Guest: Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Chrystia Freeland, Steve Henry, Cynthia Tucker, Ken Vogel
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Dirty business.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews up in New York. Leading off
tonight, Wall Street on the hot seat. Even before today, Goldman Sachs
loomed as the poster boy for all that‘s wrong with a culture that turned
Wall Street into a giant casino and left taxpayers with the bill. Today we
can add arrogance and disdain to that portrait. Goldman executives spent
the day under the bright, hot lights of Capitol Hill, where senators left
and right accused them, in effect, of running a casino rigged for their
benefit. Their reaction? How much are you worth, Senator? Tonight, how
much longer can Republicans afford to be seen as their protectors?
Also, on the road again. Over the past 50 years, perhaps nothing
tells us more about how the party in power will do in mid-term elections
than the president‘s job approval rating. That‘s why President Obama, who
just bounced up over 50 percent in job approval, just began a two-day
campaign-style swing in the Midwest to talk jobs and the economy, and
frankly, to jack up his numbers and give fellow Democrats a big boost.
Plus, when an anti-illegal immigrant crusader like Tom Tancredo says
Arizona‘s new law overreaches, you might have to wonder if the state has
gone too far. Tonight, we have an Arizona chief deputy sheriff who
supports the new law. I‘m going to ask him how exactly we stop businesses
from hiring illegal workers, which is actually the problem.
Here‘s my favorite quote of the day, by the way. It comes from “New
York” magazine‘s cover story on how Sarah Palin has made millions since
quitting her job as governor of Alaska. The story says Republicans are
worried that Palin is a risk to their brand because of her, quote,
“conspicuous lack of depth and the sheer joy she takes in what she doesn‘t
know.” It‘s hard to beat that line. How Sarah Palin is pulling in the
cash later in the show.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with something good to say about a
Republican who is actually trying to get something done in this country.
My look at a real maverick.
We start tonight with Wall Street on the hot seat. Senator Jon
Tester‘s a Democrat from Montana. He sits on the Goldman Sachs
What a culture shock it is to watch you, the farmer from out West,
doing business today with the slick boys—rather, interrogating them.
Were they playing a number on you? Were they going slo-mo on you, asking
you to repeat yourself? Were they lawyered up today? Were they adding
insult to injury today, Senator?
SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: I don‘t think there‘s any doubt about
it, Chris, they were lawyered up today. I think that they were very, very
well coached, and they were coached so that they didn‘t answer the
questions. And I think that that‘s very unfortunate. I mean, you know,
taxpayers bailed these folks out. I wasn‘t one of them who voted for it,
but they did bail these folks out. We deserve better answers than they
gave today, I‘ll tell you that.
MATTHEWS: I got the feeling they were looking down at you guys,
thinking like those guys do, How much is this guy worth, you know, like
they don‘t really have to deal with you more than a few seconds in their
life of making money.
Here‘s Senator Carl Levin, who really, I think, did a great job today
as chairman of the committee. He kept asking clear questions, calm as ice,
and they just weren‘t answering. Here he is. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: You‘re trying to sell a (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) deal, and it‘s your top priority. Come on, Mr. Sparks!
DANIEL SPARKS, FORMER GOLDMAN EXECUTIVE: Mr. Chairman...
LEVIN: Should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell—and by the way, it
sold it—a lot of it, after that date. Should Goldman Sachs be trying to
sell a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal?
LEVIN: Can you answer that one?
SPARKS: Again, I didn‘t use those words...
LEVIN: Can you answer that one?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s bring in Senator Claire McCaskill. She also on
the committee. She‘s also like fireworks today. She sits on the Goldman
Sachs investigating subcommittee.
Senator, thank you. It‘s great to see you again. Let me ask you your
reaction. Were these guys disdainful of you, as well as dodging the
questions? I thought a lot of arrogance up there, watching today.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Well one of the things that‘s
happened in this area is that it‘s really complicated, and these large
investment banks have used that to their advantage, Chris. They‘ve used
how complicated it is to kind of avoid people really understanding what‘s
going on. But when you boil it all down, they are creating a lot of these
instruments just so people can bet on them. There‘s not anything real in
the instrument, other than the fact that they have somebody who wants to
take a bet, just like a bookie.
MATTHEWS: Well, what‘s complicated about selling a lemon? People
have been on car lots for years, selling lemons, knowing they‘re lemons.
What‘s so new about this, Senator?
MCCASKILL: Well, there is nothing new about selling a lemon, and
that‘s the issue. Don‘t we need to get some conflict of interest and some
disclosure rules on these deals? That‘s what seems so unfair to most
Americans. How can you be pushing something out the door that you‘re
betting against? How can you be calling customers and saying, Buy this,
when the whole time, you‘re hoping that the thing tanks?
Now, they would argue that all they‘re doing is creating a market,
that they‘re just a bookie. But it‘s like letting the quarterback bet on
the game he‘s playing in. That‘s what it‘s like.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what I liked about today is you folks had
the evidence. You had the e-mails. Let‘s take a look now at a common—
this is a montage, as we call it in our business, of you members of the
committee asking the right questions today, I think. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: Goldman‘s actions demonstrate that it often saw its clients
not as valuable customers but as objects for its own profit.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: There‘s no doubt their behavior was
unethical, and the American people will render a judgment, as well as the
MCCASKILL: It‘s the La-la-land of ledger entries. It‘s not
investment in a business that has a good idea. It‘s not assisting local
governments in building infrastructure. It‘s gambling, pure and simple raw
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator, is the United States Senate smart enough to keep
up with these sharpies?
