Guest: Todd Harris, Steve McMahon, Katty Kay, Michael Elliott
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Greek week.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off
tonight: Grecian formula? Trying to figure out today‘s scary drop in
the Dow. At one point, it was down a thousand points. What happened?
Fears that the financial crisis in Greece, which led to riots today,
will spread throughout Europe and eventually across the Atlantic to the
U.S. In the end, the Dow dropped about 348 points today. CNBC‘s Jim
Cramer joins us at the top of the show.
Plus: What makes an educated, employed naturalized citizen of this
country and family man decide to blow up a car in Times Square? We‘ve
learned that that attempted bombing was partly the product of Faisal
Shahzad‘s built-up rage over U.S. drone attacks over in Pakistan and
Afghanistan. Tonight, we‘ll talk to two top intelligence experts about
how law-abiding American citizens can become radicalized.
Also, John Boehner says the Obama administration is big on rhetoric
but weak on preventing terrorism. Someone needs to tell Mr. Boehner,
the House minority leader, who was in charge when 9/11 happened. We‘ll
talk to the HARDBALL strategists about whether the GOP can get mileage
out of its blame game against Obama.
And very soon, we should get our first indication tonight of
whether conservative David Cameron will be Britain‘s next prime
minister. The voting is over and the exit polls are about to come out
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with why I love British elections.
We start with the tumultuous day today on Wall Street. Jim Cramer
is host of “Mad Money” on CNBC.
It was very scary today, Jim, very scary, especially us who have
401(k)s and stuff in the market. It went down a thousand points, and
something happened. It came back, big comeback, almost back to sanity.
JIM CRAMER, HOST, CNBC‘S “MAD MONEY”: All right, well first I want
to divide it into two parts. There was the real market, which closed
down 350 today and was a horrible market. And that‘s mostly because of
fears about what‘s going on in Europe.
And there‘s what happened between 2:30 and quarter of 3:00, where,
apparently, there was a major trading error by a firm. Someone went to
go sell $15 million worth of the equivalent of stock and it turned out
that they hit, apparently, $15 billion—that‘s right, a B instead of
an M. This is the best explanation that we have so far, Chris. That
was the down 600 points that we saw in addition. And that was phony.
MATTHEWS: How long did that take? How long did it take to fix the
fix the letter from a B to an M?
CRAMER: Well, I‘ve got to—it—this was one where I was on TV
with our friend, Erin Burnett. And at 2:44, it was down 300. About
2:45, it was down 900. And at about 2:48, it was down 300.
MATTHEWS: So explain to me one little thing here, first of all,
about these countries. I‘m a political guy. You‘re a money guy.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s cross-walk this thing.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me that you and I grew up with the fact
there were dictatorships in Europe. They were on the Iberian peninsula
and in Greece. You had Franco, who overstayed the Second World War a
bit, by about two generations. You had Salazar...
MATTHEWS: ... in Portugal. And of course, you had the Greek
colonels. The right-wing governments in Europe seem to be the ones that
are the most precarious right now, Greece, Portugal, Spain. What‘s the
connection? Is this a complete coincidence, or is it old-line right-
wing politics that never quite stabilized into serious social democratic
countries? What happened?
CRAMER: Well, I think all these countries far outspent, their
governments far outspent what they had and you can never get up in tax
receipts. So you have a currency that‘s made up of profligate right-
wingers and non-profligate, actually prudent somewhat left-wingers.
CRAMER: And that‘s—I‘m talking about Germany. And I‘ve got to
tell you, Germany is the rock bed here. And Germany and the people who
run the European Union are horrified at the profligacy of Spain, of
Portugal, also, by the way, of Italy, and of Greece. And it looks like
that this currency‘s falling apart because the strong countries really
don‘t want to help the weak countries. They don‘t want to wreck their
MATTHEWS: Well, don‘t they have rules within that community about
fiscal responsibility? Can countries go crazy and still be in the
CRAMER: Well, I have to tell you, I don‘t think they can. This
reminds me not so much of the Russian situation in the ‘90s, which
people are comparing it to, but something (INAUDIBLE) if we‘re going to
go back in time, let‘s go back to 1982, ‘82, ‘84, with profligate Brazil
an Argentina. It looks like that these countries virtually are going to
have to default for this to end, which is why, if we circle back to our
market, people are worried that until we see some default, until we see
a resolution of the crisis, good or bad, our market is going to be doing
wild things like it did today. And people have to be careful. I always
say home gamers...
CRAMER: ... people who watch my show, this is not the market for
MATTHEWS: I love it. And one thing great about America, there‘s
always a group in this country that comes from the country we‘re talking
about. So I‘m at the Parthenon on Connecticut Avenue last night, a
Greek restaurant. I‘ve been eating there for what, 30 years now. And
Pete‘s telling me—my friend, the owner, is telling me the problem is
exactly what you just said. Every time a new Greek government comes in,
whether it‘s Papandreou or Papandreou‘s son or grandson or grandfather,
whoever—it‘s always the Papandreous—one of them comes in, they
keep hiring more and more people, and they never fire anybody. So you
have levels and levels and layers and layer of bureaucracy, and you have
fiscal irresponsibility. Everybody‘s on the payroll, huge overdrafts,
huge fiscal irresponsibility. That‘s your thought?
CRAMER: That is...
MATTHEWS: You said it about five minutes ago.
CRAMER: ... Greece. That is Greece. I will tell you, Spain is a
different problem. They have 20 percent unemployment. They would like
to hire everybody, but they‘re afraid that what happens in Greece
happens to them if they spend too much.
CRAMER: But we‘re looking at their country and deciding, You know
what? We don‘t need any of those places.
