updated 3/26/2010 11:17:23 AM ET 2010-03-26T15:17:23

Guest: Rep. Bart Stupak, Rep. Tom Perriello, Rep. John Shadegg,: Joe Klein, Steve Kornacki, Chris Cillizza

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The agony and the ecstasy.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight,

the thrill of victory, the anger of defeat—that‘s right, the agony or

the anger and the ecstasy.  The Senate completed final action today on the

measure reconciling the health care bill passed by 60 senators back in

December and passed by the House on Sunday.  Meanwhile, the threats of

violence against Democrats have become the hottest political story in the


Democratic members of Congress have had their office windows broken. 

They‘ve gotten a lot of death threats.  U.S. Congressman Russ Carnahan of

Missouri had an empty coffin placed on his lawn.  Bart Stupak of Michigan

had this message sent to him and has received gross voicemails that we will

play during the show.

House Republican leader John Boehner condemned the attacks, but Eric

Cantor of Virginia is out there saying the Democrats are using the attacks

on them to make a point.  And Glenn Beck is saying that the Democrats are

trying to get themselves shot at.  We‘ve got two Democrats who‘ve come

under attack right at the top of the show.

How responsible are Republicans for stoking the anger and giving

protesters license to act out?  Today House Minority Leader (SIC) Eric

Cantor said no one condones the violence, but then he said Democrats are

trying to use the incidents to make the Republicans look bad.  And as I

said, Glenn Beck has said that Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders

are trying to get protesters to, quote, “kill them.”

Also, ditch all those comparisons of Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter. 

“Time” magazine columnist Joe Klein, who‘s coming on tonight, says that in

passing health care reform, President Obama has accomplished something huge

and has changed the landscape of American politics.  Joe Klein, as I said,

joins us later on HARDBALL.

Plus, the purge.  The right-wing warpath is now besieging Senator Bob

Bennett of Utah, who thanks to Tuesday night‘s party caucuses, might not

even be renominated.  Bennett is under assault for having sided with some

Democrats for a form of health care reform that requires people to buy

insurance, also for breaking his pledge to serve only two terms.  He‘s

going for his fourth.

I‘ll finish tonight with some thoughts about how the Democrats found a

way to get health care reform done.  And it‘s going to get done tonight,


We start with the threats of violence against Democrats.  Two of them

are here on the program tonight, U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan

and Tom Perriello of Virginia.

I want to start with Congressman Stupak.  What‘s going on out there? 

Here‘s a message, by the way, (INAUDIBLE) lighten up the show.  It‘s a

recording of a message left for you, Congressman.  Let‘s listen to it. 

We‘ve got some bleeps in there to clean it up a bit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, Congressman Stupak, you baby-killing

(EXPLETIVE DELETED), you turncoat son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I hope you

bleed out your (EXPLETIVE DELETED), got cancer and die, you (EXPLETIVE

DELETED).  You do not—you do not say that you‘re pro-life and then for a

few bucks, you know, do turncoat and hurt the country, you (EXPLETIVE


(EXPLETIVE DELETED).  I hope you die!


MATTHEWS:  Well, the good news, Congressman Stupak, is, is that I

don‘t think that was said in a Michigan accent.  At least, that‘s good

news.  It sounds like a guy further south from you a bit.  But your

thoughts on getting that hateful kind of call in your e-mail.

REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN:  That‘s one of the nicer ones, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Not e-mail but voicemail.

STUPAK:  Yes, that‘s one of the nicer ones.  You know, it‘s—that‘s

how far this whole debate has degraded to.  It‘s sad.  We should be talking

about health care and the positive aspects in there that helps out all

Americans.  Thirty-two million Americans will have access to quality,

affordable health care.  That‘s what we should be talking about.

MATTHEWS:  Well, if you think that guy‘s a jerk, here‘s Glenn Beck

today with his thoughts on the subject.  I think we have a bit of his tape

today, or at least some—some quote from his show.


GLENN BECK, HOST, “GLENN BECK”:  I can guarantee you they walked out

and said, What the hell do you have to do to these people to get them to

kill us?


MATTHEWS:  That‘s him speaking of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic

leaders, Congressman, saying that they‘ve consciously tried to figure out a

way to get the protesters from the right wing, the tea party people and the

others against you, to kill them.  He says that Pelosi wanted people to

shoot at them.

STUPAK:  That‘s—that‘s insane.  I mean, no one is suggesting that

anyone shoot at anyone, especially the Speaker.  It seems to me it was

Republicans that were on the Speaker‘s balcony, second floor, with the sign

that had the big photo of the Speaker, showing it to the crowd, and they

would go across her throat.  I think Mr. Beck has it backwards.  But that

wouldn‘t be the first time.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Perriello, you‘re from southern Virginia.  You

have been written about a lot in this regard.  I‘m impressed by your

constituent service, the way you‘ve gone down and dealt with people and

explained, for example, what the jobs bill has done for them in (INAUDIBLE)

down there.  You‘ve tried to be a smart politician and a good congressman. 

And how‘s it going for you?  I‘ve heard there‘s a weird case involving your

brother, apparently.

