updated 5/19/2010 11:49:04 AM ET 2010-05-19T15:49:04

Guests: Larry Kane, Amy Walter, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Joe Sestak

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Stormy weather.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews, in rainy, cold Philadelphia. 

We‘re here on what is the biggest day in politics until the mid-term

elections this November, and what a day it has already been.  Voters in

four states are going to the polls on a day that may answer some huge

questions.  How much trouble are incumbents facing?  What are the

Republicans‘ chances of taking one or both houses of Congress in the

fall?  And how much juice does the Obama political team really have?

The big race here in Pennsylvania is the neck-and-neck battle

between the veteran, Senator Arlen Specter, and U.S. Congressman Joe

Sestak.  But the smart money is also keeping an eye on that election for

Jack Murtha‘s seat in western Pennsylvania, which may tell us, I

believe, how strong the Republican challenge is to the Democrats this


Plus, “The New York Times” dropped a bombshell today, reporting

that the leading Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut, Richard

Blumenthal, has claimed a number of times to have served in Vietnam,

when, in fact, he never did.  Blumenthal now said he “misspoke,” to use

his word.  This could give Republicans a Senate seat they never dreamed

of winning.  What a day.

We‘ll be here again at 7:00 tonight and then again at midnight for

live editions of HARDBALL for all the results coming in here, and of

course, the hoopla and the analysis.  With me now, two pros, NBC‘s

Andrea Mitchell, who reported in Philadelphia in the golden years of

Frank Rizzo, and “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman and NBC‘s Chuck Todd.

Chuck, you‘re missing all the action here.  Naturally, we do notice

the absence of President Obama in the closing hours of this campaign. 

Why is the White House telling you that after all this successful deal-

keeping with the recently-developed senator from—Democratic senator

from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, they never came through with the

presidential visit the last weekend?


at the end of the day, they didn‘t—they had more to lose than there

was to gain.  They‘re comfortable with either nominee.  They don‘t think

that somehow Sestak is a sure loser.  In fact, if you poll these folks

privately here at the White House, about half of them can make the case

that Sestak is the better fall candidate in this environment, that it

makes Pat Toomey‘s effort, the Republican nominee, just—he‘s got to

change his strategy.  He‘s been running against Washington and Arlen

Specter.  It‘s going to be a different race if it‘s Toomey-Sestak.

That said, I think that had you seen Specter show a little more—

a little stronger standing with the Democratic electorate, maybe there

would have been one more...


TODD:  ... visit at the end of the day.  But it seemed to be

capital that wasn‘t worth spending.

MATTHEWS:  OK, it sounds like Hyman Roth (ph) talking about the

small potatoes, like, if it‘s Arlen or it‘s Sestak, who cares, as long

as we get a seat.


the business that we‘ve chosen...


FINEMAN:  ... as they say...


FINEMAN:  OK, I think that‘s devastating.  If they‘re telling—if

they‘re telling Chuck—if Chuck through his reporting is hearing that

the White House, even today on election day, is saying...

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t care.

FINEMAN:  ... We don‘t care...

MATTHEWS:  Mezza mezza.

FINEMAN:  ... what does that say to the—I was at a polling place

where only 70 people have voted so far out of 1,000 who are registered. 

Another 100 might show up.  What message do those people get when

they‘re watching their favorite son‘s TV show, HARDBALL, in Philly—

what message are they getting about...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m hearing...


FINEMAN:  ... Specter—for Specter?

MATTHEWS:  I‘m hearing 5 to 10 percent turnout here in the city. 

What are you hearing, Andrea?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  I was hearing as high as 8



MITCHELL:  I mean, the fact is that people...

MATTHEWS:  I think half the turnout is out here today right here!

MITCHELL:  You know, the fact that the president flew over

Pennsylvania today on his way...

MATTHEWS:  To get to Youngstown.

MITCHELL:  ... to Youngstown, Ohio, and then we are told by the

intrepid pool reporters on Air Force One, on the way back, he didn‘t fly

over Pennsylvania, he went around it through West Virginia, over West



MATTHEWS:  ... aerial rights?


MITCHELL:  The fact is that it does send a signal about loyalty. 

Arlen Specter, whether you love him or don‘t love him, he walked the

plank.  He converted at their behest.  Joe Biden recruited him.  Ed

Rendell recruited him.  And when the push came to shove...


MATTHEWS:  ... too strong here?

TODD:  I will say this.  The White House will say, Wait a minute,

Arlen Specter came to us.  This wasn‘t a case of them actively, a la Jim

Jeffords and Tom Daschle and Harry Reid, when they went and got Jim

Jeffords to do this, convinced him to do this.  This was not the same. 

Now, look, there‘s going to be all these semantic arguments back and

forth, but this is case where some will argue, Hey, wait a minute, Arlen

Specter came to—out of political expediency, came to us, came to the

White House.  The White House didn‘t come to him.


FINEMAN:  Tell that to Joe Biden, who was begging...


FINEMAN:  My only point is there are voters—people haven‘t voted

out there.  If the White House is putting out the message that they

don‘t care, that could affect votes...


MATTHEWS:  You know, in a way, this story‘s been trumped a bit

today.  Even though we‘re here in Philly, the big story‘s in

Connecticut.  Richard Blumenthal, Mr. Right, Mr. Perfect Resume—I‘ve

never seen a resume like it—he‘s supposed to walk through the general

election.  Turns out that all the rep he gotten over the last couple

months about being a Vietnam combat veteran, a Marine of all things—

turns out he was never in Vietnam, completely bogus story, his claims on

here it is, “New York Times” headline today, “Candidate‘s words

differ from his history.”  They‘ve got tape all over the place.

