updated 11/6/2015 11:53:45 AM ET 2015-11-06T16:53:45

Date: November 5, 2015
Guest: Susan Page, Ken Vogel, Matt Schlapp, Carrie Sheffield, John
Stanton, April Ryan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: It`s not brain surgery. Dr. Carson ready to be

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Can you say anything and still claim you`ll do no harm as president?
Can you say the founding fathers lacked political experience, when
practically all of them were men with public records of deep and committed
political lives? Can you say the pyramids weren`t burial places for the
pharaohs, when everyone in the world knows they were? Can you talk about
getting your tax plan from the ancient Hebrews and be taken seriously in
2015? Can you bring up Noah`s Ark to argue that amateurs do a better job
than professionals?

Well, whatever Ben Carson is selling, people are buying. Carson has
the highest net favorable ratings of any 2016 candidate. According to a
new Gallup tracking poll, Carson`s net favorability -- that`s his favorable
minus his unfavorable -- is plus 21. That leads everyone by a mile. Among
Republicans, Carson`s net favorability is through the stratosphere at plus
59. He`s 20 points ahead of his nearest Republican rival.

Matt Schlapp`s the chairman of the American Conservative Union. Susan
Page is Washington bureau chief of "USA Today." And Ken Vogel is the chief
investigative reporter with Politico.

Susan, you`ve covered politics. You cover it on the front page. Why
are people saying, at least, they want this good doctor to be our next

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, because Republicans are very
interested in an outsider. And Ben Carson gives them an outsider who lacks
kind of the bluster and the boastfulness of Donald Trump. He also comes
across as a very spiritual man, deeply religious. And I think that`s
really appealing to evangelicals, who are so important in the Republican

MATTHEWS: So we want a spiritual leader as -- a chaplain as

PAGE: Well, and when people are interested in an outsider, when they
don`t trust people who`ve had political experience, he gives them an
alternative to Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what to say. So go on.

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: All right, he`s -- he`s...

MATTHEWS: I have no idea even how to ask the question because I can`t
fathom the answer at this point. I don`t get it.

VOGEL: He`s...

MATTHEWS: Is this some kind of strange American resort to basics
because we`re facing a world of fundamentalism and zealotry? And so we
have to respond -- they always say when you`re fighting a war, you end up
like your enemy. Are we going back to some sort of basic simpletonism as
our way of dealing with life now? It`s too complicated. You know,
monetary policy, fiscal policy. too complicated. Climate change too
complicated. ISIS too complicated. Let`s get to base truths.

VOGEL: There...

MATTHEWS: They may not even be truths.

VOGEL: Yes, there`s always been an inclination to sort of fetishize
the outsider, and even moreso, the citizen public servant. The, you know,
reference to the founders as being all outsiders with no public service

MATTHEWS: That`s not true.

VOGEL: ... which is not true. But there is also a deeper irony here,
which is I`ve covered some of these state legislatures that have citizen
state legislators, where they only serve for part of the year, and their
biggest complaint, almost to a man or a woman, is that they didn`t have
enough time to bone up on these issues to successfully be able to make
decisions to run a state, let alone running a country and bragging about
your lack of track record and public service. It`s a little bit weird and
ironic and...

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s how Carson responds to critics who question
his lack of experience. Let`s watch him.


come up to me and they say, But, but, but, but, but, but you`ve never been
elected to any public office. You can`t possibly know how to do anything.

Well, let me tell you something. The Ark was built by amateurs. The
Titanic was built by professionals.



MATTHEWS: OK, how`s that work?


MATTHEWS: No, no. A great line, but what`s the point?


MATTHEWS: ... in biblical history is an accountability and (ph) Ark,
with the whole world flooding. I know the story.

SCHLAPP: You`re getting too literal.

MATTHEWS: We all grew up with -- no. And we know the Titanic sank.
How does that argue that amateurs are better than experts at ship -- would
you get in a boat that was built by amateurs or would you go into a boat
that was built by professionals? What`s the argument here?

SCHLAPP: Chris, I don`t have to tell you that what he is doing is
responding to the fact that Republican voters in this primary season --
they`re looking for issue papers, they`re looking for personal

MATTHEWS: How about logic?

SCHLAPP: They want someone...

MATTHEWS: Where is the logic that the Titanic was built -- it went
into an iceberg in the early part of the 20th century, and somehow, that`s
an argument against good ship building.

SCHLAPP: But is it fair that the Republican voters are looking,
including at the Republicans (INAUDIBLE) to be president, and they don`t
like everything that they`ve seen. And they like the idea of...


MATTHEWS: That`s an illogic. It`s an illogic to argue that because
some people have been blown it, have been bad politicians, that we should
go to somebody who doesn`t know what they`re doing.

SCHLAPP: But you have to admit that the "wrong track" figures...

MATTHEWS: I don`t have to admit this.

SCHLAPP: The "wrong track" figures are higher than they`ve been in so

MATTHEWS: And therefore, pick somebody who`s certifiably unprepared.

SCHLAPP: That`s not what I`m arguing for. I`m telling you that the
electorate is saying, Try a new model

MATTHEWS: So you`re justifying whatever they want.

SCHLAPP: No, I`m telling you what they want.

MATTHEWS: Oh, they do. And what do they want?

SCHLAPP: They want somebody who`s going to take a two-by-four to
Washington, D.C....

MATTHEWS: I don`t see that with him!

SCHLAPP: I see that`s what the Republicans want. Look at poll after

MATTHEWS: I see "Do no harm." I see a guy who looks harmless, who`s
a nice fellow who speaks plainly, and with some generosity, in a way that
just makes you feel better listening to him.

