updated 11/12/2015 3:04:03 PM ET 2015-11-12T20:04:03

Date: November 11, 2015
Guest: Tom Davis, Anne Gearan, Heidi Przybyla, Anne Gearan, Jon Meacham,
Megan Murphy, John Feehery, Amanda Terkel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Breaking bad -- party crashers disrupt GOP.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, it`s getting worse, the nasty fights among Republicans. It used
to be you could count on Republicans to toe the line, talk like, well,
Republicans -- you know, less taxes, less government, more on defense, less
on anything like welfare.

But last night, they found reason to fight. Bush and Kasich said it
was ridiculous for Donald Trump to talk about sending 11 million people
outside the country. Those two had the nerve to defend illegal immigrants.
The rest joined Trump, with Cruz saying the Republicans would lose if they
joined the Democrats on what he called "amnesty."

On war, another fight, Marco Rubio led contenders trying to outdo
themselves preaching for a tough military. But Trump and Rand Paul stood
firm. Why spend a trillion dollars, Paul asked, when we could use it well
here at home?

Well, times have changed. In perilous -- or previous elections, you
couldn`t get by without a solemn reference to 9/11, one that often took the
form of a bugle call. In any case, last night, we saw a quartet of
candidates present themselves in stark colors.

Donald Trump is the economic nationalist ready to repel illegal
immigrants for taking American jobs, to attack foreign countries for doing
the same, Ben Carson as the soft-spoken promise of deliverance from the
complexity and unpleasantness of our times. Marco Rubio is the Army bugler
forever calling charge. Ted Cruz is the Tea Partier promising to cut taxes
to 10 percent, to knock off five government departments, even if he
couldn`t quite remember all five.

So who will be the chosen leader? Whose the party -- whose party is
it? Of course, that`s the big question, Whose party is it?

NBC`s Katy Tur is in New Hampshire with the Trump campaign. Perry
Bacon is senior political reporter for NBC, and Tom Davis is a former
Republican congressman from Virginia.

Anyway, last night, Donald Trump was asked about his plan to deport
millions of immigrants who are here illegally. Let`s watch.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS: Can you just send five million people
back with no effect on the economy?

bring people -- you`re going to have to send people out. Look, we`re a

BARTIROMO: So what would you do?

TRUMP: We`re a country of laws. We either have a country or we don`t
have a country. We are a country of laws. Going to have to go out and
come back. But they`re going to have to go out, and hopefully, they get
back. But we have no choice if we`re going to run our country properly...


MATTHEWS: Wow, he got a big applause for that. Katy Tur, you asked
Trump today about his deportation plan. Let`s listen to his back-and-forth
with you.


KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) deportation plan would be
humane. You`ve often referenced...

TRUMP: Totally humane.

TUR: ... Eisenhower`s 1952 deportation of (INAUDIBLE) immigrants.
That was at times anything but humane. They were dropping immigrants off
in the middle of the desert...

TRUMP: But they...


TUR: ... heat stroke. Others were shipped off on cargo ships under
hellish conditions (INAUDIBLE) How would your plan be different?

TRUMP: Very humanely done.

TUR: How?

TRUMP: Very important. Well, it`s a whole management thing.
(INAUDIBLE) good management, good management practices.

TUR: It`s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

TRUMP: But Katy, it`ll be very...


TRUMP: ... very humanely done. The biggest applause last night by
far was when I said we will build a wall and we will have a border

TUR: That`s well and true. But what about getting the people -- if
it`s more than 11 million...


TRUMP: We`re going to do it very humanely...

TUR: How -- but how do you...


TRUMP: ... and hopefully, they`re going to be coming back. But we`re
going to be doing it very humanely, and it`s going to happen. And it has
to happen...



MATTHEWS: Katy Tur, it must be an experience for you to maintain some
kind of civil relationship with that fellow. You challenge him, and he
always seems to come back and simply state, almost definitionally, because
he says it is true. I`m going to dump 11 million people across the Mexican
border from here, and somehow, we`re going to do it nicely.

"Humanely" is a word we often use about dogs that get picked up in the
street, Humane Society. It`s an odd word. Your thought about his
nomenclature -- humane treatment of people we`re dumping out on the other
side of a wall.

TUR: Well, speaking of the Eisenhower plan that I was asking about...


TUR: ... the plan that -- called Operation Wetback, Chris, which is a
really offensive term for Mexican immigrants -- historians have said that
that plan, when it was enacted, that people were treated even less nicely
than cattle were treated. They were dropped off in the middle of the
desert, 88 died of heat stroke. I`m not sure if you could hear me say that
in that audio. The ships that they were carried away on, the cargo ships,
were likened to 18th century slave ships.


TUR: So I asked Donald Trump about this because he has said, as you -
- as you`re pointing out, that they`ll be taken away "humanely," but he`s
not talking about how that`s being done. It does seem to make -- put a
distance between you and those people that are going to be affected. It
makes you not realize that there are families with children who were born
here, who are American citizens.

We have asked him in the past, What about those children? And Donald
Trump has said on "MEET THE PRESS" that they`re going to have to go back
with their families or stay here and be torn apart from their families.

