Guests: Julia Boorstin, Chris Van Hollen, Scott Garrett, Raul Grijalva, David Corn, John
Heilemann, Steve Kornacki, Alex Burns
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Greed is not good.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews here in Washington. Leading off tonight: Wall Street showdown. Wall Street reform is a fight President Obama and the Democrats are happy to have and figure to win. Senate Democrats are putting the squeeze on Republicans, bringing Wall Street reform to the floor on Monday and betting that the GOP won‘t want to be seen as Wall Street‘s protector.
This isn‘t like health care reform, where the Democrats had to convince people they were on the public side. In fact, I think President Obama is right where he needs to be on this one.
One fight the president may be smart to avoid is immigration. The Arizona governor has just signed a new bill that would require state law enforcement officials to ask anyone suspected of being illegal—in the country illegally for identification. The law has sparked outrage among Latino groups and it may have forced the president‘s hand in tackling an issue that could prove very divisive in the mid-term elections this November.
And get a load of the latest from Dick Cheney. He says that his gross remark to Senator Patrick Leahy back in his vice presidency days was, quote, “sort of the best thing I ever did.” Well, is he serious? I‘m just kidding. He‘s been endorsing candidates, by the way, all over the place, all of these Republican primaries. But it‘s time to ask, does anybody really care who gets Dick Cheney‘s Betty Crocker seal of approval?
And if you‘re wondering why the SEC employees didn‘t have their eyes on the ball while Wall Street crippled the economy, wait until you see what they did with those eyes. Here‘s a hint. It‘s X-rated, it‘s triple-X-rated. Check out the “Sideshow” tonight to see what the SEC boys were busy doing.
I‘m going to finish tonight with some thoughts on the tricky issue of immigration reform.
Let‘s start, however, with the political fight over Wall Street reform. Democratic congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It‘s his job to get Democrats elected this fall.
This is a winner for you, isn‘t it, Wall Street. They‘re the bad guys.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD), OVERSIGHT AND GOVT. REFORM COMMITTEE:
Well, it‘s a winner because it‘s a winner for the American people. We need to hold Wall Street accountable. Never again should the taxpayers be left on the hook for the bills for the big mistakes of the people on Wall Street. They made the bad decisions. We shouldn‘t ask taxpayers to bail them out. Next time, we need to make sure that they take responsibility and they‘re held accountable, and we need to prevent that from happening in the first place.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to get this bill rammed through, or are you going to get some Republicans to slow this thing down? It looks like people like Shelby, Richard Shelby, are saying, Oh, give us a couple weeks to work it out. Do they really want to cooperate with a strong bill with teeth in it, or do they want to water it down and then go aboard? What do they want?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, what was pretty clear was Mitch McConnell, Senator McConnell, the Republican leader, went up to Wall Street about two weeks ago, a week ago, huddled in the back rooms with the big Wall Street bankers, came back and opposed the bill. So it was pretty clear they wanted to put the brakes on this legislation. But Harry Reid...
MATTHEWS: You think there‘s a causality between that meeting and what position Mitch McConnell took when he came back?
VAN HOLLEN: Oh, I think—I think he wanted to kill the bill to begin with and...
MATTHEWS: Why are the Republicans...
VAN HOLLEN: And he went up to Wall Street...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a fundamental question.
VAN HOLLEN: ... and said, We want your support.
MATTHEWS: You and some of the viewers may think this is obvious, but I‘d like to hear it spelled out. Both parties take money from Wall Street. You got a lot of friends up—you probably have a lot friends on Wall Street. Most Democrats, most politicians do have friends on Wall Street. They‘re very educated guys up there. Like them or not, they‘re very smart people, and some of them are pretty social. They‘ve got a lot of money and they‘re very political, right? So you get a lot of money from Wall Street as chairman of the party. The other guys get money from it, too.
Why are the Democrats the ones going against Wall Street and the Republicans seeming to play defense when you‘re both in the till?
VAN HOLLEN: Well...
MATTHEWS: Explain that to me.
VAN HOLLEN: ... the fact of the matter is both parties get contributions from different groups around the country, different people from...
MATTHEWS: But a lot of money from Wall Street.
VAN HOLLEN: ... around the—around the country...
MATTHEWS: You go where the money is. Willie Sutton said, Go where the money is.
VAN HOLLEN: But the fact of the matter is, Chris, this is obviously in the public interest, and nobody wants the taxpayers left on the hook. It is very difficult to explain why the Republicans have dug in so hard on this issue, other than to say they‘re happy with business as usual on Wall Street. I mean, that is the only explanation. It‘s not...
MATTHEWS: Could this be just stupidity on their part?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: Couldn‘t this be a dumb move? How about this idea?
They‘ve been so smart to just say no to this president. It‘s helped them. Look where they are in the polls. They‘re almost competitive. In fact, they‘re very competitive with you guys now, by simply saying, No, no, no, Obama‘s a socialist, a communist, a Nazi, whatever else they‘re saying this week, and it‘s worked for them.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: You think they got into a rut of doing that?
VAN HOLLEN: I think there‘s no doubt about it. It was the same mantra day in, day out. We know it was a calculated strategy to oppose Obama at every turn. And they said, Hey...
VAN HOLLEN: ... this is going to work on Wall Street. And I should say...
MATTHEWS: That mantra...
VAN HOLLEN: ... the House Republicans to a person voted no on Wall Street accountability when we voted in December.
MATTHEWS: Will they in a week or two, when you get back to them for the final vote?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think the—in the Senate, I think they will get some Republicans on board. What happens when it goes back to the House is anybody‘s guess. Again, I think a lot of us were very surprised to see every Republican House member say no to Wall Street accountability.
