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updated 3/24/2014 11:23:31 AM ET 2014-03-24T15:23:31

HARDBALL
March 21, 2014

Guests: James Keith, Daniel Rose, Michelle Bernard, Marc Ginsberg, Simon
Marks

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Without a trace.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in San Francisco.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Is it possible for a jetliner, a
777, to take off from an international airport and never be seen or heard
from again? Can a major airline head off into the skies and disappear from
the face of the earth? Well, as of tonight, Friday, March 21st, 2014, the
answer is a profound, indeed stunning, yes.

We don`t know what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight 370 with its
239 passengers and crew. We don`t know if someone deliberately took this
plane to its fate, or whether a mechanical failure led to the horror, or
whether there was some combination of foul play and unforeseen horror. We
just don`t know.

Today, over the turbulent ocean southwest of Australia, the planes
looked and looked and found nothing. Whether those objects seen by
satellite last Sunday were part of the airplane, no one knows. There`s
been no way to tell. Tonight, we go back to where reality and man`s
limited knowledge insists we go, back to square one, and the big question
of whodunit or what done it or just the big, fat question mark itself.

Robert Hager is an NBC News contributor and former NBC News aviation
correspondent, and Captain John Cox is an MSNBC aviation analyst and was a
commercial pilot for 25 years.

Bob, you know, I guess I`m asking the most fundamental questions this
Friday evening, which is going back to who did this or what did this. Have
we solved any of this giant mystery of a disappearing airplane?

ROBERT HAGER, NBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, sure haven`t. I mean, and right
now, it`s all a guessing game, and it will be a guessing game unless they
find something in the back -- or the investigation of the background of
these pilots -- and apparently, they haven`t so far, but unless they do --
or unless, miraculously, they trace -- they do find that some of this
wreckage is from the plane and manage somehow to trace back where the main
wreckage may be and fish up the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice
recorder.

Unless either of those things happens, it may remain a guessing game
forever.

MATTHEWS: And we don`t know whether what was spotted 1,500 miles off
Perth has anything to do with this, do we, at this point.

HAGER: No, we sure don`t. No. No, not at all. I think the most
interesting development of the day is this transcript that the London
"Telegraph" says they got ahold of and they`ve they published it, and they
can`t vouch for the authenticity of it, but they believe it`s accurate, of
everything that was said between the pilots and the controllers.

We`ve had just the last phrase, "All right, good night." That was the
last thing we heard from the plane. But they say they`ve got the
transcript of 10 minutes of conversation before the plane took off and then
40 minutes in flight, and then up to -- and it goes up to the very point
where they say "All right, good night."

And people who`ve looked at it say it shows nothing but normal
activity, just routine transmissions. What that would tell you, if it`s
the real transcript, is that nothing untoward came down in the cabin up to
that point. Nobody barged in, or the co-pilot didn`t go after the pilot,
et cetera.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Captain Cox. Then you have the conundrum
here of absolutely no communication after that signoff point that, "Good
night, dear" (sic) comment from the first pilot -- the first officer,
nothing, no conversation, no indication of anything went wrong. Either you
had a catastrophic event that prevented any more communication, any more
transmission, or somebody was pulling plugs, somebody was switching things
off.

And this is what doesn`t -- if everything was calm and professional to
the very point of signoff, and from that point forward, there was no
communication whatsoever, how do you explain it?

JOHN COX, MSNBC AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think you`ve got to look
first and see what evidence we have and what we don`t have. If you look at
the device that shows the airplane on radar, known as a transponder, we
know that after the signoff from the Malaysian controllers and before they
would have contacted the Vietnamese controllers...

MATTHEWS: Right.

COX: ... this device stopped. We don`t know if it`s electrical. We
don`t know if it was a component failure. We don`t know if somebody
switched it off.

What we do know is, with another uplink datalink system known ACARS,
that the data stopped, but the device continued to talk to the network, to
the satellites. And that takes somebody with a deep level of knowledge to
be able to stop the data. It says that the components still worked. It
says that there was still electrical power.

So respectfully, I think that we do know more than we did. We`re out
of square one. We do have evidence. It`s not as strong as we`d like. It
is not compelling or conclusive, but we do have evidence. It says that
something went on in that airplane. They did not or could not communicate
via voice, but it was electrically powered. It says it went to given
points in space known as waypoints. That says the likelihood was that they
used the flight management computer. Somebody had to know how to program
that.

Now, that`s about as hard evidence as we have.

MATTHEWS: Well, what does that hard evidence tell this -- to us, to
me, to everybody watching right now? What does it say could have happened?

