updated 1/15/2010 11:20:40 AM ET 2010-01-15T16:20:40

Guests: Mike Barnicle, Chuck Todd, Julia Boorstin, Michelle Kosinski, Bob Bazell, Glen Johnson, Melinda Henneberger, Sam Stein, Louis Belanger

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  America to the rescue.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Here‘s the latest on the crisis in Haiti.  Aid from around the world is trickling into Port-au-Prince right now, the capital of Haiti.  Planes from the United States, as well as from China, from France and Spain, landed at the airport bringing water, which is desperately needed in that country, food and medicine, along with search and rescue teams, while aid workers say there‘s no system in place, certainly no government in place, to get that aid to the people.  You‘re looking at the pictures right now of the situation today.

The International Red Cross meanwhile is estimating right now the number has gone down from yesterday, only—only -- 45,000 to 50,000 people dead in this earthquake, with another three million people in need of emergency relief.

Here in Washington, our nation‘s capital, President Obama promised an all-out rescue and humanitarian effort and announced $100 million in aid to the victims of the earthquake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction, You will not be forsaken.  You will not be forgotten.  In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you.  The world stands with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, President Obama also called on former presidents George W. Bush—that‘s the younger Bush—and Bill Clinton to help lead the humanitarian response.

We begin with more on the relief effort with NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski, who is in the neighboring country of Dominican Republic—the Dominican Republic.  Michelle, this is an extraordinary effort by the United States.  I can‘t think of a time when you‘ve seen such unity in our country in an emergency situation.  It even beats our own response, certainly, to Katrina.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, possibly.  I mean, no one really has the full scope of the magnitude of what happened in Haiti right now.  But just seeing even the initial pictures coming out of that country, you knew instantly how bad this was.  And that‘s part of the irony (INAUDIBLE) you know, a disaster of this scale hits such an impoverished country, you know that the human toll is going to be greater.  But then because of the lack of infrastructure and the lack of government that is intact in certain areas at that time, that just makes getting the aid in and putting things back together that much tougher.

And now we‘re seeing pictures where aid is tough to reach certain pockets around the capital or is just starting to trickle in, you know, people desperate for water and that sort of thing.  Now, people are asking, Why is it slow to arrive?  We‘re seeing why right here in the Dominican Republic, where planes have been trying to land in Port-au-Prince for two days now, with some success, especially early in the day.  And the priority is, of course, aid and cargo planes coming in, but it just gets to be too much.

The airport sustained quite a bit of damage.  That‘s definitely part of it.  But also just the staff there, the air traffic control, even with the U.S. itself, is having a hard time dealing with the influx.  We were told about two hours ago that some two dozen planes were circling the airport in Port-au-Prince.  They just can‘t land them all, especially with the cargo planes from earlier trying to get out of there and then trying to bring more aid in.

But it is heartbreaking.  You see teams—like, we saw U.K. search and rescue.  Their job is to get in there and find survivors.  They know that their timeframe is limited.  They had dogs with them.  They flew here on a red-eye from London, eager to get into the country.  They, like so many other teams, including the Red Cross, were told, OK, we‘ve got you a flight plan.  We‘ll get you up in the air, you know, waiting all day. They get in the air.  They get above Port-au-Prince ready to land, and then air traffic control says, Hey, we just can‘t take any more.  You‘re going to have to turn back around and land again in the Dominican Republic.

It was frustrating for them and for many people, as well as the pilots.  But they know the situation there.  They know it‘s going to be tough to get a steady stream and just a good infrastructure of help to make things work again—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Michelle, is that the role that the 3,500 American GIs, the military that are going in there?  Is our main job going to be to secure that airport and get it running?

KOSINSKI:  That‘s definitely going to be part of it.  And we know that the U.S. has Air Force—is going to take control of air traffic control.  And some of the pilots that we were talking to today say they were dealing with Americans today in some capacity, as opposed to yesterday, when it was more of a Haitian effort.  I mean, things run smoothly for a time.  It just gets to be as more and more planes come in—I know we know there‘s limited runway space, there such damage there.  It‘s just tough for everybody to handle at once.

And now the Haitian government is saying, Look—to the U.S.—it‘s going to be a while before we can really get that steady stream of aid in here.  Heartbreaking not only to the people trying to get in, then but when you see the pictures of the people who desperately need that help, there‘s just that lag that is inevitable with something this large.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve got a death toll estimate from the Red Cross, Michelle, right now.  You‘ve—shared it with you, I‘m sure.  It‘s 45,000 to 50,000, which is down from the even higher number that was mentioned yesterday by the president of the country of Haiti.

But I‘m concerned now, like a lot of us, about the fact that you have that many people dead all in the same place, not able to be buried or taken care of in any way, or burned, whatever, cremated, and you have that amount of potential for disease in an impoverished country.  I wonder if that‘s not going to be the second shoe to drop in terms of this tragedy.