MATTHEWS: Well, look, here we are, average Americans investing in
the stock market, depending on our advisers, in most cases...
MATTHEWS: ... a lot of people watching tonight, some retirees,
close to retiree worried. Now give us some practical advice. Will
Friday be a bad day?
CRAMER: I think that, yes, this period will be bad. I mean, look,
can we balance tomorrow? Absolutely. But you know, what we saw today
was the fragility of the market. And I think a lot of people—and
this is—I‘ve been saying ever since the great crash of 2007 to 2009,
stocks aren‘t cash. Stop looking at them as if they‘re cash in your
401(k). Have some cash. Have some gold. It‘s OK. Don‘t be fully
invested because you‘ve got to send your kids to college and you‘ve got
to retire. And stocks just are too fragile. That was the real lesson
MATTHEWS: And you think this fragility is going to continue.
CRAMER: Yes. We‘re not done until we see one of these countries
crack. And it‘s a shame that our economy, which is much stronger than
theirs, should be hostage. But remember, we‘ve gone from 6,500 to
11,000 in change, so it‘s reasonable to think we could go down another
thousand without really breaking what we‘ve created.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Jim Cramer...
CRAMER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... at CNBC. I hang on your every word, sir. By the
way, you can watch “Mad Money” from this Philly guy weeknights at 6:00
and 11:00 on CNBC. By the way, the Phils are doing great.
Coming up, the latest on the Times Square terror suspect and what
you may—what may have radicalized this guy. This is scary. This
guy‘s a naturalized American who did this the other day, and we got to
figure out why he turned.
But in one minute: Joe Sestak goes in for the knockout against
Arlen Specter. That race in Pennsylvania is getting exciting.
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak up in Pennsylvania is
taking his last and perhaps best shot at Senator Arlen Specter in that
big Democratic primary fight up there that‘s coming up May 18th. Check
out Sestak‘s latest ad. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: I‘m Joe Sestak, the
Democrat. I authorized this message.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My change in party will
enable me to be reelected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For 45 years, Arlen Specter has been a
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Arlen Specter is
the right man for the United States Senate. I can count on this man.
See, that‘s important. He‘s a firm ally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now...
SPECTER: My change in party will enable me to be reelected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job
his, not yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is a great television ad. We‘re going to see if
that race gets any closer. Specter may have some shots in his barrel to
go after Sestak with, but that‘s a tough one. Arlen Specter has been a
Republican since 1965, and that‘s the charge, he‘s not really a
Democrat. Pennsylvania voters—listen to this one. This race is
going to be really hot in the next couple of weeks. Again, that
primary‘s coming up May 18th. I think we‘re going to be in Pennsylvania
and Philadelphia to cover that. That‘s the big one that night. We‘ll
be right back here on HARDBALL in just a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: First you have to
acknowledge that we‘re in a war against radical terrorists, which a lot
of Democrats don‘t want—don‘t want to use those words and don‘t want
to say it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. This was, of course, House
minority leader John Boehner today. The Times Square terror plot and
the oil rig disaster have Republicans and Democrats angling to get a
political edge on these fights. Which side‘s winning?
And for that, we go to the strategists. Steve McMahon‘s a
Democratic strategist and Todd Harris is a Republican strategist.
Todd, do you really think it‘s fair of Boehner to be jumping on
this Times Square thing? I mean, here‘s a guy who puts a car bomb
together—he‘s a naturalized citizen—he‘s caught within 50 hours.
They put him away. He looks like he‘s squealing. They‘re going to get
him. We‘re going to follow the lead back to Pakistan. Pretty good
government work there. What‘s the problem?
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, there‘s no question
there‘s been some phenomenal police work after the fact. The question
is—you know, the only thing that kept this bomb from going off was
the fact that, apparently, the guy wasn‘t a very good bomb-maker. It‘s
not like the plot was foiled. And I think that while the police work in
terms of apprehending him has been phenomenal, there are a lot of
questions that have been raised about how all of this was handled.
And I think one of the most troubling for me, and in terms of where
this might become politicized, is the incredible number of leaks that
came out of the Department of Justice throughout this investigation.
The—apparently, the suspect has told authorities that he was watching
on the news as information came out that then propelled him to go to the
airport to get out of the country. So he knew that the noose was
MATTHEWS: Picky, picky.
MATTHEWS: They caught the guy!
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Let‘s just take a look at
the—this is very good spin, Todd, but let‘s look at the facts.
MCMAHON: This is somebody who is—who is kind of, you know, a
malcontent, but he wasn‘t somebody who—who was associated with al
Qaeda. He wasn‘t somebody that...
MATTHEWS: Clean record, family man.
MCMAHON: Clean record, a family man from a wealthy...
MATTHEWS: ... U.S. citizen.
MCMAHON: ... U.S. citizen, from a wealthy family. And he does
this crazy thing, an within 50 hours and I think 20 minutes, to be fair
50 hours and 20 minutes—they found him, they apprehended him, they
had him in custody and they were off to the next thing. This president
gets very good marks on protecting this country. And I know it
frustrates Republicans that he can keep America safe...
MATTHEWS: Here‘s more Boehner jumping on—on your side. Here‘s
Boehner with you. Here he goes, John Boehner attacking the president
again. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: We‘re seeing the dangerous results of motivated
individuals being able to improve their capability to kill innocent
civilians. Yet the Obama administration has spoon fed the American
people with bland reassurances that this was just one-off or that this
was just a lone wolf. This is the rhetoric of an administration that
continues to operate without a real comprehensive plan to confront the
terrorist threat and to keep Americans safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What‘s he reading from down there?