So the idea of this plan may look OK on paper. It may look feasible
on paper. It may sound good to people who don`t want undocumented
immigrants in this country. But how it would be enacted is anything but
easy and would possibly be, most likely be anything but humane, if past is
precedent. And Donald Trump is using the Eisenhower plan...


TUR: ... as an example of how he would do it, and that was anything
but humane.

MATTHEWS: Well, last night, Trump also challenged the wisdom of
inking trade deals. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody
takes advantage of the United States -- China in particular because they`re
so good. It`s the number one abuser of this country.

And if you look at the way they take advantage, it`s through currency
manipulation. If it is approved, it`ll just be more bad trade deals, more
loss of jobs for our country. We are losing jobs like nobody`s ever lost
jobs before. I want to bring jobs back into this country.


MATTHEWS: On foreign policy, Trump said the U.S. should simply let
other countries take care of some of the world`s problems. Here he is.


TRUMP: As far as Syria, I like -- if Putin wants to go in -- and I
got to know him very well because we were both on "60 Minutes," we were
stablemates, and we did very well that night. But -- you know that.

But if Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for
it 100 percent. And I can`t understand how anybody would be against it.
As far as the Ukraine is concerned -- we have a group of people and a group
of countries, including Germany, tremendous economic behemoth. Why are we
always doing the work?

MATTHEWS: Let me bring in Perry and Tom. Tom -- no, Perry, you
first. I hear -- you know, and maybe I connect the dots, but I hear a gut
nationalism there, that a lot of people feel betrayed by the big shots at
the top, the sophisticates, on all these fronts.

PERRY BACON, NBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I agree with you. My guess is
Donald Trump does not actually believe he`s going to deport 11 million
people. That`s very unrealistic. Even Donald Trump does not think he can
do that. But it speaks to the people in the country who, like Katy, said
are disaffected. It does speak to a sense that -- like Ted Cruz said last
night. People feel like their wages are going down because of the


BACON: ... and I think that`s what Trump is...

MATTHEWS: What`s anybody else going to do about illegal immigration?

BACON: Right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Nothing!


MATTHEWS: ... nothing!

BACON: Nothing. Trump is right.


MATTHEWS: ... across the border. People are going to continue be
challenged for their jobs. They`re not going to like the ethnic change,
whatever, all the things that bug them, fairly or not.


MATTHEWS: Trump at least says, I`m going to stop it. Here`s my
marker. Let`s start with 11 million go home. Maybe it ends up with nobody
comes in tomorrow night, but they`ll end up somewhere different than now.

Your thoughts, Tom.

TOM DAVIS (R-VA), FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Well, it`s probably a good
primary strategy. The Republican Party has kind of mutated to a more blue-
collar party...


DAVIS: ... and of non-college whites. He seems to be cleaning up and
speaking, I think, to their concerns.


DAVIS: It`s a good primary...

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re vulnerable (ph).

DAVIS: It`s -- absolutely. Nobody else is talking about them,
certainly not the White House. So I think at this point, it`s a good
primary strategy. He has a good base that don`t care what he says. They
know he...

MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t -- I have no idea, for example, why the
heck Jeb Bush is running for president, except it`s in the family business.
I heard him last night. Everybody said he did well. No, he didn`t! He
didn`t say anything last night that anybody remembers! Everybody knows
what this guy`s saying, however.

Let`s go to Dr. Ben Carson`s policy on going after ISIS. It boiled
down to make them look like losers.


global jihadists, and their desire is to destroy us and to destroy our way
of life. So we have to be saying, How do we make them look like losers?
Because that`s the way that they`re able to gather a lot of influence.

And I think, in order to make them look like losers, we have to
destroy their caliphate. And you look for the easiest place to do that, it
would be in Iraq. And outside of Anbar in Iraq, there`s a big energy
field. Take that from them. Take all of that land from them. We could do
that, I believe, fairly easily, I`ve learned from talking to several


MATTHEWS: Oh, the cakewalk.

Anyway, today, Carson was asked about his assertion it would be easy
to take back the Iraqi oil fields near Anbar province from ISIS. Let`s
watch this reaction.


CARSON: They only have 30,000 people. And they`re spread out not
just there, but in several other locations. So I don`t think that they can
defend that area particularly well. If you gave our military a mission and
didn`t tie their hands and micromanage them, they would be much more
capable than what we think.

QUESTION: Do you think it would be (INAUDIBLE) easy for the U.S.
military to take back those -- that region from ISIS (ph) if they were

CARSON: I do. I do believe that.


MATTHEWS: Soon as I think I talk too fast -- I could be the number
two candidate for president right now if I just talked like this. He talks
-- is it because a lot of people don`t like fast-talking people from the
Northeast like me, but they like his calm approach?

BACON: I was out in Iowa, and several voters mentioned to me, The
media likes people to talk fast, but I like that Ben Carson is deliberate.
He thinks about what he`s saying.

And I wanted to laugh because, let`s be honest, Chris, that two hours,
more than anything else I learned Ben Carson just simply has not studied
and does not know what he`s talking about...

MATTHEWS: And he didn`t even -- he didn`t cram.

BACON: ... and doesn`t try...

MATTHEWS: But Perry, he didn`t even cram.

BACON: He doesn`t even pretend like he`s learned the issues. But
yes, he didn`t cram, but...

