Guests: John Harwood, Savannah Guthrie, Brian Shactman, Loretta Sanchez, Brian Bilbray, Joe Sestak, Jay Weaver, Beth Reinhard
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Miami heat.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews up here in Philadelphia. Leading off tonight: The higher you go, the fatter the target. For the first time, a tea party favorite is coming under the kind of scrutiny other politicians have had to endure in American life. The target, Marco Rubio of Florida, who is clobbering Charlie Crist in the race to be Florida‘s Republican Senate candidate. The IRS is looking into his tax records to see whether Rubio and other Florida Republicans used their party credit cards for personal expenses. We‘ve got the reporters who broke the story.
Also, the president and Wall Street. President Obama told CNBC‘s John Harwood just late this afternoon that the party is over and the crowd that used Wall Street as a big casino better stop the party. Some Senate Republicans seem ready to hop aboard the Obama express.
Plus, the snarling has started up here in Philadelphia. Here‘s a nasty news ad—or a new ad, rather, from Arlen Specter against his Senate primary opponent, Joe Sestak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Sestak, relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a poor command climate. Joe Sestak, the worst attendance of any Pennsylvania congressman and near the bottom of the entire Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You‘re watching a 30-year incumbent Arlen Specter defending his position. Joe Sestak joins us later to respond to that negative ad.
Plus, the birther bill. First, Arizona lawmakers passed a law that permits police to stop suspected illegal immigrants. The Arizona house then also passed a provision that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate in order to get on the Arizona ballot. So President Obama, if he runs for reelection, will have to show one, a birth certificate, for his reelection campaign out in Arizona. Is this constitutional? That‘s one of the questions.
And finally, an odd one from Nevada, a Republican candidate for the Senate‘s proposal to replace health care payments with a barter system, as in, you know, you bring your doctor a chicken or a sack of potatoes to pay for a treatment. I guess that‘s what they mean by repeal and replace.
Let‘s start with the big news out of Florida. There could be a big problem for Republicans down there. Beth Reinhard is a political reporter for the great “Miami Herald” and Jay Weaver is “The Herald‘s” investigative reporter. I want to start with the facts. I want to be Joe Friday, so let‘s start with Jay. What is the hard news about the IRS investigation and the Justice investigation of Marco Rubio? What is there?
JAY WEAVER, “MIAMI HERALD”: Well, pure and simple, the Republican Party of Florida for years has issued credit cards to its senior officials and to its senior politicians. And of course, they‘re supposed to use these American Express credit cards for political purposes only. It‘s a non-profit organization and they collect millions from fat cat donors, and they‘re supposed to use it to advance the party agenda and to advance candidates.
Well, as it turns out, records obtained by “The Miami Herald” have shown that they were using a lot of these credit cards for personal good times—you know, chic hotels, jet travel, five-star restaurants. So the IRS has basically been snooping around and they have opened cases against some of these senior officials, including a former house speaker out of north Florida.
But they‘re also opening an inquiry into Marco Rubio, the former house speaker and now U.S. Senate candidate in the Republican column against Governor Charlie Crist. And they basically want to know whether or not, you know, he used or personally benefited from this credit card usage. And he‘s not the only one in the crosshairs.
WEAVER: There are others, too. And that‘s where it stands. We‘re talking about millions of dollars here.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go right down to Beth, in terms of the impact statement here. Politically, does this in any way shake Rubio‘s position as the clear front-runner in that primary fight?
BETH REINHARD, “MIAMI HERALD”: I think it shakes a little bit. But to his credit, he‘s really established himself. He‘s so far ahead of the governor right now. And the governor‘s credibility with voters is really strained at this point. You know, he—they don‘t necessarily trust him the way they used to, and so when he attacks Rubio on his credit card spending, these voters that I‘ve talked to don‘t look at it the same way.
MATTHEWS: Are they going to blame—will the voters on the conservative side of the Republican Party, which I assume is a big part of the party down there—are they going to blame him for having dropped the dime on Rubio, Beth?
REINHARD: Oh, absolutely. They—they—you know, they—they try to diminish the stories that we‘ve written by saying, you know, they‘re all leaked by Crist. I saw one blogger said something about, you know, the credit card statements taken by Crist without his permission, which you know, I think is pretty wild speculation.
MATTHEWS: Let me go over—let me go over to Jay on this whole question now. You and I have been reporters—I‘ve been a reporter for years. And back when I had expense accounts as a print guy, they used to always tell us, Just keep it clean. The pros that check these cards will know what‘s clean. You don‘t have to worry about the little details, just be clean about it.
When you looked through these, did you get a smell factor? Did you say, Wait a minute, there‘s something here, this guy‘s not using his card right, Rubio?
WEAVER: Well, sure. I mean, you know, in Rubio‘s case, to be fair, it appears that he wasn‘t quite as big of a spender as, say, the party chairman or the executive director...
MATTHEWS: Jim Greer (ph).
WEAVER: ... or some these other politicians. Yes, Jim Greer is the party chairman who‘s—who‘s under scrutiny. And you know, there were others...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s start...
WEAVER: ... who spent a lot more money than Rubio.
