updated 4/14/2010 10:35:52 AM ET 2010-04-14T14:35:52

Guest: Willie Brown, Peter Canellos, Mark Halperin, Al Gerhart

(PRES. OBAMA PRESSER)

OBAMA:  But if we‘re persistent and we‘ve got the right—right

approach, then over time, I think that we can make progress.  All right? 

Thank you very much, everybody.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  You‘ve been watching the president‘s press

conference as part of the nuclear security summit here in Washington.  This

is HARDBALL, and with me now is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and

former mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown

Mayor Brown, I was stunned by those last couple of words.  The

president seemed to be giving in on what we thought was going to be a major

U.S. initiative, a peace plan for the Middle East, saying, basically, we

might have a situation here of one step forward, two steps backwards, and

if neither party wants to do anything, we may not be able to do anything

ourselves, even though he said again it‘s in our national interests to

relieve these tensions and avoid this conflict,˜20if we can.

WILLIE BROWN, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR:  This man is extraordinarily

gifted in being diplomatic in his utterances and in his speeches, and that

was one of those times when he demonstrated that at the zenith.

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think he gave way there on the issue of us doing

something in terms of a proactive stance on a Middle East peace?

BROWN:  I think because he has not had a chance to discuss it with the

players and the parties involved.  He did not want to impose upon them.  He

leaves them with the option.  He‘d like to persuade them, and he will make

an appropriate announcement when there‘s persuasion—when that persuasion

has worked.  Until then, he‘s going to be very careful not to put them in a

box where somebody will say, Did you agree to do this, the president said

he‘s going to do it, if you didn‘t.  He‘s not going to do that.

MATTHEWS:  Pat, you and I were watching the same thing there.  The

president was taken into the topic.  He didn‘t want to go into it,

apparently.  But maybe Mayor Brown is right, he‘s not ready and he‘s not

going to give away any indication he‘s got a plan.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Chris, I think this is a bit

of a pull-back from what David Ignatius had, which was apparently fed to

him by the national security adviser, General Jones, where the United

States was going to lay out what we think is the appropriate solution, that

both sides everybody—almost everybody seems to agree on for a

Palestinian peace with Israel.  He seemed to be pulling back and he‘s

saying, We don‘t—we can‘t do that right now.  We‘re not going to do

that.

But he did seem to be agreeing with the Petraeus assessment, which is

the United States is suffering because of this conflict and because of the

damage it‘s doing to our reputation.  Because we‘re perceived as weak and

unable to bring about a solution, we‘re being hurt, and maybe even

Americans are being killed because of it.  He didn‘t say it hard and fast,

but he seemed to be leaning and saying, We are suffering because of this.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the American people know we have an interest in peace

over there.  Let me ask you first of all, Pat, then the mayor—this

question of proliferation.  Jimmy Carter took heat over that.  He was

laughed at because he said, My daughter, Amy, cares about proliferation of

nuclear weapons.  A lot of us thought that was a serious issue.  Ronald

Reagan eventually said he wanted to get rid of nuclear weapons.  This

president—I mean, going back to John Kennedy trying to deal with the

nuclear genie and put it back in the bottle.

What do you make of today‘s efforts of putting the genie back in the

bottle?

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s part—it‘s part of a major effort on the

president‘s part, which is much more serious for all of us since 9/11,

where you‘ve got terrorists coming over here, trying to kill as many

Americans as they can.  And in a world where now something like eight or

nine countries have nuclear weapons, this is far more serious.

The president‘s got three goals, I think, Chris.  One, he wants to

reduce the stockpiles of the Americans and the Russian Soviet stockpiles. 

Secondly, he wants to deal with these rogue nations that have these

weapons.  And the third thing is to scoop up—and that was what this week

was all about—all this nuclear material, whether it‘s highly enriched

uranium or plutonium—those are the two raw material for nuclear weapons

to get as much as of that as they can off the market.

So I think it‘s a three-pronged offensive.  This he wants to be part

of his legacy, I think.  He‘s deadly serious about it, and it‘s one of

those things we call a 90/10 issue.  I think this is something on which all

the American people and most of the world is behind him.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s hard, Mr. Mayor, to get the public interesting in

something so frightening.  I remember John F. Kennedy gave what many people

think was his most important speech ever at American University, not far

from here in Washington, in 1963, when he talked about trying to get rid of

this nuclear threat to mankind.