MATTHEWS: Why is that? You got to—you know the business. Why would they say no to something—everybody wants to be Teddy Roosevelt. Everybody wants to be the trust-busting reformer that goes to Wall Street and kicks butt and cleans up the place. It‘s always been good politics. Why wouldn‘t a Republican want to do that?
VAN HOLLEN: Chris, look, I mean, I—if—to listen to them, you‘re going to have to—you‘re going to have to do that. And I know we‘re going to hear from somebody, but the fact of the matter is, what it demonstrates very clearly is how cozy they‘ve gotten with the big banks and the special interests. And I don‘t see any other explanation...
VAN HOLLEN: ... because the president‘s...
VAN HOLLEN: ... been very clear, we just need some rules of the road...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s talk teeth. Everybody likes the sound of it. How about the teeth? Would this bill that you‘ve written, that‘s going to probably come out of the House and the Senate—will it prevent what happened in 2008?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Almost brought down the American economy.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Will it prevent the need for giant bail-outs again?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes. Yes, it will, because...
VAN HOLLEN: ... just like we have the FDIC right now, that can go into banks when they fail, restructure, essentially clean out the stockholders and restructure it, we‘re going to create a mechanism that allows us to do that with the biggest banks. That wasn‘t there in the past. In addition, there are going to be lots of early warning mechanisms in place. This is the whole question of derivatives...
VAN HOLLEN: ... these great exotic financial instruments...
MATTHEWS: Would you vote to ban derivatives?
VAN HOLLEN: I wouldn‘t—you don‘t want to ban derivatives. There‘s a useful place for derivatives, but it needs to be transparent so that people...
VAN HOLLEN: ... you don‘t have an AIG situation. Nobody knew that AIG had these huge—was exposed with these credit default swaps. That needs to be brought into the light so people know when these banks are building up this huge risk and leaving the taxpayer at the end of the day on the hook.
MATTHEWS: Got to be fair right now. Thank you, Chris Van Hollen. We may not get back to you, but we got to go even—even time here.
Let‘s bring in Republican congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey. He‘s a member of the Financial Services Committee. Congressman, your thoughts now. It looks to me like your party, the party really that was championed (ph) by one of my heroes, and I think yours, too, Teddy Roosevelt—went up there and busted the trusts, cleaned it up. Those pols in New York didn‘t believe what hit them when he was president.
Why aren‘t the Republicans being more Teddy Roosevelt and less William Howard Taft? What happened to you guys?
REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R-NJ), FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: The Republicans are being the ones that are bailing out. Maybe it‘s no surprise that—you know, that the—Goldman Sachs, who basically has endorsed this plan, who has been bailed out by this administration, will be swamping the street this coming week in Washington with their CEO and other execs, saying that they support this legislation.
And why is that? Because President Obama—this legislation that Chris Dodd has, and their administration, is continuing the bail-outs, continuing to say to the big banks on Wall Street, the very same ones that basically have provided the campaign cash to them in the past—Banks, don‘t worry, the American taxpayers will be there for you in the future if you need it. And that‘s what this legislation perpetuates. Republicans are saying no to that. Republicans say, We have to go back and do a system where we do not bail out these systems anymore and we have a system where jobs...
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute.
GARRETT: ... are created by...
MATTHEWS: Who started the bail-outs?
GARRETT: Well, in this legislation...
MATTHEWS: No, no, no. You started the—you used the word “bail-out,” like it‘s your common word for every third word now, bail-out, bail-out, bail-out. Fine. It‘s very useful politically. But who started the bail-outs? Wasn‘t it President Bush and the Republican administration that began—and now you say the trouble with the Democrats is they‘re perpetuating Bushism? In other words, the worst thing you can say about a Democrat today is he or she is doing what your party did to start this ball rolling.
GARRETT: Right. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Of bail-outs.
GARRETT: I voted—and that‘s why, as you know—we‘ve talked about this in the past, Chris—I was opposed to those bail-outs in the past. And I believe what we need to do now—what the American public says is to say if we haven‘t passed the legislation, we should do something that reforms the system. Make sure that we never find ourselves in this situation as we have right now.
And how do you do that? You craft legislation in a bipartisan manner, much of the way that, you know, Barney Frank did. I give him credit where credit is due in the—our House. We had over 100 committee hearings last year on this, breaking it down, piece by piece, bipartisan matter. Might not like the final product, but we spent the time and the energy to get it done as best we could. In the Senate, as you know, they‘re just pushing this thing along with some of the bad failed policies of the past.
GARRETT: And I will agree with you there. Those policies of the Bush administration were bad and failed policies and we should not perpetuate them into the future.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask a big question to you both, Chris Van Hollen, and you, Congressman, both of you congressmen. If you have these big companies like Goldman Sachs, these leviathans, really—they‘re like the old railroad system, they‘re too big to fail. Can you either honestly say you‘d let one of them go down? No matter what this $50 billion trust fund that‘s gleaned from the industry and all. But in the end, if the cost of bailing out one of these characters is $200 billion, wouldn‘t you have to do it?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, first—first...
MATTHEWS: No, wouldn‘t you have to do it if you had to?
VAN HOLLEN: Well...
MATTHEWS: If they fail?
VAN HOLLEN: The whole idea is to prevent that from happening.
MATTHEWS: But if it happens.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, we know what happens in the end. We know that you cannot allow a meltdown on Wall Street to bring the whole economy down.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask...
