updated 5/18/2010 11:13:41 AM ET 2010-05-18T15:13:41

Guests: Mark Halperin, Rep. Joe Sestak, Abrahm Lustgarten, Kate Sheppard, Eric Burns, Steve Kornacki

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Taking on the establishment.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Leading off tonight: Countdown to super Tuesday.  A big day for

politics, tomorrow is a great day to watch the rebellion left and right. 

Voters in four states go to the polls tomorrow, and by tomorrow night,

we may know a lot more about how anti-incumbent voters really are. 

HARDBALL will be in Philadelphia tomorrow night for live broadcasts at

5:00, 7:00, and at midnight Eastern, where we will have a ringside seat

for the best race of all, the Democratic Senate primary between Arlen

Specter, the incumbent, and Joe Sestak, the challenger.  That

Pennsylvania race is neck and neck.  The polls are dead even.  And Joe

Sestak joins us tonight from the campaign trail, where he‘s making an

eleventh-hour pitch to voters.

Also, the gulf oil spill.  BP, Transocean and Halliburton are all

pointing fingers at each other now, but where was the government?  Are

we seeing the results of a cozy relationship between energy companies

and the energy agencies that are supposed to be watching over them?

And on this fifth anniversary of YouTube, we‘ll show you some of

the great political YouTube moments that helped end some political


And “Let Me Finish” tonight with a question.  You say you want a

revolution?  Well, we don‘t know if it‘s going to be all right, at least

not for some big-name incumbents.

We start with tomorrow‘s big political day.  NBC‘s political

director, Chuck Todd—he‘s also our chief White House correspondent,

and there he is at the White House—and Mark Halperin, a senior

political analyst for “Time.”

Gentlemen, I want you to look at the latest polls out of

Pennsylvania.  Let‘s start with that.  Five-term Republican incumbent

turned Democrat Arlen Specter faces two-term House member Joe Sestak. 

There the are in the pictures.  Pollsters trendline gives Sestak the

edge.  Muhlenberg‘s tracking poll has them tied.  Quinnipiac‘s latest

poll out today gives Sestak a 1-point edge.

What do you make of that?  It seems to me—let me give you my

thoughts.  It looks like an air game versus a ground game.  In the air,

you got Sestak with a dynamite ad trouncing Specter, saying he looks

like just a complete political sleazebag, and then you‘ve got a

fantastic—potentially fantastic ground game with lots of street money

in big cities like Philly.  Who wins this thing, Chuck?


I‘ll tell you this.  I‘m focused on this double-digit undecided number

in multiple polls that I know about going into this final 24-hour period

before we go because that tells you I think you have an electorate

that‘s not going to turn out.  It‘s going to be a low turnout.  So what

does that mean?

You have Specter, needs a high turnout among African-American

voters in Philadelphia.  He‘s doing well with African-American voters,

but there‘s not a lot of evidence that the turnout‘s going to be very

high.  Can he win a low-turnout primary, where hard-core Pennsylvania

Democrats, who probably have never polled the lever for Arlen Specter,

are going to be the ones dominating the polls?  He needs a bigger

turnout, and when you see double-digit undecided this late, it has you

wondering whether the turnout model is really going to be there.

That said, I tell you, a lot of the Specter folks feel better today

than they did 48 hours ago.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go to—let‘s go to Mark Halperin.  Your

thoughts on that.  It sounds like a slight edge coming out of that

analysis for Sestak.  What do you see?

MARK HALPERIN, “TIME”:  Well, Specter‘s also got labor unions,

which are obviously big in Pennsylvania.  I think the question is, will

the rank-and-file members of the labor unions, like Chuck said,

Democrats who‘ve never pulled the lever for Specter, follow the union

endorsement, the president‘s endorsement?

The other thing Specter has is, as you both know, a history of

winning elections when he‘s been written off.  This is not an election

that he should win.  Sestak has momentum.  He‘s got that dynamite ad on. 

And he is by biography and by attitude probably the worst candidate of

the cycle, most out of step with the mood of the electorate.  I would

say right now...

MATTHEWS:  OK, you...

HALPERIN:  ... Sestak will probably win, but I would bet no money

on it because I never bet against a guy like Arlen Specter.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s take a look at the Sestak ad you said is one

hell of an ad, and I agree, one of the great ads ever made, maybe.  Here

it is, tearing into Arlen Specter‘s two-faced (INAUDIBLE), it looks

like.  Let‘s take a look.



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

Republican politician.


the right man for the United States Senate.  I can count on this man. 

See, that‘s important.  He‘s a firm ally.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s pretty darn tough.  By the way, I didn‘t

play the whole ad there.  It played that sort of snarky picture of Arlen

there twice, where he says, basically, he‘s a political opportunist and

admitted being a political opportunist, which politicians all are.  He

admits it.

Let‘s take a look at what Specter said this weekend.


SPECTER:  I beat Toomey before.  It‘s going to take a rough, tough

campaign, like I stood up to the tea party gang in the town meeting. 

The guy rushed at me with his fists clenched, and the security wanted to

throw him out and I wouldn‘t let them.  I didn‘t want the headline to

be, Citizen evicted.  I wanted the headline to be, Senator keeps his

cool.  He had his fists clenched, and I fought him—verbally, that is.



MATTHEWS:  He‘s unbelievable!  That guy is bionic.  He‘s 80 years

old.  He‘ll be 86 in this term.  And he ain‘t quitting.  Here‘s, by the

way, the other big fight in Pennsylvania, the Jack Murtha seat, the late

Jack Murtha.  The seat‘s open.  Here‘s Bill Clinton campaigning for the

Murtha former aide, Mark Critz, the Democrat, last night.  Let‘s watch

Big Bill in Pennsylvania.  By the way, they love him in Pennsylvania. 