Chuck, the tape‘s all over the place of this guy claiming to have

been in Vietnam.  He never was.  He lied, a direct, 100 percent lie. 

Don‘t they have to drop this candidate and get another one?

TODD:  Well, look, they—I think at this point, they want to see

how his response plays.  He had the press conference today with

veterans.  I was surprised.  It was a little more defiant than perhaps

some folks that I talked to—that some had expected.  He not only

stood by his service, talked about his service—you know, there are a

lot of people you talk (ph) of that generation who will say, Hey, you

went into the reserves to avoid going to Vietnam.  The reserves of then

is not the reserves of today, and he didn‘t seem to address that issue.

But look, what Democrats will say privately is, Hey, he had a

reservoir of support.  It‘s now gone.  He hasn‘t dug a hole yet...


TODD:  ... but it‘s leveled the playing field and allowed either

Rob Simmons or Linda McMahon, the two Republicans—and in this case,

the way Linda McMahon is spending money, it‘s likely to be her.  And

Democrats will say, Hey, wait a minute.  You may say that, suddenly...


TODD:  ... Richard Blumenthal has baggage, but so does she.

MATTHEWS:  OK, your thoughts, Andrea, on this?

MITCHELL:  Well, first of all...

MATTHEWS:  How‘s it look to you?

MITCHELL:  ... there‘s a picture out there, which we showed earlier

here on MSNBC, of him at Vietnam Moratorium headquarters in Washington

in 1970, at that moment, Kent State—that‘s the moment when the anti-

war movement, you know, gained a huge amount of fervor.  He was there

with the protesters, not with the Marine reservists.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  I think it‘s a (INAUDIBLE)

MITCHELL:  And we all know what it took to get into the Marine

reserves back then.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  It reminds me of Bruce Caputo (ph), who ran against

who was going to run against Pat Moynihan in 1982.  The first thing

that occurred to me was a guy tried this.  A little bit of investigative

work was done by a campaign or a legislative staffer for Pat Moynihan,

and the late Tim Russert, captured the guy‘s information...

MITCHELL:  Exactly right.

MATTHEWS:  ... pointed out he was lying about his record.  He was

out of the race.

FINEMAN:  Well, Chris, the point is that the—as I look at it,

the Republicans have a chance already to pick up seven or eight seats,

if you look at the chart...

MATTHEWS:  Does this make it nine?

TODD:  Right.

FINEMAN:  This puts this seat in play.


FINEMAN:  It makes it marginally more difficult for the Democrats

to protect what the—they were going to—this was a gimme.  It‘s not

a gimme any longer.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it looks like Barbara Boxer...

TODD:  And it‘s money.


MATTHEWS:  ... at the gate now?

FINEMAN:  Yes, and I was just out—I was just out in California,

and in California, Barbara Boxer is widely regarded...

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘re looking at it.  I‘m sorry...


MATTHEWS:  ... looking at the visual here of...


FINEMAN:  California deserves to be on there, based on everything I

just heard yesterday.

MATTHEWS:  As a toss-up?

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Well, pretty close to it—you know, just the

anti-incumbent, anti-establishment feeling out there.  She‘s a Democrat

in a Democratic state.  They‘ve got a $20 billion budget deficit they‘re

looking at there.  No more federal funds, 12 percent unemployment in


MATTHEWS:  And it‘s the first time she‘s run against a woman.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  And—and...

MATTHEWS:  Even though she‘s pro-life.

TODD:  Well, that‘s not a done deal.

FINEMAN:  Not a bad—not—you know, not a—you know—no, I


MATTHEWS:  Tell me, what?  We got...

TODD:  Well, no, Carly Fiorina...


MATTHEWS:  You‘ve got—who can beat—you mean, Tom Campbell can

beat her, yes.

TODD:  Well, he could.  He could beat her, and there‘s some that

argue that he‘s a better candidate, that the whole idea of Carly Fiorina

and Meg Whitman, both on the same ballot, both former CEOs, actually

ends up hurting both of them and could hurt the whole ticket.  It‘s fact

(ph) why the Meg Whitman folks have worked so hard to get Tom Campbell

because he didn‘t get that nomination.


TODD:  They‘re worried about the cutesy factor of the two ex-CEOs.


MATTHEWS:  ... some big picture work, all three of you, starting

with Howard—starting with Andrea.  Let‘s start with you, Andrea. 

Let‘s look at the big picture today, what it can tell us about the Obama

administration.  If in Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln holds on and wins

narrowly over the challenger, Bill Halter, if the tea party candidate

wins in Arkansas—rather in Kentucky—that‘s where Trey Grayson

could lose easily to Rand Paul—what does it say, all this together,

including the Blumenthal bombshell—does this tell that the

president‘s in worse shape tonight than he was this morning?

MITCHELL:  I don‘t see it as a referendum.  Yes, worse shape,

because he needs every vote in the Senate.  I don‘t see all of those

races as a referendum at all on Barack Obama.  I think Kentucky is the

most illustrative.  I would defer to Howard because he‘s from the area

originally.  But I got to tell you, I think that‘s where the tea party

is really being tested, and we think it‘s likely to be victorious.

MATTHEWS:  Shows their energy.

MITCHELL:  It shows the energy and...

MATTHEWS:  If we have a low turn-out today in Philadelphia and

around the state, if we see the continued lack of enthusiasm by

Democratic voters, meat-and-potatoes voters, black and white, which I‘m

seeing here—if this continues—we never see tea party rallies on

the left.  There‘s only activism on the right.  Is this a problem for

this election?

FINEMAN:  Yes.  I think it‘s—I think it‘s anti-incumbent, and

the Democrats are in charge of the White House and have big majorities

in the House and the Senate.  It‘s not rocket science.  That‘s the basic

thing going on.