SCHLAPP: But he`s also not beholden to what they view as...


SCHLAPP: ... people in this town.

MATTHEWS: Fine. Well, Susan, you recently asked Ben Carson if he`d
want to be a surgeon with no experience to operate on his brain. Well,
here`s what he told "USA Today`s" "Capital Download."


PAGE: This writer said you wouldn`t want a surgeon to operate on your
brain if he had never done it before, he had no experience in surgery. Why
would we want a president who has never had experience in that area?

CARSON: And somebody who would ask a question like that clearly has
no concept what they`re talking about. They don`t realize that
neurosurgery is considerably more complex than politics. They`re not even
close in terms of the things that are required in order to be able to do


MATTHEWS: So now he`s stepping down intellectually to an easier job.

PAGE: Well, and...


PAGE: I don`t doubt that brain surgery is a really tough job, but you
know what? Being president is a really tough job in its own way and
involves, you know, being commander-in-chief of the armed forces, dealing
with foreign leaders, leading the global economy. It`s a tough job.

MATTHEWS: What has it got to do with brain surgery?

PAGE: Well, you know, to -- his view was if you could do brain
surgery, which is a really hard thing, you can do being president, which he
says is not as hard.


MATTHEWS: You`re playing -- you`re playing to this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about a happy medium?

MATTHEWS: Susan, you`re playing -- you`re acting like there`s a logic
to that.

PAGE: Well...

MATTHEWS: There`s no logic to that! We`ve had people who`ve been
engineers, like Herbert Hoover, who got it completely wrong.


MATTHEWS: We`ve had Jimmy Carter, not considered a great chief
executive. I can argue his values, but his ability to get things done, we
could argue about.

And I just don`t see why anybody...



MATTHEWS: ... skilled at something completely different would be
adequate to the presidency. It`s about public leadership. It`s about the
ability to lead the people in sometimes difficult directions, getting
through the Civil War, getting -- Washington getting us through the
Revolutionary War. It`s getting us through the Great Depression, to war
with -- it takes incredible skill at leading a people of millions.

What has that got to do with brain surgery by yourself in a -- in an
operating theater?

PAGE: So that`s, I think, a very legitimate argument, and one that I
would assume that Ben Carson`s opponents in the Republican Party, and if he
was nominated, the Democratic nominee would be making.

SCHLAPP: Look, not having experience is a problem. Look at the
president we have! He did not have a lot of experience going into

MATTHEWS: OK. Who`s this?

SCHLAPP: Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: Are you -- are you -- is the American Conservative Union
arguing the advantages of a complete lack of preparation? Is that what
you`re arguing?

SCHLAPP: I`m just trying to...


MATTHEWS: You`re pandering! You are pandering!

SCHLAPP: I`m putting your argument on its head.

MATTHEWS: No, you`re not.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Dr. Carson put out a lengthy post on Facebook last
week. By the way, is Facebook one of those things you just sort of make up
in (INAUDIBLE) These are somewhat scientific.

Anyway, hitting back on critics who question his lack of experience.
He writes, "I have no political experience. Every signer of the
Declaration of Independence, every one, had no elected office experience."

Well, to set the record straight, Dr. Carson, all 56 signers of the
Declaration of Independence were serving in the Continental Congress at the
time. And we found roughly 50 of them had served in elected positions
before then. Thomas Jefferson served in the Virginia House of burgesses.
John Adams served in the Massachusetts Assembly. Ben Franklin served in
the Pennsylvania Assembly. Sam Adams served in the Massachusetts Assembly.
John Hancock served in the Boston Assembly.

All through it, we knew they were professionals guys who took the
thing seriously. They were all men, of course, at the time. And to just
say blanket -- where does he get his information from, Matt?

SCHLAPP: Well, I think...

MATTHEWS: Where does he get his information from about the pyramids
being granaries? Where does he get that information, when Egyptology has
been going on for centuries...


SCHLAPP: He`s wrong. He`s wrong. He`s wrong on these things.
There`s no question.

MATTHEWS: OK, that`s what I want.

SCHLAPP: But he`s still speaking to a -- he`s speaking to the
American people who are saying Look, we think it`s broken, guys, and we


MATTHEWS: ... go to church even, and you get a sermon, you still
expect the sermon, even though it`s theological, to be based on fact.

VOGEL: That`s right. But...

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t base this stuff on fact!

VOGEL: But he delivers some of these statements that are factually
inaccurate or, you know, kind of putdowns, like the way that he said that
Susan had no clue what she was talking about. It was just in that calm,
sort of even-keeled demeanor and often wrapped in sort of the language of
fate that takes some of the edge off it.

MATTHEWS: Well, what is the -- what is -- let`s go back to something
and see (INAUDIBLE) seriously talking about here. Noah`s Ark, OK? I
didn`t like the movie much. But I did like the story. And there is an
Ark, a boat, that had each one of the animal species in it, one of each,
male, female, so they can all reproduce afterwards, in the whole world.
They accumulated all the species we have today in those -- because if you
don`t believe in evolution (INAUDIBLE) exactly the same (INAUDIBLE) several
thousand years ago. And that boat survived 40 days of flooding.

OK, we know that. That`s a story. That`s a story, OK? It may be
allegorical, it may be whatever, apocryphal, whatever. But it`s a story
told to people in the ancient times in the Old Testament.

What relevance is that to today, except as a story? It`s not a fact,
it`s a story.

VOGEL: Certainly not a lot of relevance to running the United States
of America. And I would even point out...

MATTHEWS: Well, then why is he -- no, he`s saying -- he uses that to
argue that amateurs are better than professionals, OK?