MCCASKILL: Yes. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: OK. That‘s your answer.
MATTHEWS: Senator Tester, same question to you.
TESTER: Well, I absolutely agree with Claire. Yes, we can, we
should. It‘s one of the reasons we need to get the Wall Street reform bill
MATTHEWS: Is there such a thing as “too big to fail”? Goldman Sachs
is humongous. We asked—I think they‘ve got, like, 32,000 employees or
something. Could you actually let them crash and burn? I know they‘re
arrogant I know they‘re well-dressed and they make a certain attitude up
there. But when it comes down to it, don‘t they really have you guys over
a barrel? Because if they go down, the economy goes down, or we fear it
will. Senator Tester first, then Senator McCaskill.
TESTER: Well, I mean, I think that‘s part of the problem. And I
think that, once again, Chris, that‘s why we need to get the Wall Street
reform bill passed so that we have the ability to unwind these folks if
they do—if they do decide to go down. I mean...
MATTHEWS: Would you unwind them? Would you do that?
TESTER: You better believe it.
MATTHEWS: As a senator?
TESTER: In a heartbeat.
MATTHEWS: Senator McCaskill, would you do that? Would you be
standing there and pull the plug on these guys if they go back to the bail-
out operation again?
MCCASKILL: Absolutely. And that‘s what‘s really frustrating about
what Mitch McConnell has said to the American public, that somehow, this
bill is not pulling the plug on these guys. The only—the only money in
this bill is money from the banks, and it‘s funeral expenses. It is to
break them up and to sell them off, just like a commercial bank would
happen, just like a small community bank if they got upside-down. We go
in, we break them up and we sell them.
That‘s exactly what has to happen to these big guys if they get
upside-down. Never again can we allow the taxpayers to be on the hook for
this kind of risky behavior. That‘s why we‘ve got to get to a debate on
this bill. That‘s why the Republicans have to quit protecting Wall Street
by refusing to let us debate this bill.
MATTHEWS: You know what I like about Missouri? It‘s almost
impossible to figure out because you are almost the countercyclical state.
You‘re the state that voted for Adlai Stevenson against General Eisenhower
after he was president for four years.
OK, let me ask you about your state, “Show Me” state, right? Let me
ask you this. Do you think it‘s right for somebody to be a multi-
billionaire this year, just this year, based on doing nothing good for the
country? No value added, no product, no service, no “thing,” not even a
movie have this these guys made for America, and they‘re making billions.
What‘s wrong with capitalism? It‘s so departed from production. Why does
capitalism exist, apart from production?
MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, there is a reason for derivative
market that makes sense. I mean, as my friend Jon Tester will say, there
are farmers who need certainty on prices. There are airlines who want to
hedge fuel costs. That‘s a legitimate purpose for a derivative market.
These guys have twisted that notion into something that‘s
unrecognizable by just creating these derivatives that are completely
synthetic—they‘re called synthetic because there‘s nothing there—just
so people can bet on them. That‘s what we‘ve got to rein in. That‘s what
we‘ve got to take care of.
MATTHEWS: Senator Tester, you kept asking this guy today from Goldman
about how you create these synthetic—and you were getting nowhere with
this guy. This guy was running around the bend so fast with you. I
learned nothing from him. I know you asked the right questions. Did you
learn anything from this character today?
TESTER: I didn‘t learn anything from him, either. And I think Claire
touched on something earlier in her comments about these things are so
complicated, they‘re so complex, that that‘s what they run around. They
don‘t think they can describe them to regular folks. And the fact is, is
that that‘s part of the problem. We need honesty. We need more
transparency, more disclosure. We need the Wall Street reform bill, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back to Senator McCaskill. The Republicans
are voting again today to kill the debate. They‘re not—I mean, to keep
debate going. They‘re not going to have a vote. How long is this going to
go on, this cat-and-mouse game between the Ds and the Rs over whether we‘re
going to actually do anything about Wall Street corruption?
MCCASKILL: Well, I think we‘re determined to make sure taxpayers
never get caught holding the bag again for these guys. That‘s why we‘re
going to keep pushing. We‘re going to keep calling votes. I have to
believe the American public is going to say, Stop with the silly games and
start debating the bill.
I mean, Chris, realize that in committee, the Republicans didn‘t even
offer one amendment. They haven‘t even come with any ideas as to how they
want to fix this. You know, it‘s hard not to believe that they‘re not
playing block and tackle for Wall Street when they won‘t even be up front
with us about what problems they have with the bill.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that‘s what they‘re doing? Do you think
they‘re lobbying for the oil—the Wall Street crowd? Do you think that‘s
what they‘re doing, Senator, working for them?