MATTHEWS: Let me get to the quick here. When I was looking—our producers were all going through this, the EP and everybody was going through, we‘re looking at one that was particularly weird. If you go to somebody‘s event and your car gets, you know, sideswiped or something and the guy who parks the car—this is the one that jumped out at us, putting in for that.
Do you think that was something that was over the top for Rubio, or is that a standard kind of expense? If you go to some event and your car gets sideswiped when the guy parks the car, you shouldn‘t have to pay for that out your personal life. What do you think about that expense as a reporter?
WEAVER: Well, let me use your example. Look, I mean, I wouldn‘t have billed it to “The Miami Herald.” “The Miami Herald” issues credit cards and—you know, at least they did in the old days, and our expenses, you know, that are business-related are put on our credit cards, and we have to account for it.
WEAVER: So obviously, if that had happened to my car in front a valet, damaged, I wouldn‘t have billed it to the Republican Party or “The Miami Herald” in this instance, this hypothetical instance. I obviously would have billed it on my own credit card.
MATTHEWS: So you think he was...
WEAVER: It‘s a personal expense.
MATTHEWS: So you think that might be—but you think it reaches the level of—you know, there‘s an IRS investigation. There‘s also a Justice investigation, a criminal investigation going on down there. Is it fair, just for tonight‘s broadcast, to say that Marco Rubio is not under criminal investigation, as far as we know?
WEAVER: I think it‘s fair to say he‘s not—I think it‘s fair to say he‘s not under criminal investigation, but I think what is fair to say is, is that they‘re looking to see whether the numbers are bigger than just that minivan...
WEAVER: ... you know, accident that occurred in front of the valet. I think it‘s a situation where they have to find a lot of examples of that to show that he was not reporting income that he should have, or that he was falsely—falsely putting information on his income tax returns that he shouldn‘t have, and he will have to account for that.
If it‘s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it might be an issue. If it‘s in the tens of thousands of dollars and he can explain it, it may be just more of a civil matter.
MATTHEWS: Well, it strikes me, Beth, the political thing—that‘s what we cover here. We‘re not investigative reporters. We do enjoy their work, however. Let me ask you, Beth, about this question. This is the first time nationally that one the tea party, well, pin-up boys or pin-up girls, whatever, have gotten this kind of scrutiny by the press. I mean, they‘re now in the—the heat of the kitchen, as Harry Truman would say. You know, if you don‘t like the heat, stay out the kitchen. Finally, it‘s not Rand Paul. It‘s not one of the others. It‘s this guy.
What about the impact? Are they ready to take the heat? It looks like he knows what he‘s doing, my firsthand look at the guy. Look at what he put out. He put out a statement right now whacking other guy, saying all the negative publicity he got here regarding the way that Charlie Crist‘s hand-picked chairman spent money in the party. So he‘s going right after him (INAUDIBLE) and the best way to deal with that, as far as my spending is concerned, you know, he keeps going here. It was legitimate political purposes I spent the money for. I paid for them directly to American Express. I have not been contacted. I don‘t know anything about any potential inquiries, but I welcome the chance to set record straight once and for all.
So he‘s dealing with this frontally, but all the time whacking other guy, Jim Greer, who is Charlie Crist‘s guy. Can he push this guilt over to Crist? Not only does Crist get hit for dropping the dime on him, but it looks like he‘s tainting himself in the act.
REINHARD: Well, you know, the—Marco Rubio‘s credit card statements, you know, we obtained them back in February, and we‘ve been writing about his spending through the credit card and also through some political committees he set up, you know, for several months. And the governor, of course, seized on that immediately and was running, you know, attack ads on television.
They didn‘t appear to work. They—the—you know, he remained as far behind in the polls, if not got a little farther behind. And the governor took down the television ads.
REINHARD: So as I was saying before, you know, the timing is not in the governor‘s favor, in that he—his credibility is strained. And Rubio has this reservoir of good will with, as you say, the tea party crowd.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, thank you very much. We‘re going to be watching to see whether he changes parties and goes independent or not. Jay Weaver, thank you for the investigative work, and Beth Reinhard, the political look at this.
Coming up: President Obama says it‘s time to get tough on Wall Street, but how tough‘s this guy going to get? Is he going to be Teddy Roosevelt or what.
But first, who‘s winning the money race right now for November, Democrats or Republicans? The answer to that coming up during the commercial in just one minute.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Who has more money for November, Democrats or Republicans? Well, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ended March with $26 million in cash on hand, compared to just $10 million that the national Republican Congressional Committee had in the bank. During March alone, the DCCC raised around $10 million, or had around $10 million, while the RNC was down under $10 million. Wow! It looks like the Democrats have a lot more money in the bank. Let‘s see how it looks in November. We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Obama‘s gearing up today to press his case for Wall Street clean-up. Tomorrow, he‘s going up to New York, and today about 1:30, he told CNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, John Harwood, that Wall Street‘s wild gambles have to come to an end.
John Harwood joins us right now, along with Savannah Guthrie, who‘s a White House correspondent for NBC. John, you asked the president if Wall Street has done enough to police itself in the wake of the crash. Let‘s listen. You give me your sense of it afterwards. Here‘s the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: When you spoke in New York a few months ago to a lot of those Wall Street executives, you urged them, even in the absence of a law, to take to heart the need to change the way they do business.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right.
HARWOOD: Have they done that?
