updated 11/10/2015 3:09:04 PM ET 2015-11-10T20:09:04

Show: HARDBALL
Date: November 6, 2015
Guest:

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They say, Don`t let the
media get you down. Don`t let them disturb you. Please continue to fight
for us.

See, they understand that this is a witch hunt.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: This gentleman right here?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) do you think you can actually rely on that
support? Maybe through the primary, but at some point, you`re going to
have to get the (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: That`s exactly what I`m trying to do, get to the substantive
issues. This is all subterfuge. Things that happened 45, 50 years ago,
that`s all...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: As far as I`m concerned...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) running for president...

CARSON: As far as I`m concerned. they are out of the way.

(CROSSTALK)

CARSON: And let me just say one other thing. I do not remember this
level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama when he was running. In
fact, I remember just the opposite. I remember people just -- Oh, oh, we
won`t really talk about that. We won`t talk about that relationship. We
won`t (INAUDIBLE) Marshall Davis (ph). Oh, we don`t want to talk about
that. Bernadine Dohrn, Bill Ayers -- Oh, he didn`t really know him. You
know, all the things that Jeremiah Wright was saying -- Oh, no big problem.

Goes to Occidental College, doesn`t do all that well, and somehow ends
up at Columbia University. Oh (INAUDIBLE) His records are sealed.

Why is his records sealed? Why are you guys not interested in why his
records are sealed? Why are you not interested in that. Let me ask that.
Can somebody tell me why?

QUESTION: Why do you think they are?

CARSON: I`m asking you why they`re -- why it`s sealed. Go ahead...

QUESTION: But (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: No, no, no, no! Don`t -- don`t change...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: I`m asking you...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: Will someone...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: Will someone tell me, please, why you have not investigated
that? I want to know.

QUESTION: Why are you raising it?

CARSON: Why? Because I want to know. You should want to know, too.
The president -- wait a minute! Hold on one minute! One second here!

Now, you`re saying that something that happened with the words a
scholarship was offered is a big deal, but the president of the United
States, his academic records being sealed is not...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: Wait a minute! Tell me how...

(CROSSTALK)

CARSON: Tell me how there`s -- tell me how there`s equivalency there!
It doesn`t matter where it is! Tell me how...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: That`s a silly argument. Tell me how there`s equivalence
there.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: Tell me how there is equivalence there! Tell me, somebody,
please!

Because, you see, what you`re not going to find with me is somebody
who`s just going to sit back and let you be completely unfair without
letting the American people know what`s going on. And the American people
are waking up to your games!

QUESTION: Dr. Carson (INAUDIBLE) "South Florida Times." Do you think
that there would have been this level of scrutiny about your so-called
violent past if you hadn`t brought it up yourself? Like, if they had found
this information out beforehand, before you disclosed it, do you think that
it would be treated the same?

CARSON: Well, let me put it this way. If everybody here will sign an
affidavit saying that if I reveal the name of the person involved in this
stabbing incident that you will be singing my praises, and none of this
stuff will ever go on again, I`ll think about it. Will you do that? Yes?
Yes? Yes, yes, yes?

QUESTION: Dr. Carson, our job is to ask questions (INAUDIBLE) highest
office in the land.

CARSON: Yes, well, my job is to call you out when you`re unfair. And
I`m going to continue to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) accurate, you`re saying, this is just the one
thing that...

CARSON: What is just the one thing?

QUESTION: That the one thing...

(CROSSTALK)

CARSON: What about the West Point thing is false? What is false
about it?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) just this one thing. But is there -- is there
everything else in the book accurate?

CARSON: As far as I know, it`s accurate, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CARSON: Wait a minute. Hold on.

QUESTION: Donald Trump has said -- he tweeted out very soon after
this came out that this is one of many lies of Dr. Ben Carson and it`s a
big story. What would be your response?

CARSON: Well, what would you expect Donald Trump to say as somebody
who`s running neck and neck with him? What would you expect him to say?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) reports have been that you said you received a
full scholarship, you...

CARSON: I never said I received a full scholarship.

(CROSSTALK)

CARSON: I never -- wait a minute! Don`t -- don`t lie. I never said
that I received a full scholarship. Nowhere did I say that.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: Politico, as you know, told a bold-faced (sic) lie. They`ve
been called out on that by "The Washington Post" and by "The New York
Times." And I`m sure there`ll be several others who will call them out on
that because there are actually some people with integrity in your
business.

QUESTION: What I`m trying to...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: You just told me that you got a scholarship offer. You
just said that!

CARSON: No, she said that I got a scholarship. I never said I got a
scholarship. I had people...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

CARSON: I had people who said, yes, that I could get a scholarship to
West Point, and I told them that I wasn`t interested, that I was going to
pursue medicine.

QUESTION: Dr. Carson...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) did you make a mistake in the way you
characterized this?

CARSON: I don`t think so. I think it`s perfectly clear. I think
there are people who want to make it into a mistake. I`m not going to say
it is a mistake, so forget about it.

QUESTION: Dr. Carson, all this information about the violent past --
why is that so important? Why is that such an issue? Why (INAUDIBLE) for
your background?

CARSON: Well, it`s important to me because it was a transformation
for me. That`s when I became a person who really understood the power of
God in a person`s life, and it created a whole new relationship between me
and God at that point.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) why we`re here tonight, the African-American
vote -- is that important to you? Are you doing a good enough job on the
polling and would you like to see that go up?

CARSON: it`s a very important demographic. All demographics, I
think, are very...

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: We`re back now with our special edition of
HARDBALL. Here we are live from Winthrop (ph) University in Rock Hill,
South Carolina, for the first-in-the-South Democratic candidates` forum
coming up one hour from now here on MSNBC.

We`ve been watching, of course, Republican front-runner Ben Carson
facing more scrutiny as new questions emerged about his past. Did he
accurately represent what happened 46 years ago when he says he was offered
a free ride to West Point military academy?

Well, as the consummate political outsider, Dr. Carson has skyrocketed
in the polls in part because of his compelling personal story. It`s a
story that brought him from the inner city of Detroit to Johns Hopkins
University and one that he hopes can propel him all the way to the White
House.

With me now in South Carolina is MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki, Joy Reid and
Kasie Hunt.

Joy Reid, thank you. I want you to start because you haven`t been
here.