Here he is, the president of the United States, this young guy who

didn‘t live through the cold war, like we all did, coming in and saying,

Can we scoop up—I was stunned to hear the Soviets are still building

plutonium.  They‘re still making it over their in their reactor over there. 

And here is the president saying 64 metric tons we‘re going to get rid of,

which is capable of building 17,000 missiles.  Mr. Mayor?

BROWN:  He said all of that.  And if you recall, during the course of

the campaign, in the many debates that he engaged in, he talked

specifically about this issue.  He said, I want this to be one of the goals

I want to achieve.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BROWN:  And in fact, now that he‘s got health care behind him for the

moment, he‘s moving onto the very next issue.  He laid it out in Prague. 

Now in the USA, with 49 nations signing on, he has, in fact, in many cases

put in place and had a pledge for four or five potential achievements from

this dialogue.

And one of the achievements, clearly, Russia has now decided, We‘re

going to shut down the plant that we have and the factory that we have,

where we‘re dealing with the issue of nuclear power that results in

weapons.

BUCHANAN:  Chris...

BROWN:  That‘s an incredible step.  Secondly, he said that there are

two or three nations—and I have no idea how much they may have.  But he

said there are two or three nations that said they‘re going to surrender

their entire stockpile.  Those are all very significant achievements...

BUCHANAN:  Yes, they are.  Canada...

BROWN:  ... for this young president.

BUCHANAN:  Canada and Chile.  But Chris, to your point, Jack Kennedy

spoke at American University in June of 1963, after he‘d looked into the

abyss in October-November 1962 of the possibility of nuclear war.  Barack

Obama and all the rest of us went through 9/11, where these people tried to

did attack the United States and killed thousands (INAUDIBLE) And

they‘re trying to get nuclear weapons.  So that is what is concentrating

his mind.  It‘s 9/11, plus all this nuclear material that‘s floating around

in this world.  And again, I think this is an issue on which the whole

American nation and most of the world are entirely behind him.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Mr. Mayor, it seems to me—this may sound

partisan, and maybe it is.  I‘ve had a criticism myself for years now

against the Bush administration, especially Vice President Cheney, for

confusing us.  The war in Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.  We kept being

told that it did.  There was this conflation going on that—words that

were suggestive that somehow, we were getting even when we went into Iraq

for what had happened to us on 9/11, when they had nothing to do with each

other.

There‘s also the use of that term, which I think was very—very

distractive, “weapons of mass destruction.”  I don‘t know why the past

administration didn‘t simply say nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons.  We have

to fight them.  We have to deal with the proliferation issue.  Your

thoughts on that matter.  Are we getting more clarity here than we got

under the previous administration?

BROWN:  The fact that this man in his presentation just a moment ago

did not even reference 9/11 is a major step, frankly, for all of us.  We

should not relate this back to 9/11.  Jack Kennedy, when he made his

remarks, was dealing essentially with the same issue.  I suspect that not

much of this current weapons-grade nuclear materials that‘s in the hands of

a whole series of nations was, in fact, available at that time.  It‘s

happened since then.  It‘s happened before 9/11.  And in some cases, I

suspect it‘s happened after 9/11.

9/11 should not be the anchor tenet on this issue.  The anchor tenet

is the potential for the destruction of mankind as we know it, and that‘s

what Barack Obama is trying to deal with.

BUCHANAN:  OK, listen, you‘re right, Chris, weapons of mass

destruction can include chemical shells, of which millions were fired in

World War I, or a hydrogen bond with one megaton, which can destroy any

city in the world.  I think the separation of nuclear weapons out is

vitally important because those are the real things that are a real threat

to the United States of America, whereas I say—I mean, they used

chemical weapons.  The British used them in Iraq.  They‘ve been used in

Yemen and everywhere else.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think they were used to get us into Iraq, is what I

think they were used for.

BUCHANAN:  Well, that‘s—they conflate...

MATTHEWS:  For rhetorical purposes.

BUCHANAN:  They conflate.  When say “weapons of mass destruction,”

you‘re talking about an artillery shell with chemicals in it or an atomic

bomb.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think we might be getting some more clarity here

now.

Mr. Mayor, thank you.

President Obama on Iran sanctions—let‘s listen to the president

this afternoon, right now. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What sanctions do

accomplish is hopefully to change the calculus of a country like Iran, so

that they see that there are more costs and fewer benefits to pursuing a

nuclear weapons program. 