OBAMA: Not as much as I‘d like. I mean, look, I think that you don‘t want to paint with too broad a brush. Each financial institution is different. I do think that there is a sense of, Now that the crisis is over, let‘s go back to business as usual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: John, do you have a sense that he‘s more reflective, a little more nuanced in talking to you than he‘s been in some these more barn-burning statements that he‘s made on the air?
HARWOOD: I do, Chris, and I think that‘s because he senses that a deal is beginning to come together between Democrats and Republicans. I talked to a top staffer on the Banking Committee this afternoon who said, We‘re close to making a deal with the Republicans. And I think the president dialed back the rhetoric a little bit. You didn‘t hear all of the stuff about, you know, fat cats and obscene bonuses and all that sort of stuff. He was trying to present a rather cool and tempered demeanor, I think.
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s what the president said when you told him that Wall Street doesn‘t think reform would work as well for them. I love that! Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: That‘s not surprising. They‘ve made out very well under a regime in which when things were going well, they were making huge profits. And when things didn‘t go well and everything crashed, taxpayers were left footing the bill. I—and I think the vast majority of Americans think it is unacceptable to have a situation in which, you know, “Tails you win, and heads, I lose.” And taxpayers have been put in the position where they had to make a choice a couple of years ago, either we let the entire economy crash because of irresponsibility on Wall Street, or alternatively, we end up having to pony up money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Speaking of ponying up money, Savannah, as everybody who covers Washington, you especially know that both parties feed at the trough of Wall Street when it comes to raising campaign money. Is this president tiptoeing now not just to get some Republicans aboard, but he knows by name a lot of people on Wall Street and he doesn‘t want them giving him a hard time when he comes back for money in the next campaign?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I don‘t know about that because I think it‘s where the rubber hits the road, right? I mean, he‘s still going forward with his financial regulatory reform that a lot of bankers don‘t like. He said to John Harwood in that interview that he—I think that he dodged the question whether he would give back or whether he was embarrassed about receiving that money from Wall Street.
But what senior aides here say to that argument, or to that suggestion, is, Look, I mean, the classic situation is you get money from some corporate interest, and then you go and do their bidding in government, and here‘s an example of him doing precisely the opposite.
But I thought the tone in John Harwood‘s interview was notable and I think we‘re going to see something along those lines tomorrow when he makes this speech at Cooper Union in the shadow of Wall Street. It‘s not going to be one of these barn burners. He‘s not going to put the screws to Wall Street. He‘s going to say, Can‘t we all get along, in one form or another, saying, It‘s in your interest to get behind reform, don‘t fight us, join us.
HARWOOD: Chris, I think you may remember...
MATTHEWS: John? Go ahead, John.
HARWOOD: ... a famous quote where some politician said, If you can‘t take their money and date their women—I‘m editing the quote...
MATTHEWS: You are.
HARWOOD: ... you‘re not worth a darn as a politician.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s a California phrase, and I love it well. The question is, is he tough enough to keep asking for the money? And that‘s a good question. Savannah, he isn‘t going to stop asking for the money, is he?
GUTHRIE: Oh, I don‘t know about that. I think the DNC will continue its lavish fund-raising. I mean, I don‘t think there‘s anything in this proposal...
GUTHRIE: ... that would put an end to that, so I wouldn‘t expect that to go away anytime, no.
MATTHEWS: John, let‘s...
GUTHRIE: Both parties feed at that trough, as you know.
MATTHEWS: I know they do. Let‘s take a look at what the president‘s going to say (INAUDIBLE) here is—the president told you that there‘s no connection between his push for financial reform and the timing of the SEC‘s charge—no, this is responding to the charge from the Republican side, in the Hill especially, that he sort of went into cahoots with the SEC and said, Let‘s score some political points here in going after Goldman Sachs. Let‘s listen to his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I gave a speech about financial regulatory reform in 2007, before our current crisis, in 2008, before we fully knew what this crisis was going to be. We released financial reform as a package over a year ago. And so we‘re not Johnny-come-latelies to this thing. We‘ve been pushing this hard throughout.
And the SEC is an entirely independent agency that we have no day-to-day control over, and they never discussed with us anything with respect to the charge that will be brought. So this notion that somehow there would be any attempt to interfere in an independent agency is completely false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, John Harwood, help me out here. Why would it look bad for any politician to say, Let‘s get tough with these bad guys, to any regulatory agency? I guess I don‘t see where there‘s a down side to saying, Hey, let‘s all be Dick Tracys here, let‘s all get these guys.
HARWOOD: Well, I think you‘ve got a point, Chris. I think the question is, Was there any interference? And the president was very strong in saying absolutely there was not.
MATTHEWS: I see.
HARWOOD: And you know, he‘s pushing back against this mistrust in the country. And one of the things that people might point to—we‘ll see how the SEC case turns out, but Greg Craig, the former White House counsel, has gone to now represent Goldman. And again, if you‘re of a mind, as a lot of people are on the right, the left, to distrust the motives of the government, you may say, Hey, wait a minute, maybe that case was set up.
MATTHEWS: Yes, let me ask Savannah about the politics. It seems like during health care, we all know this, that it was kind a murky situation in terms of the public reaction. It was about—at best, a 50/50 proposition in terms of immediate crowd appeal.