MCCASKILL: It‘s an easy assumption to make at this point. Why won‘t
they let us debate? I mean, you understand how this place works. Just
agreeing to debate? We‘re not talking about—we‘re talking about
proceeding to debate is what they‘re blocking. That‘s just nonsense. It‘s
MATTHEWS: Well, you know why. Senator Tester, you take a crack at
it. They don‘t want to vote flagrantly for Wall Street, so it‘s better to
vote against having a vote. That‘s a lot safer. You don‘t get nailed for
that one yet.
TESTER: We‘ve debated whether to debate before, Chris. But the fact
is, is we need to end “too big to fail.” We need to end taxpayer bail-
outs. We need to have some consumer protection. And the Wall Street
reform bill will do all those things. And Republicans need to come to the
table and work together and come up with a bill that works for Main Street,
instead of a system that works for Wall Street.
MATTHEWS: Were you surprised that the manure word was used so often
today on C-Span? I‘ve never heard it used before, the “caca” word.
MCCASKILL: Well, listen, I got to—I got to make sure you
understand this, Chris, because my mom is going to be calling me. We were
only quoting an internal Goldman Sachs e-mail. That word was not being
used by us. We were only quoting Goldman Sachs, how they were describing
their own deal.
MATTHEWS: I get it. I get it. I guess that‘s what the priests do
when they check out the porn movies. Just kidding!
MATTHEWS: I‘m sure that‘s true. I‘m just kidding. They don‘t do
that. Just to make sure they shouldn‘t be watching the wrong movies.
Anyway—I‘m just kidding. I don‘t mean that. Anyway—and you didn‘t
mean it, either. We‘re just quoting other people.
Thank you, Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Jon Tester.
Congratulations. I thought the hearings were very educational today
because they showed the other side wouldn‘t answer the questions.
Coming up: President Obama kicked off a campaign-style swing in Iowa
today. Can he boost his party‘s chances in November by boosting his
approval numbers? History shows he can.
And in just a minute, during the commercial break: Utah senator Bob
Bennett may be about to make the kind of history no senator wants to make.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Utah senator Bob Bennett may be likely to make history he
doesn‘t want to in the next couple weeks, but not the kind that anybody
wants to make. A new Mason-Dixon poll puts Bennett behind two Republican
challengers, Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater, out there. Should Bennett lose
in the May 8th primary, he will become the first incumbent senator in Utah
to lose reelection in seven decades.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that‘s why I came
to Iowa here today. To talk with folks like you about the economic
hardship and the pain that this town has gone through and so many people
are still feeling is important, but it‘s also to talk about the economic
potential. Lately, we‘ve been able to report some welcome news after a
hard two years. Now, in too many places, though, the recovery isn‘t
reaching everybody just yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama in Iowa
today in his first stop of a two-day swing through Iowa, Illinois and
Missouri. Will the president rally more support for his Wall Street reform
plan and other issues and boost his party‘s chances in November by hitting
the road more?
NBC chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd
is in Iowa with the president. Also with us, Reuters editor-at-large
Before I go on, I should say that priests don‘t watch movies—dirty
movies. It‘s an old joke about—they used to check in the Catholic
League of Decency to see movies if they‘re dirty or not, to warn us against
seeing them. Bad joke. I take it back.
Let‘s go now—Chuck Todd, what do you think of the president—
how‘s he doing on the road?
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it‘s
really just beginning to start. And I‘ll be honest with you, Chris, this
was a trip that was supposed to take place about two months ago. I know
that they have the agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, out here, and
they‘ve been trying to do this rural tour of the—sort of the Mississippi
River Midwest, if you will, this Illinois, Missouri, Iowa troika of states,
because, look, number one, it is part of the Democratic coalition, right?
It‘s—they‘re not necessarily swing states, but Democrats aren‘t in power
if they‘re not winning in places like Illinois, Iowa and this one part of
Missouri that they‘re going to go to. So that‘s number one.
Second, this is part of this whole thing that he hasn‘t done a lot of,
which is to, quote, “sell” the recovery, right? You see all the
statistics, but then you have a lot of people, when they answer poll
questions, say they don‘t feel like recovery is coming. They don‘t feel
like things are getting better. And so it‘s got to—trying to marry the
statistics that people read about with, you know, Why is it that things are
supposedly looking up?
And look, in a place like Iowa—now, this is the hardest hit part of
Iowa, here in southeast Iowa. But Iowa‘s overall unemployment rating is
below the national average.
TODD: So he‘s coming to a place that it‘s been—been relatively in
MATTHEWS: OK, here‘s part of a “New York Times” report today. Quote,
“For the past 50 years”—half century—“nearly without exception, the
party has lost seats whenever its president‘s average approval rating in
September and October before the election dropped below 50 percent.” And
today‘s Gallup poll has President Obama at 51 percent approval rating.
Chrystia, he‘s just above the line. I think he bounces up every once
in a while, like he is right now. He seems to be about a 50 percent
president on average. So what‘s that tell you about November and what he‘s
got to do between now and then?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, REUTERS: Well, I think that Chuck emphasized a
really important point, which is jobs, jobs, jobs. And as Chuck pointed
out, we are seeing signs of an economic recovery. We had great numbers
from Ford today. We are seeing, you know, businesses starting to feel
stronger. Even, you know, Wall Street, despite the beating it took in
Washington today, feeling better.