KOSINSKI:  Yes, medical professionals are already looking at that.  And that‘s been talked about for some time.  I mean, for so many years, aid organizations have looked at Haiti for the possibilities of disaster, not so much focusing on earthquakes but focusing on medical issues and that sort of thing.  I mean, those small groups have been doing work like that for so many years, trying to prevent a major disaster on a humanitarian level—you know, not necessarily a natural disaster like this—doing what they can.

I mean, even, you know, forestation being an issue for the health of the people, being able to produce enough food for themselves—there are so many problems in this country right now that this is just—you almost look at it and say, What do you do now?  Any large effort sort of looks small in comparison to the destruction there.

I mean, you have to look at it—we know that it has not affected the entire country, and we are seeing pictures from places outside of the capital looking fine.  And there are many structures, however shabby they might look, that were not touched by the damage here.  But then you hear numbers like 40,000 to 50,000 dead, like you mentioned, and you see the level of destruction in the capital, the heart of the infrastructure that this country holds onto, and you just have to wonder how long it‘s going to take and then what comes next, really.  It‘s disturbing on so many levels.

MATTHEWS:  I think you hit on a point that a lot of people that have not gotten familiar with third and fourth-world countries overlook, and that is when you tear down the forest, when there‘s no forest at all, when 98 percent of the forest has been removed, you have no cover of the ground.  You have nothing to stop erosion.  You have no place to find fuel because it‘s all been eaten up, burned, basically, by desperately poor people.

You have a country that‘s not going to make it economically on its own.  There‘s just nothing left in terms of the forests and the woodland.  It doesn‘t exist.  Whereas over the country you‘re in right on the border, you‘ve got a fairly healthy ecology still.

So it‘s been, I think—this is my editorial for action—a terrible political system in Haiti for so many years that‘s left those people without water.  I‘ve been there before.  You can‘t even get—I saw a kid drinking—I told this last night—drinking out of a pothole because there‘s no public water system at all, even in the major city of Port-au-Prince.  It is a desperate situation that was already a disaster before the earthquake hit.

I find it interesting, from our point of view—what can you give us on this?  The American government‘s getting involved, the Chinese government, the French, the Spanish, the United Nations.  And in this country, our own, this interesting coalition of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the U.N., the State Department, AID, and of course, the White House all working together in a great display, I think, of American unity.

KOSINSKI:  Yes, it really is.  I mean, there‘s talk here, too, in this corner of the world, the Dominican Republic—there‘s been so much tension between this country right next door to Haiti for so many years, and for many, many reasons, I mean, going back a hundred years and beyond, when Haiti was in the Dominican Republic and controlled it, et cetera.  I mean, we don‘t need to get into that.  But now, you know, those barriers are dropping.  And the Dominican Republic wants to say, We feel (ph) these other countries helping our neighbor—you know, some people here talked of it as sort of an embarrassment that there wasn‘t more aid before.

But there are so many issues that kind of go back and forth, with the influx of workers and illegal immigrants from Haiti to the DR and to the U.S.  You know, it‘s one of those problems that kind of mushrooms when you have such poverty, and then it creates this sort of ugly cycle.

You mentioned the deforestation.  OK, well, that just makes disasters even worse.  We see hurricane after hurricane after hurricane hit Haiti almost year after year during the bad seasons.  Well, the landslides are partly man-made because of the way the country‘s treated.  The cause of that, of course, is poverty.  It‘s almost one of those things where the people who really care about this country look at it and say, What do you possibly do?  How do you stop that cycle?

And you know, to think of a disaster like this hitting?  Everybody knew that if something like this hit Haiti, it would be beyond comprehension, the level of human loss, but they didn‘t even want to go there.  They didn‘t even want to think about it.  It‘s like you have to look at the immediate situation and try to help, I mean, just basics—try to establish some roads, try to build literacy, try to build some schools.  It‘s at that level in Haiti that many people look (INAUDIBLE) and say, What do you do?

And I guess what you do is what we‘re doing now, a coalition of countries to pour money in.  The sad thing is, is that it‘s quite late now.  All you can really do is try to help the survivors and clean up, I guess, Chris.  It‘s one of those things that—it‘s really tough to get a start to it, I guess.  And then when something like this happens, you just step back and say, Oh, my gosh, you know, could someone have done something earlier?  Could this country have helped itself earlier, as well?

MATTHEWS:  Well, in our own country, we saw this with Katrina.  And I think it‘s always dangerous to make comparisons, but Katrina, we saw that the people in the state Louisiana realized after Katrina that politics wasn‘t, you know, a comedic spectator sport.  It wasn‘t just something to enjoy, the Long family and all the—Edwards happening down there, Edwin Edwards and the corruption.  It wasn‘t funny anymore when you really needed an effective government.  And I think that state has grown up through the hardship of Katrina.

Perhaps the hell of this earthquake situation will create a different politics in Haiti.  I‘m not betting on it, after the Papa Doc era, the Baby Doc era, Aristide‘s failed government.  It has not been a great history, as you know, Michelle.

Thanks for that great report starting off our program tonight.  Michelle Kosinski, who‘s in the Dominican Republic, right on the border there, involved so much in the transportation situation in that part of the world, as difficult as it is.