JOY REID, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: I`ve been watching this situation here with him addressing
the reporters. And it may come down to words, what he`s been saying, and I
would say dining out on for years, is that he -- and it`s a claim to fame
that you were offered a full scholarship to West Point. That`s a phrase
that most people take to be you were offered a ride to go to -- a chance to
go to West Point, and you turned it down, not that somebody talked to you
about maybe being able to get it for you, but you`ve been offered it and
you turned it down.

Now, he says that`s not what it means. Your -- your interpretation
here.

REID: Yes, and I mean, it hasn`t been the central part of Ben
Carson`s narrative, which is the sort of up from the bottom narrative
that`s made him incredibly popular on the speaking circuit for conservative
and Christian organizations, home school conventions.

He`s really had a decades-long career of really marketing himself as
the ultimate kind of Horatio Alger story. This story has not been
absolutely central to that narrative. It`s been more about the overall up
from poverty story.

But this is the first time that you`re having a central plank of the
Ben Carson origin story really being challenged on a factual basis, which
really actually is a blow to his whole sort of reason for being in the
central position that he`s in.

So it`ll be interesting to see not only this, but if you`re notice,
what they`re even more vigorously defending him on are the stories about
overcoming a personally violent nature because that`s even more central to
the story he that he`s been telling, particularly to young people, really
for decades.

MATTHEWS: Well, he was talking the other day -- in fact, yesterday --
about having talked to the person he stabbed. He said it was a close
member of the family. This is an odd story. But he said that person
(INAUDIBLE) he said, I don`t want to go public.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. And now he says --
it sounded as if he was offering the media some kind of deal where he might
consider the person coming public. I think what Kasie was saying in the
last hour, though, is that the fairest thing we can say about this is Ben
Carson is somebody who is a familiar figure to some people, but he is new
to the national stage.

He`s new to this spotlight. I think at the start of the summer,
people looked at Donald Trump and they said the Donald Trump thing would be
short-lived. And then we forgot that Donald Trump had been on the public
stage for four decades. We know a lot of Donald Trump`s secrets.

Ben Carson rockets to first place. We`re going to find out a lot
about Ben Carson, now and it`s a question if he has the durability of a
Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: You know, it`s an interesting thing, you say insulting
things about people`s looks and things like that because they`re all
subjective and ridiculous. But when you start talking about your own
history, your resume, it gets into familiar political territory because
we`ve had politicians for years who`ve been caught, who`ve made up stuff
about their background that just isn`t objectively true.

Now, here we go into nomenclature. When a guy says at a part, You
know, I got a full ride at West Point, and I turned it down, it sounds like
you were admitted, you got the appointment, and you just chose not to go.
It doesn`t sound like ROTC leader said, I think I can get you in. That`s a
different statement.

Your thoughts.

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Chris, I think...

MATTHEWS: This is going to be argued about.

HUNT: You`re talking about Donald Trump. He plays into his brand
every single time he makes one of those insults. He`s telling us more
about what we already know. He`s confirming that narrative, that story.

This runs counter to, as Joy was saying, all of Ben Carson`s back
story, this idea that he came from nothing, that he was up from the
bootstraps, that he has this violent past that he overcame is central to
his...

MATTHEWS: He sold this as part of his story!

HUNT: He did, and...

MATTHEWS: He brings it out about the knifing.

HUNT: Right. And so if that turns out to not be true, if we start to
question pieces of this over time and there`s evidence that he essentially
made things up, that is going to be a real problem for him. I think
that...

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s watch...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: By the way, what did he mean by that Rashomon thing where -
- you know how you start a story one end of a circle and it gets to the
other end, it`s a different story. Yes, but it didn`t make any sense to
me, Joy, because he started the story!

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: So why would you use that as an excuse for the story
getting mixed up and embellished?

REID: Well, and not only that, but you have to realize that, yes, to
Steve`s point, Ben Carson is an unknown -- largely unknown figure to most
people. But remember, in two separate circles of American life, he`s
actually very well known.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: One of them is African-Americans, for whom he is considered
this heroic figure that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... scientific circles, just generally.

REID: We all grew up really knowing -- in scientific circles, as
well...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: ... but also in deeply evangelical circles, where he has had
about half a dozen best-selling books, including books for children, that
are based on his origin story and that have made him wildly popular,
particularly among people in the home schooling world and other places
where they read his books, particularly his books directed at teenagers, as
life lesson stories that are a part of their evangelical tradition and
teaching. So he`s very well known...

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: If any of that story isn`t true, it doesn`t just mess up
his political prospects. He`s got a whole industry. There`s a Ben
Carson...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, not everybody`s allowed to speak...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Not everyone`s allowed to speak in parables, right?

Moments ago, Ben Carson spoke to reporters about his past statements
about being offered a free ride to West Point. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Having someone say, We can get you in with a scholarship,
doesn`t mean you`ve actually been given a scholarship.

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it was an offer to
me. It was specifically...

QUESTION: Did you interpret it as an offer, or was it (INAUDIBLE) to
you as an offer?

CARSON: I interpreted it as an offer.

QUESTION: Who gave the offer?

CARSON: I made it very clear...

QUESTION: Who was it?

CARSON: I don`t remember the names. I don`t remember the names of
the people. It`s almost 50 years ago. I bet you don`t remember all the
people you talked to 50 years ago. But anyway, you know, they told me this
was available to me because of my accomplishments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you go into trouble there, Steve. I know
you`ve been more accepting of this interpretation, but I just want to ask
you -- when you say "they," when you say a group of people and you can`t
remember them...

KORNACKI: Well...

HUNT: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... but yet in his books, he`s far more definitive. He
said, I was offered a full scholarship to West Point, not, I talked to
somebody at an event who said they could get this for me. I was offered.
Now, what does offered mean in English? Here, take it. That`s what
"offered" means.

KORNACKI: I understand completely what you`re saying, but...

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you say?

KORNACKI: ... my point on this is...

MATTHEWS: Is there a problem with what I`m saying?

KORNACKI: No.

MATTHEWS: Is there another interpretation? Help me with it!

KORNACKI: My point here...

MATTHEWS: No, give me another interpretation.

KORNACKI: My point here is not to argue with your interpretation. My
point is to say...

MATTHEWS: I would like another one!

