updated 5/19/2010 11:55:04 AM ET 2010-05-19T15:55:04

Guests: Gov. Ed Rendell, Jonathan Martin

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Stormy weather.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m—voters in—we‘re here in Philadelphia, rainy

and cold as it is.  We‘re here for what could be the biggest day in

politics until the mid-term elections this November.  And what a day it‘s

been already.  Voters in four states are going to the polls on a day that

may answer some huge questions.  Look at the map there.

How much trouble are incumbents facing?  What are the Republicans‘

chances of taking one or, catch this, both houses of Congress, including

the Senate, this fall?  And how much juice does the Obama team have really

when it comes to the polls?  Polls already closed in Kentucky, and we‘re

starting to see early returns in that Republican primary out there between

Rand Paul, who‘s very hot these days, and Trey Grayson, as well as that

tight fight on the Democratic side between Daniel Mongiardo and Jack


In, Pennsylvania polls close in an hour in the big neck-and-neck race

here—in the Philadelphia area, you can see it all over the place—

between Arlen Specter and Congressman Joe Sestak.  But the smart money‘s

also keeping eye on that fascinating election for Jack Murtha‘s old seat

out in western Pennsylvania, which may well tell us how strong the

Republican challenge is going to be nationwide against the incumbent


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

(INAUDIBLE) Richard Blumenthal has claimed a number of times that he served

in Vietnam when, in fact, he never did.  Blumenthal now says he misspoke. 

This could give the Republicans a Senate seat they never dreamed of

winning.  What a day.

MSNBC will have live coverage all evening tonight, and I‘ll be back

with a live edition of HARDBALL at midnight with all the results.  So take

a nap, if you have to, but be here for the hoopla and analysis at midnight.

With me now, “MEET THE PRESS” host David Gregory and “Newsweek‘s”

Howard Fineman.  David, the White House strongly present here in its

absence.  The president of the United States has not come to the aid of his

new friend, Arlen Specter.  Your assessment?

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Well, it was a decision

that was made very simply because they didn‘t think the president was going

to be able to do the good and they didn‘t want to have him look bad.  You

know, they tried that before.  Look what happened in Massachusetts.

You know, I‘ve heard from Specter supporters, as I‘m sure you have,

Chris, who‘ve said, Look what impact the president could have had just in

driving out turnout in Philadelphia alone, which appears to have been

depressed because of the rain.  And yet the Obama White House made the

decision they weren‘t going to do that.

Having said that, they certainly leant sizable support.  They allowed

this footage to be used in that Specter ad, where the president says, I

love Arlen Specter.  But the bottom line is that there wasn‘t a lot of

confidence in Specter, I don‘t think, in the White House.  They‘re still

confident in Sestak to be able to keep the seat in Democratic hands.

And let‘s be honest.  This White House got what they needed out of

Specter.  I‘m not saying this is how they view it.  But analytically, they

got the best out of Specter in two key votes, a stimulus and a health care

vote.  They were able to use the Arlen Specter as a Democrat to their


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  You know, maybe Philly is less transactional—to

use that phrase.  It‘s more about loyalty.  But the more you and I talk to

the pols here—the mayor, the boss of the city, Bob Brady (ph), the

congressman, the governor, the—they seem to like Arlen Specter, even

though he was once a Republican.  Well, now you‘re wincing.


to figure out—you know, I talked to Bob Brady, the congressman here,

who‘s really—with Ed Rendell, the guys who runs the—what‘s the

Democratic machine here.  He was furious that earlier today on HARDBALL,

the White House had told Chuck Todd that, you know, they didn‘t care who

won the primary, that actually, Specter (SIC) maybe was a stronger

candidate and Arlen had come to them, they didn‘t go to Arlen, all that

stuff, basically selling Arlen down the river at 5:05 PM with three hours

still to go before the polls closed, on your show, which people in Philly


MATTHEWS:  I know.  And they‘re coming home—and we all know from

the days of...

FINEMAN:  They‘re coming home...

MATTHEWS:  ... Teddy White...


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back to Gregory on that..  From the days of Teddy

White and “The Making of the President” 50 years ago, we know working class

Democrats, if you will, vote after work.  They vote on the way home from

work.  And if they see or get the word from their wives or spouses, they

look.  And it looks like the White House threw in the towel.

GREGORY:  Well, look, I think what the White House would say—and

officials I spoke to today both in the White House but also in Philadelphia

said there‘s nobody who‘s voting in Philadelphia or elsewhere in the state

who doesn‘t know that Barack Obama is behind Arlen Specter.  And he‘s

certainly shown him a lot of love over time, as has the vice president, Joe

Biden, in terms of being there for him.