VAN HOLLEN: That‘s why you...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask that philosophical question to Mr. Garrett. Congressman, would you let one of these big guys like Lehman go down and not bail them out, like President Bush did, your president?
GARRETT: Absolutely. And that‘s why the Republicans have...
MATTHEWS: You‘d let them go down?
GARRETT: ... a proposal—before they did—before they—before President Obama even came out with a plan, we said we should have an expedited bankruptcy so you don‘t have any of these provisions. Forget about that $50 billion bail-out. What—Chris, what about section 204 in the bill that secures the creditors going forward?
GARRETT: What about section 210 in the bill...
MATTHEWS: OK, here‘s the problem with...
GARRETT: ... that says back-door...
GARRETT: ... back-door program? What about section 151 and 155...
MATTHEWS: I‘m learning this, like everybody is.
GARRETT: What about...
MATTHEWS: The trouble with bankruptcy is you let the same bums who brought the bank down to stay there. Bankruptcy doesn‘t mean the guys have to leave.
GARRETT: Sure, they do!
GARRETT: If they go bankrupt, they‘re not there anymore. But under Chris‘s...
MATTHEWS: Oh, they aren‘t?
VAN HOLLEN: No, let me just say one thing. Goldman Sachs and these guys have spent millions of dollars hiring lobbyists to oppose this legislation. They are not...
GARRETT: And where does that money go...
VAN HOLLEN: They have not supported this...
GARRETT: And where does most of the money go to? Most of that money went to your party, Chris. Twice as much money has gone to your party.
VAN HOLLEN: Scott, we‘re talking about money they paid to lobbyists. It didn‘t go to anybody by the lobbyists they were paying to try and kill this legislation. That‘s what...
GARRETT: I‘m talking about the money that‘s going into your pocket...
VAN HOLLEN: ... the money went to. And the fact of the matter is...
GARRETT: ... Chris, as head of the Democrat congressional committee.
Twice as much money is going to Democrats than the Republicans.
VAN HOLLEN: Actually, that‘s absolutely untrue. Check the latest records, Scott. That‘s absolutely...
MATTHEWS: Who gets the most money from Wall Street?
VAN HOLLEN: ... untrue. I think...
GARRETT: I‘ve got the records—I‘ve got the records—I‘ve got the records right here, Chris, and...
MATTHEWS: OK, read the numbers off.
VAN HOLLEN: That is...
GARRETT: Democrats received $2.9 -- $2.9 million from big banks, twice the amount of money than we received during the 2008 campaign.
MATTHEWS: And where‘s your document from? What are you reading from?
GARRETT: Off the FEC reports.
MATTHEWS: What‘s on the—what‘s on the top of the paper?
VAN HOLLEN: He‘s reading from—he‘s reading from a couple cycles ago. Right now, the banks have—the reason McConnell went up there and the reason John Boehner met with them up there is to say, Hey, you know what? You should be supporting us because we‘re trying to kill this thing. That is exactly why they huddled. That‘s why they went behind closed doors. That was the message they sent. And the fact of the matter is this legislation is designed to make sure that the Goldman Sachs of the world and the Lehman Brothers of the world...
MATTHEWS: OK. How about a law...
VAN HOLLEN: ... never again...
MATTHEWS: How about a law that nobody can take anymore money from Wall Street? Would that be a good deal? Nobody can take anymore money from Wall Street. Congressman, would you back up that deal? Congress can‘t take money from industries it regulates.
GARRETT: Well, we have that law...
MATTHEWS: How about that for a (INAUDIBLE)
GARRETT: We have that law in the state of New Jersey.
MATTHEWS: But it doesn‘t affect congressional people, though.
GARRETT: And we—I know, but...
MATTHEWS: Doesn‘t affect you any! I mean, you take money from big financial institutions. I checked your list today. Right?
GARRETT: Yes, both sides take it from...
MATTHEWS: You‘re not Mr. Clean here, either, are you?
GARRETT: Sure because...
MATTHEWS: Are you clean about taking money from Wall Street, sir?
I‘m not knocking it, but are you clean?
GARRETT: I‘m taking a position that I‘m antithetical to the position that Wall Street wants. Wall Street wants to have the taxpayer bank book right there in the future. We‘re saying no more to that. Chris, I don‘t know why you want to put the taxpayer on the hook like this. I really don‘t.
MATTHEWS: OK, I want to go back...
VAN HOLLEN: Oh, come on!
VAN HOLLEN: Come on.
MATTHEWS: Will either one of you say, I‘ll never take money from Wall Street again?
VAN HOLLEN: Excuse me?
MATTHEWS: OK, I accept the silence. You won‘t take money—you will take money from Wall Street, won‘t you?
VAN HOLLEN: Look, I have—I...
VAN HOLLEN: No, no, no. Seriously, Chris. You can check my records.
I may have—maybe I‘ve gotten some money from Wall Street in the past.
But the fact of the matter is, it‘s minuscule.
MATTHEWS: I mean as chairman of the committee.
VAN HOLLEN: Come on. As the DCCC?
VAN HOLLEN: No. The fact of the matter is, the DCCC...
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
MATTHEWS: Both sides do.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, but here‘s the—here‘s the question. Stick to the merits of what the proposal does.
MATTHEWS: I think the merits—I think it‘s a good...
VAN HOLLEN: OK? That‘s what...
MATTHEWS: It‘s a good effort.
VAN HOLLEN: ... we need to look at.
MATTHEWS: I prefer Teddy Roosevelt to William Howard Taft. But I think it‘s still a problem. Anyway, thank you, Congressman Van Hollen, and thank you, Congressman Garrett.