It seems like, this time, the president is dancing on a floor people want to see him on, which is going after the wealthy people that may have misused their power on Wall Street.
Is he going to have—does he have a little lighter step right now? Is he a happier guy going up to Wall Street than he was for fighting for health care?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think they recognize that the—the populist feeling that‘s going on in the country right now is with them, anti-Wall Street.
So, they‘re also happy because they have a good economic story to tell. Unemployment, there‘s not a lot of good news there. This is something affirmative they can do. They can say, look, we‘re cracking down on the banks. We‘re tightening up some of the worst practice. We‘re shut downing the casino.
So, the president may use conciliatory language tomorrow, but the bottom line is, they‘re saying, Wall Street, the party is over. We really want to tighten up this regulation. And, you know, they need it because it‘s a counternarrative to something that has come up over the last year.
A lot of people started to conflate the Recovery Act, the stimulus act, that $787 billion act, with the bailouts of Wall Street. So, in a lot of ways, the president was getting lumped with that kind of Mr. Bailout narrative.
GUTHRIE: So, this is a way for him to say, I‘m fighting back against Wall Street. I‘m trying to crack down on them.
And, frankly, that‘s why Democrats were not freaking out when there were 41 Republican senators signing on a letter in opposition last week. They felt like, at the end of the day, Republicans are going to get cold feet, a few will peel off, and we‘re going to get our bill.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris...
MATTHEWS: What about...
HARWOOD: ... you couldn‘t dream up a fight that the White House would want more than this fight right now.
MATTHEWS: Well, is the president going to going to up to—you‘re telling me, though, he‘s going to go up there a little more carefully than I might have thought of two days ago.
HARWOOD: Well, I think the—the level of the rhetoric may vary according to how much resistance he‘s getting from the other side.
When he gave that radio address over the weekend and really whacked Mitch McConnell and the Republicans and the special interest lobbyists, that‘s when it looked like they were standing up and saying, solid wall of opposition.
Now you see Mitch McConnell saying, well, we‘re getting more serious about this now. And Richard Shelby says, we‘re 85 percent close to a deal.
HARWOOD: And the Democrats are also saying, we‘re close. That—in that environment, I think the president is more confident and doesn‘t feel like he needs to hit them quite as hard.
MATTHEWS: Would he rather have about a handful of Republicans with him and be a real Teddy Roosevelt, or have 15 or 20 with him and look like he‘s a little softer?
John, your assessment, what do you think they would like to see more, 75 votes or maybe 63, and have—make it a little tougher?
HARWOOD: I think that the—it depends on what bill they—the larger group would sign onto.
He knows he‘s got the whip hand in this debate right now. He‘s got the strongest position. So, he can hold tough on some the controversial elements, and they will come along.
If he only got five for a tough bill, I think he would take that. But if—if the whole rest of the crew wants to sign on board and have a consensus bill, I think he will say, I made them take it.
What Republicans are going to say, by the way, Chris, is, they‘re going to seize on any change made to this bill, and say, we stood up against bailouts; we protected the taxpayer from that.
Thank you very much, John Harwood.
Thank you, Savannah Guthrie, at the White House.
Up next: The late-night comics go after Goldman Sachs. And on HARDBALL “Sideshow,” you are going to hear all the jokes.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
First of all, it‘s not a sideshow when it‘s your money, but let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: So, now we will attempt to figure out just what exactly is going on at Goldman Sachs, that the SEC is now charging them with fraud, in our continuing Wall Street segment, “These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Guys.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: So, here are the Goldman Sachs excuses.
LETTERMAN: Number nine: You‘re saying fraud like it‘s a bad thing.
LETTERMAN: Number eight—number four...
LETTERMAN: ... hey, sport, how much to make these questions go away?
LETTERMAN: Number three, America needed a villain both Republicans and Democrats can hate.
LETTERMAN: And the number-one Goldman Sachs excuse, uhh, it‘s Obama‘s fault?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE COLBERT REPORT”)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: Why are government employees filing a civil suit against Goldman Sachs? That‘s just going to be embarrassing in a few years when they all go back to work at Goldman Sachs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
STEWART: Regulate these derivative markets. Who can disagree with that?
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And Republicans aren‘t beating around the Bush anymore. They say flat-out they will filibuster new rules for the nation‘s financial system. GOP senators contend the legislation would lead to more bank bailouts.
STEWART: These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry. There‘s nothing funny about people being out there screwing up the American economy. Just ask anyone out there right now trying to get a job or trying to get a loan.
Next: Bartering for health care? That‘s a proposal being offered by Republicans Sue Lowden of Nevada, who is running to replace Senator Harry Reid this election. You know, giving someone a bag of potatoes for getting your broken arm fixed.
Here she was with her idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUE LOWDEN ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Let‘s change the system and talk about what the possibilities are. I‘m telling you that this works.
You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say, I will paint your house. They would do—I mean, that‘s the old days of what people would do to get health care with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I—I‘m not backing down from that system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Bring a chicken to the doctor, paint their house, is that what the Republicans mean by repeal and replace?
Time now for the “Big Number,” and it spells big trouble for Republican Senator John Ensign.
Remember Ensign admitted last year to an affair with one of his staffer‘s wife—well, his wife—and is currently under investigation as to whether he broke lobbying laws to help that staffer get another job?
Anyway, Senator Ensign hasn‘t yet said whether he‘s going to run for reelection in 2012, but his first-quarter fund-raising number this year gives you an idea of just how tough it would be. According to Talking Points Memo, just one person, one, donated to Ensign‘s reelection so far, giving the senator a grand haul of $50 in fund-raising money.
The lone donor had—actually explained his—his support, saying—quote—“All men are dogs.” That‘s the donor talking.
Fifty dollars total donated to Senator John Ensign by that guy, from one person, who said he‘s a dog—tonight, not a very “Big Number.”
Up next: Arizona goes after illegal immigrants, and also after President Obama‘s birth certificate. They still want another birth certificate.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
BRIAN SHACTMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Brian Shactman with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks wobbling to a mixed finish on a flood of corporate earnings today, the Dow Jones industrials up about eight points, the S&P 500, though, slipping 1.25 points. The Nasdaq added four points to the plus side.
Starbucks reporting after the closing bell, posting better-than-expected earnings and boosting its full-year outlook—shares moving higher in after-hours trading, but eBay shares selling off on earnings coming in flat to slightly better-than-expected.
And then there‘s Boeing, which finished at the top of the Dow today, with shares soaring nearly 4 percent, after beating on earnings. But I will tell you it did lower its outlook.
AT&T shares dipping slightly, despite topping forecasts. The telecom giant added nearly two million subscribers, but investors are worried that the market may be getting a little saturated.
Energy company Transocean sliding nearly 2 percent, after an explosion at one of its oil rigs off of the Louisiana coast.
That is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
There‘s a big fight unfolding in the state of Arizona over an immigration bill that would allow local law enforcement officials, police officers, to stop a person they suspect is an illegal immigrant.
Here‘s Illinois Congress Luis Gutierrez—Luis Gutierrez—reacting to the bill yesterday in Washington. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: The governor of Arizona should veto the bill. And, if she doesn‘t, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, should assert federal government‘s preeminent role in regulating and enforcing our nation‘s immigration laws.
The lunacy of rounding up people because they look a certain way or are suspected of being in violation of immigration statutes can only lead to one thing: violations of people‘s basic fundamental civil rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of California sits on the Homeland Security Committee. And Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray of California is a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.
I want to get to this issue of birthing—or birthers, because there‘s part of this legislation out there that are basically going to say future presidential candidates, they have got to have birth certificates.
But let‘s start this general issue.
Congresswoman Sanchez, what‘s wrong with a state trying to enforce a law the federal government never seems to get around to enforcing? They have half-a-million illegal immigrants in Arizona. The federal government has dropped the ball. Why shouldn‘t the state of Arizona pick it up and do the job?
REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, actually, the federal government has put more resources.
Many of the law enforcement agencies in Arizona are under 287(g). But what we find is that they‘re not very well-trained about what the rights are of people. So, the problem with a law like this is that, for example, I‘m Hispanic. So, if I go to Arizona, does that mean I have to carry a copy of my birth certificate and an affidavit and 14 signatures of witnesses to say that I‘m an American citizen?
How do you suspect someone looks like something? That is the problem with a law like that.
MATTHEWS: Well, what is the law—what would be a way that we could avoid all this and stop illegal immigration? Do you support the idea of a biometric I.D. card that‘s actually checkable, or not have a checkable I.D. card? Do you want a checkable I.D. card?
SANCHEZ: Well, I actually am one of those people that like the freedoms of being in the United States. And one of the things that we have always argued for was that we wouldn‘t have a national I.D. card.
But, again, I‘m also a person who lives under an I.D. card here in the Congress. I live under a driver‘s license that‘s under the biometric I.D. for the future for California. So, I mean, I‘m already using that...
SANCHEZ: ... if I want to drive. I‘m already using that if I want to come into the Capitol.
So, personally, I don‘t have a problem with it.
SANCHEZ: But there are a lot of conservatives who do.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s their problem.
The fact is, you and I have to get on airplanes and show an honest I.D. card. And if it‘s not an honest I.D. card, it‘s fraud. OK, and if we go to the bank and try to get money out and it‘s not us, it‘s fraud. If we try to check into a hotel and use a phony name, it‘s fraud.
OK, let‘s go the other congressman.
What about Arizona? Why do states try to get into the business the federal government is into, which is protecting us from illegal immigration?
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY ®, CALIFORNIA: Well, I think the same reason they‘re involved in the drug war, too, Chris, is that this is a community problem. It‘s not just a Washington, D.C., concern or just a border problem.
This is something across the board. You could imagine how successful we would be in fighting the scourge of drug dealers if we just said, well, local government‘s not going to be involved, we‘re not going to allow the counties and the cities involved, we‘re going to do this all just the federal government.
And you know that it has to be a coordinated community effort across the board in any kind of enforcement effort. This is the basis of community enforcements.
MATTHEWS: Yes, OK.
BILBRAY: You know, it‘s a given.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a problem. Suppose you are a second-generation Mexican-American or from Colombia or somewhere, and you have an Hispanic look, dark complexion, whatever. You may have something about you that indicates you from that part of the country or that part of the world originally, your parents were.