But there‘s no doubt about it.  At the very end of the day, the White

House didn‘t want to run the risk of the president looking bad by putting

himself in a position where they‘ve demonstrated that he hasn‘t been able

to push somebody over the line.

I mean, Arlen Specter‘s got bigger problems than turnout issues and

whether the president‘s behind him.  The Arlen Specter problem is, as a

Democrat pointed out to me today, that Democrats have been trying to beat

him in Pennsylvania for 30 years, and now today they have an opportunity. 

I mean, I‘m thinking a lot about hockey, as you know, Chris, because the

Flyers are such a huge story in the NHL and they‘re playing there at this

hour against the Habs.  But Joe Sestak may be the new Broad Street bully. 

It may not be Arlen Specter anymore.



MATTHEWS:  Oh, you are so good!


MATTHEWS:  You are so good.  The Broad Street bullies from olden days! 

Let me go right now to—let‘s—let‘s move around the country and get

out of Philly and off Broad Street for a minute, although we‘re on Market

right now.  Let‘s go—you get in here first, Howard.  Arkansas, a battle

of the center against the left in the Democratic Party.  Will the netroots,

the progressives out there, make a dent in the chances for reelection of

Blanche Lincoln?

FINEMAN:  Well, the problem that Blanche Lincoln‘s got is that I don‘t

know that she‘s going to get enough votes to avoid a runoff.

MATTHEWS:  She needs 50.

FINEMAN:  Yes, and she might not get 50 percent.  The latest polls

show she‘s not going to.  If she doesn‘t, then she‘s going to have to deal

with Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor, for another few weeks.  It

weakens her prospects, gives the Republicans a chance to run against a

weakened candidate.  I think, ultimately, Lincoln will win, but the

question is what shape she‘s going to be in come the fall campaign.

MATTHEWS:  I mean, one of the life-and-death signs I see for the

president this round, David Gregory at the White House, is perhaps—

perhaps—they‘re going to show real weakness in the South this round. 

They‘ve already lost Virginia badly.  Badly.  If they lose  Arkansas this

fall, it does seem to reduce the president‘s running room for reelection if

he starts losing these Southern states.

GREGORY:  And look, Senator Lincoln has made the case to the president

personally on camera about the difficulty that centrist Democrats faced in

the matter of the health care debate.  And she rode various angles of that

health care debate in terms of her votes late in the game.

But also look at how she positioned herself with regard to this

derivative legislation and amendments on financial regulation.  I think

you‘re going to see Democrats, led by Senator Lincoln, if she gets then

ultimately past this test, of making the case that, Look, I stood up to

Wall Street, which is what has, you know, so many on Wall Street concerned

about the juggernaut, the kind of populist sentiment out there that will

drive Democratic politics in the fall campaign.

FINEMAN:  And that is the Democrats‘ defense.  They have to counter

the anti-government populism with the anti-Wall Street populism.

MATTHEWS:  Who do you hate more?

FINEMAN:  Who do you hate more?  Which is what Blanche...


FINEMAN:  right, that‘s what Blanche Lincoln‘s doing.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about some good new for the ideologues of

the right tonight.  It looks to me like if Rand Paul wins tonight big, it‘s

proof you can run a positive campaign on the right in these tough times—


FINEMAN:  Well, Kentucky, which I know, where I started out as a


MATTHEWS:  In Louisville.

FINEMAN:  Yes, Louisville—it voted by 16 percentage points for John

McCain in 2008.  Kentucky is trending culturally very much to the right.

MATTHEWS:  Look at those numbers coming in, raw numbers, 54 percent

for Rand Paul, the challenger against the establishment.

FINEMAN:  And I think it‘s going to be that way throughout the night. 

Trey Grayson was the establishment Republican candidate.  And keep in mind

that the only group less popular than congressional Democrats, according to

the NBC poll, are congressional Republicans.  This guy, Grayson, was seen

as Mitch McConnell‘s candidate, which made him the establishment candidate,

which played right into Rand Paul‘s Libertarian populist anti-Fed deal.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You know...

FINEMAN:  And he can win the general, by the way.

MATTHEWS:  David, here‘s an interesting parallel here.  It looks to me

like if you look at this as symmetric here, both city halls are being

challenged.  Both establishments are being challenged tonight.  All the

power of the Democratic Party from the White House down has been for

Specter.  He could lose tonight.  All the power of the Republican

establishment has been for Trey Grayson out in Kentucky.  He could well

lose tonight.  Is this a sign the country‘s truly in a rebellious mood?