GARRETT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You all took money from the industry, except he took less, he says, but I‘m not sure.
Coming up: Will President Obama be forced to take an immigration reform—take it on because of a new law in Arizona? This is interesting. We might have a situation where that law is so bad in Arizona that both sides have to do something.
But first: We had them both on HARDBALL this week, Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Joe Sestak. And today Vice President Joe Biden endorsed one of them. Well, you know who it‘s going to be, but you‘ll find out during the commercial. It‘s coming up.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Vice President Joe Biden went up to Pennsylvania today to campaign for an old friend fighting for his political life. The vice president attended a rally and a fundraiser for Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter and urged Pennsylvania Democrats to send him back to the Senate. He did not address the controversy address over this program of the negative ads over Congressman Sestak that Senator Specter‘s been running, but instead said Specter‘s a valuable ally of the White House.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA: This bill, the Support Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, strengthens the laws of our state. It protects all of us, every Arizona citizen and everyone here in our state lawfully. And it does so while ensuring that the constitutional rights of all in Arizona remain solid, stable and steadfast. I will now sign senate bill 1070.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow! Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Arizona governor Jan Brewer late this afternoon signing into law a new measure in Arizona that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and allows local police to question people about their immigration status after suspicion that they‘re here illegally. Critics say the new law will lead to racial profiling and threaten civil rights.
With us now, Democratic congressman Paul (SIC) Grijalva of Arizona. Congressman, thank you for joining us on this very heated issue. What should be the means by which we deal with illegal immigration properly? What is the proper American way, as you see it, of maintaining border control or immigration control properly?
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Well, the proper route is the one that‘s before us, and that is to deal with a comprehensive approach to immigration law and immigration reform, to deal with the fact that the preeminence of this law is federal, that it is a national law. And that‘s how to approach it.
Congress has either run away from this or exploited this issue. I think this law that the governor just signed, if it doesn‘t provide an impetus and an urgency to Congress to do something, I think we‘re missing the whole point. This law opens up a harbinger of very, very bad things that could happen to—constitutionally to the American people regardless.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe. You never know when these things have unintended consequence. I want to talk about that. But here‘s the president today, let‘s listen, on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Indeed, our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.
In fact, I‘ve instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess I have to ask you about—the president said that our failure to act could lead to irresponsible acts. I‘m hoping, as an American, like you, that maybe the irresponsible, you could argue, actions of Arizona will lead to the right actions.
Let me read to you what Senator Schumer and Lindsey Graham have in mind. This apparently is what—something like the president is thinking about. It includes the following, immigration action this summer. To do what? Require biometric Social Security cards to insure that illegal workers cannot get jobs.
Fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement, creating a process for admitting temporary workers and implementing a tough, but fair path to legalization for those already here.
Are there any elements there you don‘t like?
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Well, I think the issue is that we have to deal with the reality that there are people in this country, and that are law-abiding, and that...
GRIJALVA: ... for some reason, need to have a path to legalization.
And that should be open to them.
We have to talk about family unification, which is critical. We have to talk about the DREAM Act, agricultural jobs. It‘s a myriad of things that need to be reformed in this law.
We have been talking only about enforcement and security now for eight years. The consequence of that funding, billions upon millions, the consequence of those legislative actions has not done anything to deal with the crisis and the broken system of immigration in this country.
So, it‘s time we made it comprehensive. It‘s time it became holistic. And what Arizona has done is to narrow that focus once more, and quite, potentially, open up a Pandora‘s box of unconstitutional civil rights violations...
GRIJALVA: ... that are going to be challenged judicially and legally anyway.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I—I heard you. And you follow the pattern here of people who are concerned about the welfare of people in the country illegally—and I assume you are—offer up suggestions about how to improve their welfare by family unification and legalization.
But, on your side of the argument, you don‘t hear people talking about ways to actually have fair American-style enforcement. Do you think one of the ways to create an enforcement system would be, you can‘t work here illegally; you can‘t come to America to get a job if you‘re coming here illegally in the future by having a Social Security card system that can be checked?
Do you support that kind of enforcement vehicle?
GRIJALVA: The enforcement vehicle, yes, because, if we are—if we have a path to legalization, if we deal with the undocumented that are here that are law-abiding and working, and that employers and employees know they have rights, and that there‘s verification to their ability to work in this country, absolutely.
GRIJALVA: The problem is that we have only talked about one end of the spectrum...
MATTHEWS: I understand.
GRIJALVA: ... and not dealt with the comprehensive side.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that, if you jammed this issue at the hard-liners, the people like the governor, and said, look, let‘s be honest, the people here are going to stay here, nobody‘s going to go around this country rounding up, what, 10 million, 12 million people, however—in this country and send them away? They have got kids here. They have roots here.
As you say, Overwhelmingly, they‘re law-abiding. Nobody is really ever going to do that. That‘s just rhetoric. So, let‘s talk about the future and having a system of liberal, but enforceable immigration policy. Would they go along with that? Or are they just too angry to think? What do you think?
GRIJALVA: I—I think we have reached an interesting crucible here, Chris, in that, right now, the issue of immigration is either elected officials—that includes members of Congress—either run away from the issue and hide from it, or they exploit it, as Governor Brewer and the Republican legislature in Arizona have done.
GRIJALVA: You have demonized. You have profiled people.
And, then, you know, it‘s interesting. You could be fifth-generation American that happens to be of Mexican descent in the state of Arizona, and you follow—you fall under the same discriminatory profiling requirement that‘s in this law.
MATTHEWS: I understand that.