But as long as unemployment is at 9.7 percent, it‘s hard for a lot of
voters to feel really happy. And so I think the president has to go out
and do what he‘s been doing today, which is go out, say to people, I know
things are tough, but they are getting better, and I am part of the reason
that there‘s a bright, sunny tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: Is it smart—Chuck, you know as much about politics as
anybody I know. Is it smart for the president to be such a big face in the
country? Do you think it helps him politically to be so in our face?
TODD: Well, here‘s the thing. He‘s going to be—this election is
going to be a referendum on him, whether he wants it or not...
TODD: ... right? And this is the determination—this is the
determination that David Axelrod and David Plouffe have already made. And
they‘ve said, Look, if that‘s the way it‘s going to be, then we want to
make this a choice election, not just a referendum. It‘s frankly ripped
from the page of the Bush playbook in ‘02, which is, Look, the other side
wants to nationalize the election, fine, embrace it and try to do some of
it on your own terms, which is—well, part of this strategy—look,
we‘re going to see him out on the trail more.
Now, they push back on this concept that this is a political trip.
He‘s not doing any technical campaigning. But this is laying the
groundwork in three states that are enormously important in 2010, whether
it‘s the Senate seat in Illinois and the Senate seat in Missouri or this
governor‘s race in Iowa.
All of them, in a way, will be a reflection in some form on the
president‘s standing, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Do you think they‘re trying to create a nightly news
picture, you know, the split-screen, where here‘s the president out with
factory workers and real people, and then...
MATTHEWS: ... on the other side of the screen is these guys in New
York who aren‘t exactly ready for prime-time, and that contrast between
regular people that make things that are real, and Wall Street guys who
make billions, but don‘t actually do anything that makes things good for
Is he setting up that split-screen?
You first, then Chrystia on that question.
TODD: Well, I will say this. Is he setting it up? I don‘t—in
hindsight, I don‘t think this is the way they planned it. Like I said,
this trip was supposed to happen a few months ago.
TODD: I don‘t think they realized the Goldman hearings were actually
going to happen today.
But you‘re right. This is the picture they‘re getting tonight. They
look like, hey, look at all of these guys dropping four-letter words, all
of this back-and-forth going on in Washington.
TODD: I‘m the above—I‘m the above-the-fray guy eating rhubarb pie
in a diner in Fort Madison, Iowa.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, REUTERS: I think, Chris, he is.
And I think the astonishing thing is that the Republicans are helping
him. I mean, to me, politically...
MATTHEWS: By playing no?
FREELAND: ... purely in politics, it‘s astonishing to me that the
Republicans seem to have decided it‘s good for them to be the party of Wall
Street. Whatever the merits of reform, it seems to be politically really
dangerous for the Republicans right now.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look at the Republican ad. Here‘s a new
RNC Web video about the president‘s Midwest swing. I mean, they‘re right
on this guy. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE AD)
NARRATOR: From big-government Washington, D.C., to Illinois, where
unemployment has jumped from 8.1 percent to 11.5 percent. Sorry,
Caterpillar. Looks like Obamacare is going to cost you $100 million.
Next stop, Iowa, from 5.2 percent unemployment to 6.8. John Deere is
going to lose $150 million this year, thanks to Obamacare, of course.
Mr. Obama will then take his wild ride to Missouri, all the way up to
9.5 percent unemployment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I have just heard the most obnoxious voice in the
MATTHEWS: That‘s the guy who did that ad. But is that—they‘re
right on his tail, Chuck.
TODD: Well, they are, because, again, this is—the fact is, of all
the politicians in Washington right now, nobody‘s popular, but he‘s still
the most popular one of an unpopular bunch.
And so they just want to try to neutralize any effect that he might
have in a place like—look, Iowa is—Iowa is to Obama what New
Hampshire was to Bill Clinton, what South Carolina was to George W. Bush,
which is, you know, this was the state that gave him the presidency...
TODD: ... gave him the opportunity to win the presidency.
MATTHEWS: So true.
TODD: So, there is this recharge of batteries that he gets when he‘s
here. We used to see it when Bill Clinton used to go to New Hampshire, and
we would see it when George W. Bush would get to Florida or South Carolina,
when he would go to those places that he feels like, this is the place that
delivered my victory.
And it—and he needed to recharge his political batteries a little
bit. And I think that‘s why the RNC wants to give him a hard time.
MATTHEWS: Yes. He will be really popular in Iowa if he‘s out of
Afghanistan and Iraq by 2012.
Thank you, Chuck Todd.
Thank you, Chrystia Freeland.
Up next: Late-night comedians give advice on how to spot—this is
kind of a joke—on how to spot illegal immigrants—not really. But
that‘s in the “Sideshow,” coming up, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
Late night went to town on that tough new immigration law out in
We start with Stephen Colbert, who highlights our HARDBALL interview
with Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE COLBERT REPORT”)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: Can you enforce this law
without racial profiling? Yes. I think we all know what an illegal
immigrant looks like.
GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA: I do not know what an illegal immigrant
COLBERT: Luckily, some people—some people have the gift of
spotting illegals, for instance...