And you have this kind of taffy pull going on of energy at the tea

party on the right and growing dissatisfaction among left—left

liberals, with the Moveon crowd and all that, on the left—to the left

of Barack Obama, which is—depresses the Democratic turnout...


FINEMAN:  ... and allows the anti-incumbent sentiment to focus

mostly on helping Republicans.  That‘s basically...

MATTHEWS:  I keep waiting for these...

FINEMAN:  ... where we‘re at.

MATTHEWS:  ... pro-Democratic rallies to start.

TODD:  Right.

FINEMAN:  Well, at the polling place I was at, interestingly, some

young people were turning out.  Young people were turning out, but

they‘re all voting for Sestak, not for Specter.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘ll see.  We‘ll see about that as the night goes

on.  Thank you, Andrea Mitchell.  We‘re at the—we‘re at ground zero

here in Pennsylvania.  Andrea Mitchell, who‘s reported here for years,

in the good days—well, I‘m kidding—Frank Rizzo...

MITCHELL:  The good days are still to come.

MATTHEWS:  The old days are always the good days!  Howard Fineman

from Pennsylvania, also from Pittsburgh, actually, and Chuck Todd—

Squirrel (ph) Hill, right?

FINEMAN:  Thank you very much...

MATTHEWS:  ... Squirrel Hill, and Chuck Todd from Washington. 

Thank you, as always, Chuck.  You know everything.

Coming up...

MATTHEWS:  No Pennsylvania ties.

MATTHEWS:  ... we‘re going to talk to Senator Arlen Specter right

here at this stage and—OK, and—well, you can‘t—you can‘t be

everything to us, you know?  And by the way, don‘t sharpen up that

resume too much.  That gets people in trouble.  Don‘t start claiming

Pennsylvania now!

We‘ll be back with this big primary fight with Joe Sestak.  Arlen‘s

in it to the end.  Arlen Specter coming right here next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on—well, live from Philadelphia! 

How can I say it, Philadelphia—only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL, Live in Philadelphia. 

Pennsylvania‘s Democratic senator, Arlen Specter, is with us.  Senator,

I was over at the famous deli where you were today, and everybody says

you by a couple of points.  That close.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, If I get out my vote,

Chris, I win.  I‘m urging at this point all of labor, which wants me to

keep working to stop illegal Chinese imports, to get to the polls before

8:00 o‘clock.  I‘m urging the African-American community, that wants me

to keep the school lunch program for children, to get out, the people in

Erie, who want the jobs for GE, people in northeastern Pennsylvania, who

want that train from Scranton to New York City for a Wall Street west

(ph), farmers who want me to keep up the work on price supports and

bring jobs for my senior position on the Appropriations Committee.

MATTHEWS:  You know, everybody out here had these signs for you,

these big guys over here.  Look at these guys.  You got your big guys

out here.  They‘re all saying jobs.  Now, I‘m interested—how do you

bring back industrialization to this state, that used to have working

jobs for guys that lived in rowhouses?

SPECTER:  I‘ll tell you...

MATTHEWS:  Where are you bringing them back?  They‘re not here.

SPECTER:  I‘ll tell you exactly.  You stop China from selling goods

in this country which are subsidized, which violate our trade laws. 

They‘re international bandits.  They take our jobs.  They take our

money.  They lend it back to us, so they own part of America.  And I

have been doing that in the International Trade Commission, where I‘ve

argued big cases...


SPECTER:  ... saved a lot of jobs in the tubular steel industry and

in tires.  And the port of Philadelphia, for example, has the potential

for 125,000 new jobs if we get it down to 45 feet instead of 40 feet. 

And I‘m in mid-stream on that.

MATTHEWS:  But you‘ve been in office 30 years.  How come you‘ve not

been able to reindustrialize the state in 30 -- this state has lost

industrial potential year after year after ear for 30 years.  I mean,

for more than that, since I grew up here?

SPECTER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  It just keeps losing jobs.  These guys live in rowhouses

here, these black people, the white people, they don‘t have jobs.

SPECTER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  I had a guy standing here, said, It‘s about jobs.  Where

is he, one of these guys out here?

SPECTER:  Well, I have brought a lot of jobs.  I‘m not a miracle

man, but I have done a lot to keep jobs.  You take the work I‘ve done

for raising the funding for the National Institutes of Health.  The

University of Pittsburgh has gotten $4 billion in the last decade.  The

University of Pennsylvania has gotten close to that.  Those are a lot of

good-paying jobs.  You take a look at what...


SPECTER:  ... has happened with my work on stopping Chinese

imports, the work we‘re doing on the currency manipulation.

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re going to get back—this is a big point in

your campaign.  Are you going to get back the seniority you had as top

Republican as a top Democrat?

SPECTER:  I have...

MATTHEWS:  Have you got a hard commitment...


MATTHEWS:  ... from the Democrats you‘ll get it back?

SPECTER:  I have an absolute commitment from the majority leader

that I will have the seniority as if I‘d been elected as a Democrat in

1980, absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  And if Harry Reid gets bopped off in the next election

this November, who keeps the promise?

SPECTER:  Well, he speaks for the caucus...


SPECTER:  ... and it‘s going to be resolved after the election, and

that‘s—listen, today I have clout.  I have a lot of experience and

I‘ve got a lot of seniority, and I‘ve been able to bring a lot of jobs

back and have had a very major influence.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s true.

SPECTER:  Look...

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve done a great job with Appropriations.  Earmarking

is great, but this state has gone down...

SPECTER:  Hey, one...

MATTHEWS:  ... in industrialization for 30 years.

SPECTER:  One—one last point.


SPECTER:  I cast the key vote on the stimulus.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you did.