VOGEL: Well, I would also point out that, in fact, God, in addition
to giving Noah the blueprint for the Ark, actually provided sort of job
specifications of the types of people who you`ll want to have, the
carpenters building the Arc. So nor is it true that these are all

But clearly, he is using it as an argument, again, an appeal to
evangelicals, an appeal to religious voters, but a way to suggest that,
somehow, his greatest weakness, the lack of experience in government,
which, let`s make no bones about it, is a great weakness, is not going to
be an impediment from him being a good president.

SCHLAPP: There are biblical references over and over again where God
picks somebody who`s an ordinary Joe to do something great. And that`s his
point. The Hillary Clinton road to the presidency isn`t the road
necessarily we need today, and that`s the point he makes.

MATTHEWS: So that`s an argument...

SCHLAPP: A real argument.

MATTHEWS: ... but you don`t go back to Noah`s Ark to make that

SCHLAPP: Well, maybe you should be coaching him.

MATTHEWS: I`m baffled. But if you want to get, you know, sarcastic
with me, I can live with it. I mean, I just think there`s a problem with
this guy. But anyway, we`ll see.

Thank you, Matt Schlapp, Susan Page and Ken Vogel.

Coming up, former president George H.W. Bush -- that`s Bush 41 -- says
his son, Bush 43, was badly served by Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. He
called Rummy arrogant and said Cheney built his own hard-line empire as he
pushed war around the world. This can`t be helping Jeb.

Plus, remember this moment from the Democratic debate?


people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails!

Thank you! Me, too! Me, too!



MATTHEWS: Bernie Sanders took the e-mail issue off the table, but now
he`s second-guessing that decision and taking the gloves off against
Hillary Clinton.

And President Obama is stepping up his effort to close the prison at
Guantanamo Bay. He wants to work with Congress, but he`s not ruling out
using executive authority to close Gitmo once and for all. And that`s a
hot topic for tonight from both sides, and it`s ahead.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with my bafflement -- and that`s the word --
at the appeal of Dr. Ben Carson.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now to an update on a story we
brought you yesterday, this weekend`s Russian jetliner crash over the Sinai
that killed all 224 people aboard.

Well, late today, President Obama told CBS radio that while we don`t
know yet what brought down the plane, it`s possible it was a bomb. Well,
earlier, British prime minister David Cameron said, to quote, "more likely
than not" a bomb was the cause of that crash. But Egypt and Russia are
calling that theory speculation still.

Well, NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, is
here with the latest.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: What -- you have David Cameron
speaking, standing next to El Sisi, the Egyptian leader, and saying what he
did. It was very forward-leaning. Clearly, British intelligence -- and I
understand that they have some intercepts -- believe that this was mostly
likely a bomb, and not only was it a bomb, they believe that it can be
linked to ISIS, to the regional ISIS group in Sinai.

And that is a game changer because they have never been involved with
bomb making before. They`ve never attacked airliners before. We haven`t
had an attack of this nature against a commercial airline since 9/11. This
is the worst aviation disaster, if it is terrorism, since 9/11. So this is
a very serious deal.

TSA is looking at whether any kind of procedures have to be put in
place at other airports from which planes do fly into the United States.
There are no planes that fly into the United States from Sharm el-Sheikh or
to Sharm el-Sheikh from the U.S.

MATTHEWS: Yes. What do you make of Putin`s restraint here?

MITCHELL: I think everyone is being very careful because they, first
of all, don`t want to have another reaction. They`re worried about more
terrorism. He is certainly worried about any kind of domestic response.
He doesn`t want to get this wrong.

Clearly, you know, we don`t know for sure, and there have been
speculation before, the TWA crash, other crashes, which initially people
said were terror, and they turned out not to be.

MATTHEWS: Could this re-forge a relationship between Russia and Egypt
that was broken back under Sadat`s reign?

MITCHELL: Well, certainly...

MATTHEWS: Could they get back together over this one?

MITCHELL: Certainly, this would bring them together because there is
an interest in shared intelligence.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s interesting, geopolitics. Thank you so much.

MITCHELL: You bet.

MATTHEWS: NBC`s Andrea Mitchell.

We`re back now with more HARDBALL after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Revelations today from George
Herbert Walker Bush reveal that the 41st president really thinks of his son
-- what he really thinks of his son`s leadership in the White House.

In a new biography, the 91-year-old Bush criticized George W.`s closet
advisers, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and implicit blamed his own son
for allowing Cheney to gain too much power. According to reporting from
"The New York Times" today, Mr. Bush said that Mr. Cheney had built his own
empire -- those were his phrases -- and asserted too much hard-line
influence within George W. Bush`s White House in pushing for the use of
force around the world.

Mr. Rumsfeld, the elder Mr. Bush said, was an arrogant fellow who
could not see how others thought and served the president badly. Quote,
"The big mistake that was made was letting Cheney bring in his kind of his
own State Department," Mr. Bush said. "I think they over did that, but
it`s not Cheney`s fault, it`s the president`s fault." That`s his son`s
fault, by that. He meant his son. "The buck stops there," he said. Wow!

In response to his father`s criticism, George W. Bush released this
statement today. "I am proud to have served with Dick Cheney and Don
Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney did a superb job as vice president. I was fortunate
to have him by my side throughout my presidency. Don Rumsfeld ably led the
Pentagon and was an effective secretary of defense. I`m grateful to both
men for their good advice, selfless service to our country, and

Well, on the campaign trail today, Jeb Bush said his father was just,
quote, "trying to change the narrative," close quote and went on to defend
Dick Cheney.


big boy. His administration was shaped by his thinking, his reaction to
the attack of 9/11. I think my dad, like a lot of people that love George,
want to try to create a different narrative, perhaps, just because that`s
natural to do, right?