REP. TOM PERRIELLO (D), VIRGINIA:  There is an unfortunate case where

some bloggers posted my brother‘s address as being mine.  And someone went

on his property and cut a propane line to the tank.  And it‘s being

investigated, and I feel like law enforcement is just doing a tremendous


But this should be a no-brainer.  This should be very, very simple to

simply say, in this country, the most American thing is that we settle our

problems at the ballot box.  And I‘ll tell you, the Republican governor of

my state, the Republican attorney general, they didn‘t hesitate.  They

didn‘t run a focus group or a poll.  They simply said, This is wrong.  This

is way over the line.

But for two or three days, we tried to get the Republican leaders in

Washington to understand the same seriousness.  There are colleagues of

mine, I‘ve listened to the tapes, where their children are being threatened

I will kill your children if you don‘t vote this way.  You don‘t need to

run a focus group on that.  The very conservative attorney general of my

state, who thinks the bill is unconstitutional, still said even the posting

of the address was way over the line.  Certainly, anytime, this is a no-


MATTHEWS:  What do you think of Eric Cantor‘s behavior?  What do you

think of—well, let‘s listen to Eric Cantor, the House Republican whip

here.  Here he is.  He‘s from Virginia, from Richmond.  Here‘s what he has

to say.  I think he‘s—well, he‘s got a couple of points he‘s making. 

Let‘s listen to them.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY WHIP:  It is reckless to use these

incidents as media vehicles for political gain!  That is why I have deep

concerns that some—DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC chairman Tim

Kaine, in particular—are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting

that these incidents be used as a political weapon.


MATTHEWS:  Well, I have to tell you, I don‘t know how you fan the

flames when you—when you say you don‘t like something.  And by the way,

Congressman Stupak, I‘ve got to ask you a question.  I know this is

rhetorical.  But you know, when Bush got his way on a number of issues—

forget the war.  The parties agreed on that for a while there.  He got a

huge tax cut for the wealthy.  I didn‘t see the Democrats burning down the

barns and sending hate mail, and you know, throwing rocks through windows. 

They lost a big fight on fiscal issues.  They got the wrong end of the

stick, you might argue.  They still get it in the sense of tax policy.  But

they didn‘t go doing this stuff.  They took it on the chin.

STUPAK:  You‘re right.  I mean, I‘ve been here for 18 years, and I‘ve

never seen it to this degree, this much hatred being spilled out and fanned

throughout the country.  It‘s—it‘s—as Tom said, it‘s really gone over

the line.  We‘ve got to clamp down on it.

And if Eric Cantor is right about the DNC and DCCC—well, when Randy

Neugebauer made his comments to me when I was speaking on the floor, the

“baby killer” comment—so what did he do?  Next day, he has got a Web

site up to raise money off the comments he made.  I mean, it‘s almost like

this is it now.  You shout down somebody on the floor, whether it‘s the

president or myself during a heated debate, and then you turn around and do

an ad to raise money off it.  I mean—it‘s—it seems like unethical


MATTHEWS:  You‘re being nice.  Let me go to Congressman Perriello.  It

seems to me that there‘s some ethnic piece to this.  Let‘s be blunt about

it.  Neugebauer is out there selling the birther stuff, the crap, if you

will, that the president wasn‘t born here.  This is of a piece, the “baby

killer” line, this over-the-top attack on the president as a person, as a

person who‘s not really one of us, and then using this kind of “baby

killer” talk against your colleague.

This isn‘t—you know, it seems like the right wing likes everything

about democracy except elections and majority votes and government action. 

They seem to go for the theory, at least, the nice—well, I don‘t know

what it is about the democracy they do like.  They don‘t seem to like its

results.  Your thoughts?

PERRIELLO:  Well, you know, there‘s certainly a long history of

“othering,” and race is a big part of that in our country.  But keep in

mind there are a lot of good, decent people out there who are against

health care reform.  I happen to think it‘s a great thing for America, a

great thing for small business.  There are a lot of good people who


We had 21 town hall meetings, over an hour.  We have five different

tea party groups in my district.  We‘ve met together.  We‘ve disagreed,

occasionally agreed.  And for the majority of people, they understand

that‘s the way that democracy works.  And if you disagree, you go to the

ballot box and you try to win.

So for the Republican Party, or for certain leaders, to be trying to

say it‘s anything other than that seems disrespectful to those who have

done this the right way and played by the rules.  So we don‘t want to paint

everyone with one brush.

It just seems to me again like for the Becks and the Boehners, this

should be an easy one.  Simply come out and say violence and threats of

violence against elected officials, trying to influence a vote through

threat of violence on someone‘s children—it‘s clearly wrong.  And leave

it there, no political tip-toeing around it.  It‘s just wrong.  And then we

can move on to what the benefit, the pros and cons of health care are.  It

just seems like a no-brainer.

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Stupak, I want to give you one bit of information I‘ve

come across.  That is, I know you‘re pro-life, but among the pro-choice

community in this country, most people who are pro-choice and believe the

ultimate decision doesn‘t lie with the government or the law, it lies with

the individual—among that group of people, the plurality are against

federal funding.

So the organizations that have come out against you and are putting in

primary opponents against you are off base when it comes to most pro-choice

people.  Pro-choice people are against funding!  They want the government

to stay out of abortion.  They don‘t want it subsidizing it, getting

involved in it, insuring for it or anything.  Stay away from it.  Let the

individual person make the decision.  Your thoughts?