MATTHEWS: By the way, one question. How do you interpret out of
that, Tom -- did he say put our American troops in and take back those oil
fields in Anbar?

DAVIS: Of course, that`s what he said. We`re going to put American
troops on the ground. There are only 30,000 of them...


MATTHEWS: Send in the Marines.

BACON: Send in the Marines.

MATTHEWS: It sounded good to me -- I mean sarcastically.

Anyway, Marco Rubio got some of the biggest applause last night by
challenging Rand Paul on foreign policy. He took the hawk side, Rand Paul,
of course, was more dovish -- in fact, dovish. Let`s watch.


to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures? You cannot be a
conservative if you`re going to keep promoting new programs that you`re not
going to pay for!


an economy if we`re not safe! There are radical jihadists in the Middle
East beheading people and crucifying Christians! A radical Shia cleric in
Iran trying to get a nuclear weapon...


RUBIO: ... the Chinese taking over the South China Sea! Yes, I
believe the world is a safer -- no, no, I don`t believe, I know that the
world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military
power in the world!



MATTHEWS: Katy Tur, back to you. It seems to me he`s a recruitment
poster for war, but he doesn`t look like he`s signing up. I mean, I`m
serious. This is neocon talk.

TUR: Right.

MATTHEWS: A war that won`t (ph) involve American troops. But in the
end, after the ideologues have written their op-ed pieces in all our
newspapers and made all the case for various wars, including fighting the
Chinese, fighting the Russians over the Crimea, who goes and fights? Our
regular army of volunteers go and fight, and they get hurt and get killed.
And sometimes, they don`t win.

TUR: You see...

MATTHEWS: and yet these guys keep saying -- all you have to do is
give a good speech.

TUR: Well, it`s the exact opposite of what Donald Trump is saying.
Donald Trump is saying what we need to do is step back and let the rest of
the world take care of their own problems. And Rubio is saying the
opposite. He says we need to go in there and fix everything.

And that`s part of what got us into trouble in Iraq with the Bush
administration. They thought that they could go in and they could fix

MATTHEWS: Cakewalk!

TUR: ... by taking out Saddam Hussein and that it would be a
cakewalk, "mission accomplished" on the top of that aircraft carrier. You
remember that. That is not how it works, though, in the Middle East. It
is much more complicated than that.

And when you hear Ben Carson talk about ISIS, it`s like he has a
fundamental misunderstanding -- lack of understanding about how they work,
how they -- how they spread their influence. They spread their influence
by saying that America is evil and America is killing our people and
they`re taking our oil. And they`re -- and they`re effective with this
because, in a lot of ways, that`s what we are doing and that`s how we`re
perceived in the Middle East.

So the idea that we can go in and just knock out 30,000 people just
like that is a little bit ludicrous! It doesn`t work that way. The
influence is harder to knock out. You can`t just kill a bunch of people
because somebody stronger will come in after them. And that is something
that he doesn`t seem to get or doesn`t want to get. And his supporters, as
you were saying earlier, like the idea of him coming in and saying, These
are problems that are easy to fix.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s put 10,000 people into the Holy Land of Saudi
Arabia for 10 years and see how that reacts -- how they react to that, and
it was called al Qaeda.

Anyway, Ted Cruz talked about his plan to eliminate five major federal
agencies, including, and in fact, led by the IRS. Turns out he could only
remember four of them, but he got rid of one agency, the Commerce
Department, twice. That`s really hating government. Let`s watch.


spending plan, $500 billion in specific cuts, five major agencies that I
would eliminate, the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of
Energy, the Department of Commerce and HUD.


MATTHEWS: Well, he really -- he doubled down on that Commerce...


MATTHEWS: And I was thinking, Here`s Carly Fiorina, who was hoping to
be secretary of commerce!


MATTHEWS: And he`s getting rid of the cabinet post before he even
gets in there. Katy, did you hear me say that? I`m sorry.

TUR: It`s so bad, he got rid of it twice! That`s what I was saying.


DAVIS: Well, he got NOAA. He gets NOAA with that...


TUR: Kasich`s going to get rid of it thrice!

MATTHEWS: They say in New York, New York, New York`s so nice, they
named it twice. In this case, get rid of it twice. Thank you so much,
Senator Cruz, for getting rid of the Commerce Department both times.

Katy Tur, thank you. Great reporting tonight, as always. Tom Davis,
a great former member of Congress from the moderate Republican regions of
northern Virginia. And Perry Bacon, thank you.

Coming up -- what did the Republican fight last night signal to the
rest of the country, to Democrats, to the people in the middle even? A
little too hot maybe. For starters, there`s no need to raise minimum wage.
By the way, they came out against wage increases for anybody!

And if you`re in our country illegally, we`re coming for you. That`s
pretty rough stuff if you`re a Latino. This stuff might not sell with
middle America.

Plus, former president George Herbert Walker Bush finally spoke out
about Cheney -- that`s the pronunciation -- and Rumsfeld and how they badly
served his son, W. Tonight, the elder Bush`s biographer, Jon Meacham,
tells us all about what old man Poppy thinks about the boy.

