Guests: Andrea Mitchell, Norah O‘Donnell, Brian Shactman, Tom Menino, Sam Allis, Karen Tumulty, Jeff Zeleny, Brad Jones, David Paleologos, Peter Canellos, Mike Barnicle
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Political Super Bowl up in Boston. We‘re here.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews at Doyle‘s Cafe up in Boston. Leading off tonight: For Obama health care, it‘s “Final Jeopardy.” We‘re just two hours away right now from the polls closing in Massachusetts, where voters are deciding the fate of the late Ted Kennedy‘s Senate seat and also whether President Obama has the necessary 60 Senate votes to pass national health care.
It‘s that rare election where voters know exactly what they‘re voting on. If they‘re with Democrat Martha Coakley, they get health care reform. If they go for Republican Scott Brown, it‘s deliberate, premeditated murder for health care. This race has Republican Scott Brown threatening to pull off the biggest political upset of our time. A Democratic defeat could not only put an end to health care but it would weaken President Obama‘s standing nationwide, send Democrats running for cover and provide a path to victory for other Republicans nationwide. We‘ll get to why this race got down to the wire and what it means for President Obama‘s agenda and the mid-terms this November in just a moment.
Also, the overall death toll in Haiti may go as high as 200,000 people. And at least 5,000 Americans, believe it or not, remain unaccounted for in Haiti, and some may be trapped under the rubble still. But here‘s an uplifting story in the midst of all this tragedy. Two Americans who ran an orphanage in Haiti were able to evacuate 53 Haitian orphans and fly them to Pittsburgh for adoption with the help of Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.
Let‘s start, however, with the latest story. It‘s up here in Massachusetts, the hot Senate race. Pollster.com‘s trend line of all the polls shows Republican Scott Brown, believe it or not, pulling away. Look at those numbers.
With me now, “The Boston Globe‘s” Sam Allis, and perhaps more importantly—just kidding—the mayor of Boston, the immensely popular Tommy Menino, who doesn‘t have to sweat close elections.
Mr. Mayor, why is Boston, why is Massachusetts—the Bay State, liberal Massachusetts—worrying about reelecting a Democratic senator—or electing one, rather?
MAYOR TOM MENINO (D), BOSTON: Well, I think this campaign has been all about the Obama agenda, to stop the agenda in Washington and move the country backwards. I think health care has really been the issue this whole campaign. And I think, you know, Scott Brown has really got a tide. He‘s (INAUDIBLE) You know, they spent over $6 million in our state. They brought in all these outsiders to get involved in the campaign. I mean, the crowds are built by busloads of folks from outside. But you know, they‘ve run a good campaign, the Republicans, and...
MATTHEWS: But this good-looking guy here is not running on charm or good looks or, what do you call it, charisma. He‘s saying, I‘m going to kill health care. I‘m going to be the 41st senator to stop it in its tracks and kill it dead. This is a clear-cut voter choice on health care, right?
MENINO: No question about it.
MATTHEWS: Is it? No question about it?
MENINO: I think most Americans don‘t understand the health care issue. They‘re confused about it. They—we know (INAUDIBLE) reform, but they don‘t know what the bill contains and so...
MATTHEWS: But they‘re saying no with one word, No.
MENINO: Because there‘s been a lot of false information about this health care plan, that they don‘t have a choice. (INAUDIBLE) they‘ll tell you what doctors to...
MATTHEWS: Whose fault is that? Who blew it?
MENINO: Well, I think it‘s the Congress‘s fault. They should have elect—they should have informed the public better on the issue and (INAUDIBLE) better public relations issue on this, but they didn‘t do it. But health care, it needs reform.
MENINO: But I don‘t think the American public at this time is ready to accept it because there‘s so many other issues out there—the economy, jobs, the greatest issue.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But they‘re focusing—Sam, you‘ve been covering—you‘re my old friend. You know this town. You know this state. These people have been told one simple thing by this Republican, I‘m keeping it simple, vote for me, I vote no. I kill this thing in its bed.
SAM ALLIS, “BOSTON GLOBE”: He keeps it simple. He‘s riding anger better than any other Republican candidate I can remember in this state. They‘re angry here because it was declared over ages ago, and people hate to have their votes declared null and void. And it taps into an overlay of the larger anger toward Washington, not just health care, but deficits are starting to scare people...
ALLIS: ... the whole Obama agenda. He‘s tapping into that. But he‘s got his own anger that he‘s manipulating very well right here in Massachusetts.
MATTHEWS: Has it hurt the Democratic candidate for senator from Massachusetts that she didn‘t know who pitched for the Red Sox?
MENINO: Well, that‘s for sure. I mean...
MENINO: She‘s not...
MATTHEWS: She never heard of a guy named Curt Schilling! I mean, isn‘t that an amazing statement by a person who lives...
MENINO: Well, you know...
MATTHEWS: ... up here?
MENINO: ... all folks are not Red Sox fans. But you know, I think this whole campaign‘s about—like Sam said, it‘s about he‘s riding a wave of anti-anger.
MATTHEWS: OK, why are they so angry against health care, Mayor?
MENINO: Because they‘re not—they don‘t know—there‘s a lot of false information out there about it.
MATTHEWS: What do they think about it that‘s not true?
MENINO: Well, they think they‘re not going to have a choice in the doctors they go to. That‘s a real issue, that it‘s going to cost them more money in the end. And I think that‘s what the issue is, that they‘re not certain there...
MENINO: ... what‘s going to happen.
MATTHEWS: OK. I watched this campaign blow up when I—during Christmas holidays. All of a sudden, this guy‘s out there riding around in a truck, a Republican candidate, a state senator, with pictures of Jack Kennedy, the sainted Jack Kennedy. We‘re in Doyle‘s Cafe here, where he‘s a God.
MATTHEWS: He has stolen Jack Kennedy from the Democrats!
ALLIS: But he did it...
MATTHEWS: How did he...
ALLIS: ... brilliantly!
MATTHEWS: How did he steal Jack Kennedy from his own party? Jack Kennedy, were he alive, would be a Democrat.
ALLIS: It was that...
MATTHEWS: What‘s this about?
ALLIS: ... famous ad he did that was so great, where Jack Kennedy morphed into him about a tax cut. And Democrats are furious and it‘s an outrageous comparison!
MATTHEWS: But why didn‘t—why didn‘t she...
ALLIS: But it was...
MATTHEWS: Why didn‘t the Democrat run on the Kennedy legacy? Why did she give it away? Why did—let me ask the mayor—why did Martha...
ALLIS: Because she‘s a bad campaigner!
MATTHEWS: OK, why didn‘t Martha Coakley say, I want to be like Ted Kennedy, I want to be a Kennedy, I want to carry on the tradition? Why didn‘t she do it? She let the Republican do it!
MENINO: You‘ll have to ask the Martha Coakley campaign why they...
MENINO: I mean, that‘s what you‘ve got to do. I mean, I would have ran on Teddy, what he‘s done for Massachusetts, how important he‘s done for Massachusetts, all the things he‘s delivered for us. And now with a change and a Republican being U.S. Senator, you‘re not going to have that again.
MATTHEWS: How can people up here, with all these advanced degrees—they go to great universities, like Boston University, and she went to Williams, and Harvard and all that stuff up here—be so unpolitical?
MATTHEWS: How do they blow the politics?
ALLIS: Think back to the Dukakis campaign, and you had all these guys from Harvard law school, and they were talking about Belgian endives!
ALLIS: You know?
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask...
MATTHEWS: Let‘s ask about this. When the voter votes tonight, how do you expect it to go, Mr. Mayor? When the polls are all counted around 9:00 or 10:00 tonight, what do you expect?
MENINO: I still think that Martha will pull (ph) a very close election.
MATTHEWS: Close election?
MENINO: One or two points, yes.
MATTHEWS: And a pretty good turnout today, right?
MENINO: Very good, in Boston especially, yes.
MATTHEWS: I hear you‘ve got a good number here.
MENINO: At 3:00 o‘clock this afternoon...
MATTHEWS: I heard it from him. So you got your people out.
MENINO: We have our people. SEIU has about a hundred people canvassing the minority community right now, knocking on doors.
ALLIS: That‘s what...
MATTHEWS: What‘s interesting about this state and the whole country right now is there‘s a new political party out there. It‘s voting Republican, but it‘s not a Republican Party, it‘s called the tea party...
MATTHEWS: ... people that call themselves independents. They don‘t like the Republican brand. They‘re not big on Mitch McConnell or John Boehner or John McCain. They don‘t like any of those regulars, but they‘re voting against the Democrats.
ALLIS: Which makes them a loose canon politically. No one knows...
ALLIS: ... what to do with them!
MATTHEWS: And there‘s more of them than there are Democrats.
ALLIS: But they‘re not even independents, they‘re just powder kegs waiting to go off somewhere. And they don‘t know—neither party knows which it‘s going to go off at.
MATTHEWS: How have the Republicans grabbed the angry vote away from the Democrats when they just got into office a year ago?
MENINO: Because they‘re talking about taxes. People don‘t want to pay taxes. They‘re talking about big government. They don‘t want to talk about that. You know, right now, there‘s no Democrat/Republican prize. There might be labels, but the independents really control every election.
MATTHEWS: Wow, that‘s new.
MENINO: That‘s new. And that‘s what‘s—there are more independents registered in Massachusetts than Democrat and Republicans.
ALLIS: Fifty-one percent independent in this state.
MATTHEWS: Is this the future of a state that was known as a Democratic state for these last 50 years?
MENINO: Oh, I think so.
MATTHEWS: It‘s going to be an independent state?
MENINO: I really—I believe so.
MATTHEWS: Do you think this is nationwide, Sam? This is where we‘re headed?
ALLIS: Yes, I think...
MATTHEWS: I mean, the next election, we‘re going to get a candidate from out of nowhere again?
ALLIS: Parties still...
MATTHEWS: Has the Republican Party given up on picking the guy whose turn it is?
ALLIS: Yes, I think both parties have. They don‘t—they don‘t draw those people like that anymore. These people are out on their own.
MATTHEWS: OK, if you had to write the headline, which you will help to do tonight, let‘s assume—let‘s not assume, let‘s just ask. If Coakley wins the reelection—or wins election—see, I made a mistake there. She is acting like an incumbent. If Coakley wins, what‘s the headline?
MENINO: Coakley sneaks by.
MATTHEWS: OK. What‘s the headline if the Republican, Scott Brown, wins nationwide?
ALLIS: She saves health care but she does great damage to the party running in November.
MATTHEWS: OK. What happens if Brown wins?
ALLIS: That‘s good-bye to all the Obama administration priorities.
MATTHEWS: Good-bye to health care.
ALLIS: Health care, regulations, further regulations for the financial...
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, for the national audience, Mr. Mayor, Barney Frank, one of the smart guys from up here—sometimes too smart, maybe. Barney Frank said that if—he said that if Coakley loses, health care is dead.
MENINO: I believe it.
ALLIS: I believe it.
MENINO: I believe it.
MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. Anyway, we‘ve got the story. Thanks for clarity, gentlemen. Mr. Mayor, one of the most popular politicians ever up here, the great Tommy Menino, mayor of Boston—reelected for how many terms?
MATTHEWS: Oh, God!
MATTHEWS: Coming up: What would a loss in the special election here today mean for Democrats around the country? Well, even if you‘re not from Massachusetts, this race will have a huge impact nationally. Look at this, the map. The Democrats need 60 votes in the Senate. They lose here, they got 59. That‘s the name of the game. Much more from Doyle‘s Cafe, the Super Bowl of politics up here in Massachusetts tonight, waiting for the returns to come in. The polls are still open until 8:00.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re at Doyle‘s Cafe, a real political hangout. The mayor is still here, the mayor of Boston still standing behind me there. He was just speaking with us. And the big question, what does this election tonight mean to the country, to the people have been rooting for health care with all their hearts and minds for months now? Will it live or die? The decision could come here tonight.
Karen Tumulty here from “Time” magazine. Jeff Zeleny here for “The New York Times,” recently reassigned. You folks have been told by your editors how big this baby is, right? You first, Jeff. You were sent back up here.
JEFF ZELENY, “NEW YORK TIMES”: I was. I mean, there‘s no question this is about Massachusetts, certainly, but it‘s about one vote, and it‘s about the health care agenda. I mean, amazingly, this is coming—this is the one-year anniversary present for Barack Obama. I mean...
MATTHEWS: You‘re being sarcastic.
ZELENY: I am being sarcastic, but it sort of...
MATTHEWS: This is coal in his stocking.
ZELENY: ... is a wakeup—right. It‘s a wakeup call for what is to come for the year, I think.
MATTHEWS: OK, wait. Let me...
ZELENY: (INAUDIBLE) to recalibrate.
MATTHEWS: Karen, you expand on that because you‘ve been up here covering—you were telling me about a rally last night. Just the winds aren‘t—the wind isn‘t in the sail of the Democratic candidate here.
KAREN TUMULTY, “TIME”: That‘s right. And I think it‘s about more than one vote. I think it‘s about a lot of votes because, at this point, there are six states where the Republicans are pulling ahead of the Democrats in Democratic-held Senate seats. I think that...
MATTHEWS: Who‘s worried tonight, watching—who‘s sitting at home with their spouse tonight with sweaty hands?
TUMULTY: I‘d say every Democrat in the Congress at the moment.
MATTHEWS: Every Democrat. Because if you can lose here, you can lose anywhere, right, Jeff?
ZELENY: Well, I think you put Blanche Lincoln on the top of the list, in Arkansas.
MATTHEWS: In Arkansas. She‘s already been behind.
ZELENY: Yes, and Ben Nelson in Nebraska is thrilled he‘s not up for reelection.
MATTHEWS: I‘ll bet you Eddie—I‘m sorry—Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, the recently declared Democrat, must be worried.
ZELENY: He probably is. And his election is coming up pretty soon here, his primary...
ZELENY: ... you know, with Sestak. So he‘s worried. But I think what we‘re going to want to look at is retirements. Is this going to cause any House Democrats to retire?
MATTHEWS: I‘ve read that. Do you think some people are going to look at the returns at midnight tonight with their spouse, their wife or husband, and say, You know what? If that woman with all her credentials and the backing of the party and Democrats voting for her can‘t win, how can I win?
TUMULTY: It‘s entirely possible.
MATTHEWS: Because the independent voter‘s coming out of nowhere, right?
TUMULTY: It‘s entirely possible. Plus, we are now approaching the season where if you are going to have somebody else run in your primary, you better announce your intentions pretty quickly. So time is running out. You know, by March, if your party wants a candidate in that primary, they‘re going to have to field somebody else.
ZELENY: I think there are some local issues here, though. There‘ll be a lot of people sitting at home saying, I might be a better candidate than her. I bet Blanche Lincoln is sitting at home saying, You know what? I‘m not going to make some of these mistakes. So I‘m not sure it‘s as dire or it‘s as simple just to look at the results.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s the old question, and I want to challenge you on that because I know all politics is local. Tip O‘Neill—I used to work for the guy. He made that phrase famous. And it is stupid not to know the name of famous baseball players if you‘re from Red Sox country. All right. That‘s a faux pas up here.
But let me get back to the basics. The Republican candidate up here -
I know he‘s great-looking, I know he wears a barber (ph) coat. He does everything right. He rides around in a truck. He says something I‘ve never heard a candidate say before. If you elect me, I will kill this bill. I will vote—the first vote I cast will be to kill health care in its tracks. No question about it. It makes it a national verdict, especially when he‘s number 41. He can stop the bill.
ZELENY: It does. And it‘s—what‘s more surprising about that is that at the same time, he‘s trying to reach out to independent voters. So it must mean that that is a message that resonates with the independent voters.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know from your polling it is.
ZELENY: Yes. He‘s not just trying to reach out to Republican base voters here. That‘s what‘s the most worrisome thing, I think, for...
MATTHEWS: Independent voters in our national polling—and we‘re going to have more on that in the show—independents don‘t like this health care bill.
TUMULTY: That‘s right. And they have defected from Martha Coakley in recent weeks in droves—not just independents, by the way, conservative and moderate Democrats, as well, is my understanding from the internal Democratic polling.
MATTHEWS: You know what‘s weird? Massachusetts has a recently developed health care plan. So if you‘re over 65, or close to it, you‘ve got Medicare. You have a government-financed health care plan. You live in Massachusetts, you have a government-financed health care plan. Why would you want a national health care plan on top of that? People tell me more taxes, more burden on our state, we will be a donor state, Jeff.
ZELENY: Which is one of the reasons why I think around probably January 7th or 8th, when the tax commercials and spending commercials really started running against Coakley, that resonated with people. People are, like, Why should I pay for someone else‘s health care? Same time, they‘re hearing all about the “Cornhusker kickback” in Nebraska. They were hearing all that stuff. Why should we pay for all this, they thought. So a confluence of things, I think...
MATTHEWS: OK, how much of it was the corruption? George Will on the Sunday show, on “This Week,” was—oh, he‘s really good on offense as a commentator, as we all know, not so good on defense when his party‘s in. But he said, Look, they had a corrupt deal in Louisiana with Mary Landrieu to get health care. They had a corrupt deal in Nebraska. He said, This is corruption. I‘ve heard that up here.
TUMULTY: Well, I‘m standing on the street yesterday in North Andover
with people who were waiting for Scott Brown. So many of them were talking
the drug companies got theirs, the hospitals got theirs, the union got theirs, and what‘s in this bill for me? And I heard this over and over and over again.
MATTHEWS: Do you think she made a mistake in not riding on the coattails of the late Ted Kennedy?
ZELENY: No. I think she should have distanced herself from them and said, I‘m going to serve the people like he did. She should have said, I‘m no Ted Kennedy, I think, who could be, because instead, there was this sort of, you know, paying homage to him. I think she thought people would elect her because of him. But I think that was a misread of the electorate, that this was an anti-incumbent time of year. So I mean, she couldn‘t be—she couldn‘t—she wasn‘t part of the Kennedy circle. So that wasn‘t going to work, I don‘t think.
ZELENY: So why not say...
MATTHEWS: Well, neither was Scott Brown, the Republican, who ran those brilliant ads over Christmas with Jack Kennedy, that wonderful old iconic picture of Jack Kennedy coming out for, what, the ‘62 tax cut, ‘63 tax cut. And then he morphed into Republican Scott Brown.
TUMULTY: Well, he‘s a Massachusetts kind of Republican. He‘s not a -
I think he doesn‘t scare independent voters, he doesn‘t scare Democratic voters because he comes off as moderate in a lot of ways and...
MATTHEWS: He‘s basically pro-choice, too, on the central question of a woman‘s right to choose, from what I read.
TUMULTY: And he was—you know, and he has been quite vocal on that, and he talks about how he has a household full of women. I think there‘s a lot of appeal there that maybe the Republican Party nationally doesn‘t have for moderate voters.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s get back to the national story. If we see the results come in, in the late evening tonight—we may have them here in this room at 9:00 o‘clock, we don‘t know yet—will the story—will it be top of the right—right-hand side, top of the fold, “The New York Times,” right? Biggest story in the country.
ZELENY: It‘s hard to say, knowing what‘s going on in Haiti now, but I would think so, I mean, because this is—especially if Democrats lose. This is a change in the makeup of Congress. It will change...
MATTHEWS: Will it be health care...
ZELENY: ... the next year...
MATTHEWS: ... in dire straits, on life support?
ZELENY: Well, it certainly is. So whatever the headline writers decide back in New York, I‘m not sure. But it is in dire straits.
MATTHEWS: You go to press Wednesday, will this be the big story?
TUMULTY: I think it will be, but in the national frame of what this means for Obama‘s agenda.
Thank you very much, Karen Tumulty, my friend.
Thank you, Jeff.
They will be reporting nationally coming out of here on what will turn out to be, by midnight tonight, perhaps a huge national story, not as painful as Haiti, but to politicians on the Democratic side, it will get to their gut. They lost in Massachusetts. If that‘s the headline tonight, that‘s a big one. It‘s a death knell, perhaps—perhaps—coming for health care. We have to wait until 8:00 and then see the results of the polling, as—as people cast their final ballots here in Massachusetts.
Up next, today‘s the last day of President Obama‘s first year in office. You know, you came in on the 20th—the 20th tomorrow. A big Democratic defeat here in Massachusetts would be—let‘s face it—a resounding negative verdict.
We will check in with Chuck Todd at the White House and our own Norah O‘Donnell. Chuck Todd is our own, too, but Norah is up here.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, live from Doyle‘s pub in Boston -
it‘s Doyle‘s Cafe, rather.
So, on this, the last full day of President Obama‘s first year in office—of course, January 20 is tomorrow—a loss here in Massachusetts would be a big blow.
How big? Let‘s bring in NBC News chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, and MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell, who as been our chief Massachusetts correspondent now for two days in the cold.
MATTHEWS: I noticed the nose has got very red up there. It‘s been very cold. We have been in Houston.
Anyway, let‘s go through the new polling with Chuck first, then with Norah, because I think this goes right to the heart of what the verdict is tonight here. The president‘s job approval is—is dicey, but not terrible—job approval 48, disapproval 43. So, it‘s sort of mezza mezza, as they would say up here, pretty close, but not terrible. In fact, it‘s coming up a bit.
Now, here is an interesting one. Seventy-five percent say they like President Obama personally, which is very good. Only 44 percent approve of his policies. So, think about that: I like the guy, but not what he‘s doing. Very telling.
Here‘s more about the feeling. Now, look at this, this sort of gradation as you go. Seventy-two percent feel positive about the first family, Obama, Michelle and the daughters. They like them as individual family members. Sixty-four percent like him. Fifty-four percent, still a majority, like him as a leader. Fifty-two percent, about the same, like him representing us around the world. So, it‘s OK there.
Then we get to being chief executive, in other words, commander in chief. It goes down a bit, 46 percent. And then it goes down substantially to 41 percent on issues.
Now let‘s take a look at the issue that is in the headlights tonight, health care. Back in April, when it was sort of first brought out, 33 percent to 26 percent. In other words, 33 percent liked it, it was a good idea, and 26 percent thought it was a bad idea.
Still, the Democratic base, apparently, is with him on the idea. The base you hear on television talking for the bill, it‘s still about 33 percent. But now it‘s 46 percent say it‘s a bad idea, as opposed to 26 percent.
So, the independent has joined the Republican, you can see, and added up not just 26 percent Republicans against anything Obama does, to 46 percent, almost half, who are really against him now, as opposed to 33 percent.
So, let‘s go to Chuck first.
His base hasn‘t grown. He‘s still got maybe the Democratic base behind him. And he may have it up here. We will see tonight. But he‘s lost the independents on his key issue. And the Republican now has come in and said, look, you don‘t like health care, vote for me. I will kill it in its crib.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, and it‘s not like—it‘s like health care, specifically, you know, as much as is it about the issue itself or has it been the extra focus to it?
You know, even a White House adviser admits to me, it‘s like, look, this perception that we‘re pushing health care maybe over and above focusing on the economy as far as the public is concerned, Joe Six-Pack, you know, who tells us in our same poll that jobs is the number-one issue, national security‘s number two, deficit‘s number three, health care sort of sits there, languishes at fourth.
So, it‘s this idea that maybe he‘s not—he‘s out of touch. He‘s not focusing on what folks around the kitchen table are talking about. So, that adds to this issue. And, you know, yes, I would say half the health care opposition might be having to do with this idea that government looks like it‘s stretched too thin.
And then the other half I think is the idea that, why health care? Why not jobs now? Stop focusing on health care. So, all of it, though, goes to what I think is the big story in politics the last six months, and that is, independents, who voted for change in ‘06 and ‘08 with the Democrats, now are shifting to the out-party, the Republicans.
They‘re not becoming Republican. They‘re not hiring the Republican. They‘re just sending a message right now to Democrats, Virginia, New Jersey. And now, win or lose, we know Scott Brown won independents in Massachusetts, Chris.
What do you think? What are you hearing up here?
NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That‘s exactly right.
Scott Brown is a vehicle for independents. He has set it up that way, that he—he has even said, let‘s send a message to Washington. When he signs his autograph on campaign posters, he writes Scott Brown 41.
O‘DONNELL: He wants to be the 41st senator...
MATTHEWS: Well, not just send a something. Send a no.
O‘DONNELL: Send a no. And he wants to bust up the Democrats‘ supermajority in Congress. So, Scott Brown is this vehicle for voters, for independent voters to express their disgust with Washington and with Congress.
And he‘s riding that wave, that wave that helped Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey. And now it‘s going to happen in Massachusetts. And the fact that the Democratic Party did not recognize that, perhaps did not expect that, even like in a state like Massachusetts—that‘s why they didn‘t expect it—is now the reason that they‘re all pointing fingers at one another, saying, who‘s to blame for not catching this?
Well, here‘s—let‘s get back to that thing. When you talk to people up here in Massachusetts, do you bump into people who voted for Obama, but are now going to vote for Brown?
O‘DONNELL: No. I did not bump into any of those. They‘re out there. I voted—I mean, I ran into a guy today who said, I voted for that, what‘s her name, what‘s her name, oh, Martha Coakley, yes.
MATTHEWS: Or, as Patrick Kennedy calls her, Marcia Coakley.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, exactly.
O‘DONNELL: And he said I‘m just voting to make sure...
MATTHEWS: Nobody seems to know her.
O‘DONNELL: Yes. He said, I‘m just voting to make sure that the Republicans don‘t bust up the Democrats‘ supermajority. So, there isn‘t a lot of affinity for the Democratic candidate.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
Well, you know, what‘s interesting about it, we just had Mayor Menino on here, Chuck. You know him. He‘s very popular up here.
MATTHEWS: You know, he‘s pretty open about the fact. I asked him what was wrong. He said the way this campaign‘s been run.
I mean, they‘re just openly saying they don‘t know how to campaign. This officeholder, attorney general, highly credentialed, very smart, respected...
MATTHEWS: ... as hell, doesn‘t seem to know how to go around and say, hi, can you vote for me? Would you vote for me? Please vote for me—show the usual humility that politicians, starting with Jack Kennedy, showed up here when he ran against the great, unbeatable Henry Cabot Lodge, and beat him by asking people to vote for him.
TODD: It was bizarre.
And then I saw one of the strategists for Coakley‘s campaign is like sort of writing a prebituary memo among the things that happened. And one of the things she said was, they didn‘t have enough money to do TV ads or early polling after the primary, which you sit there and go, wait a minute, you are the—you were supposedly the senator in waiting. How did you not have an ability to raise money?
Look, bad environments—you know, good candidates and good campaigns lose in bad environments for their party. But I will tell you this. You know, some good campaigns can win in a bad environment. You cannot win in a bad environment if you run a bad campaign.
MATTHEWS: You know, you wouldn‘t have to take a poll.
MATTHEWS: Well, polls aren‘t so important if you go out and meet voters and listen to them. I mean, isn‘t that a start? I mean, obviously, this candidate, Martha Coakley, thought, I would have a lot more information about people and what they thought if I had a good expensive poll.
But the challenge that‘s been made against her is, she hasn‘t gone out and shaken hands and said hello to people.
O‘DONNELL: Vicki Kennedy, who I interviewed yesterday, said something very important. She said, you can‘t...
MATTHEWS: By the way, congratulations on the get.
O‘DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Because she was a hard get.
O‘DONNELL: She said, you can‘t take the vote for granted. We should never take the vote for granted.
O‘DONNELL: And I think many people thought that Martha Coakley took the vote for granted. You have to knock on doors. You have to ruin the soles of your shoes walking and knocking on doors.
MATTHEWS: You have to let your nose gets red.
O‘DONNELL: And have to let your nose gets red in order to meet people.
MATTHEWS: Right, because it‘s cold up here.
O‘DONNELL: And, in fact, one of the numbers that‘s out there right now is, after the primary, that Scott Brown did more than 60 events, and Martha Coakley did 19. That just shows who was working harder out there on the campaign trail.
I think it‘s also going to get down that one candidate used the Kennedy legacy, Jack Kennedy‘s push for tax cuts in ‘62, a more middle-of-the-road Kennedy. The other one didn‘t even really identify with the more liberal Kennedy, Ted Kennedy. It‘s a very strange re-juxtaposition.
Chuck, last thought?
TODD: Well, it is.
But, look, remember, all of the Democratic circling firing squad that we‘re seeing lining up and already taking shots at each other, the fact is, they all own a piece of this loss. The national environment is not good. And that‘s the national Democratic Party, congressional leaders, and the president.
And Martha Coakley ran an atrocious campaign. One could not have lost without the other. They‘re inextricably linked.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe we will find out later that, if Martha Coakley had had a copy of “Game Change” two or three months ago, she would have seen the mistakes made in the last campaign and not repeated so many of them.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Chuck Todd.
TODD: You got it.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Norah O‘Donnell, up here in Massachusetts.
Up next: how Republicans were able to harness the anger of voters in Massachusetts. How did the Republicans get to be the David in this struggle against Goliath? How did they position themselves so quickly as the party out of power that could exploit the anger against them? Think about it. The public was mad at the Republicans a few months ago.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
BRIAN SHACTMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Brian Shactman with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A big rally coming off the long weekend, with health care stocks surging on, of course, that closely-watched election in Massachusetts—the Dow Jones industrial average up 115 points, the S&P 500 jumping 14 points, and the Nasdaq climbing more than 32.
Pfizer and Merck the biggest gainers on the Dow, with Humana, Aetna, and MetLife all lighting up the S&P 500.
And, of course, as MSNBC has well-covered, voters streaming to the polls in Massachusetts, where the election to fill the late Ted Kennedy‘s Senate seat could decide the fate of health care reform, which, of course, has a huge impact on Wall Street.
Also, IBM reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings just after the closing bell tonight, profits increasing by 9 percent, revenue up for the first time in a year-and-a-half, although I will tell you the stock is trading down in after-market trading.
Apple rallying more than 4 percent today after the company said it will hold a special event on January the 27th, the iPhone-maker expected to unveil its much-anticipated tablet P.C.
That is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL at Doyle‘s Cafe in Boston.
Representative Brad Jones is the Massachusetts House minority leader. There are 16 Republicans in a 160 House up here, to tell you how small the Republican Party is. But they‘re threatening to win that Senate seat tonight held by the Kennedys for so many years.
David Paleologos is director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. In other words, he‘s the top pollster in the state.
Sir, your polling—and I have been relying on your polling, like everybody. You have got the Republican ahead, right?
DAVID PALEOLOGOS, DIRECTOR, SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY POLITICAL RESEARCH
CENTER: Yes, we do. We have...
MATTHEWS: Why is he ahead in your polling?
PALEOLOGOS: Well, we have two statistical tests. It‘s—some of it is pro-Scott Brown votes. But a lot of it is anti-establishment.
It‘s anger fueled on the back of the economy and health care, two issues that haven‘t been solved. And voters are very frustrated.
MATTHEWS: If you were to put a headline up tomorrow morning if Scott wins, Scott Brown wins, would you say health care killed the Democrat, or would you say the economy killed the Democrat, or the candidate killed the Democrat?
PALEOLOGOS: Well, I think it‘s a combination. I think they all—all three were key. I mean, even in the health care issue, the economy runs through that issue.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
Brad, you‘re a Republican. We have now a polling we have just put out tonight, a “Wall Street Journal”/NBC poll, a totally factual poll—it‘s a very good poll. It‘s not a partisan poll. This poll shows that the president remains personally popular, his family even more popular. But, on the issues, he‘s losing. He‘s down to about 40 percent.
BRAD JONES ®, MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Is that your read?
JONES: Yes, that‘s my read out talking to people.
I think David is exactly right. I mean, there‘s a macroenvironment of issues that have played in this race. Scott Brown has run a fantastic campaign. And, quite frankly, Martha Coakley has run sort of a campaign of entitlement since the Democratic primary. She‘s the nominee. She was going to win.
And all those, I think, have intersected.
MATTHEWS: OK. How did you guys—I keep being asked this. I want your answers, first the Republican.
How did your party up here so quickly take the anger the public has towards Wall Street, towards a lot of things, unemployment, debt, that was aimed completely at your party, at President Bush and Dick Cheney and your party, and your party label still, and yet turned this against the Democrats. How did you do it so fast?
JONES: I think the one of the things to keep in mind here is that there‘s a tremendous anger in Massachusetts anyway. We have had three speakers in a row indicted—local politics.
MATTHEWS: You have an unpopular governor.
JONES: We have had three—three state senators have had to step down due to a variety of issues, an unpopular governor, so a whole bunch of things swirling around at the state level. And then you pour in sort of some of these national factors, and it‘s a recipe for a candidate like Scott Brown to go out and appeal to people and reach out, and a candidate like Martha Coakley to make misstep after misstep, and lead to what we think tonight is going to be a Brown victory.
MATTHEWS: Would your sense, based on all the poll data you have, say that, if Barack Obama were on the ballot tonight, would he win against a McCain?
PALEOLOGIS: I think so. He‘s very popular personally. Even if this is a landslide for Scott Brown, our bellwethers picked up the race opening over the weekend, prior to him coming to Boston.
MATTHEWS: Brad, would McCain beat Obama up here?
JONES: I think Obama might still win in Massachusetts. But I think the broader implication is that whether Scott Brown wins by a little or a lot, or if Martha Coakley manages to eke out some magical victory tonight, the message that this sends nationally to states that are more purple --
MATTHEWS: You‘ve got Republicans running a lot of states. You‘ve got people in Ohio with a good shot to win. Pennsylvania with a good shot to win, governorships. Great opportunities around the country. If Republicans stick to the economic issues, stay away from the social issue, is that the victory path?
JONES: I think that‘s a big piece of it.
MATTHEWS: Talk about debt, taxes, don‘t talk abortion.
JONES: Debt, taxes, the economy.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t talk about abortion.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t talk abortion. Is that right?
PALEOLOGIS: I believe so. Economy and health care are the top two polled issues nationally.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re giving them the strategy. Your polling, we‘ll see how good it is. Will you be around midnight tonight so we can check on you?
PALEOLOGIS: I will be.
MATTHEWS: Either give you a big award, like the nuns would give you, a big star?
PALEOLOGIS: I‘ll be here at 12:00.
JONES: Would you buy me a Guinness stout?
MATTHEWS: Even though I don‘t drink, I‘ll buy you what you like, sir, if you‘re right. Thank you, Brad Jones. Thank you, the poller up here for Suffolk University. It‘s the minority leader.
One-tenth of the great general court of Massachusetts is Republican. But they may have a US senator tonight. We‘ll have more on the big election here in Massachusetts in a minute.
But up next, we‘re going to switch gears to the very serious situation in Haiti, where thousands of Americans are still unaccounted for, believe it or not, more than a week into this tragedy. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back here in Doyle‘s Pub up in here Boston, covering the Senate race, which could be going down to the wire tonight. It could be Senate—the Senate seat of Ted Kennedy could well go to a Republican tonight, thereby killing health care nationally, because the Republican candidate says he will kill it if elected.
Let‘s go to a perhaps—well, certainly a bigger human story. It is a big story in Haiti. We have joining us right now NBC‘s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell. Thank you, Andrea.
We want to catch up with this big story. I‘m stunned, Andrea, that there‘s still 5,000-plus Americans that are unaccounted for.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:
Right. Well, the State Department got about 9,000 requests from family and friends for Americans not reporting in, who have not been heard from since the earthquake. There were overall about 45,000 Americans in Haiti. Many of them are married to Haitians or involved with aid missions and would not normally check in with the embassy. Their family did not inquire about them.
But of these 9,000 cases, they still have about 5,000 outstanding, where they do not know where these people are. They‘ve not checked in. They‘ve not been heard from.
Now, the really sad news, the grim news is that of the 70,000 bodies that the Haitians have already said have been swept up, have been bulldozed into mass graves, and otherwise claimed, some of those unidentified bodies may well be Americans who were in Haiti at the time and who have not been heard from.
So it‘s not that hopeful, but we‘re still not only recovering bodies, as you know recovering rather survivors. But they are still trying to establish and reestablish communication. And with so many of the roads out, and such a logistical nightmare there, that does not mean that someone is really lost. Chris?
MATTHEWS: Do we have at the military level, the highest command, a road map to how the United States is basically going to save Haiti over the next couple weeks?
MITCHELL: Not yet. They are taking this on a much more short-term emergency response basis. Right now, Chris, the National Security Council, without the president, is meeting at the White House. They‘re going to have a briefing from the USAID leader probably around 6:30. But as we‘re on the air right now on the East Coast, they‘re having meetings to decide how to get more of these orphans out. There are 700 more children and babies, infants, who may have started the paperwork for these kids.
And as you know, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania brought out 53 today, another child who was sleeping, a two-year-old named Emma, was sleeping on the bus, and was overlooked, and was not put on the plane, on the C-17. So one of the orphanage managers, one of these women, the sister, went back and found Emma, and is on the way out now.
So, in all, 54 children will have been rescued by the Rendell mission. Some will stay in the United States, some elsewhere. But there are other kids for whom paperwork was already started and are in sort of an in-between status. And the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department have figured out a way, under White House direction, to waive these requirements. A lot of ethical issues here involved. But they‘re going to get these kids out and then figure out what to do and try to pair them up with families.
MATTHEWS: Great. Thank you so much, Andrea. I saw the governor‘s wife there, Midge Rendell, carrying one of the babies. It‘s an amazing family effort there.
MITCHELL: It really is.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much for telling us a small, good story in the midst of a terrible big one. Thank you, Andrea Mitchell, chief correspondent on foreign affairs for NBC News.
We‘ll be right back with this big story on politics up in Massachusetts as the evening begins, and it has begun. We‘re going to know within a couple of hours whether health care is dead because that 41st negative vote has been elected to the US Senate. He swears he will vote to kill health care if elected. Back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: So tonight‘s the night. What‘s going to happen here in Massachusetts? Mike Barnicle is an MSNBC political analyst and knows this state well. Peter Canellos is the editorial board editor of the “Boston Globe.” He wrote the great big book about Ted Kennedy. Thank you.
Mike, you‘re down there in New York. You‘re at a disadvantage. You‘re not here at Doyle‘s, Doyle‘s Cafe, to make it plain. You have no right to speak, but I will let you. Tell us what‘s going on from your position at 30 Rock. What is happening here in Massachusetts that the whole country can learn from?
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, Jerry Burke‘s
you know, the house, all around, whatever you want tonight, Chris, there at Doyle‘s. Secondly, what‘s going on I think in Massachusetts is about to go on in the rest of the country the rest of the year. It is voter anger, voter frustration with the existing order.
It is not very hard to see, if you drive out from Boston, as I did twice this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, out toward Worcester county, the western suburbs, southwest of Boston, up towards Route two, Fitchburg *(ph), Gardner, the small towns nobody ever hears about. They are enormous Brown strengths out there because people are so angry at the existing order, liberal or Democrat. They‘re just against incumbents. They can‘t wait to vote today. I suspect it is going to be an extraordinary turnout in places like that for Scott Brown.
MATTHEWS: What do you think? Is this a national phenomenon?
PETER CANELLOS, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”: Clearly, the anti-incumbent part of it is a national phenomenon. We saw with Mike Bloomberg, he only won by five points in New York after vastly out-spending his opponent. Clearly, it is there, an anti-incumbent feeling. Whether it will be there in ten months, when the mid-term elections are, I don‘t know. If things turn around a little bit, if the Democrats get their house in order, if they have a really cohesive message, it might be different.
MATTHEWS: It‘s interesting, Michael. You look at some of the Democrats in the country who are in big trouble, and Republicans—Charlie Crist is in trouble down in Florida, I think, the incumbent governor who wants to be a senator. Chris Dodd had to walk. But when you‘re sacrificial about it, you seem to know what the name of the game is. Chris Dodd walks away, says I don‘t want to run for re-election because I‘m not popular. That‘s the story. I‘m going to let this guy, the attorney general, Blumenthal, run in my place.
Is that the answer for Democrats, quit, let somebody else come in and run, let your own party pick somebody new? The country wants a new party to represent them. Get out of the business.
BARNICLE: I think that‘s part of the answer, Chris.
MATTHEWS: They won‘t do it, of course. But that is part of it, I think.
BARNICLE: That is part of the answer. But I think in Chris Dodd‘s case, I think he thought, do I really want to put myself and my family through the horrendous nightmare, the negativism that‘s nearly every campaign in America today at nearly every level.
I think there are a couple things going on here. One, I refuse to believe that another Democrat other than the attorney general, who took on Scott Brown on the issues in a one-on-one debate, and articulated and explained the issues that are on people‘s minds—jobs, lack of employment, the fact that health care plan might actually mean more jobs and better jobs—that that Democrat could not have held Scott Brown back. I refuse to believe that that wasn‘t possible.
MATTHEWS: Then another candidate would have been better?
BARNICLE: Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: So it is—let‘s go through the three big issues. The country‘s watching right now. Is it the quality of the candidacy? That Martha Coakley wasn‘t just a good enough politician? Didn‘t shake enough hands, didn‘t show enough warmth, didn‘t behave like a good Kennedy, a good politician? Number two, was it the general economic climate? That it is just terrible out there? Unemployment up here as bad as anywhere? Or was it this president‘s gone too far on social legislation, on health care, moved too far to the left, to put it in simple language?
What‘s the big problem for him? Is it conditions, candidacy or program?
CANELLOS: I think it is all three. Martha Coakley did not engage with voters on the economy. She didn‘t take on these issues. Democrats have a position on the economy. She just didn‘t make it very forcefully. The health care issue is a weird thing in Massachusetts, because people support health care reform, but it doesn‘t support them as directly because there is a state reform already in place. So the benefits of that bill are already here in Massachusetts.
So people feel like the health care thing has been a distraction from the economy. If you‘re upset, if you‘re worried about your job, you‘re going to vote angrily. You‘re going to turn on incumbent party. And we have a one-party government here in Massachusetts.
MATTHEWS: Mike, it could be that what happens tonight—we don‘t know what‘s going to happen when the polls close. We get a good count tonight. We have a new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll out tonight that shows while the base of support for health care has remained about the same, about a third, that the opposition to it has doubled. It is almost half now. It‘s gone from a third to a half.
In other words, it looks like the Republicans, who don‘t like anybody Obama does, have been joined by the independents now in opposing health care. And that seems to be what the message will be tonight, if Scott Brown wins up here. So maybe Massachusetts will underline the numbers that the NBC polls showed in terms of the bad idea that voters think of health care right now. What do you think?
BARNICLE: Chris, as you know better than most, I mean it‘s much easier to run on a negative than it is on a positive. It is much easier to get people, voters, to scratch a sore. The issues—the questions that were raised about health care in this campaign, as well as the questions that are being raised nationally, comes down to a lot of people not really comprehending what‘s in the bill, not out of any lack of intelligence, just because the bill is so huge and seems to be so monstrously put together, in terms of providing new health care agencies.
And the bottom line is, people always ask you, how much is this going to cost us? What‘s it going to cost me as an individual or as a family? And so what happens in Massachusetts can be summed up, I think, as the political equivalent of the old Verizon cell phone ad. You now have voters in Massachusetts saying to the established order, can you hear me now?
MATTHEWS: Keep writing those columns on the air, because that‘s a
great one. Can you hear me now? I think that is a question. Let me tell
you one other thing I hear, voters can smell corruption. George Will this
weekend on the ABC Sunday show was saying—he‘s very good on offense, we
all know, George Will. He said they smell corruption out there. They see
the dirty deal in Nebraska that Senator Ben Nelson had to give back. They
see the dirty deal in Louisiana. That didn‘t surprise them with Mary
Landrieu. They said, each state seems to be buying—I‘m sorry, selling -
Barack Obama‘s selling his soul to get health care. He‘s cutting dirty deals so he gets this big trophy. That doesn‘t look good.
CANELLOS: It doesn‘t look good. There is no question the process works against confidence in the bill, just because of the filibuster rule and all these things.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll get back to you. I hope you stick around. Michael, stick around up there at 30 Rock. We‘re up here in Boston, where you belong. Peter Canellos is joining us. Thank you, Mike, seriously. You know this place better than anybody.
Join us again in one hour for more HARDBALL. Polls in Massachusetts close at 8:00 tonight. I‘m going to be back all through the night with various MSNBC programs, with “COUNTDOWN,” with Rachel. I‘ll be with them all night, helping them, I hope. We‘ll be all together up here trying to figure out what this means for the country, for health care, for Barack Obama, for us. Then a live midnight show tonight of Hardball for a full hour.from this place with all the results at midnight. Stick around, take a nap, come back.
Right now, it‘s time for THE ED SHOW.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Transcription Copyright 2010 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>
Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET