Guests: Wayne Slater, Chris Cillizza, Howard Dean, David Corn, Jay Newton-
HOST: Two hundred and sixteen votes. That‘s what
it‘s all about.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Reality bites. Democratic leaders are charging ahead on health care
reform. And what does Speaker Pelosi say to House Democrats who could lose
their seats in November if they vote for it? Show some courage. Is that
enough to get endangered Democrats on board? Does she have the 216 votes
she needs to win?
Plus, how far will the tea party folk get in taking over the
Republican Party? They‘re headed to victory in Texas tomorrow night with
their man, Rick Perry—doing the same in Florida. How about Arizona and
Kentucky? Who‘s going to stop the tea party people from taking over that
Also, Howard Dean is here tonight. And my question for him tonight:
Is he going to be the tea partier of the left? Is he going to make his
party more progressive or is he going to try and purge it? Are folks like
Blanche Lincoln fair game for him?
And Republican obstructionism strikes again. Two thousand federal
transportation workers are out of work tonight, thanks to Senator Jim
Bunning, who‘s blocking a bill that extends federal highway and transit
programs. But doesn‘t he have a point? Why do we have to borrow from the
Chinese just to pay for unemployment compensation? Has it come to that?
And something new tonight, a segment of all-out commentary that comes
at the end of this show. It‘s from me. It‘s called “Let me Finish.”
Let‘s start with that fight for health care reform. Charlie Cook
edits “The Cook Political Reporter.” He‘s the best there is. He‘s also an
NBC not—well, he‘s the best there is. He‘s also an NBC News political
analyst, which is the same thing. And “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, who is
also the best in his way. And we‘re going to see how they‘re going to
MATTHEWS: Here‘s House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer...
CHARLIE COOK, “COOK POLITICAL REPORT,” NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What
way are you, Howard?
MATTHEWS: ... the number two leader in the House, on CBS‘s “Face the
Nation” with Bob Schieffer. Let‘s listen to him yesterday. He was giving
us a hint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I don‘t think we have
the votes in terms of a specific proposal because there‘s not a specific
proposal on the table yet. The president has made some suggestions, which
I think reflects discussions...
BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, “FACE THE NATION”: When will you have...
HOYER: ... between the House and Senate.
SCHIEFFER: ... a specific proposal?
HOYER: I would think within the next couple of weeks, we‘re going to
have a specific proposal and start counting votes to see whether or not
those proposals can pass either the House or the Senate or both and send
something to the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh! That is the slo-mo kind of politics. I can—Steny,
Steny—I mean, I thought (INAUDIBLE) Bob Dole talk about—it‘s in mark-
up. I mean, answer the question! Answer the question! Howard, let‘s...
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I want Charlie
MATTHEWS: No, we‘re going to get to this because—fighting about
health—let‘s hear the Speaker here. Here she is, Speaker Pelosi, Nancy
Pelosi. She was on “This Week,” the ABC show. Let‘s listen to her account
of where this stands because it‘s really coming down to it now on health
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have the 217 votes necessary to pass...
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Right now, we‘re
working on the policy. From the meeting on Thursday, the summit meeting, I
believe that we‘re ready for the next step, which is to write legislative
language and then go from there.
First we zero in on what the policy will be. And that is what we‘ll
be doing following the president‘s summit yesterday. Secondly, we‘ll see
what the Senate can do. What is the substance, and what is the Senate
prepared to do? And then we‘ll go to the third step as to what my members
will vote for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Finally, the truth. It comes down to this. This whole
fight over health care that‘s been going on (INAUDIBLE) every night with
all the programs talking about it for more than a year now, it comes down
to this. The House is going to vote on the Senate bill. They‘re going to
reconcile in both houses to make changes necessary to make both houses
agree. It‘s all up to the Democrats. That‘s a fact. It took them forever
to say it.
Howard, here‘s the point. Does Nancy Pelosi have the guns, the stuff,
the juice, the willpower, whatever, the iron will to get this to 216, get
the votes she needs to win?
FINEMAN: Well, she has the will to try. I talked to a member of the
leadership today, not Nancy but somebody in the leadership, who put the
odds of passage at 45 percent right now. So that‘s under 50.
Now, there‘s no specific final proposal yet, number one. Nancy Pelosi
hasn‘t begun her arm twisting. And by the way, she‘s very, very good at
MATTHEWS: She‘s got a good inside game.
FINEMAN: She‘s very good at it. And Barack Obama hasn‘t come around
one last time for the one-on-one meetings with the individual House members
and said, You really want to wreck my presidency or not? So all that hangs
in the balance...
MATTHEWS: So it‘s brinksmanship right now.
FINEMAN: It‘s brinksmanship, but I—you know, I went over this with
a fine-toothed comb today. I have all these categories of different things
I don‘t want to bore you with...
MATTHEWS: Where are you at?
FINEMAN: Where am I at? I‘m—I‘m at—right at 215, 214. You
MATTHEWS: They can do it.
FINEMAN: It‘s not 218 anymore, by the way...
MATTHEWS: ... the members keep quitting.
FINEMAN: Members keep quitting.
MATTHEWS: It‘s sort of—it‘s sort of like...
COOK: And why is that?
MATTHEWS: It‘s like that Agatha Christie play, “Ten Little Indians.”
They changed the name of it, but they keep disappearing. Charlie Cook,
you‘ve gotten more pessimistic about the House Democrats holding the House.
But how about this house care—this health care bill? Can they pass it,
given what they face this November in terms of losses?
COOK: The Democrats that are in really tough districts, tough races,
I don‘t think they‘re going to get any more votes out of those guys. In
fact, they could lose some.
MATTHEWS: The ones that McCain‘s districts—where McCain carried.
COOK: Exactly. Exactly. But where they could find something is, for
example, maybe some of the retirees, you know, like a Brian Baird, a Bart
Gordon, a John Tanner. Could they go there? And then, remember, you had
four liberal—four voted against the health care...
MATTHEWS: Who on the left that voted no the first time?
COOK: Dennis Kucinich, Eric Massa, Kosmas and Teague.
MATTHEWS: They ought to be able to get Kucinich in the end. Don‘t
they need him? How can he vote no and bring down health care?
COOK: You‘d think, but who in the world knows...
MATTHEWS: From Cleveland.
COOK: ... what‘s going on in Dennis Kucinich‘s mind.
MATTHEWS: He‘ll vote for it in the end.
FINEMAN: The leadership person I talked to today, in the room at all
times, says that they mentioned those three liberals that Charlie talked
about, who voted no. And I can see Barack Obama calling Dennis Kucinich in
and saying, Hey, you can be a hero, man, OK? It‘s not the perfect bill,
MATTHEWS: The progressives have got to be for this in the end.
FINEMAN: So that‘s one category.
MATTHEWS: It‘s better than what we got, right, for them?
FINEMAN: Well, that‘s one category, and there‘s another small
category of what I call a swing good government people—Jason Altmire,
MATTHEWS: Western Pennsylvania.
FINEMAN: ... yes—from South Dakota. These are people who voted
no. They‘re deficit hawks, but they‘re not quite...
MATTHEWS: OK, here‘s the tough question.
FINEMAN: ... the bluest of Blue Dogs.
MATTHEWS: You know the old terrible canard against John Kerry, which
I think probably beat him, which is, I voted for it before I voted for it -
I voted for it before I voted against it. If you‘re a Democrat and a
House member and you voted against it the first time, and now you decide
you‘re going to vote for it, can‘t your opponents trash you and say, Oh, he
was against it before he was for it, and run that ad against you?
FINEMAN: Well, unless you‘re Dennis—you know, somebody like Dennis
COOK: One of the guys on the left.
FINEMAN: The people on the left have more room to run on.
MATTHEWS: How about somebody in the middle, somebody from a red
state? Isn‘t that a tough one for you?
COOK: I don‘t think so.
MATTHEWS: You think so?
COOK: The thing is, I think it‘d have to be one of the four from the
left. I don‘t think anybody from the right—we just saw a poll...
MATTHEWS: Nobody from the right will change and vote for this.
COOK: No. No.
COOK: ... yes, unless it‘s a retiree. But we just saw a poll in
Bobby Bright‘s district, Montgomery, Alabama. Here‘s somebody that‘s voted
against the stimulus, against health care, against cap-and-trade. He‘s 20
points ahead. He has found that if you run as fast as you can from the
leadership, from the president, in a tough district, you can survive. And
back in ‘94, we saw that, too. The guys that voted against the Brady bill,
they voted against the...
COOK: ... voted against both, their survival rate was 10 out of 11,
the ones that have been...
MATTHEWS: So you‘re encouraging members to be disloyal to...
COOK: I‘m just saying that the people—if you‘re going to put
distance between yourself and the White House, or yourself and the
leadership, run as fast as you can and you can survive.
MATTHEWS: That won‘t work in the Senate...
FINEMAN: ... categories of those people. There are people who are
Blue Dogs who also voted with Bart Stupak on the abortion amendment. I
count eight of those people...
MATTHEWS: OK, you‘ve opened up that can of worms.
FINEMAN: All right. And then there are...
MATTHEWS: How do they solve...
FINEMAN: ... six Blue Dogs from...
FINEMAN: ... six Blue Dogs from tough states...
MATTHEWS: How do they solve the problem that you had 12 or so, at
least, maybe up to 40, who had their votes influenced positively because of
Stupak outlawing any of this money going to abortion services in the
insurance programs? How do you deal with the fact that won‘t be in this
FINEMAN: Well, the way they‘re going to have to try to deal with it
is with a separate piece of legislation. And as I understand it, it can‘t
be in the reconciliation bill. In other words, they‘re talking about
MATTHEWS: Can I offer a suggestion? Why don‘t they just pass the
Hyde Amendment again? Everybody passes it all the time. Here‘s the
problem—while they can. The majority of Congress that supports the Hyde
amendment, which says no federal money should go to pay for an abortion—
it‘s still legal to have an abortion, but the government‘s not going to pay
for it—is not the same 216 that would vote for this bill, right?
FINEMAN: The danger for them, Chris—as I count it, there are these
eight Blue Dogs who also voted for the Stupak amendment. They‘re looking
for an excuse, I think, to go in Charlie‘s direction and get the hell off
this bill, OK? They don‘t want to look like they‘re wishy-washy. They can
say, It‘s a matter of moral principle with me. I don‘t trust what the
Senate‘s going to do. I‘m going to vote no based on...
MATTHEWS: This is one of the great (INAUDIBLE) Let‘s take a look at -
here‘s White House adviser Nancy DeParle on “Meet the Press” this Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY-ANN DEPARLE, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Health care reform has
already passed both the House and the Senate with not only a majority in
the Senate but a super-majority. And we‘re not talking about changing any
rules here. All the president‘s talking about is, Do we need to address
this problem, and does it make sense to have a simple up-or-down vote on
whether or not we want to fix these problems?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, she makes it sound easy.
COOK: The problem is that they haven‘t single-mindedly defined the
problem. Is it the uninsured or is it costs? And that—now we‘re
getting away from vote counts back to the substance here. If it‘s about
costs, there are questions since they put off the taxes until 2018, since
people doubt whether they‘ll get all the Medicare cuts they‘re talking
about in the end.
COOK: So there‘s substance behind this here for these other Blue
MATTHEWS: In other words...