And last nights`s Republican debate was the last for a month. We`re
going to project ahead and see -- in fact, figure out which way this race
is headed tonight.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the people we honored today, those who
have served in our armed forces. It is Veterans Day.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: On this Veterans Day, President Obama honored men and women
who served the country. And in a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, he
urged Americans to remember and honor the service of veterans year-round.
The president also called the recent VA hospital problems unacceptable and
vowed to continue investing in improvements for veterans` health care.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Wages in this country are too
high. That`s what Trump said. It`s time to bring back a 1950s-era mass
deportation program. Let`s invade Iraq again. And forget the Situation
Room, the real foreign policy experience comes from the Green Room. That`s
what Trump and the others were saying last night -- in fact, Carly Fiorina,
as well.

Last night`s Republican debate was full of moments like that, that
Republican critics and certainly Democratic ads makers may very well like
to exploit. In fact, they`ve begun the assault already.

Anne Gearan is national political correspondent with "The Washington
Post" and Heidi Przybyla is the senior political reporter with "USA Today"
covering the presidential fight.

Let`s begin with the resounding rejection of raising the minimum wage
in last night`s debate and the curious statement that wages in this country
-- it`s like the guy who says, Rent`s too high. Remember last time around?
They say wages are too high. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: Wages too high. We`re not going to be able to compete against
the world.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX BUSINESS: So do not raise the minimum wage.

TRUMP: I would not raise the minimum.

minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases. You know, that --
and that`s because of those high wages.

raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their
pay, I would be all for it, but it isn`t. In the 21st century, it`s a


MATTHEWS: And, Heidi, this is an odd thing.

Let`s start with Trumpy. He has a great appeal of economic
nationalism. The little guy is getting screwed. But the little guy lives
on wages. The little guy doesn`t get a salary. He gets a per hour.


MATTHEWS: He checks in. He checks out. It`s by the hour, wages.
Working wages. Why would Trump say they`re too high?


PRZYBYLA: Well, I mean, a few reasons. One is that he is in the
middle of a big battle against the restaurant workers union.


PRZYBYLA: Yes, trying to unionize at his -- organize and unionize at
his hotels and he`s fighting it.

He doesn`t want that foot in the door from the unions. He`s felt that
way, I think, always. So...

MATTHEWS: Does that mean they would get -- a waitperson, to use the
modern term, would that person now get $15 without an hour tips or
including tips? How would that work even?

PRZYBYLA: Well, at the moment, you would get a little less than $8
straight minimum wage.

And I think the people who are trying to unionize are actually like
the restaurant workers, the cooks and the bartenders and so forth. So,
yes, they would be eligible.

MATTHEWS: For the full $15, plus tips?

PRZYBYLA: Well, it would only be $15 if the locality installed $15.


PRZYBYLA: But, I mean, the other thing, I think is, he`s just
appealing to this ur-Republican, you know, do not inflate wages, pro-
business stance, which plays well with people who are already going to vote

It does nothing to expand the brand at all. And it plays right into
the Democrats` hands.


MATTHEWS: The Republican Party`s big growth has been among white
working people that didn`t go to college, to be blunt, working guys.

And they are the ones that like Trump because he`s a nationalist. He
makes them feel proud and he voices their indignation at the way things are
going right now. Why would he stick it in their face and say you`re not
going to get any money from me, in fact, wages are already too high?

What a statement.

PRZYBYLA: I don`t know, because it makes no sense for him politically
when you look -- like you said, when you look at who his base voters are.
They`re these disaffected, arguably disenfranchised white working-class

MATTHEWS: OK. It`s Route 40. It`s Friday night. A guy has had
three or four beers. He`s sitting in a bar stool next to another guy. And
he goes, what do you think of Trump? I don`t know about this thing on
wages of his. What is that about?

PRZYBYLA: Chris, 51 percent, do you know what that is? That is the
percentage of U.S. kids today who quality for free lunches. And why?
Because their parents don`t earn enough money. That`s why you`re seeing
demonstrations all across this country. That`s why you`re seeing cities
taking already action on their own.

And guess what? The majority or two-thirds of Americans agree that
the minimum wage should go up.

MATTHEWS: I thought it was amazing to hear somebody say, I`m against
a living wage last night. Usually, you don`t like buy the other side`s
nice way of something saying and then trash it.

Anyway, let`s take it -- Donald Trump has taken the Republican Party`s
nativist streak to new heights. Let`s watch him. We will see what he is


MARIA BARTIROMO, MODERATOR: Can we just send five million people back
with no effect on economy?

TRUMP: You are going to have to bring people -- you are going to have
to send people out.

Dwight Eisenhower, good president, great president, people liked him.
"I like Ike," right? The expression. "I like Ike." Moved 1.5 million
illegal immigrants out of this country.

QUESTION: Are you going to have a massive deportation force?

TRUMP: You`re going to have a deportation force.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They`re doing high-fives in the
Clinton campaign right now when they hear this.


MATTHEWS: Well, they may well be.

The program that Trump refers to, by the way, was a 1950s, early 1950s
law enforcement initiative.

Well, today, Hillary Clinton tweeted -- quote -- "The idea of tracking
down and deporting 11 million people is absurd, inhumane, and un-American.
No, Trump."

This gives Hillary and the other Democrats a free ride. They don`t
have to have an immigration plan. They don`t have to talk about E-Verify
or stopping illegal hiring or the guy jumping across the border tomorrow
night. They don`t have to say anything, just say this guy is an idiot.