Up next: The daunting effort to get relief in to the victims themselves of the earthquake.  How do you get aid to people when the airport is closed down?  How do you get it there when there‘s no government, no services, no utilities, no people working in an effective government?  It looks like the United States and other donor nations are going to have to play a major role, a bigfoot role, as we say in journalism, 3,500 American GIs headed to that country right now to keep order and to keep that airport open.

You can help, by the way, with relief efforts by making a donation to one of many charities.  We can‘t list them all.  Two of them are the Catholic Relief Services and the American Red Cross.  Get your money to them if you want to help.  You can reach the Catholic Relief Services at CRS.org—CRS.org.  And contact the Red Cross at 800-RED-CROSS -- 800-RED-CROSS.  You can also text the word “Haiti,” H-A-I-T-I, and write in 90999 to make an automatic $10 donation to the Red Cross.  That‘s Haiti 90999 to give a $10 donation to the Red Cross for the Haiti relief effort.  So far, over $2 million has been collected via texting.  This country does react when it sees problems.

Our special coverage of the earthquake in Haiti—“America to the rescue” is not a bad title for what we‘re watching.  It continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and our special coverage of the crisis in Haiti.  NBC News chief science and health correspondent, Bob Bazell, is in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.  Robert, tell us what you can.  I was mentioning to Michelle Kosinski the concern I‘ve been hearing about 45,000 people, perhaps more, dead.  What does that—what kind of a health challenge does that create in the next couple of days?

BOB BAZELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it‘s not just the next couple days, Chris.  It is the next couple days, and then weeks and months.  And let me tell you about it.  The first wave of this, of course, is the earthquake itself that killed all those people and injured a lot of people.

The next wave is occurring now and it‘ll occur continually over the next period of time because, as we hear over and over again, Haiti is such a poor country that one third of the people are—only have sanitation.  One third of the people have access to fresh water.  As a result of that, all kinds of diseases that exist in only in utter poverty are very common there already.  So those are going to start spreading more widely among the population.

Untreated wounds will start to become more infected.  And as those untreated wounds become more infected, there‘s not going to be any antibiotics around, despite this enormous relief effort, so people are going to start dying of secondary infections...

MATTHEWS:  Wow.

BAZELL:  ... that wasn‘t even necessary, because they weren‘t killed in the first crush of the earthquake.

MATTHEWS:  And so you‘re going to have a situation where no penicillin available to people.  People can‘t be treated.  What about—back to my more morbid discussion.  What about 50,000 bodies?

BAZELL:  Well, of course, that‘s a health risk.  But one of the things about that is that the situation in Haiti was already so bad that the—it almost doesn‘t matter.  We have such a perfect storm now of people without shelter, without clean water.

Clean water, Chris, is the most important aspect of this.  When people don‘t have clean water, they have diarrheal illness in such enormous amounts, it was already killing millions of people—excuse me, thousands of people a year in Haiti.  Now it‘s going to kill a lot more because they‘re not getting water.  They‘re not getting—there‘s not just dead bodies but there‘s human waste all over the place.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BAZELL:  So you could not imagine a situation that‘s more ripe for creating a all kinds of outbreaks of epidemics.  And don‘t forget, this is also a country that has tuberculosis.  It has cholera.  It has an enormous amount of HIV/AIDS, the highest in the Western hemisphere.  It‘s got tuberculosis.  And a lot of those people with tuberculosis also have HIV.

So the health problems to begin with were enormous.  This becomes this overwhelming challenge that‘s going to be like nothing we‘ve ever seen, I think, certainly in the Western hemisphere in our time.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I was mentioning last night—I think I mentioned it again tonight—that I was there back in the ‘70s, just as a tourist for a few days, and I was struck by the immense poverty, even on the way up to Petionville, which is the better part of town.  I actually saw a young kid drinking water out of a pothole.  I‘d never seen that before, even in Mozambique, when I was here in the Peace Corps—a very impoverished country, but at least they had public fountains where you could go and get water down at the central square.  You could get water pumped in, but there—coming in in a pipeline.

But as you say—what is it like if you don‘t even have water coming in in a pipeline, where you have to fetch for yourself, you got to find water, and the water‘s coming out of potholes and gutters and creeks?  And that water is...

BAZELL:  ... open sewers.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BAZELL:  So and then the thing that‘s really important about what your observation there is, Chris, is that since the late 1970s, when people did go there as tourists—and I‘ve been coming to Haiti almost since that time over and over again because of the emergence of the AIDS outbreak here, the—it‘s only gotten worse and worse and worse.

The Duvalier regime raped the country, and then a series of dictators after that, as we well know, made it worse—made the situation far worse, so that 85 percent of the population makes less than $1 a year (sic).  You imagine what that means.  I mean, this is a country that‘s not very far from the United States.  It‘s a three-hour flight—well, a two-hour flight from Miami. 

And, so, you‘re talking about poverty on a scale and of a type that is almost unimaginable to start with.  And then you add this enormous tragedy of this earthquake on top of it. 

And then the next thing that‘s going to happen, after the infections and the—from the wounds and the infections from the sewage start to spread further, as respiratory illnesses, diarrheal illnesses of all kinds, and certainly including cholera and things we don‘t hear about very often, and with no antibiotics to treat them, the next thing that is going to happen is, the people who were fortunate to get some kind of treatment for their tuberculosis, for their HIV—and that was starting to happen—those people aren‘t going to get treatment anymore, because all the hospitals are gone. 

So, then there will be another wave of misery that will follow because of a lack of access to the regular health care that some people were getting before this even happened. 

MATTHEWS:  God, it sounds, when you put it all together, with the AIDS pandemic that was already there, the poverty that meant people didn‘t have fresh water, the deforestation of the country, so there‘s no real hope for any kind of agriculture or of avoidance of erosion and the loss of—further loss of arable land, that there‘s no real hope there, unless you have almost a radical change in the situation. 

Let‘s talk about the next couple days.  What do you see as the role of U.S. aid donors?  I mean, we have got 3,500 troops going in there just to keep the airport open.  We have seen in situations like Somalia where a lot of that military role gets very tricky because of sensibilities of a foreign army coming into the country. 

What positive role do you think we can play in the first week here? 

BAZELL:  Well, the most positive thing is to maintain order, because most people don‘t partake of rioting, or most—most people are not in armed gangs that tend to prey mostly not on the people, the aid workers and others and journalists, which is what we hear about, but they prey on their neighbors and they steal whatever they can. 

So, maintaining order is not a small thing.  And I don‘t believe—and I haven‘t—because of the situation Michelle described it like before, I spent the day trying to get into Port-au-Prince from here in Santo Domingo today.  So I haven‘t been there yet. 

But the—I can‘t imagine that most Haitians—and the ones I have spoken to who I have gotten through by e-mail—mind the Americans coming in.  I think that, right now—down the line, maybe there will be some resentment of it, but right now there‘s just such a desperation.  And maintaining order is one part of it, getting people water, as you pointed out.

If a C-130 arrives and off-loads pallets of water and manages to deliver it to Cite Soleil, that huge slum right in the middle of Port-au-Prince, that‘s going to make just a lot of people that live right there, by just giving them water, because, you know, it‘s temperatures in the 90s now. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BAZELL:  So, a country without—not—as you pointed out, not just lacking clean water, but lacking any water.  And it‘s 94 degrees and there‘s no shelter, and people are afraid to even sleep in whatever shelters there are because of the continuing aftershocks. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.

BAZELL:  So, you have got people sleeping on the streets.  You‘ve got a lack of water, lack of food. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

BAZELL:  And so what can Americans do?  They can get this stuff out there as quickly as possible. 

But as we have seen in a lot of the logistic snafus that are occurring today, it‘s not that easy to get that much aid into a small place that was so poor to start with that has no infrastructure. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘ve drawn the picture, and it‘s a horrible one.  Thank you so much, Bob Bazell, science reporter, correspondent for NBC, who‘s...

BAZELL:  Yes.  I‘m sorry it‘s my job to draw horrible pictures. 

MATTHEWS:  It is.  It is.  It‘s—well, we have been watching a lot of it.

Thank you so much for being there. 

Up next: how President Obama is handling the response to the Haiti crisis.  This is a great challenge for our chief executive. 

Our coverage of the earthquake in Haiti continues right after this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It‘s important that everybody in Haiti understand that at this very moment one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history is moving towards Haiti.  More American search-and-rescue teams are coming, more food, more water, doctors, nurses, paramedics, more of the people, equipment and capabilities that can make the difference between life and death. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I have made it clear to each of these leaders that Haiti must be a top priority for their departments and agencies right now.  This is one of those moments that calls out for American leadership. 

For the sake of our citizens who are in Haiti, for the sake of the Haitian people who have suffered so much, and for the sake of our common humanity, we stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the south, knowing that but for the grace of God, there we go. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was President Obama speaking this morning. 

Chuck Todd is NBC‘s chief White House companies and political director.

Let‘s talk.  I don‘t want to talk politics.  This is no time to talk partisan politics.  But there you see the president of the United States, who has been accused many times of being too cool...

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... showing heart. 

TODD:  No, I—absolutely.  And it‘s—I think part of it is, he‘s getting these reports.  And you‘re seeing these pictures.  And it‘s overwhelming when you see it all. 

And I think that that‘s obviously hitting close to home.  But let‘s remember, this is close.  This is in our backyard.  This is not the—the thing about the tsunami is how quickly, I think, the American public sort of, not forgot about it, but just sort of put it in the back of their mind, because it‘s far away.  This isn‘t a place where a lot of people are familiar with.

Americans are familiar with Haiti, particularly if you‘re—particularly you live in the Southeast. 

MATTHEWS:  Again, without being political at all or partisan at all, throw in the fact that these are children of slaves.  And his wife is the children of slaves.  These are black people living in our hemisphere who were brought here as slaves. 

TODD:  Well, I just don‘t—I mean, I think that...

MATTHEWS:  Their country has never really made it.  That country‘s never really made it. 

TODD:  No, it‘s never made it, but I don‘t know—I think that this is—any American president...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You think anyone would have done it?

TODD:  You have—this is Haiti.  Look, and I think Haiti has been—

I think Haiti has been one of these countries that you have see what every

the recent American presidents have done, Democrat and Republican.

I think it‘s one of these frustrations, like, how is it—how is it that the Dominican Republic—how is it that all of—why Haiti?  Why can‘t it...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a Fourth World Country.

TODD:  Yes.  And I think it‘s been a frustration.

MATTHEWS:  Well, if you‘ve been there, you know, just it‘s the worst politics in the world. 

TODD:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s tyranny without any effort to do anything for the people. 

Here‘s more of President Obama today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Finally, I want to speak directly to the people of Haiti. 

Few in the world have endured the hardships that you have known.  Long before this tragedy, daily life itself was often a bitter struggle, and after suffering so much for so long, to face this new horror must cause some to look up and ask, “Have we somehow been forsaken?”

To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction, you will not be forsaken.  You will not be forgotten.  In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you.  The world stands with you. 

We know that you are a strong and resilient people.  You have endured a history of slavery and struggle, of natural disaster and recovery.  And through it all, your spirit has been unbroken and your faith has been unwavering. 

So today, you must know that help is arriving.  Much, much more help is on the way. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Will he go? 

TODD:  Not yet.  I think it‘s too much—he‘s too much of a distraction if you go.  It‘s too much of a—you take away from efforts that are going on. 

Will he eventually go?  We will see.  I think it depends.  I think the leadership moment here is—there‘s always two or three different tests in these crises.  So, we have the first one, which is acting immediately.  And I think it‘s clear that the levers of government were pulled immediately.  And it does appear as if everything we can do in the short term, we‘re doing it. 

The question is, can you sustain it?  That‘s the next—next leadership moment.  And then the third one will be, on the rebuilding side, can you galvanize the public to support you doing this in the long term?  Can you make the case that rebuilding Haiti and maybe giving—maybe this is the one last best shot to fixing Haiti, after 200 years of turmoil.  You know, that‘s going to be—so, he‘s got—he‘s still got a couple of leadership challenges ahead of him. 

MATTHEWS:  You said that any president in modern times in recent history would have behaved as expeditiously as this president.  That‘s a good argument and probably true.

TODD:  No, and I think so because of—look, I will go with domestic politics here a little bit.  I will be—you want to be politically crass, this is the state of Florida.  This is—a lot of Haitians in the state of Florida.  This would have been if—not acting in Haiti becomes a domestic political problem.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Let me talk to you.  Let me put this a little bigger in terms of how it will be seen by the world as we progress in this dramatic effort to save that country from disaster again, because it could get worse, much worse, in the days ahead.  Poverty leads to disease.  The earthquake is just part of that explosion of hell there. 

This is the first African-American president.  He was asked by his wife, the first lady now, why do you want to be president?  And he said, because, if I‘m president, some day, young kids will look at the world differently.  They will say, I could be president some day.  They couldn‘t have said that before I came along.  The world will see the United States in a different context, as a country of true opportunity for all. 

I‘m just wondering how the world‘s going to see the first black president going into a black country with so much exciting action, if that‘s not going to be a really good thing for us in the world. 

TODD:  Well, I think it‘s going to be...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I mean, it‘s a P.R. issue, I know. 

TODD:  It always is on these fronts.  And this is usually where America gets world credit, is on humanitarian, because, as you pointed out yesterday, I mean, this country mobilizes very well when it comes to humanitarian aid, particularly in the private sector, as well as the public sector. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

TODD:  It is always America at its best on these—on these fronts. 

So, I think there‘s something to it.  I just—I don‘t know if—I just don‘t know if the race angle plays here as much as...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We will see. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The whole world looks at us very carefully. 

And, by the way, as credit to George W. Bush, tremendous credit, and he deserved it, for what he did to fight AIDS in East Africa. 

TODD:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  That was a major program, and it‘s working.

TODD:  And it‘s President Bush—it‘s something President Obama always points out when he talks about him.  And a lot of people say he criticizes Bush, but he...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We will be right back with Chuck Todd. 

Thank you, Chuck Todd, for that.

We‘re going to get to the Massachusetts thing and take a little break

to talk politics.  We will get back to what‘s going on in Haiti.  But we

have to cover the politics, huge election coming up in Massachusetts.  One

of my closest friends just called me and said he believes—and he‘s a pro

that the Republican will win Ted Kennedy‘s Senate seat next Tuesday. 

That is one heck of a prediction.  It‘s not mine yet, but it‘s close to home in terms of what I‘m understanding is happening up there.

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Another late-day rally for stocks, as investors shrugging off soft reports on jobs and retail sales, Dow Jones industrials climbing almost 30 points, the S&P 500 up nearly three points, and the Nasdaq adding about nine points. 

Intel setting the tone for tomorrow‘s trading with an earnings report posted just after the closing bell.  It shows profits ballooning, the personal computer market staging a blockbuster rebound.  Intel sales up 29 percent—profits are 10 times higher than what the chipmaker was seeing last year.  After-hour shares are adding on to a 2.5 percent jump during the session. 

Seasonal layoffs driving a larger-than-expected jump in jobless claims last week, but the increase did not disrupt a long-term downward trend in new claims. 

And a surprise 0.3 percent drop in retail sales in December underscoring the soft nature of the recovery—sales fell more than 6 percent for the year, the largest decline on record. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Well, we‘re almost into the crucial final 72 hours in that race for the United States Senate up in Massachusetts.  We have got the most—well, we have got tremendous information about that campaign, Martha Coakley, or the Republican, Scott Brown, whether they‘re going to win or not. 

Let‘s go to MSNBC‘s Mike Barnicle and the Associated Press‘s political reporter Glen Johnson. 

Barnicle, would you predict that Scott Brown will win this race at this point, if it continues the way it‘s headed right now? 

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No.  I think he will come pretty close, if it continues the way it‘s going right now, which it appears it will.  But, no, I don‘t think he will win it.  She should still win it narrowly. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Glen Johnson, can you, as an AP reporter, give us—looking at all the polling data available, if you projected into Tuesday, next Tuesday night, will it carry the Republican underdog to victory? 

GLEN JOHNSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS:  Well, I mean, I think, earlier this week, there was definitely a groundswell of polling support moving Scott Brown‘s way. 

But that‘s also awakened the Democratic Party from its slumber in this contest.  And so you have seen other polls showing it coming back closer to Martha Coakley‘s way. 

I mean, she has sort of an institutional advantage and an institutional lead here just by sort of sheer voter registration and history in the state.  But he‘s definitely made it a much more competitive race in the last week or so. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I guess we could get to the local aspects of this, Michael, the heart—the Ivy League sort of background of the Democratic candidate, the elitism issue, which you and I know pretty much.

But let‘s go to the main national forces here, the lousy economy, the questions, heavy questions about whether health care reform will bring in a much bigger government than we want or are used to in this country. 

Is this a good testing ground for the Republican strategy to run against Barack Obama‘s economics? 

BARNICLE:  You know, Chris, I think it‘s a good strategy not only here in Massachusetts, a good testing ground for this state and throughout the rest of the country, as the year progresses, for something that I think Martha Coakley has that a lot of other people have in politics.  It‘s a disease called incumbent-itis.  She‘s been the attorney general of this state.  She‘s very remote.  She‘s running in the Senate in a state where people, as elsewhere in this country, are filled with anxiety about the large deficits, about what‘s this health plan going to cost, about what does the health plan mean to me, to our family. 

And she hasn‘t really addressed it.  She‘s been very remote.  It‘s been a very poor campaign.  She‘s gotten one of the principle rules of politics, taught to us by our old pal, the late great Tip O‘Neill, when he first ran for the state legislature—the Mrs. O‘Brien story, his neighbor.  Tip was running for the legislature at a time when you could carry the guys at the gas station in a seat.  And he saw on election day, Mrs. O‘Brien, his neighbor, and he said, did you vote for me?  She said, I haven‘t voted yet, Tom, but I‘m thinking of it.  I‘m undecided.

He said, what do you mean?  You‘ve known me all your life.  She said, yes, but you haven‘t asked.  And everybody likes to be asked. 

And Martha Coakley, until a couple of days ago, hasn‘t asked. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it was a curious comment she made to “The New York Times.” I read it today.  This you can objectively report on without any commentary.  This is this—she said that she didn‘t think going out to meet strange people would help her in the campaign.  That is the nature of campaigning, meeting people on street corners, at factory gates, at the tea, just wandering around meeting people at the Safeway.  That‘s how you campaign and be seen doing it. 

Michael‘s right.  But even in wholesale politics, you want to be seen asking other people if you can‘t ask—didn‘t she say something like I can‘t reach enough people so why bother, or something extraordinary like that? 

JOHNSON:  I think she‘s been victimized by—to some degree, by the sort of uniqueness of this election.  This is only the second time in state history that Massachusetts has had a special election of this nature.  And she‘s had a lot of advisers telling her that you only need to target the hard-core Democrats, or the unenrolled who lean our way.  So she‘s almost been surgical in her approach to this election, where Scott Brown has been bouncing all around this state, talking to anybody that will listen to him. 

MATTHEWS:  This is where I want to have some fun.  Who are her top advisers telling her to campaign this way?  Who‘s her media person? 

JOHNSON:  You listen to some of the people and they say the attorney general has too many attorneys around her, and not enough political people. 

MATTHEWS:  Does she have any smart political people around her? 

JOHNSON:  Sure she does.  She has Dennis Newman helping—primarily running her campaign.  He was somebody who was really close to Paul Tsongas, who won that Senate seat back in the ‘80s.  He knows his way around the state here.  He knows the political players. 

But the DNC and the DSCC have basically done an airlift up here in the last week, and brought people up here to assist with the campaign.  They‘re are fearful of losing that big vote. 

MATTHEWS:  We don‘t have time, but I‘d love to know what Mike knows about who‘s behind her?  Do they have the crowd that were around Senator Clinton?  I don‘t know.  They won big up there, but I think this is a tougher race.  Thank you very much.  There‘s not the advantage of having Bill Clinton right there as sort of a co-candidate.  Thank you Mike Barnicle, sir.  Thank you, Glen Johnson. 