MATTHEWS: Can the concerns of those who will hold out, conservatives
from the South—and they‘re definitely being smart about their politics,
probably—is, can they be—their concerns be addressed so they can take
them home to the people and say, Look, I went to the Speaker, I went to
Hoyer, I went to Clyburn and I said, look, I need to save $100 billion or
whatever, on this bill and they did it for me?
FINEMAN: Well, let‘s see what the president comes up with in his
COOK: The thing is, these guys typically live, guys generically live
in districts with a lot of old people. And when you—all you have to say
is $300 billion to $400 billion in Medicare cuts...
COOK: ... and that‘s all they need to hear.
MATTHEWS: You‘re so depressing on this.
MATTHEWS: You are really...
COOK: I beat the heck out of Republicans for three years...
MATTHEWS: You say the Democrats are going to lose the Congress...
MATTHEWS: You really think the Democrats are in trouble no matter
what they do, don‘t you.
COOK: I think things—there‘s eight months. There‘s time for it to
MATTHEWS: OK, let me...
COOK: ... have to change.
MATTHEWS: Suppose you‘re a Democratic leader and you go to a tough
person, you say—I got to wrap—vote for this out now. Get health care
behind us. Start working on jobs. By the time it gets to November, we
will have a lower unemployment rate, you guys can win.
FINEMAN: That‘s got to be the bet that the president tells them to
MATTHEWS: That‘s got to...
FINEMAN: It has to be...
MATTHEWS: He‘s got to sell that...
COOK: We‘ll have a jobs bill every three weeks from now until
MATTHEWS: That‘s what you‘ll need. (INAUDIBLE) until we do health
care. Thank you, Howard Fineman, and thank you...
MATTHEWS: ... Cafe Depresso here.
MATTHEWS: Coming up—but you‘re the—but you‘re good, Charlie.
Coming up: How strong an impact will the tea party have on tomorrow‘s
Republican primary in Texas? Apparently, a big one. And the question—
is this the start of something big? Are the tea partiers taking over the
party? If they get Kay Bailey Hutchison—they‘re going for Charlie
Crist, they‘re going for John McCain. Who can‘t they beat?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. The eyes of Texas are on tomorrow‘s
Republican primary down there for governor of Texas, where Senator Kay
Bailey Hutchison is challenging incumbent governor Rick Perry, and a third
candidate, Debra Medina, is running to the right of both of those other
candidates. How big of a player will the tea party movement be in
Wayne Slater‘s the senior political writer for “The Dallas Morning
News,” our friend—well, he‘s also our friend, Wayne is—Chris
Cillizza‘s is our closer-to-home friend. He‘s at “The Washington Post”
newsroom, where he works.
Gentlemen, take a look at the latest poll. This is a PPI—PPP poll.
It‘s got Governor Perry, the incumbent, at 40 -- not quite 50 percent in
this poll needed for avoiding a runoff, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, who
looked very strong going into this race, down at 31. And Debra Medina, who
seems to be the sleeper of the—and she‘s up—she‘s to the right of
both of them.
Gentlemen, I want to go to the home state guy, Wayne. What do you
make of this race? What does it tell us in terms of which way this country
of ours is going?
WAYNE SLATER, “DALLAS MORNING NEWS”: Well, let me tell you. This tea
party movement, this anti-Washington sentiment—so strong. I was in
suburban Dallas a couple of days ago with Congressman Mike Burgess,
conservative Republican, and he said if he wasn‘t the representative from
that district, he would probably be leading the charge against the
representative from that district. So this is really tough stuff.
Rick Perry has taken the anti-Washington fervor, has tried to seize on
the tea party movement, and has framed the race against Kay Bailey
Hutchison in a very successful way. And he could go without a runoff—
win tomorrow without a runoff.
MATTHEWS: So his statement months ago that we‘ve mocked on this show
about secession, really implying secession from Washington, not from the
country, I assume—I‘m being generous here—was really crazy like a
SLATER: It was crazy like a fox. Let me tell you, on that single
day, that was tax day, April 15th, he made that comment entertaining the
idea of secession on the same day in Houston, Texas. Kay Bailey Hutchison
stepped out of a fund-raiser and told an aide when she heard about it,
Well, Rick Perry has just lost this race. In fact, Rick Perry had just won
SLATER: ... because that‘s the attitude that Texas Republican primary
voters have, Screw Washington.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And using the language, Chris Cillizza, of the pre-
Civil War, war between the states, to use the Southern term, using the old
language of nullification, you know, ignoring Washington, saying you can
overrule anything with the 10th Amendment. This is strong, almost
constitutional type challenging to Washington here.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Well, you know, to Wayne‘s point,
Chris, you wouldn‘t think that the 10 Amendment, states‘ rights and
secession would be the basis of a great formula for a campaign. But that‘s
what Rick Perry has done.
I think, to Wayne‘s point, Rick Perry was very, very smart. He saw
the energy in the tea party movement and he was among the first elected
officials anywhere in the country to put his name to it, appearing at
rallies and that sort of thing. In doing it, he coopted a lot of the anger
on the far right. I think we‘d be talking more about Debra Medina
potentially if Rick Perry hadn‘t done that.
It shows you how many people are in that group on the right that Rick
Perry is leading. And Debra Medina, at least I‘ve talked to some people
say she could wind up finishing second. It‘s a big group of people...
CILLIZZA: ... in Texas. Now, we don‘t want to necessarily
extrapolate it to the entire United States. But I think dismissing the tea
party movement, the anger on the right, maybe the anger generally, as, Oh,
it‘s just a fringe—it‘s clearly not just a fringe in Texas.
MATTHEWS: No, it‘s not. I‘ve heard of that up in Massachusetts.
They‘re concerned up there certainly after Scott Brown‘s victory. They
know the Democratic Party‘s got to reconnect in very strong language.