COX: You know, there`s so many speculations. I`ve been an accident
investigator for 30 years, and it says to me, Keep your mind open, every
possibility remains on the table. There`s some evidence that says somebody
with knowledge interfaced with computers on the airplane. To go beyond
that, you probably don`t -- we probably don`t have the evidence to do it.

MATTHEWS: But it does suggest something other than a catastrophic
event occurred that prevented further communication.

COX: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: Something...

COX: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Some man-made decision was involved.

COX: It indicates -- right now, the evidence indicates that a
knowledgeable individual had interaction with a computer, and beyond that,
there was no communication. There was electrical power on the airplane.
We know that. We know that there was electrical power on the airplane and
available for several hours, meaning greater than six.

So put all of that together, it reduces the likelihood of a
mechanical, cataclysmic event on the airplane or an on-board fire or some
of the other speculations that have been raised on the Internet and
elsewhere.

It doesn`t eliminate it, but it reduces the likelihood.

MATTHEWS: Well, Captain Cox, that`s what the prime minister of
Malaysia said. Let`s watch what he said last week, exactly that way,
characterizing what happened to the missing plane. Let`s hear it in his
words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: These movements are consistent
with deliberate action by someone on the plane. In view of this latest
development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation
into the crew and passengers on board.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Bob Hager, now we go to the possibility of human
involvement here. Whether -- whatever reason it was done, there was some
kind of human decision making going on on that plane. It wasn`t mechanical
failure. And the question is, if you look at -- they`re talking about the
first officer having a habit of letting people into the cockpit
unofficially. Maybe he was flirting with the passengers, whoever --
whatever was going on.

You have this discussion about who`s on the plane. Now, we had the
two people who were on the plane illegally that had bad passports, but they
were sort of cast aside as just people trying to get to -- you know, get to
Iran cheaply. That happens all the time in aircraft travel.

But what do we have? Are we going to have, like, now -- since we`re
not going to find the plane, it looks like, we`re going to spend a lot of
time looking now through the manifest?

HAGER: Manifest, yes, because on that point, I mean, they said they
were carrying some lithium batteries, which happens all the time, but
they`ve got to be packaged just right, and there was an accident that
killed two crew members when lithium batteries got...

MATTHEWS: No, I meant...

HAGER: ... to smoking almost...

MATTHEWS: I mean the passenger manifest.

HAGER: Passenger manifest -- you`ve got to go back and look at all
those things again because as we fail to bring something really hard
forward, you`ve now got to go back and revisit a lot of things that were
dismissed earlier. I mean, they said they looked at those people that got
on with false passports, and they cleared them more or less. Chinese said
they cleared all their people that were on the plane.

But still, since we come up with no answers now, you`ve got to go back
and revisit all those things because you might find something. You got to
grasp at something because we got precious little here.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, Captain Cox, I thought, as a guy who flies
a lot -- my family does -- that I thought everything in the air was
basically being tracked. We`re all part of some traffic control screen
somewhere. Everyone had us on a radar dot somewhere. And now it reminds
me -- we`re almost back to where we were in 1941, before Pearl Harbor,
where we lose the entire Japanese air force somewhere over the Pacific.

I mean, how much are we blinded still as to what`s going on in the
air?

COX: Well, we -- you are being tracked by air traffic control
whatever you`re with -- in an airplane. There`s no question of that. If
there is radar coverage, then it is what is known as positive control. If
you`re out over the water, oceanic control takes over, and pilots report
given points in space, and they report that to air traffic control, who
separates airplanes by time.

We are in emerging technology that will give us much, much better
updates, real-time updates, but according to the FAA, we`re still probably
six to ten years from that being the norm or the primary means to separate
traffic in oceanic routes. Right now, we`re still using position reports
overseas.

MATTHEWS: Amazing information. I thought we knew so much more about
it.

Anyway, it`s great having you experts on, Robert Hager, as always, my
friend, and Captain John Cox. It`s great to have you on this Friday night.
As I said, we`re damn close back to square one.

Anyway, coming up, anguish and incompetence with the search for the
flight 370 heading into the third week now. Who`s looking out for those
families? And who`s holding the Malaysian government accountable?

Plus, has any potential 2016 candidate for president had a busier week
than Hillary Clinton? She may be a year away from announcing her
candidacy, but if you look at what she`s been up to this week, you might
conclude she`s running, or you might still be a worried she might not be.