COLBERT: ... California Representative Brian Bilbray.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY ®, CALIFORNIA: There is a different type of
attire. There‘s a different type of—right down to the shoes.
COLBERT: When you‘re legal, you wear Nikes.
COLBERT: When you‘re illegal, you make Nikes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: How much of a
reach is this bill? Well, let‘s hear what Tom Tancredo has to say about
it. He‘s the guy who called Miami a Third World country and said the
Minutemen border control aren‘t vigilantes; they are heroes.
TOM TANCREDO ®, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I do not want the police
here, there, Arizona, anyplace else pulling people over because you look
like you should be pulled over.
STEWART: Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
STEWART: He thinks you have gone too far, Arizona, Tom Tancredo...
STEWART: ... the man Mexican parents tell their kids about to get
them to eat their vegetables.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sadly, it‘s easier to mock the right than fix this problem.
Next: You think the political debate in this country is out of
control, catch scene earlier today in Ukraine. You can see the opposition
lawmakers in the parliament throwing eggs and smoke bombs at the speaker as
he opens the session.
The speaker was forced to preside shielded by an umbrella held by an
aide. The opposition was protesting the government‘s decision to continue
leasing a key naval base in the Black Sea to Russia.
Despite the chaos, the 430 -- 450-member legislature later voted to
ratify the deal with 236 votes.
Now for the “Big Number” for us.
During today‘s Senate hearing on Goldman Sachs, one word stood out to
us as emblematic of how lawmakers view the business practices of the
investment banking giant. It came courtesy of Democratic Senators Carl
Levin and Claire McCaskill. Here‘s the hint: The word rhymes with ditty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: How much of that (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
deal did you sell to your clients? You‘re trying to sell a (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) deal. You didn‘t tell them you thought it was a (EXPLETIVE
You knew it was a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal. It was a (EXPLETIVE
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Called (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
LEVIN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
MCCASKILL: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
LEVIN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
MCCASKILL: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
LEVIN: They sold that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There you have it. We counted at least uses of the word
during today‘s Goldman Sachs hearing. Senators Levin and McCaskill
combined for 13 uses of the expletive that rhymes with ditty—not one of
my words—tonight‘s big bad number.
Up next: An Arizona sheriff who supports the state‘s new immigration
law will try to explain how you stop employers from hiring illegal
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks plunging today on debt rating downgrades for Greece and
Portugal—the Dow Jones industrials finishing near session lows, falling
213 points, the S&P 500 tumbling 28 points, and the Nasdaq dropping 51
Big concerns about sovereign debt driving the decline, after Greece‘s
debt was downgraded to junk territory and Portugal‘s rating was dropped by
That sent investors looking for save havens. The dollar extended
gains against the euro, while gold prices soared to two-week highs of more
than $11.70 an ounce.
In earnings news, Ford shares falling more than 6 percent, as weak
sales offset better-than-expected earnings—U.S. Steel falling nearly 6
percent as well, after reporting a smaller-than-expected loss, and saying
it expects to return to profitability in the second quarter.
But Goldman Sachs shares trading higher today, as executives testified
before a Senate committee that‘s accusing the company of fraud.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The battle over the new immigration law out in Arizona came to
Here‘s Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at today‘s Senate
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The first thing
that needs to be done is—is for the Justice Department to review whether
the law is constitutional. There are some real law enforcement reasons why
laws like that are misguided.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And Napolitano also said there‘s no value added by giving
Arizona authorities the right to question anyone about their immigration
Steve Henry disagrees. He‘s chief deputy in the Pinal County,
Arizona, Sheriff‘s Office.
Chief, thank you for joining us.
What—what is the reason why people come in this country illegally?
Isn‘t it jobs? And if you made it impossible to hire somebody illegally or
in the country illegally, you wouldn‘t have the big immigration problem,
illegal immigration problem, we have today. Isn‘t that the problem?
STEVE HENRY, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA, CHIEF DEPUTY: Hello, Chris.
Actually, the reason that people normally come into this country
illegally is probably very many different reasons. You‘re right; jobs is
part of it. And some of it is, specifically, we are the land of
opportunity. And we‘re viewed that way.
And whether that opportunity is illegal activity or something above-
board, that remains to be seen. That‘s an individual choice by the person
that comes into the country.
MATTHEWS: So, you‘re saying a lot of people come into the country
with the idea of what, doing—just doing illegal—just being criminals?
HENRY: Well, some of them do. About 17 to 20 percent of them have
been convicted in the state of Arizona prior to being picked up again.
MATTHEWS: Well, isn‘t that because they can‘t—again, it‘s the
circle. They can‘t get a legal job. I don‘t know. It just seems like...
HENRY: Well, specifically...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Go ahead, sir. You know what you‘re doing.
HENRY: I‘m sorry, Chris.
HENRY: Specifically, in my county, human smuggling and drug
trafficking is a very big job for what we see every day.
You know, specifically, I had one deputy that has seized over 24,000
pounds of marijuana this year. That‘s one single deputy. And the problem
is tenfold of that. For every two or three that get caught, there‘s
numerous that don‘t get caught.
And, you know, on the trail of that illegal smuggling, whether it‘s
human or—or illegal drugs, is violence. And we see that every day.