Here he is.



think of every person you will pass between now and when the polls close

Tuesday night.  You‘re going to pass a lot of people.  Don‘t pass them.

He understands how to connect votes people cast in Washington with

lives people live in Johnstown.


MATTHEWS:  Mark Halperin, that guy, Clinton, is the greatest pol of

our times.  There he is, the troubadour for Mark Critz.  Can he pull it

out for Jack Murtha‘s former aide in Murtha district?

HALPERIN:  Well, this is a district where they do like incumbency. 

Murtha served the district well in typical Pennsylvania style, bringing

home pork from Washington.  Critz was the guy who did that on behalf of

Murtha, and I think he‘s run a decent campaign.  He‘s kept his eyes on

what the district cares about.

It is still a Democratic district, trending Republican, didn‘t vote

for Obama, the only district in the country that voted for John Kerry

and then voted for McCain.  But I think—I think Clinton drew a big

crowd yesterday.  The demographics of the district, I think, are good

enough for Critz that he will pull it out.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think?  You agree with that?

TODD:  Well, I...


TODD:  It looks like that‘s the case.  This is a big—if

Republicans don‘t win, it‘s a big missed opportunity.  You know, on

message-wise, I‘ve talked to some Republican strategists, and they‘ve

admitted that they‘ve just not had a good message in going after Critz. 

Critz was not the ideal candidate in here.   I know a lot of Democrats

here in Washington, at the White House, were nervous about putting a

Murtha aide there, figuring that it was going to make it too much of a

Washington nominee for them, make it harder for them to hold.  But the

Republicans have not run the best campaign.

And I‘ll tell you, you‘d compare to where we were in ‘94 at this

time—it was May of ‘94, where the first big Republican victory in a

special election on a Democratic-held seat happened in Kentucky.  And

this time, you wonder if Democrats can hold a seat like this in this

environment now, you do have to call into question the Republicans‘

ability strategically to win the 40 seats they need in the House when

there‘s a heck of a lot more seats that they have to worry about, rather

than just this one in southwest Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What an interesting race for Murtha‘s old seat. 

Joyce (ph) Murtha, by the way, is out campaigning, the widow of the

former congressman, for Critz.

Let‘s take a look at the Arkansas race now, fascinating race. 

Here‘s where you have a man, a very ambitious lieutenant governor who

looks like he wants to be president some day, Bill Halter, taking on

Blanche Lincoln, who‘s a centrist Democrat who voted against health

care.  Lincoln‘s leading the Pollster.com, but she‘s only—not even

over 50 percent.

Is this just a question of time before she has to face the music

from him, Chuck?  It looks—well, let‘s take a look at the thought

here.  Here‘s—let‘s listen to her.

TODD:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Last night.


SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS:  I think there‘s certainly an

opportunity to be able to come out without a runoff, but I‘m certainly

not making any expectations, nor am I taking anything for granted.


MATTHEWS:  Boy, this country still has some regional accents and

has a regional style.


MATTHEWS:  You wouldn‘t wear that hat...

TODD:  I love the hat!

MATTHEWS:  ... in Philly.  Chuck, this thought.  Seriously, it

looks to me like they have a weird runoff situation down there.  Even if

she—can she get 50 tomorrow and end this thing and beat Halter out of

the race?

TODD:  Well, nobody you talk to close to the race, close to

Lincoln, close to Halter, close to the White House, close to the

Democratic Party, DSCC, believes she can get to 50.  Everybody seems to

agree she‘s going to be the leading vote-getter, but she seems to be

stuck in the mid, low, high 40s...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think so.

TODD:  ... 46, 47.  That said, notice Bill Clinton didn‘t come in

now.  The Lincoln folks want to save him...

MATTHEWS:  I think so.

TODD:  ... to basically bail her out in the runoff, if she needs to

do it.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s my hunch.

TODD:  You know, he‘s plateaued, and there‘s—I don‘t know if

there‘s enough liberal Democrats in the Arkansas Democratic Party to put

him over the top, even in a runoff.  But we‘ll see.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I completely agree with you.  I think the

president‘s waiting, the former president.  Bill‘s going to come in

there like a sledgehammer.

I‘m holding here now—Mark, let‘s go to the Kentucky race.  We

don‘t have much time here.  This is a fascinating race.  It‘s the

(INAUDIBLE) the other side—this is a bookend to the Democrat.  This

is an anti-establishment candidate, Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, the

Libertarian who ran for president, taking on the establishment

candidate, Trey Grayson, who‘s the love child, basically, of Mitch

McConnell.  And it looks like he‘s going to kill him.  Your thoughts?

HALPERIN:  I think Paul—just as Specter is the worst candidate

for this cycle, Paul is the perfect candidate for Republicans this cycle

in a state like Kentucky.  He‘s run a very good campaign.  I think if he

does win, and I suspect he will, you‘ll see Mitch McConnell and other

establishment Republicans in Kentucky and around the country rally

around him.  He‘s fine for them as a candidate.  I think he‘ll be a

pretty decent general election candidate.

The worry for them, and I think for the whole Senate and he White

House, is if he becomes a senator, he will be a very independent force.


HALPERIN:  He will make Tom Coburn look...

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘ll be fun to watch.

