republican primaries as the back drop. and only talk to their opponents or talk to the media. but the ones that talk to the american people, address them. don't treat the public like they're peeking through your window watching something as an imposter. the one that treats the public like they're guests in your living room and you're talking to them and it is about them. that's the one that will break through. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. a special two-hour edition of "hardball" starts right now. good evening.
i'm chris matthews in cleveland. home of the rock 'n' roll hall of fame! where else would it be? ready for what promises to be an important night in american politics. because if hillary clinton still looks like the democratic nominee, nobody can tell you right now which of these ten candidates, or 17 candidates on the republican side, will get to go up against her. tonight, ten republican presidential candidates here in cleveland. in the first presidential debate. for all the years i've been covering politics, there has never been a field quite like this one. nor has there been a national stage so exciting and consequential as tonight's. at center stage, donald trump by every standard, the front-runner. is there any viewer who won't be watching his performance, how he conducts himself tonight. is he ready for his close-up? right next to him is jeb bush.
he was the front-runner before trump jumped in. even going after bush's wife. now a new report that bush told one of his contributors that trump is a buffoon and a clown and a word we can't use. and that the rest of the field includes fire brands like ted cruz, mike huckabee, ben carson, the live and let live rand paul, the hawks marco rubio and scott walker, john kasich -- and chris christie from jersey. and there will be the fox moderators. there are also seven candidates who did not make the prime time stage tonight. call them the line outside the restaurant. we'll tell how the undercard went earlier this evening but we begin with the main event. joe scarborough is the host of morning joe.
casey hunt, the political correspondent. michael steele, republican national chairman. he joins us. and joining us tonight, chuck todd, moderator of nbc's "meet the press." we've got a news bulletin delivered by casey hunt. what do you know about the prem by the donald trump people for the debate? >> that's the big question, right? he has been saying he hasn't done much in the way of traditional prep but msnbc has received some memos outlining some of the potential ways he could approach the debate. a lot of it is traditional prep. it lays out broad themes. something roger ales said they should do. it doesn't include too many aggressive attacks on his republican opponents which is another thing he's been out there saying he won't do. what it does include is a lot of material in the event that those republican opponents go after him. so we have a couple potential
goats trump could use. these are memos that were circulated among his campaign. we're not sure how much time donald trump has spent looking at these. in the event of attack from marco rubio, he would say, you're a miss the guy but you can't even balance your personal checkbook. how can we trust to you handle the federal budget? he also shows, while there were no prepared quips directly against jeb bush who is someone that he's gone after very aggressively, he does include them in others. it is funny when he was governor and the instruction is, point to jeb. and you headed the florida state legislature, the florida state debt more than doubled. we may be able to fact check that with you. he also includes in an attack line against john kasich. i called jeb and you the lehman brothers. and finally, scott walker, there are ten people on the stage. -- i'm missing my scott walker
quote here. but there you go. there are ten people running on the stage. nine are running against trump. one, me, is running against hillary because she would be a disaster for this country. she is a criminal. so there you have a broad attack against the republican field. >> let's go to what i think, that's fascinating stuff. >> your thoughts about this. this is the biggest night of the campaign so far. the audience will be in the zillions. you'd better make a good impression. >> i don't know how much donald trump preps. i remember jack kemp in 1996 obviously didn't prep. some people -- >> did any winners ever not prep? >> no. they didn't. the question is what happens with donald trump? you said it off the top. this is a republican race like no other in our lifetime. the republican nominating process for president has all
the responsibility night of the windsors in great britain. >> normally. >> trying to figure out who the next in line is. we republicans always pick who is next in line. i remember going to san diego in 1996. i sat down at a table. this was before we even nominated bob dole. somebody came up and said hey, george w. bush is coming. someone said, you know he'll be the nominee in 2000, don't you? >> really. donald trump has changed that. he's shaken it up. he's made everybody look twice and he has completely changed the complexity of this race. >> which is it? the new kid on the block, the exciting guy or the same old same old? >> i don't think we'll have the same old same old. >> your thing has been whose turn is it? never saw the kid before. give him the ball. that's the way it's been.
whether it is jack kennedy or anybody else. >> the parties have flipped the scripts on each other. >> they've cross dressed. >> that's one way to put it. the democrats are making it easier for hillary. you heard martin o'malley complain about the debate schedule. on the republican side, it is wild, wild west. a real opportunity for the party to do a couple things show. case the talent that has been grouped and developed and the governors, the senators, the business community. that's been good. the second thing is to have what you'll see tonight. a really frothy debate about what matters to this leadership. >> big question is when trump is attacked. he might unload. here's taste of the trump dump leading up to tonight. a preview of tonight's attractions. >> marco rubio? >> i think he is highly overrated.
>> he's a jack ass. what a stiff. >> lindsey graham. gave me his number. and i found the card. i wrote the number down. i don't know if it is the right number. let's try it. 202 -- [ bleep ]. >> have you no sense of decency, sir? >> he put glasses on so people will think he's smart. and it just doesn't work. people can see through the glasses. >> if we embrace this language, the divisiveness and ugliness, we'll never win. we'll never win. >> he is weak on immigration. he is in favor of common core. how the hell can you vote for this guy? just can't do it. >> if the goal here is to find the person to be president of the united states who can get the most attention, he is going to win hands down. >> i told this to chris. i told it to his people. he missed his time. >> they went after me specifically. i said hey, he can speak for
himself. >> finally i can attack. finally. the wisconsin is doing terrible. the roads are a disaster. the schools are a disaster. the hospitals and education is a disaster. he was totally in favor of common core. >> i think this is a temporary sort of loss of sanity. we're going on come back to our senses and look for somebody serious to lead the country at some point. >> chuck todd, the democrat and the republican presidential campaigns have always begun in iowa. speak softly, be respectful to people you meet. low key. and somehow new york, the big apple, gotham, jackie gleason, the biggest noise makers in the world have taken over the republican process. is this for real? is this really the big. first big test on roger's network coming out of new york.
>> they will never be president. you cannot become president without doing well in the midwest. they all connected with the mefls in an important way. let's go to the bigger question here. this idea that, is this about trump or something else going on? why is the republican party not acting the way it normally does which is just getting in line behind who is next and who will not, you know, blow it. who will do just fine. and i think this is a pent-up party. the conservative grassroots, the working class conservative. they have been upset about the establishment of the party. you can argue to say they've been upset going back to 64. they felt as if they were listened to in the reagan years. ever sense the bushes took control of the party, they've
never felt comfortable and happy in the party. and i think that at some point, this was going to blow. we were going to have this uprising of the conservative populist grassroots that had been growing in the party for over two decades. here it is. and trump figured out how to tap into it better than cruz. all these guys that we thought could. he's figured out how to be more blunt and straightforward and tap into it faster. whether he can sustain it. i don't know how he does. i don't know how you sustain this level for this long making it all the way to iowa and new hampshire and everything. >> you're out there. do you see haley's comet, the party whose turn it is just gets wild about this character and goes off the rails with a guy like trump. >> one thing i have to tell you is there has been a shift in tone among many of the top
operatives. it has gone from what are we going to do about this flash in the pan, all we have to do is ignore him until august to wow, what are we going to do if on the ballot in iowa? on the ballot in new hampshire? what if he wins iowa and then we're trying to figure out who will win south carolina. those things are starting to emerge as part of the conversation. people are taking him much more seriously. >> what happens if he looks like he belongs in the pack? >> i know we're going to talk -- >> he doesn't want to look like -- >> he doesn't want to. i know we won't talk about the happy hour debate until next block. if anybody watched the pre debate, they understand why donald trump is doing well right now. because that was so pre packaged. so calculated. it was so mechanical. >> good job of promoting our second block. >> only one candidate really broke through. you looked at that and you said, so this is why people are hungry
for a candidate like donald trump that says washington politicians just don't get it. >> do you know what i thought when i watched that now that you've broken the seal? i thought i was watching bill happener and martha. the prom king and the prom queen interviewing the people who didn't get dates. it was so sad. it was just sad. i want to continue with this. the former chair of the national committee. does he fit in the top tier? does he look right? >> trump? >> yeah. trump. >> i think he does. it is obvious to a lot of people. whether or not he can take it to the next level and show his level of competence to run for president. right now it is working for him. i don't see him changing anything. i think he will come in a little more muted in the that beginning. size up the stage. like a deal for him. this is an art of the deal moment. he has all these guys that he will be dealing with. >> we've bev talking her up.
carly fiorina joins me now. she was the star of the otherwise nerdy effort tonight at 5:00. what did you do the others didn't do? >> i'll believe to the pundits. my goal was to introduce myself to the american people. only 40% of republican voters knew who i was before tonight. so my goal was to introduce myself and to give people a feeling of what i would do as president of the united states and what my back ground is. i feel satisfied that they got an introduction to carly fiorina which i think was important. >> you called hillary clinton a liar tonight on a number of occasions. do you want to explain why you would use an almost end of conversation term for your possible opponent next year? >> because it's true. one of the things people are tired of in congress. republicans do it as well.
we don't use common sense language. people are tired of sanitized sound bites and bumper sticker rhetoric. they want a conversation with the real issues. by any standard common sense measure she's died. about her middle east and about her servinger. >> how do you debate someone you just called a liar? do you just begin a debate with i don't believe a word you say? you're a dishonest person? having worked in washington all these years. you say it is not common sense. do you really think that's a way to engage in a debate? to call your opponent a liar? i'm astounded by that judgment. >> first i was very specific about the subjects about which i think she has lied. i didn't say she lied about everything. i was very specific. very fact based, actually. you are the one who has made a generalized comment now about her. not me.
secondly, i will debate her. excuse me. secondly, i will debate her -- >> go through your list. go through your list of where she's lied. >> benghazi, e-mail and server. i will debate her on the issues facing this nation. i will debate her on her positions. i will ask her, for example, how she can possibly continue to defend planned parenthood. i will ask her why she continues to say she is a champion of the middle class while every single proposal she has put forward makes crony capitalism worse and worse and worse which makes income inequality worse. i would ask her why she declared victory in iraq in 2011. why she called bashar al assad a positive reformer. why she thought she could stop vladimir putin's with a gimmicky button. i will ask her why she got every policy wrong as secretary of state. that's how i'll debate her. on the issues. >> let me put a fine point on that. how did she lie, as you put it,
about benghazi? where was her lie? >> okay. so it is very clear from all the data, it is very clear from the data, from the e-mails that she, that the president of the united states, that the secretary of state, and that the military understood this was a purposeful terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 and they understood it while it was going on. so tell me then why would you talk about the next day from the state department, why would you talk about a video? why would you explain that this is not america? why would you stand over the bodies of the fallen and say it again? why not come out and say, this was a purposeful terrorist attack on our embassy. four brave americans were killed and we are going to seek retribution. >> thank you. i see why you stood out tonight. thank you for coming on the program. there you have it. the recent secretary of state,
just say it. she said she lied, she lied, she lied. i jumped to the conclusion she called her a liar. >> and she name the three occasions that she did. i'm just going to talk about carly fiorina generally. if you look at the debate, if you look at the way she responds to the debate, if you look at the way she responded when she came on to our show. micah went after her very aggressively. not only did they have a great debate, she came on the next week. got in my face. she doesn't mind confrontation. as far as sub stance goes, there is carly fiorina and there's everybody else. not just on the earlier stage but even on the stage tonight. you can look at every single candidate. if you want to judge them by debating skills, i don't see anybody at this point in the campaign -- >> so you like the way she is going about this. >> no. if you're saying -- >> calling her possibly a liar. >> no, chris. don't put words in my mouth. >> i'm asking. >> i don't like that she called
her a liar. what did i do? i went -- >> i'm asking. >> i know you're asking but you have to start listening. >> i'm listening hard. >> no you're not. you're trying to pigeon hole me into something. >> let's move on. >> no, no. i'm not going to move on. >> we have to. >> i'm not going to move on until i say i disagree with calling an possibly a liar. i don't think that's the approach. >> that's what i was bringing up. >> that's right. but i'm talking about how did carly fiorina do? i think that's probably what people hear and watching on tv want to know. >> i have an advantage here. because her closing statement went on to a series of cases. she lied, she lied, she lied. talking about the secretary of state. she lost her talking points for the closing statement. all that was a deliberate plan attack on hillary as a liar. lie, lie, lie. so she plan -- >> is that all we'll talk about the next week about carly fiorina? or are you going to talk about her performance? i think that was her performance. >> just that one answer. >> i think when she chose to
make her closing statement. probable nominee for president. a liar. made that point repeatedly. i think that's a highly significant decision on her part and i don't think a good one for the country. i don't think we should begin our national gee. debate. >> should we really go back and call the other side a liar? what was george w. bush call? do we really want to dredge up what people of this network and the democratic party called george w. bush for eight years? was that good for the national discourse? >> let's repeat, retreept the last several minutes. carly fiorina was kind enough to make herself available to this network coming off a statement. her closing statement was to accuse the recent secretary of state again and again and again of lying. we have discovered that she had a written statement to that effect. it was a deliberate way to start a national campaign. i think it is something that deserves news coverage and very important decision making by the american people. do we want a presidential campaign calling. >> one campaign calling the other a liar. i'm serious about that.
>> that's how george w. bush dealt with democrats. >> let's try to focus on carly fiorina. >> of course you would like to talk about it when a republican says about it a democrat. what about when a democrat uses it about a republican? >> whanlds you're saying and i get back and forth here. but carly fiorina scored the points she needed to score. number one. >> which is hillary is a liar. >> and she tapped into a fact that, the polls are calling her a liar. >> the american people are calling her a liar. >> that's the kind of politics they want to see. and you've reynoldered your judgment. >> no. i haven't. stop putting words in my mouth. i know you want to. >> let's put hit the way. would you say she accused secretary clinton of lying repeatedly tonight? >> you have the closing statement. she said she lied on three points. but i'm just curious.
are you going to just hold on to this like a jack russell terrier? get a bone? are you going to be carrying this around for three weeks? or are we going to look at more things? >> as long as the bone is sitting next to me. >> well, if that's the only bone you think you have to chew on. >> the last ten minutes. >> that's all you want to talk about. what i'm saying is there are a lot of republican that's saw carly fiorina. a lot of people in the press that saw more than. that i do not -- by the way, i've run four time. i've never called my opponent a liar. i've never questioned their integrity. >> nor should you have. >> do i agree with her calling the secretary of state a liar? no. i don't. >> thank you. we are kissing cousins on this. >> we certainly are. except that's not all i'm going to focus on tonight. she had a great debate. >> you're a chivalrous fellow. thank you. i'll get around to thanking you but you'll be back.
coming up, more of this club fight. you just heard from carly fiorina. we'll have more highlights from the earlier debate. these two oil rigs look the same. can you tell what makes them so different? did you hear that sound? of course you didn't. you're not using ge software like the rig on the right. it's listening and learning how to prevent equipment failures, predict maintenance needs, and avoid problems before they happen. you don't even need a cerebral cortex to understand which is better. now, two things that are exactly the same have never been more different. ge software. get connected. get insights. get optimized.
welcome back to "hardball." live from the club fighting between me and joe in cleveland, we're just under two hours away from the main event. the top ten republican contenders. the seven candidates missed the cut and they met this afternoon in what lindsey graham called the happy hour debate. it wasn't that happy them included four colonel or former u.s. governors, a sitting senator and the person who came in second in 2012. that's rick santorum. one top pick came up early.
donald trump and why he is dominating the polls right now. >> when you look at the celebrity of donald trump, i think that says a lot about him. i've had my issues with donald trump. i talked about donald trump from the standpoint of being an individual who was using his celebrity, rather than his conservatism. how can you run for the republican nomination and be for single payer health care? >> i didn't get a phone call from bill clinton before i jumped in the race. did any of you get a phone call from bill clinton? i didn't. maybe it is because i hadn't given money to the foundation or donated to his wife's senate campaign. sense he has change his mind on health care and on abortion, i would ask, what are the principles by which he will govern? >> here by popular request, carly fiorina's closing statement. >> hillary clinton lies about benghazi, she lies about e-mails, she is still defending
planned parenthood and she is still her party's front-runner. 2016 is going to be a fight between conservatism and a democrat party that is undermining the very character of this nation. we need a nominee who is going to throw every punch. not pull punches. and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring. >> we're back with joe scarborough and michael steele and of course we're also join by andrea mitchell. and outside the quicken loans arena is robert costa. i want to go to you. andrea, everybody seems to think that carly fiorina made a name for herself tonight in numerous ways but mainly stood out among a rather dull crowd. >> i think she did stand out. i think she was the hardest hitting of the candidates, clearly and as the only woman, she had that advantage standing out. but i think she did stand out. it is tough and not to everyone's taste. if there's a takeaway from everyone's debate.
it was in an empty stadium which is very hard to debate. i felt sorry for them. no audience. no reaction. i have to say that i think carly fiorina for her toughness -- >> one of the questions people raised. that carly sees an opportunity. not only did she miss the cut. but she is the only woman on either stage today. and being that aggressive on hillary. saying she lied about all the issues. is that a way of saying i'm not afraid. if you put a woman up there. she has a better shot at taking down the opponent you'll probably face. >> absolutely. she is saying, i am the best suited to go after her. and she's been saying that for a while. she's been out there -- >> because? >> on the campaign when we saw her in south carolina, she trailed hillary clinton to south carolina i interviewed her that day right outside where hillary clinton was giving her speech. she's just been mercilessly going after clinton. and saying basically, i can do it because i'm a woman.
she's not saying that but that's the message. >> everybody will say it looks to me that fiorina was the star today in the early match. the bottom card. the question is, they will also take a direct shot against hillary for lying in those cases. is this melded together, making that attack on your probable opponent? >> talk over the single campaign. everyone had a trump strategy coming in. everyone had a hillary clinton strategy. they came armed with one liners. opposition research. you see fiorina. she is the attack dog. she relishes the role. >> what do you think about it was all in her prepared statement, she came in with the idea to come in calling hillary a liar. that's a pretty strong decision on her part. why do you think it is effective? it apparently is.
we're talking about her. >> fiorina sees a path to victory in a place like iowa, the activists, the conservatives in that state, they love the red meat. it will be harder in new hampshire. bush is strong, trump is strong. she needs a bounce. she is a lower tier candidate. she has to have the conservatives in northwest iowa with her. these kinds of hillary clinton comments help. what do you think of her attack on trump saying, i didn't get a phone call from bill clinton? then we hear that she was actively involved in the global initiative shelf wasn't hands off but she took a direct shot saying he is somehow clinton's candidate. >> that's what everybody believes. >> she believe trump is clinton's candidate? >> yeah. there is a narrative. you will probably see more of it tonight. about the connection between clinton and trump. >> what's the strategy? >> why would clinton want trump to do well? >> i don't even take that away from that. i think they have a friendship
and a relationship that is just there. >> and they have for a long time. >> for a long time. >> you know, it is interesting. you talk about carly fiorina and her opposing comment. the morning joe team and i watched the debate. and the dpir debate. round one goes to carly, round three goes to carly -- this one time you're talking about was the one time that we looked at each other and said, that was a weak closing statement. in fact, i text that had to somebody. so if carly fiorina is declared the winner by republicans and other people that watched it. it is actually in spite of that last closing statement that she made. because that was the one time that she seemed to be out of her element. the one time she was grasping for words. >> robert costa is with us, he broke the story that bill clinton spoke to donald trump right before race went into the
race and they report that clinton sounded curious about trump's moves and. he was striking a chord with frustrated conservatives and a rising force on the right. robert costa, what do you make of the political that significance of bill clinton being the corner man, the guy gi with wi-- >> to use a trump word, clinton. huge. huge significance. a lot of the rivals are coming to talk about the call from bill clinton. they think trump has a vulnerability when it comes to his relationship in the past with hillary clinton, secretary clinton, in the past, bill clinton. if he's not a tool of the democratic party. he is too cozy with them. >> go ahead. >> and it helps resonate with their argument that's he is not a true conservative if they make that argument. that he had a different position on health care, abortion. they can make the case that he
is clintonian or too connected. if you really want to believe in conspiracy theories, bill clinton is egging him on to get into the race because it helps hillary clinton to royal the republican party's race. >> do you think that fiorina work her way into the top ten tonight, or the top 11 by her performance? >> no. it will be very tough. this 5:00 debate. it is big right now. but in an hour, we're going to have two hours prime time trump in the top tier. they're going to overwhelm this lower tier. i hear some of the contenders in the first debate. they're going out to dinner together. rick perry, bobby jindal. they know they're not the main show. >> do you all agree she did well? >> yeah. but i agree robert. >> i'll bring that up on my show for the next several weeks. >> by the way, let me just say, i am against candidates calling
other candidates liars. have i made clear? >> clearly. >> i'm glad i have. yeah. >> the trouble is, there was an initial support of her position tonight. >> by whom? >> by you. >> there's not a support calling hillary clinton a liar. the great thing is this is all on time. no, no. all i said was, she did very well in the debate. her weakest line was her last. >> let's get one point clear. if you call a person -- you accuse a person of lying three different times in a role of are you calling them a liar? she lied, she lied, she lied. is that calling someone a liar? fiorina said i didn't call her a liar. she did. >> you got that. >> i got that. give me that point. >> you got that to put in your pocket for a couple nights. >> you got one bone. >> thank you. joe scarborough who owns the morning. beware. the vampire rises at dawn. still ahead, michelle bachmann.
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democratic stronghold. serve a democrat. who are these people? >> they are open minded to new candidates, fresh blood and progress in the united states. so they're here to give the gop a welcome. >> so you're being generous. >> absolutely. and enthusiastic. >> i'm a fan of yours. >> tell me the ways. tell me how. >> honestly. what did you think of this fight tonight with scarborough? it was a stupid fight because there was no real debate. carly fiorina called her opponents three time a liar. and she can quibble and say i only accused her of lying three time. but i didn't call her a liar. that's pretty rough talk. what do you make of that? >> well, i think a lot of name calling is going on. i'm actually an obama supporter so on the other side of the fence here, i'm looking to see a republican candidate with a little more substance and a little less name calling. i would like to see more about the issues and less about -- >> what do you think tonight will be like?
two hours, fox tv. >> i think it is a lot of people and i'm not sure there's a lot of time. >> who do you think has brains? >> well, i think our governor probably does. >> kasich. >> absolutely. >> the home of the democrats welcome the republicans. we'll be right back. can a business have a mind? a subconscious. a knack for predicting the future. reflexes faster than the speed of thought. can a business have a spirit? can a business have a soul? can a business be...alive?
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>> your question was, who is the proven -- constitutional conservative in this race? that would be me. i'm 55 years old. i've spent years as a private business woman, living a real life and building a real business. you have to look at the candidates on the stage. >> in the summer of 2012, she surged in the republican field. in august she scored a huge victory and won iowa's straw poll. former congresswoman michelle bachmann joins us now. thank you. it is an opportunity to have you share with us your time. what did you make of the debate? what are you on this? >> did i. i watched the first one. i'm looking forward to the second one. to me what i'm focused on more than anything is who will be the individual who will ensure that iran never becomes the
wealthiest terror state in the history of the world and one that has nuclear weapons. it is really the issue have our day. the issue that is premier and above all other issues. that's my main concern. who will be the best person to deal with that issue? >> i'm trying to figure out. i think you may be right. your entire party no, mat here the nominee is, the issue is security. that will be the issue of the campaign. >> i think national security will be the number one issue. we're seeing the rise of islamic jihad across the world. but primarily with iran becoming a terror state. in the next ten years iran will hold if the agreement goes through, over a half trillion dollars in new assets and they'll have every level of women known to man up to and including nuclear bombs if they hold to the terms of the agreement. if the agreement goes according to plan, iran will be assured,
guaranteed of having nuclear bombs. that doesn't bode well for the world. and i think that is what americans are on the edge of their seat about right now. that's what they want to hear from these candidates. we heard that i think in a very strong way in the first debate and now i think we'll hear it even more. at least i hope we do in this upcoming debate. >> what are our options if the deal goes down? >> well, one of the options that has worked historically, both in iraq and syria and in libya was to take out the nuclear hardware. that does not start war. that would end war. it has worked very successfully in the past. i think it is something that would work very successfully today. >> what do you think, the government of iran, if we bombed their facilities. what would be the reaction we could expect? >> we have a very unique window of opportunity when the united states is the premier power in the world today. we could take out the nuclear
hardware and we could withstand any level of a response that would come from iran. they don't have the current military situation to be able to respond. that window of opportunity is closing, chris. and i'm concerned that it will close by perhaps as early as 2016 or 2017. so the time to act is now if we want to guarantee and assure that iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. >> we should bomb iran now. what about donald trump? >> that's what he'll prove to prove on the stage. this is a big proving ground tonight. as i think i learned and all the other candidates learned. this is about as big as it gets. unless you're in the final debate as the nominee of your party. this is the second biggest stage. and i was privileged to be a part of 15 presidential debates. and during that time, there is
no filter. the viewer gets to see your heart and hear your mind and it is a wonderful experience to be able to transmit to the audience your authenticity, your sincerity, where you're coming from on the issues. and a bond begins. i think we've seen on it both sides of the aisle with democrat candidates, republican candidates, some candidates connect and some candidates don't. and that's a part of what we're seeing now in these earliest debates. will a candidate have the ability to connect or not? it is the super bowl for politicians because there are so few debates. both on the democrats side and the republicans side this time. far fewer than before. each debate, i believe, will be a super bowl for those candidates. because they will rise and fall, donor checkbooks will close very quickly, and candidates will have to make a decision. if they'll stay in or if they'll get out. so tonight is a super bowl
because i think we could see a lot of candidates make a decision about the future of their candidacies after tonight. >> thank you, michele bachmann, you're great to come on. apart from the candidates themselves, the audience can sometimes be a factor in primary debates. during the primaries we saw how some in the auditorium were surprisingly vocal on a few key issues. when a gay soldier asked about the don't ask/don't tell policy, you could hear audible boos. >> in 2010 when i was deployed to iraq i had to lie about who i was because i'm a gay soldier. i can't want to lose my job. my question is under your presidency do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? >> boo! >> well, that was sweet. anyway, john mccain's campaign, and eugene robinson is a
pulitzer prize winning columnist and writer for "the washington post." some pretty strong statements tonight. i don't want to get into any more attacks from my colleagues. carly fiorina ended her deliberate ending tonight accusing hillary of lying to the country on three different occasions and you just heard michele bachmann come out tonight and call for the bombing of iran. so these, i would call, a couple of aggressive candidate types. your thoughts? >> when we think about how this is going to play out with the audience, i think it will be interesting to watch the response to these comments this time around. they are in cleveland. it is mostly a cleveland audience. you are in the midwest so you are expected to have a certain decorum. i'm interested how the stage will play out with an audience in ohio. >> yeah, do you think the language is too strong for a state that decides the presidential elections? >> well, you're in cleveland. we're tough. there are five ohios, five regions. >> liar, liar, pants on fire doesn't scare anyone away? >> we're tough and i could imagine some catcalls from the
audience. >> what did you make of michele bachmann's call for a bombing raid? her statement of principale. >> the choice is war or there's a bad deal. >> the choice is bombing. >> that's my point. she's buying into the die kchot on this issue. >> you think obama made her a hawk? obama made her a hawk? come on. >> my point, chris, is that she is giving life to the president's argument. >> yes, she's making his point. >> it's a false choice. this bad deal is what will bring this country to war over the next decade. if there's a central lesson in history -- >> my point, too, a lot of hawks out there waiting for this to go down so they can start bombing. >> listen, chris, this deal will allow the iranians to build their ballistic missile program,
to develop nuclear weapons program. they're the largest exporter of terror in the world. they have the blood of thousands of american soldiers. they are a sworn enemy of the united states. and the wishful thinking by this president about that regime is going to get a lot of people killed in the years to come because we are moving closer to the inevitable war that weakness and wishful thinking always brings. >> we know for sure the war that your side supported, that took us into iraq, cost the lives of 200,000 people and that's a fact. this is a war -- >> a war that hillary clinton voted for, of course. >> and ohio ranks fifth in the number of lost. >> steve, i really couldn't disagree with you more, without the deal we have no way of influencing iran's behavior, short of war. we simply don't -- and this is not just an agreement between the united states and iran, this is an agreement between the permanent five members of the security council plus germany plus the united states and iran.
the horse has left the barn. the others are not going to sign on to the kind of intensified sanctions regime that perhaps we would want them to sign on to. they're not going to do it. we will be left with ineffective unilateral sanctions that don't get anything done and then a choice of how we affect iranian behavior and the choice will be war. >> there is a lot of truth to what you just said about the ineffectiveness of unilateral sanctions but all of this has been brought by the stunningly naive policy incompetently negotiated, the degree to which the united states congress does not have oversight over the iaea side agreements on this deal is appalling. and when you look at this issue, it is not just the republicans, there are many, many democrats in the congress who are deeply, deeply concerned about this deal and understand how much more dangerous the world will be.
>> how many republicans are for the deal? >> i hope none. >> that says something, does it not? you're talking about democrats having a spirited discussion about where they are and it's a partisan deal. >> national security issues will be at the fore of this election because of the incompetence of this administration. >> let's be clear, the partisanship is severe. we're looking at maybe one possible republican senator from arizona. i think in the end of the deal will be certified and protected by nancy pelosi's leadership in the house. i think that's going to be a very bad partisan stop. >> i think we have seen great partisanship over recent years. this is a vote of principle. i think they are acting about the security of the country. >> they've been doing it one person after another in line. benjamin netanyahu will go down in history as a guy who made a
strategic mistake. that was a big mistake. he shouldn't have joined forces as a partisan. partisanship should end at the water's edge. thank you. but you're entitled to your opinion. i'm often lucky to be with eugene robinson. we're coming back for another hour live from cleveland. now with just one hour to go until the big fight, the first republican debate on cleveland's stage. back after this. this is my body of proof.
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>> we're here in downtown cleveland. everyone is out tonight. it's a democratic town with a lot of interest in the republican debate. less than an hour from now the first republican presidential debate of the season. get ready for what promises to be, i think, after all the fun and games, a very important night in american politics. whatever we thought two, three weeks ago, donald trump is the main attraction tonight. he enters the debate and this is in every poll you look at as the front-runner, center stage tonight. that's where he's going to be and he's physically flanked tonight as you watch by nine other republicans who must at
some point, at some point take him down if they want to win because he's king of the hill right now. the battle starts tonight. it's already getting nasty out there. politico is reporting jeb bush told a donor it's a big contributor he thinks trump is a clown and a buffoon and he used worse words. he'll be standing next to donald after donald trump hears what bush has been saying about him. we have no idea what to expect tonight. with all the years we've been covering politics, there's never been quite a field like this one. what is a successful night going to look like? steve schmidt ran john mccain's candidate, two pulitzer winning columnists with "the washington post." steve kornacki is with us. i guess we start with the question let's talk about what you think the fight is going to be, predict, kathleen parker, because i think -- i just happen to think, like everybody is who
they are. donald trump is going to be donald trump. >> well, yeah, i hope he is, because otherwise it's going to be a little less entertaining than we're expecting. but i think very possibly donald trump is going to try to throw everyone else offbalance a little bit by being presidential. now what that means, you know, may have its own trump flavor. >> is he going to come out with a buzz cut? >> i don't think he's going to do that. he may talk a little bit more in more substantive terms than thus far. i don't think he will get away in this debate without saying something like i'm going to repeal it and replace it with something terrific. >> but what happens, gene, if that's what he does? if he comes out, no fireworks, and all the other guys do the same thing, we're going to have a replay of that thing we saw this afternoon. >> well, there will be a big difference, number one, this is the first string, not the reserves. number two, there will be a crowd there to react to whatever is said. >> i hope they make some noise. >> so there will be some energy
in there. and, number three, i think even donald trump being subdued is not really subdued by any standard definition. i think what he has to avoid is sounding like a politician because a big part of what's gotten him this far is not sounding like a politician, by sounding like something different. if he uses politician weasel words, i think he loses some of the momentum. >> i agree with you. i don't think he'll do that. i do think the moderators will put him on the spot to be more specific. but the thing is even though we in the media want him to be more specific and say something that we can actually report on, the public doesn't seem to mind when he skips over the details. >> steve schmidt, you've been a corner man with the towel over your shoulder sending these guys in. what are you telling them to do? bobby kennedy said to jack kennedy, kick him in the balls. that just gets the guy out to the fight. is that the right way? go out there with everything you've got and say take it easy,
protect yourself. what do you say? >> we don't talk like that anymore. >> donald trump is donald trump. it's his authenticity that is fueling his rise in the polls. if we see donald trump come out like he's on a tranquilizer, it will hurt donald trump's image. i think donald trump operates at one speed. he's going to come out and be donald trump, and we'll see tonight what the appetite is for substantive answers versus the showmanship that we've seen out of donald trump. certainly if he says things like, look, i'm going to build a big wall, it will be a great wall, i will make the mexicans pay for it and none of the others confront on it, he will diminish them spectacularly. if you're not tough enough to stand up to donald trump, how do you stand up to vladimir putin? >> great point. >> they will have a tough time navigating this. >> the point is donald trump is in first place, right? he has double the support of anyone else according to recent polls. so, in a sense, yes, there's pressure on him. the first time he's been in this
situation. i think a lot more pressure on the others who would be in that position, who want to be in position. jeb bush on walker. >> steve kornacki is with us. what about the moderators? they're well known and respected especially in the republican world out there. you have megyn kelly, bret baier and chris wallace. they're going to be up there. they're not going to let a guy, any of them and trump stall. they didn't do that at 5:00. they didn't press them. >> you know, you mentioned these moderators. think of megyn kelly and election night 2012. karl rove, a big name in republican politics is on the set of fox news saying this isn't over yet. megyn kelly made him look like a fool on national television. she had that kind of skill at asking questions putting him on the spot but she has that much
credibility with the audience, the fox news audience, the republican conservative audience. i think that's the biggest wild card tonight to me is less what the other candidates say to trump and how chris wallace and megyn kelly treat trump. if you want to read the tea leaves, the 5:00 debate, the kids table debate a couple hours ago, different moderators. they were intentionally trying to bait those candidates into attacking and criticizing donald trump, john kasich. they were looking for conflict, asking questions about those candidates. that might be a preview of the tone these moderators are going to take tonight. >> kathleen, if i were roger els, and he's the pro heading up fox, i don't like that earlier debate. it was too empty in the room. cavernous. like they were playing baseball without a ball. you didn't hear the ball hit the mitt. nothing happened. the moderators didn't react in any way to any answer. it was like they were having to fill out questionnaires. no reaction. no audience reaction. i think he has to turn the heat up, let the audience react, at least laugh, at least do
something. >> you have to have an audience. >> he has to get the moderators to do what megyn and the others did, give that discerning look, i'm not sure you answered that question. that sort of stuff. >> when the moderators would ask a question you could see behind them there were rows and rows of empty chairs and that has to hurt them as well. it's demoralizing. how do you get your energy up and feel like you're talking to anyone when you're not. it didn't work well. i watched it but it didn't work well. >> how does roger hype this up for the next hour? >> we're going to talk about immigration in the debate. this was a main issue in the undercard debate. donald trump is going to give answers on immigration i suspect with the tone that he's given throughout the early stages of his campaign. republican candidate for president cannot win the presidency without getting 40% of the hispanic vote. you look at the electoral map, the states democrats have won. 242 electoral votes. you add states that they've won
five out of the last six elections. they go to 282 electoral votes. republicans cannot lose the hispanic vote by under 40%. if these candidates, marco rubio, jeb bush, john kasich, do not stand up to donald trump. if we have the latino version of the booing of the gay soldier tonight, this will be a disaster for the republican party. this general election can be well over by 10:00 tonight. >> you have two hispanic candidates, cuban americans, ted cruz and marco rubio and jeb bush's wife is from mexico. his kids are hispanic, they speak spanish in the home. which one will stand up and say stop mocking my people? >> look, i think that the one that does certainly shows the character necessary to be elected president of the united states. >> and if they don't? >> if they don't the republican party is probably going to lose the six out of the last seven elections in november because if we do not do better with this
community, if we do not get to that 40% number, it's game, set, match. >> right. >> given the tough rhetoric, the republicans could do worse actually with the latino community than they did the last two elections. i do agree and it's an opportunity for jeb bush, for scott walker, for others if they so choose to show some courage and to show some, you know, some force and strength. >> i don't think they lack courage. do you have the right opportunity to get in there and make a point without looking unnecessarily combative? i think that jeb bush is the one who would sneak up first on that immigration issue because, you know, it is an insult. when donald trump says, oh, listen, they love me. i've got hundreds of those people working for me, that's the way he says it. >> steve kornacki, the challenge is when you swing for the fences with the big line you know and everybody knows you think it's the big line. you lay it right out there and there's nothing in reaction. is there a chance you could
swing for the fences and not go to right field every time? can you say something big to this audience tonight that isn't just red meat for the hard right or do you have to go for the obvious target, minorities, the big democrats, hillary, obama? are they the only safe places to go for the fence? >> yeah, again, look at the first debate. i know we say it's the jayvee. nobody trying to differentiate themselves on the core republican issues. nobody trying to make a big statement that would, hey, somebody went against the party base here. take immigration for instance, boy, what a tough spot these candidates are in if they want to stand up to donald trump tonight, stage that dramatic moment they go after donald trump. the problem is when you strip away the bluster and bravado from trump's message what he's saying when you can discern the policy details of it, he is where the republican base is. that's why he surged to first place so you could say, donald, i don't agree with your tone. i don't like the way you said this.
that was not phrased properly. that's not something that will rally the crowd to your side and it leaves this incredible opportunity for trump in front of, like you say, thousands of people for trump to come back after them and turn that moment around against anybody that tries that. >> yeah, it's going to be great to watch how the pc thing works out if there is a politically correct way you can speak to this audience or just do the red meat. steve kornacki, we'll check back with you throughout the night. our panel sticking with us. when we come back, reaction tonight from the hillary clinton campaign. she's become a lot more aggressive, have you noticed, against republican rivals. tonight they're hitting back at her. we already heard carly fiorina. this is "hardball's" live coverage of the first republican debate live from cleveland. [music] do you like cougars? terry will you shut up! you are adorable. thank you. ladies your belts all snugged up? why do we have to buckle up? the pick up stinks with diesel. [ding] you've got to be kidding!