And a cop stops you and says, well, you have a mustache, or something that makes me think that you‘re Mexican-American or something, and he starts bothering you. Don‘t you think we are going to have a problem here with cops bothering people just because they seem to be Hispanic, even though they‘re citizens or they have a green card?
BILBRAY: Chris, that‘s why we have—we have the policies that there are things that you indicate that even go beyond the color of your skin, the hair, that looks at the fact—the way you dress.
My mother is an immigrant. I‘m first-generation—I mean second-generation on that. She speaks a little funny. But the fact is that the law enforcement is trained. In this law, it specifically says you will have a pattern of activity or a pattern of indications that give you a justification to think there‘s reasonable doubt, not just the fact of somebody‘s ethnicity.
So, this one has in there—it‘s something that federal government does with local government right now. We have programs so that they are using these systems right now.
The difference is, the—the people of Arizona are doing this across the board, rather than piecemeal, in their state. And that‘s why it‘s being implemented.
BILBRAY: And it—it really isn‘t that big of a leap, and it shouldn‘t be.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to the president.
SANCHEZ: Brian, that—Brian...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Congresswoman.
SANCHEZ: ... that‘s just not—that‘s just not true.
In fact, one of the sheriffs there in Arizona is under FBI investigation because he hasn‘t followed the rules and his deputies have not followed the rules. They haven‘t gotten the type of training that we get—give to our ICE or our federal agencies—agents that are—that do this immigration issue.
So, there are quite a few—in fact, sitting as the border chairwoman for over four years, one of the things that I saw was, you know, discussion after discussion from law enforcement officers about how this wasn‘t followed, about how people were being pulled over without, you know—and the law, the language that could be signed into law by this Arizona government says you suspect them of being an illegal.
What does that mean, you suspect them of being an illegal?
SANCHEZ: What does that mean, you suspect them of being an illegal?
BILBRAY: Chris, look, as someone who was born and raised on the border, I‘ve seen this my entire life. There is indications (ph) between legal residents and those who can be identified as being highly suspectable.
MATTHEWS: Like what? Give me a non-ethnic. Give me a non-ethnic aspect that would tell you to pick up somebody.
BILBRAY: I‘ll give you an example of the—they will look at the kind of dress you wear. There‘s different type of attire. There‘s different type of—you—right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes, but mostly by behavior. It‘s mostly behavior, just as the law enforcement people here in Washington, D.C., does it based on certain criminal activities.
BILBRAY: There is behavior things that professionals are trained in across the board.
BILBRAY: And this group shouldn‘t be exempt from those observations as much as anybody else.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s John McCain with a new look. He was Mr. Immigration, but here he is on Bill O‘Reilly. He has a different look right now. Here he is. Let‘s listen to John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: The state of Arizona is acting and doing what they feel they need to do in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its fundamental responsibility to secure our borders. Our borders...
BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: But what about the racial profiling?
MCCAIN: ... must be secure.
O‘REILLY: You know that‘s going to happen. It has to happen.
MCCAIN: I hope—I would be very sorry that—if some of that happens and I—I regret it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, Congresswoman, what do you think of John McCain, the new John McCain?
SANCHEZ: Well, I think—he‘s obviously trying to win a primary where he‘s got a very conservative, you know, person who‘s very, very—got some very strange ideas. I know. I served with that person here in the Congress. I hope that John does beat him and then John comes back as a senator and gets back to the issue of—of really being middle-of-the-road here and helping us to push real and good immigration reform because that‘s what we need.
We don‘t need to be profiling people. We don‘t need to be going after people. We don‘t need to have local agencies deciding to take people off the street for whatever reason because they look like a suspect. We need good immigration reform here from the Capitol.
MATTHEWS: OK. I love the way you give John McCain a ride. You figure he‘s just faking it, so you don‘t mind. Let‘s take a look—just so he beats J.D. Hayworth, that‘s all that you care. Let me go to Congressman Bilbray first. You‘re a Republican. What do you make of the state Arizona saying you have to have—you have to have a birth certificate to get on the ballot next time? Do you think this is ad hominem? Is this a bill of attainder, as we used to say in Constitution classes? Is this aimed directly at the president of the United States himself, Barack Obama?
BILBRAY: No, Chris. Actually, this is Arizona. This is really aimed at McCain because McCain was—there‘s been an issue with the fact that he wasn‘t born in the United States. Now, it‘s interesting, the fact that he‘s qualified to be citizen—president. You don‘t have to be born in the United States, but a lot of people look at that. But because he was born in Panama...
BILBRAY: ... and the Panama Canal is not—was not U.S. territory,
it was U.S. area to be treated as if it‘s territory by treaty with Panama -
so McCain‘s actually went through a lot of same thing in Arizona...
MATTHEWS: But they‘re doing it now.
BILBRAY: ... when the issue was raised by his presidency.
MATTHEWS: But Congressman, they‘re doing it now. John McCain‘s not running for president anymore. He doesn‘t have to be native-born anymore. He‘s an American, obviously. So the question is—the question is, Why are they aiming it at the president of the United States now? Do you think it‘s personal? One more try.
BILBRAY: No. I think that—I think it‘s a way to avoid—I think all of us, Chris, everybody in electative (SIC) office should be showing that we are a citizen and that we are—I think...