But George would say, This was under my watch. I was commander-in-
chief. I was the leader, and I accept personal responsibility for what
happened, both the good and the bad. And I think that`s the right way to
look at it.

As it relates to Dick Cheney, he served my brother well as vice
president and he served my dad extraordinarily well as secretary of


MATTHEWS: Time now for the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. April Ryan`s
White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. John Stanton
is Washington bureau chief of Buzzfeed. And Carrie Sheffield is columnist
with "Forbes" and a senior writer for "Opportunity Lives (ph)."

You know, I thought there was a couple interesting things. First of
all, they -- they did the CYA there, the -- Jeb and -- and his brother.
But, basically, the big story here is, in Jon Meacham`s new book that`s
coming out now from Random, where the old man, former president, has
basically come and said, you know, this -- these guys blew it. Cheney was
a hawk. He took us into a stupid war. And even Jeb there was saying he
was operating from the mind-set of 9/11.

He is sort of justifying a bad decision.

was right.

I was there all eight years of George W. Bush. His closest
supporters, his closest advisers at that time, Condi Rice, Margaret
Spellings were still his closest people, there was a fractured
relationship, particularly during the time with Iraq, and then also
particularly with Scooter Libby with Valerie Plame, and also with the gay
marriage issue.

So there was a fracture, there was a breaking off of sorts. But...

MATTHEWS: What were the two sides?

RYAN: It was George W. Bush against Cheney and Rumsfeld on issues of

You had Colin Powell at the time...


MATTHEWS: Well, why didn`t they break earlier, so we wouldn`t have
gone to Iraq?

RYAN: George W. Bush is very loyal.


MATTHEWS: No, I`m worried about why we went to Iraq. And Cheney had
a lot to do with it.

RYAN: WMD, weapons of mass destruction that were never found. And,
OK, we were going on intelligence that was faulty. So, Cheney kept talking
about this WMD. But then George W. Bush now looked...

MATTHEWS: Which was used at the time and they said so as a way to get
Europeans to join us. It wasn`t the reason we went into Iraq.

RYAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: They used it as an argument.

RYAN: And they also used -- they took that and used the emotion of
9/11 and went on with that.

MATTHEWS: I know. It`s amazing the old man is talking.

not surprising.


MATTHEWS: We all knew what he thought. He`s now saying it.

STANTON: I mean, you look at the administration, he was clearly a
very different kind of a person then. But he was much more of a old-school
Republican like...


MATTHEWS: He was a realist.

STANTON: Yes, like an old-line guy. So the fact that he believes
this, I don`t think is shocking. The fact that he is doing it now is a
little bit surprising, I guess, given the timing of the book coming out.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think he is doing it?

STANTON: I think a little bit is that he is looking at his legacy a
little bit. But I also think -- I also do think that he is trying to do
things that his son, that Jeb can`t do.

Jeb can`t go out and attack his brother. That would not be a good
look for him. He`s in a bad spot no matter what. No what he says about


MATTHEWS: Jim Baker, Brent Scowcroft, the general, the former
President George Herbert Walker Bush all thought it was a bad idea to go
into Iraq. Now they are saying so. It`s going out.

CARRIE SHEFFIELD, "FORBES": Well, there were a lot of Democrats in
Congress that thought it was a good idea as well.


MATTHEWS: Did they say it was a good idea, or they went along with

SHEFFIELD: Well, they voted for it. They voted for it.

MATTHEWS: They went along with it.

SHEFFIELD: They went along with it, voted for it. Ergo, they thought
it was a good idea.

MATTHEWS: So, what`s the point? What`s your point?

SHEFFIELD: The point is that H.W. can -- it is all hindsight.
Everything is hindsight at this point. And he is 91 years old.

MATTHEWS: Many of us were highly skeptical of the reason we went into
that war. A lot of us didn`t believe it had anything to do with WMD. It
was thought it was neoconservative ideology and it was geopolitical
ideology in the Mideast.

These people wanted to go after one country after another. They
started with Iraq. They wanted to go on to Iran. They wanted to do with
Libya, the rest of them. That was their plan.

SHEFFIELD: Hey, I opposed it as a BYU student, which was not a very
popular position at Brigham Young University, let me tell you.

But, at same time, it is true, like you said, that it had been very
public that it was two very different takes in terms of H.W. vs. W. That`s
not a secret.


MATTHEWS: So, why do you think the father is talking?

SHEFFIELD: I think, yes, it could be to say that, yes, our family, we
are independent. This is what Jeb has been saying all the time. I am my
own man. This is illustrative of that, that H.W. Bush was his own, W. is
his own man. Jeb...



Well, here is how Bush 41 describes how Dick Cheney changed in his
son`s administration. "He just became very hard-line" -- this is the old
man talking -- "and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked
with, just hard-ass, his seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging
guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the
Middle East."

That`s how he describes neoconservatives.

And here is Cheney -- how Cheney reacting to that today on FOX.


about it. We laugh about it. Same with my daughter, with Liz. But my
family was not conspiring to somehow turn me into a tougher, more hard-
nosed individual. I got there all by myself.


MATTHEWS: And here is what Cheney told FOX about former President
Bush 41`s comment that Cheney is -- quote -- "an iron-ass."


CHENEY: I took it as a mark of pride.


MATTHEWS: Yes, and over 100,000 people dead because of that mark of
pride. It`s not something to chuckle about, Mr. Vice President.

Anyway, Donald Rumsfeld was more harsh in the statement released by
his office today -- quote -- "Bush 41 is getting up in years." This is the
charming Donald Rumsfeld.

RYAN: Wow.

MATTHEWS: "And misjudges," Bush 43, "who I found made his own

What do you make of that, John?

STANTON: I think it`s interesting actually that Cheney is just
basically acknowledging that he did change from when he worked for the
first Bush to the second Bush.

I think that is Donald Rumsfeld, the finest Donald Rumsfeld, right?
He`s never been a guy that takes criticism very well and has never been shy
of basically being sort of nasty to people who criticize him.

MATTHEWS: Where is Jeb between the old man and the kid, between him
and his brother? Is he a hawk? Is he a realist? He`s not a hawk, is he,
enamored of the neocons?

RYAN: I think Jeb is trying to find...


SHEFFIELD: I think therein lies the problem. I think therein lies
the problem, is that he has not articulated a strong vision of what he
would do.

MATTHEWS: He put Wolfowitz on his team, though, which is kind of an


SHEFFIELD: And he has also looked so back at his record as governor,
which is not a foreign policy record, so we don`t actually know what he
would do going forward, which is why he`s losing and why...


MATTHEWS: Yes, I think you have pointed to the problem he has. He
can`t make a decision between his father and his brother.

RYAN: And Jeb right now is going through this metamorphosis, trying
to have a renaissance for himself, so we don`t know and he doesn`t even
know where he stands. His father is giving himself cover right now. He
has got to figure it out very soon.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Roger Mudd once asked the question of Ted Kennedy,
why are you running for president? It`s a good place to start, answering
that question yourself.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with me. And up next, the gloves
are off. Bernie Sanders goes on offense against Hillary Clinton.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


Here`s what`s happening.

There is another twist in the case of the Fox Lake, Illinois, police
officer who killed himself in a staged suicide. Authorities say he tried
to arrange a hit on a town employee because he was worried she would find
out that he was embezzling money. The deceased officer`s wife and an adult
son are also under investigation in the case.

And the lineups have been announced for the next Republican debate
coming up this Tuesday. The main stage will feature eight candidates,
Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina,
John Kasich, and Rand Paul. And the earlier happy hour debate will include
Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum. Lindsey
Graham and George Pataki will not be part of either debate -- back to


people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.


too. Me, too.

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



MATTHEWS: I love it. You can hear Hillary Clinton going "Me, too,
me, too."

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was of course Bernie Sanders at last month`s Democratic debate.

Well, earlier this week, I asked Sanders adviser Tad Devine if pulling
back on Hillary`s e-mails was the best strategy.


MATTHEWS: Why didn`t your guy jump on the e-mail thing?

And let me put it this way. Why did he give it away? Why didn`t he
just say, you know what, I`m not -- I`m tired of hearing about the damned
thing? Why didn`t he just let it lie there, let the Republicans and the
FBI do their thing? Why did he pull it back out of action and give her a
break on that?

well, I don`t know if he gave her a break.

MATTHEWS: Well, sure he did.

DEVINE: Because Bernie Sanders is convinced that if we have a real
debate on issues that voters care about, he`s going to win this election.
That`s why. And if we have debates about other issues that they don`t care
as much about, his chances of winning are diminished.



MATTHEWS: But now the Vermont senator is sharpening his attacks on
the former secretary of state.

"The Wall Street Journal"`s headline today says "Bernie Sanders takes
the gloves off against Hillary Clinton." In an interview with "The Wall
Street Journal," Sanders was asked again about Clinton`s e-mail saga and he
said -- quote -- "There is an investigation going on right now. I did not
say end the investigation. That`s silly. Let the investigation proceed

Well, Sanders also said Clinton`s inconsistent positions on issues
like the trade deal -- quote -- "does speak to the character of a person."

He also questioned her position on super PACs, the Keystone pipeline,
gay marriage and the Iraq War. Here he is on NPR.


SANDERS: When people consider a candidate it is important to
understand their history, how they responded in crisis situations, how they
responded when the decisions that they made were not necessarily the
popular decision.

I remember like it was yesterday the war in Iraq. I remember almost
every editorial page in America saying, yes, we should go to war, the Bush
administration, public opinion polls saying, yes, we should go to war.

I voted against it. Hillary Clinton voted the other way.


MATTHEWS: Well, the Clinton campaign released a statement today,
saying -- quote -- "It is disappointing Senator Sanders and his campaign
strategists have chosen to change directions and engage in the type of
personal attacks that they previously said he wouldn`t do."

We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable, April, John, and Carrie.

April, again, back to you right across the table here. And anybody
jump in here. It seems like he feels like he has made a mistake, that he
gave her a free ride on that one.

RYAN: He feels like he has made a mistake, but he will never let you
know that.

He is going to keep on playing it. Even the campaign is saying he
talked about this even before the debate. But he is making...

MATTHEWS: Can he be above the battle and still be in the battle?

RYAN: He can be above the fray and still fight.


RYAN: But he has got to fight strategically. But he made a mistake
doing -- trying to talk about her factual backing away from things or
backpedaling, because we have had presidents who pull back.

We have got this president who, because of conditions right now with
Iraq, he cannot just take troops away.

MATTHEWS: What conditions caused Hillary Clinton to change on TPP?

RYAN: She was...



SHEFFIELD: She began running for president.


MATTHEWS: There we go. Carrie, go with that.


RYAN: ... with him on that, though. That`s the crazy thing.


SHEFFIELD: No, I agree with Bernie Sanders, like, yes, on the gay
marriage issue and Democrats in general. It`s like, the president, he said
it was a moral issue why he was opposed to it. And then, eventually, he
came around.