And, in that process, what we hope is, is that, if those costs get

high enough, and the benefits are—are low enough, that, in time, they

make the—the right decision, not just for the security and prosperity of

the world, but also for their own people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Sometimes, I think Americans are too rational. 

I wonder, Pat, and then Mr. Mayor, if you think as well.  The

president is talking about a very rational cost-benefit analysis on behalf

of the—the—the ayatollahs, the—the mullahs over in Iran...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... and their mouthpiece, Ahmadinejad. 

The question I have is, do you think they think rationally?  Are they

thinking in terms of economic costs if they go nuclear, as opposed to the

benefits of having that prestige weapon they seem to want to have?

BUCHANAN:  Well, see, Chris, I happen to disagree with the president

here. 

I think the United States government does not have great credibility. 

We have got a national intelligence estimate came out in 2007 said Iran

gave up the drive for nuclear weapons.  The IAEA says Iran is not now

outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It‘s not in violation. 

MATTHEWS:  You believe they‘re not pursuing a nuclear weapon? 

BUCHANAN:  I think they‘re—my view is, they probably want to get to

the point where they have the knowledge and ability.  But, if they are,

where exactly are they outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty? 

Why hasn‘t the intelligence community of the United States gotten up

and said, look, they‘re going after weapons; they got this secret plant

here, here, here, and here, that we did not know about it, and that

explains it?  They haven‘t even changed the national intelligence

estimate...

MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re suspicious that we don‘t know what‘s going on? 

BUCHANAN:  I think—I tell you what I think is being done.  I think

the United States—just a guess—has sabotaged the—the centrifuges

at Natanz.  They have got 8,000 of them.  Every month, it‘s less and less

and less. 

The White House, Mr. Gibbs said—got up and said, they can‘t even

enrich uranium to 20 percent for medical isotopes.  If you can‘t go to 20

percent, how can you go to 95 percent? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  So, I don‘t think it‘s conclusive.  And I wish they would

tell us what the evidence is that Iran is hell-bent on building a nuclear

weapon. 

MATTHEWS:  This is a very hot issue, Mr. Mayor, in this town.  We have

been looking at a lot of ads in the paper now concerned about the Iranian

threat to Israel, which you‘re well aware of yourself, people of—friends

of Israel in this country.  And there are millions and millions.  Most

Americans are friends to Israel. 

And they‘re worried about this Iranian threat.  Do you think the

president was tough enough today in talking about sanctions as a deterrent? 

WILLIE BROWN (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  Again, I say this is

a diplomatic response by this president. 

He does not want to be in a position—for whatever he said to the

Chinese—to the head of China, Mr. Jintao, he doesn‘t want to be in a

position where he violates that.  And, obviously, he was soliciting from

the Chinese cooperation on the sanctions issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

W. BROWN:  In other words, he says:  I have gotten another group of

nations that have just as much oil available to you, if in fact the

Iranians cut you off.  If we move with sanctions against the Iranians, and

we really do have to impose them, will you be with us? 

He had to be careful to protect those private conversations, those

private arrangements.  And this is a guy who is doing it very cleverly,

very carefully, and very effectively.  I don‘t think he wishes to be in a

position where he‘s rattling the sword, where he‘s saying, if you don‘t do

this, we won‘t do that, nor do I think he wishes to reveal exactly what

information we have on what the Iranians are currently doing, without that

coming through the U.N. and the other international stages on which the

discussions can take place. 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Mayor, I think you have hit the point there, which is

he can speak about these issues, but he has to speak about them much more

carefully than someone on television does, because, if he says something

slightly wrong, he blows the deal. 

Thank you very much.  You have been very circumspect, as we all the

should be. 

Thank you, Mr. Brown—Mr. Brown.

Thank you, Pat Buchanan. 

Up next:  Sarah Palin is making money, lots of it.  How much, for

those who are curious?  We will tell you.  She‘s doing quite well in the

money department right now.

We will be right back with more on MSNBC and HARDBALL;.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First:  Mike Huckabee stakes out his position on gay adoption.  In a

college newspaper interview, Mike Huckabee, the once and perhaps future

Republican presidential candidate, said he opposes adoption by same-sex

couples.  The audio of that interview was just posted. 

Here‘s Huckabee. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) 

MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR:  You don‘t—you don‘t

go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the

ideal.  I mean, that would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people

who like to use drugs, so let‘s go ahead and accommodate those who want to

use drugs. 

