tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 28, 2016 10:00pm-12:01am PST
♪ >> tonight the cat was away. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. we are following one of thele wildest nights in political theater we have seen in a long time w. four days before the iowa caucuses there were two big events. on one stage seven candidates took part in the final debate before the caucuses. the elephant in the room was the man who boycotted and held his own event to raise money for wounded american soldiers just miles away. he said he was skipping the debate because fox news toyed with him.
while he wasn't there he couldn't be ignored, starting with the first question of the night. >> let's address the elephant not in the room tonight. [ laughter ] donald trump has chosen not to attend this evening's presidential debate. what message do you think it sends to the voters of iowa? >> let me say i'm a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. ben, you're a terrible surgeon. now that we have gotten the donald trump portion out of the way -- [ laughter ] [ cheers and applause ] -- i want to thank everyone here for showing the men and women of iowa the respect to show up and make the case to the people of this state and the people of the country why each of us believe we would make the best commander in chief. [ applause ] >> here were jeb bush and marco rubio talking about the candidate who wasn't there.
>> let's be clear what the campaign is about a. it is not about donald trump. he's an entertaining guy, the greatest show on earth. this campaign is about the greatest country in the world and a president who has destroyed many of the things that made america special. >> i miss donald trump. he was a teddy bear to me. we always had a loving relationship during the debates and in between in the tweets. i miss him. i wish he was here. everyone else was in the witness protection program when i went after him on behalf of what the republican cause should be. >> meanwhile, trump himself explained his absence to a crowd including fellow republican contenders rick santorum and mike huckabee. trump said he had to stick up for his rights. >> i didn't want to be here, i have to be honest. i wanted to be fife minutes away. you have to stick up for your rights. when you are treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights. [ cheers and applause ] >> i have to go a step further and say fox has been extremely nice in the last number of hours actually.
they have wanted methere and they say, how about now? can't you come over? i said hasn't it started? they wanted me and apologized. once this started it's for the vets. there was nothing i could do. you know what? i don't know. for me is it a good thing, bad thing, more votes, less votes? nobody knows. it's for the vets and you will like it because we raised over $5 millionle in one day. [ cheers and applause ] >> over $5 million. so that's not so bad. >> we have the wild night covered from both ends of the republican universe n. des moines chris jansing is at the debate site and katy tur is at . jeb bush had a fine night. john kasich, chris christie and of course rand paul.
the guys who don't usually get much attention seemed unintimidated tonight to give their schpiel. >> it was different. we wondered what a campaign would donald trump would look like. we got a glimpse of it. he wasn't sucking up all the oxygen. there wasn't the tension on the stage. having said that we'll see how the contrast plays out with voters. you're absolutely right. even though in the beginning we heard them addressing trump and i think cruz with the section you played had his best moment of the night. most of the debate was about the issues. it gave them a chance to talk about things like immigration, isis. it is iowa, of course. they talked about ethanol as well. it was so interesting also to see the strategy they employed. it was chris christie who kept talking about hillary clinton. he clearly decided he was going to come in and say, look, i'm
the guy who can take her on. a lot of what marco rubio had to say was about faith and god. clearly playing to the evangelicals maybe not just in iowa but south carolina as well if they were watching. i think jeb bush has progressively gotten better in each debate was at his best tonight. the question is, is it too little, too late? a lot of the republican analysts i have talked to said this will be about who surprises, who does better? who exceeds expectations. a lot of people did that in the debate tonight. i'm not sure about ted cruz. except for that moment he didn't get attacked as much as his campaign folks thought he would. without donald trump there, without the tension between the two i don't think he had a great night, chris. >> i thought marco rubio who is third in iowa in the caucuses monday night in the polling seemed to be trying to gain
ground on cruz. in the shank of the debate, later in the second hour he made a personal charge against ted cruz. he said, you will say anything to get elected. that was as strong a statement you can make in a little bitle call debate. you will say anything, buddy. >> that was clearly part of the strategy as well. those are the two who are challenging donald trump. as you know, he wants to be the guy who's seen as the alternative. it's been cruz in iowa. he doesn't think that can work for the long term. >> early in the debate ted cruz asked about his change ing tune on trump. he was asked. let's watch his answer. >> the divide between you and mr. trump has turned into one of the biggest stories in the country. and for six months your campaign, during this campaign you praised mr. trump as somebody who you thought was an effective voice against the washington cartel. you said you were glad he was
running as a republican. when he started to criticize you, you suddenly started to portray him as the voice of the washington cartel and suggested he would do the democrats' bidding. which is it? >> well, let me be clear. if donald engages in insults, or anybody else, i don't intend to reciprocate. i have not insulted dond and i don't intend to. i'm glad donald is rubbing. he's produced enormous enthusiasm. every voter or potential voter i hope to earn your support. everyone on this stage hopes to earn your support. there is a difference between personal insult and attack. between going into the mud with ad homonyms and focusing on issues and substance. >> i don't remember much coming up tonight. we had two hours and there was no discussion of the hottest which is his eligibility as someone born in canada to run for president.
didn't anybody think to bring it up? certainly the candidates and moderators didn't. >> a lot of the candidates have stayed away from that or said they think that's sort of a settled debate point. i guess -- >> the voter. >> we are going to see. it hurt him and trump has shown once again how effective he can be. he finds these sweet spots whether it was in the beginning defining jeb bush as a low energy person to the point where people rolled their eyes when he brought up the canada thing. look what happened to cruz's numbers. i think you saw today with marco rubio or tonight with marco rubio he senses that opening. he really went after it. >> let me go to katy. thanks for joining us. now give us a look. i was popping in and out watching it on our network and elsewhere on the feeds we were getting. was that a successful night by trump? did he stage a good counter show
tonight? >> reporter: i think this is one of the more successful events for donald trump. it felt a lot more uplifting and positive than many of his rallies. he wasn't going after his fellow candidates except for jeb bush just once. but it was almost a variety show. he had rick santorum and governor mike huckabee. he had a wounded soldier who came and gave an uplifting inspiring speech about how he was able to overcome losing his leg n. a lot of ways this was a different sort of trump rally. but in some ways it was similar to what he usually does. instead of talking about pol polls he was talking about the donations for veterans listing the donors. many of his real estate friend s in new york who gave hundreds of thousand ifs not millions of dollars. it is unclear which groups the money is going to. we called a lot of them. so far only k-9s for war yariors
and the green berets are considered. they will narrow it down tonight into tomorrow. right now all the money is going directly to the dond j. trump foundation. >> thank you, katy. we'll check back with you a little bit later tonight. mike huckabee and rick santorum took part in the earlier debate -- undercard debate tonight. they joined donald trump at his rally for veterans. here are santorum and huckabee. >> i will stand over here so i'm not sfrafed with the trump sign. i'm supporting another candidate for president. [ laughter ] that doesn't mean we can't work
together when it comes to helping our veterans. that's what mike and i are doing tonight. >> let me be clear. rick santorum, donald trump and i may be competitors in a presidential race. but tonight we are colleagues in unison standing here for the people who let us breathe every breath of free air we breathe. the veterans of the united states of america. without you, there is none. >> governor huckabee, what made you make the big decision to walk over there after your own debate to go to the trump rally for the vets? >> chris, i would love to have been on the main stage debate. i should have been there but at 8:00 i had nothing to do so i said let's show support for the veterans. i was delighted to be there. i appreciated that donald trump invited other candidates to come and stand with him for vets. look, i will always do that when
i have the opportunity. >> what was your reaction to the vet who lost his leg and was talking about depression, suicide, black things to be thinking about. we think this is one of the guy who is fought for our country and the world we lives in now, he was pretty raw. he told us what he was going through, i thought. >> i'm so glad he did. so many americans need to hear these heroes who come back, having been shot up and some who come back maybe without the physical wounds but deep emotional and spiritual wounds, we owe them something. we owe them the first fruits of our treasury. they went out and took bullets and bombs for us. when 22 a day are committing suicide, that's a scourge of shame on the country that we aren't doing better for veterans. i'm glad he was blunt about it. i don't think a lot of americans comprehend what they come back with.
the scars on the outside can be healed. >> and the sense of being isolated. they are not always sure everybody cares about them. >> it's important to say and this was his point. just say thank you to the vets. if my being here tonight i will let other people deal with the politics of it. i don't care. i was there to say thank you to people who let me breathe free air. i'm grateful to god for every one of them. >> let me ask you about the spirit in the country now. you did well out there eight years ago in that state. you have a lot of shared culture, religious background as a preacher with fund mentalist people. yet you come off a nice guy to people. i think you are a charmer, a friend of the parishioners, the people in the congregation. you know how tole deal with people in personal life issues,
happiness issues, if you will. yet this year it's rougher talk, less civil talk, cruz is very tough. trump is sometimes over the top tough. what's different when you talk to iowans, how is the spiritual nature of the state different from when you did well eight years ago? has it changed? >> i think the electorate here is certainly angry. but that's true all over the country. they have a right to be. these are people looking at the beltway. they see the six of the richest ten counties in america surround washington. washington's recession proof. there is a gut punch to people in places like iowa. they look and see candidates corporately funded getting money
from the billionaires and wall street guys. they hear the speeches but nothing changes. republicans get elect, nothing changes. democrats get leched, nothing changes because the donors are driving the train. voters start following the money and realize that if a canada at that time is a corporately funded billionaire funded candidate he will do the dance of the donors. he won't be out there serving folks in iowa who lost their jobs. that's the way it goes. >> quick question. are you glad you went back into this i think of buddy ebsen goes into the alamo having been out. you were out of the alamo. you weren't running for office. you went back in to run. are you glad you ran this time? >> absolutely. i'm glad i did. you know, it's giving me a sense of calling and commitment. i have something i didn't have eight years ago, chris. i have five grand kids. i'm fighting for them. i'm on the glad path.
i'm probably going to be ek-. if we don't do something differently in this country my grandkids aren't going to be okay. my parents and their parents handed me a better america than the depression-era america they grew up in. we are handing our kids and grandkids a mess. whether i win or not i fought a good fight. i plan to do a better job monday night in the caucus than most people think. buckle up and get ready. as usual, iowa voter wills surprise people. >> i think you're right. governor mike huckabee. thank you for coming in tonight. still ahead, much more on tonight's trumpless debate and live inside the spin room as the candidates who showed up will try to deal with trump's big gamble not showing up tonight. what a day and what a night. this as "hardball," the place for politics, continues.
you can deal with the threat of terror and recognize this country should be aspirational across the board. >> welcome back to this special edition of "hardball." donald trump took a risk by skipping tonight's debate and holding his own event four days before the iowa caucuses. who won tonight? trump or the pack at the debate? michael steele, rnc chair before reince priebus and matt schlapp, chairman of the american
conservative union. i assume you are unaffiliated, gentlemen, so your words are gold to me. steve schmidt, who won tonight of the candidates and of those who went to the debate. of all the candidates including trump, who won? >> donald trump won tonight once again. this electorate is shaped by republicans' desire for a strong leader. donald trump showed strength in the move taking on fox news. he turned this debate into an undercard debate. the ratings will be down. he made ted cruz the target -- his chief rival of the other candidates. what the debate was who is in position to be the third in new hampshire and third in iowa. >> i agree. i think he made cruz a free fire zone for marco rubio who said, you will say anything to wwin, senator cruz. michael, of all the candidates who won tonight?
>> i have to agree with steve. at the end of the day trump won this. i would say there is a little bit of a runner-up in bush. you saw the jeb bush that a lot of people thought would have been there on the first debate. without donald trump standing to his left , hovering over him, bush seemed more relaxed, more engaged. le the exchanges between him and rubio were sharper. tonight he was the mentor dressing down the mentee at one point. for him this was a good night as well. tomorrow morning we'll talk about trump's absence and the power and impact he had on the debate though he wasn't there. >> jeb had his best night. some of the others did well , too. especially him. he had a problem. matt, your thoughts about who won overall. >> i don't know about the trump factor here. i have to think he'll be the
buzz because of the way he approaches things. i was in the hall tonight. i think governor chris christie and governor bush each had a strong night. jeb bush seemed unburdened, relaxed, more funny. he had a better night. >> what does that tell el you about him? let me stay with jeb. >> yeah. it tells me that i think trump does rattle him. trump does what he tries to do. he's on the schoolyard rattling jeb and tonight jeb was relaxed. he seemed calmer. i think ted cruz overthought tonight. i thought he looked a little too mechanical. i don't think he had a great night. in that case that's trump. >> let's watch now. here is jeb on trump. let's watch tonight. >> i think it's important that when we are running for the highest office in the land we recognize we are living in dangerous times and we have to be serious.
our words have consequences. donald trump, for example, i mentioned his name again if anybody was missing him. mr. trump believed that in reaction to people's fears we should ban all muslims. that creates an environment that's toxic in our country. it's important to be careful about the language we use which is why i have been critical of donald trump dispa rajjing women and hispanics. that's not strength. making fun of disabled people? we are never going to win aleks if we don't have a broader, more unifying message. [ cheers and applause ] >> it's like duelling ban jos. trump took a shot at governor bush. watch. >> you look at a guy like jeb bush. speaking of low energy. extremely low. maybe he's doing great. he's probably looking for me. has anybody seen trump? where is --
>> michael steele, have fun with this, will you? they had each oh figured out. trump knew he might be doing well when he wasn't there. this is a cartoon. go ahead. >> it goes to what matt was saying. trump knows he rattles bush and bush knows he's rattled by trump. everyone else was sort of awol when he was going after trump. it would have helped in the early going of the process if the others rallied around that potentially unifying message of what we are as conservatives, as republicans as opposed to taking a step back. bush was in that lane tonight. clearly thinking about trump. but trump was missing him as well. >> let me go to steve. i think you grew up where i did. it reminds me of muhammed ali trashing son any liston. this is a scary guy to people but muhammed ali coming out of
the olympics was just trash talking him. the big ugly bear and all that crappy talk. it got liston mad at him and he thumped him. >> he got mad but ali backed it up in the ring. jeb bush through this campaign has never been tougher on donald trump than when donald trump isn't next to him in the ring. >> that's a problem. >> that's jeb bush's problem throughout the entire campaign. i will say i think jeb bush had a good debate tonight. you look at the internal numbers in the polls. the secret nobody is talking about is jeb bush is very much alive in new hampshire now battling for the third place position. if after everything he's been through, you know the horrendous press coverage. the fact he was written off by the establishment. jeb bush is back in third place in new hampshire. he's going to be in the middle of the bill clinton scenario
claiming himself as the comeback kid, even with a third place finish. >> tough to beat kasich. he beats kasich, he's in business. thank you very much. up next, senator rand paul is coming here on this special edition of "hardball," the place for politics. >> i kind of miss donald trump. we always had a loving relationship during the debates, in between and the tweets. i mishim. i wish he was here. with. this is sheldon whose long day setting up the news starts with minor arthritis pain and a choice. take tylenol or take aleve, the #1 recommended pain reliever by orthopedic doctors. just two aleve can keep pain away all day. back to the news.
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alka seltzer plus liquid gels. welcome back to this special edition of "hardball." after boycotting the last debate senator rand paul was back on the main stage tonight. senator paul joins us now. you went after tood in immigration saying he flip flopped on amnesty. you questioned his authenticity as a candidate. let's watch the exchange. >> what's particularly insulting is he's the king of saying, oh, you're for amnesty. everybody is for amnesty except for ted cruz but it's a falseness. everybody he knows is not as perfect because we are all for am necessaries ti. i was for legalization. if you have border security you can have legalization. so was ted but now he says it wasn't so and that's not true.
>> go ahead, sir. [ cheers and applause ] >> you know, john adams said facts are stubborn things. the facts are simple. when the battle was waged my friend senator rubio chose to stand with barack obama and harry reid and chuck schumer and support amnesty. i stood alongside jeff sessions and steve king. we led the fight against amnesty. as jeff sessions said in alabama if it wasn't for tood the gang of 8 rubio schumer bill would have passed. because ted helped lead the effort, millions rose up to kill it. >> clarify this if you can. i thought ted cruz during the fox debate showed him supporting legalization. >> yeah. that's the point. i was there for the debate. at one point in time he did. he said he was for passing the bill that includedle legalization as long as it didn't include citizenship.
that was a lot of conservatives supported that position. now we are in the middle of an election season. he wants to say that's amnesty and i never was for amnesty and everybody else is. it's not genuine. it's a concocted narrative. in the concoction of the narrative he's being tripped up because there is a lot of evidence, various interviews that said he was for legalization all along. >> senator rubio said senator cruz will say anything to get votes. is that accurate? >> you know, i think at least on this it's disingenuous. as far as the nsa it's a little bit of the same thing. he says to my voters and liberty voters he was against the government collecting phone records and he voted for the nsa reform. when challenged by rubio he says the opposite -- oh, no, i voted for the bill to allow the government to collect 100% of your cell phone records. he wants to have it both ways. then he wants to proudly tell
america he's the consistent politician who never changed his mind and is so consistent and everyone else is sort of squish in washington but him. i think it's a falser --s false narrative. >> is he a true political figure like yourself? >> he wants to play both sides. he will agree with me and say toppling gadhafi was a bad idea. the next day he says he wants to carpet bomb the middle east and make the sand glow to show people, like many politicians, they have to beet their chest to say, i am so strong. you want me because i will kill even there. in reality if you were to carpet bomb the middle east, indiscriminately kill large amounts of people my prediction is you would create more terrorists than you would kill. >> that sounds right to me. you were asked about bill clinton's history with women and
whether it's fair game. this is what you said to the question. >> i don't blame hillary clinton at all for this. i don't think she's responsible for his behavior. i do think that her position as promoting women's rights and fairness to women in the work place that it's what bill clinton did, any ceo in the country did with an intern, with a 22-year-old, 21-year-old intern in the office they would be fired. they would never be hired again. she can't be a champion of women's rights at the same time she's got this that's always lurking out there. this type of behavior. it is difficult. >> of her husband's? >> yeah. i combine this with the millions upon millions they have taken from regimes in the middle east who treat women like cattle. >> can you distinguish that? you said it's always going to be out there. is she responsible for her husband's behavior with women? >> no.
but i think in general if she wants to advocate for women's rights and fairness in the work place it's difficult. this is a big issue out there. many people wanted to say, oh, it was unfair tole bill clinton because it was about sex. if it's about work place and sexual harassment it isn't about sex. most people who talk about sexual harassment don't talk about if it's consensual. it is wrong when a boss takes advantage or has relations with a very young woman in the work place because there is an implication of domination or power over that person. >> thank you so much. thanks for coming on "hardball" late tonight after all the activity in the debate. thank you so much. let's go to dr. ben carson joining frus the spin room. tonight you didn't have the big dog there. you didn't have trump there. it seemed totally different. a lot of you rivals were able to talk about your issues more
calmly without the intimidation of trump. how did you feel it was different -- or did you? >> well, it was different in the sense that when he's there he generally is the focus and received the plurality of questions. it did make it possible for some of the others of us to get more questions. >> what about this? i don't know what the right answer is. you tell me what you think after reflection. you were hit with the question, what if russia invaded estonia. here is the question you answered. >> first of all, down in that region, the whole baltic region, we have to put in armored brigades there. we have only one or two. we need more than that. we have to dole military exercises not only in ess -- es tone i can't but latvia. we need to give ukraine offensive weapons. yes, i would absolutely go in if
he attacked. i think article 5 of nato we would definitely protect our allies. >> dr. carson, we got through the cold war from 1947 all the way through the failure of the moscow coup in '91 by never going face to face with russia, soviet union at the time. do you think we would do that if it came to a threat to estonia? >> i don't think we should have to get there. if we did what i said, we wouldn't get there. peace comes through strength. when we leave areas of doubt and we don't act in a forceful way, bullies like putin will take advantage of it. >> fair enough. let me ask you about the campaign. we have the first campaign monday.
the first big test. eight days after that the second. a bit later you have nevada and south carolina. do you believele in the old rule of three tickets off out of iowa, two out of new hampshire or do you think the campaign will go on with a number of rivals running for office? >> as you know as a political pundit, this is a very unusual campaign. this is very different from anything we have seen. >> i agree. >> in many years and maybe ever. i'm not sure any of the old applications are appropriate. >> so you could imagine a sustained campaign where four or five candidates, including yous, would be rivalling each other for the nomination all the way through, say, late spring? >> that would not surprise me. it wouldn't surprise me if we got to the convention and we didn't have a clear winner. >> do you have enough resources to maintain that kind of competition with the other candidates all the way?
>> so far it's looking pretty good. obviously, you know, in the beginning i was not paying super close attention to all the resources because i trusted the political people. they said they were experts. later on i decided to take a deep dive myself and find a lot of inefficiencies i have corrected. yes, i think we will be able to make it. >> you said something stirring tonight about having faced 3:00 in the morning calls yourself as a surgeon. show the crosswalk if you can between having to make surgery decisions, about how to go after a problem with a child and the kind of call you may get about estonia. tell me about the connection in those critical decision-making moments. >> you learn how to gather the appropriate information very quickly.
you also learn how to put various protocols in place. there are a number of trouble spots and potential trouble spots around the world. we will have already figured out what the correct action should be and would have to simply put it into motion. before that it would be a very wise thing to check with your joint chiefs and various experts who are involved to make sure everything is as we expected. >> thank you so much, dr. ben carson, for taking time late tonight to join us on "hardball." >> good to talk to you, chris. >> up next, more from des moines and the republican debate and donald trump's counter event. we'll try to get to the bottom of that but it did serve a good cause, raising $5 million for veterans. you are watching "hardball," the place for politics. >> i don't believe we have to destroy our economy in order to
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i would note the last four questions have been rand, please attack ted, marco, please attack ted, jeb, please attack ted. [ booing ] >> it is a debate, sir. >> no. a debate is a policy issue. but i will say this, gosh, if you guys ask one more mean question i may have to leave the stage. >> welcome back to this special edition of "hardball." a wild night in this unconventional presidential primary season. donald trump boycotted the gop debate while the rest of the contenders duked it out with
only the shadow of the gop front-runner hanging over them. joining me now is the global editor of the huffington post, howard fineman. i saw you tonight, howard. david corn here in d.c. from mother jones and april ryan of urban radio. what did it smell like out there? what didn't we see on tv you could see as an on-site reporter? >> well, in the auditorium at drake university where donald trump held his anti-debate veterans rally it was an electric atmosphere. there were long lines of people waiting to get in. most of them couldn't get in. donald trump's people followed the first rule of advance which is to get a room smaller than the countdown. so it was jammed. it was electric. it was exciting for the people there. they aring looing for a simple answer from the donald.
they are looking for donald trump to be an expression of screw you to the system. i raced out of there just as trump was finishing, went across the street to the drake diner near the campus and watched the debate with some republicans. it was an entirely different universe. i have to say the topics they dealt with from ted cruz on down, whether it was isis or immigration or muslims or the economy and so forth, were all topics that were framed by the guy i had just seen in the auditorium. trump wasn't at the debate but he set the framework for what these guys were arguing about. cruz was the focus of the debate. if you look at the facebook statistics which i just got from facebook, cruz dominated the conversation online about the debate. you have cruz as sort of the
king of the hill of traditional politics, if you will. and donald trump almost literally across the street is saying screw you to the system. that's the way it feels. that's what the vote will be about monday night in the republican caucuses. >> what about the displacement? like put a ship in the big tub, take it out and youle realize what's missing. trump not being there tonight, what did that tell you about him and those guys when he's not around. april. >> it tells me there are still issues. we saw real politics to a certains extent tonight. we saw people talking issues, not necessarily jabs about looks or this, that and the other. we saw more policy being talked about. >> marco rubio said cruzle would say anything to get votes. that's personal. >> and you ha people talking about the 2.99 book jeb bush had. >> late in the show tonight donald trump was off the stage.
ted cruz absorbed big shots including what i think is his chief rival now marco rubio. >> the truth is throughout the campaign you have been willing to say or codo anything in order to get votes. you worked for george bush's campaign. you helped design george w. bush's immigration policy. now you want to trump trump on immigration. we are not going to beat hillary clinton with someone willing to say or do anything to win an election. >> marco rubio is a smart guy. very fluent in how he talks, brilliant. it's like parts of a great speech. he prefabbed that, the attack on cruz. it was so personal. i think what's going on in iowa is trump is ahead. marco rubio is closing on cruz. he want as close third out there. that will put him in a position to come in second in new hampshire.
>> tonight was a thought experiment. >> why don't you respond to what i said? >> i'll get to that in my 30 seconds. this is what would have happened if trump had not been in the race even though howard made the point trump dominated in absentia. >> thank god. >> you saw the differences that would be there. you saw the personalities and saw that nobody soared or dominated the field. >> that's true. >> this would have been a muddy moment. but with rubio, for four months, every time he does well in the debates people comment saying he's about to surge. he's going to move forward. he goes up maybe a tick. he can't really get any motor behind the debate performances. maybe it's because -- >> go ahead. >> can i answer your question? >> sure.
>> i went to a cruz event last night here. he had the full line-up of right-to-life leaders, the james dobsons of the world, et cetera. he is trying to focus in on and get the turnout of what he should already have locked up which are the evangelical christians in iowa. i got the sense and the mood out here is that cruz has turned back upon his base. he should be expanding outward at this time. because he's concerned that he's lost momentum, he's going back to his original base to try to get those people out rather than expanding. that's the feeling you had. you have a little bit of feeling at the cruz rally last night of defensiveness. he sees that donald trump has made great in-erodes amazingly among evangelical christians which complicated cruz's theory about how to win not only iowa but the race. whether rubio benefits from that
in iowa is yet to be seen. it is clear to me that here cruz plateaued. he's going back to his core in a desperate effort to make sure he gets those people out. >> nobody said the secret word tonight in groucho marx language, so canada. the moderators gave him a break. he didn't have to run defense. up next, the republicans are debating one another but they all had eyes set on the general election. a lot of shots at hillary clinton tonight. this ridiculous thing. i'm sorry, governor chris christie, i'm going to indict here? and calling abortion murder? under the law? would he try it as a murder case? this is a special edition of "hardball," the place for politics. when heartburn hits
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i guarantee one thing. she will never get within ten miles of the white house. the days for the clintons in public housing are over. [ cheers and applause ] >> we are back with a special edition of "hardball." with all the cheap shots for the occasion. during tonight's debate there was grousing about hillary clinton and about candidates off and on the stage. howard, what do you make of -- you never know. sometime it is moderators bring things up. tonight they brought up bill clinton's behavior with women and rand paul had to defend his statement.
he said in response to a question. once you answer the question you have made a statement. do you think they are comfortable now going after bill clinton's behavior ? bill is off stage now since trump took a shot at him. >> well, he's off stage general will you but he's here in iowa. >> not making national news. >> not making any news as a matter of fact. bernie sanders and bill clinton had rallies within, i guess, miles of each last night. bernie outdrew him two or three to one. bill clinton is maybe not purposefully but flying below the radar. assuming ifle hillary ends up with the nomination there is no question the republicans are going to go wholesale on this. it didn't work for them last time around when bill clinton was president. the theory at least among republicans is times have changed. social morays have changed and
women may be willing to be offended again. i think they are wrong about that. the thing about republicans, especially the ones who will vote in the caucuses, they are crazy about two topics -- barack obama and the clintons. >> you heard it tonight. >> for likely caucus goers, that's catnip. it's all they want to hear. >> maybe you don't like it, april, but it works. even chris christie. >> is this the best public housing taxpayer money can buy? it's the truth. >> thank you, howard fineman, april ryan and david corn. we'll be right back with another hour of live coverage of this incredible night in politics. it's a wild night. and a republican debate without donald trump. more "hardball" after this. ♪jake reese, "day to feel alive"♪
good evening. i'm chris matthews. in washington, it's just past midnight on the east coast, 11:00 p.m. in iowa. where seven candidates from the republican party wrapped up the final republican debate before next monday's caucuses. they talked isis, immigration and who would be the best contender to go up against hillary clinton. there was one notable absence, of course, the front-runner in the race out there and across
the country, donald trump. mr. trump said he was boycotting the fox gathering because the cable network toyed with him. instead, he held an event of his own just three miles away at drake university which did benefit wounded veterans. trump, however, was still a presence at the debate. >> let me say i'm a maniac anticipate everyone on this stage is stupid fat and ugly and ben, you're a terrible surgeon. now that we've gotten the donald trump portion out of the way. >> it's not about donald trump. he's an entertaining guy. he's the greatest show on earth. this campaign is about the greatest country in the world and a president who has systematically destroyed many of the things that made america special. >> i kind of miss him between the debate and the tweets. i wish he was here. >> it was all live but seemed prerecorded. trump told his crowd in des moines why he wasn't at that debate.
>> i didn't want to be here, i have to be honest. i wanted to be about five minutes away. you have to stick up for your rights, when you're treated bhadly, you have to stick up for your rights. you have to do it. i have to go a little step further and say fox has been extremely nice the last number of hours, actually. and they've wanted me there and they said how about now. they called a few minutes ago. how about now? i said hasn't it already started. they wanted me to go and apologize and they did apologize and they could not have been -- but once it started, it it's for our vets, there was nothing i could do. >> it's a schtick. katy tur is at the debate. katy, these are tough question, you may not know the answer. first of all, how many conversations went on in the 11th hour back and forth negotiations, if there were that, between roger ales who
runs, of course, fox news and the candidate. were there such conversations? were they cordial? and were they aimed at getting him on the stage at the last minute like he said? >> i know there were conversations that were had between the campaign, between donald trump and fox news, even between ivanka and people at fox news trying and begging to get him to go back on that debate stage. i don't know how many of them there were, chris, and i don't know how contentious they may have got, but i do know that they were very adamant, at least from my sources to get donald trump back on that debate stage tonight. obviously it didn't work. they were playing a game of chicken and donald trump won in this case. he did his event, he got all of the coverage for it, sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, forced the candidates on that stage to talk about him and said that his separate event, which was on cnn, which was on msnbc, and he was able to get all of the attention without having to face the tough questions that he
wow had to face with megyn kelly. i do agree. i think everybody tonight on this program, you haven't heard 234 the last hour, agree that your candidate, the one you're covering is still the big dog in this campaign. my question, however, is it possible for the outside observer to know what caused the breakup between roger ales at fox and his people and trump? was it the megyn kelly moderating issue, whether she should continue to be the moderator and he said no? or was it the language used in that sort of taunting prez release that went out about him, vladimir putin and the mulahs, whether they would be unfair to him or not? >> i think he's had an issue with megyn kelly now for the past six months since the first debate. and he found every opportunity he could to diminish her and bash her, both at rallies anticipate on twitter. and i think that he was hopeful to get her off the debate stage this time around. but i don't think he -- i think he knew that he didn't really
have much of a chance to do that. then when this press release came out that was mocking him, openly mocking him, i think the campaign saw their opening and saw their chance to get out, spin the story, and become the tough guy in the room and walk away. that way nerp able to mitigate the risk of standing on stage with megyn kelly and instead take the stage over here five minutes away at his own rally where his supporters were cheering everything he said on. i will say, his supporters seemed to understand, skris, that this is a big game, a big show. he talks about fox news and how they were being nice to him in the last few hours. they understand he is playing a game and that he is manipulating the situation and they are rooting for him to do it. they want to see the playbook ripped up. they want to see somebody go and shake things up. they are tired of business as usual.
not necessarily the champions of their values on the republican or conservative side, but the establishment. they see donald trump coming in and raising the entire field and saying this is the way it's going to be and i can lead you to a new america. >> what a unique place you're in, talking to all those people and getting that true sense, i believe, of what's going on in this weird new american political reality. anyway -- >> it is so weird out here. i got to tell you. you have never seen anything like it, i'm sure. and it's just such a surreal experience to be out here talking to these people and getting the sense of why they're so enraptured by this candidate. >> i want to go to hallie jackson. cruz had it all to himself tonight, but part of it was also to play defense with rubio just going after him. and a couple of the others, too.
let's watch this exchange. give me your thoughts on this. cruz got into several disputes with the moderator, the veteran chris wallace. in one instance, he demanded a response when chris wallace mention mentioned his name. >> i was mentioned in that question. >> it's not my question you get to respond to. it's his answer. you don't get 30 seconds to response to me. >> your question was -- >> sir, i know you like to argue about the rules, but we're going to conduct the debate. >> i would note the last four questions have been rand, pliez attack ted, marco, please attack ted, jeb please attack ted. let me just say this -- >> it is a debate, sir. >> no, no. a debate is actually a policy issue. but i will say this, gosh, if you guys ask one more mean question, i may have to leave
the stage. >> you know him better than i do, but it looked like he realized he was on very thin ice there. with an attempt to mock the moderators by saying they were setting up these fights, these intermural fights with him and each of the other candidates, that didn't seem to work. were his ears sharp enough to notice it didn't work and he sharpened the whole thing by saying i'm going to have to leave the debate, mocking donald trump. >> he's a great debay tor. he understands the feel and the vibe of the crowd. the last debate the crowd seemed to be on his side a lit bit more and he was feeding off that a little bit. in this debate, he got a sense of where the night was going. what he didn't play is marco rubio's little jab rite back after this about, you know, not leaving the stage when asked any question, which i told was an impromptu remark from rubio. not something he prepped. but that exchange you showed with the moderator, you know, cruz started what folks think
was in a strong way. he looked very statesman like. he was able to present his case, he was asked, sort of the first question out of the gate, the first question on donald trump as megyn kelly put it, the elephant not in the room. but when he got combative, it seemed to be not the greatest look for him. cruz often faces the perception that donald trump has perpetuated that he is simply not likable, that cruz is a nasty guy. so when he gets into these situations where he is a little bit more aggressive, it's a little bit of a fine line that he has to walk. >> that's so right. anyway, we also saw the party's hawkish impulses on display tonight. ted cruz and marco rubio were both hawks. let's watch. >> you talk tough about fighting terrorism. you talk about carpet bombing into oblivion. you talk about seeing if the sand will glow at night. >> i will apologize to nobody for the krig rouseness with which i will fight criticism, go after isis, hunt them down wherever they are, and utterly
and completely destroy isis. you know, you claim it is tough talk to discuss carpet bombing. it is not tough caulk talk. it's a different fundamental military strategy than what we' seen from barack obama. >> isis is the most dangerous jihadist group in the history of mankind. isis is now found in affiliates in over a dozen country. isis is the group burns people alive in cages. isis is the group that wants to trigger an apocalyptic showdown. this group needs to be confronted and defeat. they're not going to go away on their own. they're not going to open up a chain of car washes. they need to be defeated militarily and this will take open u.s. military force. >> open up a chain of car washes? i don't know. rubio is outhawking cruz. he. >> es talking about putting these people down in gann guantanamo and get the truth out of them. we know what that means.
i think he's trying to catch up in iowa to cruz by next monday, catch up right on his tail on caucus night. that's his number one objective. and he has to take those votes directly from cruz because he's not going to get them from trump. your thinking? >> i think you're right. he does want to catch up with cruz on caucus night. whether he comes in third place or not, finishes strong third, but it's the margin between him and the second place finisher, who if the polling holds would be ted cruz. marco rubio has been moving in this direction really for months no uh. we' seen him with this tougher talk, as you might put it, on the campaign trail for a while. we have seen it at the last several debates. when you talk about sort of what marco rubio had to deal with tonight, i thought the immigration exchange was very telling. when you talk to folks on the ground here, when you go to
rubio events, supporters coming out to see rubio, i was speaking to a woman and she said i love everything about marco rubio except for the gang of eight immigration bill. this constantly comes up when we're on the campaign trail. it's something rubio had to talk about for a little while. it was something that ted cruz had to talk about. i can tell you the campaign feels as though it's almost a good thing for marco rubio to be talking about immigration and explaining his position. the campaign believes it is old news that marco rubio supported and helped co-author the bill. it's baked into the cake, if you will. after tonight, this proves it is a three-man race. but it depend on what campaign you talk to. i've heard it's a four-man race, a five-man race. >> they would say that. catching the guy in something i didn't know about, they caught him thanks to the moderators, they pulled out a tape that showed ted cruz supporting
legalization of the people illegally here. undocumented workers. a path to legalization. that's not the orthodoxy of american right at all. >> but it's also not necessarily a new clip. it's one that we've seen before, chris. and it's one that ted cruz has had to explain again and again when he talks about the fact that this was sort of a poise sn pill, et cetera. what's interesting is the montages that the fox news moderators decided to show. that's not something we often see in these debates. the candidates sort of directly having to face their own words. which was a really interesting moment for both ted cruz and marco rubio. >> they caught him on tape saying, yes, he was going to support the bill. not just as a poison pill, but that he was going to support it with those amendments. coming up, much more on donald trump's big gamble tonight. we'll talk to one of his top surrogates next.
>> more now on tonight's big story. the epic trump-less debate, which was often dominated by trump. you want proof, here's jeb bush and donald trump taking shots at each other from miles away from each other. here's jeb going after trump during the actual debate. >> i think it's important that when we're running for the highest office in the land that we recognize that we're living in dangerous times and we have to be serious about it, that our words have consequences. donald trump, for example, i mentioned his name again just in case anybody was missing him. mr. trump believed that in reaction to people's fears, that we should ban all muslims. that creates an environment that's toxic in our own country. i think it's important for us to
be careful about the language we use, which is why i've been critical of donald trump, disparaging women, disparaging hispanics. that's not a sign of strength. making fun of disabled people, we're never going to win elections if we don't have a broader, unifying message. >> and here's trump at his rival event, going after jeb bush. >> you look at a guy like jeb bush, he's taking 120 -- lee energy. extremely low. he's debating right now. he's maybe doing great. he's probably saying has anyone seen trump? where's trump? where is h e? >> amirossa, a surrogate for donald trump. michael steele, former rnc chair. you know, the nixon/kennedy debate, it was when nixon was in
california and kennedy was new york. distance made the heart grow fonder. i think in this case, jeb grew fonder of being jeb with trump not there. we just watched him do a nice soliloquy, i must call it, because it was spoken alone, in shakespearean parlance. you can't do a soliloquy when the other guy is there. that tells you a lot about both of these guy, doesn't it? >> it does. i i don't think it was lost on too many people tonight. you saw a debate without donald trump. but more importantly, you came to understand how much he's changed the trajectory of this race. by his being there. the imfact he had on individuals like christie, who i thought had a very strong night tonight. he filled out that donald trump role, if you will, in some respects. particularly in his riff on hillary clinton. so you can see how one person
who changes how the other candidates behave around him. and i thought that was a very, very important takeaway tonight. >> do you think a guy who is running as an exprosecutor, a man of the law referring to abortion as murder, which is a legal term, of course, it's not about killing or taking of human life, which is an argument. but murder is a legal term in our country. to use that in regard to abortion, do you think that would make him even possible as a general election victor? >> i do, chris, on a number of levels. look at it this way, if you cull a fetus in the rum of a mother, you'll be brought up not only in the death of that moth e, but the death of the fetus. it's just with the term of the use abortion, people don't want to go there. chris christie said let's call the thing what it is. >> legally that's not what it is. >> well, legally it's not what it is. >> abortion is legal, but murder isn't.
>> that's very true. i'm just saying, that's not the conversation people are having when it comes to these subjects. >> what do you make of this as the woman in the group right now. what do you make use of the word murder on a national stage. i don't think i've heard it before in such a high level discussion in this country. murder, it's hard to walk back from that once you've used that word. >> i think christie is desperate. desperate times require desperate measures. to go that extreme to get attention, to have us talking about him even now is what he was trying to do. it's not really his call. like you said, it is a legal precedent how we deal with what women do or don't do with their bodies. >> what do you think is happening now in this race, who's still in it? >> look, donald trump is the clear front-runner in the race. ted cruz, in order to have a shot at being the nominee has to win in iowa. h f he doesn't win in iowa, doesn't do particularly well in new hampshire, i think he's
done. chris christie has to do really well in new hampshire. has to be atop the establishment field. if he's not, he's done. jeb bush has to do well enough in new hampshire to have a rationale to keep going in south carolina. marco rubio has to have a strong performance in new hampshire. i think you look at right now, i think you have two possible nominees on the stage, trump and cruz. and then you have a bunch of establishment candidates, kasich, christie, rubio, and bush who are all fighting to be alive the day after the new hampshire primary. >> how many tickets out of iowa? how many tickets out of new hampshire? >> three tickets. three tickets. three realistic tickets out of new hampshire. now chris, presidential campaigns used to end when they ran out of money. it's not necessarily the case anymore with the super pac benefactors. so some of these campaigns can linger on. they have the potential to
affect the outcome by taking, shaving a point or two off of someone else as you get into these deeper states. but as we get out of new hampshire we'll have three candidates left who have any po ten to be stand on the stage in cleveland, accepting the party's nomination. >> and five gilmores. and five jim gilmores. how many tickets out of new hampshire? >> i think it's going to be very interesting going into new hampshire after donald trump dom nays iowa. which is what the stage is set for. there were 700 seats in the auditorium for donald trump. he filled them all and there were hundreds of people waiting outside. he showed that people will show up, and they've had the question, who will show up on a cold day to come out and caucus for donald trump. and i think tonight showed his strength in iowa. he's going to be strong going into new hampshire and he's going to win south carolina. so this is a win-win-win situation for donald trump.
>> let me ask steve about the mechanics. the one thing about the republican caucuses next monday night, as opposed to the democratic caucuses the same night, they're totally simple. if you vote in a republican caucus this monday night four days from now, it's like going and voting in a primary. it is simple. you go in there, hand print the name if you want trump, hand it to somebody. you go home, you voted. you don't have to stand in the corner for half an hour, wooed by other people in the corner. there's none of that rig ma role. it seems that will open the door to a lot more outsiders, newcomers to the process for trump. >> it's simpler than the democratic process, but more complicated than going into the booth and pulling down the lever. but the one thing we know about iowa is this -- iowa always breaks late, chris. there's always surprises. you go back on the democratic side to 2004, the sunday shows a
week out. not the names john edwards and john kerry were never mentioned not a single time. it was all howard dean. all dick gephardt. john mccain snuck into a virtual tie for third place. he was third place the next day. a couple of days later, they said he was in fourth. but there's always volatility in the electorate in iowa. i think, though, it's a momentum business, not an organization business. donald trump has the momentum. ted cruz has been losing altitude. so you look right now, if donald trump wins in iowa, there's nothing to stop him in new hampshire. i think he's off down the field like you used to watch bo jackson run away from the defense when he had the ball. >> we have to have other people check. michael, you check him on that. is that true? if he wins now, i mean omarosa is shaking her head. do you buy if he wins the first one, he goes for the fences? >> yeah. chris, i think the number just work. you're talking about proportional voting until the
15th of march. donald trump's expectation by so many, particularly in the establishment that he doesn't do well in iowa, he comes in second, maybe third, if he winds upbeating that and winning iowa, we know where he is in new hampshire. we know where he is in south carolina, i don't know who stops the flood gate at that point. so coming out of iowa with the win sets him up nicely to begin to make the run he wants to make. that's why tonight was so important in so many ways. particularly for those who are shooting for that second spot or that third spot, because they want to be that firewall coming out of iowa going into new hampshire. >> thank you so much, omarosa, thank you for joining us. steve schmidt as always, and michael steele as always. up next, i'll speak with two top reporters on what tomorrow's front pages are going to look like. what are the headlines going to be. and what's trump's counterevent, will he get the lead anyway even if he doesn't show up?
>> when you're electriced, you need to do things. and he led the charge to finally fix this immigration problem that's existed now for us, as marco says, for 30 years. then he cut and run because it wasn't popular amongst conservatives. >> he used to support a path to citizenship. >> so did you, marco. >> i love this casualness. welcome back to this special edition of "hardball." the gop front-runner turning down the debate to hold his own event just a short trip across town, three miles away. how will tomorrow's front page headlines report tonight's event. joining us now are experts from des moines, let me start with heidi, we'll go across the board there, ashley, left to right. what's the headline coming out of the debate itself? was there a winner?
or was there a good fighter? what would be the headline? >> i think the winner, chris, i don't know if i'm on the left here, but i'll start here, was trump. trump wins the split screen. here he is raising $5 million for veterans and yet even in the debate itself, it was all about the man who wasn't there. kind of framing the debate. as i understand it, ichb instead of fox news, all the other networks were giving their coverage to donald trump, which is exactly what they wanted. this event felt so much more like entertainment than many of his other events. even though those a lot of times feel like entertainment. you had a young veteran by the name of john wayne kind of walking the stage back and forth. he pointed out ivanka. there were protesters, people chanting usa in a kind of revival style speech from two ladies named silk and vel set. you've done a lot of analysis of the debate, but that was kind of stat tick.
this is where all the energy was. >> who won the split screen tonight in terms of the headline writers for tomorrow? maybe you already know. >> in some ways, the republican party, right? you got to see briefly an alternate reality where donald trump is not a candidate and a lot of the other candidates got to feel a bit more comfortable and lay out their policy plans. and i think the other people, maybe the second tier candidates won. rubio, christie, jeb and kasich, who are all vying to place here. and to finish first or second in new hampshire. they sort of all got time, too. >> young they did strong enough tonight to be real front-runners or contest assistants to win either first two contests? >> in iowa, not necessarily. but i think absolutely in new hampshire. that's a four-way race for second place. if you're jeb bush or john kasich and chris christie and you have a moment to lay out
your immigration policy or turn the attack to hillary clinton, i think that's a real positive for voters in new hampshire to see that. >> which of the mainstream or establishment candidates did you show the most ability tonight? >> you know, maybe marco rubio, especially with donald trump not on the stage. he sort of was elevated, vying with ted cruz for first place on the stage. he did quite well. >> who do you think won the split screen tonight? >> well, hands down, chris, it was trump. like everyone has said so far. almost all the other networks were covering that instead of the fox debate. but when we come to the debate itself, ted cruz really was very demanding, taking center staej -- stage without trump being there tonight. taking trump off the table right
out of the gate, saying, you know, look, you're a bad surgeon, you're a mean person and we're done with that, moving on and kind of changing the topic from donald trump tonight and giving the other candidates an opportunity to talk about other issues. but they have complained throughout this race that without donald trump, they wouldn't be able to talk about serious issues. they may go up in the polls. so it will be more difficult for them after tonight to argue that donald trump is the reason they didn't do well in this debate and they're not doing well in the race. >> heidi, did you agree that cruz did well? he dominated? >> i think he dominated but i don't think he did well. ted cruz comes off as a little bit defensive and has a chip on his shoulder and maybe a little bit nasty. i think especially in the exchange with the moderator, you had even the audience kind of rooting against him, which i think caught him off-guard.