Let‘s take a look at Kay Bailey Hutchison, who‘s really paying the
price of having been a U.S. senator and a highly respected one. When you
get into this, Wayne, she‘s done her job for Texas. She‘s really been a
great senator. Everybody looks up to her. She‘s apparently the most
popular person in the state, and yet here she says, “He, meaning Rick
Perry, the governor, has definitely made it more difficult for me. I
protected Texas. I brought Texas taxpayer dollars back to Texas very
successfully. And I‘ve voted for Texas values. I didn‘t think that anyone
could turn my success in producing results for Texas into a negative.”
And then the other day, she comes home and meets one of her supporters
and the guy says, Welcome back to Texas and she goes nuts, say, Wait a
minute, I live here!
What is going on, Wayne Slater, where you do your job as a senator and
you‘re hated for it?
SLATER: Yes. When was the last time we saw a race—and we do from
time to time—where experience and bringing home the bacon are not
positives but negatives? And that‘s exactly the way Perry has successfully
framed this race against Hutchison.
I was on the bus with her two days ago, traveling suburban Houston.
She did the Houston rodeo. And basically, she was—and she was lamenting
this fact—Look, I‘m doing what I was paid to do. I‘m doing what I was
elected to do, and I‘m being punished for it.
You know, the old saying is that—as we all know, that all politics
is local. In this race, certainly in the Republican primary in Texas, and
I think we see it maybe in Massachusetts, potentially—we may see it in
Indiana—this year, all politics is national.
You know, I haven‘t heard this sentiment, Chris, since back in 1991 in
Pennsylvania, when Richard Thornburgh was challenged by...
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Yes. Right.
MATTHEWS: ... by Harris Wofford, where he‘s—that big thing, I know
the halls of power and all that Washington swagger, was a big—you know,
was a big negative for Thornburgh. But that took 12 -- 11 to 12 years for
the Republicans to get people that mad at them.
The Democrats got people that mad at them in, what, less—hardly a
year now. It‘s March of the second year.
CILLIZZA: You know, I think—I think you‘re right.
MATTHEWS: Why are they so mad now?
CILLIZZA: It‘s a much more abbreviated timetable.
I think it‘s in part at least because of the economic anxieties in the
country that exist. People feel as though the government is doing the
wrong things. They don‘t think the government is looking after them. That
said, I think that what you saw with Kay Bailey Hutchison is a fundamental
misunderstanding of the electorate.
While I do most people where you win if you run on your experience,
you don‘t win usually in campaigns when you have—you can‘t in one
sentence explain why you‘re running.
CILLIZZA: The only reason Kay Bailey Hutchison is running is because
she thinks it‘s her time.
Well, that‘s not a compelling message.
CILLIZZA: Rick Perry is saying: I‘m the conservative. You like me.
The economy is doing well. Why would we want to change? She‘s fine in
CILLIZZA: Kay Bailey Hutchison never found a smart way to frame the
race, outside of, he‘s been there too long.
And that‘s not a good argument.
And let‘s go back to Wayne. It seems that you made the point of all
politics ain‘t local right now. Tip O‘Neill doesn‘t have this one right,
my old boss, because look at these other patterns.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s look at the map of the country right now. Look at
some of these states coming up, where the tea partiers are challenging what
we used to consider unbeatable types.
Like—like, in Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell pushed Jim Bunning
out of that race to make room for Trey Grayson. Now Trey Grayson is under
attack from Rand Paul, the son of the ultimate tea partier, Ron Paul.
And then, out in Arizona, John—who would have thought John McCain
would have trouble getting renominated? He‘s going to have a real battle
on his hands beating J.D. Hayworth. And, down in Florida, Marco Rubio, who
is Pat Buchanan‘s favorite boy, he‘s already moving ahead of Charlie Crist
down there. And Charlie Crist may have to go out and run in the—as an
Wayne, it ain‘t just local in Texas.
SLATER: No, it‘s not. You see this everywhere, all over the country.
And the real measure will be who wins in the end. There are a bunch
of these incumbents in Texas who are being challenged from the right. But
if none of the incumbent loses, then the Tea Party isn‘t—didn‘t—
didn‘t really win.
If Hayworth loses to McCain, then the Tea Party activists talked and
squawked, but didn‘t actually deliver victory in the end. We will see.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but—if it‘s even close...
CILLIZZA: Chris, if you needed any evidence that the Tea Party
movement is having some effect in American politics, Nancy Pelosi on the
Sunday talk shows said that Democrats have a lot in common with the Tea
Party, too. So, everybody‘s trying to get a co-opt this group and get a
piece of it.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well said.
Thank you, Wayne Slater. Great reports. Wayne Slater, excellent
And thank you, Chris, as always.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next—Rod Blagojevich, God, this guy is unbelievable -
he has no superego—it‘s all id with this guy—has some advice for
the struggling governor of New York, David Paterson—that little apple
blossom next in the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
First up: Never mind the birth.
And J.D. Hayworth, who is running against John McCain, as I said, in
that Arizona Republican primary has for a while now been babying the
birther crowd. Right after the 2000 election, for example, Hayworth wrote
a letter to President Obama, president-elect Obama, saying, he should go
back to Hawaii and find his complete birth certificate.
Then, last summer, Hayworth said on his radio show that questions
continue about President Obama‘s citizenship. And, then, just a month ago
here on HARDBALL, Hayworth again said the president needs to come forward
with proof he was born in the U.S. of A.
Well, Hayworth has just had a change of position. Here he is on FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: I want you to tell the
American public how you view the birther movement. Is it legitimate?
J.D. HAYWORTH ®, ARIZONA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Look, Barack Obama‘s
the 44th president of the United States. His election is certified. I
believe he was born in Hawaii. I made certain statements on the air to—
to provoke conversation. That‘s what happens in broadcasting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, J.D. played to the birthers to provoke conversation?
He challenged the legitimacy of an American president for that reason? Is
that just food for thought?