And he`s cruel. It makes it too easy for them.

ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That`s right. And that`s why her
campaign spokesman tweeted out last night, yes, actually, we`re giving

MATTHEWS: We got a strange look, by the way, at the Republican
Party`s lack of foreign policy actual experience last night when Donald
Trump and Carly Fiorina talked about their firsthand, first-person meetings
with Vladimir Putin.

Let`s think about how they got to meet him.


TRUMP: I got to know him very well because we were both on "60
Minutes." We were stablemates, and we did very well that night.

not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting.



QUESTION: Where did you meet?

FIORINA: I met him in Beijing. We were in sort of a green room
setting, actually.



MATTHEWS: They`re in the same boat. As you saw, in that clip a green
room is how Fiorina herself described her meeting with Putin.

And Politico`s fact-checkers note that -- quote -- "Trump`s interview
with `60 Minutes` was filmed in Manhattan. Putin`s was filmed thousands of
miles away in Russia. The Donald was almost certainly just having fun with
this one."

Well, that`s helping him out. You know, I can see Putin from my
dressing room, from my makeup room. I can hear that, another Tina Fey.
This is weird.



MATTHEWS: He never actually met him.

PRZYBYLA: You know what, though? It`s weird, but I don`t know how
much it hurts them in the end.


PRZYBYLA: Republicans are the daddy party. Whenever there`s a
national security terrorism...


MATTHEWS: I came up with that phrase, by the way, back in...

PRZYBYLA: Did you? OK. Proper credit given.

MATTHEWS: Way back when you were allowed to say things like that.


MATTHEWS: You`re not allowed to talk like that anymore.

PRZYBYLA: Well, it`s true, though. Look at every election we have
had since the terrorist attacks.

MATTHEWS: You know, they`re the ones that lock the doors at night.
They`re the ones that execute the bad guy and fight the bad guys.

PRZYBYLA: Yes. And when Republicans -- when people are scared, they
go to...


MATTHEWS: That`s the way I talked 20 or 30 years ago, by the way,
Heidi. I can`t say daddy party and mommy party anymore.


MATTHEWS: Back you can look it up in "The New Republic" back when it
was OK to say that.

Thank you, Anne Gearan.

GEARAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Heidi Przybyla.

Great guests, both of you.

Up next, an inside look at what George Herbert Walker Bush, the first
President Bush, really felt about his son`s administration, not much, and
the hard-right turn taken by Cheney and Rumsfeld. Didn`t like those guys.
The great Jon Meacham, one of our great historians, is here with his
groundbreaking new biography of Bush 41.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It is rare that a single book adds so much to the historic record of a
subject as well known as an American president. But that`s exactly what
author and historian Jon Meacham manages to do in his latest biography.

"Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker
Bush," it provides rare insight into the thinking of an accomplished leader
who to this day is insecure about his own place in history. As Bush
candidly told the author: "I feel like an asterisk. I`m lost between the
glory of Reagan and the trials and tribulations of my sons."

Well, Veterans Day, which is today, is also the perfect occasion to
honor the last president of the greatest generation, a man who was shot
down over the Pacific during World War II and had to endure the open seas
on a raft until he was picked up by an American submarine.

But, like most warriors, Bush was realistic about what war can
accomplish. The most striking new information in the book is the degree of
skepticism Bush felt about those who helped lead his son into war.

Bush`s criticism, which came as a surprise even to George W. Bush,
centered on Dick Cheney`s powerful role as vice president and his son`s
unwillingness to curtail that power -- quote -- "Cheney had his own empire
there and marched to his own drummer. It just showed me that you cannot do
it that way. The president should not have to worry. The big mistake that
was made there was letting Cheney bring in kind of his own State
Department. I think they overdid that. But it`s not Cheney`s fault. It`s
the president`s fault. The buck stops there."

What statement.

I`m joined right now by Jon Meacham, author of "Destiny and Power."

Jon, my friend, what a great accomplishment already in terms of the
news this book has made. Did you understand when you heard the first
George Bush, the first President Bush, when he laid out, in I assume pain,
the fact that he was disappointed, in fact angered by what happened under
his son`s leadership?

GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH": I did realize what the first 72 hours were
going to look like. And now we`re a little bit beyond that.

It was very striking. These were conversations that began in October
of 2008. He repeated the point in several different sessions over the next
few years. He was very critical, as you noted, of Cheney. This was one
man who had one view of the vice presidency and Dick Cheney had another
view of the vice presidency.

He also -- I thought, to his credit, he said that the president was
ultimately responsible. He held his son to account for this hawkish tone
that he thought actually misrepresented what his son truly believed.

MATTHEWS: What do you mean he misrepresented? What did he think his
son was up to when he went into Iraq?

MEACHAM: Well, he -- the context of these remarks was about -- more
about the second term than the first term.

And my own sense is that while President Bush 41 had anxieties about
the first -- the second Iraq War, that he believed and held his son to
account for the phrase axis of evil. He thought that -- he said that
that`s a phrase that will probably be proven not to be historically
benefiting anything.

He was more concerned -- I think he was closer on the substance than
on the style of the administration. And he held Cheney as the chief figure
who seemed to make the administration appear more hawkish than Bush 41
himself thought it actually was.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but he was so right, I thought. And you did the
reporting and the history here.

