like that."

Well, some of the wild talk about Muslims and minorities that we`re hearing
right now from the right on town halls and campaign events these days
certainly won`t help the GOP rally a diverse coalition to win. Anyway, in
fact, it`s this dark side to his party that Priebus must probably be
worried when worries doesn`t exist.

Remember this Trump rally just last month.


TRUMP: OK, this man. I like this guy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I`m from White Plains, amen. OK. We`ve got a problem in
this country. It`s called Muslims. We know our current president is one.

TRUMP: Right.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You know he`s not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question. This first question.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: But anyway, we have training camps growing where they
want to kill us.

TRUMP: Mm-hmm.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: 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.



Anyway, Carly Fiorina was also asked a question from an audience member
about what she will do about Muslims in this country. This is now. Let`s


AUDIENCE MEMBER: What is your position on immigration? And why should we
change our country to suit their needs like the Muslims? You know,
especially the Muslims, they`re really raising heck right now. They want
us to change our whole country to suit them. If they don`t like the United
States, get out of here. Take your camel and beat it.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, people are so
frustrated and angry with the immigration situation. Let me say that one
of the most important things about this nation is that we judge people as
individuals. We judge people as individuals.

We don`t lump people in a category and say you`re this, so therefore you
think that. By the way, that`s called identity politics. And the
Democrats play it way too often. You`re a woman, you care about this.
You`re Hispanic, you care about that. The point is we judge people as
individuals. And so, I`m not willing to condemn any group of people. I`m
willing to judge each individual.


MATTHEWS: The enlightenment. Anyway, can the Republican Party win in 2016
with an electorate that exudes the hostility? That person there, not her,
Carly Fiorina. But the questioner, the hatred towards minorities, Liz
Mair. She handled that OK as far as I`m concerned.

MAIR: I thought she handled it very well. I`m sure that Michele Bachmann
will probably take to Twitter and trash her for it because she likes to
trash Carly as being too nice to Muslims. But we --

MATTHEWS: I mean, treating people as individuals sounds to me like --

MAIR: Yes, treating people like individuals.

MATTHEWS: -- the Republican philosophy.

MAIR: I agree. But there are some people -- and this goes to where we
have a real problem. There are some people in the party that I think don`t
fully subscribe to the value set that a lot of people in it want to
actually advance. And I think that`s a challenge because that`s where
you`re seeing people going to Trump versus --

MATTHEWS: You know what? I like the way they approached immigration was
Marco Rubio when he talked about his grandfather explained to him in
Spanish the values of America. We`re all very patriotic here and I think
we love the fact that somebody loves our country not just as a place to get
to for a job, but a country whose values we really absorb. And I thought
that was a wonderful way for a guy who`s the child of immigrants to say,
OK, I`m a Republican, this is the way we look at it.

CATANESE: And Rubio would be the best vessel for that message, responding
to that question. He`s articulate. He talks about American exceptionalism
better than anybody else in the field. But, of course, the Republicans can
still win this race because they`re going to make it about Hillary and with
her numbers and --

MATTHEWS: If they don`t knock her out how do they beat her in how do they
beat her in points?

CATANESE: She`s defined by most of the American electorate. She`s under
50 percent on favorability. She`s losing general election matches in
Pennsylvania --


CAPEHART: I disagree with you, David. Here`s the problem. When you have
people talking like that, it might play well in the Republican Party base
but it turns off the general --

MATTHEWS: Like whom?

CAPEHART: I`m talking about the general electorate --

MATTHEWS: But you`re talking about that lady -- the person -- the guy who
asked the question or how she responded?

CAPEHART: Well, I thought her response was better than Trump`s response
but it`s certainly not the gold standard that Marco Rubio sets. And the
Republican Party knows it has an issue, Reince Priebus knows it has an
issue because of the GOP autopsy. He knows they`re in trouble. That`s
where that quote came from.

MATTHEWS: The body`s still dead. Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Capehart,
Liz Mair and David Catanese.

When we return, let me finish with a lost hero. You`re watching HARDBALL,
the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

Jerry Parr died this past week. He was for years the chief Secret Service
agent in charge of presidential protection. I remember him in action once
in November 1980 when Marine One was landing in rural Georgia for President
Carter to vote in his hometown. It was Parr who alerted us that Rosalind
Carter await us on the ground waiting for her husband to tell her he`d

Getting word of the last poll, the president had asked only that he break
the bad news personally. The other image I retain of Jerry Parr was him
standing on the west front of the capitol. In one moment, he was standing
behind president carter. The next he had shifted behind the new president,
Ronald Reagan. He was the country`s one man changing of the guard.

Well, it turns out that young Jerry Parr had set his heart on becoming a
Secret Service agent from boyhood. When he was 9, he`d talked his father
into taking him to see "Code of the Secret Service." Its hero was a
dashing agent and pilot named Brass Bancroft. You can see the appeal it
had for a young boy like Parr.

According to the studio build-up at the time, Bancroft and his fellow
agents were required to be dauntless in the face of danger and fearless in
the face of death. On March 30th, 1981, at 2:30 in the afternoon, the man
who started "Code of the Secret Service", had just given a speech at the
Washington Hilton hotel. He was heading to his car when shots rang out.
In the midst of that horror, Jerry Parr followed the secret service rule of
cover and evacuate.

This is the president, Parr yelled to those out in front of George
Washington University hospital. It was just three minutes after they`d
left the Hilton. Ronald Reagan had lost a huge amount of blood through
internal bleeding. It would take the great surgeons of the GW to extract
the unexploded slug resting precariously close to his heart.

Jerry Parr had gotten the president and the timing he had left to the only
place that could have saved him. He had done his job. He had followed the

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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