Anyway, and while the Obama administration looks to punish Vladimir
Putin, his own people love what he`s doing, moving to restore Russian
greatness.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the signs out there again this
week that Secretary Clinton is indeed planning a presidential campaign.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s been four years since President Obama signed the
Affordable Care Act into law, and a new poll finds more people disapprove
of it than approve it. But that`s not the whole story. Take a look at
this from the new Pew poll -- 41 percent of Americans approve of the law
versus 53 percent who disapprove. But here`s the catch. Of those 53
percent who disapprove, a plurality of them want elected officials to make
it work as well as possible. Only 19 percent -- 1 in 5 -- say they want
elected officials to make it fail. Interesting stuff, isn`t it?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. For the family members of flight
370, it`s been 14 days of pure anguish. By now, we`ve all seen the images
out of Malaysia, families breaking down, distraught and frustrated by a
government that has mishandled multiple phases of this investigation. It`s
an emotional roller-coaster made worse by an agonizing waiting game and an
excruciating drip, drip, drip of information and speculation.

Here`s how one of the missing passengers` girlfriends described her
emotional state during an interview with NBC`s "Today" show. And this is
after she was told that Australian satellites spotted possible signs of
debris.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH BAJC, PHILIP WOOD`S PARTNER: A friend called me with the
information, and I don`t think I`ve stopped shaking since. You know, we
just finally settled into a normal routine of waiting, unhappy waiting, but
at least, you know, we were going back to normal sleeping cycles and
getting in, and I`ve continued to teach at work. And now this just throws
it all -- you know, all up in the air again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Then there`s Malaysian politics, regional and racial
tensions in that region, which complicate matters even more. And all we`re
left are these questions. What happens if we never find flight 370? What
happens to the families? What happens to Malaysia`s struggling government?
Who`s held responsible? And who holds them accountable? In a part of a
world with a volatile geopolitical, economic and ethnic set of tensions,
these questions are difficult to ask, but at some point, they got to be
answered.

Jim Keith was U.S. ambassador to Malaysia and Daniel Rose is an
aviation expert and attorney. He`s represented families in several high-
profile aviation disasters.

Well, let me go to former ambassador Keith. Sir, this performance by
the Malaysian government has been uneven, raggedy at times. Do you have a
sense of what it is that they`re -- that they`re most nervous about as a --
all countries would be nervous in a situation like this. What are their
fears?

JAMES KEITH, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MALAYSIA: Well, Chris, I think
it`s clear that they`re not practiced and not able to manage this in the
spotlight of international scrutiny. They just haven`t had the experience
necessary to pull this off.

I don`t think there`s a conspiracy here. They`re not holding back
information on the basis of a calculated move. They`re just not handling
it well from the -- from the -- one`s heart goes out to the victims, and
you have to feel for their pain, and some of that inflicted unnecessarily
by the Malaysian government, but I don`t think it`s maliciously so. It`s
that -- this is something of a wakeup call for the Malaysian government
that hasn`t used the time it`s had to increase the transparency and
accountability of the government.

MATTHEWS: Did you fly Malaysian Airlines when you were over there on
post? Did you rely on them?

KEITH: Sure, on a regular basis. And their safety record isn`t bad.
You know, if you look -- you have to go back to -- you know, a couple of
times in the last 30 or 40 years, I believe. So it`s a professionally run
airline. And the government itself represents a country that`s come a long
way, but I think this wakeup call is -- you know, is for them to focus on
the distance they have yet to go, as opposed to being pleased about how far
they`ve come since 1957.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Rose, this has been a frustrating day in the world.
Everyone was watching off the southwest coast, of course, from dawn last
night and that part of the world to see if we could find any of those two
pieces of rubble, which we hoped were rubble, but now we`ll never find out
if they were, apparently, because we can`t find them.

How long can the world support this expensive rescue effort, this
attempt to salvage some information?

DANIEL ROSE, AVIATION ATTORNEY: Yes, it`s a good question. I mean,
the first -- you know, the first concern, obviously, as everybody`s pointed
out, is the families. I mean, this is just a heart-wrenching process for
them. And I really can`t imagine an investigation or the handling of the
families being done in a more disorganized and unprofessional way.

And again, it`s -- I agree, it`s not intentional. But at some point,
you just have to say, you know, We need some help here, and we need to do
this the right way, and that includes the investigation. I mean, there`s
no telling how long it`ll go on if it proceeds at this pace of getting
dribs and drabs of information that turn out to be inaccurate.

MATTHEWS: Well, we have 239 people who are probably gone now and -- I
think most people assume that now. And then the question is, if this was
done because of a malicious action by terrorists or people who had a grudge
or whatever their political purposes or mental inability -- instability
that led to this or whatever it was, if it -- let me just ask you a simple
question. If this was done by human beings, as the prime minister of
Malaysia said last Sunday, my question is, does that relieve the government
and its ownership of the airline of accountability here? They can blame it
on someone who did something in the airplane?

ROSE: No. No. I mean, if there`s a lesson we`ve all learned, the
entire world has learned after 9/11, is that everybody`s got responsibility
for stopping what we all know is out there, and particularly the airlines.
So you know, not that I necessarily think that a deliberate act is what
happened here, but if -- if the facts lead in that direction, you have to
look at the airline.

They`ve got responsibilities in terms of security, in terms of
screening, in terms of competency of pilots, and the law recognizes that.
It holds the airline to the highest level of care for its passengers. If
you`re sitting in 15C and you buy a ticket to go from A to B, you expect
the airline to do everything that they`re supposed to do to make sure you
get there safely. And that didn`t happen here. I think we can all agree
on that.

MATTHEWS: And so a passenger`s mother, or father, or husband could
sue the airline for the -- for loss of life?

ROSE: That`s true. That`s true.

The law recognizes that. There are some quirks in terms of whether
you`re an American citizen or you live in the U.S. You have different
rights and a different ability to bring a lawsuit in the U.S. But there
certainly are rights in other countries, in Malaysia and China , for some
of the other passengers as well against the airline.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Ambassador Keith.

Are you familiar with Anwar Ibrahim and the opposition and how that
all works over there and the pilot`s loyalties to the opposition and having
gone to the trial within seven hours of taking off that day, on the 8th?
How does that all fit? I`m not saying we`re looking for a necessary
connection here, but what does it mean politically to the leadership over
there that the pilot of this plane that`s been lost was in the opposition?

KEITH: I wouldn`t overinterpret that.

I think the key lesson, it seems to me, associated with the politics
of this is that this is a maturing political society. That is, they
haven`t had the chance, the give-and-take and the battle of political
parties and civil society to hone the skills necessary to do a better job
of communicating in the midst of this crisis.

So, I mean, it`s more along the lines of the fact that they haven`t
developed those skills because they haven`t allowed that sort of opposition
to play a role in society. Only recently have they really had a contested
election.

So it`s more that broader point that the government needs to move in
the direction of more transparency and accountability and to allow civil
society to develop freely, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, more
so than exists now. It exists to a degree, but it`s good for the
government, of course, good for the people if they can allow that to
happen.

I wouldn`t take it beyond that. I don`t think there`s a direct
connection. Certainly, the opposition would be the first to say that, and
Anwar himself would be the first to say this is a tragedy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KEITH: And they wouldn`t have had -- wanted to have anything to do
with causing it, but certainly the government is in for criticism, as a
responsible actor and a leader in society, because in the end the losers
here are the Malaysian people, going beyond, of course, the families of the
victims.

But the Malaysian people are the ones whose reputation is being
tarnished here.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for your service in our Foreign Service, sir, by
the way.

KEITH: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for coming on, former Ambassador to Malaysia Jim
Keith and Daniel Rose, an attorney who seems to know what he`s talking
about.

And we will be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for "Sideshow."

The new sanctions that President Obama announced yesterday have now
frozen the assets of several Russian politicians and businessmen in Putin`s
inner circle. But who exactly are the folks bearing the brunt of those
penalties?

Last night, Jimmy Fallon profiled some of them in his segment "Tonight
Show Superlatives."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": First, we
have this Russian politician Sergei Aksyonov. He was voted most likely to
own a pair of strangling gloves.

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON: Next, we have Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk. He was
vote most likely to eat charcoal briquettes as a snack.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: They make teeth stronger.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: Next up is former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. He
was voted most likely to be extremely disappointed in his son Weird Al.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: And, finally, we have Russian politician Andrey Klishas. He
was voted Russian Rob Ford.

There you go, guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, actually, the Russian government responded with
sanctions of their own, issuing travel restrictions against several U.S.
senators that bar them from visiting Russia. Of course, most of them view
those penalties as a badge of honor.

Yesterday, Senator Dan Coats of Indiana took to Twitter to point out
how innocuous they really are. He posted out a top 10 list of things he
won`t be able to do since Putin banned him from Russia. Here are a few --
quote -- "I won`t be able to complete my granddaughter`s Russian doll
collection. Number seven, I won`t be able to ski on the slushy slopes of
Sochi. And, number four, I will have to cancel my tennis match with Maria
Sharapova. And, number one, our summer vacation in Siberia is a no-go."

Well, next up, it`s rare even in today`s politics that a candidate
identifies himself as -- quote -- "a right-wing Christian nut." But we
have found one. A guy named Mike McFadden, who is running for the
Republican Senate nomination out in Minnesota, just claimed in a fund-
raising letter that I was talking about him in a recent "MORNING JOE"
appearance when I referenced the dangers of such candidates to moderate
Republican voters.

Well, Mr. McFadden, self-described right-wing Christian nut, is that
really how you want voters to think of you?