HALPERIN:  ... like a go-along kind of guy.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  He‘ll be fun to watch.  Chuck, let‘s take a look at him,

then you comment.  Here he is, Grayson, the establishment candidate—

Mitch McConnell, rather, here, making the case for his candidate, Trey




something about incumbency Tuesday in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, where

we have two Democratic incumbents in serious races.  We don‘t have

incumbency on the line in Kentucky.  We have two non-incumbents running

for an open seat.  One of our senators is supporting one candidate, one

is supporting the other candidate.  Whichever one ends up running the

best race, I guess, will be the nominee.


MATTHEWS:  What a hedge that is!  I got to tell you—Chuck,

here‘s a guy who was Mr. Republican, picking his favorite candidate and

being Mr. Establishment.  All of a sudden now, he‘s just one of the two

senators out there.  Jim Bunning, the guy he kicked out the door, is now

on equal basis with him.  What spin that is!  It‘s not even true spin—


TODD:  Well, it is.  It‘s also accepting reality.  I mean, they‘re

clinging to this hope that, somehow, Rand Paul supporters won‘t be

registered Republicans and won‘t...


TODD:  ... be able to get a Republican ballot.  But we‘ll see.  You

know, it does seem as if that the writing‘s on the wall.  McConnell sees

the writing on the wall.  Democrats and some Republicans believe Rand

Paul has some stances that he‘s taken in the past that‘s going to make

him a troublesome general election candidate.

But I have to say, I agree with Mark on this one.  There‘s

something about this cycle, this environment, that Rand Paul—and

maybe the fact that he doesn‘t have a—you know, doesn‘t sit and have,

like, one—have one set of principles that he sticks to, or whatever

you want to call it, one ideology, that it‘s going to make him

potentially a better...


TODD:  ... fall candidate for them than having just somebody who‘s

a rank-and-file Mitch McConnell Republican.

MATTHEWS:  I think he‘s the big star tomorrow night nationally on

television across the country, and Wednesday when you‘re back home with

rundown (ph).  I think everybody‘s going to be talking about Rand Paul.

Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd, Mark Halperin.

Up next, we‘re going to talk to the hot challenger in that

Pennsylvania Senate race, U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak, who‘s taking on

city hall in so many ways in Pennsylvania.  You got hand the guy guts—

or give him credit for guts.  He has taken on the governor, the

president, the vice president, the mayor, everybody, the unions, the

committee people, the machine.

In one minute, by the way, a bit of good news for Democrats across

the country about the mid-terms, a surprising uptick in Democratic

hopes.  Wait‘ll you hear it.  Back in a minute with HARDBALL and good

news for the Dems.


MATTHEWS:  There‘s a glimmer of hope for Democrats in a new

Associated Press poll just out.  Voters now say they prefer Democrats to

control the U.S. Congress by a margin of 45 percent to 40 percent, a 5

percent spread there.  That‘s a turnaround, a big one, from last month‘s

AP poll, when Republicans had the edge.  So things are moving around. 

The Democrats have to hope the economy keeps showing some signs of

improvement in order to minimize their losses come November.

We‘ll be right back with Joe Sestak.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The marquee event of tomorrow

night‘s primaries is the Democratic fight between Senator Arlen Specter

and his challenger, U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak.  Late today, I spoke

with Congressman Sestak about the race and also about his opponent.


Congressman Sestak, you‘re running against an incumbent who is 80

years old.  He‘ll be 86 during this term, if he gets reelected.  He told

me the other night he may run for reelection at the end of that term. 

Is age and seniority an issue of this campaign?

REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE:  Age is definitely not an

issue.  And Arlen Specter lost his seniority down in Congress when he

switched parties.  The issue is this.  He‘s been there for 30 years,

advancing a Republican agenda.  I respect the man, but I disagree with

his political approach where he‘s willing to switch a party in order to

keep his job.

Look, I‘m sitting in Philadelphia.  You know it pretty well, Chris. 

We lost 100,000 jobs here the last 30 years.  Fourteen percent of its

population walked away.  It‘s time for a real change down there in

Washington, where you‘re willing to do what‘s right and not worry about

your electoral prospects.  That‘s what this election‘s about.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about Arlen Specter, your opponent, again

because he is the issue in this campaign, many say.  Do you believe that

he would vote the Democratic line if he were reelected, or would he

switch and go back to voting somewhere off to the right?

SESTAK:  I think Arlen Specter is a literally flight risk if he

were ever to win this primary.  And worse, he will lose to Congressman

Toomey.  There‘s no poll where he‘s gotten 33 percent of the general

electorate in order to support him for reelection—in fact, I‘m tied

with Congressman Toomey—where he loses by about 12 points.

And even more importantly, I really believe in Democratic

principles out of conviction.  And yet, like when John F. Kennedy once

said, sometimes the party asks too much, I was willing to stand up for

what‘s needed for working families and those who want to work, when the

party establishment in Washington, D.C., was wrong.  And that‘s what‘s

going prevail in the end.

MATTHEWS:  He told me the other night that he has a promise of

seniority, that he‘ll have his full seniority restored, so that it would

be as if he had always been a Democrat for these 30 years.  Is that


SESTAK:  Well, he may say that, but you saw the Democratic

senatorial caucus.  After Majority Leader Reid promised it to him, they

all voted it away from him.  Look, there‘s only two or three senators

that are more junior than he is.  My first year, I‘ll be more senior

than he is.

And at the end of the day, Chris, I don‘t even believe it‘s about

seniority.  I think it‘s about being a public servant.  I think you can

do what you have to do down there if you‘re willing to work in a

principled way, principled compromise, and not a compromise of

principle.  No.  Those senators down there aren‘t about to give up their

seniority to Arlen Specter after this is all over.

And I think Majority Leader Reid probably said it best, from what I

understand, in his biography: Arlen Specter is always there with us when

we don‘t need him.  These people right here in Philadelphia need someone

who‘s a warrior ready to fight for them, not just vote for change but

actually ready to fight for it down in Washington.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re up against city hall—the mayor, the president,

the vice president, the governor.  How do you beat them?

SESTAK:  I went out and I spoke with the people.  They‘ve lost all

trust, all faith in Washington, D.C.  There‘s absolutely no way that I

believe—and I don‘t ever hear them saying that they‘re going to vote

the way someone else tells them, certainly not Washington, D.C., that

slammed them into this savage recession.

You know Pennsylvanians.  We‘re pretty independent-minded.  When I

go in a church, a VFW post or into a diner, no one ever asks me, Who

endorsed you?  They always say, What are you going to do for us?

Look, I‘m willing to lose my job over what‘s right for them.  And

Chris, I‘m not running simultaneously for my congressional seat.  I want

to demonstrate it really is about public service again, about helping

them.  That‘s what‘s happening up here, is Arlen Specter, your time—

we appreciate it, but your time has come and it‘s gone.  We really do

need a new generation of leadership, you know, with this president, who

actually believes principle matters and politics will follow principle.

MATTHEWS:  So, it is about age.  You keep saying a new generation

of leadership.  And you‘re running against a guy who is going to be 86

during this term.  And you keep saying it‘s not about age. 

Well, what‘s it mean to say a new generation, then? 

SESTAK:  It‘s a group of men and women down there in Washington,

D.C., that Massachusetts said it very well by when they voted.  Pox on

both your houses down there, you politicians who have been there and

believe it‘s about deal-making where my Democratic establishment started

to get off track when they thought that, with political calculation, we

could pass a health care bill with that deal for Arlen Specter. 

No.  If we had had real leadership in the Senate, I believe,

alongside this president, shaping the bill, we would have done so much

better to have kept the trust of the public.  No, it is about people who

have been there far too long and have learned the ways of Washington.

Well, come on up here.  This is a state that‘s the second oldest

state in the nation, half the job creation in the last 30 years of the

national average.  There‘s a better way, and they know it.  And I intend

to bring that new generation of leadership, energy, new ideas, and

willing to lose my job over what‘s needed for them, Chris.  That‘s the


MATTHEWS:  We have primary challenges all across the country

tomorrow.  We have got one in Arkansas.  We have got one down in

Kentucky, both in the Democrat and the Republican primaries.  Why do you

think the primary challengers are looking so strong?  What is it that

makes incumbents look weak in both parties? 

SESTAK:  Chris, people have been hurt. 

I went into one of the counties during the summer, when I went to

those 67 counties.  And I spoke to you as I was in the midst of them. 

And I was talking to them to see whether to get in when the

establishment told me to sit down. 

And I remember a farmer who said to me when I asked him how the

recession was, says: “Not too bad.  I was hurting so much already.”

Do you think anybody really believes that, the way Washington has

operated, particularly over the last decade, that they are going to

trust someone from down there who has been there and has been bred in

Washington politics?  No way. 

Look, Chris, I have got to earn their trust.  And I know it‘s going

to take time to regain it, much like when I joined up there in the

Vietnam era.  We had to regain the trust.  Wrongly, the military had

lost trust then during the Vietnam era.  Rightly, I went to Congress,

and it had lost trust.  I want to bring that back, because that‘s the

gravest ill of all, I think. 

If you have got the trust of your sailors in the military, you have

got the trust of the working families, those who want to work, you can

do things for this nation by doing things for them.  That‘s what I want

to do. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, you‘re running against the organization in

Philadelphia, the party organization.  There‘s going to be a lot of

street money out there tomorrow.  A lot of people, committeemen and

committeewomen are going to have money.  They‘re going to be out there

working all day long for the party with an official ballot with the name

Specter right on it. 

How do you beat them, when you have got labor guys and labor women

and committee people, local pols, almost all of them backing Specter? 

How do you expect a voter to go out there and walk through that

committeeman‘s face, walk through those signs, walk through those

official ballots, ignore them all, and vote for Joe Sestak? 

How does that happen in a big city environment? 

SESTAK:  That machine you talked about, let‘s take right here in

Philadelphia.  People are wondering, what the heck did the machine do

for them to protect them from what happened?  What did it do? 

You know, I think there‘s a lot of good men and women there.  But,

at the end of the day, when I talk to labor, I‘m talking to the working

families.  I understand what the establishment did in Washington, D.C.,

from the top of the labor and—and those who are—Vice President

Biden.  They made a deal and they‘re trying to keep their end of it. 

But, you know, I have gone to over 650 events since 1 January.  I

was in this church behind me just a couple weeks ago.  We have gotten

out and about.  And, you know, there‘s something different on this

election, Chris.  It‘s different. 

They‘re going to be making up their independent minds.  Look, I

still know I have got to earn that trust that‘ been lost down there, but

I‘m going to do it.  And I‘m going to do it by being a public servant,

not a politician.  I‘m going to work hard with this president.  I am. 

But, at the end of the day, I‘m certainly not a yes man.  And I am

going to earn their trust by coming back and making sure they know what

I‘m going to do.  But, tomorrow, you‘re going to see that we‘re going to


And the we, it‘s the people here in Philadelphia and across this

great state of Pennsylvania, who lost their jobs are holding onto them

and want to be the focus of Washington, D.C.‘s policies again. 