GRIJALVA: Unbelievable. Unbelievable.
MATTHEWS: Well, I understand that. And, by the way, I agree with the president. I‘m not justifying what Arizona did. I wouldn‘t vote out there. I wouldn‘t support it.
But I will tell you, it is what happens when you don‘t have reasonable people doing reasonable things. You get unreasonable people grabbing control of a situation. And I think we all probably agree on that.
Congressman Grijalva, thank you so much for joining us on this heated issue.
GRIJALVA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And good luck with it.
Up next: Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown wants a basketball duel with President Obama. Well, who wouldn‘t? The “Sideshow” is next.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
He‘s Scott Brown, and he drives a truck. It‘s the slogan that defined an improbable Republican bid in the bluest of blue states. Three months later, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown sat down with NBC‘s Jamie Gangel and talked about his relationship with that other political star, President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE GANGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: He made fun of your truck.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN ®, MASSACHUSETTS: He did, by golly. He can make fun of my votes and my policy, but, when he makes fun of my truck, that‘s where I draw the line.
BROWN: So, I asked him if he wanted me to bring the truck by the White House, take a spin? And I also said, you know, I know you play a lot of basketball. If you would like to—my daughter and I would love to play.
GANGEL: So far, no invitation?
BROWN: I have made a couple of inquiries. I think I need to step back and not make it competitive.
GANGEL: Maybe when he needs a vote.
BROWN: Maybe when he needs somebody who can shoot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When he makes fun of my truck, that‘s where I draw the line?
I think this romancing-the-truck number has gotten well past its fresh date.
Now over to in the Midwest, a ‘50s throwback. The Republican Party in Medina County, Ohio, is getting heat from women‘s groups over what they published in their newsletter about Democratic Congresswoman Betty Sutton.
Here it is—quote—“Let‘s take Betty Sutton out of the White House and put her back in the kitchen”—close quote.
County GOP Chairman Bill Heck tells TalkingPointsMemo.com that the newsletter was—quote—“an attention-getter that wasn‘t intended to be sexist.”
Well, Congresswoman Sutton put out a statement today saying the mailer devalues the breadth of talents of women. And she‘s calling for Chairman Heck to step down.
I think the Republican chairman out there will be hearing from a lot of people about this.
Finally, Sarah Palin on the stand—the ex-governor testified today against a 22-year-old accused of hacking into her, the governor‘s, personal e-mail account during the presidential campaign. Palin told the jury that the breach caused a huge disruption in her family and friends‘ lives, after personal details and contact information was posted online.
Palin also had some tough words outside the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Anybody who thinks that this isn‘t disruptive or hurtful, to have their mailbox broken into or an office broken into, and documents stolen and disclosed for rest of the world, should put their selves in a person‘s shoes who has gone through this.
And, believe me, it‘s quite disruptive. It‘s—it‘s just so extremely unnecessary and resource-consuming. It‘s just such a sad state of affairs that we‘re in that we even have to be here, trying to teach somebody that it‘s—it‘s wrong to do such a thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sounds right, except for that odd language about the hacking being extremely unnecessary and resource-consuming. What‘s that mean?
Time now for the “Big Number” tonight, and what a number it is.
Over at the Securities and Exchange Commission, it turns out the watchdogs of Wall Street were watching something else entirely as the economy unraveled. The SEC‘s inspector general is now conducting a probe into the agency‘s employees who in the past five years were caught looking at pornography on their work computers.
How many have been netted? Thirty-three. Surprised? At least 33 SEC employees were watching porn, instead of Wall Street—tonight‘s, well, outrage-worthy “Big Number.”
Up next: the one endorsement you don‘t want to get, the latest from Dick Cheney. That‘s how you pronounce it, by the way.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks rallying to the close to give the Dow its longest weekly win streak since 2004.
The Dow Jones industrials gaining about 70 points, the S&P 500 adding 8.5 points, and the Nasdaq pushing 11 points higher—the Dow ending 1.5 percent higher on the week, marking its eighth consecutive week of gains—today‘s rally driven in part by a surge in new home sales. March‘s 27 percent jump is the largest since 1963.
Homebuilder shares rallying on that news. Hovnanian is up almost 9 percent on the day and looking at a 34 percent gain on the week.
Building supplies tagging along as well—U.S. concrete, for example, soaring 25 percent on the day.
Orders—orders for durable goods like appliances and autos also moving higher last month. A 2.8 percent jump is the largest in more than two years.
And oil and gold prices pushing higher today on expectations of increased demand as the recovery takes hold.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It‘s been more than 15 months since Dick Cheney had a full-time job, but he‘s plenty busy.
Here‘s Cheney Thursday—that‘s this week—on Dennis Miller‘s radio show. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DENNIS MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: By the way, I also want to thank you, and on the list of things I feel I should thank you for, almost kicking Patrick Leahy‘s (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Thank you very much.
MILLER: I mean, love that move, one of my favorite stories, muttering that.
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You would be surprised how many people liked that. That‘s...
CHENEY: ... sort of the best thing I ever did.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. Cheney says that might have been the best thing he ever did, you know, telling a United States senator right up there at the vice president‘s desk to perform a sexual act on himself.
But he‘s still out there issuing statements, you know, in the arena. He‘s even endorsing candidates for 2010. The latest is Marco Rubio in Florida. Who else will get the Cheney stamp of approval? Well, who wants it?
David Corn is the Washington bureau chief and—for “Mother Jones” and columnist for Politics Daily. And John Heilemann—there he is—covers politics for “New York” magazine, and he‘s the co-author of the bestseller “Game Change.”