GREGORY:  Well, there‘s no question about it.  And they don‘t like

incumbents.  They don‘t like the ways of Washington right now, and that‘s

the message being sent.  Now, from the White House point of view, they

would rather swim in the soup of anti-incumbency, anti-Washington, rather

than it just being anti-Obama, Reid and Pelosi and that axis, which is why

Pennsylvania 12 is something the White House is paying perhaps more

attention to than they are even the Specter race.

But I would also like to add this about Rand Paul.  I spoke to a


MATTHEWS:  They should.

GREGORY:  ... this afternoon, who said Rand Paul, as a tea party

candidate, is really unequal.  There aren‘t other statewide races where

that‘s really brought to bear in the same way.  They still would rather

have a tea party influence that makes their candidates more fiscally

conservative, rather than focused on socially conservative issues.  They

think it‘s better for the party overall.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at—Gregory hit the button, I think the

hot button.  That‘s the 12th out here in western Pennsylvania, where you‘re


FINEMAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  It looks to me that if the Democrats lose the seat where

Jack Murtha was king for all these years, 2-to-1 Democratic ethnic, lot of

Eastern European, names like Critz, which is the name of the candidate out

there—no reason to vote against the guy.  It‘s not an African-American

running, like the president.  There‘s no (INAUDIBLE) sense of bizarre,

whatever it—same old local yokel guy from the Murtha crowd running,

local guy running, right, not an outsider running...

FINEMAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  If they beat a local guy in a Democrat meat-and-potatoes

district, isn‘t that a real bad sign for Nancy Pelosi?

FINEMAN:  Well, Chris, I don‘t like to make grandiose statements on

the show.  But if the Republicans take that district...

MATTHEWS:  We‘re looking at the vote...


FINEMAN:  Now, it is true that that district went—switched from

Democrat to Republican in the presidential race, the only one in the


MATTHEWS:  It‘s different.

FINEMAN:  OK, that is different.  It is meat and potatoes.  Johnstown

from the time of the Johnstown flood cares about government help.  They

loved John Murtha for bringing in the money.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re so good!

FINEMAN:  Pennsylvania is a bacon state.  You have to bring home the


MATTHEWS:  You‘re so good, Howard!


FINEMAN:  If you vote against the New Deal in that district...


FINEMAN:  ... it‘s lights out for the Democrats this year.

MATTHEWS:  OK, I‘m with you.  Gregory...

FINEMAN:  Lights out!

MATTHEWS:  David, do they see it that way in the White House?  If they

lose the 13th, Jack Murtha‘s district, it‘s like losing, to me,

Massachusetts with Scott Brown.  What do you think up there?

GREGORY:  Well, they‘ll make the argument, as they have and other

Democrats have to me all day, that this has been trending Republican, even

though you can separate a primary from a general election, and that it‘s a

more conservative district.  But look, I think there‘s no question—

Democrats have a good record so far this year on special election races,

but Democratic performance has been strong there.

Here‘s the other point.  This is a race where Obama and the Democrats

have been the issue.  They have run against the Obama record, which is

another reason why the White House is paying special attention.

MATTHEWS:  And also against Pelosi, with those big cartoons of her.

FINEMAN:  If the Dems lose that district, they‘re going to lose the


MATTHEWS:  Good round-up.  I love this round-up.  Thanks, guys, two

pros.  Thanks, David Gregory, from down in Washington...

GREGORY:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ... and Howard Fineman from the city of Pittsburgh, home of

the Penguins.

The other big race that could signal which way the wind is blowing for

the November mid-terms and whether the Democrats will hold onto the White

House is, of course, what we just mentioned, that special election out in

western Pennsylvania.  We‘re going to get into that one.  We already did. 

What a hot race that is.

Plus, much (ph) of the Senate primaries tonight with Pennsylvania

governor Ed Rendell and our own Chuck Todd.  That one coming up right away

on HARDBALL, so stick with us, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome (INAUDIBLE) Philadelphia.  We‘re joined right now

by the kingpin of Pennsylvania, the governor himself, Ed Rendell, formerly

weighing in at about 200-something, now down to just below 200.  Thank you

for joining us.

Your pal, Arlen Specter—anyway, down in Washington, we got Chuck

Todd, the expert, who takes no sides in these fights.  He‘s with NBC News. 

I want to start with Chuck and then go to the governor.  Chuck, the stakes

from the White House—I was just talking to David Gregory, our colleague,

and I get the sense...


watched it.

MATTHEWS:  ... that the White House is very transactional about Arlen


TODD:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Like, you know, Hyman Roth in “The Godfather,” small

potatoes.  Do they have any deep personal, tribal, passionate loyalty to

Arlen Specter, or was that just a deal they made to get through the health

care fight and the stimulus fight?