MATTHEWS: I mean, he‘s reading this indictment of the president,
but he has to keep looking at the notes to realize how bad the president
is. In other words, if somebody yanked that away from him, he wouldn‘t
know how bad Obama was, right?
MATTHEWS: I mean, he doesn‘t know. He doesn‘t look angry. He has
no emotions. And here he is, like a mechanical man, reading something,
and it‘s down here, about how bad the president is. It‘s just funny.
HARRIS: But he looked very good doing it.
MATTHEWS: And he reminds me of Dan Aykroyd so much.
HARRIS: Well, this—look, this family man...
MCMAHON: Fifty hours and twenty minutes.
HARRIS: This family man that you‘re talking about who went to
Waziristan to receive training in how to do all of this stuff—the
fact remains that our country is at war. There are people who want
HARRIS: You know what? There are people around the world that
want to do really bad things to us.
MATTHEWS: Right. And you think Obama doesn‘t know that.
HARRIS: I think—I think...
MCMAHON: Did you get the memo?
HARRIS: ... if you want to treat this...
MCMAHON: (INAUDIBLE) national security...
HARRIS: ... as a law enforcement action—I think if you want to
treat (INAUDIBLE) law enforcement action, you want to Mirandize these
people so they shut up and don‘t tell you everything that you need to
MCMAHON: Todd, he‘s a U.S. citizen. He‘s a U.S. citizen.
HARRIS: Not for long he‘s not!
MCMAHON: Well, no he—you know what? He may be convicted and he
may be, you know, put to death, for all I know. He‘s a United States
citizen. And the Constitution—and it‘s funny that Republicans are
all about strict construction of the Constitution, unless it involves
something like this, in which let‘s just throw it out the window.
There are certain procedures that have to be followed when a U.S.
citizen is arrested. They were followed. It took 50 hours and 20
minutes for him to be apprehended and arrested. And you know, maybe
Jack Bauer, or perhaps George Bush, could have done did in less time,
but I‘m pretty happy with...
MATTHEWS: OK, you guys...
MATTHEWS: ... with going after the police work which put this guy
Here is Mike Pence, a man who may well be the next Speaker of the
House, criticizing the Obama administration response to the oil spill
down in the Mexican—the Gulf of Mexico. The White House press
secretary, Robert Gibbs, pushes back afterwards. Let‘s listen to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: Despite this mantra of the
administration, officials who were on the Hill yesterday, about day one,
day one, day one—the American people know better. And the American
people want answers. They want to know what happened. They want to
know why the federal response was slow.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: On the 22nd, when the
rig sank, the national response team was activated. And later that day,
the president convened a meeting in the Oval Office with all of those
involved. There‘s an 18-page document on our Web site about all that
was done. I‘d be—what exactly in that response did Mr. Pence find
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Your witness.
HARRIS: Well, look, I don‘t think that this should be politicized.
And I think every Republican, every Democrat, every independent in any
Gulf state hopes that the president and this administration do a really,
really good job containing this.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
HARRIS: And God forbid...
MCMAHON: In the meantime, they‘ll criticize it.
HARRIS: ... cleaning it up...
MATTHEWS: ... your buddy, Michael Brown, on the show the other day
saying that the president somehow gamed this. He came out for offshore
oil thinking there was going to be a spill, and then when there was a
spill, he said, See? Where do you get this thinking? What do you guys
drink over there on the right-hand side?
MATTHEWS: What is this craziness?
HARRIS: I hope the president and this administration do a great
job with this. This would have a devastating effect on the economies of
several Gulf states. And there are a lot of people whose livelihoods
are at risk...
MCMAHON: Don‘t you wish the House Republican leadership were as
responsible as Todd? Because if Mike Pence had stood up and said what
Todd just said, then people might actually think the Republicans have
something to offer.
MCMAHON: But instead—but instead, you know, in contrast to the
Bush administration, where the president sat in Waco for a week and then
did a little fly-by of Katrina and tipped the wing and took a look and
said, Oh, I think everything‘s fine, this administration jumped right
into action and has documented everything they did from the 22nd, when
it sank, until today, 18 pages. Mr. Pence, perhaps you should go on
line and take a look, and then have a news conference.
HARRIS: I want to—I want to be clear about something. It‘s not
just Republicans, though, who are playing politics with this. You have
in Florida now a call to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to
ban offshore drilling within God knows how many miles.
MCMAHON: And if you lived in Florida, Todd, you might sign that.
HARRIS: You know what? The—a majority of Floridians are still
opposed to it. But there‘s politics that are being played on both
HARRIS: You got Democrats trying to capitalize on this for quick
political gain, which—and I think that they will not be successful in
MCMAHON: You actually have Democrats who think there shouldn‘t be
oil drilling off—I happen to be somebody who thinks that if you‘re
going to address the energy crisis, you got to do everything you can,
but you got to do it in a safe way. There are people who think it
shouldn‘t be done at all, and you know, they‘re entitled to their view.
MATTHEWS: You know what I—you know what I don‘t get? Let me go
back to something I have a better understanding—because we‘ve been so
much thinking about terrorism since 9/11. Everybody has. The president
has a regular meeting in the Sit Room, we found out, the Situation Room,
where he sits there and he studies and studies. He wants to be an
expert on every aspect of what threatens us in the world, all the
aspects of al Qaeda, everything going on with (INAUDIBLE) and everybody
else in the world, trying to figure it out, studying it constantly. And
your crowd is making it out that he doesn‘t seem to get it.
What doesn‘t he get? This is one of the smartest presidents we‘ve
ever had, whatever you think of his politics. He is trying to master
this subject. They nabbed that guy in a few hours. They‘re doing the
job. We‘re figuring out how to do the job in Afghanistan and Iraq,
modulating it very carefully, no radical left-wing swings or anything.