But at the time, I remember being shocked at the power that Cheney had
in the vice president`s office. He had his own National Security Council.
He had not just Scooter Libby, all kinds of people who were loyal to him.
Hadley, they were all working for him. He had built a second government
and he had connections over there with that special office over in the
Department of Defense. It was equally hawkish, equally neocon.

And I don`t know whether you could call President Bush a neocon. But
his vice president was operating as one. They were extremely ideologically
to the right and very, very militarily aggressive. They seemed to have a
list of countries they wanted to go into.

MEACHAM: That`s a very good point, because what President Bush 41 was
particularly worried about was broadening the war on terror beyond
Afghanistan and Iraq, and chiefly Iran.

The context of these remarks, remember, is `07, `08, when there were
fears that there would be even more projection of force through the Middle
East. And that worried President Bush 41 enormously.

MATTHEWS: Well, later on, when he later became -- the first President
Bush became skeptical of Cheney. Bush was also uneasy about the Gulf War
which he waged against Saddam Hussein after Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Now, this was back when George Bush Sr. was president. Minutes before
he famously declared to the nation that Saddam`s aggression would not
stand, Bush recorded a note in his audio diary expressing his concern that
the situation would spiral out of control.

Here is his private recording from that day in 1990 which Bush
dictated as he traveled back to the White House aboard Marine One.


serious problem. It`s perhaps the most serious problem that I have faced
as president, because the downside is so enormous.

If indeed the Iraqis went in and got ahold of Saudi Arabia and our
objective then was to free Saudi Arabia, we would really be involved in
something that would have the magnitude of a world war, of a new -- could
have the magnitude of a new world war, with so many countries involved.


MATTHEWS: On this point, Jon, do you have evidence that the -- that
Saddam Hussein was planning to go into Saudi Arabia back then?

MEACHAM: I know that there were enormous fears at the highest levels
of the government, the president -- of the United States government.

What you heard there was August 5, 1990. You remember well on August
2, the day of the invasion, the president said, "I`m not contemplating
intervention of any kind."

What is so fascinating about this diary, this audio diary, is you can
hear him on the 2nd, the 3rd, the 4th, and then culminating with the
evocation of a new world war, he was worried the Saudis wouldn`t stand up.
He was worried that the Saudis would actually strike a deal with Saddam.

He says that Prince Bandar has been double-dealing them with the
Turks, trying to get the Turks not to be as strong against Saddam in those
first days. To me, this was revelatory, because the Saudis ultimately
became the host country for the forces with enormous implications down the

But what`s so amazing, Chris, and you love this stuff too, is, he`s on
the helicopter. You hear the blades of the -- the blades of the chopper...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I could hear it.

MEACHAM: ... on the way back from Camp David, landing there, and then
steps out and says, "This will not stand."

Then he walks into the West Wing, and Scowcroft, Brent Scowcroft,
says, "Hey, where did you get that, this will not stand?"

And Bush looked at him and said: "That was mine. That`s what I mean."


MATTHEWS: Well, in the years after his presidency, Bush Sr. grew
close to the man who defeated him in `92, Bill Clinton, but he did not feel
the same about not Hillary.

In 1992, Bush privately remarked that: "She`s very militant and pro-
liberal cause, and that`s going to get her into some difficulties."

But later in 2006, he said: "I don`t feel close to Hillary at all, but
I do to Bill. And I can`t read their relationship even today."

Well, he`s probably not alone in that. But it`s interesting that he
offered that gratuitous comment about the former first lady and the former
president and their relationship, an odd step over the line into the
personal there.

MEACHAM: Well, you know, he`s thinking about, you know, his -- we all
project our own family, our own issues on to other people.

I think he probably is -- It is one of the most fascinating political
-- it is the most fascinating political marriage since Franklin and
Eleanor. And, in fact, Barbara Bush in her diary, after she read Doris
Goodwin`s "No Ordinary Times," said it reminded her of Bill and Hillary
Clinton and they might have separate lives.

And Mrs. Bush wrote, "Who knows?"



MATTHEWS: What about the affection that Bill feels for -- has George
Sr. became his father emotionally? Is that what is going on here?

MEACHAM: It`s fascinating, isn`t it?

We have two presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who did not
know their fathers who have come to revere George Herbert Walker Bush.
President Obama in an interview with me for this book was -- lavished
praise on Bush as the last -- one of the last gentleman in American

And I do think -- I think two things are going on with Clinton`s
affection, maybe three, with Clinton`s affection for 41. One is, I do
think there`s kind of a warm father figure there. Two, Clinton is very
historically minded, and George Herbert Walker Bush is a figure of history
now. He`s not a passing political figure.

And the third is, it doesn`t hurt with the American middle for Bill
Clinton to be seen as being close to a Republican president.

MATTHEWS: Also, you know, I think he`s the greatest generation
replica, right, the point we have in our lives, rather, the survivor who
still represents that heroic period in our history.

And I think Bill, who didn`t go into the military, looks up to him,
like most of us would, to a real fighting man, a man who really was shot
out of the skies and pulled out of the water for a submarine ride back to
safety. It`s quite an experience as a young man, to quit prep school and
go do that. It certainly separates him from a lot of our generation.