And, finally, President Obama defended his decision to appear on
"Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis last week, pushing back against
the charge that Lincoln wouldn`t have done it.

Here`s what he told ESPN`s Colin Cowherd on his radio program just
yesterday.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, if you
read back on Lincoln, he loved telling the occasional bawdy joke...

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: ... and being out among regular folks.

And one of the hardest thing about being president is being in this
bubble that is artificial, and unless you make a conscious effort, you
start sounding like some Washington stiff.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Whoa.

Up next: Hillary Clinton, she`s here, she`s there, she`s everywhere.
And that tells me one thing. I think she`s running.

And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place to watch it, politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.

Four people are dead after a fire broke out at a New Jersey motel
housing residents displaced by superstorm Sandy. Eight people were hurt,
including three of them critically. All others staying at the motel are
accounted for.

Pope Francis delivered a stinging warning to members of organized
crime. He said there`s still time not to end up in hell, which is what
awaits you if you continue on this path. He made the remarks at a vigil
for victims of mob violence.

And, in Michigan, a federal judge ruled the state`s ban on same-sex
marriage unconstitutional. The state`s attorney general has asked an
appeals court to halt the ruling while he files an appeal -- back to
HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I was leaving
the State Department, stepping off that high wire of American diplomacy.
There`d be no more interview requests, no frantic media speculation about
my plans, just peace and quiet in our little old Chappaqua farmhouse up in
the attic, where I hang out.

It has not exactly worked out that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was speaking to the
Association of American Publishers when she joked about how her post-
administration life was certainly not full of peace and quiet.

And her schedule this week is exhibit A. As NBC News "First Read"
puts it, Hillary Clinton is laying the groundwork for 2016 very actively.
If you look around that week, she has been everywhere. Tuesday night in
Montreal, she blasted Vladimir Putin`s moves into Crimea. Let`s listen to
the secretary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: What Putin did is illegal. It was against international
law. It`s not because we gave the poor little Baltic states NATO
protection.

And people need to say that and they need to be very clear that this
is a clash of values, and it`s an effort by Putin to rewrite the boundaries
of post-World War II Europe and to...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: If he`s allowed to get away with that, then I think you will
see a lot of other countries either directly facing Russian aggression or
suborned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Wednesday night, receiving an award from the
American Jewish Conference, Mrs. Clinton subtly created distance from Obama
on Iran, saying she`s personally skeptical about a nuclear agreement with
Iran, although she does stand behind the Obama administration`s
negotiations with that country.

She went on to add that if the diplomatic track failed -- quote --
"Every other option does remain on the table."

And tonight she will speak at Arizona State University, where she
joins Bill and Chelsea and other family members to kick off the Clinton
Global Initiative`s University for Young Leaders.

And this morning, an announcement from the vice president, from
Biden`s office, that he will travel to New Hampshire this Tuesday for an
event highlighting workplace development.

Joining me right now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and
Michelle Bernard, who is president of the Bernard Center for Women,
Politics, and Public Policy.

Governor Rendell, these -- this -- these statements out there do
remind me of the Hillary Clinton who ran against Barack Obama in `08, I
would say several notches to his right on foreign policy.

ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think so. But I don`t
think that`s faked or insincere. I think that`s where she is.

She`s always been fairly strong on foreign policy, more towards the
hawk side than the dove side. I don`t think there`s any real change in
that, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Do you make -- do you have a sense that -- well, anyway, I
guess that -- the question, is that politically astute or is that just the
nature of who she is?

RENDELL: I think it`s the nature of who she is.

And I think it also happens to be fairly astute. I think the American
people are very wary about the negotiations with Iran. They`re willing to
see how they go, but they`re absolutely adamant about the fact that if they
fail, we should come down hard on Iran.

MATTHEWS: Where do you think the Democratic Party is in light of the
last five years of Obama? Do you think it sensed that the party has moved
too dovish, that the president is too naive? Do you think there`s a sense
that maybe Hillary Clinton was right with her relatively hawkish position
last time?

In other words, it does -- you and I grew up that -- it does seem like
the old issue not, between Scoop Jackson on the hard right or anything, but
the choice between the old, say, Hubert Humphrey centrist position and the
more McGovernist position. The party still seems to be back in that
spectrum of debate.

RENDELL: I think the debate is there and it exists.

I don`t think it`s mutually exclusive, but I think, if I were to
describe where the party is on foreign policy, I think it`s more towards
the center, towards the Humphrey position, because I think that`s where the
country is.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Michelle -- Michelle Bernard on this.

It`s interesting to watch the activity level of the former secretary
of state. This is a -- for someone who is in retirement, if you will, I
mean, really -- this is a -- going out and speaking before huge audiences,
I mean, the few times I have been before major audiences, it is an
overwhelming experiences psychologically. You have to get so up for it to
face -- and the crowds she faces are now regularly large, and they really
do take it out of you.

You can`t just walk before 5,000 people and not have it take it out of
you. And there she`s doing it on a nightly basis, it seems, big crowds.

MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND
POLICY: And she has been doing it since she left the State Department.

Back in 2008, when she was running, you will remember that
commentators frequently referred to her as -- Hillary Clinton sort of as
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. And I think right now what we are seeing
this year is not really Snow White, but almost Elizabeth I.

I mean, Hillary Clinton is strong. She is out there every single day.
She has distanced herself slightly from the president when we talk about
reaching a nuclear deal with Iran on revisiting the Affordable Care Act and
how we deal with small and large businesses. People are looking to her --
looking to her leadership.

And they`re also looking to her. She is acting in the manner that we
would see an acting president, every single day out there talking, and
talking about issues are very, very important, very substantive, national
security, foreign policy, health care, the rights of women.

These are all issues that are going to be hot in the 2016 presidential
race and she is laying the groundwork for an absolutely, I think,
phenomenal campaign, should she decide to actually throw her hat in the
ring.

MATTHEWS: So we have now, Governor, the potential of a battle between
two very different personalities, a very iron-like Hillary Clinton, who
knows what she is doing and is tough, and Joe Biden, who I imagine
thousands of people like me think of him as my brother. He seems like a
familiar person to the point where we see him and we wonder what he`s going
through.

And I understand from pretty good evidence and firsthand conversation
with some people that he is really trying to decide whether to run or not,
and that means run against Hillary Clinton or not.

RENDELL: Yes.

I think it`s a tough position for Joe to be in. But I think he`s
doing the right thing, because I still believe there`s a chance -- not a
very large one, but a chance -- that Hillary Clinton decides not to run.

He has to be out there, because if she would announce tomorrow that
she`s not running, he immediately becomes the leading candidate, no
question about it. He`s the only one who has a nationwide giver network,
and Joe would be right in there.

But Joe is also a political realist. And you look at that poll that
showed, among Democrats nationwide, Hillary Clinton at 73 percent and Joe
Biden at 12 percent. You don`t want to run with that being the scorecard.

You can change 20 points, 30 points sometimes in politics, but, boy, I
have never seen a 60-point margin change.

MATTHEWS: So you don`t think he`ll run if she runs?

RENDELL: I don`t think he`ll run because I think his givers are also
Hillary`s givers, and they will go towards Hillary and they`ll deliver the
message to him, Joe, we love you, you`ve been a terrific vice president but
we have to be for Hillary this time.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I -- do you know any major political figure the
northeast who would back the vice president against Hillary Clinton at this
point?

RENDELL: I guess the Delaware senators, Tom Carper and Chris Coons,
and their significant people but they`re from the home state.

MATTHEWS: Yes, home state --

MICHELLE BERNARD, THE BERNARD CENTER: Chris, can I add, though --

MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead, Michelle, your turn.

BERNARD: Yes, I just want to add, though. But a lot of this is also
-- I would imagine is going to depend on what`s going to happen with the
mid-terms in 2014. If the Democrats take a trouncing in the senate I
believe that we`re going see a Democratic Party that is sort of weary on
the domestic front of the Obama/Biden ticket, and I think that could
significantly hurt Senator Biden if he decides to run whether Hillary
Clinton is in the game or not.

And the other thing I would add is I sort of disagree with Governor
Rendell that if Mrs. Clinton decides not to run that Joe Biden steps right
in as number one. I think that the country looking for something
different.

I think Senator Gillibrand out of New York has done a phenomenal job
as a senator and I think that there is room for her to do what Barack Obama
did in 2016, come from nowhere. She has taken a huge leadership role in
talking about military sexual assault and other issues.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I don`t think those are contradictory. By the way, I
agree with both of you. I agree that a lot of people who know Joe Biden
would support him up front, but I also believe that Gillibrand is ready to
go. Absolutely ready to go.

BERNARD: Absolutely.

RENDELL: She is, but, Chris, she won`t get the vice president one on
one which will be a problem. There will be four or five candidates in
there. In a multi-candidate field, the vice president would have a
tremendous advantage. I agree with Michelle, he`s got the burden of
carrying some of the Obama/Biden policies but in a multicandidate field it
would be tough to beat him.

I think Amy Klobuchar would run and that dilutes Kerstin Gillibrand`s
base. So, I think the vice president has a building advantage. It doesn`t
mean he`s going to win, but a building advantage.

BERNARD: I think we`re a ready for a woman in 2016 and I think it`s
amazing to sit and watch what -- regardless of what Hillary Clinton does,
she`s got big wings now, she is protecting everyone in that Democratic base
that could possibly run, she`s protecting Andrew Cuomo in New York. She`s
protecting Martin O`Malley here in Maryland.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Michelle! Michelle!

BERNARD: Yes?

MATTHEWS: Have you evolved or what? Are you a Democrat? Is this
what I`m hearing? Am I hearing this?

BERNARD: I am someone who believes in the free market when the free
market is fair and equal and believes in equality for African-Americans,
women, Hispanics and everybody else.

MATTHEWS: That`s a good statement. I love the statement but that
didn`t answer the question. You sound like a Democrat.

BERNARD: I think I`ve always been evolved, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK, we all evolve. Thank you, Governor Ed Rendell, who
never evolves, he`s always a good guy.

And thank you, Michelle Bernard.

Up next, the West might not like what Putin is doing but Russians sure
do. For Putin, this is all about nationalism and restoring Mother Russia
to its former glory.

So, what`s the best way for us to respond to that reality? We may not
like. That`s ahead. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Americans say there`s one big reason to be happy about a
potential Hillary Clinton presidency, her gender. According to a new
Gallup poll just out today, 18 percent of Americans say the fact that she`d
be the first woman president would be the most positive thing about her
election. Nine percent cite her experience, especially in foreign policy.
And 8 percent like her because she`d be a change for the previous two
administrations, which is very interesting.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

As the standoff between Russia and the West over the future of Ukraine
deepens, there`s no sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin is second
guessing himself. Putin`s annexation of Crimea has only bolstered his
popularity at home and hardened his resolve, apparently. His approval
rating increased to 72 percent according to a poll released by the All-
Russian Center for Public Opinion. More than 90 percent of Russians
support reunification with Crimea. And you`re seeing again the strength
and power of good old nationalism.

Marc Ginsberg is the former ambassador of Morocco, and Simon Marks is
with "Feature Story News".

Gentlemen, thank you for joining. And I guess there`s one profound
question for both of you and it`s the toughest question.

I think the trick -- my friend, Ambassador Ginsburg, tell me, do you
think Putin is surgical, smart, does the smart right move, the great
opportunist, but won`t overplay his hand? That he will simply grab Crimea
back as he`s done it because it was easy pickings given what happened in
Kiev or is he going go around and constantly push against all the different
near borders of his country for more influence?

MARC GINSBERG, FORMER U.S. AMB. TO MOROCCO: Chris, we`re seeing Putin
create his own Monroe doctrine. He stole Crimea fair and square and we`re
going to watch him now engage in creeping annexation in order to establish
a land bridge through Ukraine territory that he`s going to steal in order
to connect Russia, mother Russia, with Crimea.

And we`re going to watch him try to form and further unstable
situations in eastern Ukraine in order to do what he claimed he`s going to
do -- protect Russian people everywhere. That`s where he`s going to have
to be stopped now. Now, when I say being stopped, a 21st century version
of George Kennan `s containment is going to be necessary to keep the Baltic
states, Poland and other states along his eastern flank, from going berserk
over the fact that he is now asserted his desire to protect Russian people.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about that. What would be his role? You
say some sort of easement? What is he looking for, a Polish corridor?
What does he want to get?

He can go into Crimea from the eastern side? Why would he have to
come in from the north?

GINSBERG: He wants to have a land bridge directly connecting Russia
with Crimea, which he doesn`t have. He`s already started that process.
He`s going to continue to seize more Ukrainian territory, as a result of
protecting that flank. And in the end, the question is, is he going to
provoke a conflict, a direct military showdown with Ukrainian forces over
this, it remains to be seen.

At the same time, you`re asking me, is he going to stop? No. I don`t
think he`s going to stop. I don`t think he`s going to be satisfied, he`s
going to keep this up and he`s going to do what he can to grab inch by
inch, because he knows in the end, whatever we may be doing in sanctions,
that`s not going to stop him from achieving his goals.

MATTHEWS: What would his end game be, a Russia which included
(INAUDIBLE), or a de facto influence over the surrounding countries? What
would he have that he doesn`t have? What would the map of Europe, that
part of the world look like in 10 years from now if he gets what he wants?

GINSBERG: He wants to take the countries that are bordering his
western flank and basically prevent them from becoming saddled up with the
European Union and to NATO. Belarus, Moldova, parts of Georgia, which is
already more or less annexed. He wants to prevent NATO from being directly
on Mother Russia`s border, that`s what he wants and he also wants to
reassert influence in countries where there`s sizable Russian minority
populations.