What‘s your problem with the guy? Why do you keep bitching?
HARRIS: Chris, he could have a Ph.D. in this if...
MATTHEWS: Well, what‘s the problem?
HARRIS: ... if there‘s a—it‘s not how many facts are in his
MATTHEWS: No, you got these...
MATTHEWS: ... Boehner keeps saying...
HARRIS: ... disagreement on his philosophy.
MATTHEWS: ... he isn‘t rabid enough, he isn‘t sweating enough, he
isn‘t sweating and—and snarling about terrorism all day...
MCMAHON: (INAUDIBLE) enough people...
MATTHEWS: ... and talking like Rudy Giuliani all day long. What‘s
HARRIS: He has a—there‘s a fundamental disagreement on the
philosophy here. Are we at war or are we not?
MATTHEWS: Who denies that?
MCMAHON: Come on, now.
MATTHEWS: Who denies that?
MCMAHON: The president has said many, many times we‘re at war.
And—and he understands fully what‘s at stake here. What‘s going
on here, really, is the Republicans have always had—always had an
advantage on national security and keeping America safe. And they look
at the polls now, and they don‘t have an advantage anymore. They see
President Obama capturing the people‘s attention and getting their
confidence on this subject.
And John Boehner and Mike Pence and the Republicans don‘t like it,
because they‘re used to having an advantage there.
Now, Todd, you know this is true.
HARRIS: Well, we will see in November—we will see in November
how much of an advantage the president and the Democrats are able to...
HARRIS: ... on national security.
MCMAHON: And the other thing is, fewer people in the world hate us
right now. So, he‘s making progress in that area, too. And Americans
The contrast between this administration and the previous
administration is pretty clear to most people...
MATTHEWS: I think...
MCMAHON: ... even if it‘s not clear to the Republicans on Capitol
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at this ad in Pennsylvania. I find it
fascinating, this race up there.
Sestak, I thought he was out of the race. He‘s back in the race.
He‘s within single digits, and he may be really close. Let‘s watch what
he‘s throwing back at Arlen, because Arlen was pretty tough on him with
this relief of command thing. Let‘s watch. This is tough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JOE SESTAK CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: For 45 years, Arlen Specter has been a Republican
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Arlen
Specter is the right man for the United States Senate. I can count on
this man. See, that‘s important. He‘s a firm ally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was some of the ad. What do you make of it?
The better part comes later. But, anyway, we cut it short there.
HARRIS: That‘s tough. You know, it—it makes plain the fact
that Arlen Specter made this switch to the Democratic Party...
MATTHEWS: For one reason
HARRIS: ... for one reason and one reason...
MATTHEWS: To save one job.
HARRIS: ... and one reason only. And I think it‘s going to sting
MATTHEWS: So, you‘re still hoping you can run against him, aren‘t
MATTHEWS: Look at you.
MATTHEWS: See what he‘s doing here.
He‘s figuring that Arlen is going to win the primary on May 18, and
then you can nail him for this ad.
HARRIS: No, I want it to fail in Pennsylvania, because then it
will fail in Florida as well.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of this guy? Is he gaming everybody
MCMAHON: Todd‘s always gaming, but he‘s good at it.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. So, he‘s giggling. Look at that. I can
always read the face. He‘s laughing.
MATTHEWS: He‘s thinking, Arlen is going to beat—no, he‘s going
to beat Sestak, and then they will have all this crap they throw at him
in November, right?
MATTHEWS: But Toomey is a little far up the beam, though. Isn‘t
Toomey a little far right for Pennsylvania?
HARRIS: Toomey is winning in just about every survey I have seen.
MATTHEWS: I have seen the polls.
MCMAHON: He‘s the Marco Rubio of the Northeast.
MATTHEWS: Well, Marco Rubio is probably the odds-on favorite to be
the next senator from...
MCMAHON: The nominee. The nominee. The question is whether or
not somebody like Pat Toomey or Marco Rubio, with all respect, Todd, is
too extreme for electorate...
MATTHEWS: OK. The reason we raise this as a general question, is
George W. Bush still such a clown as far as a lot of Democratic voters
think he is...
MATTHEWS: .. .that you can still use him?
HARRIS: In a Democratic primary...
MCMAHON: In a Democratic primary, he absolutely is.
MCMAHON: He‘s got a 50 unfavorable.
MATTHEWS: Summary judgment.
HARRIS: It‘s just like, in Florida, you know, we have been using,
very effectively, the picture of Charlie Crist with Barack Obama. In
the confines of a Republican primary, that‘s just...
MATTHEWS: So, the best way to run for office is still, remind the
Republicans of Hoover. Remind the Republicans—the Republicans of
President George W. Bush. Remind the people in Florida of a Democratic
president. That‘s the whole thing.
HARRIS: Well, you can extrapolate a lot from association.
MCMAHON: The best way to run in a primary is to run to the edge.
So, if you‘re in a Republican primary, you run to the right, because
that‘s where the activists are.
MCMAHON: If you‘re in a Democratic primary, you run to the left.
That‘s what Sestak‘s strategy has been from the beginning. It‘s
what we‘re seeing right now. And it‘s why the race is nine points.
HARRIS: Maybe Arlen Specter will now leave the Democratic Party
and run for third-party.
MATTHEWS: You‘re having too much fun. Obviously, your Rubio is
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon. Thank you, Todd
Up next: A prominent—these stories are too ironic—a
prominent anti-gay activist and social conservative is caught traveling
with a male prostitute.
Well, what do you—that—you don‘t need commentary on this
baby. Stick around for that “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
It‘s just strange. It‘s just strange.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
Is this too ironic for anybody? Referred George Rekers, who is a
prominent anti-gay activist, was recently caught returning from a 10-day
European vacation with a male prostitute. Rekers is known for co-
founding the ultraconservative Family Research Council with James
Dobson. He‘s also a leading proponent of programs that try to cure, if
that‘s the word used, homosexuality.
When confronted, Rekers says he hired the male escort from the Web
site Rentboy.com to help him lift luggage. Today, the hired escort told
“The Miami New Times” that he and Rekers did have, in fact, a sexual
relationship, and that, in light of that scandal, Rekers would do well
to dissociate himself from the anti-gay groups.
Next: Michele Bachmann in her own words. Tarryl Clark, looking to
unseat the conservative Minnesota congresswoman this November has set up
a Web site—quote—“Michele Bachmann Said What?” devoted to
Michelle‘s more colorful comments, everything from her recent charges of
Barack Obama having a gangster government to her appearance on HARDBALL
a while back calling for an investigation into her fellow lawmakers‘
Well, the candidate must be figuring that craziness doesn‘t sell.
We will have to see.
Finally, refund, please. Twenty big-time Republican donors have
just sent a letter to Florida Governor Charlie Crist, asking him to
return their donations. The strongly-worded letter to the just-
announced independent reads—quote—“We helped to support and, yes,
to bankroll your political career. For years, we have put our names and
credibility on the line by asking our friends to donate to you. Those
days are over.”
Point of interest: Crist is not required to give back the money.
His campaign has not yet responded to that letter, which brings us to
tonight‘s “Big Number.”
According to the oddsmakers at Intrade.com over in Dublin, what are
the chances that independent candidate Charlie Crist will win Florida‘s
Senate seat? I love this number: 35 percent. And I think it‘s about
right, one in three. Sounds about exactly where his poll numbers are
right now, a 33 -- or 35 percent chance Charlie Crist running as an
independent will win that race for U.S. Senate down in Florida. I love
Intrade.com. They‘re often right.
Up next: more on the Times Square terror suspect and what led him
to become radicalized and become a terrorist.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: A day of almost unprecedented
price moves on the New York Stock Exchange, as, at one point, the Dow
industrials were off 998 points. Yes, you heard me right, 998 points.
They bounced back, though, to finish the day off about 348 points. The
S&P 500, similarly violent price moves, ending the day off 37, and
Nasdaq down 82.
The reason behind these moves, growing concerns that the Greek debt
situation may lead to a financial contagion across Europe and maybe even
around the globe. The concern is that many European banks are heavily,
heavily exposed to Greek government debt.
Tomorrow, we will get word from the U.S. government as to how good
the job market is. Most people expect unemployment to remain at the 9.7
level that it posted last month. Any variation from that number could
cause the markets to wobble even more—now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Well, the suspected Times Square bomber, Faisal—
Faisal Shavad—Shahzad, rather—has waived his right to an attorney
and is continuing to talk to the federal agents.
But how did this man go from being an educated, employed,
naturalized U.S. citizen to a terrorist associated with the Pakistan
Evan Kohlmann is an international terrorist consultant and an NBC
News terrorism analyst. And Michael Sheehan served as the deputy
terrorism analyst for the New York Police Department. He‘s now an NBC
News terrorism analyst as well.
Let me start with Evan, and then Mike.
I guess the same question—I‘m going to leave it wide open—Mr.
Shahzad, why is he on the other side of this world fight right now from
EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: It‘s a strange place to
I mean, he was an MBA grad. He was working at Elizabeth Arden
doing financial analysis, not someone that you think would join a jihadi
organization. And I don‘t think, when he first came here and became a
U.S. citizen, he was an extremist.
It looks like what happened was is that a combination of personal
events, namely his bankruptcy, or his apparent bankruptcy, the loss of
his house, combined with the political impact of what‘s going on in
Pakistan right now, him returning to that environment, apparently
dejected, feeling like he had failed, the combination of those factors
was a cocktail that pushed this guy down a road that it‘s—it‘s
I mean, you don‘t see too many 30-, 31-year-old guys with two kids
and a wife joining a jihadi organization and going out on a possible
even suicide mission. This person is unusual. But I think he fits a
new kind of model for recruitment that al Qaeda and other groups are
He‘s not the best trained operative. But, given his background, he
doesn‘t fit a terrorist profile. And, obviously, here, he was able to
get to the point of executing an attack without anyone ever stopping
MATTHEWS: Well, Mike Sheehan, I want you to look at this fact. A
former Connecticut neighbor said Shahzad was at a party last year and
was fixated on a TV news report about our drone attacks over in
Afghanistan. The neighbor quoted Shahzad as saying—quote—“They
shouldn‘t be shooting people from the sky. You know, they should come
down there and fight,” man-to-man, I suppose.
Mike, I have this question. How do you go from being an angry
person with a bad domestic situation and a bad employment situation,
angry as hell at the world, to believing the nonsense that the Taliban
believes about how people blew up the World Trade Center to fake the
war, fake the horror, say the people who were anti-Taliban did it to get
us mad at the Taliban.
How do you believe something 180 different from what you know to be
true just because you‘re mad, Mike?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I actually view
this as not too unusual a case.
He‘s a little bit old. The fact that he‘s married, a couple of the
9/11 bombers were also married. Mohamed Atta, of course, was very
highly educated as well. Most international terrorists have a world
view. And to have a world view, you‘re normally highly educated.
In this guy‘s case, he got politically angry about what‘s going on
in Pakistan. And then the third component comes in, and that‘s sort of
a religious—a return to religious grassroots put layers on top of
that and gives him a justification.
SHEEHAN: And that‘s really the three things that propelled him to
cross into this angry man to operational.
MATTHEWS: But how can he—back to Evan, he‘s making this claim
watching TV in Connecticut that we ought to fight man-to-man on the
ground. I understand that sort of gutsy American attitude. Take him on
level playing field. I can get that, I suppose.
But here he is taking the side of the crowd that blew up the World
Trade Center with airplanes, not exactly man-to-man, duking it out.
MATTHEWS: I mean, this is zany. His value system doesn‘t add up
to even normal thinking.
KOHLMANN: The question is, is he taking the side of al Qaeda, or
is this an element of Pakistani nationalism?
Let‘s forget—let‘s not forget this guy is a Pakistani-American.
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK.
KOHLMANN: He may feel a certain sense of nationalism when he sees
American drones firing missiles at Pakistani targets.
KOHLMANN: And, certainly, there are plenty of people in Pakistan
right now, not all of whom are jihadis, who are very angry at the United
States, who will tell you that the United States is the enemy of
Pakistan, it‘s the prime enemy of Pakistan.
And those people don‘t necessarily love al Qaeda either. It‘s
simply an element of nationalism. And that‘s what I‘m—that‘s what
I‘m saying here.
MATTHEWS: I get it.
SHEEHAN: I think there was a cocktail here...
MATTHEWS: I get that.
SHEEHAN: ... a cocktail of different factors.
Yes. And, also, let me get back to Mike.
I mean, it seems we have had people come here from Ireland, for
example, over the last 100 years. Some of them have not had a good
experience in America. Now, 99 percent have, but the ones who go back
home say, it just didn‘t work out for me in New York or wherever I was
living. I‘m coming—I‘m going back home.
But let me ask you about the lucky part of this from our point of
view. We have had three of these terrorists in a row. If you start
with the shoe bomber, then you go to the Christmas bomber, and now this
character, they‘re klutzes.
SHEEHAN: Actually—actually, Chris, there‘s actually been at
least 10 or 20 cases in which they‘re klutzes.
But we shouldn‘t underestimate them. The first chapter of my book
is called “Killers and Bunglers.” Even when they‘re successful, often,
they make a lot of mistakes. So, yes, these guys are not well—highly
trained. They don‘t have disciplined tradecraft.
But if you leave them alone, they can be successful. And he‘s a
classic case of that. If he had gotten a little bit more draining, had
been a little bit more disciplined, he could have turned that bomb into
something much more dangerous.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think his plot was about? He didn‘t
turn on his propane tanks and things like that. But was his plan to
have a big burst of fire that would have maybe killed some people who
were walking by on the sidewalk there? What would have been his
potential damage if he had been successful technically?
SHEEHAN: Well, he only got part of it right. He obviously wanted
to have propane gas and a fireball.
But he also had fertilizer in there. And, actually, if he had
packed a vehicle full of fertilizer with the right concoction, like
Timothy McVeigh did...
MATTHEWS: Don‘t do it. Don‘t tell them—don‘t tell them how to
do it. Don‘t tell them how...
SHEEHAN: Oh, they know how to do it. They know how to do it.
If Timothy McVeigh had a 5,000-pound bomb that blew up in Oklahoma
City, Ramzi Yousef blew up the World Trade Center, 1,200-pound bomb—
he had some of the pieces of it together. He just didn‘t have the...
SHEEHAN: ... just couldn‘t—was far away from making it really
MATTHEWS: Well your turn, Evan. Do you think they trained him
partially or what? Because somebody must have told him what at least
the crude elements of the deal were, of what to put together for this
KOHLMANN: Yes, I mean, he had the puzzle...
MATTHEWS: ... somebody over in Pakistan.
KOHLMANN: He had the puzzle pieces, but they weren‘t put together
in the right order.
I think the answer is, is that this person may have gone through
training. But the Pakistani Taliban is not an organization with a lot
of experience or know-how in terms of carrying out international
terrorist attacks. If this was the Pakistani Taliban, it is possible
that someone could have gone through a training program, come out, and
still been a dud.
I mean, a few years ago, we had a bunch of guys that—that built
a very, very similar device out of propane tanks and fuel canisters in
the U.K. It failed to go off. These guys were a complete failure.
And, yet, eventually al Qaeda in Iraq ended up claiming that plot.
The answer is that yeah, he certainly looks like an amateur. But
we have past experience where similar people, who supposedly have
received training, have ended up really screwing up pretty badly.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to my field, which is politics and
nationalism was my thing. I think about it all the time. I think maybe
one of the strongest forces in mankind‘s history has been nationalism, a
sense of tribe. You were talking about it with Pakistan and his
loyalties to his old country. When you look at the history of terrorism
in the last 20 years, going back well before 9/11, when you look at what
happened, we planted troops under the first Bush administration, during
Desert Storm and Desert Shield—we put troops into the holy land of
Mecca over there, 10,000 troops or so. We kept them there all that
Bin Laden said that was the reason he attacked us on 9/11. This
guy now says the reason he attacked us was the drone attack. To what
extent is nationalism in the particular case of the person perpetrating
the crime the motivating force, Mike?
SHEEHAN: There‘s no question about it, Chris, that—
MATTHEWS: Not Islamism, but nationalism about their country of
SHEEHAN: No question about it. U.S. combat forces that are
deployed overseas are one of the most popular themes that terrorist
leadership use to motivate their people. Don‘t kid yourself. They have
other themes that will always be there, like the U.S. relationship with
Israel and the U.S. relationship with a lot of Arab regimes. But this
is a favorite one.