MATTHEWS: Meacham, you`re the best. You`re the something. You are
going to get another Pulitzer for this one, I guess.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Jon Meacham, of our great historians.

Anyway, the book is called "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of
George Herbert Walker Bush." It`s a long time coming, but what a Christmas
gift right now, if we dare say. How about a holiday season gift?

MEACHAM: There we go.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable is here to game out the
Republican nomination fight. With one month until the next GOP debate, who
can gain some momentum and rise above the pack in the weeks remaining
before the next one?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.





DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you`ll see quite a
few people starting to -- I don`t want to predict. I think I know. There
will be a lot of people dropping out. They have to drop out, they`re not
resonating. And some of them are very good people. But if you don`t
resonate, they`re going to drop out.



That was Donald Trump speaking to reporters earlier today, predicting
a big shake up in the race after last night`s debate.

Well, the good, the bad and ugly from last night`s debate are going to
replay in voters` minds until the next GOP debate which isn`t for another
35 days. So, we`re in the home stretch.

And here`s the state of play right now in the polling. Averages:
Trump and Carson are one two at the top. Rubio and Cruz have moved into
the second tier. Jeb Bush is still struggling with just 6 percent.
Everyone else is hanging on.

Can Dr. Ben Carson hold up to the scrutiny? Can Donald Trump continue
to draw enormous crowds? He had 10,000 the other night.

Can Rubio and Cruz continue their momentum?

Who is vulnerable? Who won`t make it through the holidays? Who`s
going to fade?

The HARDBALL roundtable tonight: Megan Murphy is the Washington bureau
chief for "Bloomberg", John Feehery is the Republican strategist, and
Amanda Terkel is senior political reporter with "The Huffington Post".

Amanda, you start. Project it out, where is this going over the next
month at least?

AMANDA TERKEL, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I think we`re going to see the
candidates start attacking each other a lot more. Maybe not name calling
and things like that. But you`re started to see in the debate last night
where they drew more contrast on policy, starting to preview a little bit -

MATTHEWS: Who is out to get who?

TERKEL: I think Ted Cruz. You already saw, he`s starting to get
Marco Rubio, didn`t call him out by name, but started the preview, you
know, you don`t want someone who is soft on immigration. You don`t want
someone supporting sugar subsidies for example. So, Trump and Carson, they
didn`t go after each other but it`s going to get nastier.

MATTHEWS: Sugar subsidies are worthy of presidential candidate. I
couldn`t believe that last night.

TERKEL: I was surprised it was mentioned, too. But, you know, he is
clearly watching Rubio --

MATTHEWS: He`s trying to insinuate that Marco Rubio, a fellow Spanish
surname, I`m sure the right word is Hispanic because they are Cuban
nationals or whatever -- come from Cuba. But is he going to insinuate that
he`s still basically for what he calls amnesty?

TERKEL: I think he is. I mean, Rubio got very, very lucky last
night, and that he did not have to jump into the immigration debate. He
skated by. He got some slightly easier questions. You saw Jeb Bush, John
Kasich, Donald Trump get in there on immigration. But Rubio didn`t have to
do it, but he`s going to have to obviously.


John Feehery, what do you see coming next month?




FEEHERY: I think you`re going to see Danny Diaz from Jeb campaign
really go at it against Marco Rubio. Now, that being said, there`s two top
guys who have plenty of oppo research that needs to be done, who are the
top two guys, who are still at the top of the polls.

And nobody thinks they`re going to be the presidential candidate, but
they`re still up there. So, somebody`s going to start taking some shots --

MATTHEWS: I think Trump can win.

FEEHERY: Well, other people start believing that as well. You`ve got
to start doing some opposition research on those two guys. But you`re
absolutely right. Ted Cruz is also seeing that the real problem with Marco
Rubio. So, you`re going to see a lot of folks --

MATTHEWS: OK, remember in `92 when people wanted so much, they didn`t
want to hear about the crap about them, Bill Clinton. They heard crap
after crap. They heard about Gennifer Flowers. They heard about the

But they wanted this new young guy who seemed to have the chops. I
wonder if what we`re seeing in the case of Trump, they like this angry,
economic populist so much they`re willing to put up with the personal life,
the divorces, all these stuff, the bankruptcies, they don`t -- they`ll
forgive it all because what they want is strength?

I`m just thinking --

MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS: What you`re going to see over the
next 35 days, let me say something a little bit controversial is what I
like to call the education of Donald Trump. You saw last night when he
bones up on policy specifics, he`s much better than you think he can be.
He can talk about tax. He can talk about corporate inversions.

MATTHEWS: About Eisenhower shipping people out.

MURPHY: He can talk about that. He can actually sound credible on
some of these very high level issues.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s smart. Wasn`t he smart? One of the smart ones?

MURPHY: He`s smarter than I think a lot of people think he is.

MATTHEWS: He`s rich. He`s got to be smart.

MURPHY: He`s rich. And what we`re going to see is I think people
think they`re gong to opposition research him out. He`s going to bone up
and he`s going to sound more --

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about it. Those who haven`t -- I love these new
words, like the cycle. It`s used to be the campaign, now, everything`s a
cycle. Now they call the primary season the primary. The language keeps -
- the DNC is now the convention. It used to be the headquarters.

Anyway -- I hate language change. Anyway, tonight, trouble for
Kasich. What Trump was talking about, the New Hampshire focus group of
Republican voters organized by pollster Frank Luntz, a Republican, was less
than enamored with Kasich`s performance last night. Let`s watch.


FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: So, what was it? Who had a negative reaction
to John Kasich tonight? Really?


LUNTZ: I need a word or phrase to describe John Kasich.





LUNTZ: Hold on. Finished?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t belong on the stage. Chris Christie
should have been there.


MATTHEWS: There`s an objective point of view. I love these focus
groups. There is something carrying the water for Christie. Upset that
Kasich got the last spot.

Your thoughts?

FEEHERY: Well, I like John Kasich him a lot. I think he`d be a great

MATTHEWS: How`d he do last night?

FEEHERY: He didn`t do very well.

MATTHEWS: What`s this jack in a box thinking of his? He keeps
jumping in there. Carly Fiorina did not interrupt anymore than Kasich did.
In fact, not as much.

FEEHERY: I think that was a problem. I think he was so worried about
being on the end, he was so worried about not getting time, but he wasn`t
very good.

MATTHEWS: Yes, every time he complained about time, he sounded like
Jim Webb.

FEEHERY: Yes, he sounded --

MATTHEWS: It doesn`t work.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these people surprises me with someone I don`t know.
It`s always a big part of the show.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump was the candidate with the most Twitter
mentions during last night`s debate. According to Twitter, he was tops,
followed by Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz all sort of bunched

Ben Carson, however, had the biggest number of new Twitter followers
last night. Marco Rubio came in second, Donald Trump third in that
category, with Trump overall.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable.

I want to know from Megan. Tell me something I don`t know.

MURPHY: Bush fund-raiser called this morning with donors, they
admitted that they were having trouble raising money, really interesting, a
pretty open admission from them that they needed to get that momentum back.

MATTHEWS: Last night hurt?

MURPHY: Last night helped to staunch the bleeding, but I don`t think
it`s going to help him gain momentum with donors that much.

MATTHEWS: The big surprise of the election, the biggest surprise is
the failure of Bush.

Go ahead.

FEEHERY: Paul Ryan might be a new speaker, but he`s got an old hand
as the chief of staff, and the person who is the chief of staff for Mitch
McConnell used to work for Dave Hoppy, and why that`s important is it`s
going to really improve communication between the Senate majority leader
and the new speaker. I think it`s going to help them get stuff done in the
United States Congress.

MATTHEWS: Did you read today that Ryan sleeps on a cot in his office
every night? He doesn`t even have an apartment in D.C.?

FEEHERY: I think that`s still true.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s sort of understandable since they have three
kids going to college.

Yes, Amanda?

TERKEL: What you`re going to hear more in the coming months and
probably in the campaign trail is transgender rights. There`s a bill being
drafted in Tennessee that would prevent students, transgender students from
using locker rooms and bathrooms --

MATTHEWS: So, this is anti-transgender rights?

TERKEL: Anti-transgender. You saw this --

MATTHEWS: So, where does transgender people supposed to go? What
locker are they supposed to use?

TERKEL: They want to use based on the gender they identify with, but
they`re being --

MATTHEWS: Well, what does society saying in these cases? The
conservative society saying they should go?

TERKEL: They`re saying they should go to the one based on --

MATTHEWS: Where they were born?

TERKEL: Where they were born.

MATTHEWS: Thank you to my roundtable tonight, Megan Murphy, John
Feehery and Amanda Terkel. I think this is one of the things that`s going
to change.

When we return, let me finish with the people we honored today, those
who have served in our armed forces.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the people we honor today, those
who served our armed forces. It used to be that serving in military
uniform was a prerequisite to running for president. Every president who
came to office after World War II, for example, from General Eisenhower
through the first George Bush was in uniform during that great war. It was
only after the Cold War that was concluded that Americans stopped insisting
that the commander in chief not come to office without some experience as
an officer down the chain of command.

Well, think of it. The Moscow coup failed in August of `91. Bill
Clinton, the first of the new generations of presidents, was elected the
year after. We all see the logic of this, the good logic. It`s that those
who fought in wars tend to see, if not their folly, certainly their costs.
Think of Dwigth Eisenhower who received the Nazi surrender Europe, the man
who led the great crusade against Hitler. Think about how this same man
stood firm, refusing to join the French in battling for Indochina in 1954,
refusing to join in the nuttiness of the Suez campaign when Britain, France
and Israel went to war with Egypt.

Think of young Jack Kennedy, refusing to send U.S. forces to fight in
Cuba in 1961, despite all the treachery that the CIA tried to hook him into
it. Think of him again in October of the following year, refusing to
accept the call to war by Curtis LeMay and other hawks in the military and
elsewhere, pushing for invasion of that same island.

You know, it`s always been my hunch that the best buffer against
stupid wars is the veteran, the person who has been to war. It`s why I put
my bets on Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, those who don`t need to prove it
in high office, who don`t need to talk forever about the need to make
policy more muscular.

What I fear, those who do, those who once are in the position of power
become bent on proving their toughness. I want leaders who want to prove
the future historians, if not the current voters, that they were wise, that
they knew the cost of war, and took it to heart. It`s a difference between
the veteran and the armchair general, between the true conservative and the

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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