There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate

them.  There are people who believe in polygamy.  Should we accommodate

them?  But where do you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, accommodating...

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE:  Children are not puppies.  This is not a time to see if we

can experiment and find out, how does this work?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Governor Huckabee said later that the school paper

sensationalized his views and that his opposition to gay adoption is well-

known and hardly unusual. 

I suspect the governor will not want to continue comparing people‘s

sexual orientation with incest and illegal drug use. 

Next: an Empire State of mind.  Attorney general and would-be governor

Andrew Cuomo doesn‘t give a lot of interviews, though he‘s apparently busy

pulling strings behind the scenes.  According to today‘s “New York Times,”

perhaps no elected official in New York spends more time on the telephone

with reporters, calling them day and night, coaxing, massaging, disputing,

and cajoling, always off the record. 

Well, I say good for him.  Good for Andrew.  As Senator Edmund Muskie

of Maine, one of the wisest, hardest-working political figures I ever knew,

once said, only talk when it improves the silence. 

Now for the “Big Number.”  Tonight, it‘s a lesson to always follow the

money. 

Since leaving public office in July of last year, how much has Sarah

Palin earned through her book deal, paid speeches, and TV appearances? 

Well, according to ABC News, over $12 million, which, by the way, is about

100 times what she made in one year as Alaska‘s governor.  Sarah Palin‘s

$12 million payday—tonight‘s “Big Number,” a very “Big Number.”

As they used to say of Liberace, another fellow, another person who

took some licks for over-the-top behavior, he laughed all the way to the

bank.  Of course, Liberace just played the piano.  He never told us how to

run the country. 

Up next:  Newly-elected Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts causing a

bit of a headache for the Republican Party. 

And a reminder:  You can now listen to all MSNBC shows, including

HARDBALL, simulcast live on satellite radio.  Find us on Sirius channel 90

and XM channel 120.  Catch us in the car. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MIKE HUCKMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Mike Huckman with your CNBC

“Market Wrap.”

And stocks pushing slightly higher, as earnings season begins to get

into full swing today—the Dow Jones industrial averages adding 13 points

to finish above the psychological benchmark of 11000 for the second day in

a row now, the S&P 500 up less than a point, and the Nasdaq gaining eight

points. 

A couple of big names reporting after the bell today—Intel—

that‘s the company that helps your personal computer run—wowing Wall

Street with better-than-expected profits and revenues.  Shares are soaring

in after-hours trading. 

And America‘s largest transport company, CSX, also moving sharply

higher after hours after reporting a 22 percent jump in profits, revenue up

11 percent. 

Meantime, Home Depot leading the Dow today, as several states launch

initiatives encouraging consumers to buy energy-efficient appliances. 

And oil prices falling for the fifth day, ahead of a report on

inventories due out tomorrow.  Analysts are expecting relatively high

inventories, after a report showing demand for gas has fallen more than 3.5

percent in the U.S.

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

HARDBALL. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SCOTT BROWN ®, MASSACHUSETTS:  I go to Washington as the

representative of no faction or no special interests, answering only to—

to my conscience and to you, the people. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

S. BROWN:  However—however, I know—I know I have a lot to learn

in the Senate.  But I know who I am and I know who I serve. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes!

S. BROWN:  I‘m Scott Brown from—I‘m Scott Brown.

(LAUGHTER)

S. BROWN:  I‘m from Wrentham.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

S. BROWN:  And I drive a truck!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.

That was Scott Brown the night of his big Senate victory back in

January.  Back then, he signed autographs as “41,” meaning he would be the

41st Republican senator to help his party stop the Democrats‘ agenda in the

Senate. 

Now he‘s Mr. Independent.  Just last night, he voted with the

Democrats to end a Republican filibuster on a bill to extend unemployment

benefits.  And back in February, he voted for a big Democratic jobs bill.

On top of breaking ranks on some votes, Senator Brown is catching a

little heat from the party—party—Tea Party crowd, I should say, for

not planning at all to go to the big rally tomorrow in Boston, where the

headliner is going to be Sarah Palin. 

Is Senator Brown, the guy who drives the truck, just trying to steer

clear so he can win another term? 

Peter Canellos is the editor of “The Boston Globe”‘s editorial page

and the editor of the great book “Last Lion,” about the—the late Ted

Kennedy.  And “TIME” magazine‘s Mark Halperin is the co-author of another

great book, “Game Change.” 

Let me go right now to Peter Canellos.

What do you think of this fellow?  Is he going to try to avoid being a

Santorum and being a—and try to be a Saltonstall, a modern—moderate

New England Republican?  Is that the game plan?

PETER CANELLOS, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”:  Yes.  I

think the game plan is to be somewhere in between.

I mean, he‘s clearly not in that purely liberal Republican tradition

that Saltonstall was in.  But—but he‘s running on the far edge of

conservative for this state.  And he has to make sure that he has at least

one foot in the mainstream.  And that‘s what you saw in these last two

votes. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he worried about Joe Kennedy or somebody else coming at

him in a year or two...

CANELLOS:  I‘m sure he is.

MATTHEWS:  ... at the end of his two-year term?  He doesn‘t get a full

term.  Is he worried about a—sort of a centrist Democrat with a lot of

ethnic appeal, not a lefty or an intellectual?  He could beat one of them,

probably, but somebody who has appeal in—with the old Democratic Party

up there, the working people, the middle-class people who aren‘t from

Boston? 

CANELLOS:  Yes, I think he‘s quite vulnerable, and—and that—

that‘s why you‘re seeing these votes and that he‘s very cognizant of—of

wanting to have an independent image, not a doctrinaire Republican image.

MATTHEWS:  Mark Halperin, he‘s not going up there for a big Sarah

Palin day up there in Boston.  But maybe that‘s because he‘s—he‘s

thinking about votes down in the Senate. 

If I were him, I wouldn‘t skip any votes right now.  I think he would

take heat from everybody, especially with these votes coming up on playing

for unemployment comp. 

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, “TIME”:  Well, and he‘s not

taking much heat from Tea Party members.  He‘s taking heat from Boston talk

-- talk radio hosts. 

I think all three of us probably have and most everybody else who has

ever appeared on HARDBALL has taken heat from talk radio hosts in Boston. 

I don‘t think he‘s worried about that.

And I think he‘s been remarkably...

MATTHEWS:  What, Howie Carr?

HALPERIN:  Everybody.

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t worry about Howie Carr. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t worry about Howie Carr.  

(CROSSTALK)

HALPERIN:  ... I‘m saying.

MATTHEWS:  Howie Carr is a pussycat. 

HALPERIN:  I think—I think everybody has seen that Scott Brown is

really smart at conserving his power.  He‘s not gone out—he‘s following

a bit of the Obama model when Obama got to the Senate.  He‘s not out there

talking nonstop. 

He‘s being careful to tend to his constituents, and he‘s going to let

the national politics take care of themselves down the road. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here he is speaking for himself on CNN, explaining

his vote with the Democrats to move forward on the unemployment benefits

bill. 

Let‘s listen to Scott Brown, the senator. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

S. BROWN:  My role, I feel, as—just as a citizen of the country and

someone who believes in good government, is, we need to get back to doing

the people‘s business.  And that‘s what I‘m going to do. 

And when I see a good vote, bill, whether it‘s a good Republican or

Democrat bill, I‘m going to vote for it.  But I would encourage my Democrat

colleagues to do the same, because I haven‘t seen the reciprocity.  And if

I‘m going to be the 60th vote, there‘s going to be times I‘m going to be

the 41st vote, too, because we can‘t all be one-sided. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, I have got a couple of thoughts on this.

One is, watching Mitt Romney, I think the slogan of your state, the

commonwealth, should be what‘s—what happens in Massachusetts stays in

Massachusetts.  He‘s—he‘s a pro-choicer up there.  He pushes through the

template health care bill, which is the model for the president‘s, and acts

like he was never there. 

This guy—well, is that a fair critique of Mitt Romney, Peter?  I

hope it is.

CANELLOS:  I think it‘s—I think it‘s a major—it was a major

obstacle for him in the—in the campaign in 2008 that, you know, he

appeared to be walking away from his positions in Massachusetts.

Now he‘s going to have to do it again on health care—or is doing it

again on health care.  I think it‘s a—it‘s a major dynamic, a major

problem for him going forward. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Is Scott Brown at all thinking big?  My belief, if it weren‘t for the

issue of abortion rights, where he‘s for them, generally speaking, he would

be a fantastic Cinderella candidate to run against the president next time,

because he is just easy to take.  I have been with him a little bit.  He‘s

easy to take.  He doesn‘t have any rough edges. 

If you just want to vote against Obama, which is the one issue that

unites the Republican and the Tea Party crowd, he‘s easy.  Put him up there

and run against him, Peter.

HALPERIN:  Well...

CANELLOS:  You want to see me?  I think that Scott Brown would be an

appealing candidate perhaps for vice president on the Republican side,

especially if Romney is a leading contender who does not get the

nomination.  It‘s a way of bringing the Romney crowd into the mix. 

Certainly, up here in Massachusetts, everybody who is elected

statewide is thinking about their national future.  There‘s quite a

tradition of that up here.  I‘m sure it has crossed Scott Brown‘s mind. 

All of these combinations have crossed Scott Brown‘s mind. 

MATTHEWS:  It seems me, Mark, he‘s a lot more appealing than a Mike

Dukakis, for example, just to pick out one Massachusetts element we‘ve had

over the years. 

HALPERIN:  Look, one thing you want starting out as a presidential

candidate is someone people think, I would like to hang with that guy, that

guy I‘m comfortable with.  President Obama has that for sure.  Scott Brown

has it. 

I think, look, there‘s questions about his national and international

experience.  What he needs to do, if he wants to be a national player,

whether running for president or not, is keep this momentum going.  You go

to events like I was in this weekend, the southern leadership meeting in

New Orleans, Scott Brown is as exciting to those people as any other

national Republican leader, even though he is pro-choice, because he does

represent contrast with the president on economics and on some national

security issues.  Those are the two big issues that are uniting the party

right now, not the social issues where they disagree with him. 

MATTHEWS:  Last time, the deal-breaker with McCain was he couldn‘t put

Lieberman on the bill because of that issue.  Is it still the deal-breaker

now, your thoughts, going back to Peter on the same question?  Is it the

deal breaker now, being for choice? 

CANELLOS:  I think it‘s very hard to swallow.  I don‘t think the

Republicans wanted to have a showdown at the convention the last time

around over this issue, and they probably won‘t in 2012, either.  It would

have to be a situation where Brown kind of courts the pro-life community,

finesses the issue a little bit, reassures people, and is so appealing and

necessary that they go for it.  So it‘s an obstacle.  It‘s not completely a

deal-breaker. 

MATTHEWS:  Mark, this question of whether the Republican party wants

somebody who can win a general election.  Also, do they want a Tea party

candidate.  They may not be the same answer. 

HALPERIN:  The Republican party is headed in 2012 where the Democrats

were in ‘92, where the Republicans were in 2000.  They want somebody who

can win the White House back.  They‘ll make compromises on a lot of issues

to do that.  They‘ll try to get the Tea Party involvement in energy,

without getting in the way of nominating someone who can win.  I think

abortion rights, a candidate like a Joe Lieberman or a Scott Brown, is

still a bridge too far for the Republican party. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me tell you—I‘m not doing their planning for

them, but it seems to me they‘ve got a problem.  They‘ve got people who

pass their test, Palin and Bachmann, who can‘t possibly win the presidency. 

They‘ve got people who could win the presidency who can‘t pass their test

because they‘re not their kind of person.  Don‘t they need somebody who is

their kind of person without being one of them.  I‘m serious.  Isn‘t that

the problem, Mark? 

HALPERIN:  That‘s the problem.  That‘s why I think you hear a lot of

chatter still about people like Haley Barbour, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and

Mitch Daniels, who are people who can thread the needle you‘re talking

about, who can speak to the Tea Party movement, based on their record and

their rhetoric, but also understand they‘ve got to be a big tent.  They‘ve

got to reach out. 

MATTHEWS:  Your thoughts about that, Peter, the last thought?  Is

there a possibility that Scott Brown will be the Republican candidate for

president in 2012? 

CANELLOS:  Only if Romney doesn‘t run.  They have the same political

operation up here.  It would be a real problem—

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s a better politician? 

CANELLOS:  Well, right now, Brown looks more appealing.  But,

obviously, Romney has run before.  I think Romney has some assets going

into the race and kind of a unique profile.  If Romney goes ahead and wins,

people will say all that changing of positions and all that, he did what

was necessary.  It‘s a little like George Bush Sr. 

MATTHEWS:  You guys just want a horse.  You guys in Boston have never

changed in 30 or 40 years of covering you guys.  You will do anything to

have a horse in the race.  I‘ve heard so much stuff.  Dukakis is great. 

You ought to meet the guy.  You guys never quit.  Thank you, Peter

Canellos.  I know what Boston wants.  They want a candidate from Boston. 

Thank you.  Mark Halperin, continued good luck with your book.  Thank you.

Up next, are the Tea Parties forming militias? 

First, in one minute, a new poll shows that top Democrat Harry Reid is

in deep trouble out in Nevada.  We‘ll tell you why.  This is HARDBALL, only

on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada continues to

face a tough reelection battle, as a new poll indicates his unfavorable

rating has reached 56 percent.  He‘s now trailing the front runner for the

Republican nomination out there in a hypothetical general election match-

up, former Nevada Republican Party Chair Sue Lowden, by eight points, in a

three-way contest that includes Tea Party candidate Scott Ashuan.  The

Republican Senate primary is scheduled for June 8th.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Tea Partiers out there are now

pushing for the creation of a state militia in, of all places, Oklahoma. 

They say a new volunteer militia would help defend against what they see as

federal infringements on state sovereignty.  This Monday marks, by the way,

the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which was done at the

hands of Timothy McVeigh. 

Al Gerhart heads a group of Tea Party factions collectively known as

the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance.  Al, thank you for coming on

HARDBALL.  I want to give you a thought—all your thoughts here.  What do

you think would be the purpose of a militia, in terms of restricting a

legitimate debate, of course, what should be the role of the federal

government.  We‘ve been arguing about it for about 250 years.  What would

be the role of an armed militia, though? 

AL GERHART, TEA PARTY LEADER:  Well, the militia they were speaking

about was one that was controlled by the state, by the governor.  So it‘s

not what most people consider militia.  It‘s more of a state defense force. 

There are a total of 22 states that have defense forces already.  Oklahoma

happens to be the only one that has an inactive force. 

The purpose would be to back up the National Guard.  When our National

Guard is deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, or they don‘t have the equipment

here, that‘s when the state guard could step in. 

MATTHEWS:  What role would it play vis-a-vis our own government? 

GERHART:  Our own government, on a theoretical level?  I guess if a

state guard ever thought they could stand up to the federal government,

they would probably get squashed. 

MATTHEWS:  So what would be—what would be symbolic?  I mean, is

this a symbolic thing?  I wonder what—luckily, we haven‘t had wars since

the Civil War that I can remember, but—in this country between the

government and the states.  But when can you imagine the states wanting to

go to war with the federal government using armed force? 

GERHART:  I wouldn‘t imagine they ever would.  What our founding

fathers envisioned—they never envisioned having a standing army.  The

Second Amendment was not about your right to shoot a burglar, protect your

family.  The Second Amendment was the right of the states to have a

militia.  What the founding fathers envisioned was all these state militias

that basically kept the federal government in check just by their very

existence. 

MATTHEWS:  Where do you get that history?  Where is that history

coming from?  I guess I don‘t know that history. 

GERHART:  Go back to school then, because the history is there. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about the militias as an instrument to restrict how

the Supreme Court rules on—the Supreme Court rules in this country about

what the federal government is allowed to do.  What is a militia going to

do with a Supreme Court, challenge the Supreme Court? 

GERHART:  No, sir.  Did you realize the militia has been authorized by

the Supreme Court.  There‘s been a case on it already. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  We‘re talking about the use of the—let‘s not get

into the lawyers game of shifting the marbles around here.  Are militias,

as you understand them, a proper tool to stand up to a federal decision

approved by the Supreme Court?  Do you believe a militia in Oklahoma should

ever be used to fight the federal government?  Is that your view? 

GERHART:  Oh, no, it should never be used to fight the federal

government.  That would be insanity.  That‘s not the point.  The point is

if you have 30 or 40 states that have state militias, that would never

happen to start with.  The government will respect us.

MATTHEWS:  Why not?  Explain how that would work. 

GERHART:  Well, Chris, if you have 30 or 40 state militias that cannot

be controlled by the federal government, that alone will keep the federal

government from ever trying to overstep its bounds.  If it ever decided to,

the state militias couldn‘t do anything about it.  That‘s real simple. 

MATTHEWS:  When we had a fight, the federal government had a fight in

Little Rock to integrate the high school down there, they brought in

federal troops.  They nationalized the National Guard down there and put it

at the service of the federal government.  Why wouldn‘t the militia of any

state be nationalized to put it to the service of the federal government,

and used to serve the needs of the federal government?  What would stop

that from happening in your case in Oklahoma? 

GERHART:  Technically, they can‘t.  What they can do and what they

would do is draft the people in the State Guard, which is perfectly

legitimate.  But they cannot control the state militia by the state

Constitution.  In Oklahoma, we have three state militias.  Every man in

Oklahoma between the ages of 17 and 70 is a member of the state militia. 

That is our law. 

Most states have similar laws.  As far as your state guard, they

disbanded it after the April 19th bombing, out of respect for our citizens,

and it was probably a good decision for them to do so. 

MATTHEWS:  Name an issue that you can imagine in which a state militia

in Oklahoma, based Oklahoma, would act to prevent the federal government

from doing anything on health care, on education, on any issue.  Where

would he get a role in standing up or bluffing the federal government or

using its strength just by being there to stop the federal government from

doing something? 

GERHART:  Chris, where are you getting all of this?  No one has ever

mentioned that.  As far as our group, we don‘t even have a position on

whether or not the state militia is a good idea or bad idea. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

GERHART:  I‘m here to basically represent what the other people are

talking about.  I told your producer we have no position on in.  We know

the people who do have a position on it.  Their position is if it‘s under

our Constitution, it‘s legal.  Why not go ahead and re-enact it, just like

having another highway department or something?  That‘s all it is. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you mean when you said “it‘s scary, it sure is,”

when you talked about having a militia down there in Oklahoma? 

GERHART:  Gee, Chris, I think everybody understands that if we ever

got to the point where state militias felt they had to stand up against the

federal government that would be a scary situation.  That‘s one I don‘t

want to live through and I don‘t want to see my kids living through that. 

MATTHEWS:  I can‘t follow you, sir.  You‘re going on a couple points

here.  You‘re saying that a militia would play a constitutional role in

standing up for the sovereignty of your state, but it would never actually

be active in doing so.  I don‘t get the point. 

GERHART:  Our founding fathers considered the militias crucial.  If

you read the Second Amendment, it‘s all about that.  It‘s all about the

need for a well-regulated militia.  Again, we‘re not supposed to have a

standing army.  The founding fathers wanted that to be a counter-point.

But times have changed.  Now we have a huge standing army.  It‘s just

symbolic.  That‘s all it is. 

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  You seem like you‘re suggesting there‘s a legitimate need,

even if it isn‘t put into practice, a legitimate need to stand up to

federal authority.  You believe there is? 

GERHART:  I don‘t believe there is a legitimate need to do that.  But

there is a legitimate need to have a state guard, or else 22 of the states

wouldn‘t have it, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for coming.  I appreciate it.  We‘re trying to

get to the truth here.  Thank you, Al Gerhart, from Oklahoma.   

When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about political BS. 

Don‘t miss our show tomorrow.  Comedian and TV host Bill Maher is

coming here to be our guest.  Bill Maher.  You‘re watching HARDBALL.  He‘s

coming here Wednesday, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight by talking about political BS.  John

McCain has spent a career calling himself a maverick, even wrote a book

called “The Education of a Maverick.”  The other day he said, quote, “I

never considered myself a maverick.” 

When the senator from Arizona said that, did he believe it?  Did he

mean that he was wrong all those times he called himself a maverick?  Or

was that comment about not considering myself a maverick just good old BS.? 

Rudy Giuliani said recently, quote, “there were no domestic attacks in

the United States under Bush.”  Did he forget about the worst attack in

history, which came under Bush, or did he mean there were no attacks after

the worst attack in history, or did he say it so many times, that there

were no attacks under Bush, that he stopped thinking about what he was

saying?  Or was he just BSing us for the thousandth time? 

What did Governor Rick Perry of Texas mean when he said, a while back,

that Texas had the right to secede from the union?  Did he think Texas had

that right but had his history totally off?  Then why did he keep it up,

after getting straightened out on this matter, saying that Texas certainly

had the right to secede, but wasn‘t going to exercise unless things got

really bad?  Was he just BSing us like Rudy was? 

There‘s a great line in my favorite movie, “Lawrence of Arabia,” that

may explain this habit of saying something you don‘t actually believe, but

is so powerful and useful you just keep on saying it.  It goes like this:

“a man who tells lies merely hides the truth.  A man who tells half lies

has forgotten where he put it.” 

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.

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

BE UPDATED.

END   

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