KORNACKI: What I`m curious to see here, and my point that I`m trying
to raise -- and you say I`m being more accepting of this is...

MATTHEWS: Yes, you are!

KORNACKI: ... how will the story be interpreted by the people...

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s -- that`s politics!

KORNACKI: And that`s what I`m wondering. The people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, our job is to try to delineate the truth...

KORNACKI: Well, hang on!

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Hang on! But I think an element of politics...

MATTHEWS: You know, we report, they decide?

KORNACKI: An element of politics...

MATTHEWS: You know?

KORNACKI: An aspect of politics is how people interpret truth...

MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s later.

KORNACKI: ... and how people interpret...

MATTHEWS: That comes later.

KORNACKI: ... how people interpret...

MATTHEWS: How do you interpret it?

KORNACKI: What I`m...

MATTHEWS: How do you interpret it?

KORNACKI: What I`m asking...

MATTHEWS: No, I`m just -- how do you...

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: I`m giving you my interpretation right here. My
interpretation is this. The people Joy is describing, who are the most
hard-core Ben Carson supporters...

MATTHEWS: OK. All right.

KORNACKI: ... evangelical Christians...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I want to ask you how do you interpret Ben Carson`s
statement in his book, repeated to Charlie Rose, et cetera, et cetera? How
do you interpret it?

KORNACKI: I`m trying to give you my interpretation of the situation,
which is...

MATTHEWS: How do you interpret his words?

KORNACKI: I interpret his words as leaving enough gray area where if
you are an evangelical Christian who reveres Ben Carson and has revered Ben
Carson for years, you can look at this situation and you can say, There is
enough gray here that I will stand with Ben Carson against the liberal
media that is trying to prosecute another one of my heroes.

MATTHEWS: So there`s a range of possible truths.

KORNACKI: There is a range of things people will believe about this.
Now, people can look at this and say, This guy absolutely lied. This guy
absolutely fabricated. There are a lot of people who are saying that.
There are a lot of people who will say that. I would look at this today
and I would say right now, as I look at this, there is enough gray for
people who revere Ben Carson...

MATTHEWS: Revere. Well, that`s...

KORNACKI: ... to stand...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Once you revere somebody, it`s very hard to come back on
them.

KORNACKI: What want to know is, if more comes out, as Kasie says --
as he`s being exposed to scrutiny he`s never before been exposed to, maybe
more will come out that makes it impossible...

MATTHEWS: Does it make it harder for him to make his case when he
says, Some people told me this, I don`t remember their names?

KORNACKI: That`s not the best line.

HUNT: Well, wait. And William Westmoreland has suddenly disappeared
from this story, right? He is, in the book, the person who offers Ben
Carson this, and he is not...

MATTHEWS: Didn`t he say -- I think he brought him up again tonight,
Westmoreland, in some say.

HUNT: In that bite that we just played, he essentially said, I don`t
remember exactly (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Oh, really?

HUNT: ... whereas the book says William Westmoreland.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll see. I think it`s fading. Anyway, thank you,
Steve Kornacki for your vigorous defense of a range of possible
interpretations. I think that`s a way of putting it (INAUDIBLE) Am I
right, a range of possible interpretations.

KORNACKI: Yes. I`m laying out possible interpretations.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Joy Reid, for your interpretation, which
came clear, I think, and my own. Anyway, thanks to myself for this!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, in about 45 minutes the first-in-the-South
Democratic candidates` forum will begin right here at Winthrop University.
My colleague, Rachel Maddow, will interview each of these Democrats in the
race seriatum -- Bernie Adams (sic) -- Bernie Sanders, Martin O`Malley,
Hillary Clinton.

And at the end of the forum, I`ll be back here with all the reaction
and analysis.

Coming up, the new criticism from former president George Herbert
Walker Bush, Bush 41, about Dick Cheney -- that`s how you pronounce it,
cheeney (sic) -- and Donald Rumsfeld, how they badly served his son while
he was president. And we`ll be joined by one of the Republicans running
for president who was against the Iraq war, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics, live from Rock Hill,
South Carolina, for tonight`s Democratic forum.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, live from Winthrop University for
the Democratic candidates` forum here in Rock Hill, South Carolina. It`s
coming up tonight here by 8:00 Eastern, not far from now.

We`re back, by the way, with MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki and Joy Reid.

Let me ask you about the Democrats. We`ve been getting hot and heavy
on the other one.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s funny because tonight, the Democrats are meeting here
and having these interviews with Rachel. They have a little bit of stew
cooking right now. But let`s -- let`s talk about the Democrats. Do you
think Bernie Sanders is desperate or he`s just hitting (ph) the level that
he ought to be at in the campaign, which is fight with your opponent?

REID: Right. Well, I think that Bernie Sanders has an imperative,
which is that after the two states in which he has a natural advantage,
Iowa, because it`s a very liberal caucus state, and New Hampshire, which is
a proximate (ph) media market to Vermont, he runs into a very big problem,
which is that South Carolina is a state in which more than half of the
electorate is African-American, and he is little known among African-
American voters and doesn`t have much support there.

So Hillary Clinton can claim a firewall here because this is where she
can claim a massive victory over him and then roll that into the subsequent
contests.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a sociological question. Is it true a lot
of communities, minority communities, Jewish people, for example -- they
have to know you. It always helps to be the second generation, third
generation, because they get -- I think I know that family. I think I know
that -- a little suspicious of the newcomer. Is that a problem with
Bernie, that he`s a newcomer, just per se, among African-American voters?

REID: I`ll tell you what. If you`re a newcomer, it helps to be a
newcomer in the way Bill Clinton was in `92, which is...

MATTHEWS: Yes, but he`d been around a long time!

REID: But he hadn`t been around nationally.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: Nationally, African-Americans came to know him through his
style, which was a style that was very open...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: ... and it was immediately familiar and felt familiar. He felt
like...

MATTHEWS: Well, he was a Southern boy.

REID: Exactly. He had that affect that actually helped him overcome
not being known, and he was able to sell himself...

MATTHEWS: I`m just wondering whether Hillary Clinton has -- I want to
ask you that.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: She has the surname.

MATTHEWS: She has a tremendous head start on anybody.

REID: She does.

MATTHEWS: John Edwards or anybody.

KORNACKI: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Since the pretty boy was mentioned earlier tonight in a
terrible comparison to Martin O`Malley, but anyway.