STUPAK:  I would agree with you.  I would agree with you.  The Supreme

Court said, though, we have to make a decision, and our decision in the

federal government for the last 30-some years is we don‘t fund it.  We

haven‘t moved to restrict abortion rights.  We cannot pass that

legislation.  But what we‘re really saying—and what most pro-life, pro-

choice members agree with—is don‘t ask us to pay for abortion that we

find objectionable.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much.  Good luck with your campaign,


STUPAK:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Mr.—and good luck against the violent types -

Bart Stupak and Congressman Tom Perriello.

Coming up: Do the Republicans need to do more to condemn the violence

and threatening behavior?  They‘re—well, Glenn Beck‘s out there saying

the Democrats want to be shot at.  You know, I never know what he‘s going

to say next.  We‘re going to ask a Republican member of Congress, Arizona‘s

John Shadegg, what he thinks of -- (INAUDIBLE) intellectual Republican. 

Let‘s see what he thinks of the violent right-wingers, what he thinks of

the ugly stuff.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.



REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP:  I will say this to my

Republican friends.  If you play with fire, you‘re bound to get burned. 

And I do believe if they don‘t tamp this down, they‘re going to feel the

heat for it.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That was House Democratic whip

James Clyburn warning Republicans about the same kind of extreme actions

we‘ve been hearing about lately.  Has the anger over the health care bill

led to violence?   well, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson

has some thoughts on that.  Thank you.  You‘re an MSNBC contributor,


You know, this is sort of a zeitgeist thing.  Did you notice?  We just

got the bad news that Eric Cantor, who I was being tough on—he had his

headquarters shot at when somebody shot a bullet in a window there.  This

is—it creates a crazy attitude.


you elevate the rhetoric or you—you kind of rev it up, using these

violent metaphors—Don‘t retreat, reload, that sort of thing.

MATTHEWS:  “Baby killer.”

ROBINSON:  “Baby killer,” “You lie,” in a joint session of Congress,

it all has an impact, I think, and it kind of grants permission...

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s watch those scenes because people need to be

reminded of the official sort of part of this thing, elected officeholders

getting into this tough talk that does lead to worse.  Here it is, two

times that the House members yelled out.  Let‘s listen.



who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants.  This,

too, is false.  The reforms—the reforms I‘m proposing would not apply to

those who are here illegally.


OBAMA:  Not true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Those who are shouting out are out of order.



MATTHEWS:  You know, Neugebauer...


MATTHEWS:  ... is the guy that yelled “Baby killer.”


MATTHEWS:  He‘s one of the leaders of the birthers...


MATTHEWS:  ... the guys that don‘t believe that President Obama is an

American.  You‘ve got to wonder what gives these guys the permission.

ROBINSON:  How much you‘ve got to wonder, Chris...


ROBINSON:  Are you wondering, really?  I‘m not wondering.

MATTHEWS:  Joe Wilson of South Carolina—these guys feel they can

get away with that at home.  This is instinctive bad behavior...


MATTHEWS:  ... by those who think...


MATTHEWS:  ... they can get away with it politically.


MATTHEWS:  These aren‘t profiles in courage, these guys.

ROBINSON:  No, they—no, they aren‘t.  If they didn‘t think they

could get away with it, they wouldn‘t do it.  But they do it.  It plays to

an element at home that will probably give them votes.  But of course, the

dangerous thing is there are whackos...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s bring on a guy...


MATTHEWS:  ... who‘s not a whacko...

ROBINSON:  ... who believe in all this stuff, who...

PERRIELLO:  Let‘s bring in John Shadegg of Arizona.


ROBINSON:  ... heavily armed.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Shadegg, your fellow members, Neugebauer and

his “Baby killer,” line thrown out there, Joe Wilson and his line, “You

lie”—I‘ll admit, Eric Cantor got a shot at his headquarters the other—

this zeitgeist out there, this atmosphere of throwing bricks through

windows, this sort of scary stuff that‘s going on—and the weekend‘s

coming and booze is now going to be added to it Friday and Saturday night. 

I know what happens in this country.  If you‘re going into a weekend with

craziness in the air, it ain‘t going to settle down at Friday night at

9:00.  Your thoughts?

REP. JOHN SHADEGG ®, ARIZONA:  I actually think it is going to

settle down Friday night at 9:00.  I think it‘s going to settle down the

minute Congress leaves town.

I think the reality is that this goes on in politics, Chris.  My first

job in politics was working for the governor of Arizona taking phone calls,

and I always got the phone calls from the crazies.

The answer is we need to move away from this kind of rhetoric.  This

was a huge piece of legislation.  It was intensely debated for almost a

year.  Intemperate comments were made on both sides.  And it‘s not

surprising that perhaps more were made on the minority because the minority

felt very shut out.


SHADEGG:  And I can make the case that they were shut out.  There‘s no

excuse for this.  But as a prosecutor, I don‘t think you‘re going to see

this go on.  I don‘t think you‘re going to see it escalate.  I think people

have had their moment.  I think that, quite frankly, there‘s the focus of

the press on it and everybody saying this is a bad idea, and people, quite

frankly, being disgusted at anybody who isn‘t saying that this is

unacceptable I think is going to cause this to dissipate.  The American

people are interested in getting on with their lives, and I think they‘re

going to get on with their lives.