Hey, look, if somebody questioned J.D. Hayworth‘s Americanism, I
wonder if he would view it as just provoking a little conversation out
there. “You know, J.D., it‘s just what‘s happening in broadcasting.”
Fat chance you would like it that way.
Anyway, next, live from New York, it‘s David Paterson. Here‘s
“Saturday Night Live”‘s take of the soon-to-be-ex-governor of New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Now, Governor, do you have any comment about “The
New York Times”‘ expose of your alleged unethical activity?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes. Congratulations, “New York Times.” You
snared the elusive David Paterson.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Finding something wrong with my administration is
like finding a needle in a needle store.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You found out I was a bad governor? Who tipped
you off? Everyone?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So, tell us, will you be supporting Andrew Cuomo
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I never figured out who‘s going to get the kiss
of death yet.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: But, if Andrew Cuomo wants Albany, he can take
it. Those upstate goblins are going to tear that guy apart and use his
blood for their cave paintings.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Andrew, if you‘re in Albany, I can recommend a
good place to go for dinner. It‘s called Manhattan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Just think. This time next year, we could have a Cuomo as
governor of New York and an Edmund G. Brown—that‘s Jerry in this case—
as governor of California—change you can believe in.
MATTHEWS: By the way, Rod Blagojevich, the impeached ex-governor of
Illinois, has his own words of wisdom for Governor Paterson. Here‘s what
he said on FOX Business channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK)
ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: My advice to Governor
Paterson—and I don‘t know the circumstances—if he didn‘t do anything
wrong, then you shouldn‘t quit. You should fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. B-Rod goes up on federal corruption charges this
June. Let‘s see how his advice looks then. To tell you the truth, I‘m not
sure how that trial‘s going to go.
Now for the “Number” tonight.
On ABC‘s “This Week,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked to rate her
performance this past year. Her own grade, self-grading here? An A for
I agree with her in part. She certainly gets an a for the inside
game. She‘s masterful as speaker, perhaps not for the outside game. Her
poll numbers are no match for her roll call numbers. Speaker Pelosi‘s A
for effect—tonight‘s tough “Big Number.”
Up next: Howard Dean once said health care reform without the public
option was worthless. So, would he support the president‘s plan now?
That‘s our question tonight. Governor Dean‘s coming to sit here right
after the break.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks ending higher today, led by techs, thanks to a blockbuster
report on chip sales—the Dow Jones industrials gaining 78.5 points, the
S&P 500 adding 11 points, and a big day for the Nasdaq, up 35 points.
January chip sales coming in around $22.5 billion worldwide. That‘s
up more than 47 percent from a year ago, driven by high demand for P.C.s,
cell phones, and automobiles. And flash memory maker SanDisk leading the
Nasdaq, after raising its forecast on the strong outlook for the industry.
A report on the manufacturing sector showing a slight slowdown in
February, but still indicating expansion overall, but construction spending
falling for the third straight month to its lowest levels since 2003.
And mixed signals from consumers in January. Personal spending rose
half-a-percent, even though incomes gained only 0.1 percent. Consumers
appear to be dipping into their savings to help sustain the economic
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Obama is expected to make an announcement—in fact, he
will—this Wednesday about the next steps on health care reform. He‘s
going to define further where he stands, what bill he wants passed by both
houses now, as it gets closer.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman and former Vermont
Governor Howard Dean—he‘s also a medical doctor—he‘s been outspoken
on behalf of health care reform generally. He‘s now a health care
consultant with the firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge, very Waspy, as well as
a consultant for the Democracy for America Group, and a contributor to
Well, now that that‘s behind—none of that stuff has anything to do
with what you‘re doing here, right?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Generally
MATTHEWS: Generally not, OK.
Let‘s talk about this. You are on the left. You‘re a progressive.
Are you one of the left people who will try to bring down the center of the
Democratic Party? I‘m looking at Blanche Lincoln. She‘s challenged
tomorrow morning by Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor of the state.
He‘s launching sort of a Democrat tea party movement against the
center. What do you make of that?
DEAN: There already is...
MATTHEWS: Are you—do you think it‘s fair game to knock off—do
you think Blanche Lincoln is fair game?
DEAN: I think anybody‘s fair game. You don‘t inherit this office.
MATTHEWS: No. A Democrat who represents a conservative district, a
conservative state, that voted for McCain, should she be entitled to vote
her state, or does she have to go if...
DEAN: She‘s entitled to vote however she wants. Look, politics is
nobody—nobody owns a seat here. Politics is a...
MATTHEWS: But is there something wrong with somebody representing
their conservative state?
DEAN: Of course not.
DEAN: But you have got to be expected that other people may have a
different point of view.
MATTHEWS: so, are you a tea partier of the left?
DEAN: There is a tea party movement on the left.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about it. Nobody talks about it. I‘m going to
start you to talk about it.
DEAN: Thirty seconds or less. We did talk about it last time. You
didn‘t like what I said in the—with the polling in Massachusetts. About
18 percent of all the people who elected Scott Brown were Obama voters.
Here‘s an interesting one. District 8 in Missouri...
MATTHEWS: I happened to check that out the other night. You‘re
right. Some district went 60 percent for Obama, then went 60 percent for
MATTHEWS: So, explain.
On the center-right, tea partiers, everybody knows about them. You
all cover them. On the center-left, they‘re demoralized. They‘re mad.
They don‘t think they got the change they asked for, so they stay home.
But there‘s a huge—I think this movement is more anti-incumbent
than it is anti-Democrat or Republican. The Democrats are terrified.
They‘re in power. They‘re going to have to make tough votes. The truth
is, there‘s a guy, a veteran named Tommy Sowers running in Missouri 8 right
now who is going to knock off, I think, Jo Ann Emerson.