TODD:  Look, you went very black and white in those descriptions.  I‘d

say it‘s somewhere in between.  But let‘s remember Arlen Specter is

somewhat transactional.  He did come to the Democratic Party.

But I want to give folks a little bit of an update.  I‘ve been talking

to some folks who are monitoring the turnout on the ground.  And we‘ve been

talking about for a long time in the last—at the 5:00 o‘clock hour,

Chris, about low turnout.  There are now some estimates inside the

Democratic Party headquarters that I‘ve talked to and some folks—they

think turnout for this primary might surpass Governor Rendell‘s successful

2002 primary night turnout.  I believe that was about—a little under 1.3

voters.  There‘s now some estimates could be at 1.3, 1.5.  That‘s

potentially good news for Specter.  But overall, the White House folks are

very happy if turnout gets that high because they were getting very nervous

about these early reports of low turnout.

MATTHEWS:  So Governor, what is the turnout situation right now, with

all this rain?

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, turnout is going to be

better than we expected because the rain stopped in the eastern part of the

state at 5:00 o‘clock.  And those are the bread-and-butter hours for us,

5:00, 6:00 and 7:00, especially in Philadelphia, which is a late-voting

town.  So I we‘re going to pick up.  I think we‘re going to be above 30

percent statewide.

MATTHEWS:  Does it hurt you that Chuck put out the word at 5:00

o‘clock that the White House...

TODD:  Oh, goodness.

MATTHEWS:  ... doesn‘t care about this race?

RENDELL:  Oh, I don‘t think people decide on who the White House cares

about or who I care about.  I am always careful.  I don‘t say to people,

Chris, that, Vote for Arlen Specter because Ed Rendell says so.


RENDELL:  I try to give them reasons to vote for Arlen Specter, and

they‘re good reasons.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this Murtha race.  We‘ve been watching

this all night because it‘s a bellwether.  Democrats have to win bread-and-

butter Democratic districts to hold the House.  Nancy Pelosi, it surprises

me, has become a big target out there.  This guy, Burns, is blasting her,

this woman in San Francisco.  They‘re using her as the attack target for

that camp.  Is that going to work?

RENDELL:  I don‘t think it‘s going to work in Pennsylvania because I

think Burns distracted a little bit from his own qualities, where Mark

Critz went out and sold himself.  He‘s been a very good candidate, and I

think we‘re going to win in that district.  By And The way, that‘s despite

the registration. That‘s a Republican-performing district.  John McCain

carried that district.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I‘m thinking about Pennsylvania here, and I grew

up here in the old days, 50 years ago, and this used to be a vibrant part

of town.  You know, we had Gimbels, Wannamaker, Santa Claus.


MATTHEWS:  It was booming.  Everybody came here to shop for the

holidays.  And yet I get a guy out here, unemployed guy.  People in my

family have been let out of work.  This is a tough time.  This state‘s been

deindustrialized, hasn‘t it.  It‘s been hurt hard.

RENDELL:  True, but of all the big states in the union, Chris, we have

the lowest unemployment rate and we have...

MATTHEWS:  Does it feel like that to you, politically, happy times?

RENDELL:  No.  No, it‘s not happy times.  But I‘m just saying,

comparatively, we‘ve done pretty well.  And steel and coal, as you know,

were doing very, very until the recession hit because of India and China. 

We‘ve got a very good bio-pharmaceutical industries.  We‘ve got life

sciences.  We‘re the third highest state in green jobs.  So we‘ve got a

diversified economy.  And again, there‘s no state that has a good economy

today.  There‘s no state.  But we have weathered the storm better than


MATTHEWS:  OK, this mood, Chuck—I get the feeling we have a big

vote tonight in Kentucky.  It looks like the tea party types are going to

win out there.  Arkansas looks like a mixed bag between the Democratic

center and the progressives.  Overall, give me a wrap-up early in the

evening, or give me a scorecard, if you will, of how to read the returns

coming in as we cover them throughout the night.

TODD:  Well, I think you‘re right about Kentucky.  We‘re seeing some

early returns out of Louisville in particular.  This is Mitch McConnell‘s

home base, and Rand Paul is just running away with it in that part of the

state.  Look, there are some polls—all the polls finally just closed in

Kentucky.  So it does look like, in just the sporadic places that reported

early returns because they closed an hour ago, that Paul‘s strength that

was in the polls is showing up on the ground.

And I‘ll tell you, I look at this and you look at sort of Joe Sestak

and you look at a Rand Paul, and these are—you know, these are guys that

are saying, Hey, I‘m bucking the party, or, I‘m bucking the establishment. 