MATTHEWS:  What about your colleagues waving the Gadsden flag, the

“Don‘t tread on me” flag back of the republic back in the early days of our

country, over the side of the House wall there at the protesters, waving

the flag, and then apparently doing the “cut your throat” line, mentioning

Nancy Pelosi?

What do you make of that kind of behavior by your elected colleagues? 

SHADEGG:  Well, I—I—the flag they flew...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m looking at it now.

SHADEGG:  OK.  The flag they flew, I understand, was the “Don‘t tread

on me” flag?  Is that the flag you‘re talking about?

MATTHEWS:  The Gadsden flag from South Carolina, yes, from the—from

the early days of our country, sure. 

I love that flag.  But it used at our enemies overseas.  We used it at

the London people running our country when we fought for independence.  It

was never used against our own country before.  That‘s the difference,


SHADEGG:  Oh, I agree.


SHADEGG:  I don‘t think anybody was advocating that it be used against

our own country.  I think what they were talking about is that there was a

sentiment in the crowd—and, if you were here, there was 250, 350, maybe

5,000 people, I don‘t know, 1,000 people, outside that side of the Capitol,

off of what‘s called the beach. 

And members were standing out there.  I don‘t think they were trying

to incite the crowd.  I think they were saying, yes, some of us agree with

you.  This is an intense debate.  People on both sides feel very strongly. 


SHADEGG:  It‘s the part of the debate that you happen to like.  It‘s

the part of the debate where we don‘t just degree on the little stuff that

we do on a bipartisan fashion.  It‘s where we articulate our arguments. 

And I think it‘s worth noting, Chris, that never before...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, the part I like the argument.  But let me just

try this by you.


MATTHEWS:  Here‘s something I don‘t like. 

SHADEGG:  Let‘s talk about the policy.

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Glenn Beck.  Here‘s Glenn Beck today on his radio

show saying that the speaker of the House and other Democratic leaders

walked out of the Capitol on Sunday in a way aimed at encouraging people to

kill them, to kill them. 

Here‘s Glenn Beck today on the radio saying this.  You say the

Democrats are inciting.  Look at this.  Listen to this. 


GLENN BECK, HOST, “GLENN BECK”:  I can guarantee you, they walked out

and said, what the hell do you have to do to these people to get them to

kill us?


MATTHEWS: “To get them to kill us.”  What do you make of Glenn Beck? 

SHADEGG:  No excuse for that kind of rhetoric.  There‘s no excuse for

that kind of rhetoric.  I told you I began my life as a prosecutor.  That

kind of rhetoric is not good for the nation, not good for the dialogue. 

But that does not mean that we ought to be focusing people on the out-

of-the-bounds, the over-the-top rhetoric.  What we ought to be focusing on

is, where do we go from here?  The reality is, some of us believe this

legislation won‘t solve the problem.  And we want to go in and work on, OK,

how do we fix the things that need to be fixed?

And, quite frankly, the American people understand that this was not

the final bill.  Republican ideas on how to fix health care didn‘t

disappear when this bill passed.  Life goes on.  Reform goes on.  And this

is a country in which the people, including the minority, have remedies. 

They have the election, and they have all kinds of remedies other than



SHADEGG:  And we ought to be talking about the fact that they have

remedies other than violence. 


Gene Robinson is with me from “The Washington Post.” 


MATTHEWS:  Go ask Congressman...

ROBINSON:  Well, Congressman, I was there on Sunday.  And the

Republican members who came out on the balcony did whip up the crowd. 

And my question to you is, as a prosecutor...

SHADEGG:  Well, of course they whipped up the crowd, but they weren‘t

urging the crowd to violence.  I mean, come on. 


ROBINSON:  But here‘s my question to you.


ROBINSON:  Congressman, here‘s my question.

SHADEGG:  Well, wait.  Wait.  I walked across the street on the

opposite side where the pro-legislation people were chanting, and they were

whipping up the crowd as well. 

That‘s a part of what happens in this kind of discourse in America. 

Just holding up the flag is not saying, go throw a brick through a window

or shoot through a window, for God‘s sake. 


ROBINSON:  No.  No, it‘s not. 


ROBINSON:  But here‘s my question. 


ROBINSON:  Let‘s assume that 99.9 percent of those—of the people in

that crowd or in the Tea Party movement are—are absolutely law-abiding,

sensible people who make their policy argument and then go home. 

SHADEGG:  Right. 

ROBINSON:  It‘s crazy people who do crazy things.  And you look out

there.  When you use the specific rhetoric and the specific symbols that

are—that have been adopted by the crazy wing, by the people, you know,

who are sitting at home waiting for the black helicopters to swoop down and

confiscate their weapons, and you are giving those people permission to

have that fantasy and to act out that fantasy, are you not?

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What do you make of Neugebauer‘s comment, “baby

killer”?  What do you make of Joe Wilson‘s comment, “You lie?”—both

delivered on the floor of the House?  What do you think of them? 

SHADEGG:  I think both are inappropriate.  I think both are out of


And I think the exploitation of those comments by both sides since

then is inappropriate.  Look, you know as well as I do that there are

people out there fund-raising right now on the violence that‘s already

occurred, people on the left using that for a fund-raising device...

MATTHEWS:  I know.

SHADEGG:  ... people on the right using it for a fund-raising device. 

My point is, we should condemn that.  And you and I, as people talking

to that audience of American people, which may include some crazies, ought

to be reminding them that that is not what this society is about, that, in

point of fact, they have the ballot.  They have the right to peaceably

assembly—peaceably assemble—and they have the right to get involved

in the process.


SHADEGG:  And I don‘t think—I don‘t think that because they choose

to wave a particular flag, that means that people who share their views

shouldn‘t wave that flag because there‘s some nutcase in the audience? 

You know, I can‘t control what nutcases are in the audience are on the

right, the left can‘t control what nutcases are in the audience on the


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s hope you‘re right.  Let‘s hope you‘re right. 


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s hope you‘re right.  But just remember, you and I

growing up in this country, we knew that a very terrible incident in this

country occurred a couple of days after a U.N. ambassador—our U.N. 

ambassador, Adlai Stevenson, was spat upon in Texas.

These things sometimes escalates from words to actions, and where the

passions create a kind of a Zeitgeist, where a left-winger kills our

president in a right-wing atmosphere.  I mean, you never know what nut is

going to come out of the closet when the atmosphere reaches a certain

pressure point.  It does happen.  I hope it doesn‘t happen this time. 

Of course we hope it doesn‘t happen.  We all do.

SHADEGG:  The atmosphere—the atmosphere is—it is bad.  I

couldn‘t agree more that the atmosphere is bad. 


SHADEGG:  But I think what we ought to be doing, as public officials,

and you, as a communicator and commentator, ought to be saying, look,

there‘s no place for this on the left or the right, not whipping it up on

the left or whipping it up on the right, and pointing out that this is a

great nation, because we don‘t have to turn to violence.


SHADEGG:  We have the right to petition to our government on a

peaceful means, and that we have the right to and the obligation to engage

in dialogue and to talk about how we fix the system. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, maybe—maybe the right wing should take this one on

the chin, the way the liberals did when Bush did his tax cut back in the

early part of this century.  They just took it on the chin, no rallies, no

violence, no stone-throwing, no bullets, no nothing. 


MATTHEWS:  They say, OK, Bush won.  We lost. 

SHADEGG:  But come on, Chris.  You don‘t know that this is all right-

wing.  I mean, come on.  You know that it‘s not necessarily all right-wing.

MATTHEWS:  No, not—I don‘t think a right-winger shot a bullet

through the headquarters of Eric Cantor‘s office down in Richmond.  I do


SHADEGG:  And, actually, you do not know...

MATTHEWS:  I said myself the violence could be coming because of the

Zeitgeist, the atmospherics that can—can splatter all over the place. 


MATTHEWS:  Congressman Shadegg...

SHADEGG:  Maybe it‘s the prosecutor in me, but I don‘t think you know

where any of this violence came from. 

MATTHEWS:  ... you know, as Bill Clinton would say—as Bill Clinton

would say..

SHADEGG:  Until you do an investigation and find out who committed

what acts of violence...


SHADEGG:  ... nobody knows.


MATTHEWS:  OK.  As Bill Clinton would say in a different circumstance,

nice tie. 

SHADEGG:  Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  I will explain later. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, U.S. Congressman John Shadegg of


SHADEGG:  My pleasure.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Gene Robinson from “The Washington Post.” 

ROBINSON:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turns 70 tomorrow, 

believe it or not.  Isn‘t that amazing?  What does that mean for her?  What

is she going to get for her birthday?  That‘s fascinating.  Wait until you

hear what she wants for her birthday.  This is something.  It‘s coming on

the “Sideshow.”

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 

First, in the run-up to the final action on the health care bill

tonight, the boys of nighttime had their last licks. 



lot of right-wingers are very upset.  They are very upset about this,

because they believe this health care bill will cost a lot of money. 

You know what I say?  Just pretend it‘s another unnecessary war.  You

will feel better about it already. 





two reasons I‘m unhappy about it.  One, I love paying huge money for health

care.  I love it. 


LETTERMAN:  And the other thing is, I used to love driving to Canada

to buy cheap drugs.  I love that, too. 



LETTERMAN:  I‘m steamed.



JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”:  McCain also said that there

will be no cooperation from Republicans for the rest of the year.  So, that

should be good for the country. 


KIMMEL:  Boy, what a shame to see all of that cooperating end, you



KIMMEL:  This is like the coyote announcing he‘s no longer cooperating

with the Road Runner. 




LENO:  Sarah Palin spoke out this week against the health care reform

bill, saying, elections have consequences. 

Well, of course, elections have consequences.  That‘s why, right now,

instead of being vice president of the United States, she‘s trying to get a

reality show on the Animal Planet. 



LENO:  All right?  Because they have consequences. 



MATTHEWS:  Honestly, how would you feel?  Would you feel better

knowing that she, Sarah Palin, was a McCain heartbeat away from the

presidency right now?  Knowing what John McCain knows right now, would he

feel all that great?  Hmm.  Think about that one tonight. 

Next: turning the lemon—or turning a lemon into lemonade?  Joe

Biden can‘t let go of a good thing.  You know that bad word he dropped in

the president‘s ear during the health care signing ceremony about what a

big ‘bleep‘ deal it all was?

Well, here‘s what the veep‘s take on what the president thought of his

choice of words.  Since it was a fund-raiser, you know, no cameras, we have

only got the audio.  Here it is, Joe Biden on President Obama. 



in, and he said, you know what the best thing about yesterday was?  And he

said, what everybody thought he was going to say, “Joe‘s comment.”



BIDEN:  Within 20 minutes after them picking that up, there was a T-

shirt company already (INAUDIBLE).  And he said, “Joe, I was going to wear

it, but I couldn‘t get it in time.”


BIDEN:  I said, “If you thought it was so good, why didn‘t you say




MATTHEWS:  Well, why didn‘t you say it?  Because, as you would say,

Joe, he‘s the F-ing president. 



MATTHEWS:  ... what does the speaker who just got everything want for

her birthday?  Well, Nancy Pelosi, who turns 70 tomorrow, believe it or

not, gave reporters a cue to this at the briefing today. 



for my birthday? 


PELOSI:  I think it‘s going to be a stove or a kitchen, I‘m just

thinking.  And that‘s good.  I want a pool table. 


PELOSI:  I have always wanted a pool table.  I want a pool table.  We

will see how I do. 


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  That‘s all her critics need, Nancy Pelosi, the pool


Up next: “TIME” magazine‘s Joe Klein on why health care reform

fundamentally changes the Obama presidency.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 



“Market Wrap.”

Stocks pulling back late in the day to end mostly lower.  The Dow

industrials added five points.  The S&P 500, it fell two.  And the Nasdaq

was off more than one big point. 

Stocks started falling as the dollar surged on comments from the

Federal Reserve chief, Ben Bernanke, and the president of the European

Central Bank—Bernanke pledging to keep interest rates low here in the

U.S., even as the Fed phases out a program to buy mortgage-backed


And the European Central Bank president, Jean-Claude Trichet, blasting

the IMF‘s involvement in a possible bailout for Greece.  He says Euro Zone

governments should be allowed to keep their own house in order without

involving the IMF.

In stocks, Best Buy shares on fire today, after smashing fourth-

quarter earnings expectations.

And banks performing well, as the dollar strengthens.  Citigroup

surged nearly 3 percent, Bank of America, American Express both climbing

about 1 percent. 

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

back to HARDBALL. 



historic step to enshrine the principle that everybody gets health care

coverage in this country...


OBAMA:  ... every single person. 



MATTHEWS:  Well that was President Obama out in Iowa today basking,

you might say, in his health care victory. 

Just how does—how huge of a victory is it?  And how does it affect

his presidency and American politics overall?  How much momentum is there

in this for him?  What‘s it‘s going to be like on Wall Street on this one?

Columnist Joe Klein, a smart guy from “TIME” magazine, has just

written about it.  And he says it recasts the whole Obama presidency,

because he didn‘t back down.  And Lynn Sweet, another brilliant person in

this world, she‘s Washington bureau chief for “The Chicago Sun-Times.” 

I want you to start, Joe.  You‘re hot off the press now with “TIME”

this week, and your thoughts.  I think you used a word, or you would have,

from the Donald Trump vocabulary: huge, huge. 


MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KLEIN:  Well, it is huge.

I mean, you know, we have been—we have been fighting over this one

since Teddy Roosevelt.  You know, Democrats have been trying to get this

done ever since Franklin Roosevelt.  It got done. 

And, you know, it‘s not going to be repealed.  And I think that that

changes the image of the president as someone who—you know, there was a

lot of talk about him being not—not being tough enough, not only in

Washington, but around the world. 

And he toughed this one out and he won.  And I think it‘s going to

give him some momentum.  Already today, on the next big issue, financial

reform, you see the Republicans kind of buckling, Senator Corker from

Tennessee criticizing the Banking Committee chair, Richard Shelby, for not


That I don‘t think would have been happening today if Obama hadn‘t won

on health care. 

MATTHEWS:  What about overseas?  Does this affect—I would just

imagine when he was meeting with the prime minister of Israel at midnight

the other night, alone there, without cameras, or even a picture taken

beforehand, it sure beat being there after losing, had he lost health care,

to be sitting there with a tough opponent like that. 

KLEIN:  Well, you know, this has been a very good week for him

overseas as well.  You know, a deal with the Russians on nuclear arms

reduction, a big deal.  And also the Russians and Chinese went to Iran, got

nowhere with the Iranians, and they‘re now going to be on board with

sanctions against Iran. 

MATTHEWS:  That is big news. 

KLEIN:  The thing is that diplomacy takes time.  Big legislation, like

health care, takes time.  Tax cuts don‘t take any time.  And going to war

doesn‘t take very much time.  The stuff that he‘s done is all been deferred

gratification.  And now the gratification is coming in. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re so smart.  Here‘s what the president—before Lynn

comes in, here‘s what the president himself said about the Republican

strategy.  They‘re out there saying repeal, repeal.  Well, a repeal would

require a president to sign a repeal, or else a two thirds plus one vote in

both houses.  What they‘re talking about is just technically not accurate. 

Let‘s listen to the president on that point. 


OBAMA:  They‘re actually going to run on a platform of repeal in

November.  You‘ve been hearing that.  And my attitude is go for it.  I

don‘t believe that the American people are going to put the insurance

industry back in the driver‘s seat.  We‘ve already been there.  We‘re not

going back.  This country is moving forward. 