Nobody knows it. It won‘t show yet. He‘s been in all 28 counties in
28 jobs. He goes up and says to somebody, I‘m a veteran running for
Congress. The guy is a Green Beret. He served in Iraq.
I‘m a veteran running for Congress. First thing out of the box, are
you the incumbent? No, sir. You have got my vote.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let‘s see if they actually vote that way,
DEAN: Well, we will see. We will see.
MATTHEWS: ... every time I have watched elections, since the time I
began to watch elections, when I was about 5 years old, one party wins, one
party loses. I keep waiting for this big anti-incumbent election. It‘s
either anti-Republican or anti-Democrat. And, this time, it looks like
DEAN: Yes, we‘re going to find out. I think it will be mixed.
MATTHEWS: Charlie cook was sitting there a few minutes ago, the
expert on it.
MATTHEWS: He thinks the Democrats have lost the House already.
They‘re out of here.
DEAN: It‘s—I think it‘s unlikely. But it‘s—well, who am I to
argue with Charlie?
MATTHEWS: What is unlikely?
DEAN: Losing the House altogether.
DEAN: I don‘t—hey, let me tell you why. If this bill passes, all
of a sudden, people will rally to it. The American people didn‘t want more
troops in Afghanistan. Once the president made up his mind and said this
is what we‘re going to do, now the majority supports it.
MATTHEWS: Well, by the way...
DEAN: Same thing is true with health care.
MATTHEWS: ... when it came to final passage of Social Security and
Medicare, the Republicans joined it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s talk about this.
Coming up in the next couple of days, the president of the United
States by Wednesday is going to come out and stake out his position.
Speaker Pelosi said they‘re going to going to for it. They‘re going to
pass the Senate bill. Then they‘re going to reconcile in both houses.
We know the path now the Democrats are going to take. They have
staked out their plan. They have got to do it in the next—probably the
next couple weeks, right?
MATTHEWS: Will they—will you help them?
DEAN: Well, I will help them by—by getting them to pass part of
this bill that will be enactable right after the president signs it.
This—you have got to have some piece of this bill that gives people
insurance between now and the election in 2010, not between now and 2013.
MATTHEWS: And what is that?
DEAN: Well, what a surprise, a public option that involves expanding
Medicare, so people above 55...
MATTHEWS: But that‘s not in the president‘s plan.
DEAN: It may be.
MATTHEWS: When, by Wednesday?
DEAN: And if it isn‘t, it should be.
MATTHEWS: And if it‘s not, what are you going to do?
DEAN: Well, I‘m going to support the bill. But I think it would be a
whole lot better if there was a public option.
MATTHEWS: Will you continue to talk public option after Wednesday if
DEAN: Absolutely. I‘m going to talk public option until we get one.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
Well, you publicly criticized the Senate bill in December. Let‘s
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO, DECEMBER 15, 2009)
DEAN: This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the
United States Senate. And, honestly, the best thing to do right now is
kill the Senate bill.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DECEMBER 15, 2009)
DEAN: You can‘t vote for a bill like this in good conscience. It
costs too much money. It isn‘t health care reform. It‘s not even
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here you are.
DEAN: The Senate bill hasn‘t gotten any better. But the House is
going to add to it. It‘s going to make it better. And I think that‘s a
MATTHEWS: How is the Senate bill going to be improved, so that it‘s
not a collapse of the Democratic Party on health care, like you just said
DEAN: Well, first of all, some...
MATTHEWS: What‘s—have you changed or has the bill changed?
DEAN: Well, the bill‘s going to change, because it‘s not—the House
won‘t vote for it unless it does. They made that pretty clear.
MATTHEWS: And what‘s going to happen, so the American people can
understand it right now?
DEAN: Well, first of all, a lot—hopefully, some of the ridiculous
deal-making will get out of there. Hopefully, some of the pro-insurance...
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s all gone. They are going to get rid of the
Cornhusker kickback. They are going to get rid of the Louisiana purchase.
They have got to get rid of all that stuff.
DEAN: Well, that‘s a good start.
MATTHEWS: Well, they have to.
DEAN: Sure they do. Of course they do.
MATTHEWS: Because it‘s been exposed as corrupt.
DEAN: They‘re also—they‘re also going to do more on expanding
public health choices for people like Medicare—I mean, Medicaid, and
maybe even Medicare. Why, wouldn‘t that be nice, to have real choices in
that bill for the American people?
MATTHEWS: So, what is your role now? Are you a booster of the
president in this effort, or are you a critic?
DEAN: Well, I‘m always a booster of the president, whether we agree
or we disagree.
Look, I think this bill...
MATTHEWS: You begin to sound like Ralph Nader outside the debate.
You can‘t get in the debate, and you‘re out banging on the door to get in
DEAN: I am in the debate.
MATTHEWS: How‘s it happen? Where‘s it going to happen? The president‘s
not for the public option. It‘s not in the bill in the Senate. It‘s not
in the House bill. The president‘s not going to put it in. The Speaker‘s
not going to put it in. Harry Reid‘s not going to put it in. Who‘s going
to do what you want done?
DEAN: I think there are a whole bunch of people in the House, a
whole bunch of progressives—
MATTHEWS: Yes, they‘re all positioning themselves.
DEAN: And there‘s also 30 senators that would like—
MATTHEWS: That‘s all called positioning. Are they going to have it
DEAN: We‘re going to find out.
DEAN: When the vote comes.
MATTHEWS: No, no, the bill is going to be defined, and it‘s going to
go to the floor as of like Wednesday or so. The president is going to say
what he stands for.
DEAN: Wait a minute, the president saying what he stands for and
having a bill on the floor are two very different things. The last time I
saw, it was OK to amend a bill on the floor.
MATTHEWS: You are going to go for a floor amendment?
DEAN: I don‘t have a vote. I‘m not going to go for anything.