BILBRAY: ... the problem with this bill is that it should be universal to all elected officials. But I don‘t know if McCain is running again. Remember, he‘s been running every election since I‘ve—I‘ve been a child.
BILBRAY: So I‘m not so sure you can say he‘s not running.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, I can‘t, either, but I‘ll tell you this. Barack Obama has shown his birth certificate to the world. He has shown documentation of his birth twice now from two different newspaper accounts, which were only written with the authorities participating in those announcements. They weren‘t just somebody putting out Christmas cards. These were announcements of somebody being born. We have all the records available from anybody who comes out of Hawaii. He has shown the record. And the birthers are crazy and they keep raising this crazy issue, and now the assembly of Arizona has joined the birther wagon and are behaving just as zanily as the birthers.
Anyway, thank you, Congressman Sanchez—Congresswoman Sanchez and Congressman Bilbray.
SANCHEZ: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next...
BILBRAY: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... I‘m in Pennsylvania tonight, where the Senate primary race is getting a little nasty. Arlen Specter‘s getting a little nasty.
Joe Sestak‘s going to talk to us about the latest Arlen ad against him. It
says he was relieved of duty. We‘re going to see what he thinks about that
when he was a Naval admiral.
But first, during the commercial coming up, the District of Columbia‘s never had a voting member of Congress. Will it have one in now? We‘re going to tell you. The verdict‘s in, at least for now.
This is HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Washington, D.C., has never had a voting member of Congress. It‘s not likely to have one soon. The long-anticipated D.C. voting rights bill was scuttled by a controversy over a Republican provision that would have stripped the District of Columbia of its strict gun control laws. Many Democrats said they could no longer support the bill now, and so taxation without representation continues for Washington‘s 600,000 residents.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. The Democratic primary up here in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania pits the incumbent, Senator Arlen Specter, who was a Republican for 30 years—he‘s now a Democrat—against Joe Sestak, who‘s always been a Democrat. This week, Specter went negative. It wasn‘t a surprise, but it‘s pretty tough stuff. Let‘s watch this ad. Pay attention. Here‘s the ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Sestak, relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a poor command climate. Joe Sestak, the worst attendance of any Pennsylvania congressman and near the bottom of the entire Congress. Last year alone, Sestak missed 127 votes. Sestak says the missed votes weren‘t important. He went campaigning instead. Let‘s say no to no-show Joe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know where they find those creepy announcers, but that‘s a pretty creepy ad. That‘s Congressman Joe Sestak. And I have to congratulation you, sir, for keeping your sanity during this race. But you must have known going up against Arlen Specter—now you‘ve got four weeks to -- (INAUDIBLE) going to come. He did it to Jim Hoeffel. He‘s done it to Lynn Yakel (ph). Everyone who‘s ever ran against him he has destroyed. He doesn‘t just run against, he prosecutes you. He makes you the bad guy. You are evil at the end of these races. You must have known this was coming. What‘s your reaction?
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I‘m going to find it hard to believe that the leaders of my Democratic Party aren‘t already on the phone to Arlen Specter. I mean, remember what Joe Biden said—I support Barack Obama because he doesn‘t try to perfect the politics of Swift Boating, he seeks to end them. And I think that everybody‘s pretty obvious that what Arlen Specter has done is reverted to old Republican-style politics, but now he‘s in the Democratic Party.
You know, let me give you a quote. I still remember when Barack Obama as a candidate said, I love this country too much to let him steal another election by lies, like this one, outrageous, phony assertions, Swift Boating. And you know, they did this to Max Cleland, who lost his limbs in Vietnam. They did it to John Kerry. No, all veterans aren‘t going to stand for this absolute false assertion that he has made. You don‘t get to be a three-star admiral, get to lead the Navy‘s anti-terrorism unit, get to command an aircraft carrier battle group without having a distinguished career.
Arlen Specter—you know, it is time without a question for the change in politics...
SESTAK: ... of a Republican who‘s a Democrat in name only. I don‘t think my party leadership is going to tacitly...
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re optimistic. Let me ask you this. Do you think some of the people watching that ad we just watched think you were section 8, that you had a problem, that you were relieved of duty for some personal reason? That‘s what he‘s saying, that you had a problem.
SESTAK: That‘s what he...
MATTHEWS: Section 8, whatever you want to call it. What‘s “relieved of duty” mean to you?
SESTAK: I don‘t know!
MATTHEWS: To me, it means you couldn‘t do the job. You had a problem, mental, emotional, whatever, and you couldn‘t do the job, so they took it away from you. That‘s what Arlen‘s saying about you.
SESTAK: Well, I think it‘s pretty—pretty obvious right now that the verdict on Arlen Specter is he‘s not fit to be the United States senator. And that‘s why he‘s going to be relieved of command. Look, Arlen Specter‘s verdict has already been made, and you know it. You‘ve seen the Rasmussen poll. We‘re in a dead heat. You‘ve seen other polls where many, many are undecided.
I can respect Arlen Specter for his service but not for these outrageous lies and the things he‘s saying now. No, you know Pennsylvanians, Chris. It‘s time has come to change politics. And you saw Massachusetts say it. Pox on both your houses down there! If we don‘t change politics—we‘re in this for principle, and there‘s too many principles in our Democrat Party to welcome Arlen Specter‘s negative tactics.