MATTHEWS: How would you, as a police officer out on the street,
enforce this new law?
HENRY: Well, essentially, Chris, it‘s—it‘s no different than what
we do now. A car gets stopped for an infraction such as speeding, you
know, the driver has bloodshot eyes, maybe a slurred voice, an odor of
alcohol, we ask a linear line of questions. And we come up to the
threshold of probable cause.
It‘s no different with this. You know, stop a car. They‘re speeding.
You ask the driver for a license. He doesn‘t have one. What‘s the very
next thing? You know, you ask another question. Do you have any
identification? They show you a voter card from Mexico. You know, it‘s
just a linear question. Then we rise to the level of probable cause.
MATTHEWS: And so what would they have to show to prove that they were
in the country—suppose it was an Anglo, a non-Hispanic person and you
stopped them. You wouldn‘t ask them if they were in the country illegally,
HENRY: I—I don‘t ask anybody if they‘re in the country illegally
unless we go down that linear step. If I ask—for example, you, if I
stopped you, and I asked you for a driver‘s license, and you didn‘t have
one, I would ask you why. And perhaps your license was suspended or you
had a warrant for your arrest. You‘re going to dodge that question.
And, then, down the road, if, for whatever reason, there‘s some type
of suspicion that perhaps you‘re in the country illegally, we may come up
to that conclusion.
MATTHEWS: And then what do you do, under this new law?
HENRY: Under this new law, I contact ICE, immigrations.
MATTHEWS: And you—and you turn the person in?
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess the question is, there‘s so many states that
issue these driver‘s licenses that are issued not on the basis of really
serious documentation. They just issue them very, I think, casually. We
know, like, 11 states do that.
So, if a guy who has, say, a Spanish accent, he may be dark-skinned,
and he has a—one of these driver‘s licenses from some of these states
that issue them, I would say, a bit too casually, what would be the step
then? Would you assume he was here legally, or would you say, ah, that‘s
one of the states that gives them out easy?
What would you do?
HENRY: Well, you know, personally...
MATTHEWS: I‘m trying to get to the reality here.
HENRY: Personally, Chris, that has happened to me. I have stopped
people that, you know, there was reasonable suspicion to believe they were
in the country illegally. However, they had a driver‘s license. And it
doesn‘t—go to the next level of probable cause. They receive a citation
and go on their way.
MATTHEWS: So, even if it‘s a phony driver‘s license that it suggests
they‘re here legally, but they‘re not really, and you know it, you still
can‘t stop them; you can‘t go any further?
HENRY: Well, if it‘s a phony driver‘s license, that‘s a different
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what I mean, a driver‘s license issued under
false pretenses, that they‘re not really here legally.
HENRY: I—and I can‘t prove it was under false pretenses on the
side of the road.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I see.
HENRY: And, so, the assumption is that they‘re here legally and they
go on their way.
MATTHEWS: So, the only reason you would have to go further and turn
them over to immigration authorities is that they couldn‘t produce any
documentation that seemed real, any?
MATTHEWS: They don‘t have to show a green card, in other words, or do
HENRY: Well, you—from what I understand, under federal law, if
you‘re here and you‘re on a workers permit, you‘re supposed to carry that
card with you. You may or may not. But there‘s other indications that a
person is here illegally.
MATTHEWS: Like what?
HENRY: Well, for example, I mentioned earlier the Mexican voter card.
Sometimes, they carry a Mexican birth certificate with them from whatever
state it was in Mexico.
And, more often than not, Chris, you would be surprised that, when we
talk to people, a lot of times, they‘re—they‘re dead honest with us.
You ask them if they‘re here from Mexico. You ask them for how long, where
did they come from, did they come here illegally, and, nine times out of
10, they will tell you, “Yes, I‘m here illegally.”
MATTHEWS: Wow. And then you still arrest them? You don‘t get any
points for honesty, huh?
HENRY: Well I‘ve not arrested people for being here illegally. You
know, that wasn‘t the statute here before last week. I‘ve arrested people
for not having a driver‘s license.
MATTHEWS: But now it is.
HENRY: But now it is, but it‘s not into effect yet. But it will be.
MATTHEWS: So what do you tell people when you pick them up now, if
you‘re an officer on the street, chief, and you pick a person up. You say,
this is your bad day. You‘re going back to the country you came from
originally. It‘s just the end of your dream, right?
HENRY: I don‘t make those kind of comments to people. I just say,
you know, you violated the law. You‘re under arrest. And we go through
the process. It‘s not my job to pick on people.
MATTHEWS: Are you worried about how this is going to be when it comes
to enforcement, when you‘re going to see these scenes where a guy or a
woman is going to know, my number is up. When this policeman stops me now,
it‘s not just going to be a bad ten minutes with this policeman. I‘m going
to have to go back to Columbia or Mexico or Guatemala, whatever. I‘m going
to have to leave my family or my kids. Do you expect there‘s going to be
real trouble at that point, where they‘re going to say, wait a minute, I
can‘t let this happen.
HENRY: I‘ll tell you what my fear is, Chris, is this is going to
ratchet up the fight-or-flight syndrome. And my fear is that people know
that there‘s consequences, and instead of having a casual conversation with
law enforcement officer and letting the cards fall where they fall, that
perhaps they‘re going to run. Perhaps they‘re going to produce an arm,
fight, something like that. That‘s my concern.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a good concern. Chief, good luck out there. I see
you‘re doing your job. Thank you, sir. Chief Deputy Steve Henry.
Up next, Sarah Palin is making money, lots of it. So why are the
But, first, during the commercial break, will he or won‘t he? Is
Charlie Crist ready to drop out of the Republican Senate primary in Florida
and run as an independent in Florida? We‘re about to find out, apparently,
coming soon. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he‘ll decide whether by
Thursday whether to stay in his state‘s GOP primary as a Republican or run
as an independent. The official deadline to decide is noon Friday. So
he‘s gone right up to the edge. Crist once had a commanding leads in
polls, but now he is trailing former Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio
in the Republican primary. However, polls show he could possibly win a
three-way race as an independent against Rubio and Democratic front runner,
U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek. Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: So, folks, from now until
November, when they say “yes, we can,” we‘re going to all say, “oh, no, you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was, of course, Sarah Palin early this month, rallying
her troops to show her strength in November. But is Palin seriously
contemplating a run for the presidency herself? Or is it—well, is she
cashing? That‘s very American, too. According to the “New York Magazine,”
she‘s already amassed 12 million dollars, which includes a seven million
dollar book deal, a million dollars per year from Fox News as a
contributor, two million from her upcoming reality show about the state of
Alaska, and she is pulling six figures, 100,000 per speech.
Let‘s turn to Cynthia Tucker, who is a columnist for the “Atlanta
Journal-Constitution,” and “Politico‘s” senior reporter Ken Vogel.
Cynthia, it‘s interesting how America works. You can become famous
quickly and you can sort of straddle the fence between running for office,
as she could still do, and being sort of a Will Rogers commentator on
American life, if you will, perhaps not as benign. But what do you make of
this? I mean, this money has never been seen before. It‘s not Wall Street
money. But God, 12 million so fast?
CYNTHIA TUCKER, “ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION”: Absolutely. Well,
you know what? I don‘t begrudge Sarah Palin a dime of the money she‘s
making. You know, it does answer the question about why she quit her
office as governor of Alaska in the middle of her term, though. It was
mysterious then. She didn‘t admit that I want to go out and make a lot of
money. But she‘s doing that. It‘s the American way. As long as people
want to buy her books and see her on TV, and pay for her to make speeches
at 100,000 dollars a pop, I say go for it.
I don‘t see how, how she comes back into political life after that. I
don‘t see how she crosses the bridge to come back to make a serious
MATTHEWS: What stops her?
TUCKER: Well, for one thing, Chris, remember, she sold herself as
part of the real America, you know, the working-class folks, the middle
class America. She insists on private jets everywhere she goes. She‘s now
as worth almost as much as some, some of those Wall Street execs who
testified before Congress today. So it seems to me that she has set
herself apart from her base, for one thing.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s an excerpt from “New York Magazine.” quote, “Palin‘s
conspicuous lack of depth and the sheer joy she takes in what she doesn‘t
know is a source of angst among Republicans who see larger brand risk to
their party if Palin comes to define the Republican party. Where other
likely candidates, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, are preparing for 2012
with staffs and advisers and carefully-planned travel schedules, Palin is
essentially winging it.”
So let me go to Ken on this. Do you agree that she‘s dead
politically, if she keeps making bundles of money?
KEN VOGEL, “POLITICO”: No, not at all. We don‘t begrudge our
politicians their successes, just like Cynthia Said she doesn‘t begrudge
Sarah Palin going out and making a ton of money. We‘ve seen plenty of
millionaire, billionaire candidates who have managed to get elected to
office, sometimes financing their own campaign.
MATTHEWS: But isn‘t her brand, according to Cynthia, just folks?
VOGEL: It is. But, you know, she was just folks. I mean, we looked
at her tax returns that she had to file for the first time when she was
running for vice president. And she was just folks. She wasn‘t doing very
well. The fact that she left the governorship and made a bunch of money, I
don‘t think particularly her base and particularly Republicans, who even if
they are sort of Tea Party types who are concerned about a government that
is spending money unchecked, still nonetheless value the sort of
capitalistic idea, the entrepreneurial spirit that she is clearly embodying
at this point, to go out and make a bunch of money. I don‘t think that‘s
going to hurt her.
As to republicans who are sort of hemming and hawing over whether she
and hawing whether she‘s a good face to the party, I think we hear that
more from some of the folks who are her perspective opponents in the 2012
Republican presidential primary. She has so much potential that she can
kind of wing it. Although I do think that she is starting to build a
little bit more of an infrastructure. Nonetheless, she doesn‘t need as
much as an infrastructure to be able to raise money, to be able to have
the high name ID, and to be able to appeal to a wider swath of people than
a Tim Pawlenty, who‘s making all the right moves, but is just less known.
MATTHEWS: Maybe I can push your button with this one, Cynthia, my
pal. It doesn‘t bother you that she‘s making zillions of dollars. But how
about this, as someone who trained yourself, like I did, to learn some
things, who gets up every day and tries to know something before they talk.
Here she is saying she has somebody to lose to her sheer joy that she gets
out of not knowing anything.
I really think—not that she‘s unintelligent, but she‘s campaigning
almost for the role of a professional ignorant, like I don‘t know anything,
therefore I should be listened to. She seems to aspire to knowing even
less. It‘s a weird advantage that she claims that if I‘m really ignorant,
then you should really listen to me, because I‘m not like one of those
intellectuals back east. It‘s a strange ambition. I think she‘s pursuing
TUCKER: Well, I don‘t think she would pursue that effectively as a
presidential candidate, Chris. That‘s where Ken and I differ. It is fine
if she wants to go out and make a lot of money giving speeches. I think
this idea of winging it, of not knowing anything about foreign policy,
knowing very little about domestic policy, would not serve her any better
in a presidential run than it served her when she was McCain‘s running
I don‘t think the vast majority of voters respect that or want to see
that in candidates. It‘s fine in Palin world. She has a small
constituency of very enthusiastic supporters. But the majority of voters,
including the majority of Republican voters, expect their candidates to
actually know something about policy.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s “New York Magazine,” again; it writes, quote, “some
in the GOP establishment whisper that they hope Palin stays in Wasilla.
She may be useful in raising funds and drawing crowds, but Palin‘s
unseriousness and carnival antics damage the brand.” Quote, “there‘s a big
piece of the Republican party that doesn‘t want her to run,” said one
Ken, again back to you, the question is can she do harm as a candidate
if she gets in that field against Pawlenty and Mitt Romney and maybe
Huckabee? Can she hurt the brand by getting 50 percent or 40 percent of
the vote and winning the whole thing?
VOGEL: Certainly, Democrats will try to make that case. And
Democrats have used her to raise money, have highlighted some of the gaffes
and some of the comments that I think you‘re characterizing as sort of
proudly ignorant. I would kind of disagree with that characterization,
though, and say that it‘s more of an anti-establishment campaign. We have
seen those run effectively. We have seen that kind of rhetoric, that anti-
east coast intellectual rhetoric work, particularly in a Republican
I do agree, however, that she stands the risk of kind of veering over
into this place where she can be easily stereotyped as not really being
informed. I do think she‘s also guarding against that. We look at her FEC
reports and her political action committee, Sarah PAC, is spending quite a
bit of money getting advice on domestic issues from a woman who is sort of
a domestic policy expert in—
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. You say she‘s not uninformed. Why does she
give speeches out of the proviso that all questions that are put to her in
these supposedly open sessions have to be cleared by her people? What‘s
that about? If she‘s not afraid of a simple question, like, what‘s the
capital of Japan, and getting stumped on some information question. Maybe
that‘s what she‘s afraid of. I don‘t know.
VOGEL: Clearly, all politicians are afraid of that and they try to
control the environment as much as possible. Of course, we saw what
happened when she was unable to control the questions in the infamous Katie
Couric interview during the campaign, where she was stumped frequently,
repeatedly, so much so that it was parodied on “Saturday Night Live.”
There are any number of politicians who would seek to get questions pre-
It does, however, play into this idea she doesn‘t have her footing
under her on some of the policy questions and she has to be careful of
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, the question—the statement, rather, not the
question, the answer from Steve Schmidt, who ran John McCain‘s campaign
was, quote, “she doesn‘t know anything.”
Anyway, we have to go. That was the final word. Cynthia Tucker,
thank you so much. Ken Vogel.
When we return I have some thoughts about a Republican who‘s a real
maverick. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a HARDBALL tribute to the United
States Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Senator Graham carries
the flag for the America envisioned by the founding fathers. Jefferson and
Madison would like this senator because he honors the institutions of our
republic. He exemplifies republican government as it was meant to be,
philosophical debate, good faith negotiation, and, finally, just as
We debate, we find agreement, we act. I‘ve watched Senator Graham on
any number of issues since he came to Congress. On an impressive number of
occasions, he‘s been the indispensable lawmaker, the senator who accepts
his oath to make the best possible laws for this country of wide opinion
and patriotic passions.
He worked for the past year to find a bill that would meet America‘s
current and near-term energy needs, but also the need for renewables down
the road. And he has shown the courage to offer a prudent concern for the
affected CO2 emissions.
He has joined in sound approach to immigration reform that would deal
in a realistic way with people living and working in the country illegally,
but also insists on a workable, reliable system for preventing the hiring
of illegal immigrants. His comprehensive reform, in which he has been
joined by Senator John Kerry, a Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, who was
elected as an independent, is what good immigration policy, good
government, and good Americanism looks like.
Graham recently criticized the Senate Democratic Leadership for moving
to debate immigration reform before taking up the situation on energy and
climate, saying it would undermine his year-long effort to forge a
bipartisan approach to energy and climate challenge. Until we see if the
Democrats are truly serious about comprehensive reform, I‘m worried Senator
Graham may be right.
Senator Graham hasn‘t run for president, and he hasn‘t given up on his
ability to walk across the aisle to find a workable solution for America‘s
problems. I hope I do neither man a disservice by saying that Lindsey
Graham is the real McCain. That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with
us. 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
Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Watch Hardball each weeknight
at 5 & 7 p.m. ET
Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET