Guests: Joan Walsh, David Weigel, Chris Cillizza, Thomas Tancredo, Sherrod
HOST: Crist crosses.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews up in Philadelphia. Leading off
tonight: Independence day. We have late-breaking political news. All
signs now point to Charlie Crist giving up his bid to win the Republican
Senate nomination in Florida and running as an independent. It‘s a huge
story with real implications not only for Florida but for the entire
Plus: Too darn hot. Some Republicans, especially those worried about
Cuban-American votes, are coming out against Arizona‘s immigration law—
Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio. This issue has the potential to pit
Republican against Republican. Tom Tancredo, the leader of immigration
control hard-liners, joins us at the top of the show.
Also, for the third straight day, Senate Democrats offered up a vote
to bring Wall Street reform to the Senate floor, and for the third straight
day, Republicans said no. But now it looks as though there might be a deal
in the works. A Democratic senator will be here to discuss his party‘s
Plus, Britain‘s prime minister, Gordon Brown, just learned an
important political lesson the hard way. If you‘re going to say something
candid, say something that you really think, make sure you don‘t have your
microphone on. Well, we‘ll go to the videotape on that in the “Sideshow.”
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with this thought. No one should ever,
ever compare anyone to Hitler or any political policy to the Nazis—or
We start tonight with the breaking news out of Florida. Chris
Cillizza is the author of “The Fix” for “The Washington Post” and the
brand-new managing editor of the brand-new Postpolitics Web page.
Congratulations, Chris. You‘re on your way up.
Charlie Crist is on his way out of the Republican Party. What is he
going to be, an independent who votes with the Republicans, if he‘s
elected, or what?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: You know, Chris, I think that‘s
the story that‘s going to play out over the next few days. Let‘s set the
scene, multiple reports in Washington and in Florida saying that people
Charlie Crist has spoken to, he has said tomorrow at 5:00 PM in St.
Petersburg, he‘s going to announce he‘s running as independent or no party
Now, the governor himself said to the AP, I haven‘t told anybody
anything yet. I think always with Charlie Crist, it is right to put a
caveat in. I believe today he has made a decision that he will run as an
independent. Does that mean that‘s what he announces tomorrow? It‘s very
likely yes, but remember, this is somebody who we widely expected to
endorse Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 Florida Republican presidential primary,
wound up endorsing John McCain at the last minute and throwing the state to
So this is someone who has a history of changing his mind at the last
minute on big issues, so I think we have to be careful. But all signs
point to Charlie Crist saying he‘s going to run as an independent tomorrow
MATTHEWS: Well, I would go with the hunch that he‘s switching because
you don‘t talk about leaving your party...
MATTHEWS: ... or your spouse if you don‘t intend to do it, first of
MATTHEWS: ... unless you‘re going to split. Let me ask you, though,
the big question.
MATTHEWS: You point out something about his method of operation, his
MO. He does make up his mind in a kind of a fickle way and a surprising
way. Will voters in Florida—let‘s say you‘re a moderate Republican.
You don‘t want to go with Marco Rubio. Or you think the Cuban-Americans
have too much clout down there, or whatever reason, so you go with this
guy. You ask, Governor, are you a Republican? Are you going to vote with
the Republicans for Republican control of the Senate or not? How can he—
how can he...
CILLIZZA: Well, Chris, that‘s...
MATTHEWS: ... fake that one?
CILLIZZA: That‘s (INAUDIBLE) problem because, look, when you‘re a
governor, you don‘t have to say, Well, are you going to vote for Harry Reid
or whoever is in that for leader, or are you going to vote for Mitch
McConnell for leader? When you run for the Senate, you do have to say
that. This is—this is how it works. It‘s a more partisan office. You
can‘t be sort of a nonpartisan problem solver, which is kind of how Charlie
Crist has painted himself—got him into trouble (INAUDIBLE) You have to
say, Well, do you come down on the Republican side or you come down on the
The other thing to think about, Chris, just from a purely logistical
perspective—where does he go for staff? Presumably, if he does switch,
if he does become an independent, all of the staff around him—
consultant, pollster, media guy, communications director—those people
are all Republicans. They‘re not likely to stay with him. Where does he
find people to send out press releases, to do his ads?
CILLIZZA: These are little logistical things, but they matter.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go to something that‘s red hot. We all know that
in this country, there‘s a lot of people of Hispanic background, Latin
American people. We use that term, Hispanic, for them generally, but they
come from very different backgrounds. They come from Cuba. They come from
Mexico. I guess the most of the people today come from Mexico or Colombia,
Republicans have historically had a hold, a close alliance with Cuban-
MATTHEWS: ... because of their tough, hard line on communism, and
those people came, basically, to resist Cuban communism under Castro. How
do you tell a Cuban who may be darkly complected and have an accent—how
do you—even in the second generation—how do you tell that person, Oh,
by the way, we‘re going to go out there and look for you folks to see if
you got papers?
CILLIZZA: It‘s a huge problem, Chris, and it‘s why you saw Marco
Rubio, the sort of the guy who forced this decision by Charlie Crist down
in Florida, who‘s also running for the Senate, and the former governor, Jeb
Bush, brother of the former president of the United States, come out and
say, We need to be careful with this.
But remember, Republicans are stuck between a rock and a hard place,
or the base and a hard place. The base of the party is supportive of these
sorts of things. Tom Tancredo, J.D. Hayworth...
MATTHEWS: But not the Cuban-American base.
CILLIZZA: No. Absolutely not. But, Chris, I‘m talking—let‘s—
aside from the Hispanic population, the Cubans that make up part of that
base, lots of the base of the Republican Party is supportive of this. The
problem is the establishment wing of the party looks at it, whether it‘s
Cubans, whether it‘s Puerto Rico...
CILLIZZA: ... whoever it is, and they say, This is a growth area in
CILLIZZA: We can‘t afford to cut them out of our potential majority
because we won‘t have a potential majority then.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think it is one of those areas where they‘re
not going to do it, but they should get together and do some kind of
commission on a fair way to let people come in this country to work. If
they want to stay, it takes little longer. If they want to come here and
work and go home, it‘s a little easier. Have a fair system with real
paperwork. I know that sounds pie in the sky, but I believe in it. I
think this country can operate like other countries. We‘re a country of
immigrants, but we can be fair about it and not have people sneaking around
and phony papers and all that stuff that goes on. Your thoughts.
CILLIZZA: I would say it‘s not terribly pie in the sky, Chris, but
it‘s—it‘s—it‘s not going to happen in an election year. And
remember, one of the big lead Republican sponsor of this way back when in
2007 is somebody named John McCain, who‘s in a very tough Republican
primary, where his opponent is running very hard to his right on
immigration, on any number of issues. And John McCain, who was part of the
effort to comprehensively overhaul it—it almost cost him the
presidential nomination—he‘s not going to be on board with this. So I
think in an election year, given the...
CILLIZZA: ... the realities that you see with McCain and others, it‘s
not likely to go anywhere. Not that it‘s a bad idea, just from a political
perspective, I don‘t see it happening anytime before November 2010.
MATTHEWS: OK, last word, and this is really important. I mentioned
Karl Rove as being one of those worried about this law in Arizona. Rove
tried to build unsuccessfully a big Republican Party and brought in—the
way African-Americans tend to vote Democrat over these years, since the
1960s—to bring the Hispanic voter over to the Republican Party. He
failed. Is he still hopeful that they can—is George W. still hopeful,
the former president, that they can put this alliance together, the way it
sort of works in Texas a little better than it does in California?
CILLIZZA: You know, Chris, I would—they would—I think in 2008,
they clearly failed. Barack Obama won over overwhelmingly. I think they
would—Karl Rove and others would point to 2000 and 2004, when George
Bush, at least according to exit polls, did get a larger share than
Republicans—past Republican presidential candidates had gotten—that
it can be done.
But look, I think some Republicans privately are worried that this is
Pete Wilson in California all over again, that this is something that if it
if it goes through, if it winds up sort of staying on the books, if it‘s
a rallying point for the Republican base, this could alienate them from
Hispanic voters for a decade or more. And that‘s hugely problematic as it
relates to Hispanics growing so rapidly both as a percentage of the
population and as a percentage of the electorate.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s a—thank you, Chris Cillizza. This issue
gets hotter and hotter.
CILLIZZA: It‘s amazing.
MATTHEWS: And joining me now is former U.S. congressman Tom Tancredo,
a Republican from Colorado. Congressman, thanks for joining us tonight.
There‘s been a little confusion about your position. You‘ve raised a
concern that you said, “I do not want the police here, there in Arizona,
anyplace else, pulling people over because you know—because of what they
should look like, or whatever (ph) they should be pulled over.” What do
you mean by that in the context of the Arizona law, the new one?
THOMAS TANCREDO (R-CO), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Sure. I was being
interviewed about it, and I was telling them that I like the law, I believe
that it is a result of the fact that the federal government is AWOL, as it
has been under Bush and Carter and a long way back. It‘s not Obama‘s
problem necessarily. But the fact is that it‘s a good law. I think that
Arizona needed to do it.
And then some—and then they say, Well, what about being—having
people pulled over because of the way they look? And I said, Well, no, I
wouldn‘t want that to happen in Arizona or anywhere, and I would never vote
for a law like that. But that is not the law! That‘s not the law that was
put on the books. Well, they took out that middle part. Somebody blogged
on it, got to Huffingtonpost, and all of a sudden, it was, Tom Tancredo
thinks it has gone to far. It‘s certainly not true.
MATTHEWS: Maybe I‘m a dreamer...
TANCREDO: I think (INAUDIBLE) good law.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe I‘m a dreamer, but I keep thinking about
somebody out there who‘s going to take a position that seems practical,
like a lot of these millions of people are going to be here. They‘re not
going to be thrown out of the country. We‘re not going to do a round-up.
That‘s not the way America works. At the same time, most Americans would
like to see our laws enforced, and they‘d like to see if you come to this
country, you only—only come into this country if you have the permission
of this country to come into this country to work or to live.
TANCREDO: You are a dreamer! You are a dreamer!
MATTHEWS: Why can‘t we have a regular, progressive system that‘s
TANCREDO: Because the Democrats see legal and illegal immigration as
a source of votes. The Republicans see legal and illegal immigration as a
source of cheap labor. Those are the elites in the party. They do not
want secure borders. That is the basic—American people, absolutely.
But you know what? The people who are running the show on both sides get
benefit out of open borders. That‘s why, Chris—that‘s why you‘re being
a dreamer to think that...
TANCREDO: ... we can change that, unless the people of this country
do what the people of Arizona have done.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m not a complete dreamer because people like Joe
Lieberman, who I disagree with a lot of times, and Lindsey Graham, who‘s a
bit more conservative than I am, to put it lightly, both have a plan out
with John Kerry to do the following: Real check on people to see they‘re
not lying about who they are when they come looking for a job in this
country, strengthen the border if you have to, a process for temporary
workers to come here, work and go back home with the money, and a path for
the people who are here and have been here a long time to become American.
That seems to be a reasonable, middle-of-the-road solution. Do you think
TANCREDO: The problem with it...
MATTHEWS: ... like—do you think people like Reid are really for
it? Do you think the Democrats are really for it...
MATTHEWS: ... the Republicans are really for it?
TANCREDO: No, I don‘t. I think what they‘ll want is that last part
especially, the pathway to citizenship, the—essentially, the amnesty,
without any of the rest. And here‘s the problem with that last part, is
that there is nowhere—no way to square this circle. You cannot possibly
say to everybody who‘s come into this country illegally that, You‘re going
to get all of the privileges of all of the people who have done it the
right way. It‘s the craziest thing in the world!
It‘s the biggest slap in the face to the people who have waited, the
Hispanic people, the black people, all the folks who have waited for years
to do it the right way, paid a lot of money, gone through a lot of brain
damage (ph) to get here, and then, all of a sudden, if you snuck into the
country, don‘t worry, we‘re going to give you that same privilege by making
you what, pay a fine? Baloney! It‘s not fair. It‘s totally unfair to do
MATTHEWS: Well, it may not be fair, but life is unfair. What do you
do to a person who‘s been living here, raised kids here, has them in
school, they‘ve been here 5 or 10 or 20 years? What do you do?
TANCREDO: Yes, you go—I tell you, the only thing you can say to
them is, Look, there is a way to come into this country legally...
MATTHEWS: But they‘re already here.
TANCREDO: ... and by the way, before we find out...
MATTHEWS: You‘re arguing about a world that doesn‘t exist...
MATTHEWS: They‘re already here.
TANCREDO: But before we find out that you are here illegally, go
home. Come back in the right door. That‘s what you say.
MATTHEWS: But that‘s not going to—you think that‘s going to
TANCREDO: Well, you know what? I‘m a dreamer, too, I guess, in that
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m a dreamer...
MATTHEWS: ... I‘m hoping we‘ll reach a compromise on this, which
basically recognizes reality.
MATTHEWS: You got to stop illegal...
TANCREDO: I‘m a dreamers...
MATTHEWS: ... the only country in the world that doesn‘t have a real
border. You have to have some system of bringing workers in the country,
which we need, let them come in and go back home if they want to, and if
people want to come in here legally, they got to go through a process,
which can be liberal, but they have to obey the law. That‘s what I believe
in. I don‘t think we agree on what to do with people here already. I just
want to make sure that in the future, we have a country that makes some
kind of sense, that‘s all. And it‘s fair...
TANCREDO: Then you cannot possibly...
MATTHEWS: ... and it‘s honest. Go ahead.
TANCREDO: Then, Chris, I‘ll tell you, I do not think you can possibly
opt for the open book—the amnesty option because once you do that, you
ruin the rest of your hope. Your hope is that we will have a system then
that everybody will abide by, that we‘ll have—the minute you...
TANCREDO: ... give 20 million people amnesty, you‘re going to
encourage 20 million more to come across those borders.
MATTHEWS: I know. I hear your argument. Thank you very much for
coming on tonight, Tom Tancredo of Colorado. Thank you.
Coming up: Did the Republicans just cry uncle on Wall Street reform?
Looks like a deal may be in the works.
But first, during the commercial break coming up, Senator Arlen
Specter is using star power to help him get ahead in the primaries. We‘re
going to tell you about it in just one minute right here, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Senator Arlen Specter is using star power to help him in
the upcoming primary election. Here is Michael J. Fox in an ad for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: In the fight against disease, we can look back
or move forward. Arlen Specter is moving forward. He‘s won the battles to
double funding for biomedical research, to find cures and to save lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: By the way, a previous ad by Michael J. Fox may have played
a key role in the election of Missouri senator Claire McCaskill back in
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I think we‘ve made the decision
that this is important enough that we‘re going to stay up through the night
and ask continually the Republicans to allow us to debate this bill out in
open, in front of the public. We need transparency on Wall Street, we
ought to start right here in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Democratic senator
Claire McCaskill of Missouri earlier today issuing a threat. Senate
Republicans met late this afternoon after moving—about moving forward on
the debate over Wall Street reform. Can Congress get something done soon?
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is a member of the Banking
Committee. Senator Brown, it‘s great to have you on. You represent
working people in a state that I think‘s probably going to decide the next
election for president. Ohio always matters. Are people in your state
ready to take sides now with the working class and the Democrats against
Wall Street? And will Voinovich, your companion senator, the Republican
who‘s retiring—is he going to join the bandwagon here?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH), BANKING COMMITTEE: I think—boy, I don‘t
know. I don‘t speak for anybody, of course, other than me. But George
Voinovich seems to be the first one that at least media reports have said
may flip and decide to do the right thing.
And I—you know, I mean, I‘ve watched Mitch McConnell over the last
couple days, and he‘s doing this double back flip to try to wiggle out of
the situation he‘s got his Republican Party in. And you know, in the end,
what Claire McCaskill said is right. We‘re going to stay in all night.
We‘re going to go day after day after day. And you know, the public
increasingly understands who‘s on their side, that...
BROWN: ... we‘re fighting for Main Street, Bell Fountain (ph) and
Main Street, Zanesville (ph), and they‘re fighting for Wall Street,
Manhattan. And it‘s pretty clear whose side...
BROWN: ... the public‘s on, and they‘re losing.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I can usually figure out politics. I can
see the both sides of the fight over health care. I can see both sides
over the immigration issue. What is the other side on Wall Street? I
don‘t know why anybody would want to defend these characters we saw on
television so vividly, that arrogant bunch.
BROWN: Well, I mean, Mitch McConnell was in Manhattan two or three
weeks ago with John Cornyn, the head of the Senate Republican campaign
committee, you know, to meet with hedge fund and other Wall Street
executives. And that‘s where they—you know, that‘s by and large their
benefactor. Wall Street‘s been their benefactor.
And you know, McConnell‘s obstructionism has worked for 16 months
politically in terms of the polls and all that. It ain‘t working on this
one, and he thought it would. And he just did a colossal misjudgment.
That‘s why this very weird kind of bizarro-world he‘s now living in to try
to get out of this situation, to say, Well, I wanted these negotiations all
I wanted these floor votes all along. And I—you know, it would have
been better if three days ago, Mitch McConnell had said, OK, we‘re going to
spend the next week debating amendments and let‘s let the chips fall where
they may. Instead, they delayed three days and look bad doing it.
Put that behind us. I want to move forward. I‘ve got a bill to make
this—to strengthen this bill. I don‘t think it‘s quite what we want
yet. I think it‘s good. Could be better. The Republicans have some
amendments probably to weaken it. Let them try.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk reality here.
Working-class people in this country, middle-class, slightly upper-
middle-class still face layoffs. I mean, in my family, I have seen it.
It‘s happening in hard—in big industries, in the energy industry. It‘s
not growing yet.
What‘s it feel like and what are people‘s reaction when they see these
Wall Street guys, these guys with the perfect haircuts, the perfect suits,
with the arrogance all over their faces, the smirks? What—do they see
this as a battle between some people at the top and a lot of people getting
screwed in the middle? Do they look at it that way?
S. BROWN: I think exactly right. They do look at it that way.
People lose their homes in Wapakoneta. They‘re losing their jobs in
Toledo. They‘re losing their life savings in Warren. And they‘re thinking
they‘re looking around and seeing that Wall Street people continue to do
well. And, you know, they don‘t want necessarily revenge and retribution.
Some do, but they want more justice in this.
And they know this crowd‘s gotten away with this cowboy mentality and
this—to mix metaphors—this whole—apologies to Harry Reid, but this
whole Las Vegas casino going on in New York City. And it‘s not working for
the country. And they feel—people feel—and they have for several
years, I think—felt a betrayal.
They felt a betrayal during the giveaway to the drug companies five
years ago. They felt a betrayal on the tax cuts for the rich. They feel a
betrayal by Wall Street. And that‘s—people just want some justice on
Main Street, Ohio, and Main Street USA. And this bill will move a good bit
towards doing that.
That‘s why people don‘t really understand what this fight‘s about.
They think everybody should—should wage a battle to make Wall Street a
little bit more accountable and responsible.
MATTHEWS: What do people think out in Ohio that you represent? A lot
of labor guys and non-union people you represent, do they still believe in
capitalism, or do they think what we‘re seeing now is a betrayal of
capitalism or the worst case of capitalism?
I‘m talking about we all grew believing the labor theory of value, to
some extent. If you work for something, you get some of the value, you get
some of the profits. If you start a business, you get some of the—you
These guys on Wall Street don‘t start businesses. They don‘t make
things. They don‘t make services. I said the other day, they don‘t even
make movies. They don‘t make anything. And yet they‘re making tons of
money. The separation of work from money is getting really extreme now.
People are making money who aren‘t working really, or making anything.
Do people out there on the line out there, I mean, are they losing faith in
our system sometimes?
S. BROWN: Yes, I‘m sure they are, but they also know it can come
I spoke to the Dayton Development Coalition today, a group of 150
entrepreneurs, officials, businesspeople in the Dayton area. I was at the
GE plant in Cincinnati and the Cleveland—an Alcoa plant in Cleveland,
talking to workers.
And they all understand that the history of our state and our country
is we make things and we sell to them each other and around the world. And
they want to get back to that. They believe in capitalism. They believe
in capitalism with rules, that, if you play fair, you get rewarded. If
you‘re more productive, you get higher wages.
And they have seen that change in the last 10 years. And they know—
genuinely, I think Americans understand of both parties, that are of no
S. BROWN: ... understand you can get back to that in this country.
You make stuff with your brain and your hands, you get paid a decent,
middle-class living. And that‘s the American dream. And I see those kinds
of entrepreneurial activities and job starts, if you will, starting to
blossom again in the state. I think the state is really ready for this
MATTHEWS: You know, when I think about my old neighborhood—I was
talking about it the other night—of row houses in North Philly, when I
grew up as a very young kid, it used to be Irish and Polish. Now it‘s
And I think about the big differences. It‘s—there‘s no more entry
level jobs for industry. There used to be a lot of jobs in North Philly in
factories, building things, making things. Those jobs aren‘t there
anymore. That, to me—it‘s not so much a social difference as an
S. BROWN: Yes, exactly.
And, I mean, that‘s why manufacturing is so important. It‘s a higher-
tech manufacturing than it was in Scranton or Philly...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
S. BROWN: ... or Cleveland or Akron now, but it‘s still making
We just were able to save a plant. A whole community came together to
save a Hugo Boss plant, the only manufacturing of Hugo Boss clothes in the
whole United States. We saved 350 jobs in Cleveland.
We‘re seeing an oil—an oil, steel—country tubular steel and for
a gas and oil drilling plant expanding in Youngstown. We‘re seeing in
Defiance, Ohio, a GM plant growing 190 jobs.
I mean, we‘re starting to see that happen. It‘s not nearly affecting
everybody yet, but we‘re going to get back to making stuff in this
S. BROWN: ... whether it‘s wind turbines or biomedical equipment.
MATTHEWS: It‘s good to talk to a real Democrat.
Thank you, Senator Sherrod Brown...
S. BROWN: Thanks.
MATTHEWS: ... of Ohio.
S. BROWN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, see what happens when Britain‘s Prime Minister
Gordon Brown forgets that his microphone is on.
MATTHEWS: This happens. This guy got hurt by telling what he
thought. Let‘s watch it when we come back in the “Sideshow,” only on
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First: a teachable moment from Gordon Brown. Earlier today, on the
campaign trail, the British prime minister was speaking to Gillian Duffy, a
supporter of Brown‘s Labor Party ,who brought up the issue of immigration.
After that meeting, as Prime Minister Brown was driving away, his more
candid thoughts about the woman were picked up by a live microphone. Here
it is, the voter exchange, followed by Brown‘s hot mike comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILLIAN DUFFY, VOTER: I don‘t say anything about the immigrants
because you‘re saying that you‘re -- you‘re—you—well, all these
Eastern European that are coming in, where are they flocking from?
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: A million people come from
Europe, but a million people, British people, have gone into Europe.
Good to see you all. Good to see you. Thanks very much.
That was a disaster. Well, I just—should never have put me in with
that woman. Whose idea was that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t know. I didn‘t see.
G. BROWN: It was Sue, I think. It‘s just ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not sure if they will go with that one.
G. BROWN: They will go with that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did she say?
G. BROWN: Oh, everything. She was just a sort of bigoted woman. She
said she used be Labor. I mean, it‘s just ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. He called her a bigoted woman who used to be
Within hours, Prime Minister Brown apologized to Ms. Duffy on the BBC
Radio and followed it up with a visit to her house, saying he was mortified
over what had happened.
For her part, Ms. Duffy says that, before today, she had intended to
mail in her vote for Labor, but now she won‘t be voting at all. That‘s
what she says.
Moving back stateside, with all the buzz surrounding Arizona‘s tough
new immigration law, this campaign ad out in Alabama is catching a lot of
attention. It comes from Republican candidate for governor Tim James,
who‘s also the son of former two-term Governor , Fob James.
His big push, English-only driver‘s exams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
TIM JAMES ®, ALABAMA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m Tim James.
Why do our politicians make us give licenses in 12 languages? This is
Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it. We‘re
only giving that test in English if I‘m governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: James‘ campaign spokesman tells Talking Points Memo that
the ad has touched a raw nerve in the state. Also, while the ad doesn‘t
specifically mention illegal aliens, he says English-only exam means that
immigrants would be less likely to come to Alabama.
This is just getting hotter and hotter.
Finally, an item I think merits the headline “Only in Texas.”
Governor Rick Perry just related a curious story to the Associated Press.
Back in February, while jogging with his dog near Austin, the governor saw
a wild coyote menacing his dog, as he put it. So, what did he do? He shot
That‘s right. Perry told the Associated Press he actually carries a
laser-sighted pistol with him on runs. Perry added that he left the coyote
where he fell, saying—and I‘m quoting him here—“He became mulch.”
Now for the “Big Number.”
The White House press corps has ;long been unhappy with their access
to the president. One of their gripes, President Obama hasn‘t held enough
of those informal question-and-answer questions with the press pool.
Well, in his first year in office, President Clinton held 252 such
Q&As, President George W., 147. How many has President Obama held of these
casual interviews with reporters? According to Politico, just 46, less
than a third than his predecessor George W. President Obama holds just 46
informal Q&As with reporters—tonight‘s “Big Number,” at least for
Up next: A new poll shows voters trust President Obama way more than
they trust Republicans in Congress, but will this translate to voters and
to votes in November?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks reversing early losses, to finish slightly higher today, the
Dow Jones industrials rising 53 points, the S&P 500 adding 7 ½ points,
and the Nasdaq tacking on a fraction-of-a-point.
The market slipped into negative territory early in the day on a debt
rating downgrade for Spain, but a statement from the Federal Reserve helped
turn things around. The Fed said economic activity is up and the labor
market is beginning to improve. But they‘re still talking about leaving
interest rates low for an extended period.
On the interest—on the earnings front, Visa posting after the
closing bell, topping estimates on both profit and revenue. And Dow
Chemical shares soaring nearly 6 percent after beating expectations on a
spike in overseas demand.
And some very big news breaking just after the closing bell. Hewlett-
Packard will buy smartphone-maker Palm in a deal valued at around $1.2
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The American voters in a mood to shop around, and that‘s bad news for
incumbents. And according to a new ABC News/”Washington Post” poll just
out, voters‘ dissatisfaction is about what it was at this time in the 1994
election cycle. And we now know what happened then. Democrats both—
lost both in the House and the Senate back in ‘94, under President Clinton.
So, what are we headed for this November?
Joining me now is Joan Walsh, editor of Salon.com, and MSNBC political
analyst Michelle Bernard.
Thank you both for joining us.
I want you to look at these numbers, which I find fascinating. I
often do find numbers fascinating.
MATTHEWS: Right now, just 32 percent of registered voters would
reelect their representative in Congress, regardless of party, about a
third -- 57 percent look forward to looking around.
At this point in 1994, I assume in April of ‘94, that gap was about 34
percent to reelect the person that‘s on the ballot from last time, against
55 percent who wanted to shop around.
So, there‘s a bit—it‘s not significant—but a bit of an uptick.
Michelle Bernard, what do you make of the fact that people really
claim—claim—they‘re not going to vote for the person they‘re used to
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It‘s—you know what?
It‘s still very early. It doesn‘t bode well for Democrats, but it‘s just
April. We have got a long time to go between now and November. And
anything can happen.
You know, if I were the Democrats, one of the things I would be
looking at are the poll numbers that suggest, for example, that the
American public, although they are completely disgusted with Congress, the
approval ratings for Barack Obama still look very good, so I would suspect
that you are going to see a lot of Democrats in November in certain
districts in particular sort of hanging on to the president‘s coattails and
getting him to come out and campaign for them and making this about
BERNARD: vs.—rather than local issues.
MATTHEWS: Well, since you made that point, Joan, react to this.
Obama is trusted by—over Republicans in the Congress to handle the
following issues, financial regulation by 17 percent spread, health care by
a 10 percent spread, the economy an 11 percent spread.
And even the federal deficit, which has long been a Republican strong
suit, he‘s got a slight edge of 4 percent.
Will that edge for the president offset this total dissatisfaction
with members of Congress, Joan?
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: You know, it is too early to
tell, like Michelle said, but I think it will, Chris.
I saw the headline on that story, more bad news, sour mood for
Democrats, and I got a little worried. But when you really drill down into
the numbers, there‘s a lot of good news for Democrats. Independents are
coming back to President Obama, for one thing.
So, you know, the incumbent numbers are a little bit worrisome, but I
think the idea that people are shopping around has to do with the terrible,
terrible gridlock in Congress. Now, as the Democrats have begun to break
the logjam with health care reform and now today it‘s looking like with
financial reform, those numbers might shift, because they will have a sense
that their legislators, their congresspeople, are working for them, not
merely just sitting around, not getting things done.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe I‘m the only one of the three of us who thinks
there‘s a possible absolute catastrophe facing the Democrats this fall,
because I think a lot of name-brand U.S. senators I think are going to get
I think the public is in a very angry incumbent mood. But maybe
you‘re right. Let‘s take a look at President Bush. He‘s still getting the
blame for the economy. And I think that‘s fair. Fifty-nine percent blame
him, only 25 percent the president.
Now, Michelle, I hear from the pre-interview you had with somebody,
you disagree. But let me make my case.
MATTHEWS: This guy‘s been president for one year, basically. He came
in February, basically, last year, January 20. He‘s—now April, that‘s
just about a year. You cannot turn the American economy around in a year.
And the tools available to a president are fiscal policy, just about
it, and he‘s been able to make some changes.
You blame him, though, don‘t you?
BERNARD: No, actually, Chris, I don‘t blame him. What I was actually
getting at is that I‘m surprised that the president has been given the
grace period that he‘s had so far --
MATTHEWS: What, a year?
BERNARD: -- with the American public. A lot of people did not
believe that the American public would have the long-term memory that they
have had. One of the reasons that I think the president has faired so
well, and that people have not wholly turned against him, is that he did
such a good job on messaging and was brilliant in explaining to the
American public, way before he was even inaugurated, what he inherited from
the Bush administration.
You‘ll remember before the Inauguration, President Bush had virtually
disappeared. The economy was tanking. Who did we see on television every
day acting as an adult and showing people that there‘s someone with brains
trying to do something. It was Barack Obama. He was still a senator at
that point in time.
I‘m glad that the American public has given him this grace period. I
think he deserves it. I think he‘s done a masterful job at messaging.
What I am hoping, though—actually, what I should say is what I fear is
that if the economy does not turn around, or begin to turn around, sooner
or later, that grace period will diminish, and people will begin to say,
OK, you know what? You blamed it on President Bush, but he‘s been out of
office for two years, three years, whatever point in time we‘re talking
about at that period. And we‘ll say to him—I know it‘s a year now, but
I‘m saying maybe one year from now or two years from now, people will say,
what have you done for us today?
MATTHEWS: Here‘s the president right now—earlier this afternoon,
actually, in Missouri on progress made on Wall Street reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now, I don‘t think this should be a partisan issue.
Everybody, Republicans and Democrats and independents, were hurt by this
crisis, so everybody should want to fix it. So I‘m very pleased that after
a few days of delay, it appears an agreement may be in hand to allow this
debate to move forward on the Senate floor on this critical issue.
I‘m very pleased by that. And I want to work with anyone, Republican
or Democrat, who wants to pursue these reforms in good faith.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Joan?
WALSH: You know, I think he‘s feeling strong, and he‘s worked hard
for this. He‘s near a victory. I think that these poll numbers are really
good news for people who believe in the fundamental intelligence of the
American people, because not only do they not blame him for this horrible
financial crisis, the other thing that really struck me, Chris, is that 58
percent thought that Obama was either just right ideologically, or maybe
even a little bit too conservative.
This is after a year and a half, or more, of Republicans calling him a
socialist and trying to paint him as out of the pale of American democracy.
So, again, the American people are seeing through the Republican strategy
on so many issues. So I think that bodes well for Democrats this November.
MATTHEWS: Michelle, a totally cosmetic thing, but politics is a lot
about cosmetics, as we all know. He‘s out there wearing no tie, his collar
open. I wonder, presidents used to campaign rather formally. Certainly
Reagan did, Kennedy did. What do you make of the fact—is he trying to
distinguish himself from those extremely well turned out Wall Street types
we saw yesterday, who all had perfect everything?
BERNARD: Absolutely. you can‘t help—you‘re right about bringing
up the cosmetics, Chris. You can‘t help but notice it. He‘s got the
sleeves rolled up. He‘s doing his best to appear as the average, every day
man. He is trying to show the American public that he‘s out there and he‘s
working hard for us. That‘s the message he‘s trying to deliver. It‘s a
sharp contrast to what we saw with those fellows on the Hill yesterday.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Joan? I still think he‘s a tad too, to use
an old person‘s expression, well, Ray Mulland. I always get in trouble for
saying. He‘s the guy in the movies that never sweated, never got excited.
I got a find a more current example.
WALSH: We‘ll work on that. We‘ll work on that, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Give me a new one.
WALSH: Off the top of my head—I‘ll have it for you in a minute.
You know, I do agree with you. I think the three of us, actually, during
the campaign, noticed that occasionally he—at a point when the country
wanted populism—they wanted someone who felt their pain, he does have a
little bit of a cool demeanor, and he needs to work harder. Not that we
want him angry, but we want to see him really with fire.
So yes, whenever he rolls up his sleeves, that‘s what he‘s doing. I‘m
going to fight for you. I‘m going to work with you. I‘m going to connect
with you. It‘s always a good sign.
MATTHEWS: Maybe it‘s a plus, Michelle. I think of all these other
politicians that are always—I shouldn‘t say it myself, because I get
overheated. They‘re always yelling. They‘re yelling on cue. I just
wonder, maybe we‘re tired of that. I don‘t know. Your thoughts, Michelle?
BERNARD: I think the public is tired of it. And, you know what, if
you want to watch people yelling at each other and making no sense
whatsoever, turn on C-Span and watch Congress. I think that Obama is
brilliant at the message he delivers, whether it‘s through cosmetics or
language. I‘ve given up on him giving us the sort of soaring rhetoric that
we saw during the campaign on a daily basis. And maybe right now is not
the time to do it.
We sit back. We watch the Democrats and the Republicans fighting with
each other over anything. It is nothing but pure gridlock in Washington.
And just to see someone a little bit different makes me feel better.
MATTHEWS: I got to go.
WALSH: Daniel Craig, the newest James Bond, very cool.
MATTHEWS: The physical James Bond. Thank you very much, Joan Walsh.
He looks like he really can jump over those buildings. Thank you, Michelle
Up next, the Birthers are coming to Washington. But first, during the
commercial, coming up, guess the retiring senator who did not get the dream
job he was after. That‘s in one minutes here on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: A major personal disappointment for retiring Indiana
Senator Evan Bayh. While the rest of the Senate was voting on Wall Street
reform, Bayh was interviewing to become the head of the National Collegiate
Athletic Association, the NCAA. The organization is based in Indianapolis,
his home city.
Unfortunately for Bayh, the job went to the University of Washington
President Mark Emmert. The NCAA chose him because he was available to
start by the beginning of the school year, while Bayh‘s Senate term last
until January 2011. HARDBALL will be back right after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The state of Hawaii has had it
with the Birthers. The state legislature has now passed a law that will
let state employees ignore what they‘re calling duplicated requests for
verification of President Obama‘s birth. Not to be deterred, a rally of
Birthers, who say President Obama was not born in the U.S., has been
announced for May 29th in Washington, D.C. Ralliers are requested to bring
a copy of their own birth certificate.
What‘s going on? Dave Weigel is a “Washington Post” political
reporter and author of “The Right Now” blog. He studies these fringe
groups. David, it‘s great to have you on. I was talking to you earlier
today, trying to get a sense. What is the Birther crowd up to now? What‘s
the state of Hawaii saying in reaction to them now?
DAVID WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, nothing much has changed.
Hawaii passed this law because, according to Health Department officials,
they were getting 20 requests a day, sometimes, for Obama‘s birth records.
They had to keep telling them what they told everyone. Obama can go and
look at his own birth record in a vault, but, other than that, you just
have to make due with this document that‘s been online for two years.
So Hawaii is the state, actually, where this anti-Birther bill is
getting further than some of the bills that are requesting birth
certificates in other states.
MATTHEWS: Well, Hawaii gives out what they call a birth certificate,
a certificate of live birth. That‘s what everybody gets who is born there.
If you want to go for any kind of job, you have to have a birth
certificate. What he shows us is what they show us. It‘s the standard
MATTHEWS: It‘s the standard issue birth certificate. These people
are coming to Washington waving their birth certificates around. If Barack
Obama wanted to come to that rally, he would wave this around. He‘d be
like all of them, right?
WEIGEL: Well, he would. That‘s what Birthers—
MATTHEWS: Then what‘s the issue? What‘s the issue then?
WEIGEL: The issue is that the Birther—they don‘t like being called
Birthers. but the people who ask this question claim because that because
the original 1961 certificate includes information like the hospital he was
MATTHEWS: No, you‘re playing your game. You‘re saying certificate.
No, the Record of Vital Statistics is not a birth certificate.
WEIGEL: No, this is enough. That‘s the point here. You know, you
talked about Arizona in the past, you know, the state where—it might
die, actually, if the legislature goes away without passing something. But
they have legislation demanding proof of citizenship. And this would be
You‘re right, the thing that Barack Obama has been presenting for two
years has been enough.
MATTHEWS: It is called a birth certificate. It‘s a birth
MATTHEWS: Now what I found out today checking with you, and then
checking out there in Hawaii and our producers checked as well—we were
all making all these phone calls today. It turns out that that information
that they take at the time of birth from the parents doesn‘t include—
this is information they take for confidential reasons about health factors
that really are not, perhaps, generally recognized as stuff you give away.
But included in that is not religion.
So I can‘t think of a thing that would be useful to Obama‘s critics
that would be in this information that you could get if you go into the
confidential records, as apart from the birth certificate. So what is this
game that the Birthers are playing?
WEIGEL: Well, what some of the legislators have said, if you push
them, is that they want Obama to release other information. They want this
to be an avenue for him to give out his college records, because there‘s a
theory that he went to Pakistan on a secret mission for the CIA. I can‘t
believe I‘m saying that, but that‘s actually a thing they‘ve said.
There is different conspiracies about Barack Obama that they say we
need more entries to show. So this is an entry-way to say look, he didn‘t
give us 100 percent of the information. He gave us 99 percent of this
information. He‘s hiding something else. We need this so that he can give
us more of it.
You‘re right. It‘s never ending. The White House, whenever they‘re
asked about this, says, look, he‘s given more information than anyone‘s
ever given who‘s been president about where they were born. There‘s a
certificate, enough to get a passport, enough to get a driver‘s license.
MATTHEWS: Is this going to end up being like one of these Geraldo
Rivera things, where we go into the vault and we finally get into the
vault, and there is nothing there? The Al Capone records are just going to
be, in this case, yeah, he was born in ‘61. And, yeah, his father came
from Kenya. Yes, his mother came from Kansas. Yeah, he is born in
America. And, yeah, what showed up in the newspapers at the time is
accurate. Blah, blah, blah. Who cares? Will then the Birthers quit and
go back to the holes they came out of?
WEIGEL: I don‘t really think so. I wouldn‘t wish the time I have
spent on this on you or on anyone else. But if you keep pushing on that,
they say well, look, in 1961, maybe they lied and gave the wrong
information to the registrar and we‘ll never know.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. David, I think you figured them out pretty
well, without getting into too much opinion. I think you‘ve got it
figured. David Weigel of the “Washington Post.”
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about this knee jerk
comparison of everything we don‘t like to Nazi Germany. It standard now.
You don‘t like it, it‘S Hitler. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a brief thought about a giant
problem. It‘s how we talk these days. There is no such thing anymore that
we just disagree with, is there? If you‘re on the liberal side and
somebody does something on the conservative side, it‘s Hitlarian. It‘s
Same the other way. Obama‘s health care proposal, you know, the
individual mandate that is modeled on the one that Mitt Romney did when he
was Massachusetts governor, the part of the bill that makes people take
personal responsibility for their health insurance, not just troop into the
ER or get taken to the ER when they need medical attention, people are so
mad about that provision of the bill they‘re calling it Hitlarian, a Nazi
Am I right? Am I right? Hitlarian, that‘s what they‘re calling it.
It‘s a Nazi health care program. You know, Nazi, Nazi, Nazi. Have they
made themselves clear?
The same thing is going on in this Arizona deal, checking on people‘s
I.D.‘s to see if they‘re in the country illegally. I‘m sorry, did Hitler
arrest people for trying to move into the Third Reich? Or was he catching
and killing people trying to escape?
Sorry, there is a difference. You don‘t like the Arizona law? OK,
let‘s debate it. Demonstrate if you‘re up against it.
But let‘s agree, can we, to drop the Nazi stuff? Can we stop calling
the individual mandate in the Obama health care bill Nazi? Can we? Hitler
killed millions of people, rounded them up as a matter of national policy
and then killed them all. Before that, he had all his political rivals
rounded up and had them killed. He eventually started a war, World War II,
that ended up killing 50 million people.
I know what you‘re thinking, he‘s not as concerned about all this as I
am, or he‘d be using that word Hitler, too. That‘s what I‘m talking about.
If you don‘t call it the unholy name of Adolf Hitler, you just don‘t care
these days. I say we take the “heil” out of Hitler. If something is wrong
and we want to say so, say why. It will take a little longer. But at
least we‘ll be getting somewhere. This Hitler stuff is teaching us
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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