Gentlemen, let‘s take a look at something about Cheney that is very interesting. Here‘s the pretext. The latest Associated Press poll on this former vice president, his favorability rating is about 38, which is pretty high for him. And his unfavorability is about average for him, 56 percent.
And here is John Heilemann, you, sir, and Mark Halperin, your co-author, described Cheney‘s endorsement of McCain in “Game Change.”
Quote: “On November 1, McCain received the most unwanted endorsement in the universe...”
MATTHEWS: “... that of Dick Cheney. When Cheney‘s friends learned about the endorsement, they laughed. They—they laughed, because that wasn‘t Cheney saluting McCain, they thought. It was him flipping the senator the bird.”
JOHN HEILEMANN, “NEW YORK”: Well, you know, Chris, there was—Dick Cheney is a guy who has got a lot of political self-awareness. He was aware in the fall of 2008 that his endorsement was—was more unhelpful to McCain than it was helpful.
And he bestowed his endorsement in full knowledge that it would actually hurt McCain, rather than help him. There was a long history of animosity between Cheney and McCain, largely because McCain had criticized some of the enhanced interrogation techniques that Cheney was so much in favor of.
And, so, in a way, he was really trying to stick the boot into McCain, more than he was trying to give him his seal of approval.
MATTHEWS: You‘re actually saying that Dick Cheney is a troll, aren‘t you?
MATTHEWS: I mean, only a troll would do that, endorse somebody to hurt them.
HEILEMANN: Well, I‘m—what I‘m saying is, I think he had—has an acute sense of his own political potency, both negative and positive, on the national political landscape.
MATTHEWS: It‘s extraordinary, David, to know you‘re a troll, to know that you‘re an unpleasant person and not to be associated with, and you come out from under that bridge and bite the ankle of John McCain as he walks by.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”: I do—I don‘t think you‘re being fair, Chris, to trolls.
CORN: But, to me, the interesting thing here about what we‘re looking at today with Dick Cheney is that, for—since he‘s left the White House, he‘s sort of been the dark angel of the national security conservative crowd.
CORN: Every couple of weeks, he comes out, says, by the way, Obama is trying to destroy the security of this country.
CORN: But now, maybe thankfully for Democrats, he‘s moving into the political realm...
CORN: ... thinking that his seal of approval is going to help.
MATTHEWS: Well, there he is. Let me serve it up today. Look at Marco Rubio‘s Web site right now. It has got Dick Cheney smack in the middle. There it is.
And here‘s Cheney‘s statement on Rubio. Of course, here he is running for the Senate down there—quote—and there he is knocking, troll-like, Charlie Crist, the other guy.
MATTHEWS: He doesn‘t say anything positive about Rubio.
“Charlie Crist has shown time and again that he cannot be trusted in Washington to take on the Obama agenda, because, on issue after issue, he actually supports that agenda. Lately, it seems Charlie Crist cannot be trusted”—I like this phrase—“cannot be trusted even to remain a Republican. I strongly urge him to either stay in the Republican primary or drop out of the race. The only winners from an independent bid by Crist would be Barack Obama and Harry Reid.”
And here‘s Charlie Crist responding to the news. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you upset that you didn‘t get Dick Cheney‘s endorsement?
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST ®, FLORIDA: No.
CRIST: Do I look upset?
QUESTION: Do you think it helps in your campaign not—that Rubio has that endorsement?
CRIST: Well, you know, just another Washington politician telling Florida what to do. I don‘t think Floridians appreciate it.
QUESTION: Governor, does...
CRIST: It doesn‘t matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, John Heilemann, I guess that‘s—he‘s just sort of—he‘s not even worth stopping for.
MATTHEWS: Governor Crist just kept walking there.
You know, I do find that Cheney has this new role in life. I imagine him sitting around, as David says, when he‘s not endorsing candidates like Rubio, having these salons late at night with all of these neo-cons around him. And he‘s got a big sifter of some kind of cognac or something. And he‘s talking, as they‘re talking about how the government is being given away by these people.
CORN: Don‘t forget the cigars.
MATTHEWS: Can‘t you imagine that scene, something out of “Remains of the Day?”
HEILEMANN: It‘s a little troubling to imagine a troll drinking cognac.
MATTHEWS: Mixed metaphor.
HEILEMANN: What‘s interesting about it is Charlie Crist has actually put his finger on the problem for Cheney. Which is that although he‘s beloved in certain circles in the Republican party, he‘s not exactly a favorite of the populist right. He‘s not someone who the Tea Party looks to as someone whose endorsement matters a lot.
You think about what happened down in Texas, where Cheney gave his endorsement to Kay Bailey Hutchison. It did her no good whatsoever in the Republican primary there. It was like another seal of approval by the establishment. In a year where the anti-establishment fever is running across the political landscape, it‘s not clear that it helps even among Republicans to have Cheney‘s endorsement.
MATTHEWS: It‘s like going hunting with him and having him shoot you. Here‘s Cheney -- he‘s done that too, by accident. Here‘s Cheney at a rally for Kay Bailey Hutchison, another one of the lucky few to have won his endorsement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, FORMER SENATOR: I wasn‘t sure, however, if after I saw Liz Cheney on TV on Sunday if this was maybe the announcement of Cheney 2012?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need you back.
DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: She lost by 20 points. Just a thought. It wasn‘t his fault. I‘m not going to blame him for that. But that‘s all right.
CORN: I guess Rubio can now go after Tiger Woods‘ endorsement. You know, John just mentioned, you know, that he doesn‘t—Dick Cheney or any Washington figure plays well with the populist Tea Party side of things. But also he certainly won‘t play well with independent or swing voters.