The compelling narrative is when they point to a guy like this and
say, look, American drones are killing innocent civilians, we have to
retaliate, send you back to the homeland, make Americans feel the same
pain. We‘re going to kill American civilians in sort of a tit for tat.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Evan, then, do you think bin Laden,
for example, the worst guy we‘ve had to come up against, who is still
out there somewhere—was he motivated initially by what we did in the
holy land of Mecca, in putting troops in his holy land? Desecrating it?
By his standards, was that the nationalistic fervor or was it this
Islamic thing that we‘re just fighting or was it nationalism? I‘m just
trying to detect what we‘re up against.
KOHLMANN: I don‘t think it‘s an either/or thing. I think with
most of these folks there‘s really a cocktail. There‘s a combination of
different factors. There‘s personal reasons. There are nationalistic
reasons. Sometimes there are religious reasons. There are other
reasons. If you look at someone like Faisal Shahzad, if you look at
someone like Nadal Hasan, if you look at someone like Omar Abulmuttalab,
these three individuals, there is good reason to believe all three had
very serious personal issues that had nothing to do with al Qaeda, that
had nothing to do with nationalism, that had nothing to do with Islam.
I think it‘s important to understand that the recruitment of a terrorist
or the selection of a terrorist, it‘s a cocktail.
MATTHEWS: And I agree completely. It‘s why people become
communist, why people become racist. It‘s usually a combination of—
If somebody screwed with my country, I‘m having troubles at home, and
what else, and God told me to do it.
KOHLMANN: It‘s a combination of all three.
MATTHEWS: The big three. Thank you, guys. It‘s good to have
experts on. Evan Kohlmann, thank you. Mike Sheehan, you guys both
speak clearly. Thank you, sirs, for coming on.
Up next, voters go to the polls in the UK. They speak English over
there. We can figure this one out very quickly. The latest on the big
election across the pond, and whether David Cameron, the Tory, is about
to take power.
But in one minute, a new Gallup poll with some heartening news for
Democrats looking ahead to November in this country. This is HARDBALL,
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Are Republicans peaking too soon this year? A new
Gallup poll shows the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats
for the midterm elections is narrowing. Right now, 43 percent of
registered Republicans say they‘re very enthusiastic about voting this
November, versus 33 percent of registered Democrats who say that. That
ten point spread is the smallest since Gallup started polling earlier
this year. In early April, shortly after health care passed, the
Republicans enjoyed a 19-point advantage in the enthusiasm rate. If
this trend continues, November may not be as bad for the Democrats as
they once feared.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: If you thought picking a president in this country was a
tricky business, then the election our friends across the pond had today
will really wow you. The United Kingdom is picking a prime minister
today. While the results aren‘t certain yet, the mood of the voters
definitely sounds familiar to us.
Michael Elliott is the editor of “Time International” and deputy
managing of “Time Magazine” overall. And Katty Kay is the Washington
correspondent for the BBC.
Katty, you first. It seems to me, based on results that it looks
like the Tories have done pretty darn well, if not all the way they had
to go. Pretty close to being able to form the next government.
KATTY KAY, BBC: Yes, Chris, we‘ve got these early exit polls
coming out. I should stress these are early exit polls. If there‘s
something we have learned from the a elections here in the U.S., in both
2000 and 2004, is to treat those exit polls with a certain amount of
skepticism this early on in the counting. But those early exit polls
are taken from a sample of the population suggests that the Tories are
ahead, but without enough seats to form a majority government.
They also suggest that that party of Liberal Democrats, which
seemed to come to the fore of everybody‘s attention over the last couple
of weeks, that they haven‘t done particularly well. Of course, the Lib
Dems are saying don‘t trust the exit polls.
MATTHEWS: Elliott, your thoughts on what you‘ve seen this evening?
MICHAEL ELLIOT, “TIME INTERNATINOAL”: I would agree exactly with
Katty. I think it‘s a little early to say. The Tories seem to have a
solid lead in the popular vote. They have not done nearly as well as
they thought they were going to do at the beginning of this campaign,
and certainly not as well as they thought they were going to do six
months ago. I think it‘s pretty clear that they will be the largest
party in the House of Commons. It seems unlikely to me, on the numbers
that we‘ve seen so far, that they will have an overall majority.
So it‘s going to be a pretty interesting weekend to see if they say
that they have the right to form a government and dare everyone to vote
them out, or whether Gordon Brown tries to stay in office and do a deal
between Labor and the Liberal Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Katty, we just got an interesting poll in this country
on illegal immigration. I know the issues aren‘t exactly the same in
the two countries, but immigration is a concern in Britain. It helps on
the right with the national party. I assume it helps with the Tory
party. Is this going to be seen as, perhaps, the secret weapon of the
Tories and the nationalists in forming a government?
KAY: We saw immigration leap to the fore of this campaign, Chris,
when, of course, Gordon Brown made that gaffe when he was still on mike,
and called a woman who had asked about immigration a bigoted woman. So
clearly immigration on everybody‘s minds, and on the Labor Party
leader‘s minds, I imagine, this evening after what happened to him.
You‘re right. It isn‘t quite the same, because it‘s been an intra-
European immigration. It‘s people coming over from Eastern Europe. At
times when Britons are suffering just like America, from unemployment,
from economic problems, then immigration becomes much more of an
electoral issue. And how that‘s handled by the various parties is going
to dictate, to some extent, who makes it into power at the end of all of
I‘ve got to pick up on what Michael said. We‘re going to have a
very, very interesting period, an uncertain period. We haven‘t seen
this before, this period of horse trading that goes on, and who is going
to get the nod from the queen, because it has the queen who has to give
her nod to say, yes, you can form the government.
MATTHEWS: You know, it would strike me, Elliott, that nothing
bothers a person more than to have some snotty, elitist prime minister
looking down their nose at somebody‘s real concerns. In this country,
you have a perfect right to be concerned about illegal immigration.
It‘s illegal. You have a perfect right to be concerned that government
has lost control of the situation. It doesn‘t mean you‘re a bigot
automatically. It might mean it. It certainly doesn‘t mean it because
you‘re concerned about illegal immigration.
To have the prime minister of England say this woman is a bigot
because she expressed concern about an issue which is all over the
polls, did that hurt him, do you think?
ELLIOTT: I‘m sure it did hurt him. But one of the things that we
learned in the British election this year, just as we‘ve learned in the
U.S. over the last few years, is that the new cycle changes very, very
fast. Gordon Brown‘s quote about the bigoted woman was six days ago,
and we have had endless iterations of the new cycle between now and
then. We found himself doing his best campaigning, as it happened, in
the last two days before the election.
So although it was an open mike moment for the ages, the like of it
I think none of us on either side of the pond have seen before, I very
much doubt that it was determinative. A lot‘s happened in the last
KAY: Chris, the thing I would say about that comment that he made
is that, to some extent, what hurt Gordon Brown there was not so much
was he was saying on the issue of immigration, it‘s what it revealed
about his character. And it played to stories that Britons have heard
about a prime minister who says one thing in public, but has a meaner
character in private. Gaffes are so effective when they reveal the
truth about somebody or are thought to reveal the truth about somebody.
I think it was the character issue, perhaps, more than the immigration
issue that may have hurt Gordon Brown in that incident.
MATTHEWS: Katty, you and I talk politics all the time. You know
that one of the real fighting words in this country is do you think
you‘re better than me? He thought he was better than that woman. That
was his problem. When you think you‘re better than a voter, you‘re in
Let‘s talk the economy. We have had a very dangerous day here in
our stock market. You know what happened in New York today. It is very
scary for people who are about to retire, who are retired. They‘re
watching their nest egg bounce up and down there today. It went up,
what, a thousand points today. That‘s a lot of money for people in the
banks going away for a few minutes.
First with Elliott and then with Katty, the economy, is it the
determining factor in Britain as it is here, and is this a leading
indicator that people want change when the times are bad?
ELLIOTT: I think it‘s been an extremely important part of the
election. One of the things about the British situation is that whoever
wins this election is going to have a torrid few years. In fact, there
have been many people saying over the last couple of weeks that winning
the election this year is something of a poison challis. Everyone is
going to have to do massive budget cuts, massive expenditure cuts. It‘s
not going to be at all pleasant.
The extraordinary thing to me, kind of standing back and looking at
the figures that we are seeing tonight, is that the conservatives have
not done better. This is a tired 13-year-old government, led by a prime
minister who‘s not been popular for the last few years, with the
parliament that‘s been mired in scandal for significant periods of that
time. And the conservatives are going to come in, I‘m guessing, with
36, 37 percent of the popular vote. I don‘t know that. That would be
That doesn‘t seem, to me, to be a huge endorsement of the
conservatives by any means.
MATTHEWS: Well, my hero, Churchill, came in with a narrow majority
back in ‘51, Michael and Katty. Just because you come in after a period
of time, and you don‘t have a rock ‘em sock ‘em majority, doesn‘t mean
you can‘t do well. You‘re thoughts on this, can this government make
it? A new conservative—by the way, Merkel in Germany, they are all
conservatives over there. I only have ten seconds.
KAY: Let‘s reiterate, those exit polls are very early. Your old
boss, Chris, Tip O‘Neil said one thing, all politics are local. I don‘t
think that‘s the case in the British election. I think it‘s been
national. And I think it‘s even been global.
MATTHEWS: Well said.
KAY: The fiscal situation is very much on the Brits‘ minds.
MATTHEWS: Well said, thank you very much, Katty Kay of the BBC,
and Michael Elliott of “Time International.”
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about the British
election, my own thoughts. I happen to like the way they do it. They
do it quick and it‘s clear, usually. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the excitement of this
election in the United Kingdom. I love British elections for a handful
of reasons. First, you get to see precisely how the people feel right
now. They tell you which party the people want running the country, for
the simple reason people over in Britain only get to vote for party.
There‘s none of the confusion you get in this country. No voting for
one party for president, the other for Congress, the other for the
Senate. In British elections, you vote for a candidate for parliament
from one party, and you‘re saying you want that party to pick the prime
Second, I like it how quick these elections come. A couple months
ago, the prime minister said, let‘s start it and the prime minister
said, let‘s go. He called the election. Guess what, all of a sudden,
we‘re actually having the election. It‘s moving. We‘re having the
It‘s not like here, where the candidates run nearly full time for
four years, and all full time for two years. Come this January, we‘ll
be having our candidates starting this two year sprint for an election
which is going to take another two years.
The third advantage is the winner of the election in Britain
completely controls the government. The prime minister party, his party
sets the agenda. Parliament carries it into law. And the government
itself acts on it. One party does it all. You know who to blame. I
like it simple. You can‘t be simpler than that.
Fourth advantage of the British election, the government elected
today will take office immediately. There will be no lame duck, no long
intermission between one government and the next. Winners take office.
The losers pick up their papers, shove them into their bags and head out
the door. It‘s neat. And most people like it neat.
The fifth advantage you get a leader. The next prime minister
won‘t be a back bencher or a stranger or a flavor of the month. He‘ll
be the leader of a political party, someone who has proven himself in
parliamentary battles, someone who knows his way around. Let‘s watch
the Brits. Maybe we can learn something.
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 BE UPDATED.
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