SPECTER:  Without that vote, we would have sunk into a 1930

depression.  That meant 143,000 jobs in this state.  That‘s $16 billion. 

And I provided the key 60th vote to cut off the debate to have

comprehensive health care reform.  Now, that‘s—that‘s a pretty good


MATTHEWS:  It sure is.  You make a good case.  Tonight—please

come back tonight with the results, Senator.  Your headquarters are at

the Sheraton, right?

SPECTER:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Senator.

SPECTER:  Nice to have you back in town.


SPECTER:  Philadelphian.

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re the first guy I ever voted for.

Anyway, earlier today, Congressman Joe Sestak talked to NBC‘s

Andrea Mitchell about his primary opponent, Senator Arlen Specter. 

Thank you.  Let‘s watch that.



there‘s been a generation down there that somehow believes that holding

onto your job might even be more important than working for policies

that help families.  I respect Arlen Specter.  He‘s done some good

things, particularly items like NIH funding, and we need to respect


I honestly do disagree that one might switch a job because, as he

told us, his prospects were bleak against Pat Toomey.  He has also

switched positions on, like, public option.  At the end of the day, he

also advanced the Republican agenda of George Bush.  I‘m a Democrat of

core beliefs and core convictions and...

MITCHELL:  Congressman, he had voted against George Bush time and

time again.  I mean, I think it‘s very clear that there is a strong

record that Arlen Specter voted against Republicans as often as he voted

against Democrats.  He was pretty much an independent all along.

SESTAK:  The actual fact is that on 23 percent of the time during

the eight years of the administration of George Bush, he voted with


Remember what Majority Leader Reid said one time?  Arlen Specter‘s

always there for us when we don‘t need him.  On those key- defining

votes like the tax cuts or the tragic war in Iraq.  He supported Dick

Cheney and George Bush.


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, longtime Philadelphia newsman Larry Kane—this

guy is the pro up here—is a political analyst for KYW Radio.  He‘s

also the host of “The Voice of Reason” on the Comcast Network, which is

a very important network these days.


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Larry Kane, you have worked for all the

local affiliates.  You know the job.  The turnout here, I get a sense on

this rainy day, this Tuesday, it may not be the big machine vote that

Specter needs to win.

KANE:  I will tell you right now that I never put weather as a

factor in elections.  It could be a factor today. 

The reports I‘m getting, Josh Shapiro, the star, the Democratic

star in Montgomery County....

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KANE:  ... tells me that the turnout in Montgomery County at this

hour, which is pretty big, is 11 percent.  That equates to about a 20

percent turnout in Montgomery County. 

I have got to believe the turnout in Philadelphia is much less than

that.  And that might not portend good things for Arlen Specter tonight. 

Hard to say, though, because you never know with this guy.  The guy you

just interviewed has always managed to squeak it out. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Yes, he‘s fighting it to the end. 

Let me ask you about the job situation.  Everybody watching this

show knows that we‘re still in a recession, despite whatever technical

arguments you make.  I know people in my family who have been laid off. 

It‘s serious business.  People in businesses like mortgage business,

it‘s brutal out there. 

Isn‘t that going to make it very hard to vote for an incumbent for

anything in America this time of our country‘s history? 

KANE:  I don‘t think people are thinking jobs that much in this

primary election. 

MATTHEWS:  They aren‘t?

KANE:  I think they will think jobs in November.


MATTHEWS:  Have you talked to this guy out here with the Eagles

costume on?  Look at this guy.  Look at the sign he‘s got here. 


KANE:  But look at the turnout.  The turnout is so poor.  If people

really cared about jobs, they would be turning out.  There‘s more

interest in the Flyers game tonight.  This is sad -- 600,000 people

watched the Flyers the other night, 600,000 viewers.  They will be

watching at 7:00 tonight in the final hour of voting.  That‘s not good

for the process.

MATTHEWS:  Maybe that‘s to take them out of their pain and make

them feel good. 

KANE:  I don‘t know.  But I will tell you one thing.  One of the

big stories in this town—you‘re in the beltway most of the time. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KANE:  I‘m out of the beltway.  When you look outside-in, you‘re

looking at the fact that Governor Rendell, Bob Brady, the Democratic

chairman of Philadelphia, most of the Democratic establishment in this

town is supporting Arlen Specter right to the end.  The White House does

not look very good tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Why didn‘t the president show up?  Isn‘t that question

you have to ask?

KANE:  Well, he flew to Ohio today.  He didn‘t show up.  He didn‘t

do a fresh commercial for Specter.  The Sestak people...


MATTHEWS:  Larry, I think this has changed.  I don‘t think it‘s

top-down politics anymore.  Nobody gives a rat‘s butt what the governor

thinks or the senators think.  They want to know who they want to vote

for in their interests.  You think endorsements matter today? 

KANE:  Endorsements will matter in November.


MATTHEWS:  Has an endorsement ever gotten you to vote for anybody? 

Have you ever voted for anybody because somebody told you to? 

KANE:  Yes, when I was 21. 


KANE:  But I‘ll tell you one thing.  I‘ll tell you one thing. 

MATTHEWS:  Come on. 

KANE:  This race in the fall, no matter who wins tonight, is going

to be rugged terrain.  And this has been the dirtiest campaign I have

ever seen. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.


KANE:  The White House is going to have to get involved.

MATTHEWS:  The general is going to be brutal.  Pat Toomey is going

to—a brutal opponent, Club for Growth, right-wing guy.  I think he

will move in a bit to the center to win this thing, if he does. 

Thank you, Larry Kane.

KANE:  Good to see you.


MATTHEWS:  We disagree.  Top-down doesn‘t work anymore. 

Up next:  The Democrats‘ hopes to hold on to the Senate were dealt

a serious blow today when “The New York Times” reported a blockbuster. 

Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat, the front-runner in that race for the

Senate has lied about serving in Vietnam.  Guess what?  He didn‘t, and

he said he did.  We will get to that straight ahead.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, live from Philadelphia, only on MSNBC.  




We have got a game-changer up in Connecticut, it looks like. 

Here‘s the bombshell headline that greeted Connecticut Democratic Senate

candidate Richard Blumenthal this morning when he woke up—quote—

“Candidate‘s words differ from his history.”

And that history is his military service.  The “New York Times” Web

site has this video of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal speaking to a

crowd of veterans and supporters in March of 2008.  Let‘s watch and




has a way of sending young men and women to war and then forgetting them

when they come home. 

And that is unforgivable.  And I know that congressmen like Chris

Shays are working very hard to change that situation.  We have learned

something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, except he didn‘t serve in Vietnam.  He was in the

United States Marine Reserve for a few months stateside during the

Vietnam era. 

Blumenthal defended himself today.  Let‘s watch. 


BLUMENTHAL:  Now, on a few occasions, I have misspoken about my

service.  And I regret that, and I take full responsibility. 

But I will not allow...


BLUMENTHAL:  I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words

and impugn my record of service to our country.




MATTHEWS:  Well, can his candidacy survive?  And what does this

mean for the Democrats and their hold on power in the Senate.  They

could lose 10 seats now, it looks to me. 

MSNBC political analyst Michael Smerconish from Philadelphia is a

radio talk show host based here.  And Amy Walters is editor in chief of

“The Hotline.” 

Amy, your thoughts on this.

Here‘s a guy said on a number of occasions said he fought in

Vietnam.  He never did.  He had a chance to correct the record over the

months that his report—the reports were out there that he had served

in Vietnam in the Marine Corps, never corrected the record, let it


I guess, when people came up to him and talked to him, he let it

stand.  He said, thank you—when they said, thank you for your

service, he probably said, OK, thank you.  I accept your thanks. 

How does this guy now say he misspoke? 


this is bad.  I don‘t know that this is a killer yet. 

And I think really the question is going to be, how many more

videos like this surface?  Is this going to be an instance where he

said, look, there are a few times where I misspoke, you caught me one

time out of a million, the bottom line, I still have the record of

service, I still have—and I know other people have mentioned this—

a deep goodwill, reservoir of goodwill with voters, served as the

attorney general for a long time. 

He has something like a 65 percent approval rating.  The problem

with him right now, of course, is voters‘ reservoir of goodwill is

running pretty dry these days.  And, you know, even for a guy who has

been around for a long time, has a squeaky-clean image, this could shoot

that down pretty quickly. 

MATTHEWS:  Michael Smerconish, your view of this guy‘s half-life? 


absolutely done, as he should be done. 

And if it were just one statement on YouTube in comparison to one

where he got it right, that would be one set of circumstances, Chris. 

But it‘s different than that.  There are a half-a-dozen-plus stories

that have been published in a variety of publications in Connecticut

where they say that he served in Vietnam, and he never corrected the


And you know the way this works.  Every one of these elected

officials, they get a clip file service.  They see that which is written

about him.  He should have picked up the phone and done something

affirmative to correct the record. 

And folks are so sensitive, those who have worn the uniform

overseas.  I know that if I mistakenly refer to the Congressional Medal

of Honor on my radio program, every telephone line will illuminate and

people will say, no, it‘s the Medal of Honor.  This is a third rail. 

You can‘t do it.  He‘s done.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Chris Dodd, the guy who basically

stepped aside to let him have this nomination.  Here he is—quote—

“He‘s going to be a great United States senator, in my view.  He‘s been

a terrific attorney general.  So, this is a bump, but, frankly I think

that he‘s handled it well.  And, as I said, I have known him to be

nothing but the most honorable of human beings in public life.”

You know, we have another account from Chris Shays, the former

congressman up there, who said he watched him.  I guess he was at that

occasion in 2008 when he was referenced there by the attorney general,

Amy.  And he said: “I wanted to warn him.  I know he was going too far. 

I should have warned him, you don‘t say you fought in Vietnam if you


WALTER:  You know, maybe I‘m—I‘m not convinced right now that

this is—is over, and partly because I think this is still very early

on in the process. 

And you also have a lot of other candidates in this race who have

some of their own baggage as well that they‘re going to have to account

for.  Now, the real question is, how long is this going to stick to him? 

Are we going to keep going back and forth and talking about, did he

parse his language here?  Should he have corrected this earlier? 

There was something else in the “New York Times” story as well that

hasn‘t gotten picked up where he said at one point that he captained—

or it was reported that he captained the Harvard swim team, and he was,

in fact, not even on the Harvard swim team.  So, that‘s what I mean.  If

we start seeing that there are...


MATTHEWS:  Well, how do you square that with his credibility? 

WALTER:  That‘s exactly right.  And that‘s where it‘s really...


MATTHEWS:  How do you square that with somebody you can trust on


WALTER:  That‘s exactly right.  And that‘s going to be the


MATTHEWS:  I mean, that‘s sounds balloon head to make up a story. 

Why would you even brag about something like being on the swim team? 

Where would it come up? 

SMERCONISH:  He may...


MATTHEWS:  Why would you make up something like that?  It‘s an odd



SMERCONISH:  He may not even...

MATTHEWS:  I could see being the quarterback of the football team. 

Maybe he figured nobody knew who was on the swim team; he could get away

with it. 

I have a—here‘s my concern.  Well, first of all, personally, I

would never have anything to do with anybody who even helps this guy

become a senator, because he may be a—have a real problem with

character and the truth. 

But anybody who helps him become a senator is, to me, beyond the

pale at this point.  But here‘s the question.  All it takes is for Linda

McMahon, who knows how to put a commercial together, to show this guy

claiming he fought in Vietnam with pictures of guys coming back wounded

and dead and in body bags.

And here‘s this guy claiming he was one of them, and he wasn‘t. 

How can they defend that come November in an election situation?


SMERCONISH:  Or the Vietnam combat veteran who is the other

Republican in the race.  Look, there‘s...


MATTHEWS:  Rob—Rob Simmons. 

SMERCONISH:  There‘s no shame in serving in the Marine Reserves,

but to do so after five deferments, to be in that elite program, which

has been the focus, in Washington...

MATTHEWS:  In Washington.  They did Toys ‘R‘ Us or something for a

few months. 


MATTHEWS:  That was their service.

SMERCONISH:  And then to say, “When I came from Vietnam,” you put

it all together, he‘s done. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I—Amy, it may be generational, but those of

us who—I was in the Peace Corps.  I know the difference between being

in the Peace Corps and being in the Marines.  And I know the difference

between being in the Marines, fighting in Vietnam, being out there as a

grunt, a sergeant, as he was, facing the enemy in the jungle every night

of your life, scared to death, watching your guys getting shot in the

face, and the difference between that and doing a Toys ‘R‘ Us good-time

job in Washington with the other swells is night and day. 

Anyway, thank you.


MATTHEWS:  And you should admit you were...

WALTER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... in the day, not the night. 

Michael—your thought?  I‘m being hard here.  Your thoughts. 

Your thoughts. 

WALTER:  No.  I think you‘re—I think it‘s exactly right that

there is—in part of it, there is a generational thing.  And I think

really, when it comes down to it, when—so, for somebody like me, who

did not—who was not there at this era, I look at this really more to

what you‘re—you suggested earlier, which is a credibility question,

which is, at what point do you trust or not trust these people, at a

time when you—when voters already believe that everybody‘s on the


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  OK.  Thank you. 

WALTER:  And it doesn‘t matter whether you‘re a politician or not. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s not my America, Amy.  And I know it‘s not


And, by the way, if a guy thinks he was on the swim team and

thought he was in Vietnam, I think he ought to quit politics. 

Anyway, thank you, Michael Smerconish.

Thank you, Amy Walter. 

And we will have some Republican Senate candidate—we will have

Rob Simmons on HARDBALL tomorrow night.  He will have a thought on this,

having actually been in Vietnam.

Up next:  What will tonight‘s races tell us about President Obama,

big question, and the strength of his political machine, such as it is?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, live from Philly, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and the crackle of victory and

defeat night.  How much does the White House have riding on today‘s

elections around the country?  And what will these races tell us about

the power of President Obama and his team?

Chris Cillizza is managing editor of “The Washington Post”‘s “Post

Politics.”  E. Steven Collins is radio talk show host up here.

Let me start down there in Washington with Chris Cillizza.


MATTHEWS:  Nationally—forget Philly for five minutes here. 

Let‘s talk about—this is obviously one of the big elections—let‘s

talk about the country.

The president didn‘t show here for Arlen Specter this weekend.  The

president could take a loss here with Specter.  He could take a loss in

Western Pennsylvania, with the Critz vote for the House.  He could face

a weird situation with Blanche Lincoln, in very tenuous shape  after

tonight, after a tough primary fight, and see the wild fire of the Tea

Party crowd out in Kentucky, with Rand Paul winning perhaps by double


Does it all add up to a bad night for him?

CILLIZZA:  Chris, let me first say, I never forget Philly, as a

point of order.  But that said, yes, it has the potential.  If the

scenario you just outlined happens, absolutely.  I would say, look, the

big, marquee race, the reason, Chris, you‘re up there—you know this

better than me.  The big marquee race is Specter.  The White House was

intimately involved in getting him to switch parties.  The president

endorsed him.  They did everything they could, unsuccessfully, to get

Joe Sestak, the congressman from suburban Philadelphia, out of the race. 

Barack Obama is on television.  He‘s on the radio for Arlen

Specter.  It‘s going to be difficult for the White House to distance

themselves.  OK, as you point out, Chris, he didn‘t come into the state

today or yesterday.  Still, the White House has a lot of skin in this

game.  I don‘t think they‘re going to be able to say, well, Arlen

Specter, he was a party switcher, and therefore it doesn‘t mean

anything.  They‘ve tried that in other places, New Jersey, Virginia, the

Massachusetts special election, essentially saying, the candidates

weren‘t that good; there were external factors. 

My guess is they will seek to do that again.  But I just think it‘s

going to be harder with Specter, given the depth of involvement from

this White House.

MATTHEWS:  You know, my personal reaction, Steven—you‘re a

Philly guy more than I.  You live here.  I lived here when I grew up

here.  It seems to me that when I first saw President Obama, I was

thrilled by the potential, and I still am by his potential.  But when I

began to see him cutting deals, like bringing Specter into the party, it

seemed like old politics.  You could see this in Huey Long‘s Louisiana,

this kind of politics, cut a deal, bring a guy across, we‘ll get a vote

from him.  We never really liked him, but now we‘ll bring him aboard. 

Wasn‘t that the first sign that this guy‘s just a pol like

everybody else?

COLLINS:  I don‘t think so.  I think Specter looked at the

political landscape and made a decision.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m talking about the president of the United States,

who had a higher reputation.

COLLINS:  -- to vote for stimulus and be on his side, and then

looked at the numbers.  I think the president is finding his way through

this.  This is his first at bat.  He‘s got to look at this race in

Pennsylvania, the other races you referenced, try to make the right


He hasn‘t been here, but he was here early on.  The message, as was

referenced, has been on TV, has been on radio—we‘ve heard it over and

over and over again.  People forget, Specter is not a guy—I don‘t

care what age he is.  He‘s a bulldog and he is not giving up.

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t there something smelly about party switchers,

generally?  I look at John Connolly becoming a Republican, John Lindsey,

a great looking guy from New York, becoming a Democrat.  Every time they

switch, they look a little stinky, a little opportunist.  They never

really believed in the party they were in.  All of a sudden, they‘re

believing, opportunistically, in a new party, to get ahead.

Do you like party switchers, per se?

COLLINS:  I—you know what, to be really honest with you, I look

at what he‘s done all those years.


MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think like I do.  In other words, if he

switched the other way, you wouldn‘t like it?

COLLINS:  I think people look at what Specter has done over 30

years.  He‘s been about constituent service, Chris.  The guy has a

remarkable record.  He‘s done things that a lot of Democrats didn‘t

look.  But look at the polls, look at the people who are endorsing him. 

I think he represents an old line thinking, but it‘s important right now

to have that kind of—


MATTHEWS:  It looks to me like this candidate we‘re looking at

right now—go ahead. 

CILLIZZA:  I was just going to say, I agree with you wholeheartedly

on party switching.  Just very quickly, the party you left hates you and

will do everything they can do to beat you.  And the party you come to

doesn‘t trust you.

So unless you do it like Phil Graham did in Texas, where he

resigned as a Democrat and ran in a special election as a Republican,

it‘s just hard.  You get by the first race, the first renomination, then

I think it may be more about your accomplishments.  But right now it‘s

about trust.  That Joe Sestak ad is devastating, because it says this

guy used to be a Republican; George Bush loved him; he switched parties,

by his own words, because it would help him get reelected. 

Getting over that first hurdle is very tough for party-switchers. 

Look at Mike Forbes in 2000, switches from Republican to Democrat, loses

to a librarian named Regina Seltzer (ph), who raised 50 dollars in the

campaign.  There‘s lost a level of distrust that exists. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Chris Cillizza, I‘m taking a new look at you,

young man.  I see a well dressed man, well-turned-out, handsome, by the

grace of God, with a brilliant future ahead of you, because you‘re dead

right.  People don‘t like party-switchers.  And you are wrong. 

COLLINS:  We will see tonight.  We will see tonight.  Don‘t forget,

African-American voters and how they feel tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you Chris Cillizza.  Thank you, Steven Collins.

Up next, he doesn‘t mind switchers along as they switch his way. 

Up next, the big race that could signal whether Democrats will hold on

to the House this November, that special election in Jack Murtha‘s

district.  That‘s a big one.  And if this goes the wrong way, look at 50

seats going the other way.  We‘ll get back to that, plus more on the

Specter-Sestak fight here in Philly, with the mayor of Philadelphia,

Michael Nutter, joining us in this seat.  Congressman Bob Brady, the

boss of the city, the chairman of the committee, and Pennsylvania‘s

Democratic state chairman, TJ Rooney—they‘re all coming here.

This is HARDBALL, live from Philly, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  Now all eyes are on Pennsylvania right now

for the big race for the United States Senate between United States

Senator Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak, who is fighting a little engine

that could kind of campaign.  He‘s the PT boat against the Navy here. 

Pennsylvania‘s hard board special election out in western Pennsylvania,

Jack Murtha‘s district, could foreshadow a big problem for the Democrats

if they lose that seat they‘ve always held. 

I‘ve got joining me right now the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael

Nutter, the boss of the city, U.S. Congressman Bob Brady, chairman of

the Democratic City Committee.  There‘s no article in that.  Just say

Democratic City Committee.  That‘s the way you say it.  And T.J. Rooney

is chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. 

We have all the power here.  Does it matter, Mr. Mayor?  Can you

deliver this city for Arlen Specter?  Is it old-time politics where the

top says come on, here‘s the sample ballot, the top of the name is

Specter, vote? 

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Our folks are certainly

out there working hard for Senator Specter, and certainly working with

Bob and City Committee, TJ and the state.  We‘re going all out to help

ensure Senator Specter‘s re-election. 

He‘s been good for Philadelphia.  He‘s been good for the region. 

He‘s been good for the state.  He‘s been good to everyone.  Regardless

of what—

MATTHEWS:  Where‘s the president? 

NUTTER:  The president is for Senator Specter. 

MATTHEWS:  Why didn‘t he show up?  Why did he fly over the state

today?  He flew over the state. 

NUTTER:  He‘s the president of the United States of America. 

There‘s 49 other states that might want to see him today. 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Brady, how does it look?  He should have been here. 

How does it look when you get out there in the wards, with the

black and white ward leaders, the regular guys, bread and butter

Democrats?  Do they feel they have a stake in this or what? 

REP. BOB BRADY (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Sure they do.  They‘ve got a big

stake in it.  They have a stake by voting for our endorsed ticket and

our endorsed candidate.  The rain hurt us a little bit.  It‘s pretty

tough to drag people out in the rain.  But we‘re still confident that we

have the troops out there.  We have the organization we have had for

many, many years.  We will continue that for many years.  And we bring

this ticket in.  It will happen. 

MATTHEWS:  Is Tony Williams, the candidate for governor, spending

enough money today? 

BRADY:  Thank God for him, because he‘s the one generating in the

city of Philadelphia for a governor candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  So is there enough street money to make this thing

happen for Specter? 

BRADY:  Absolutely.  It‘s already spent.  It‘s already out there. 

We‘re going to make it happen. 

MATTHEWS:  How much a division, 300, 200? 

BRADY:  I can‘t say that because somebody will get mad.  We don‘t

give everybody the same.  Some are more valuable than others. 

MATTHEWS:  The hardworking division committeeman or woman should be

getting about 150 bucks today, right? 

BRADY:  No, no.  They wouldn‘t even show up for 150 dollars. 

MATTHEWS:  T.J. Rooney, you‘re a Dell guy all the way.  He‘s going

to be on tonight at 7:00, the governor.  He‘s fighting this race, people

tell me, like he fought for Hillary, until the last dog dies.  Why is he

fighting so hard for Arlen? 


have come to love him.  I have come to understand why the governor feels

so strongly and passionately.  We all do.  We‘re a united front.

MATTHEWS:  Is this derivative love for you or personal love? 

ROONEY:  I‘ve really, really come to respect and honor and like the


MATTHEWS:  What happens if Sestak pulls an upset here, and defeats

the whole organization of the city?  I get the sense from the White

House, talking to our reporters there, the president will be quite happy

with his people.  OK, we have Sestak, we‘ll still win in that general


ROONEY:  I maintain my position all along, that Arlen Specter is a

stronger general election candidate for the—to lead the Democratic

party to hold on to the seat.  Any Democrats who haven‘t voted yet, if

you want to strengthen the hand of President Barack Obama, you go out

today and vote for Arlen Specter. 

MATTHEWS:  How is the president doing in the state right now, Mr.

Brady.  If the president were on the ballot tonight against any

Republican, Mitt Romney, who would win statewide? 

BRADY:  He would win.  Barack Obama would win. 


MATTHEWS:  Did you say win statewide?  Slam dunk? 

NUTTER:  Slam dunk. 

MATTHEWS:  So the president is still popular in Pennsylvania? 

BRADY:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the race everybody‘s watching, I think

the bellwether state, the 12th congressional district out West.  Mr.

Brady, you loved Jack Murtha.  We all did.  Murtha‘s gone.  He‘s trying

to put his staff guy in.  Joyce Murtha, his widow, is backer her.  Bill

Clinton gave a powerhouse of a speech out there the other day.  Can the

Democrats hold that seat? 

BRADY:  I think they will.  I think they‘ll win the special

election.  I think they‘ll win the election in the general election in

November, Chris.  Yes, I do. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you worried, T.J., that they might lose the seat?

That—I think if that seat goes, anything is possible. 

ROONEY:  I think we‘ll win the special election today.  What

happens in November, we‘re going to have a good candidate.  We‘re going

to have a lot of money.  We‘re going to have a good fight.  I‘m

confident, as the chairman is and the congressman is, you know, we‘ll

win tonight and ‘12. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think it looks like in the House, coming in

this November, based on what you‘re seeing?  Can you hold the House for


BRADY:  I think so.  I think we‘ll probably loose some seats. 

They‘re losing some seats, too.  You‘ve got people falling off today. 

You know.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of these guys out in western

Pennsylvania, tough neighborhood, Cambria County, working people? 

They‘re trashing Nancy Pelosi.  I didn‘t think they even knew her.  Why

are they against her?  They have big pictures of her.

BRADY:  Nancy Pelosi is a tough lady.  She puts out the agenda. 

She sticks by it.  And she‘s a tough, great leader.  And she puts her


MATTHEWS:  Why are they always going after her personally? 

BRADY:  Because she‘s successful. 

ROONEY:  They‘re devoid of ideas and they have to demonize. 

BRADY:  Party of no. 

NUTTER:  There‘s an anger out there and folks have to direct it at


MATTHEWS:  Great mayor, Michael Nutter, thank you, sir.  Thank you,

U.S. Congressman Bob Brady, the chairman of the committee, T.J. Rooney -

I said that, sir—T.J. Rooney, the chairman of the party statewide. 

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

Blumenthal and they‘re not nice.  He did something unspeakable.  He said

he served in Vietnam.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, live from Philadelphia

on primary night, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a story of someone who did

the unspeakable.  Whenever I me meet a guy my age who served in Vietnam,

I ask him that direct man to man question, were you in it?  Then I look

and often see that somber nod of the head and the sad knowing but sure

answer.  There‘s no more powerful question, no more important answer for

those men my age.  Those who were in the fighting, who walked through

the jungles and open fields, who rode in the helicopters, drove the

trucks, faced the enemy by day and night in the heat of Indochina—

there are two answers, both heavy with meaning and morality and, yes,

merit, life merit for those who served, who were in it. 

I don‘t know how a person could lie about such a thing.  I don‘t

know how you, I, anyone could look into the face of another and say they

were in Vietnam, that they were a Marine in Vietnam, with all the merit

attached to that claim, if it were not true.  I don‘t know how a person

could do it. 

Today, we learned that the attorney general of Connecticut, a man

with power to indict, has made such a claim, that he was in Vietnam when

he was not.  He has said he was in the Vietnam War when he never was. 

Never was.  He says he misspoke. 

How many times did he have it written in the paper that he served? 

How many times did he let the record stand that he served in Vietnam? 

How many times did other men face him, man to man and ask him, were you

in it?  And let that other man believe, that other American think that

he deserves such honor when he knew every instant he did not. 

If he stays in the race, that‘s his call.  Just as it was his call

all this time to say he was a courageous combat veteran who returned

from Vietnam.  But for anyone who lifts a finger to put this man in the

United States Senate, for that, I find no way to accept.  The United

States Senate cannot take on the morally dead weight of this candidate

without honor. 

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  I‘ll be right

back in one hour at 7:00 Eastern for a live edition of HARDBALL, and

throughout the night, as the returns come in.  And at midnight Eastern,

we‘ll wrap it up in another live edition of HARDBALL.  Right now, it‘s

time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.




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