KORNACKI: The numbers Joy is talking about are so striking now.

Hillary Clinton`s numbers everywhere are up over the last few weeks
after the first debate. But a couple of weeks ago, when this thing was
tighter, there was a poll taken down here in South Carolina. It said,
among white Democrats in South Carolina, the race was tied. It was 47-46.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How many white Democrats are there in South Carolina?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: In the primary, it`s about half and half.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: And among blacks, it was 80 to 8. That was the swing.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I think they are here tonight, actually, the white
Democrats of South Carolina. I think they are here. I think they are all
here.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

REID: I got to tell you, at the risk of getting a hostile crowd going
behind us, one of the challenges...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Oh, you did. I did it. It`s easy.

REID: Yes.

One of the challenges that Bernie Sanders is going to have is that the
case that has been made on his behalf by his supporter has included not
exactly friendly confrontations with African-Americans over whether or not
black people ought to be -- quote, unquote -- "feeling the Bern."

And the interactions, particularly on Black Lives Matter, between
Bernie Sanders supporters and African-Americans have not helped him,
because there has been a certain aspect of African-Americans -- I have
talked to a lot of them who feel lectured by Sanders supporters, who say,
well, he marched with King, therefore, black people need to be with him.

That is not a sufficient argument for African-Americans. African-
Americans traditionally have asked two questions. Number one, are you on
our side policy-wise? Number two, can you win? Those are the two
questions that he has to answer, not did he march...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m letting her dominate, because these are great
questions, again, speaking for an entire chunk of Americana, African-
Americans.

Do people in the community have more confidence in Southern white
Democrats than Northern white Democrats because they know they are closer
to them, they have been closer politically?

REID: In a way.

MATTHEWS: They have had to deal with the right wing down here.

REID: They know what they are dealing with. I think a lot of
African-Americans say, we understand that guy. We know what we are dealing
with.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And a guy like Clinton, for example, spent his whole life
running against conservatives.

REID: Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Whereas Bernie has been running against fellow liberals.

REID: He has been in an almost entirely white state. He`s been
dealing mostly with issues of economics, not issues of race. He has been
clumsy out of the gate on issues of race. He just has been.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: That`s not an argument.

MATTHEWS: The funny thing is, it was just seven years -- just seven
years ago, we were saying that Bill Clinton was clumsy about race.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Right, as he was in `08.

KORNACKI: The legacy of the 2008 primary and the comments he made,
the fact that Hillary Clinton is here sitting eight years later 80 points
ahead among black voters in South Carolina, that is amazing.

MATTHEWS: OK. By the way, there he is. You came up on me. Hold on,
guys. Oh, my God. We have got a real live candidate here. Anyway, thank
you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by one of the...

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

REID: They love you. They love you.

MATTHEWS: Good manners.

Let me ask you about three things. You can pick your poison. Dr.
Carson has had a problem explaining what he meant by, I was offered a full
scholarship to West Point. It turns out that some unnamed guys whose names
he forgot, military figures in the ROTC, told him they could get it for
him. And that is what he meant.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think,
sometimes, we make a mountain out of a molehill.

MATTHEWS: Is that a mountain out of a molehill?

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Well, I will give you an example.

I didn`t graduate from college. I went two-and-a-half years and then
I went to medical school. And I worked really hard. And I`m proud of
that. The media has skewered me for occasionally saying I had a degree in
biology.

Well, I didn`t intend to tell something that wasn`t true. I am proud
of the fact that I got out early and I don`t have a degree and went to
medical schools. I think sometimes we go overboard with things trying to
play gotcha.

And he is a Johns Hopkins surgeon. You think he has to -- he would
intentionally lie about getting a scholarship to West Point? They don`t
even give scholarships. So, I think it is kind of a misunderstanding of a
situation over a long time ago.

But I don`t think it goes to -- I might have my quibbles with him, but
I don`t think it goes to his integrity. I don`t think it`s like, oh, he`s
a guy that is a janitor and he has to lie about going to West Point. This
is a guy who is a neurosurgeon. He doesn`t need to -- would he
purposefully make up a lie about getting a scholarship? I think it is just
sort of a misunderstanding...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, you give him a...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about something that really makes me happy.

George Bush Sr. has come out in this book by Jon Meacham, who is a
great historian, and basically said that, my son, W., was surrounded by the
wrong people, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the hawks, the neocons, he
called. He even went after the axis of evil phraseology that David Frum
cooked up, the neocon fellow cooked up.

And he basically said, my son was screwed by these people. He was
taken in, used by them. And, by the way, it`s still his fault.

I have been waiting for that thundercloud of revelation for about 14
years now. And here it is. What do you make of it? Because you`re on
that -- although you`re different ideologically, you are a libertarian.
You have always questioned that Iraq War.

PAUL: Well, you know when the last time Dick Cheney was right?

MATTHEWS: When?

PAUL: When he advised the first president that it would be a disaster
to invade Iraq and he said he would be a civil war and chaos and it
wouldn`t work.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Old man Bush, with respect, former President Bush, said
Cheney changed.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Yes.

And I think there may be some truth to that. But I think the problem
is, is that Cheney has been wrong about most foreign policy decisions for
the last 30 years. I mean, he really is.

Look at it. Were we greeted as liberators? Did the war in Iraq make
things better? I think we`re less safe. It`s -- the world is more
chaotic. Iran is stronger. Who is Iraq`s greatest ally now? Iran. Who
is their best buddy, their second best buddy? Russia. All of this came
out of Dick Cheney`s philosophy. And I think he`s been wrong about
everything.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of a guy like your colleague in the Senate
Marco Rubio? All you have to do, it seems to me, is play Romeo to the
neocon Juliet and sing the song of war, and guys like Shelly Adelson come
out of the woodwork and they fall in love with you, and Paul Singer.

Everybody just wants to hear that hawkish song and all of a sudden
this young guy, who...

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... nothing else, is some kind of hero to these guys. Is
he pandering? Is he pandering?

PAUL: Well, do you know who -- yes, but do you know who Marco Rubio
agrees with?

MATTHEWS: Who?

PAUL: Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton supported the first war in
Iraq. She supported the war on Libya, the war in Syria. And she is
supporting a no-fly zone.

Sounds like Hillary Clinton...

MATTHEWS: Is she a hawk?