MATTHEWS: I just don‘t see the reality of your position emerging
here. I don‘t know how you get from you sitting here saying there‘s going
to be a public option to there being one.
DEAN: Chris, 82 percent of the Democrats in the United States of
America thinks we ought to have a choice of a public option, 82 percent.
MATTHEWS: According to what?
DEAN: According to multiple polls that have been done of the
Democrats. Fifty nine percent of the American people think there ought to
be a public option, when you tell them what a public option is. So to say
how am I going to have anything to do with this debate, all I have to do is
stand up for what the majority of the American people want, again and again
and again. I‘m going to keep doing it.
And if we don‘t get it this time, we‘re going to come back in two
years and try to do it again. This issue is not going away, whether it
passes or it doesn‘t pass.
MATTHEWS: And do you believe that your lobbying for this public
option is helping this bill get passed or hurting it?
DEAN: I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: You have no idea?
DEAN: That‘s not my worry.
MATTHEWS: You‘re not worried that you might bring the bill down?
DEAN: I‘m not going to bring the bill down. What we want is a
really good bill, the best we can possibly have. If it means we have to
put pressure on Democrats to get it done, we‘ll do that.
MATTHEWS: You believe that this issue is still open?
DEAN: I believe it‘s open.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you for coming on. Thanks, governor. We know
where you stand. He‘s for the public option. That‘s Howard Dean.
Up next, 2,000 transportation federal workers are out of work today,
all thanks to Republican Senator Jim Bunning, who is blocking a bill—
he‘s basically threatening to filibuster—that would extend federal
highway and transit programs, as well as unemployment programs. But he
does have a point. We‘re going to hear it. When Republican pay for being
obstruction, will they pay? That‘s ahead in the politics fix. This is
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. Time for the politics fix with David Corn of
“Mother Jones” and PoliticsDaily.com, and “Time Magazine‘s” Jay Newton-
Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky is blocking a funding bill
that would extend, among other things, unemployment benefits, because he
says it would add 10 billion dollars to the national debt. Well,
Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood put out a statement that said, quote,
“I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to
important construction jobs around the country.”
Here‘s Bunning on the floor today. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM BUNNING ®, KENTUCKY: If we can‘t find 10 billion dollars
to pay for something that we all support, we will never pay for anything on
the floor of this US Senate. I have offered several ways to do this,
including trying to negotiate with the majority leader‘s staff. None have
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jay, what‘s the problem here? This guy, Jim Bunning, I
know him. I‘ve always rooted for him, a great Phillie pitcher and Hall of
Famer in both leagues. What is this guy trying to do, by trying to
filibuster, a one man filibuster?
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, “TIME MAGAZINE”: He‘s trying to underline that the
Democrats haven‘t paid for this 10 billion dollars—
MATTHEWS: They haven‘t. So they‘re borrowing from the Chinese,
NEWTON-SMALL: It‘s hypocritical in the sense that he voted for all
kinds of—he voted against pay-go, first of all, last week. But he also
voted for all kinds of unpaid things like the Bush tax cuts. So now he‘s
drawing a line arbitrarily, and where it really makes a difference, where
people are losing money. People are losing unemployment benefits, health
MATTHEWS: He‘s being very particular about what he finds offensive
in terms of deficit spending?
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”: The Democratic argument is this is an
emergency measure. These benefits run out and—
MATTHEWS: They‘re also immensely popular.
CORN: And they‘re very popular. There are 2,000 people, as Ray
Lahood said, who are losing their jobs at the Transportation Department.
And so it‘s 10 billion dollars in emergency funding.
And Jay‘s right. What he—Jim Bunning is being hypocritical,
because he voted for two Bush wars that were completely on the credit card.
So now he‘s drawing the line. He‘s saying it‘s principle. The other thing
is, too, he can make his argument but he‘s not giving them a chance to
MATTHEWS: Here‘s more of Bunning‘s argument. Let‘s all listen. I
have a theory that he has a point. The theory is, why put everything on
the credit card, even stuff that everybody on both sides of the—both
parties agree on. If it‘s something that the American people agree they
have to do, it‘s worthwhile, why do we have to keep borrowing from the
Chinese for it? At some point, we‘re going to have a problem here. Why
not either raise taxes or cut some other spending. If this is vital, take
away from something that‘s not vital. Here‘s Senator Bunning. Let‘s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUNNING: We cannot keep adding to the debt. It‘s over 14 trillion
dollars, and going up fast. If the budget that is before us passes, it
will add another 1.5 trillion dollars to the debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do we make of the guy‘s personal situation right now,
Jay? It‘s dangerous here a little bit. It‘s a tricky matter. But he‘s
been behaving in a way that‘s certainly outside the box. Apparently, he
gestured indecently to a bunch of reporters the other day. We can just
imagine what that is. I‘m not getting into it. But he did so. It was
today apparently. What do you make of that? In the Senate elevator or
NEWTON-SMALL: 78 Years old—this afternoon, to a bunch of
reporters where he flipped them the Bird. But he—look—
MATTHEWS: Have you seen that before on the Hill?
NEWTON-SMALL: Not from a senator, no.
MATTHEWS: All right.
NEWTON-SMALL: But look, he‘s 78 years old. He‘s really bitter about
being forced out. He really wanted to run for election.
MATTHEWS: Mitch McConnell pushed him out.
NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, Mitch McConnell pushed.
MATTHEWS: So he‘s taking it out on the press.
MATTHEWS: When in doubt, kick the dog, right? Is that what is going
NEWTON-SMALL: He hasn‘t spoken to us for months. I mean, every—
MATTHEWS: Were you there to witness this gesture?
NEWTON-SMALL: Gesture of good will?
CORN: He‘s been erratic for years.
MATTHEWS: When I‘ve been with him, he‘s not erratic. I‘ve talked to
him a lot of times.
CORN: Listen, he missed almost every vote in December 2009. In
January 2009, he disappeared for a week and wouldn‘t say where he was.
Last time he ran for senator, he wouldn‘t go for a live debate with his
opponent. Instead, he did it broadcast from a studio in Washington and
used a teleprompter. He has shown no interest—“Time” Magazine, one of
the five worst senators. So he‘s—even before he got into—
MATTHEWS: I‘ve bumped into a number of times at church, a party.
CORN: You‘ve got baseball.
MATTHEWS: I like him. I‘m sorry. Here is Vice President Biden in
Florida today. He took a shot at him. Here he is saying some nice things
about him. He was with Bill Nelson, the vice president. They were talking
about Recovery Act projects. That is called stimulus. Here is Vice
President Biden talking about Jim Bunning. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of Bill‘s
colleagues is standing on the floor of the United States Senate as we
speak. He‘s standing there and preventing the Senate from being able to
move forward on doing the kind of thing that we‘re doing here today.
What‘s that mean; 400,000 people will be kicked off the rolls this month if
he has his way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s a strange site. I guess that‘s a reconstruction
site. You think the camera guy would have zoomed in on the guy.
NEWTON-SMALL: It looks like he‘s speaking from Chile or something
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? The vice president taking this
guy—everybody agrees that he‘s the odd man out, and you‘re suggesting
he‘s a little bit off kilter here.
CORN: I‘m saying there‘s been long-term evidence of that. Listen,
where are the Senate Republicans? One or two kind of defended him. Most
are laying low, which is giving the Democrats a lot of running room,
because they can portray this as a Republican --
MATTHEWS: That‘s the big news. Are the Republican party as a party
are they—I get my verb agreement—is the Republican party in
trouble for blatantly looking obstructionist? And why don‘t they make them
play Jimmy Stewart and say—why doesn‘t Harry Reid say, OK, Jim Bunning,
you‘re out on the mound. You stay out there and you talk forever, because
the minute you stop talking, we‘re passing the bill. Why doesn‘t he do
that to the guy?
NEWTON-SMALL: Even in the 1964 no hitter that Jim Bunning pitched,
in the ninth inning, he felt bad for the catcher. This guy—was it Gus
Triandas (ph)? He like called him in to have a break. Said, come to the
mound, have a break. I feel really bad for you. For some reason, you
know, they are not forcing him to filibuster. It‘s something that Reid has
really shied away from.
MATTHEWS: Why doesn‘t the Congress make people play Jimmy Stewart,
make them do an all nighter, make them filibuster, so the American people
see them filibuster and say, get to work.
NEWTON-SMALL: It‘s a great question. They should.
MATTHEWS: There is too much collegiality after all this. Here is
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs taking a shot at him as well,
going after Senator Bunning here. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think what we‘re trying
to draw attention to is the fact that hundreds of thousands of—hundreds
of thousands of people who have lost their job and lost their health care
because of that, and their unemployment benefits—all of that is
threatened because—because one person has decided to stop the entire
It‘s hard to bargain with somebody if you say, I won‘t don‘t do that
because of this; and then you say, how about we vote on that, and you say,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There‘s something in my being that says when only one guy
takes a position, everybody disagrees with him, I want to hear what that
guy has to say. You say that is selling in Kentucky, his home state.
NEWTON-SMALL: I was in Kentucky this Weekend. I was following Rand
MATTHEWS: So “Time Magazine” still has a budget, huh? That‘s
NEWTON-SMALL: And I was talking to Trey Grayson (ph), who is the
secretary of state out in—
NEWTON-SMALL: They are both running. Both of them thought it was a
great move. Both of them thought, hey, you know, here we are, we‘re
finally talking about fiscal responsibility. We‘re finally talking about -
MATTHEWS: So maybe if one senator stands up against federal spending
that isn‘t supported by revenue or cuts somewhere else, and we‘re headed
towards a 20 trillion dollar debt, and we owe all of this money to
overseas, basically—maybe somebody, even if it‘s a conservative being
hypocritical—at least somebody is saying.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn. I know you don‘t like to say nice
things about Philly baseball players. I do. And Jay Newton-Small. Thank
you for reporting on that.
I‘ll wrap up the show with my own special commentary in a new segment
tonight we‘re calling Let Me Finish. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on
MATTHEWS: Let me finish with something that is new here on HARDBALL.
Well, not entirely new.
When I was in grad school at Chapel Hill, I used to head every
evening to the student union building to catch Walter Cronkite and Eric
Sevareid. This was in the autumn of 1967, and the air was alive with the
Vietnam War. Nobody seemed to care that the young of this country were
being sent off to war that was never going to end.
Then something happened. You could see it every night on the evening
news. A soft spoken poet of a senator from Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy,
announced that he would challenge Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire
Democratic primary. Every night, Cronkite would describe the political
events of the day, and Eric Sevareid would come on and give it real
He didn‘t, as I recall, come out against the war, though Cronkite
did. But you knew from his commentaries the importance he gave to
McCarthy‘s campaign. He conveyed the zest and excitement of it all, the
history that was taking place, day after day of that great effort up in the
stows of New Hampshire.
Well, Sevareid was under considerable constraint back then as a
commentator. William Paley (ph), who owned CBS, wanted there to be just
one opinion to matter that network, the guy who owned it. That explains
why Sevareid had to try and tell both sides of an argument, even if it made
him seem like, in the brilliant estimate of a bartender friend of mine,
At MSNBC, we have more latitude to express a view. I intend to use
it this time each night to inform, to illuminate, and, yes, to insight some
reaction. I know from the years of hearing from people who watch me, they
do it to agree and to disagree with me. And I‘ve never seen anybody who
watches this show quietly.
Let me finish tonight by saying my hope is simple: to give you
something to think about and perhaps to react to.
Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more
HARDBALL. Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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