MATTHEWS: So, what`s the U.S. interest? Are we on the aggressive
side coming from in from the West? Are we pushing for NATO membership
going all the way -- we have the Baltic states, we don`t want more, do we?

GINSBERG: Well, in effect, that`s what we -- that`s one of the
reasons why Putin has been able to rear this nationalistic outcry in Russia
because he`s been extraordinarily fearful over the fact that we were
approaching Georgia as a potential NATO country, the same thing with
Ukraine, that`s what he`s trying to prevent.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, OK. Let me go to what -- Simon Marks, it`s
your sense of where he`s going and how careful he will be. To me, what
he`s done so far, he`s been easy pickings. He`s been an opportunist,
rather than the aggressive bear starting on his own tracks.

What`s your sense of what he wants to do?

SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: I think that`s exactly right, Chris.
And I think that to go back to your first question, this is going to be
more surgical in the weeks, months and years ahead. Remember that Vladimir
Putin is operating from a very different play book from everyone else.
He`s not going to run out of an electoral road in 2016. He can simply
change the Constitution, make arrangements to him to continue having power
and influence.

So, I think he`s going to seize targets of opportunity. I suspect now
he will stand and hold the Crimean peninsula, absorb the hit of these
sanctions, and then and only then, when the opportunity presents itself --
go after sown Ukraine.

I do disagree with Marc in one sense. I think there`s going to be a
long while before I think he actually physically threatens the Baltic
States. But there`s no question that there`s that sense of spiritual
threat exhibited by what he`s done over the last few weeks.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t this all -- go back to you, Marc, isn`t this just
Russian manifest destiny, like our own manifest destiny, that Russia is not
one of the countries in that part of the world, it`s the country.

GINSBERG: Well, indeed, Chris. I agree with Simon, I don`t think
he`s going to challenge the Baltics. But remember, he has said time,
Chris, and again that the greatest historical catastrophe that has befallen
Russia is the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Now, he doesn`t want to
restore communism. He wants his kleptocracy with his definition of
dictatorship that`s ruling indefinitely Russia. That`s what he wants.

And let`s understand, that`s what we`re going to wind up dealing with
for years to come, it may not be communism, 19th and 21st century.

MATTHEWS: OK.

GINSBERG: It`s going to be Putin 21st century.

MATTHEWS: Is he more worried about the west or more worried about the
Islamist danger to the south, Simon?

MARKS: Look, I think he`s very worried about the Islamist danger to
the south. I think he`s worried or should be about the economy.

There are three legs to the Putin stool, there`s aggrandizing Russia
territorially, there`s aggrandizing Russian psychologically and putting out
this vision to the great Russia to the audience at home. But it`s also
about economic development. That`s where the United States and it`s allies
really to hit meaningful economic sanctions. That can help mess up his
plans.

MATTHEWS: OK. We`ll see how much of this Mussolini and how much of
its real. Anyway, thank you, Marc Ginsberg.

GINSBERG: Sure.

MATTHEWS: And thank you, Simon Marks.

MARKS: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish this Friday night with this:

I think the signs are out there again this week that Secretary Clinton
is indeed planning a presidential campaign. When she ran in 2008, she
lost. She lost because of the central issue of the times, the disastrous,
ill-conceived Iraq war. She was on the hawkish side, Obama was on the
dovish side.

Well, this week, Clinton`s remark show little has changed. She`s up
there in Montreal talking tough on Putin, talking skeptical of a peace deal
with Iran, it is her political comfort zone, hawkish on foreign policy,
especially on Middle East policy, it`s where she was in `08. It`s where
she wants to be now.

Well, those of us who are not her advisers can only watch and notice
this pattern from the sidelines. But the fact remains that what the
American people want from our future leaders is not the drift back to the
old battle stations of toughness and wariness and skepticism, what they
want is hope that the new leadership can steer us from the old standoffs,
find ways to common action, even with countries who could be difficult,
like Russia.

The facts of the future remain obvious and compelling. We need to
avoid military confrontation with Russia. That`s number one. Avoiding a
direct fight with the Russian people from 1947 through 1991 was the key to
holding catastrophe or keeping us from catastrophe, to the long, tricky
years of the Cold War. We need people at least as brainy to get us through
the years ahead with Russia, until we need to avoid steering up a new
generational fight with Iran.

Secretary Clinton has talked about everything being on the table with
regard to a failed negotiation to put off a nuclear weapons program there.
It`s not necessarily dangerous, but it is not as good as leaning in,
leaning in to find a better way to make the negotiations work. We don`t
need more war talk, we need smarter peace talk. That`s what the American
people want, we have had enough of wars.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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