And that‘s what seems to be—I would say if the two of them win, you

merge them together and say, This is your faces—these are your faces of

the 2010 campaign.  You had the year of the woman in the past.  You‘ve had

the year of other things in the past.  And this seems to be the year of

sort of the fed-up candidate, the fed-up voter, fed up at Washington, fed

up at government.  And so they‘re responding to candidates that say they‘re

fed up.  And Rand Paul and Sestak have a blunt way of speaking and

connecting.  They may not be the most likable guys, but I wonder if it

connects more in this type of year, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the Sestak appeal up here?  Why is he running even

with Arlen Specter, the establishment candidate?

RENDELL:  Because Arlen Specter switched parties, and that‘s always

difficult, because he was endorsed by George Bush and for our progressives,

who vote...

MATTHEWS:  That ad‘s hurting, isn‘t it.

RENDELL:  It‘s a terrific ad done by the campaign group.  But—so

that stuff hurts.  And I will tell you, the interesting thing is I think

both Paul and Sestak, if they win, are weaker candidates in the general

than the people they would have (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re probably the most popular guy in this—you and

Bobby Casey, the popular guys in this state.  You—everybody tells me

watch this race, that you‘ve gone all out for Arlen.


MATTHEWS:  They know he‘s your old friend, you‘ve known him forever. 

You worked together (INAUDIBLE)

RENDELL:  And I always stand by my man.

MATTHEWS:  But you have been incredibly bonded with this guy.  It has

not been transactional with you.


MATTHEWS:  T.J. Rooney (ph), your party organization‘s with him,

Brady‘s been with him here, the mayor‘s been with him through your oomph,


RENDELL:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  So you got your heart riding on this one, right?

RENDELL:  Well, of course.

MATTHEWS:  So tell me why it‘s important that Arlen Specter win

tonight, as a friend and as a guy.  Why is it important to this country

that a guy like Arlen wins, a veteran, over this sort of upstart guy that

isn‘t easy to deal with sometimes?  Sestak‘s a real maverick.  He‘s a real


RENDELL:  Well, because it all comes down to who‘s going to serve

Pennsylvania the best.  Arlen Specter has delivered for 30 years.  And you

know what, Chris?  He never asked whether we were Democrats or Republicans. 

When he was a Republican, he did great things for the city of Philadelphia

when I was mayor.  He delivers.  He knows Washington.  He knows how to get

things done.  Toomey won‘t be able to do that.  I‘ll be for Joe Sestak, but

he won‘t be able to do that.

MATTHEWS:  Is Toomey too far right to win a general, or is he

dangerous to you guys?  Could he pull an upset, like Santorum back in bad

economic times, a man of the right, far right, was able to win a Senate

seat in Pennsylvania?  Can the far right candidate still win in

Pennsylvania in bad times?

RENDELL:  Yes, I think, absolutely, because of the context of the

times.  But Congressman Toomey‘s going to have some explaining to do, or

‘splaining to do, as we say in Philadelphia.  He worked for the Club for

Growth.  Who funded the Club for Growth, Chris?  Wall Street.  Wall Street.

MATTHEWS:  So you think you can beat him on his laissez-faire pro-

business attitudes.

RENDELL:  And on the fact that he‘s a creature of was.

MATTHEWS:  OK, the Flyers all way to the cup?

RENDELL:  All the way.


MATTHEWS:  Phillies this year?

RENDELL:  All the way.  We‘ll win the division by...


MATTHEWS:  This city has changed, the city that used to choke, and I

say that as a lover.  I‘m sorry, Chuck.  This state that used to choke now

comes through when it‘s down 3-to-nothing.  What do you think of that?

TODD:  Well, all I can say...

MATTHEWS:  The comeback city.

TODD:  ... is it‘s killing us.


MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know what he is.  He‘s not...


TODD:  Whatever happened to the Caps?  I miss them.  Oy!


TODD:  Right now, it‘s America.  You can‘t root for Canada!


MATTHEWS:  ... people out here!  Look at them out here!

TODD:  You can‘t root for Canada at this point.  We got to root for

the Flyers.

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ll be right back.  OK, said like a true American

from America‘s capital, Washington, D.C.  Thank you, Chuck Todd, as always,

a real expert.

Another conservative values lawmaker, by the way, falls victim to a

sexual affair.  Don‘t you love, well, irony?  There‘s a twist in this baby. 

Let‘s watch in the “Sideshow.”  Something to do with selling abstinence but

not buying it.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now for the “Sideshow.”  First, talk

about deja vu.  Yet another conservative lawmaker known for his tough

stance on family values has admitted to an extramarital affair.  This time,

it‘s eight-term Republican congressman Mark Souder of Indiana who announced

his resignation in a statement last night.  The kicker here?  Congressman

Souder actually made a Web show video with his mistress, an aide in his

district office, about a 2008 House hearing on abstinence-only education. 

Here it is.  Check it out.



advocate for abstinence education, and in 2006 had your staff conduct a

report entitled “Abstinence and It‘s Critics,” which discredits many claims

purveyed (ph) by those who oppose abstinence education.  What did you think

of this hearing?

REP. MARK SOUDER ®, INDIANA:  Well, I personally feel I should have

probably abstained from the hearing.  When I was chairman of the committee,

which Waxman was part of—the chairman was part of my subcommittee, we

did on abstinence programs on how to make them work better and how to many

any kind of program work better.

JACKSON:  Not to prove that they failed.

SOUDER:  And his program is how we can repeal abstinence programs.


MATTHEWS:  Well, they sold abstinence.  I guess they weren‘t buying


Next up, a campaign ad that hits below the belt.  Out in California,

Steve Poizner running an uphill race against former eBay CEO Meg Whitman

for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.  In a Web video, Poizner takes

on eBay‘s track record of selling guns, fake paintings and pornography and

what Whitman did with the site when she took over.  Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Whitman cleaned up the site—no more guns, no

more fake paintings.  But pornography?  Whitman started a separate division

that only sells porn.  Under Whitman‘s leadership, the porn site became one

of the largest on the Internet.  That‘s Meg Whitman, from Goldman Sachs

deals to porn.  It‘s all about the money.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s a tough ad.

Time for tonight‘s “Big Number.”  Think the White House isn‘t trying

to distance itself from their man out in Pennsylvania?  Well—Arlen

Specter, that is.  Catch this.  Not only did President Obama fly over the

state today, but he gave a big speech out in Youngstown, Ohio.  Just how

close is Youngstown, Ohio, to Pennsylvania and its border?  Seven miles. 

Talk about adding insult to injury, President Obama rallies the troops just

seven miles away from Pennsylvania.  Tonight‘s hop skip and a jump away

“Big Number.”

Up next: How much damage has the Democrat running for Senate in

Connecticut done to his party?  Richard Blumenthal was considered

practically a shoo-in to replace Chris Dodd, but his lies about serving in

Vietnam when he didn‘t do it have doomed his candidacy, and with it,

perhaps, the Democrats‘ hope to hold onto the U.S. Senate.  We‘ll get to

that straight ahead.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC, on primary night, live from



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Political bombshell up in Connecticut in that Senate race today. 

Senate State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who‘s running to take

Senator Chris Dodd‘s seat was page one in today‘s “New York Times.”  He

didn‘t want to be there. 

The headline “Candidate‘s Words Differ From His History,” and the

history in question here couldn‘t be more critical.  His military service. 

“The New York Times” Web site has this video of him—the candidate for

senator—speaking to a crowd of veterans and supporters in March of 2008. 

Let‘s listen. 



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 Mike

(INAUDIBLE) has been working very hard to change that situation. 

We have learned something very important since the days that I served

in Vietnam. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, he didn‘t come home because he was never in Vietnam. 

He claimed he was in Vietnam, fighting a war over there.  He was actually

in the reserve here at home for a few months stateside in a cushy position

here in Washington. 

He defended himself today, however.  Let‘s listen to his defense. 

It‘s not much. 


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:  He will not allow, huh?  The question is, will he survive? 

And what does that mean for Democrats and their hold in the Senate? 

Lawrence O‘Donnell is an MSNBC political analyst and Jonathan Martin

writes for Politico. 

Lawrence, it reminds you of Bruce Caputo who was going to run against

Pat Moynihan at one point until a—a late colleague of ours discovered

something in his record.  He was lying about having fought in Vietnam. 

What do you make of this redux (ph)? 


1982, Tim Russert was running the Moynihan campaign and he did the digging

to discover that Caputo‘s record was false.  In fact Caputo was never in

the military.  It was very—it‘s different from this story. 

You know, and that‘s a long time ago.  I think our reaction to these

things have changed.  Ten years after Bruce Caputo had to drop out of the

race, we elected a draft dodger president in 1992.  We re-elected the draft

dodger in 1996.  He had been caught lying to his draft board on paper. 

He had written a letter to his draft board saying, I want to preserve

my political future in the way that he was dodging the draft.  And the

voters didn‘t have a struggle with that.  They looked at—what is this

guy proposing in office if we elect him? 

So I‘m not—it‘s not clear to me that Dick Blumenthal, his career‘s

over this one word.  When you study “The New York Times” piece, it all

comes down to one word.  There‘s a quote there where he does say, “I served

in Vietnam.”  In the same—that‘s 2008. 

He also in 2008 said in a different way—he said, I served during

the Vietnam era.  That quote, “The New York Times” pushes way back in the

story, and then the final quote they use from him, they really bury.  And

that‘s the quote from 2010, from two months ago where Dick Blumenthal says

very clearly, “I did not serve in Vietnam.” 

So you have only three quotes from him in the piece.  One of them is

obviously false.  The other two are true.  It‘s a new era.  I think he—

and he‘s got a 25-point lead as of yesterday.  He might be able to survive

this, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  I think we disagree on this.  I don‘t—I can‘t

come out with my—I can‘t calculate or compute how anybody could ever say

they fought in a war if they didn‘t.  I don‘t know how you say it to

yourself with yourself listening, let alone anybody else. 

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO:  Chris, I think the politics of this are

this.  Two important things happened today for Dick Blumenthal.  The first

thing, Senator Chris Dodd, the senior senator, the outer statesman of the

Connecticut Democratic Party, came out in support of Blumenthal which is


Secondly, National Democrats, the DSC down in Washington, oversees the

campaign committee.  The Senate Campaign Committee came out in support of

Blumenthal.  Those are sort of helpful—sort of steps, helpful signs for

Blumenthal here 24 hours later. 

The challenge that he has now, and speaking to what Lawrence said is

that first of all, Bill Clinton didn‘t recall his service from Vietnam in a

way that -- 

MATTHEWS:  He never claimed he fought in Vietnam. 

MARTIN:  Secondly there was no videotape of Bill Clinton back in that

era.  What‘s challenging for Blumenthal here is, they have videotape of him

recalling service in Vietnam.  It may be just one word.  But in this era

having that tape out there that can be played again and again on shows like

this is damaging. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Lawrence, when I meet somebody who‘s been in

Vietnam and they tell me I served over there, I always ask them, were you

in it, meaning, were you in the fighting, did you face the enemy?  Were you

scared?  Were you up fighting for your country face to face with the enemy? 

I always have a special regard for that guy who nods his head.  This

guy said he did and he didn‘t.  I find that damning.  You don‘t.  We


O‘DONNELL:  No, look, Chris, I find no defense for that sentence where

he says, “I served in Vietnam.”  I am in no way attempting to defend that

sentence.  I think that‘s unconscionable statement and—but it is

juxtapose with other statements where he‘s made it very clear that he

didn‘t.  So he hasn‘t been doing some kind of lifetime charade here. 

And he has a long relationship with Connecticut voters.  And what I‘m

wondering tonight is, does his long relationship with Connecticut voters

who view him very favorably up until yesterday—does that get him through



O‘DONNELL:  And that was not the case in the previous instance with

Bruce Caputo.  He did not.  He‘d been a congressman for two years, Chris. 

You know, he didn‘t have the same kind of record.  Didn‘t have the same

time kind of support. 

He didn‘t have any support from Vietnam veterans as Blumenthal did

today at his press conference. 


O‘DONNELL:  So I‘m just not—I‘m not sure which way—how this ends

up.  But Blumenthal is in a much stronger position than Caputo was in 1982. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think—let me suggest—let‘s talk about

television—get past morality and character.  I think I‘ve dispensed with

the character issue from my point of view. 

Television.  YouTube moment. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  He only said Macaca once. 

MARTIN:  Right.  That‘s all it takes. 

MATTHEWS:  George Allen.  He was gone.  He said Macaca twice in about

10 seconds.  He‘s gone.  He doesn‘t have to say, I never called the guy

Macaca any other time.  He did it then. 

Now here‘s the question.  Republican Linda McMahon knows something

about marketing and advertising.  Rob Simmons served in Vietnam.  These

potential opponents, they will take this, they will show the tape we‘ve

shown again and again and again, and I think reach the bread and butter

Democrat up there, the working class Democrat in Connecticut and—maybe

the elite guy who dodged the service and had his own BS to deal with.  But

the average guy, I think, is going to hate this. 

MARTIN:  But here‘s an example that‘s even more recent than George

Allen and Macaca.  What has dogged Arlen Specter in the final weeks of this

campaign?  When he hits that one—the Sestak folks are showing over and

over again, that the open and close it shows Specter himself saying that he

changed parties because it would help his re-election. 

It‘s the same principle.  That‘s on videotape, it‘s his own words

played over and over again that‘s really damaging him.  And that‘s the

challenge that --


MARTIN:  -- Blumenthal has.  His own words being used against him. 