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we still have this big crowd here for the first republican debate. opening salvos were launched in the early show here tonight. carly fiorina made the most direct attack against the recent secretary of state. here she goes. >> hillary clinton lies about benghazi. she lies about e-mails. she is still defending planned parenthood and she is still her party's front-runner. 2016 is going to be a fight between conservatism and a democratic party undermining the very character of this nation. we need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring. >> joining me is clinton campaign spokeswoman for the clinton campaign, jennifer, it's great to have you on. you're a pro just like i am and we've watched politics degenerate over the years. what do you make of this latest part of that -- a candidate
trying to earn their spurs by calling the probable candidate of the other party a liar? she lies, she lies, and then coming back, i didn't call her a liar. i just said she lies, she lies. i'm not sure about the distinction. what do you make it have? >> hillary clinton has been in public service for a long time. it ain't beanbags, as some friends of ours like to say. i did find that it did seem the level of discourse in the first debate was a little lower than i had even expected. they attack hillary. she has a thick skin. sometimes it amuses her. she's in l.a. doing an event with home health care workers. she is soldiering on. i think this summer, the summer of trump has been a pretty -- it's ended badly for the republicans. we've had a lot of attention to trump. we're trying to bring attention
to making sure that everybody understands that every republican candidate in the field has these same conservative views. so we're trying to make sure people understand where they are on the issues while they're out attacking hillary. >> it seems like there are two ships passing in the night. i've watched secretary clinton with education, child development and all kinds of programs helping people to be stronger families in the home and growing a better population as time goes on, just healthier, better at the work place, more prepared to earn a living. i don't hear anything from that on the republican side. they want to talk security, talk benghazi. are the two parties addressing different spheres of the human experience? i didn't hear any real competition from hillary even from the woman candidates tonight on the issues that concern most women and men. >> right. they don't -- it is -- we'll see what happens in the next hour, but it is surprising they don't even seem to be trying to talk about issues. they don't seem to be trying to
address economic concerns people have. i guess the population that they are trying to appeal to may be pretty limited and be the most conservative of republican voters but, you know, a lot of america is paying attention right now, and we think it's an opportunity for hillary to talk about issues that people really care about, pocketbook economic issues whether it's paid leave or child care or pre-k or minimum wage or college affordability, and i think -- i don't know that the candidates are taking into account how it appears to the american public when they see close to 20 republicans on the debate stage just attacking hillary clinton. i don't think that's appealing to people for how the republican party comes across let alone not offering any new ideas. >> i think the people in the middle agree with you. thank you so much jennifer palmieri. >> thanks for having me. >> thanks for joining us on the big republican night. we're back with steve, kathleen and eugene.
i guess, where do we start? are we back into abortion rights as a campaign issue because of planned parenthood? i thought some of these issues would be put aside for a cycle. looks like we're back in there again. >> i think it's unfortunate the fact that i was talking to someone earlier. to get that kind of conversation going feeds right into the democratic party's war on women theme that they used effectively before. and this becomes a litmus test for the republicans. i think it will not serve them well if they try to defund -- shut down the government over defunding. it's legitimate to talk about putting tax dollars into a place we all find appalling. >> i wouldn't have thought this would be an issue.
the supreme court does its thing. i thought your party was in a way not happy but satisfied with that issue was taken off the table for a few cycles. >> look, i think the political problem with the issue you saw the unartfulness of jeb bush's comments. >> when he said why do we need to spend half a billion dollars on women's health. >> when this issue is about the videos, this issue offend most americans and democrats as well as republicans and independents. when this becomes a woman's health issue we'll shut down the government again. every time we shut down the government, it hurts the republican party. threatening to shut down the government is a huge overreach and every time we do it, threaten to do it, it doesn't do any good politically for republicans. >> why do they go there? >> i don't understand. it's like trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
>> like charlie brown with the football. >> exactly. and so of course it's going to hurt the republican party if they really even start talking about shutting down the government over women's health issues. and so i think you're right. they have to -- if they're going to keep talking about this, they should talk about the videos. they can't talk about it -- >> the legislation saying there will be no sale of or transaction involving fetal parts until we can work through a serious conversation about it. >> we should keep in mind planned parenthood is not -- that's not an evil phrase in much of the country. planned parenthood is nationwide. it provides health services to a lot of women who depend on it. >> we have news here. the night keeps giving us news. first fcarly fiorina going afte hillary clinton. now take a listen to something lindsey graham said in the spin room shortly after the earlier debate tonight.
>> i want to tell every conservative you're not going to defund planned parenthood until you get a pro-life president. you're not going to get a pro-life president until you can prove you can beat hillary clinton or joe biden. let me translate in terms of hillary clinton. last week she said these videos were very disturbing. this week she said, i stand firmly with planned parenthood. translated, she thinks joe biden is running. that's why she flipped. if she doesn't up her game, the reason she went from being really disturbed about the videos to standing firmly with planned parenthood she thinks joe is on her heels. >> anybody figure out what he's saying there? >> i don't know what he said. >> he's saying that joe biden is going to get in the race and that she went last week from saying she's disturbed by the planned parenthood videos to this week saying she firmly stands with planned parenthood and lindsey graham said the reason she said that is because joe biden is on her heels. >> and joe biden will be more for abortion rights than she is? >> that joe biden would be less
for abortion rights on the issue of the videos. >> why did she go from a softer position to a harder pro-choice position? >> she went from a -- >> that's just too much overthinking. it's a horrible thing. >> as of tonight's debate it was pointed out that pataki, who is a long shot, is pro-choice. >> yeah. >> and it's pointed out -- the moderator pointed out nobody has ever won the republican nomination who is pro-choice. the parties do differ. it may not be the main issue for a lot of people, but it is a real stark differential. >> and abortion always was the litmus test for a candidate. and now i'm afraid the planned parenthood defunding is. they're taking it one step too far. there's no one -- i find it hard to believe there's anyone who doesn't find those videos disturbing and everyone says, oh, well, they're edited. well, you can watch the whole video and it's even worse if you
watch the whole one. they're available on line. chris, you know that this is -- you know you find this more than disturbing. come on. >> i know. that's why they did it. and i watched this debate since '73, and whenever the issue is the rights issue, the pro-choice people win a narrow victory. who gets to make the decision? whenever the issue is abortion itself, it turns the other way. it's very interesting how people look at it. >> look, we find this disturbing, too. we need to address this issue in a scientific way. >> people having lunch over fetal parts, that would be a start. thank you, steve schmidt. there you are. and kathleen parker and gene robinson. more on what donald trump may have up his sleeve coming up in a minute. this is "hardball," the place for politics live from cleveland! the first republican debate.
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frankly, i thought obama was terrible, but romney got worse and worse every time there was a debate. i have to be myself, don. and if it's not good enough, that's okay. >> he's so nice to his opponents. the republican front-runner recently told our own nbc news correspondent katie tur his most important campaign adviser is his daughter ivanka. >> what sort of advice does she give you. >> she says be yourself. >> anything in particular lately in terms of the headlines you've made? >> i think more than anything ivanka more than anybody said be yourself. that's all i can be. >> joining me now from new york to tell us what kind of a performance to expect from donald trump is somebody who ought to know because she's watched that performance for a while, nbc's katie tur. katie, i know he's good on his feet. does he think that's enough to just go out and be spontaneous? >> i think he's prep. i think he has the materials to prep. he is going to be himself regardless of how much he goes
through the paperwork and he goes through the policies and he prepares attack lines. trump is known for speaking or saying what he wants to say, when he wants to say it. even to his campaign advisers, those closest to him, this is an unpredictable moment for him. he's going to go out and he's going to make some news regardless how much they prepare him. on saturday they told me that he was going to keep a low profile this week. it's the first debate he will be in. since sunday he's done nine interviews, eight for tv, one for radio. he's kept anything but a low profile. i mean, he's been much more civil lately with people. he hasn't attacked as much. and i think he's going to try to be more civil, show more presidential qualitytist. if he gets attacked, he's going to hit back and he's going to hit back hard. you can definitely get under his skin, but ultimately the people -- when others have attacked him, when rick perry attacked him or lindsey graham, trump has come out as the winner
in these cases, as the one who has looked stronger and they've come out hurting. look how well he's doing in the polls. so the idea for him to be a little bit more civil right not necessarily be a good one for him. he's done so well because people say they like the fact that he says what he's thinking. they think that he's blunt with them, that he's not lying, that he's not doing the political double speak, and i think he knows that. so i think the question is whether or not he's going to continue to be who he is, which i think he will, or if he'll try and take it back a little and be more civil and more presidential, chris. >> well, what do you think of this, last question. when you interview him, you must know when you hit his buttons. you see him go off. have you seen him restrain himself? does he ever go, i know you're trying to get me to do something, i'm not going to do it? >> i have not seen that but i will say that since we've had our contentious interview -- he doesn't restrain himself very
well. he has gotten a little bit better at it. you see when he comes into a room and a reporter is challenging him in a press conference and they're calling him a racist, you can see that he sees it. there's a glint in his eye almost and you can see him try and hold back more so now than he has in the past. certainly earlier on in this campaign season, if you will. it's been a month. he would definitely hit back hard when he didn't like a question, call you naive, call me naive, say you didn't know what you were doing or you're a child. lately it seems like he is trying to control it, but you still see him yell at people at press conferences and say -- he says they don't know what they're talking about. sit down. i don't want to listen to you. he's trump. he's not going to be anybody else. he's going to be himself. >> katy tur, you have to write a book about this guy, your dealings with him anyway. the main challenge for the moderators tonight of the big debate is to pose questions that knock the candidates off their talking points. that's what everybody in this business is trying to do.
anyone who has hosted a debate knows that's easier, like the song goes, easier said than done. i'm joined by moderators john harwood of cnbc and ann compton from the great abc news. i'll start with john. four years ago you famously pressed rick perry to name the third government agency he proposed getting rid of. let's watch what happened. >> and i will tell you, it's three agencies of government when i get there that are gone. commerce, education, and the -- what's the third one there? let's see. >> five. >> commerce, education, and the -- >> epa? >> epa. there you go. >> seriously? is epa the one you were talking abo about? >> no, sir, no, sir. we were talking about the agencies of government -- the epa needs to be rebuilt. no doubt about that. >> you can't name the third one? >> the third agency of
government i would do away with, education, the -- commerce, and, let's see -- >> oh, my. >> i can't. the third one i can't. sorry. oops. >> john harwood, the greatest strength is to listen. you didn't let that go by. you went right back and made sure the public watching the debate understood that a man who has the passion to get rid of three government agencies couldn't remember the ones he had the passion to get rid of which is hard to figure out. >> it was listening not just to rick perry but moderating debates is a team sport. i had a producer, sandy, in my ear saying do not leave this topic. >> yes. >> just like you have tina in your ear, i had sandy in mine. we stuck with it. you can't script something like that. it just happens. >> what do you think it means, a moment like that? i'm older than you and i
occasionally can't think after guy's name on television -- >> it happens to me, too. >> someone says it's joe or something, thank you! but he couldn't remember something really important to the reason he's running for president. i think it was fair. it wasn't a senior moment. he just hadn't given a lot of thought. >> and it came after a period of time he had not been performing well on the trail. he had been shaky in some other debates. people thought he didn't have a lot of command of the issues and so it played into that stereotype. >> ann compton is with us. a good friend of mine. in 1988, believe it or not, you asked bush about his no new taxes pledge, bush senior. he later would break. >> isn't the phrase no new taxes misleading the voters? >> i am pledged to do that and those pessimists who say it can't be done, i'm sorry, i just have a fundamental disagreement with them. >> ann compton, you put the cement around his feet with that
follow-up. >> well, in the old days -- i'm impressed john had a producer in his ear. back in the dark ages in '88 and '92 we sure didn't. we were encouraged to make sure with the other questioners that we had all the bases covered. i remember peter jennings took me aside, ann, make sure when you go in there you have 90 minutes to cover. make sure you cover, have enough questions. his panel went in, all had the same six questions. we sat down with andrea mitchell and margaret warner in that particular debate and planned out to make sure somebody asked about the supreme court, somebody asked about nuclear forces in europe. >> let me stick with you, ann, have you ever walked no a debate or moderated one you have somebody who has this aura of tv celebrity around them, almost like a george clooney you're going at? >> well, sure. i remember doing a debate where it was a three-way debate ross
perot was in the middle flanked by george bush and bill clinton. and the three of them, ross perot had all the great lines. he said, well, if you have better ideas on how to cut the deficit, i'm all ears. he ran away -- the snake had all the lines. wasn't that the old phrase? so you go in with an agenda where they want to be able to capitalize on personality. i don't know, chris, that anybody goes back and listens and scours the congressional record that these debates put down important policy points, but we always remember the moments like michael dukakis being asked what his reaction would be if his wife were raped and murdered. >> bernard shaw's question. in 2007 republican primary debate i asked the candidates a question that's asperi pertinen today as eight years ago. let me ask you about something else that might be a negative in the upcoming campaign.
seriously, would it be good for america to have bill clinton back living in the white house? >> you have got to be kidding. >> no, i'm not. his wife's running. have you heard? >> the only thing i could think of as bad as that would be to have the gang of three running the war on terror -- pelosi, reid, and hillary clinton. so i have to be honest with you, i think it would be an awful thing for a lot of reasons. >> you know, i offered up an easy one, a fun one, and he comes back deadly serious. mitt romney took the light out that have one. >> mitt romney is not the most agile debater. he was good with other candidates. that was funny. >> anyway, it didn't hurt. didn't hurt bill. never hurts to laugh at bill. bill enjoys it. thank you, john harwood, a pro at this, and ann compton, my buddy, thank you for coming up. up next, what to watch for in tonight's debate and which candidate has the best chance to break through so we all talk about him tomorrow. you're watching "hardball" as we get ready for the first
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welcome back to this special edition of "hardball" live from cleveland for the first presidential debate. it's getting dark here tonight, ready for the drive-in movie to start. earlier today toward the end of the earlier debate, fox asked the seven candidates about hillary. this question. >> what two words would you use to describe the democratic front-runner? governor pataki, start? >> divisive and and with no vision. >> carly fiorina? >> not trustworthy, no accomplishment. >> secretive and untrustworthy.
>> let's go with three. good at e-mail. >> governor jindal? >> socialist and government dependence. >> not the change we need at a time we need it. >> governor? >> professional politician that can't be trusted. >> well, none of them are good at counting. they asked for three words. they got a number of them. howard fineman, a pro at this sort of thing. michael steele, andrea mitchell of nbc news, and with us from new york, new york, the moderator of "meet the press" chuck todd. i haven't heard from you in a while. do we know more about maybe trump is getting some outside advice to go tough on the reb rebuttals? carly fiorina had a statement written up and somebody read it. the thing about hillary clinton lies, lies, lies, was premeditated. what are your thoughts about the news making tonight? >> look, right now the news
making is all stylistic. it's all on that front. we haven't really seen a substantive hit. look, i can't -- look, there are few things that i'm looking forward to on the substance front of this debate i think will be fascinating and i think the biggest one that i'm going to be interested in is watching the question about would you shut down the government over the issue of planned parenthood? and i want to see what jeb bush is going to say, chris christie -- the governors are going to say, christie and kasich and jeb. i think they wouldn't shut down the government over it. we know that there are others that have said on that stage, i think trump has said it, cruz wants to, rand paul is willing to do it, i think that could provide a fascinating divide that will tell you about their governing styles. if we're going to learn anything tonight, i don't know if we're going to learn a lot about issues, but i think we are going to learn about the type of
governing style that each of them wants to present to the public. >> that's the only thing i can think of that would take it away from trump, the personality, some kind of resolve by all the contenders tonight, they're going to shut down the u.s. government over planned parenthood or not because that is a news story. >> chris, the dividing line here in cleveland tonight is between people who assert that no politics as usual can possibly work and the people who don't. and the leading one who says no way traditional politics can work at all is donald trump. and carly fiorina and the undercard, however scripted she might have been, got a lot of buzz for the fact she, too, is an outsider. so the other candidates, everybody from scott walker to kasich have to say, yeah, we don't like government either, but we know enough about it how to change it. that's the fault line in this debate. >> that's a hard side to take. >> that's a hard sell. >> there's one other person in the debate besides donald trump
and carly fiorina on the undercard and that's ted cruz. >> yes. >> ted cruz believes or says he believes that government doesn't work. he's shown that he's a bomb thrower on the senate floor. we talked about calling hillary clinton a liar, he called mitch mcconnell a liar. >> that's the new language. the new language of american politics. >> ted cruz wants to outtrump trump. >> do you see that in your party, the abolitionist and the wigs, the regular supporters of government. >> this has been brewing for 15, 20 years now. absolutely. you're going to see stark contrast between the ted cruz, rand paul, and the donald trump wing and the establishment wings of the gop. >> is there any applause line that isn't hard right? i mean, will they applaud anything like we have to work together, will that get an applause line? >> well, no. >> the look you just gave me -- >> that notwithstanding, chris, i think -- that notwithstanding,
there is a risk and a reward in somebody taking on donald trump for his language about immigrants. >> okay. >> i don't know who can take advantage of that. >> there's two hispanic candidates. >> i think jeb has to. >> somebody has to do it. >> i think jeb is in the best position to do it. >> chivalry if nothing else. >> the bushes are good at chivalry. >> he's talking about his wife, for crying out loud. >> jeb is in the best position to reframe that discussion on immigration. >> it's interesting that we have an immigration issue we know is going to be hot tonight, and yet uniquely in american history two people of immigrant families, others with an immigrant wife, a spouse, came from different religions and you have jeb bush that converted to roman catholic all connected by family if not blood, in fact, by their kids with blood, but hispanic people. human beings who are americans and to have them talk as if
racists and criminals. >> but -- too why did you say but? >> i put the but in there because they know none of that is true. their problem is trying to figure out how to counter -- >> donald trump knows it's not true. who does he have putting his buildings up? >> that's not the relevant part when it comes to the other candidates. i think you're absolutely right. whether or not they will step into that space and own it differently than the way trump has framed it. >> in a normal political world, somebody like scott walker -- >> where is that meeting tonight? >> not in cleveland, no. >> in a normal political world, somebody like scott walker, who fought those recall elections and got elected three times in a few years if nothing is the embodiment of traditional work your way up politics, carefully crafted to be hard right but still may be saleable. he wiould be perfect. i don't know if someone who started out running student
council election also get the nomination. >> how about john kasich? >> yes. i do think he's a dark horse. ironically here we are in cleveland in ohio, his state, he's going to be the odd man out here but long term if you look at the general election, there's nobody who makes more sense geographically and perhaps demographically than kasich. he's not part of the deal here tonight. >> and if the working class white guy is the swing vote, he is one. he's not a target of one. he's a regular guy. thank you. the panel is sticking with us as our coverage of the first republican debate continues live from cleveland home of the indians and the republican convention. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
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we need resuscitation. mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. hurry up! [laughing] we're back from cleveland where the first republican debate is. look at this guy. he needs to go to donald trump's hair curler to get the full treatment. there he is getting ready. he just needs a little help at the hair salon and he'll be a billionaire, a tycoon. that's all that's stopping him. thank you very much for joining us. we're back. i want to have everybody -- i know you don't like doing this but it is hard reporting. this is not opinion but analysis. do you think trump is going to come out softy and try to play mr. substance or he's going to come back trump style tonight? >> i think he's going to be mr. nice guy, mr. reasonable, trying to show he's a credible
candidate. >> chuck, your bet on that, is he coming in with a change-up or throwing it fast? >> i think the first hour i don't think he can do it for two full hours. i think he will reluctantly go after somebody. i wanted to be civil. you know, i came in here, can't you just see it is it? i think tonight is more about jeb bush than donald trump and the bigger test tonight is jeb bush. i think he's got a lot more on the line. >> well, because he's fading is one reason. michael? >> i think trump plays it soft for the first quarter and a half. i think he unwinds in the first half of this. and i'm really looking at kasich. i think this is an opportunity -- chuck is right. jeb has got to perform but kasich has nothing but upside. >> more people come to me the center left -- not left but center left or center right. i hear from more people closer to the center who are hoping that relatively young guy can show some stuff.
>> well, chris, the amazing thing to me what's happened the last few months is the notion that a bush is a strong possibility as a starting point. the notion, yeah, because it's a bush, it's jeb bush. that has completely faded. you talk to republicans on background, you talk to them all over the city. they're all here for this. i haven't heard one who says, you know, when it's all said and done, the bushes really know how to do it. the bushes are going to get it. as of right now, the conventional wisdom among republicans is that bush really, i wouldn't say doesn't have a chance, but is by no means to be considered a front-runner. and that presents an opportunity for other people. >> interviewing jen palmieri, you think that jeb bush is the most likely? she said, you know, we change every day. yeah, it's going to be jeb bush and that's what we should worry about. maybe we shouldn't worry about
it. >> i think it's a true quandary. chuck todd, thank you back in washington. howard fineman, of course, always with me these big nights. michael steele, the leader of the republican party in exile, andrea mitchell, thank you so much. we'll see all of you in two hours for our special post debate edition of "hardball." for two hours we'll tell how won the big one. our coverage of the first republican debate continues from cleveland after this. when i started at the shelter, i noticed benny right away. i just had to adopt him. he's older so he needs my help all day. when my back pain flared up we both felt it i took tylenol at first but i had to take 6 pills to get through the day. then my friend said "try aleve". just two pills, all day. and now, i'm back for my best bud! aleve. all day strong and try aleve pm, now with an easy open cap.
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after everybody has had about ten more beers we'll be back here at 11:00 eastern for full coverage, analysis and reaction to the big debate. right now for the great rachel maddow. >> thank you, chris. i appreciate it. i'm looking forward to the drunk edition of "hardball" at 11:00 tonight. that's going to be fun. ten beers between now and then, everybody go. i want to thank you at home for being with us tonight. there is obviously a tv event for the ages going on tonight, one whose ratings i have to admit will absolutely dwarf whatever we are able to do here tonight but, you know what? jon stewart's grand finale on "the daily show" after 16 years at the helm of the best news and politics satire showt