Congressman Joe Sestak, you‘re a tough man.  You have got a lot of

guts.  Good luck tomorrow in the primary.  It‘s going to be one

humdinger tomorrow in Pennsylvania.  Thank you for joining us on

HARDBALL tonight. 

SESTAK:  Thanks for having me on, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  And tomorrow night, HARDBALL will be live all night at

the Loews Hotels on Market Street in Philadelphia.  If you‘re in Philly,

come on down and join us as we want to await the winner of the big

Specter/Sestak fight and the other races in Kentucky and Arkansas across

the country.

Up next:  Dick Cheney is no King Midas.  Everyone he endorses seems

to lose. 

Stick around for the “Sideshow.”  It will be fun.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 

First, what may be the most all-out, all-American, hot dog, apple

pie and I love my gun U.S. of A. political ad ever made. 



Dale Peterson.  And I‘m after the Republican nomination for Alabama

agriculture commissioner. 

I have been a farmer, a businessman, a cop, a Marine during

Vietnam.  So, listen up.  Dorman Grace brags on his Facebook page about

receiving contributions from industries he would regulate, bragging

about receiving illegal money on Facebook.  Who on earth would support

such a dummy?  And why? 

We‘re Republicans.  We should be better than that. 

I‘m Dale Peterson.  I‘ll name names and take no prisoners.  Give me

the Republican for ag commish, and let‘s show Alabama we mean business. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, that ad will make, at the very least, make Mr. 

Peterson, the guy with the gun, the most well-known candidate for

agriculture commission. 

Anyway, next: with a wink and a smile.  Florida independent

candidate Charlie Crist just announced that he will be keeping donations

given to his campaign when he was a Republican. 

Well, Crist took a shot for that during the opening of his new

campaign headquarters this weekend.  The key here, Crist‘s wink right

after he responds to that heckler.  Check out that wink. 


GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (I), FLORIDA:  This is the people‘s campaign. 

And the purpose of this campaign is to give the people the voice that

they deserve. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What about their money back? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What about that? 

CRIST:  What about that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, what about the guys who gave you money

when you were a Republican? 

CRIST:  I‘m going to keep it. 




MATTHEWS:   Did you like that little wink to the camera?  Watch

here again. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, talk about enjoying the moment.  Maybe he‘s got

something, you know, the independent rascal?

Now for the “Big Number.”

Dick Cheney has just endorsed Meg Whitman for governor out in

California.  So, is this a boost for her campaign or an albatross? 

Let‘s take a look at Cheney‘s record so far in these midterms. 

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, loser.  Senator Bob Bennett, loser. Trey

Grayson in Kentucky, likely loser tomorrow, which means, as far as

endorsements are concerned, if things go as expected tomorrow, Dick

Cheney will be zero for three, provided Trey Grayson loses his primary

race tomorrow.  Dick Cheney will be zero for three in endorsements so

far—tonight‘s kiss-off to the Republican Party establishment, our

“Big Number” tonight. 

Up next:  Nearly a month after the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up,

spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, why do we still not know what

caused this disaster or how to stop it? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

We are going to get tough in a minute.  I have never focused on an

issue like this one.



CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks clawing—clawing their way back from a steep slide to

finish slightly higher, the Dow Jones industrials adding more than 5.5

points, the S&P 500 tacking on a point, and the Nasdaq climbing seven


Lowe‘s Home Improvement setting a dreary tone early in the day,

beating earnings expectations, but issuing a disappointing outlook. 

Concerns about the U.S. consumer dragged the Dow about 180 points lower,

but then the euro started gaining against the dollar, taking stocks

along for the ride. 

Consumer staples led the turnaround, with Kraft and Procter &

Gamble topping the Dow. 

American Superconductor shares soaring almost 8 percent after

signing a multiyear contract with the world‘s third largest wind turbine


General Motors posting a first-quarter profit and reportedly

shopping around for an adviser for a possible IPO. 

And Chrysler paying back $1.9 billion to settle a $4 billion loan

currently in default to the government. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We continue to see more fallout over that disastrous rig explosion

and oil leak down in the Gulf of Mexico.  The chief electronics

technician of the Deepwater Horizon rig told “60 Minutes” that there

were known problems with the blowout preventer in the weeks leading up

to the accident. 

An Associated Press investigation shows that the Minerals

Management Service didn‘t live up to its own inspection policy.  And,

today, the top government official who oversees offshore oil drilling

for the Minerals Management Service announced his retirement. 

So, how much fault lies with the BP and the other companies

associated with the rig, and how much blame lies with the Minerals

Management Service of the government for lax oversight? 

Kate Sheppard sits with me now.  She‘s an environmental reporter us

“Mother Jones.”  And Abrahm Lustgarten is with ProPublica.

Abrahm, let me ask you this question, first of all.  I have a hunch

that the reason they don‘t want to fix this mess down there is because

they would admit who did it if they fix it.  Nobody is down—if this

was a nuclear bomb ready to go off, we would be down there.  I‘m so—I

don‘t even want to talk about it.  I get so mad at this oil company. 

Why aren‘t they fixing it, first of all? 

ABRAHM LUSTGARTEN, PROPUBLICA:  Well, I think they‘re doing the

best they can, honestly. 

I mean, drilling at the bottom and operating at the bottom of the

ocean or 5,000 feet down maximizes the—the technological capabilities

of the oil industry.  It‘s been likened to space exploration.  And I

think it‘s quite similar. 

So, at this point, they—they may want to hide blame, but at this

point I don‘t think there‘s much motivation not to fix the problem, if

they know how to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 

You know, I have a suspicion—I will go back to it again—I

don‘t think they‘re doing their best.  I don‘t think there‘s—the

government is doing its best.  Why doesn‘t the president go in there and

nationalize that industry and get the job done for the people?


MATTHEWS:  There‘s a national interest in this, not just a BP

interest.  We‘re letting BP fix a national problem. 

SHEPPARD:  Well, I think the national problem really began years

ago, months ago, when we—when we didn‘t actually properly oversee

these industries, when BP said that they could drill safely at a mile

below the Gulf, and we took them at their... 




MATTHEWS:  But I just heard it right there.  If it‘s so dangerous

to go down there, if it maximizes their capability, why didn‘t they tell

us that when they went down there? 

SHEPPARD:  Well, they clearly didn‘t tell us that.  And MMS and the

government let them.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, it‘s totally safe to do it, until it isn‘t safe, and

then it‘s our problem.  Look at that. 


LUSTGARTEN:  Well, BP definitely has a track record for

underplaying the potential disasters that they could face.  And they

definitely downplay the risks in all of their operations, whether that‘s

in Alaska or here in the Gulf.  And that—you know, that‘s part of

what‘s happening here now. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you.  I want to test you, Abrahm.  What

went wrong here?  Let‘s just start with that.  Do you have a clear idea

of where the blame lies, not who did it, but what was not done that

should have been done to prevent this blowout? 

LUSTGARTEN:  The picture that seems to be emerging is—sounds

familiar.  It‘s one of rushing to cut costs and—and skipping steps

where possible. 

I think what we heard last night about rushing to replace the

drilling mud in the drill tube and replace it with seawater, which

allows the gas to flow out, is definitely one significant factor. 

We have also heard a whole lot about the cementing process, which

has been problematic across oil and gas drilling areas on land and

offshore.  If the cement doesn‘t cure properly or if it‘s too thin or if

it—if it has cracks in it, then that, too, allows grass to seep up

through it and that pressure to build up lead to a blowout. 

MATTHEWS:  My brother, who has been in the oil pipe industry for 30

years, told me that the day it happened.  He said, the problem is, they

didn‘t put mud in, drill mud in, drilling mud in, to jam it into the

hole there.  They put seawater in by—they did it just for cost

saving, is that right, or speed, or why would they make a shortcut like

that, Abrahm? 

LUSTGARTEN:  That‘s what we are hearing—that‘s what we are

hearing now, as of—as of last night.  And I—and I talked to some

experts very close to BP today who were saying that those kind of—

that that kind of shortcutting, the replacing the drilling mud with

water, could lead to somewhere between $5 and $10 million in savings

right there. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, is that a criminal act, do you think?

LUSTGARTEN:  It‘s hard to say.  I think it‘s something the

Department of Justice will be looking at, and if you look at some of

BP‘s other disasters as an example, and that they have gotten felony

convictions—felony convictions in several of their past incidents. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  In China, it‘s a more brutal society—a more

brutal society, Kate, but they execute people for this, major industrial

leaders that commit crimes like this, failure like this. 

SHEPPARD:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  This is a serious, serious problem. 

SHEPPARD:  Look...

MATTHEWS:  It is not over.  It continues to destroy a part of our

planet, basically, part of our habitat, our American habitat.  And

everybody just sits and watches television every night, and say, oh,

well, that‘s interesting. 

And these guys are still drawing their paychecks, still making

their profits.  The oil industry has been ballooning in profits this

year, and nobody is doing anything about it, except—what are we, the

Vatican observers now?  We just watch? 

SHEPPARD:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  It is maddening that our government is—everybody

says, capitalism is great. Unbridled free enterprise is great.  Look at


SHEPPARD:  You‘re absolutely right.

MATTHEWS:  This is great, isn‘t it? 

SHEPPARD:  We have let BP get away with self-regulation.  At the

same time, we have MMS officials who said, you know, you‘re right; we

weren‘t testing the blowout preventers.  We‘re weren‘t going through and

doing these environmental analysis that you‘re supposed to do in case

something like this happens.  So there‘s a failure of the government. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s draw on the government.  You start, Kate.  Back in

1973, investigated the oil pipeline industry on land, 220,000 miles of

pipeline.  One inspector for the federal government, because the federal

government believed in self-regulation, industry self-regulation.  It

looks to me the way we are looking at this, you guys, is that we still

count on the industry to prevent the problem and to fix it.  Is that the

way we look at it as a country? 

SHEPPARD:  That‘s absolutely clear.  Not only to prevent it, to

self-regulate on that end, but now we are leaving it up to them to fix

this.  And we‘re basically still letting BP run the show down there. 

MATTHEWS:  When is it going to stop?  When is the president going

to blow the whistle?  When they fill up the Gulf of Mexico with oil? 

When is the president going say we no longer are watching and waiting

and seeing how BP is doing?  They put straw down there the other day. 

SHEPPARD:  I think BP is trying everything.  It‘s not like the

government has people out there who know how to fix this problem either. 

Basically, this is a problem we have never confronted before, a spill

this size at this far down in the ocean.  No one really knows how to

address it.  That‘s the biggest problem. 

MATTHEWS:  I guess I‘m confused.  Let me ask you, Abrahm, we go

down, we dig a hole, we put a pipeline in, but we can‘t stop up the

pipe.  Is it as simple as that? 

LUSTGARTEN:  It‘s as simple as that except that it‘s a mile under

water, with immense pressures, in a very remote location.  There‘s

problems with these kinds of wells on land, in places where they are

practiced by the thousands every year.  And so here, in this particular

location, it‘s just exceedingly difficult.  And the problem is similar

to one you would see on land, but accessing the well and dealing with

it, and whether you use the jump shot method or any other technology has

proven impossible. 

MATTHEWS:  Maybe we should take the BP executives and the board

down there a mile and have them sit down there until they fix it.  Maybe

they‘d come up with something.  The idleness of the mind here—they

have all of the money in the world, and all the brains in the world to

make the money on the oil, ballooning profits for quarter after quarter,

ballooning profits—we‘re just sitting and watching it—and now

we‘re watching them take their time solving this. 

You‘re very compliant here for environmental watch dogs, Kate.  I

don‘t understand you guys.  You seem to understand their predicament. 

It‘s a mile down.  Well, they went down a mile to get the oil.

SHEPPARD:  The problem was we shouldn‘t have allowed them to do

this in the first place.  We should have said you can‘t drill safely a

mile down; you shouldn‘t be able to drill at all.  That‘s where the

problem starts.  At this point, no one really knows how to address it. 

That‘s the problem. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It‘s that you‘re though? 

LUSTGARTEN:  More or less.  I think accountability is a big factor. 

I think if you force the companies, before they go and drill in deep

water, like in the Gulf, to have proven solutions for this kind of

situation before they go and drill, you would be in a lot better

situation now.  I think if the fines when there were violations were

significant enough to actually serve as a deterrent, companies like BP

would be much more motivated to be confident in their solutions and be

confident in their technology before they go in. 

They invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the technology to

make sure they get the oil out.  They aren‘t going to make a whole lot

of mistakes around that.  But they tend to cut short the solutions for

an emergency situation like this. 

MATTHEWS:  Millions of people in the American right who sit around

and say there‘s no such thing as mankind destroying his environment

through climate change or whatever, there‘s an example of what we‘re

doing right now.  We can destroy our habitat on this planet, and it‘s

the only one we got. 

Anyway, thank you, Kate Sheppard.  Thank you, Abrahm Lustgarten.

Up next, it‘s the fifth anniversary of the website Youtube.  And we

have the top five political game changing Youtube videos, a light

heartedness.  I‘m not in the mood for it, but it should be wild.

In one minute, by the way, a shake-up in the McCain campaign out in

Arizona.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Senator John McCain is shaking up his campaign.  Senator

McCain‘s campaign manager and deputy campaign manager are both out, as

he fights off a primary challenge from former U.S. Congressman J.D. 

Hayworth.  The Arizona primary will be held August 29th.  Something is

going wrong out there for John McCain.  HARDBALL will be back in a



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Youtube celebrates its fifth

anniversary today.  It might seem hard to believe that the video sharing

site has only been around for five years, especially considering the

impact it‘s had on politics.  To mark this anniversary, we picked some

of favorite Youtube political clips. 

Alex Burns is deputy political editor at “Politico.”  And Steve

Kornacki is at Salon.com. 

Gentlemen, let‘s watch now one of the more interesting ones.  This

Youtube clip, which we‘ll show a portion of, played into some

perceptions of candidate John Edwards.  Let‘s watch. 




MATTHEWS:  Is that fair to have “the West Side Story” music playing

for this guy, Steve? 

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM:  Everything‘s fair right now with John

Edwards, in hindsight.  I remember when that video first came out.  I

think it was probably about 2006, 2007, if I remember right, when he was

gearing up for his second presidential run.  It was around the same time

he bought that gigantic house and all the gates, and the 37 rooms and

whatever it was. 

I remember sort of defending the guy and saying, well, you know,

sure, this kind of makes him look like a narcissist, and kind of makes

him look like vanity and all that.  I‘ll take it all back now. 

MATTHEWS:  Steve, you use that word narcissist.  Alex, hold on your

guns.  Look take a look at this one that captured another candidate for

president, Barack Obama.  This clip was recorded by a blogger at what

the presidential candidate at that time, Barack Obama, thought was a

private fund-raiser.  Well, it went viral on Youtube.  Let‘s watch. 


OBAMA:  You have small towns in Pennsylvania, like a lot of small

towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years, and

nothing‘s replaced them.  They‘ve gone through the Clinton

administration and the Bush administration and each successive

administration has said that somehow these communities are going to

regenerate, and they have not.  So it‘s not surprising, then, that they

get bitter and they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people

who aren‘t like them. 


MATTHEWS:  There you have it, Alex.  There was the president—he

wasn‘t president then.  He almost wasn‘t president because of that

comment—seeming rather snooty towards regular people, saying they

cling to their guns and their religion because they don‘t get what they

want from D.C.

ALEX BURNS, “POLITICO”:  Chris, you heard candidate Obama in that

clip sort of playing the role of sociologist in chief, talking about

voters in a very important primary state in a way that you can imagine

plenty of folks saying behind closed doors, as the president did at that

time, not expecting it to get out.  You can draw a straight line between

that clip and the reason why Barack Obama is not campaigning in western

Pennsylvania in the special election for John Murtha‘s seat.  He is just

not welcomed by many, many voters as a result of sentiments like that


MATTHEWS:  Yes, a lot of people remember that they got their

religion long before Barack Obama came along.  And they loved the Second

Amendment well back then, too.  Let‘s take a look at one we had a role

in.  Here‘s Texas State Senator Kirk Watson.  He was mayor of Austin. 

He was a big surrogate for President Obama in his campaign.  We went

after him a bit.  I asked him if he could name what Barack Obama had

accomplished as a senator.  Here‘s his answer as it was. 

Let‘s listen. 


MATTHEWS:  You‘re a big Barack supporter, right, senator? 


MATTHEWS:  Name some of his legislative accomplishments.  No,

senator, I want you to name some of Barack Obama‘s legislative

accomplishments tonight, if you can. 

WATSON:  Well, you know, what I will talk about is more about what

he‘s offering the American—

MATTHEWS:  No, no, what has he accomplished, sir?  You say you

support him.  Sir, you have to give me his accomplishments.  You have

supported him for president.  You‘re on national television.  Name his

legislative accomplishments, Barack Obama‘s, sir. 

WATSON:  I‘m not going to be able to name you specific—

MATTHEWS:  Can you name any?  Can you name anything he‘s

accomplished as a congressman. 

WATSON:  I‘m not going to be able to do that tonight. 


MATTHEWS:  What did you make of that, Steve?  He‘s the surrogate

they put on for us that night.  They recommended we put him on our

program that night to speak for the presidential candidate.  I said,

what‘s he done?  It was a show stopper. 

KORNACKI:  I‘m guessing that‘s the last time they offered him up as

a surrogate anywhere.  That was—I don‘t know if the failure was on

the campaign‘s end, not equipping him with talking points, because it

had only been basically the entire message of the Clinton campaign that

Barack Obama didn‘t have any experience, didn‘t have any

accomplishments, or if it was a failure on his part—this is what I‘m

guessing—to read the talking points that he was given, and to

anticipate that that question might be asked.  I can‘t have sympathy for


MATTHEWS:  Well, here‘s another one where a guy was tongue-tied on

our program, before we get to the biggest one of the year, the last five

years.  We want to hold that one.  Here‘s one where a talk show host, a

good guy, I think, Kevin James—I asked him—he had been using the

word appeasement, saying that President Obama was going to be an

appeaser, blah, blah, blah.  I asked him to just name what was

appeasement historically?  What‘s he talking about?  Here he is.  Let‘s



MATTHEWS:  Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong.  What did he do? 


appeaser, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  What did he do?

JAMES:  Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, all right? 

MATTHEWS:  What did he do?

JAMES:  His policies—the things that Neville Chamberlain

supported energized, legitimized—energized, legitimized and made it

easier for Hitler to advance in he ways he advanced. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve been sitting here for five minutes asking you to

say what the president was referring to in 1938 in Munich—

JAMES:  I can‘t know. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t know, thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  He just didn‘t know.  Anyway, here‘s the biggest Youtube

in five years.  Here it is, George Allen.  Let‘s listen. 



with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is.  Welcome.  Let‘s

give a welcome to macaca here.  Welcome to America and the real world of



MATTHEWS:  Alex and Steve, your five second comments on that each? 

Alex first.

BURNS:  That election just completely turned on a dime after that

clip.  Senator Allen, after that hit the Internet, resonated around the

blogs on shows like this one as well, he just could not shake questions

about his relationship to the black community, to I think minorities in

general.  It defined the race. 

MATTHEWS:  Steve, if it hadn‘t been for viral, if it hadn‘t been

for Youtube, would he be a senator now? 

KORNACKI:  Senator.  Remember, he was the early front-runner for

the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.  He lost his career because

of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Technology brought him down, besides the comment.  If he

just said to a friend reporter, I‘m sorry, it would have been a bad

week.  Thank you, Alex Burns.  Thank you, Steve Kornacki. 

When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about tomorrow

night‘s big primaries across the country.  You‘re watching HARDBALL,

only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a tat on tomorrow‘s election. 

We‘ve got three big ones, all of which will gauge the level of anger out

there, the amount of tough, edgy abuse people are ready to lay on the

political establishment.  Ground zero is Pennsylvania, where Joe Sestak

is commanding a PT vote against Senator Arlen Specter‘s fleet of

destroyers.  Those destroyers are manned by all who have an interest in

Specter‘s six three election, his pal, the governor, the vice president,

the president, the mayor, the unions he‘s been backing for decades, the

center city lawyers, the judges, the people who want to judges, and,

most importantly, the Democratic city committee that Specter used to

work around and now is working with. 

Down in Arkansas, we‘ve got a hot race between an incumbent

centrist Democrat, Blanche Lincoln, and a very ambitious lieutenant

governor, Bill Halter.  Lincoln was already dicey this year, which is a

tough year for most Democrats, but especially southern Democrats.  This

Lincoln/Halter tussle is a contest that only makes sense if you know how

angry the grassroots are.  They‘re angry because they‘re not getting

what they want on health care and labor issues from Democrats like

Lincoln.  What they want is obedience to the progressive labor agenda. 

In Kentucky, you‘ve got to love it, Rand Paul, son of the

libertarian Ron Paul, is dominating in a race against the state‘s

Republican establishment of Mitch McConnell.  If Paul wins, it is going

to really stick it to McConnell and the regular Republicans.  It will be

a big win for Jim Bunning, who had to skip a reelection effort because

McConnell put the screws to him. 

So there you have it, a real trifecta for those wanting to kick

but.  If Sestak wins in Pennsylvania, it means Democrats are as angry at

the establishment as Republicans are.  If Paul in Kentucky and Sestak

win, it means both sides are going for change.  If Halter in Arkansas

and Paul and Sestak win, bet on an outright revolution. 

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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