PAUL: I think Hillary Clinton is a neocon.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Whoa.

PAUL: I think Hillary Clinton is a neoconservative. And I think that
she and Marco Rubio are very similar on their foreign policy.

MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton is a neocon?

PAUL: You tell me. She supported the war in Iraq.

MATTHEWS: I hear you.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: She supported the war in Libya, the war in Syria.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: If Hillary Clinton is president, we will be back at war in the
Middle East.

MATTHEWS: Really? What would be the country?

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: That`s why I fear -- that`s why I fear Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you the question that haunts me, besides
worrying about if the economy takes another dive.

Since beginning of the Russian Revolution, we have avoided a war with
Russia, and because we have avoided a war with Russia -- Russian
nationalism, not just Soviet communism -- we have been able to save
ourselves from a third World War.

And how do we keep firm our position vis-a-vis Putin, who is a tough
guy, and at the same time avoid going to war with him, which I worry about,
over Syria, for example?

PAUL: Often, there has been this debate. And everybody points
fingers and we say either neocon or isolationist.

We ought to have a discussion about diplomacy. Are you diplomatically
an isolationist or are you diplomatically for engagement?

All throughout the Cold War, Republicans and Democrat presidents
talked to the Russians. We never stopped talking. And that was a good
thing. That avoided calamity.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAUL: We have people -- and I think actually, frankly, Marco Rubio is
one -- that are naive and say we need a no-fly zone and I`m not talking to
Putin. Carly Fiorina says the same thing.

MATTHEWS: What would they have done during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

PAUL: Yes. It is a recipe for disaster. It is a recipe for getting
involved in a third World War.

I`m not saying we roll over to Russia. In fact, we need to be strong.
We need to negotiate from a position of strength, but we don`t need to say
we are going to shoot down your planes if they fly over Iraq. That is a
recipe for disaster. But that is a position of Hillary Clinton and six or
seven of the Republicans, no-fly zone over Iraq. It`s a recipe for
disaster.

MATTHEWS: We have found common ground once again.

Senator Rand Paul, thank you for coming in tonight.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Thanks, Chris. Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for coming in.

We`re a little over a half-hour now from the start of the Democratic
candidates forum here at Winthrop University.

Joining me now is the moderator of tonight`s forum, my colleague the
great Rachel Maddow.

Rachel, wait until it calms down here. One second. They are a little
noisy.

Let`s let Rachel talk. Just a minute. The troublemakers in the back,
would you quiet down in the back? Just let Rachel talk, tell us what is
coming.

Rachel, give us a sense of how you see tonight looking at it 25
minutes out.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Well, I would -- I`m
too terrified to really think or speak at this point, but at the time it
all starts, I will miraculously calm down.

And it`s not a debate. They are not all going to be on stage at the
same time. We are doing this sequentially. We`re going to be talking to
Martin O`Malley first, then Bernie Sanders, then Hillary Clinton.

And I`m going to try to get information out of them that they have not
previously had to get nailed down on before. We are going to try to give
concrete information to Southern voters who are trying to make a decision
between these Democratic candidates. So, we will see. There is so much
news even just today. There`s a lot to get them to respond to.

MATTHEWS: Well, knowing how hard you work all day, and you have
probably been working all day on this, for weeks now, I take you at your
word every question will be brand-new. Everything will shake them to their
roots. Is that true?

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: Well, you know, here is my guiding principle for trying to
come up with questions. I try to read everything that has happened on the
public stage since they have been running, because I don`t want to ask them
a question that they have already given an answer to.

I also don`t want to ask them a question where I can predict what the
answer is going to be. I want to ask them questions that make them think,
because they can`t just turn to their stump speech and they can`t just say
something that they said last week in some other forum.

So, I`m not going to make them try to turn on each other. I`m not
going to try to make fireworks, because they`re not on the stage together.
But I am going to try to figure out what is different between them.

MATTHEWS: Do you have a digression sign to hold up when they start
diverting into another area of safety? Digression, like in "Catcher in the
Rye"?

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: Or like a cowbell or a horn or something? No, but I see on
the ticker there`s 29 minutes left, so I still have time to go get
something, maybe.

MATTHEWS: Well, you go off and do it.

And as we say in Shakespearian world, break a leg. And there`s a
great history to that phrase.

MADDOW: Thank you so much, my friend.

MATTHEWS: Good luck tonight.

MADDOW: I will see you -- I will see you as soon as it is over.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thanks, man. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Over here.

Thank you.

We will be watching you, Rachel Maddow, at the top of the hour. Of
course, this is going to be a great hour-and-a-half of real one-on-one
conversation.

I have noticed the chairs out there. They are facing directly at each
other, which is interesting.

Up next, on the other side of the aisle, chaos in the GOP tonight.

You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics, live from Rock
Hill, South Carolina, for tonight`s Democratic forum.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Like that Bernie Sanders placard out there? Look at that
thing. It`s real.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL live at Winthrop University in Rock
Hill, South Carolina, for the Democratic candidates forum here on MSNBC.
The Democrats will begin to take stage at the top of the hour. And it`s
coming up soon.

And the other big story tonight on the Republican side is the big
shakeup in the debate stage itself. Musical chairs continues now, fewer
chairs each time. Every time the song starts again, they get rid of a
chair. Well, Chris Christie just lost his chair.

Once the Republican Party`s great hope against Hillary Clinton, he
didn`t even make the main stage at next Tuesday night`s debate. I guess it
was a bridge too far for Governor Christie.

I am joined right now by the HARDBALL roundtable, MSNBC`s Steve
Kornacki, Joy Reid, and Alex Seitz-Wald.

Alex, your thoughts about this table. First of all, it must be a real
revolting development to find yourself at the big kids table and come the
next Thanksgiving, you`re over in the corner with the kids.

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I don`t think Chris Christie...

MATTHEWS: Is this like "Big," when the kid gets smaller and smaller?

WARD: He is putting on a good face. He is being a good sport about
this. But I don`t think Chris Christie is a guy who likes to be put in the
corner, is used to be being bullied around here.

But it`s kind of a miracle that he is even in this as far as he has.
When we were first talking about Bridgegate way back when, we never thought
he would make it this far. We never thought he would look so good. He has
been having some great moments in New Hampshire, talking about drug
addiction, breaking through a little bit. So, I have a feeling that he`s
going to get back on the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He is lower than 2.5 percent. That`s breaking in not much.

WARD: Well, sure. But when you have a big field like that...

MATTHEWS: OK.

Let me go back to you, because you were the star. You were the one
that broke the Bridgegate story. You made everybody a star. You were
great with this. Rachel did a lot with it, but you did a lot first. And
let me ask you this. Is he out of the woods on the legal end of it?

KORNACKI: Chris Christie himself?

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m talking about what will happen, no, when Bridget
Kelly and the rest of all the names you made infamous, when they start
talking and trying to cop pleas and try to point to a higher-up and say I
did it because somebody told me to do it, is there more coming?

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Well, the trials don`t take place now. They keep getting
pushed back. We`re talking early next year. We could be looking at
February, March next year. So, in a way, there may be nothing new that
comes out about this before all of the early and critical primary votes
state.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But is there something there he must fear?

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Well, I think the problem for Christie, the biggest
challenge right now is what happens after the trials and/or plea deals are
struck, because, at that point, when the principals become free to speak
publicly, free to tell their stories without any kind of legal threat
hanging over there, I suspect they will have some interesting things to
say.

MATTHEWS: It must be difficult to be Chris Christie and try to run
for president with that in your head, knowing there are people out there,
to save their skins, are going to point to me. Right?

REID: Not only that, but all of the space that he was supposed to
occupy in this campaign is taken by somebody else, the iconoclastic...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The big Northeastern loudmouth.

REID: Right, the guy who is sort of a bully boy that speaks mind,
that is also Donald Trump. He doesn`t really have any space really in the
campaign left to occupy. It is interesting that he is choosing to stay in.
I`m not sure what the rationale is for the Christie candidacy.

MATTHEWS: Well, he is term-limited. Sometimes, that is explaining it
all. There are no Senate seats open in Jersey.

KORNACKI: Can I just say, though, that I saw this guy in New Jersey
and I covered him, not just the bridge stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know. You were there at the creation.

KORNACKI: I got to say, the guy you saw on that video that went viral
this week talking about drug addiction in New Hampshire, that guy is the
guy I saw for 10 years in New Jersey.

MATTHEWS: Well, here he is. Let`s take a look. Today at a rally in
New Hampshire, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, reacted to the
news that he didn`t make the main stage in next Tuesday`s debate. That`s
FOX financial. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here is something
I know for sure. No national polls are going to determine who the next
president of the United States is going to be.

The people who are going to determine who has got a chance to be the
next president of the United States are the people in the first-in-the-
nation primary in New Hampshire and the people in the first-in-the-nation
caucus in Iowa.

Those are the people who are going to winnow this field, not any
executives at any suite in New York City and not any pollster sitting in
some strip mall somewhere making phone calls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It is interesting how he just says the pollsters are to
blame, not the people who respond to the pollsters.

He is way down. The new game is to blame the messenger. Blame every
messenger. Blame the church. Blame the press. Blame the pollsters.
Blame everybody but the truth that is coming at you.

REID: By the way, if the first -- the primaries and the voters are
going to determine who is the next president, who is the next nominee,
which primary or caucus is Chris Christie going to win? I think that is
his problem too, is where does he win?

KORNACKI: Here is the answer.

MATTHEWS: Where would he win?

KORNACKI: Here is your answer. New Hampshire. He is down in the
polls, but he just went from 2 percent to 2 percent in the last New
Hampshire poll.

And I`m telling you, that moment you saw on drug addiction, take that
moment, multiply it by about 500. That`s the number of town halls he will
probably do between now and the primary. Multiply it by however many other
issues he addresses. That guy -- I saw that guy.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You think he is in the running.

KORNACKI: Here`s what he has got to do in New Hampshire. His
competition is Kasich, Bush and Rubio. That`s the opening. He has got to
do better than them in New Hampshire.

(CROSSTALK)

WARD: There`s so much competition. So many people trying to get
through New Hampshire there. Everything is trying to get through New
Hampshire. Iowa, they`re writing it off. All the big candidates, all the
establishment candidates are all trying to get through New Hampshire there.

Jon Huntsman didn`t get a ticket to ride out of New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about Dems, including the arriving Bernie
Sanders, who has just arrived at the auditorium here at Winthrop
University.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look in there. It`s kind of a -- oh, look it.
There he is. He`s coming in the car.

There he is, Bernie Sanders arriving, something of a figure now, a
figure. There is one here, too. There is a Bernie Sanders right here.
There he is right now.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: There he is right there, right there, our own Bernie
Sanders.

Let`s talk about that. Who carries the fight tonight? My hunch is
that he is behind, he`s got to attack.

REID: Well, the thing is...

MATTHEWS: Not that they`re going head to head, but when he gets his
chance -- he`s second tonight. Hillary is third.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Right.

MATTHEWS: He will say something when he is on second, I think, that
Hillary will have to respond to.

REID: I`m not sure that that is the kind of campaign that Sanders
wants to run.

To be honest with you, in the last debate, the big moment that Bernie
Sanders had is when he talked about the damn e-mails and really defended --

MATTHEWS: He has been regretting that ever since.

REID: Yes, but I don`t see this campaign wanting to run negative.
They had a lot of opportunities and openings --

MATTHEWS: Maybe they can`t run negative. Maybe he doesn`t know how.

REID: And he doesn`t to. I think, I don`t know that that`s the
campaign --

MATTHEWS: Does he want to lose?

REID: He is an iconoclastic guy and I think he wants to run his own
race.

MATTHEWS: Does he want to lose?

REID: I think he wants to win. But I think he wants to win his own
way. And, you know, there is a lot of --

MATTHEWS: That is a simultaneous equation. You`re winning your way
and winning are two different things. It`s nice to do it your way.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there`s a tug
of war going on --

MATTHEWS: Does he have the psychology to go on the attack and do it
effectively?

KORNACKI: He has built a career on not doing that. He`s built a
career on never running a negative attack ad. He has built a career on the
kind of moment he had in that debate. I think there is a tug of war
between the political professionals who are around him and who see --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know what that sounds like? Michael Dukakis. It
sounds like Michael Dukakis.

REID: He got the nomination.

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We can see I think
the tug of war, the people around him are winning, the people around who
are telling him to go tough, he told "The Boston Globe" editorial board
yesterday, he doesn`t agree with Hillary Clinton on virtually anything.
It`s not a place he has typically been. But I think they`ve told them,
look, you can either stay positive and lose, or you can go negative and
maybe win.

So, he is taking that risk. He is going out there and going to try to
draw a sharp contrast. They`re going to try to draw a line and say, we`re
not going negative. We`re only trying to contrast on policy here.

I think that gets lost sometimes to people -- people who like him
because he is running a different kind of campaign, because he`s not the
guy to go negative. The same time you got a lot of supporters who really
don`t like Hillary Clinton and are liking these shots he`s taking at her.

MATTHEWS: How come nobody -- along those lines. I know we looked at
numbers Hillary Clinton is 27 percent in trustworthiness, which I think may
go down, but I don`t know. Why don`t those people move over to Martin
O`Malley?

REID: A, Martin O`Malley is completely unknown. He`s got -- he
doesn`t have enough money to buy name ID, and he has missed huge
opportunities to raise his idea. I think the Baltimore moment, when the
Baltimore uprising took place, Martin O`Malley vanished. He disappeared.

MATTHEWS: Should he have walked the streets?

REID: Reporters couldn`t get him to talk.

MATTHEWS: Should he have walked the streets?

REID: He should have done an interview. He should have gone on the
streets of his city that he was the mayor of, in a state where he was
governor, and defended the policies that people were telling me on the
street were to blame for what was happening in Baltimore. He wouldn`t
defend himself at the moment when he had the maximum free media
opportunity.

MATTHEWS: Would he have them strike a conservative pose to do that?

REID: He would have had to defend himself or repudiate. Hillary
Clinton --

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s not going to win the presidency repudiating his
policies.

REID: Well, he should have defended himself, because I`ll tell you
what, there are two ways to get name ID. You can get it through free
media, I mean, earned media, or you can buy it. He doesn`t have the money
to buy it. You have to take your free media opportunities.

I think Bernie Sanders is much the same position. You take your
opportunities for free media. That was --

MATTHEWS: That would have been a jujitsu, that would have been a
jujitsu -- if he can turn that situation to a plus.

(CROSSTALK)

SEITZ-WALD: I mean, tonight I exactly the kind of moments that Martin
O`Malley needs. He can`t get the crowds out there for himself. So, he`s
got to piggyback on the crowds that come out --

MATTHEWS: You noticed about here? Are there any Martin O`Malley
placards here?

(INAUDIBLE)

SEITZ-WALD: There you go. So, I mean, what he`s going to do here,
you now, is these people -- all three candidates in the race agree on a lot
of the same policies. He is hoping that some of these people here, he can
make his pitch to them.

MATTHEWS: These are great people.

SEITZ-WALD: He is a young guy. He`s a two-term governor of Maryland,
and he say, look, I`ve got the executive experience to deliver on this that
all these people --

KORNACKI: But, you know, he spotted early on, spotted the opening
existence to the left of Hillary Clinton. It was on economic populism. It
was on Wall Street. It was on the relationship between Democratic Party
establishment and the American Wall Street.

MATTHEWS: OK.

KORNACKI: But if that is the opening, Bernie Sanders who has done
this stuff for 40 years, you are not going to out-Bernie Sanders Bernie
Sanders. That`s what Martin O`Malley has been trying to do for the last
five months.

MATTHEWS: By the way, I want you to agree on something. In fact, you
can disagree. You and I disagree occasionally.

Let`s go to the issue. It seems to me that if you have a political
resume anymore, it`s a rap sheet. It`s completely different than they used
to be.

Look, it`s Lindsey Graham has been around forever, right? Pataki was
three-time governor of New York. The Governor Scott Walker, a good guy, I
mean, a tough conservative governor, nothing. Rick Perry, nothing.

Office for 12 years a lifetime in politics and it`s an embarrassment,
whereas the guy off the street, Dr. Carson is a living example, I have
never met a politician. I don`t know any of them. I have never been
there. That seems to be the claim to fame.

REID: Yes, even Marco Rubio, who`s a lifelong politician who`s been
trying to sort of position himself as the outsider that hates the Senate so
much, he won`t go to it, right? So, everyone wants to be the outsider.

MATTHEWS: Cruz just placed, I don`t know --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They`re setting rat traps for him in the Senate. They
don`t like him.

REID: Yes, he doesn`t have a lot of friends there. But the reality
is that a lengthy history of politics is also an opportunity for oppo
research. It`s a gold mine for the opposition research.

MATTHEWS: Well, even a lifetime writing any book, there`s an oppo
opportunity.

Are we going to end up with a president -- if it is Hillary, who`s a
professional pol, except for Hillary if we get a Republican president it is
likely somebody without political experience.

KORNACKI: Yes. Or, I mean, you are looking at Rubio probably who
have the most experience or the most likely. Yes. He will tell you it was
more than Obama had when he got elected, but yes.

MATTHEWS: The old line was, we don`t want to do on the job training.
Now, they want to do on the job training.

SEITZ-WALD: And there is a partisan divide here. If you look at the
polling, I think it was Pew, Republicans vast majority say they want
somebody new, who -- they don`t care as much about experience, they want
fresh ideas. Democrats still majority want fresh ideas but more what
experience.

They want to try, and that`s why you have Hillary Clinton. She is
using the line who is a bigger outsider than a woman president? Which is,
you know, it`s cute but I don`t know if it really --

MATTHEWS: It reminds people it doesn`t hurt. Actually, most voters
are --

REID: Women.

MATTHEWS: Women.

OK. Thank you, Steve Kornacki, Joy Reid and Alex Seitz-Wald.

When we come back, I`m going to speak to a top Clinton adviser ahead
of tonight`s forum set to begin at the top of this hour.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, live from Winthrop University,
site of tonight`s Democratic candidates forum here on MSNBC set to begin,
by the way, at 8:00 Eastern.

Right now, we are joined by a top person in the Clinton campaign,
communications director Jennifer Palmieri.

Jennifer, thank you for joining us.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, CLINTON CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: Good to
be here.

MATTHEW: Well, we just heard from Rachel who`s moderating tonight,
and she said all questions for Secretary Clinton will be brand new
material.

PALMIERI: That`s good. Well, the last time Secretary Clinton did an
interview with Rachel, Rachel said that her goal was to ask questions that
were unpredictable to the answers will be and it was a good conversation.

I know, I can tell you what Hillary wants to talk about tonight. She
wants to do what everywhere, which is talk about what she`s heard from
people, what the problems they`re facing in life and what she would do to
address the problems that keep them up at night, particularly in the
African-American community. We did a lot of work this week on criminal
justice reform.

MATTHEWS: To some extent addressing the audience here in South
Carolina.

PALMIERI: Well, you know, particularly in the Democratic Party,
there`s a large African-American audience in the Democratic Party here.

She has -- particularly in these last couple weeks, a number of
criminal justice reform proposals that she`s talked about, and she met with
-- she had a really moving meeting earlier this week in Chicago with a
number of mothers who`ve lost their children to violence. Some to --
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin. Some who`ve lost their children
to police violence, some just violence in general. And what more they can
do to combat that.

Those were really moving meetings for her. But she has talked not
just about -- you know, criminal justice reform is an important thing we
need to do to remove some of the barriers that keep people from succeeding.
But there`s a lot on the economic side, to make college more affordable,
dealing with health care disparities.

MATTHEWS: Rand Paul just called her a neocon a few minutes ago here.
What do you make of that? A hawk. He said she`ll start wars all over the
place.

PALMIERI: Rand Paul.

MATTHEWS: What do you think? Response, please? You`re the
communications director.

PALMIERI: She has proven to be -- I think she will be -- she has
proven to be a very -- an incredibly effective, empathetic and consistent
leader on foreign policy that has a -- you know, already has a lot of
presence and standing in the world. And she had a proven ability as
secretary of state to bring people together that hasn`t always worked --

MATTHEWS: OK, here`s dove. This is dove.

PALMIERI: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And this is hawk. Where`s Hillary?

PALMIERI: That is not how she --

MATTHEWS: Somewhat closer to hawk?

PALMIERI: She does not define --

MATTHEWS: But I`m asking you. You know her. Where is she?
Somewhere in between here?

PALMIERI: People say is she a dove or a hawk --

MATTHEWS: I think she`s more hawkish. I think she`s more hawkish.

PALMIERI: No.

MATTHEWS: She`s not more hawkish?

PALMIERI: This is not how she -- this is not how she views -- she
does not view the world as dove or hawk. She views the world as what`s in
the United States` interest, what can we affect and improve and where can
we be --

MATTHEWS: OK, let me be nice for a minute. One thing I noticed about
Hillary Clinton, nobody ever gives her credit for, when I look at the
people around -- the names, and they`re well-known people, all impressive
people, she has a very diverse group of women around her from all different
kinds of backgrounds, African-Americans, people from the Middle East,
people -- how do you explain this? Goes to Wellslee? Or how did she get
used to dealing with people comfortably of all different -- there are
always people. There`s the Irish mob and the Georgia mafia.

All the previous presidents always had a clock from some geographic,
she`s not like that?

PALMIERI: She`s had a pretty eclectic life. She grew up middle class
suburban but her mother really opened the world to her. Her first job was
working here in this state for the children`s defense fund on juvenile
justice, looking at the impact of children being in prisons. She`s had a
very eclectic life, living in Arkansas, then of course as secretary of
state. So she is someone who, you know -- her whole --

MATTHEWS: Does she practice reaching out to people like Maggie
Williams over the years and Cheryl Williams? She`s really seemed to make
an effort not to go with the usual people --

PALMIERI: She does bring -- she brings new -- she is someone who --
she is extraordinary how much she can listen, read, and absorb from people.
It`s always looking for new voices. And she brings -- she has a really
wide group of friends --

MATTHEWS: Who`s smarter, Hillary or bill? Which one?

PALMIERI: Obviously Hillary.

MATTHEWS: Right answer. Right answer.

Thank you, Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Hillary
Clinton and the Clinton campaign. Thank you. Thanks for coming on.

The First of the South Democratic Forum featuring Hillary Clinton,
Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley is coming up at 8:00 Eastern, right here
on MSNBC.

We`re back, by the way, with more HARDBALL after this live from Rock
Hill, South Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The Democratic candidates forum is just two minutes away in
Rock Hill, South Carolina, but let`s get some views of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary was just called a neocon earlier tonight
and I want to know, is do we have a candidate here tonight that will stop
the drone warfare and stop attacking countries that haven`t attacked us?

MATTHEWS: Who`s that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie`s probably the closest one we have.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.

Let`s go down here. What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually I just wonder how we`ve gotten to the
point where we have a candidate who thinks the world is under 10,000 years
old being taken seriously in this country.

MATTHEWS: Is that Carson?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just remarkable to me.

MATTHEWS: I know, fundamentalism is winning this case.

Let`s go down here. How are you doing? Bernie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie!

MATTHEWS: Who`s this guy here? Is this the real Bernie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will we overturn Citizens United?

MATTHEWS: We didn`t talk about it tonight but it`s a big issue. Why
is Citizens United big issue to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, basically, politicians can buy democracy
at this point. It`s up for sale.

MATTHEWS: Who`s the worst offender on using big money?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, clearly, the GOP if you want me to name a
particular candidate.

MATTHEWS: Which candidates?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rubio.

MATTHEWS: Rubio. Come on. Let`s get to it. He`s looking around,
shaking the cup for the big money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?

MATTHEWS: Same guy. Black lives. Two white guys pushing for black
lives matter. It`s very impressive thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White people need to care about structural
inequality in America. We need to say that black lives matter.

And I want to know if the Democratic candidates care enough to have a
substantive policy debate. The GOP, they use collective bargaining to get
their candidates to frame the debate they want. Why don`t the DNC and the
Democratic candidates have a debate about black lives matter?

MATTHEWS: How are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.

MATTHEWS: You`re with a very beautiful sweatshirt. You have anything
to say about this tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s beautiful. I love the energy of the
crowd.

MATTHEWS: You have a great voice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I want this guy in the broadcasting booth. This guy.
Brook Benton. Very deep voice.

We`re going to go right now to the Democratic candidate forum tonight.
Rachel Maddow`s going to moderate. It`s going to be worth listening to.
It`s going to be right here.

And afterwards, 90 minutes from now, we`ll be right back on that stage
to analyze it with Rachel joining us and maybe some of the candidates.

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

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