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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews

March 5, 2016

Chris Matthews: Joining us right now is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Hillary Clinton supporter who managed her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign effectively. Mayor, thank you very much for coming on.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you.

Matthews: I have to tell you, I’ve been looking at all the international magazines at the airport – LaGuardia – today, and one of them is – two of them now – but I have – I think we’re going to show it on the screen here – the Economist, and it shows Hillary Clinton going up against Donald Trump, as if it’s all done. That’s two New York people running against each other. Tell me about – this is a subway series. There it is – the subway series. How does that look to you? If you had to contest that one right now – if you had to put a tally on that one? 

Mayor: First, no one should assume this thing is over on either side. There’s a lot to be done and there should be that attitude of a lot of fight up ahead. Second of all, no New York values to Donald Trump – he does not represent what this place is about.

Matthews: Well, you’re the one that said he never shows up at Mets or Yankees games – somebody said that today.

Mayor: He never shows up at anything in the city, but, more importantly, we’re a city of inclusion, we’re an immigrant city – you know what this place is about – it has been for generations. He does not reflect those values.

Matthews: Is he a New Yorker?

Mayor: He’s a New Yorker in terms of where he lives, but he does not represent the values – he really doesn’t – and he’s out of step with what’s happening in this city.

Matthews: But the conservatives accuse him of having New York values. How can both be true?

Mayor: Because –

Matthews: They say he’s a New Yorker, you say he’s not.

Mayor: No. I think I can speak with authority, representing 8.5 million people, that he does not represent the values by any stretch of the imagination of this place, especially today. But, let me tell you, that matchup – first of all, no one should take it lightly. I’m a proud Democrat, I’m a proud Hillary Clinton supporter, but that would be certainly a real fight in the general election. But I think one of the things that catches up with Trump is hatred and divisiveness that just aren’t American values. 

Matthews: Why does the New York Post love him?

Mayor: He’s a great [inaudible] –

Matthews: Front page – he gets [inaudible] every day. But why do the regular working people that read that paper – why do they want to read about Trump? Why is the regular working guy of any ethnic group seem to be interested in Trump?

Mayor: Because –

Matthews: Fascinated with him –

Mayor: And this is where we should pay attention to Trump and learn something – there’s a lot of frustrated people in this country. Look, part of them are the Reagan-Democrats who feel that the Democratic party didn’t address their economic reality. 

Matthews: Irish and Italian guys –

Mayor: Yes, but they –

Matthews: They were – they used to be. 

Mayor: But they felt left behind, and, in the last 30 years, the statistics say they’re right – the middle class has been stuck economically. There’s anger and frustration at that. The answer is not Donald Trump; it’s not supply side economics – it should be a robust Democratic party with a populous economic message. Now, thank God, what’s happened this year is – two Democrats who both want to reign in Wall Street, both want to tax the wealthy more, both want to raise wages and befits. This could be the beginning of a Progressive Era, because, finally, the Democrats party is speaking to those Reagan-Democrats.  

Matthews: But you don’t think that those working people out there – men – a lot of white men – not all of them – look upon the Democratic party – it’s a wine-and-cheese, elite party – cultural elite party, looking down its nose at working people below the line – people – as they say, in Hollywood. You know what I’m talking about. 

Mayor: I do know what you’re talking about.

Matthews: How come that happens?

Mayor: Look, you remember – I remember when Ronald Reagan came to the fore – and what happened there? 

Matthews: Can we take a break?

Mayor: Yeah.

Matthews: The opposing candidate to your candidate – Bernie Sanders – is out in Michigan right now. Let’s watch –

[Footage cuts to live stream of Bernie Sanders delivering remarks]

Matthews: Mr. Mayor, you’re for Hillary Clinton, but this is good stuff for Democrats – coming out against the elite. We were just talking about the cultural elite – this is the economic elite running the country.

Mayor: Look – and it gets back to what you were saying a moment ago – the Democratic party did not take on those elites sufficiently, and that’s where it lost a lot of its base. That’s where the Reagan-Democrats came from – Ronald Reagan sounded like he was taking on the status-quo more than Democrats were. Now, the Democratic party is finding its soul again. The Democratic party is getting back to its roots – which I think were FDR and Harry Truman – and getting back to the idea that we have to fight for working people. So, when you see Democrats – both Democratic frontrunners saying the same thing about raising taxes on the wealthy, and higher wages and benefits, and speaking up for campaign finance reform to keep that big money out of the system – that’s how you get back to people feeling disaffected from the Democratic party, and I think it’s been a long time coming. In the last election in 2014, Democrats ran away from talking about working people’s issues.

Matthews: Yeah.

Mayor: They wouldn’t talk about taxing the wealthy. They wouldn’t even talk about Obamacare. 

Matthews: Well, one part of the reason is – Bernie’s right, because when everybody comes to New York – it’s the [inaudible]. They see these Senators on the plane, on the shuttle – they used to have one guy with them. You probably know some of these consultants that are with them – they come to New York because that’s where the money is.

Mayor: Right.

Matthews: And they’re not going to trash Wall Street when they just got a payday from them.

Mayor: And when people in this country believe Wall Street let them down, and believe the economy was wrecked, and those foreclosures, and the job lose came from one place, and then no Democrat will even seem to take them on – why should they believe in Democrats? Finally, both Democrats are saying we’re going to the root of the matter. 

Matthews: I can’t let you leave without my favorite stump question, alright? What is the difference for a person out there – right, left, or center – if there’s any more center left – what’s the difference between a Democrat, which you are, and a Socialist?

Mayor: A Democrat, today, in this country, wants to do the kinds of things that will fundamentally change the status-quo – taxing the wealthy, raising wages and benefits, things like pre-k, things like paid family leave that will change working family’s lives. Now, the problem in this country –

Matthews: What’s a Socialist?

Mayor: Well, here’s what I was going to say – the problem in this country is, until this year, that word got so warped that we lost its essential meaning. I think, from my point of view, a Socialist is someone who believes in a role of government that’s redistributive. And that’s not the same thing as what would happen in a free market economy like this, but a Democratic Socialist, or a Social Democrat, like in Western Europe, is something I think actually is where a lot of Democrats are. 

Matthews: Because they're modified? 

Mayor: Right.

Matthews: But a true Socialist believes in structural change, right?

Mayor: Yeah.

Matthews: How money is made and who gets it?

Mayor: I would agree. But I think a lot of people today in this country are Social Democrats, or even Democratic Socialists, and now the conversation can be had. 

Matthews: You’re right, it’s in the polling. We’re seeing 30 – 40 percent of people saying in some of the states – I’m for Socialism.

Mayor: Yeah, and it is a result of the Great Recession. The Great Recession, just like the Great Depression before it, has changed the politics and changed the terminology. 

Matthews: You’re the politician, but I’ll tell you what’s changed it for a 20-year-old – $100,000 in student debt. [inaudible] said you know what Capitalism is to you? I’m a debtor – I don’t like Capitalism. If you were starting your own business, Capitalism would seem great to you, but most young people – men and women – are coming out of their mid-20s owing hundreds of thousand of dollars in some cases, if they go to law school. They don’t like Capitalism. 

Mayor: And all politics is both personal –

Matthews: And local –

Mayor: – And local.

Matthews: I remember.

Mayor: I think you’ve heard that somewhere, and that is why you’r right. Debt – you lose your job, you get your house foreclosed, you suddenly realize what’s wrong with the status-quo.

Matthews: Remember in my day? The Vietnam War was a big issue to get involved in – the draft. Anyway, that was politics that was local. 

Mayor: Yeah.

Matthews: Anyway, thank you, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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