MATTHEWS: OK. Is he going to make the rounds and do McCain out there in Arizona?
CORN: Well, we‘ve already—
MATTHEWS: Toomey? Is he going to Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman?
CORN: I think in California, the Republican women running out there will say please, no thank you. John McCain has already seen what he‘s done to him. Maybe he‘ll go out there and endorse John McCain to give him one more punch.
MATTHEWS: What can you report, John, on the front, further endorsements by Dick Cheney.
HEILEMANN: I don‘t know who else is on Cheney‘s list. I think David is right. That‘s a list you don‘t necessarily want to be on. I think he‘s 100 percent right about Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, or any other sensible Republican in the state of California. The last thing you want is Dick Cheney next to your name in newspaper endorsements, for God sakes.
MATTHEWS: I remember a great Winston Churchill line about somebody who wouldn‘t leave public life. He said “I think we need fewer peerages and more disa-peerages.”
Anyway, David Corn, thank you. On this Friday night, thank you, John Heilemann.
Up next, the time five primary races in the country right now. We‘re going to leave with a really hot part of the show tonight, the hottest political race in the country. Don‘t go away.
But, first, during this commercial, who has a better chance of controlling the Senate after November, in one minute? This is HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: What are the Republicans‘ chances of taking the U.S. Senate in November? Well, Nate Silver at 538.com projects right now that the Republicans are likely to gain just four seats, far short of the ten they need to take over. He says that the GOP has just a six percent chance of taking control. The Democrats, meanwhile, have a seven percent chance of actually adding to their majority. We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Next month kicks off a hot political season with some super Senate primaries coming up. Now we‘re going to take a look at the top five primaries picked by the NBC news political unit. Alex Burns versus—of the “Politico” right now. And Steve Kornacki writes for “Salon.” Thank you, Alex, and thank you, Steve.
First of all, Steve, pick up on this first one, the Democratic race in Arkansas. Tonight, Senator Blanche Lincoln and her challenger, Bill Halter, square off in a debate. How does that race look to you, Steve?
STEVE KORNACKI, “SALON”: If you look at the polls right now, Lincoln is ahead, but it‘s not by—it‘s by 10, 15 points. Certainly within striking distance for Halter. It‘s an interesting race to me, when you look at this, because historically if you look at it, and you look at a challenger in a primary, like Halter is—who is coming—ideologically, he‘s coming from the left of Lincoln. You would say the ideological challenger in the primary is the less-strong candidate for the general election.
But if you look at this situation, I think if you look at the polls for the fall, Blanche Lincoln is just basically screwed. We went back and looked at every incumbent senator in the last 30 years who has consistently trailed by more than five points at this point in an election year. We could only find two in last 30 years who actually came back and won reelection. That was Jesse Helms in 1984, Al D‘Amato in New York in 1992. No one else. So we see these polls of Blanche Lincoln down, you know, eight, 10, 12 points. I don‘t see how she can win in the fall.
MATTHEWS: Those two people are the kind of people you don‘t like telling pollsters you‘re for. That makes sense why they beat their polls.
Let‘s take a look now. I want Alex to take a look at Utah. This is a strange one. Who would have predicted this? Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett, now in his 18th year in the Senate, has been under attack for being a Washington insider. Can he fight off attacks from his right and hold on to his seat? We don‘t even know who is running against him and this guy has a hard time, right, Alex? Alex?
ALEX BURNS, “POLITICO”: -- maybe the best known candidate running in that race is an attorney naked Mike Lee. He‘s a former prosecutor. His father was a solicitor-general. But really doesn‘t have much of a political profile on his own. He‘s hoping to take advantage of what is really a petty unusual nominating process out there. There‘s a convention that‘s really activist dominated. And if one candidate can get 60 percent of those activists behind them, they can get the nomination.
Now Mitt Romney is going out to that event to whip votes for him. He‘s one of the most popular politicians in the state. It‘s a test of Romney as well as for the senator.
MATTHEWS: That is fascinating. Steve, take a look at Kentucky for me right now. This GOP race is no Tea Party. It‘s getting nasty between Tray Grayson, the establishment candidate, and Rand Paul. That‘s, of course, Ron Paul‘s son. How does that look?
KORNACKE: Rand Paul, no matter what the establishment throws at him, no matter what the neo-cons—the Rudy Giuliani, Dick Cheney crowd were all against Ron Paul and his family. No matter what they thought of him, he continues to lead this thing by double digits. I think the interesting thing to watch here—it‘s just a hunch—if Rand Paul wins this primary, I believe he‘ll win in the Fall. The Republicans are not going to lose Kentucky in 2010.
I just have a hunch he‘s going to turn around and run for president in 2012. I‘ll tell you why. It‘s simple. His father is going to be 77 years old. The timing has never been better on the Republican side for the Ron Paul message in a Republican primary. Ron Paul is going around winning all of these straw polls. They need a Ron Paul candidate out there. Why not a senator, instead of a congressman.
MATTHEWS: It‘s a really Barry Goldwater message, too. It‘s really a classic paleo-conservative, get the government out of your face, get the United States out of world affairs. It‘s classic old-time conservatism.
Steve, take a look at Florida. It‘s fascinating right now. We were pointing out with some jocularity that Dick Cheney has weighed in on that, endorsing Marco Rubio. It looks like that race is over on the Republican side. So where does it go now?
KORNACKI: Yes, there‘s really only two choices right now. The question is will Charlie Crist drop out of this race and run as an independent this year, or will he drop out of this race and run as a Republican in 2012, when Bill Nelson‘s seat is up?