MATTHEWS:  Lynn, what do you think of that battle cry? 

SWEET:  He wants that fight.  If you want to run against this bill, he

is waiting for it.  One of the reasons he can say it with such confidence

is so much of the immediate benefits are front-loaded, of the things that

individuals might get, coverage for preexisting conditions, having your

kids covered, and being able to have—force insurance companies to pay

your coverage when you‘re sick.  Those things kick in pretty fast.  It‘s

going to be hard to to argue, or harder to argue against it. 

MATTHEWS:  And the Republicans know that.  They know they have a short

window to try to repeal.  In other words, they have to get a president

elected, basically, and a majority of Congress, at least, to vote a new


SWEET:  Right, so if somebody—I know already that‘s the cry.  But

Chris, it‘s a lot to say what you‘re against, when some people will be

getting something right away.  And the individual mandate, which is a

contentious issue, well, that doesn‘t kick in right away.  So some of the

benefits up front are things that will really be able to give the Democrats

something to talk about. 

MATTHEWS:  Joe and Lynn, I‘m going to have some comments on this at

the end of the show.  But I do think a lot of this is a result of the fact

that Ted Kennedy‘s seat went to a Republican.  That guy in the truck

probably did more for the Democratic party than any Democrat I can think

of.  He scared the Bejesus out of them.  They got ready for show time. 

They woke up.

KLEIN:  Also, it caused a fair amount of hubris on the Republican

side.  They became over-confident.  The insurance companies became over-

confident and started raising premium rates by 40 percent. 

The amazing thing to me right now is how the Republicans are reacting. 

They‘re kind of doubling down on it.  They‘re drinking their own Kool-Aid. 

It‘s getting pretty close to Jonestown, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re living in a world of overstatement here, Joe. 

KLEIN:  No, really.  Chris, it‘s really sad.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re accusing the Republicans of being Jonestown.

KLEIN:  They‘re committing suicide.  And it‘s really sad, because they

have things that they could really add to this health care bill.  We really

now have to concentrate on costs.  Medicaid is going to explode in this


SWEET:  Let me make a quick political point here, Joe and Chris.  What

this roll call did was, I think, finally liberate Obama, for better or

worse, from the goal of having a bipartisan roll call.  And that will clear

the way for other issues to come. 

MATTHEWS:  I still think they should do a big jobs bill, building

highways, roads, railroads, getting everybody to work, just like in the

‘30s.  I want the smell of construction in the air.  I want to see it

happening.  That‘s what I want, jobs.  Joe Klein, Lynn Sweet.  Up next—

Pat Moynihan is what I‘m talking about.

Up next, the conservative wing of the Republican party is endangering

Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah.  What a strange situation out there

in the Nutmeg State.  Hardly a moderate, by the way.  That‘s not the Nutmeg

State.  That‘s another state.  What am I thinking?  Beehive State, Utah,

the Beehive State.  This guy could lose his nomination as this thing

develops in the caucuses.  He‘s headed to a primary he could lose.  We‘ll

be right back with that.  This could be the high-water mark for the Tea

Party types.  We‘ll be right back with that on HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  There‘s a conservative battle unfolding in

reliably conservative Utah.  Republican US Senator Bob Bennett is fighting

to keep his job despite tough competition in the state‘s nominating

caucuses that started—that started on Tuesday.  Here‘s how the “Salt

Lake Tribune” describes the situation, quote, “while not definitive,

interviews with a dozen caucus-goers around the state reflected a familiar

theme, support was not coalescing behind any Bennett challenger, but there

was a strong anybody but Bennett sentiment.” 

So what‘s the beef with Bennett?  Well, here‘s an ad the Club for

Growth ran in Utah before the caucuses, followed by Senator Bennett‘s take

on that group, the Club for Growth. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Since Utahns last sent Senator Bob Bennett to

Washington, he voted to bail out Wall Street, voted for billions in

wasteful spending, like Alaska‘s bridge to nowhere, even joined with

liberals supporting big government health care. 

Had enough?  On March 23rd, vote for a change at your local Republican

precinct caucus.  To learn more, go to StopBobBennett.com. 

Club Growth is responsible for the content of this advertising.

SEN. BOB BENNETT ®, UTAH:  Club for Growth is an out of Utah

organization who really couldn‘t care less who the Utah senator is.  All

they want is some kind of national publicity for their ability to knock off

a Republican in a primary.  They spend more o their time dividing

Republicans than they do defeating Democrats. 


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  What does Bennett‘s trouble mean for other

Republicans around the country?  That‘s the big question.  Let‘s bring in

“Salon‘s” Steve Kornacki, and the “Washington post‘s” Chris Cillizza. 

Chris, I want to start with you on this.  Explain, without too much

detail, what‘s going on in Utah and how they do these things.  They have a

series of caucuses that began early this week.  What‘s going on? 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  OK, Chris, very briefly, on

Tuesday, they elected delegates who will go to the state convention in May. 

It‘s may 8th, I believe.  What those delegates will do is pick the nominee. 

It will narrow it down.  There‘s a bunch of people running.  It will narrow

it down to two.  The theory being it will be Senator Bennett, one other


If either of them gets 60 percent of the vote, they‘re the nominee. 

That‘s how it works.  This happens—Utah is very unique in this regard. 

We‘ve seen incumbents lose at the convention.  The convention, obviously,

is controlled by more of the base of the party, the most conservative. 

It‘s gradations there.  Utah is very conservative.  But this is the most

conservative element of the part. 

They‘re not happy with Bob Bennett over his vote for Tarp, over being

an appropriator.  All these things are fomenting that disappointment. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it plausible that all the other candidates running

against him could coalesce around one of the challengers, and that

challenger could get 60 percent, and blow him out right in the convention? 

CILLIZZA:  I do think it‘s plausible, Chris.  It‘s happened before at

the Congressional level, not at the Senate level.  But I do think, again,

the convention rules.  It‘s not everybody and whoever gets the most votes

becomes the nominee.  It goes to two.  The question is can Bob Bennett get

over 60 percent or not, and can the challenger get over 60 percent? 

If not, there‘s a primary.  He has a better chance in a primary.  The

electorate is bigger.  So the best chance for conservatives, people like

the Club for Growth, to beat him is in this convention in early May. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s May 8th.  Let me go to Steve Kornacki.  Your

thoughts on this development?  What does it mean nationally? 

STEVE KORNACKI, “SALON”:  Yes.  I don‘t think it means much in Utah,

because whoever comes out of the Republican convention or the Republican

primary is going to hold that seat for the Republicans in Utah. 

The question is—I think there are two question.  One is, is this

something that‘s metastasizing and popping up in other races?  There are

states, I think, where something like this can play out, something similar,

and it can hurt the Republicans. 

New Hampshire, I think, is an example, where you have a sort of

moderate, establishment friendly Republican, who is the front-runner for

the Judd Gregg Senate seat up there, and you have a challenger on the

right.  His name is Ovide LaMontagne.  LaMontagne has actually done this in

New Hampshire before, where he ran from the right against a moderate

Republican in the primary.  It was for governor of New Hampshire in 1996,

knocked off the moderate in the primary, and then got clobbered by Jeanne

Shaheen in the general election. 

I think Democrats would look at a state like New Hampshire, and

they‘re hoping LaMontagne can pull it off again and the right can pull it

off again.  So there are states where something like this can really matter

this year. 


CILLIZZA:  Arizona, John McCain and J.D. Hayward, same kind of I


MATTHEWS:  Look, they pushed Arlen Specter out of the party.  They‘re

pushing Charlie Christ out of the party. The Club for Growth types, the

conservatives, are succeeding in pushing the parties to the right.  Aren‘t

they, Chris? 

CILLIZZA:  No question.  Look, I think Senator Bennett has a self-

interest in saying the Club for Growth is an out of town group.  But in

truth, they are.  This is a group of people who have proving that they are

willing, on principle in their mind, to go in and potentially nominate

somebody who is not a strong candidate. 

I‘ll give you an example.  In Idaho, they helped a guy name Bill Sali

get elected.  He won the primary.  It was Idaho.  He won the general

election.  Well, Bill Sali really struggled.  He had no fund-raising

apparatus.  He lost that race to Walt Minnick, a Democrat. 

MATTHEWS:  Steve Kornacki, thanks for joining us.  Chris Cillizza,

thank you gentlemen.  It‘s a short time tonight. 

When we return, I will have some thoughts about the novel way this

Congress got health care reform done.  Looks like it‘s going to happen

tonight.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight on something wonderful.  It‘s how

things work out in a good democratic society.  When the Democrats lost that

big election up in Massachusetts, when a new fellow in a truck from the

other party won that seat held by Ted Kennedy all those years, it got a

certain message across; the people running the government knew they needed

to sharpen up.  The Democrats needed to get their rear in gear. 

That loss in Massachusetts gave the Dems the kick in the pants they

needed.  The president went up to Baltimore to meet with the Republicans. 

He called a summit meeting at Blair House.  And all of it gave him and his

people the time to get a plan together, to find that magical way you only

find when you really look hard for it, you know, show time. 

That way came when somebody came up with the idea of using the

legislative route known as reconciliation.  Not to bypass the rules of the

Senate, as some people were pushing them to do, but to put those rules to a

novel new use.  The Senate had passed a version of health care reform with

a filibuster proof 60 votes.  The Democrats would now use the

reconciliation procedure to reconcile that Senate bill with something the

House of Representatives could accept. 

First, the House passed the Senate bill last Sunday, along with the

reconciliation bill.  Then the Senate passed a reconciliation bill today. 

The House will pass that same slightly reversed reconciliation bill

tonight.  The result, a history making health care bill passed by 60 votes

in the Senate, a majority in he house, then reconciled together by use of,

you got it, reconciliation. 

The “Washington Post” gave credit for using reconciliation in this

novel way not as alternative to getting 60 votes in the Senate but as a

complement to it, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, a guy

who, like me, learned his craft working for years on Capitol Hill, learning

from the inside how to do the work of those on the outside, the American


Yes, the system works.  New ideas meet old institutions and we, the

people, find new ways to use old tools.  It‘s creaky.  It‘s messy.  It‘s as

Winston Churchill once observed, the worst form of government except for

all the others that have been tried from time-to-time. 

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Catch us again

tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern.  Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED

SHOW” with Ed Schultz.




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