i honestly think it might have been better if donald trump were there for ted cruz. donald trump is an expert debater. and i think he was ready to draw a little bit more blood from donald trump as we saw a hint of that in the last debate. i think he would have doug the knife in a little deeper. >> he listed all the questions. he sounded like he was complaining about being ted cruz more than he was about the moderators. anyway, thank you. up next, more on the trump decision to skip tonight's debate and the rest of the republican field trying to seize the moment he gave them. you're watching a special edition ott "hardball" your place for politics. >> ted said he was for nsa reform, but then he told marco rubio, no, no, i voted for the bill because i'm for the government collecting 100% of
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>> welcome back to this special edition of "hardball." donald trump's absence from the stage tonight gave the other candidates a bigger chance to break out of the pack. and many of them turned on fairly good performances. i'm joined right now chris jansing, a joan walsh of the nation in the middle. i want to give you somebody to talk about. let's start with chris jansing on kasich.
let's take a look at kasich. he stood out with calls for cooperation across the aisle. >> the situation is this. we can't change things unless we lead as conservatives but also invite people from the other party. we have to come together as a country and top stop all the divisions. that's been my message in new hampshire and having been in iowa and new hampshire, i just received the support of 7 out of the 8 newspapers in that state. because they see positive, they see unity, they see coming together and they see a record of change and a record of accomplishment. >> it makes sense, you've got to negotiate, we have a country that's split in half ideologically. we all know that. it's not going to change much.
we have to zeel. he's saying let's deal in a way that doesn't sound as confrontational than trump does. >> i agree with you 100%. the other thing that's key is iowa is a state that's generally not rewarded people who go on the attack. but kasich is a guy, when you sit around and talk to folks from other team, he was somebody who, you know, a year ago, they were looking at as a serious threat. a real contender, somebody with ideas. he is one of the folks, though, who has stayed really consistent, to sort of the theme of who he is and the message that he wants to get out there. very different than what we see
right now, not getting any traction at this point in the campaign. >> christie took a hard line on reproductive rights tonight. i'll say, saying he'll cut off funding to planned parenthood. this is for joan. >> can you name one thing the federal goth does now that it should not do at all? >> yeah. you want one? >> i want one. >> how about what we've done in nj nnl for the last six years and that's get rid of planned parenthood funding. >> anything bigger than that. >> bigger than that? let me tell you something, when you see thousand upon thousands of upon thousands of children being murdered in the womb, i can't think of anything bigger than that. >> i say this one is for you. the last thing washington needs is another panderer. >> that's another word i was going to use.
to use the word murder in this context, and for that to be the only thing, the only example that he could give. he's in iowa, and he's going for the jugular. he's thinking this is what these people want to hear. i thought kasich had a better night than christie did when you look at the establishment lane. there's something so hard and cruel in the way he comes off. >> the way to reduce the size of big government is to bring in big government who puts people up for murder for abortion. anyway, jeb bush was asked about being part of the establishment tonight. and he gave kind of a personal answer. here's how he defended himself, i think. >> look, iechl an establishment because my dad, the greatest man alive was president of the united states and my brother who i adore as well was president, fine, i'll take it. i'll be part of the establishment because barbara bush is my mom. i'll take that troop.
but this election is not about our pedigree. this is an election about people that are really hurting. >> well, he does have a pedigree. not everybody has one. >> the first time i heard jeb bush call him part of the establishment. he owned up to the family connection, certainly. in new hampshire, he mentioned his mother was going to be starring in an ad for him, now airing in the early states and his brother might even come out on the campaign trail. >> where does he pick up, as we say today, where's the trak come? >> in a very crowded field, voters are confused about which moderate candidate they could potentially support. maybe on election day, they fall back on a name they recognize. >> i think he res preparing his swan song. i walked into this with a lot of baggage.
but i stand by my family. >> he joked that this hasn't really worked out for him. when you talk to him about what the expectations game is, can he exceed expectations, you know, he'll say kind of self-deprecating like, well, you know, it's hard not to suppress the expectations because they really don't exist. so this is sort of something he's come to grips with in his mind. this was the guy who came in $100 million who came in as the prohibitive favorite, and the one thing people questioned was whether or not he could get past the bush name. i've only see him embrace it. he refuses to say anything but positive things about his dad and his brother and he likes to bring up his mom. obviously that resonates. but me's had a number of months to figure out this is not going
to work out in the way his broad supporters thought it would workous, chris. >> there were no republican women on the big boy's tonight, but you would think they know there's such thing as republican women beings. not one raised their hand and said, you know, i think that's language we shouldn't bring into this conversation. we may not like the choice a woman makes but it's legal, she makes the choice. we shouldn't be branding her a murderer. didn't anybody think there were women watching? >> i'm just surprised. >> the other crazy thing was rand paul saying first, no, i don't blame hillary for her husband's behavior, and then saying well, she shouldn't be going around talking about women's rights. there were many tone deaf things about it. i think it just really showed, there was a trump-sized hole in the room.
none of those guys was big enough to fill. ted cruz really didn't have the night he needed to have, i don't think, in order to regain the ground that he's lost in iowa. his weird joking, was he joking? picking a fight with chris wallace. it just wasn't working. so i don't think this changes much at all. >> i think this is one of those gun smoke episodes when matt dylan wasn't in change. it's the changest, changest situation. the guy running the show wasn't there running the show. so even jeb bush was free to speak. and that's not a comment nice to swreb. you shouldn't be afraid to speak in front of your rivals. thank you. much more "hardball." not much more, but some more hardball still with us.
record this. voila. remotes, come out from the cushions, you are back! the x1 voice remote is here. >> we're back. we're joined right now by doug stafford, chief strategist for the paul campaign. let me ask you about your plan for rand paul between now and new hampshire, which is his really good shot right there. let me ask you, one more debate saturday night, right before the new hampshire primary. what's your chances right now to do well up there? >> well, i think we have a great chance. fist come to iowa, of course. and the caucuses come on monday. we have a great organization in iowa. we're hitting over a million calls. rand just knocked it out of the park on the debate tonight. i think it will give him great momentum. he's got a great weekend running around the entire state of iowa,
including a big rally on sunday with his father. we're looking for a good showing on monday in the caucuses. >> how much of his father's campaign organization is still alive? >> i think a lot. i think it's growing as well. and many have just come to rand. they're really energized. eve been in iowa for a few days ago. he had a big rally with students at drake university this afternoon. hundreds of them. we had over 100 folks at the office all day long and all night long. you can really feel something moving to rand for iowa. >> how many libertarians are there in this race for president? >> one. rand paul. >> cruz is trying to pretend he's one. >> yeah. as rand said in the debate tonight, i don't think it's authentic. anyone that wants to go after the liberty vote can't be out campaigning and mace crucial vote. the first time in 30 years,
voting in the united states senate. you can't be somebody who votes to reauthorize the patriot act. i think rand paul is the real deal and people are noticing that and coming back. and i think really ted doesn't have much of a shot at that vote. >> thank you so much. great to have you on. doug stafford for rand paul. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us this whole two hours. joining us at 7:00 eastern. this campaign cannot get weirder. our coverage of this wild night continues after this.