MATTHEWS: Well, look, I‘m not going to take sides, but let me just tell you what I know about politics. If you‘re in office 45 years, like Arlen, and you‘ve been a senator for 30 years with a good record that you want to defend—you think it‘s a good record, but yet you got to run ads about your opponent, saying he was relieved of duty and he‘s a skunk, basically, a Section 8, there must be something showing up in your polling that‘s telling you you have to do this.
Now, you‘ve got the Rasmussen poll. That‘s a poll (INAUDIBLE) only one—all the other polls have got you 15 points out. Do you think you‘re going to win this one, when he‘s running this negative stuff?
SESTAK: Without question—you know, you also saw there was another poll, I‘ve forgotten the name, just after Rasmussen, where I closed 14 points from three weeks before. No, you know as well as I do, he said he wasn‘t going to go up on TV until I did. And then those two polls came up. He started a week ago. He‘s running scared. He ran from Pat Toomey. It‘s the only thing he can do because he has no accomplishments other than supporting George Bush four out of five times.
SESTAK: And let me—don‘t get me wrong. He‘s done some things like NAH funding. But he‘s—he—what‘s he going to do, say, I‘m a Democrat, and argue with me on policy? No way. Look, Arlen Specter—let‘s thank him for his service, but this negativity—and Chris, we know it‘s tough in politics. Think about the seven of eight people who thought they would get in to run against him and never did for various reasons, including they knew this is what Arlen did.
I got in this race, though, despite all that because I honestly do believe it‘s time for a change where people can trust somebody. Here he is, giving Rick Santorum his vote...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you...
SESTAK: ... saying, I‘ll support—I‘ll support George Bush‘s nominees for the Supreme Court Justice if Rick Santorum will give me his endorsement. What a shame to give away one‘s...
MATTHEWS: Do you think Pennsylvanians would rather have a really nasty customer, like that ad shows Arlen to be, or they‘d rather have somebody like you, that‘s sort of St. Francis, a nice guy? Do you think the public doesn‘t want some real tough customer down (ph) like Arlen? Arlen‘s been called “snarlin‘ Arlen” because he‘s very tough. But the fact is, there he is. And you‘re saying nice things about him. So if you say some nice things about him, he won‘t say anything nice about you.
SESTAK: It doesn‘t matter.
MATTHEWS: Do you know the uneven nature of this battle?
SESTAK: Look, when I was on the ground in Afghanistan as head of the Navy‘s antiterrorism unit for a short period, with my aircraft carrier command, and we were doing retaliatory strikes over Afghanistan...
SESTAK: ... or strikes—there‘s—there‘s no one who‘s not going to call me tough. But do (SIC) my results oriented? Have I increased the small business contracts in my district threefold in three years?
SESTAK: Do we keep our—do we take care of people, move money (ph) (INAUDIBLE) Absolutely. But the results of Arlen Specter is Pennsylvania‘s job creation has been half...
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘ve got...
SESTAK: ... the national average of 30 years.
MATTHEWS: Here we go...
SESTAK: Toughness, no, yes.
MATTHEWS: OK, you...
SESTAK: But results also, Chris. Results.
MATTHEWS: OK. Senator Specter, I have to offer you—Senator Specter, if you want to come on and defend the charge that this fellow was relieved of command, the very words you used—if you want to back them up on the air because I think it does imply a real problem and I don‘t think the evidence supports it. But if you want to make the case, Senator, come on and blast the guy personally, not just do a paid ad. Anyway, thank you very much Senator Joe Sestak...
SESTAK: ... thank you.
MATTHEWS: There‘s a Freudian slip!
SESTAK: No, I appreciated “senator” and...
MATTHEWS: When we return—that was an accident. When we return—it must be the Rasmussen poll in my head. Anyway, we‘ll have you back. And anyway, we‘re going to talk in a minute about Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican who ended up on Mt. Rushmore by being a trust buster, by cleaning up the bad guys on Wall Street.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: “Let Me Finish” tonight with a word about the party of Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt became vice president in 1901. Within months, President McKinley was shot in Buffalo, and we found ourselves with a real rootin‘, tootin‘ reformer as president. Teddy Roosevelt turned out to be the most popular Republican of all time, up there on Mt. Rushmore now with George, Abe and Tom Jefferson.
Talk about being independent. Here‘s what Teddy said about the big business of his day. Quote, “We demand that big business give the people a square deal. In return, we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right, he shall himself be given a square deal.”
Well, according to a great article in “The Washington Post” by Simon Johnson and James Quack (ph), Roosevelt had his version of Goldman Sachs to deal with, a railroad monopoly owned by financier J.P. Morgan. Morgan tried to slip out of a mess he got himself into. Quote, “If we have done anything wrong,” he said in a note to President Roosevelt, “Send your man to my man and they can fix it up.”
Well, Teddy Roosevelt told J.P. to forget all this “your man” and “my man” business. Quote, “We don‘t want to fix it up,” He sent word back to Morgan, “We want to stop the dirty deals, period.”
Well, maybe President Obama‘s going to get really tough with Wall Street. Certainly, there would be a loud cheering section if he did, and maybe he can get some Republicans behind him if he does. Maybe there are a few out there who still have a picture of Teddy Roosevelt up on their wall.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. 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.
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