We‘re going to get back to the Haiti situation before the end of the show. 

But up next, lots of other political news, including Sarah Palin‘s incredible interview with Glenn Beck.  Boy, there‘s a duo made in heaven.  But anyway, this interview is something you‘re going to have to watch if you have a problem with both these people, because you might learn something about what she doesn‘t know.  Incredible lack of information by a public figure.  I don‘t know whether you could get a job as a local news anchor with this lack of knowledge.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  Time for the politics fix, with Melinda Henneberger, the editor in chief of PoliticsDaily.com, and Sam Stein of the “Huffington Post.” 

It‘s unusual tonight, but we‘re going to show you right now a Glenn Beck interview with Sarah Palin.  He asked her a fairly simple question.  This wasn‘t a curve-ball.  He asked her to name her favorite founding father.  Of course, we know all of them, having grown up in this country and loving it.  We know especially—well, everybody knows who the founding fathers are. 

Take a look at her strange response.  Its so much reminds us about her answer about what do you read.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Who‘s your favorite founder? 

SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  You know—well, all of them, because they came collectively together with so much—

BECK:  Bull crap.  Who‘s your favorite—

PALIN:  -- so much diverse opinion, and so much diversity in terms of belief collectively they came together to form—

BECK:  Do you have—

PALIN:  -- this union.  No.  And they were led by, of course, George Washington.  So he‘s got to rise to the top.  Washington was the consummate statesman.  He served.  He returned power to the people.  He didn‘t want to be a king.  He returned power to the people.  Then he went back to Mount Vernon.  He went back to his farm. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know in school when you didn‘t read the book, and you had to answer the essay question of the book, and you didn‘t read it.  I thought the book was really interesting at times.  Sometimes it was boring, but a lot of it was very interesting.  The book you didn‘t read; that‘s her story.  America is the book she didn‘t read.  Yet, she‘s running around the country as this patriotic icon of, what?  She doesn‘t know us. 

How could you not say Ben Franklin.  How could you not say Thomas Paine?  Thomas Paine‘s a major hero of the tea-baggers and he should be a hero to all.  She doesn‘t know the names of the founding fathers. 

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, POLITICSDAILY.COM:  I think she‘s picking, though, George Washington, because she‘s saying he‘s a lot like me, that farm boy, who prefers—

MATTHEWS:  She did make a good point, in all fairness.  She made a good point.  I‘ve always espoused that the wonder of George Washington, of giving up the chance to be our first dictator and going back to—as George III once said, when he was told—he once asked during the American revolution, what will Washington do when the war‘s over.  The guy was painting him and was an ex-pat and he said, I think he‘s going back to run his farm, his plantation.  And George III was smart enough to say—and this is chilling to hear him say this—then he‘ll be the greatest man in the world. 

So what she said was great.  But the lack of knowledge, keep saying diverse—one thing there wasn‘t among the founding fathers was diversity.  They were all a bunch of white, aristocratic land owners.

HENNEBERGER:  I‘m happy she sported diversity. 

MATTHEWS:  But how come she can‘t answer the most simple questions. 

SAM STEIN, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  How un-bold is it?  It‘s a very cautious answer.  It‘s not trying to get in trouble. 

MATTHEWS:  What would have gotten in trouble?  Ben Franklin, Madison? 

Who would have gotten in trouble? 

(CROSS TALK)

STEIN:  Does it remind you of the newspaper answer?  She didn‘t want to say a newspaper that could possibly get her in trouble with Republicans, “New York Times.”

MATTHEWS:  -- with I read the local newspapers, occasionally I read “USA Today” and the “Journal.”  That is a normal answer. 

STEIN:  I don‘t think there‘s anything wrong with answering.  I think this is redemption for Katie Couric, who got nailed by Sarah Palin for asking a gotcha question. 

MATTHEWS:  Here it is.  Let‘s look at this.  There is a pattern here; when you don‘t know anything, you say everything.  Here—use that word, everything.  Let‘s go with that.  Sarah Palin‘s greatest hits with Katie Couric.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR:  When it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand? 

PALIN:  I have read most of them, again, with a great appreciation for the press, for the media. 

COURIC:  What specifically?  I‘m curious. 

PALIN:  Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Does somebody throw the newspapers in the window?  In front of me?  What a strange way to talk?  I‘m sorry.  We are picking on her. 

Let‘s go to a Democrat, Harold Ford, our colleague here.  This guy went and he said he was a pro-lifer in Tennessee.  Guess what, he‘s in New York State.  What do you think he‘s calling himself?  A pro-choicer?  Yes. 

HENNEBERGER:  That is going to kill him.  There‘s nothing worse for him that‘s happened in the last 48 hours, even this horrible interview. 

MATTHEWS:  He looks like a mood ring. 

(CROSS TALK)

HENNEBERGER:  Where he said, oh, yes, I know all the boroughs.  I‘ve flown over them.

MATTHEWS:  He said he‘s visited Staten Island by—

STEIN:  -- by helicopter.  He picks his football teams based on his relationship with the owner of the team. 

HENNEBERGER:  Gets too cold on the subway. 

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  I was at the Regency for New Year‘s Eve.  I got to tell you, it‘s a great place to have breakfast.  But it‘s not of the people.

STEIN:  No.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you, Sam, what is going on with Harold Ford?  Can Gillibrand, the appointed senator, get beaten if somebody runs against her?  Shouldn‘t we have democracy in this country?  Doesn‘t Ford have a point?  Somebody ought to run so there is an election? 

STEIN:  Sure.  I think you should always have an election, because it keeps the candidates honest.  In this case, however, Harold Ford‘s roll out has been totally disastrous.  He‘s now asking her to oppose health care reform, which is not going to endear him to anyone in the party. 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, she jumped him on that one.  

STEIN:  She did. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you with Arianna on that one? 

STEIN:  What? 

MATTHEWS:  Against this because it‘s not -- 

STEIN:  I play it straight. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m for the health care bill, as is—

(CROSS TALK)

STEIN:  No one in the party—

MATTHEWS:  Are you prepared to break with Arianna right now?  Are you for the health care bill? 

STEIN:  I think the health care bill does a lot of positives, has a lot of negatives. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you for it? 

STEIN:  I think it‘s a good step forward for the country. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, good.  Don‘t start talking like Sarah Palin here.  I‘m for everyone. 

STEIN:  I‘m for them all.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome to the show, Sam Stein, who is with “The Huffington Post,” and Melinda Henneberger, who is state of the art as a reporter. 

We‘ll be back to talk about Haiti, get serious again about what‘s going on there.  We have to have fun, occasionally, here, and we do it in politics.  You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Now back to the earthquake in Haiti.  Louis Belanger is the Oxfam humanitarian director for Haiti.  He was in Haiti earlier today.  He joins us by phone now from Haiti‘s next door neighbor, the Dominican Republic, which is on the same island of Hispaniola. 

Louis, what is it like today?  You—give us a full picture of what you saw today in Haiti. 

LOUIS BELANGER, OXFAM HUMANITARIAN DIRECTOR FOR HAITI:  Well, I quickly went to the country, only to realize that those—the networks are still down and nothing was functioning.  What I saw was only at the border.  I saw quite a few Asian people coming in, in the Dominican Republic, to get help.  Hospitals are even full here. 

So I‘m talking about two or three local hospitals in the south of the Dominican Republic, people going—driving for three to four hours to get treatment, just because the hospital‘s in Port-Au-Prince are overwhelmed. 

Now, my colleagues in Port-Au-Prince—and I‘m sure your viewers can

see the image.  You know, it‘s a pretty grim scene still.  You know, people

you know, there are still bodies on the street and there are still—there is still a lot of people stuck under the rubble. 

So in terms—I just—I guess we didn‘t expect our network, the aid community, to be so dependent on communication, Chris.  You know, it‘s -- we didn‘t have land line.  We didn‘t have cell phone.  And we are still lacking quite a bit of that.  And we are so dependent on that in terms of coordinating the efforts that it just slows us down quite a bit. 

But, you know, we had some good news today.  Cargos are coming in. 

The aid is really starting.  So that is good news today. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you get around in Haiti today?  We are looking at an aerial view as they traffic—the planes flying around the city.  You don‘t see many cars moving.  You see a lot of rubble.  I wonder if you can even get around in that city of Port-Au-Prince. 

BELANGER:  I mean, to get—yeah, to actually get to Port-Au-Prince, I think it is not a problem.  It is just a lot of rubbles are still in the street there.  It is the heavy machinery.  I think one thing they realize they need right away to get the aid flowing is heavy machinery, just to get those buildings out of the way, so we can get relief to these people.  So that‘s one thing that I‘m sure, you know, we are going to be bringing in very soon, as well as water, medication, et cetera. 

MATTHEWS:  What kind of injuries are you seeing in the people as they come to the border area?  What kind of condition were people in as they arrived? 

BELANGER:  Lots of broken—lots of broken leg, lots of broken arms, some head injury.  You see a lot of traumatized people, that‘s no doubt about it. But from what I first saw, there was a lot of broken—broken arms, broken legs and people being pretty shaken up by it. 

MATTHEWS:  What are they going to do with all these people that died, the 50,000, current estimate?  I mean, is that country capable of even dealing with that loss of life, and dealing with the bodies of people?  Can they handle that?  I mean, it sounds so morbid to bring it up. 

BELANGER:  Yeah, it is morbid, but that is the reality.  You are bringing something that is a reality today in Haiti. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

BELANGER:  I guess they are going to have to take them outside of the city, dig some—I don‘t know.  But you can still see them on the street.  People are putting them in—

MATTHEWS:  Louis Belanger, thank you, sir, with Oxfam.  You‘re doing

Good luck with your efforts over there.  We need people like you. 

Join us again in one hour for another live edition of HARDBALL tonight, as we cover the Haiti disaster.  Now it is time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.

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

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