If he goes independent, you‘ve got polls that are showing him—some polls are actually showing him barely ahead. But, boy, there isn‘t not too much history on this stuff. When you look at it, historically, when the big name figures leave a party in the Senate race and go run as an independent, with the exception of Joe LIeberman—you‘re looking at Jacob Javids (ph). You‘re looking at Tom Dodd. You‘re looking at Marshal Coleman in Virginia in 1994. They start strong and they just recede as the campaign goes on. And they end up draining votes from one party. I almost wonder if that‘s going to end up happening with Crist.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think he‘s going to make it as a third party. Finally, let‘s take a look at my home state, Pennsylvania. Hot primary up there. You rarely see a primary this hot for the Senate. Arlen Specter, the senator turned Democrat now, holding on to a bit of a lead over Joe Sestak. If he‘s ahead—I have to ask Steve, if he‘s ahead, why is he going negative with this tough charge against Joe Sestak‘s Naval record?
KORNACKI: I had the exact same question. To me, Sestak is the primary challenge that just never materialized. We looked at this a year ago and we said, my God, Arlen Specter‘s going to be so vulnerable in this Democratic primary. You‘re going to have this congressman running from the left. And he‘s not developed a great message. Specter has headed him off.
But there was a poll that came out about a week ago—I think it was a Rasmussen Reports poll, so take that for what it‘s worth. But there was a poll that came out and showed a five-point lead for Specter. Maybe they got spooked by that and said, let‘s just make sure.
BURNS: Chris, if I could just jump in here?
MATTHEWS: Sure, Alex, you‘re in. Go ahead.
BURNS: Sestak has been saving his money for the very, very end here. Specter has a ton of cash in the bank, but Sestak had over five million dollars at the end of the last quarter. I think the reason why you see Specter coming out very, very hard at this point, why you see Joe Biden on the trail with him today, is that this congressman, he is still fairly obscure. If he starts introducing himself to voters and they like, that‘s a problem. Specter needs to make sure that doesn‘t happen.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve been told that the standard Specter MO over the years
he‘s won so many times and has run so many times—both you guys—that what he does is wait for the other candidate challenging him to go up, and start running TV ads, as Sestak did the other day, positive ads for himself. The minute he does that, Specter goes all negative to neutralize all of that spending.
You first, Alex, will that work for Specter this time? Specter has 99 percent name ID. The other guy is way down in name ID. Can Specter blunt this guys attempt to advertise himself?
BURNS: Chris, you know better than anybody else, if anybody can do it, it‘s Arlen Specter. And the question is, is he, on some fundamental level, unacceptable to the Democratic electorate? So far, it seems like he‘s not.
MATTHEWS: He‘s not unacceptable. I think Democrats have been voting for Specter for years. And the establishment is behind him. Your thoughts on this, Steve, the establishment of the Democratic party, Bob Brady, the city organization, governor is behind them. Can the suburbs come out against them or the rural areas, and pick a guy who has been a democrat perhaps more authentically in the past?
KORNACKI: I think of what you said and what Alex just said. I agree. I‘m thinking back to Lynn Yinkle (ph) versus Arlen Specter in 1992. We thought that was the end for Arlen Specter. This is a guy you don‘t bet against. He‘s so enduring. I was talking earlier about we can‘t find any of these incumbent senators who face consistent general election deficits and survive. I‘ll tell you, if there‘s one exception this year—because Specter is also trailing Pat Toomey by five or more points. If there‘s one exception to that rule this year, I don‘t think it‘s going to be Harry Reid. I don‘t think it‘s going to be Blanche Lincoln. I do think it could be Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: That‘s incredible to watch. Thank you guys. It‘s great to have two pros on, youngsters that you are. You know your stuff. Thank you, Alex. Thank you, Steve Kornacki. You know your stuff. It‘s great to have you on this Friday night.
When we return, I‘m going to tell you what I think about a big problem facing America today. And that is illegal immigration. And there is a right way to deal with it. Many people agree. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with some possibly good news on immigration reform. The hardest thing about this problem, like any other problem, is to find a solution that both sides prefer to the existing problem. Let‘s face it, that‘s been the problem.
The people who care about the welfare of those that came into this country illegally are unwilling to get serious about enforcing the law. They just are. And the people who don‘t like the fact that people came into this country illegally, they‘re unwilling to get serious about ways to let those who did come in illegally become legal . They just are.
That basically explains the situation we‘re in right now, and have been in for decades. Nothing gets done for the basic reason that the people here illegally don‘t want the law enforced, of course, and the people who don‘t want the people here illegally don‘t want to help them become legal.
Now comes to this Arizona law, signed today, to allow police officers to check on people they think are here illegally. Well, maybe it will shake things lose. Maybe it will convince people who don‘t want to get serious about real immigration control to see the dangers of doing nothing. Maybe it will convince the people who want to get serious about immigration control that there‘s a better way to do it than by going around rounding people up.
Maybe it will get us to some commonsense solutions. So let the people who are here stay here. That‘s what I say. And work to become Americans. Cut dramatically back on illegal immigration by giving employers and workers a reliable system for employers to know who is here illegally and who isn‘t.
I have to show an ID to get on an airplane. If I‘m driving on the highway, I need a driver‘s license. I need a passport to leave or enter this country. Why can‘t we have a national system to ID workers? I want real immigration reform, not the papering over of the problem that we had back in the ‘80s.
Maybe this Arizona situation will make it happen by showing the nasty alternative.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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