MATTHEWS: Yes, but running for president, there`s so many now that
Hillary Clinton has moved on -- moved to the left on, because of Bernie
Sanders. He could take credit for it and say, look, I know why she`s
coming over here. I`m here and I`m doing well.

STANTON: I don`t think it hurts him -- it hurts her in a primary that
much to have changed positions on some of these things. In same ways, it
can help her.

If the unions look at her and they say, she was not really for us on
this trade thing, and we beat the hell out of her and she did what we
wanted, that can be good for her with union voters.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that interesting, the way you described it? I like
the way you said that, because, in the end, they want you -- with you.

STANTON: Right. They want you to vote the way they want you to vote.
And if you are willing to do that, it doesn`t really -- to them, they don`t


MATTHEWS: They don`t care what kind of Norma Rae you are. Just be a
Norma Rae.

STANTON: Right. Just be a Norma Rae.

MATTHEWS: But what about this thing with Bernie shifting? Bernie is
shifting and saying, I made a mistake. I should have been a little
tougher. I should have kept the e-mail on a skillet.


SHEFFIELD: Yes. I think he is -- like you said, he is trying to have
it both ways, because that debate moment was actually incredibly potent for
him with the public.

MATTHEWS: For the minute.


MATTHEWS: Look at his numbers after the debate. I judge debates not
by how much applause there is during the debate. It`s how the numbers look
afterwards. And I think he gave away a big part of his game.

SHEFFIELD: He did, especially because it`s a federal investigation.
This isn`t just a right-wing hack job, which is what the Clintons are
trying to make it out to be. This is the FBI. Who controls the FBI? The
Obama administration.

MATTHEWS: Well, I wouldn`t say -- you`re acting like they interfere
with it.

SHEFFIELD: No, well, I`m saying...


MATTHEWS: You`re in this now. Do you think the president calls up
Loretta Lynch and says, squeeze him or squeeze him, pull back? You think
he would be stupid enough, whatever your politics, that the president of
the United States would risk having any transmission of information from
him to the attorney general about that case?


SHEFFIELD: Justice is blind at the end of the day.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. That`s what I thought. So, don`t say it`s
under his control.

SHEFFIELD: I`m just saying...

STANTON: Taking it off the table was stupid for him, because what
happened after the debate is that basically all the momentum he had going
into that debate has been lost.

MATTHEWS: Because? Explain why.

STANTON: Because Hillary looked like she was the winner.


MATTHEWS: It also looked like he wasn`t really trying to beat her.


RYAN: I think -- I just think, honestly, he was just being honest and
it was a slip that reflected a thought.


RYAN: I`m serious. He was just being honest. He said, I`m tired of


MATTHEWS: You know what? It ain`t for amateurs. Your Dr. Carson,
that guy, you have been between the breaks telling me you think he`s great.

Tell me what I am missing about Carson.

RYAN: You know, he is intelligent.

MATTHEWS: Of course he is.


RYAN: But wait a minute. Wait a minute.

One thing he said -- I don`t understand this myself, the fact that he
is on a book tour and he`s supposed to be running for president. But
people -- he says he has got this ground game and he is listening to the
people. And the people seem to be loving him. Thousands of people are
going to see him. I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: I don`t get it either, I admit. I`m supposed to be an
expert at this after all these years, and I don`t get it. I`m lost on this


SHEFFIELD: I think he is the alter ego to Donald Trump. Donald Trump

MATTHEWS: Is crass.

SHEFFIELD: ... is crass.

So I know lots of evangelicals. Like, they don`t like Donald Trump
from a moral position. They think that he isn`t one of them.


RYAN: He has not quoted Scripture yet. Ben Carson is.

SHEFFIELD: Yes. And that`s why. So, that`s why he`s the favorite in


MATTHEWS: He is the Huckabee, he`s the Pat Robertson, he`s the Rick
Santorum all wrapped up into one, and a smarter guy than all of them,

Don`t forget, I will be in South Carolina tomorrow night for the
first-in-the-South Democratic forum here on MSNBC. Join me from 6:00 to
8:00 Eastern time, earlier in the evening, and then again after forum, with
analysis of Rachel Maddow`s interviews with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders
and Martin O`Malley.

The roundtable, by the way, is sticking with us. And up next, these
top reporters tell me something I don`t know. That`s a growing list of
things these days.


MATTHEWS: You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

April, tell me something I don`t know.

RYAN: It is about your friend Ben Carson.

I talked to him this morning. I know you don`t like it, but I talked
to it this morning. And he feels that he is going to gain the black vote.
He is going after the black vote with new ads. And he is also saying

MATTHEWS: Where is the something I don`t know here? Of course he
feels he`s going to get vote.

RYAN: Right. But hold on. Hold on for a minute.

He feels that he will be the next black president after the first
black president to the left, and then he is to the right. He says that...


MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t it be more news and more something I don`t know if
he said he doesn`t feel he is going to be the next president?

RYAN: But wait a minute. Hold on. Hold on.


MATTHEWS: Where is the news here?

RYAN: Hold on. Then he is going to -- but he is going to be the
second black president. He`s not said this before.

And the next thing he says, he says that public service and this
effort in the presidential process is a ministry.

MATTHEWS: Well, go on.


RYAN: You are so upset about Ben Carson.

MATTHEWS: I`m concerned.

Your thoughts, John?

JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: Ted Cruz said Speaker Ryan is John Boehner
without a tan. He told "Politico" that sometimes bills will fail and that
is OK. That is identical to what Boehner said when he took speakership.
They passed the transportation bill that John Boehner wanted. You can go
back all the way to 2013 --

MATTHEWS: So, another death of the government.

STANTON: The only difference honestly is that he doesn`t have a tan
and conservatives seem to like him.

MATTHEWS: Carrie Sheffield?

CARRIE SHEFFIELD, FORBES: He has a great agenda on poverty, I`ve got

MATTHEWS: OK, tell me something I don`t know.

SHEFFIELD: Let me ask you, what was the black margin supporting
Republicans in 1956? Do you know?

MATTHEWS: `56, I`d say about 28.

SHEFFIELD: Thirty-nine percent. Then it was 32 percent in 1960 for
Richard Nixon. Then I was 6 percent in 1964, Barry Goldwater opposed the
Civil Rights Act. Donald Trump is poised to be Goldwater 2.0 this year
with Hispanics and he`s poised to alienate a group for a whole generation
with the way we had in 1964 with African-American voters.


SHEFFIELD: Since that 1964 election, it`s always been single digits.

MATTHEWS: The African-American vote was 2-1 Democrat. They became
90-10 after the `60s.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, April Ryan, John Stanton, and Carrie

When we return, President Obama steps up his efforts to close the
prison at Guantanamo Bay, but it`s a sticky situation from all sides, legal
and safety-wise.

You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: I`m headed to South Carolina tomorrow for MSNBC`s special
coverage of the Democratic forum hosted by my colleague Rachel Maddow.
Join me from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow night, I will be back
after the form with full analysis of Rachel`s interviews with the three
Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The question of what to do with the 112 detainees that remained at the
U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay continues to go unanswered. The House of
Representatives today passed with a bipartisan vote a spending bill that
restricts President Obama from moving the detainees to the U.S.

The vote comes amid reports that the White House is considering
closing Guantanamo prison by executive order.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says those 112 detainees should stay where
they are.


detainees should be in Guantanamo.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s short and sweet.

Anyway, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Paul Ryan is misguided
and the U.S. can move the men to U.S. prisons without compromising national


cannot be done safely flies in the face of every piece of available
evidence that exists.

The view that Speaker Ryan is expressing is in contradiction to some
of the brightest foreign policy thinkers in both parties.


MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford of
South Carolina. His district includes residential work at a naval brig in
Charleston, that could house some detainees if they were moved to the U.S.
Also with me, Chris Anders. He`s an ACLU lawyer who advocates for
Guantanamo detainees themselves.

Congressman, thank you for coming on.

Now, I have looked at this and tried to figure out and argued it with
people. But is this about safety? Do we not trust our prisons to hold
these guys? Is it about the problem of bringing people to the United
States who can`t be charged for a lot of reasons but are still dangerous?
What is the issue to you?

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the issue is side
stepping the issue. I think that is what the president is doing here
because the issue is not the geography of indefinite detention. The issue
is indefinite detention. He`s sidestepping that issue completely. And at
the end of the day, from the civil liberties standpoint, from a taxpayer`s
standpoint, from a local geography points back in Charleston, you know, I
think that you not really looking at what is at play if you simply say
let`s move the prisoners without addressing indefinite detention.

So, I think the president is trying to deliver on a campaign process
about closing Guantanamo Bay. But in so doing, he ignores existing law, he
ignores the piece of legislation that he`s just passed the House that the
president has said he`s going to sign that says you can`t deal with this
until December 21st and he`s once again trying to act unilaterally in a way
that`s contrary to common sense and the law.

MATTHEWS: Well, I want to get back to what we should do as citizens,
forget the president, forget everybody. This thing about what we all agree
should make common sense here. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the vice chairman
of the Senate Intelligence Committee, advocates in an op-ed piece in "The
New York Times" for shutting Gitmo down.

She says, `For those relatively few detainees who can`t be tried
because of a lack of evidence, but still need to be held until the end of
hostilities, bringing to the United States presents a more cost effective
option, facilities in the United States are up to the test. There`s no
reason to think a Guantanamo detainee is anymore likely to escape from a
supermax than any other federal prison."

Look, here`s the problem, Congressman, and you know it as well as
everyone, we have people we are holding right now we can`t try, we can`t
convict, we can`t even indict legally because of the evidence that was
gathered. But we know for sure that they are dangerous.

What do you think we should do with those people? Dangerous people we
can`t criminalize, we can`t convict? What do we do with them?

SANFORD: We have a tradition in this country of either taking them
out back and shoot them if we have enough evidence, or we let them go. But
this idea of holding somebody for 10 or 15 years of their life --

MATTHEWS: What do you do with the guy who swears to your face that he
hates the United States, wants to kill our people, the minute you let him
out, he has committed -- he is a committed terrorist, you say the president
of the United States should let that guy go? You would actually advise him
to do that? Let him go?

SANFORD: What you I say is we`re going down -- no. What I say is
we`re going down -- again, we`re skipping the real argument. The president
could act unilaterally with regard to military tribunal against these
folks, and he`s not doing that. And instead he`s wanting to do -- what
he`s wanting to do is to skip that argument and move it to the one we`re
having now about the geography of where prisoners are held.

MATTHEWS: But where do you think --

SANFORD: He`s skipping the issue he can`t deal with.

MATTHEWS: Do you think we should be allowed to keep people who are
dangerous even if we can`t convict them? Yes or no, in principle?

SANFORD: In principle, no. And military tribunals have gone --

MATTHEWS: We can`t keep a person who we know to be -- you`re saying
we have to release terrorists.

SANFORD: I`m saying you have to bring charges against another human
being, you can`t hold them for 50 years of their life without ever bringing
a charge. And from a logistical standpoint, the idea of taking them from a
spot where they`re removed from the American populace and even removed from
the Cuban populace in Guantanamo Bay and instead bringing them to a place
like Hanahan, South Carolina, where you have churches, schools, a place
that`s rated as a tourist Mecca and saying why don`t we house them there to
me doesn`t make common sense.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s tougher charge, though.

Let me get Chris Sanders. Thank you. Hold on, Congressman.

It`s supposed to be taken to an absolute supermax where it`s down in
some dungeon where they`re never going to get out in a million years that`s
not the issue of security because there are such places. From an ACLU
point of view, do we have the right to take a dangerous terrorist who we
can`t convict of a crime and hold him until these hostilities are over as
Dianne Feinstein put it? These hostilities are going to go on forever for
as far as we know.

these people --

MATTHEWS: Are we allowed to hold them?

ANDERS: Well, look, a lot of these people have already been held for
14 years. The United States in our entire history has never held people
without charge or trial for as long as 14 years. If you go back --

MATTHEWS: Yes, but how long do we involved in an ongoing struggle
like we are right now?

ANDERS: But these, you know --

MATTHEWS: ISIS is still there.

ANDERS: Look, if after 14 years of holding men at Guantanamo, we
can`t even put together a criminal case or --

MATTHEWS: Well, what do we do?

ANDERS: Look, if somebody -- our laws, anti-terrorism laws are very
broad. If you as a prosecutor can`t figure out how to bring a case against
somebody --

MATTHEWS: Let them go?

ANDERS: -- for material support for terrorism.


MATTHEWS: Let them go? Just say it. Let them go.

ANDERS: Well, what happens with them is they get transferred overseas
to foreign countries that have accepted them, have resettled them, in many
cases they`re monitoring them.

MATTHEWS: And the next time we hear their names, they`re in Yemen
somewhere attacking the government.

ANDERS: Well, in terms of what has happened during the Obama
administration, that is true under -- some of the people that were released
early on under the Bush administration where they didn`t know who was
coming into Guantanamo, they didn`t know who was coming out.

MATTHEWS: Some of them came back to bite us.

ANDERS: But under President Obama where they`ve done the hard work of
with each detainee coming up with a security --

MATTHEWS: Do they get more rights by being transferred to the United
States from Guantanamo? Could you get a good lawyer if you`re put in some
prison in Colorado, could you get a good lawyer from the ACLU that gives
you more rights than you would have in Guantanamo? Isn`t that the case?

ANDERS: We think that at Guantanamo detainees already have full
constitutional rights --

MATTHEWS: But you don`t have to argue the case as hard in the United
States, do you?

ANDERS: The Supreme Court has already said that these detainees are
entitled to habeas protections. Every single detainee down at Guantanamo
already has a habeas lawyer.

The problem with bringing the detainees to the United States, though,
is that then you have, as the congressman just said, then you have
indefinite detention going on in the United States itself, you have judges
that are then going to be making a decision about how long that`s going to

MATTHEWS: So it does give the prisoner a greater chance to get out.

ANDERS: Which is why the detainees should be brought to the United
States are detainees who would be charged --

MATTHEWS: I think we see the problem. It`s a problem of safety being
raised by the congressman. It`s a problem of legality being raised by the
ACLU. I see why the president`s stuck in this thing.

Congressman, do you think they should stay at Guantanamo?

SANFORD: Until we have a plan. And again, the president could do
things unilaterally with regard to military tribunal. He`s not doing that.


SANFORD: And the idea of saying our plan is simply to move them to
Guantanamo Bay, continue to house them indefinitely at a place that frankly
has civilian population close by, again, to me does not seem like a
sensible plan particularly when he side --


MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I don`t think they`re going to put him
in some brig somewhere.

Anyway, thank you. I don`t think it`s going to be a brig. It`s going
to be some supermax. But thank you, Congressman. Come back on the show

And Chris Anders, ACLU, which I greatly respect.

When we return let me finish with my bafflement at the appeal of Dr.
Ben Carson.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

I am baffled by the appeal of Dr. Ben Carson. There, I`ve said it.
He advocates a tax policy based on the Old Testament, on tithing, as if 10
percent is some blessed counsel to us living in the 21st century.

He argues that the Egyptian pyramids weren`t built as tombs for the
pharaohs but rather as grain banks even though everyone in the world knows
that King Tut and the rest of them began building their pyramids from the
time of their youths as way stations for deliverance after death. Why else
did they equip the sealed chambers with all the things they`d like to have
in the afterlife?

And why to put it bluntly is Dr. Carson right about this and every
book on Egyptology wrong? Is this a case where a gifted amateur shows us
his beginner`s luck?

Well, give me a break. The experts are right, he`s wrong and this is
just another example of the wildness of listening to him.

What does Dr. Carson know about the ancient Egyptians and their
funerary practices? In effect, nothing. What does he know about U.S. tax
policy and its complexity? In effect, what he`s read in the bible.

When asked why an amateur like him could do a better job than the
political professionals, he points to the Founding Fathers calling them his
fellow amateurs. Fact check. Practically all of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence were committed deadly serious men of public
affairs elected in their own states to serve on legislative bodies, all of
which preceded the founding of the country. The country was founded by
professionals, Doctor.

And what is this talk about the ark, Noah`s Ark? What relevance does
this account from the bible have to teach us today?

Well, Dr. Carson, answer us. It teaches us that amateurs build boats
better than professionals he says. How else he asked do we explain the
sinking of the Titanic? Well, you got me there, Doctor.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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