MATTHEWS:  Lawrence, swing back to your previous career as finance

director in the Senate committee to your days serving a politician.  If you

were helping a guy like Pat Moynihan run for re-election and you discovered

this about your opponent, would you use it? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, I would have held on to it longer, Chris.  I would

have -- 


O‘DONNELL:  I would have thought about maybe using it in October when

I really needed it.  But you know, this is a—you know, you have to

remember Linda McMahon—Linda McMahon has a really difficult background


I promise you, “The New York Times” is going to have a front page

investigative piece about the World Wrestling Federation if she‘s the

nominee.  They are absolutely going to go into all the steroid use and how

Linda McMahon has written—wrote a memo kind of warning a doctor involved

about the steroid investigation. 

You know, there‘s people who lost their lives in the madness of the

World Wrestling Federation.  She has blood on her hands.  It‘s a very—

she‘s going to—it‘s not like she‘s some clean candidate running against

a guy who got—who told one very big and awful lie once. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  All politics is relative.  Lawrence O‘Donnell. 

Thank you, sir.  My comments tonight -- 

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s right, that‘s my point. 

MATTHEWS:  They‘re a little different.  Thank you—thank you,

Jonathan.  You did make it.  Thank you. 

Just over 15 minutes to go before the polls close here in Pennsylvania

and we start to get actual votes in this hot Senate primary between Arlen

Specter and Joe Sestak which everybody‘s been watching. 

We‘re already seeing the early votes out of Kentucky.  It‘s going to

be a fun night out there.  Looks like Rand Paul is winning there pretty

handedly in Kentucky from the early votes.  Look at those numbers, 59

percent against 36. 

We‘ll be right back to Philly with the Nashville stories after this. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back and with the news, the Associated Press has

projected Rand Paul is the winner of the Republican primary for the Senate

in the state of Kentucky.  Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate, has defeated

the establishment Republican Trey Grayson, the candidate of Mitch


Let‘s turn to NBC News‘ Andrea Mitchell and radio talk show host and

MSNBC political analyst Michael Smerconish. 

Boy, Andrea, that‘s hard news and it‘s big positive news for the

right.  They defeated the Republican establishment.  Defeated the big-time. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  And it says everything you want to know

about the Republican Party in Kentucky.  Mitch McConnell, the leader of the

Republican Party, could not deliver.  Rand Paul.  This is where the Tea

Party really planted its flag and this is a big story.  Voter anger.  Throw

the bombs out.  This is the leading edge of the incumbent wave. 

MATTHEWS:  I love this story because McConnell, I think rather

arrogantly, pushed aside Jim Bunning, dumped his fellow senator

ignominiously only to have him replaced by more trouble—a much

rebellious figure Rand Paul. 


movement.  And in the same way that his father has always been their

favorite.  But Chris, never with the hostility, never with the anger that

has so characterized certain elements of that Tea Party Movement. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s right.  So he‘s not a Sarah Palin.  There‘s not that

edgy voice of sarcasm you hear all the time from her, for example. 

SMERCONISH:  Very issues oriented.  I mean Rand Paul is a purist.  He

is a libertarian and he takes the ideology very seriously, but doesn‘t

crack you over the head with it. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re looking around as a news person tonight and as an

analyst, I want your thoughts because you‘ll be talking about this tomorrow

all morning. 

Andrea, when you‘re looking for the news tonight, the headline,

besides the Blumenthal thing, which I think we did pretty well a minute

ago, the news is what?  The rise of the right within the Republican Party

so far? 

MITCHELL:  The rise of the right and the fact that parties can‘t

dictate choices.  We don‘t know yet what‘s going to happen yet with Arlen



MITCHELL:  But we don‘t know what‘s going to happen here exactly.  But

the parties may deliver for Specter.  We‘re beginning to hear that the

turnout—the working class lunch bucket voters came out.  They think—

the parties think late in the day. But the White House can‘t dictate


This is really people who are mostly passive and apathetic about

elections right now, but they‘re scared about their own futures and they

want people who can answer their needs. 

MATTHEWS:  Why (INAUDIBLE) look at the whole thing?  You look at all

the states in the country of the United States.  And you‘re from another

country, you‘re from Borneo, from Denmark, you‘d say, wait a minute, boss

of Philadelphia says elect Arlen, he‘s been here 30 years but now he‘s one

of us. 

Close as hell vote, no matter who wins.  It was not, you know, a top

down decision.  People aren‘t ditto heads.  They‘re voting the way they

feel and think.  Out here in Kentucky, they said the hell with the Senate

Republican leader.  The hell with you. 

Down in Arkansas we‘re waiting for results down there.  But this isn‘t

going to be no cake walk for her, for Blanche Lincoln.  The progressives

out there are making noise tonight apparently in Arkansas. 

SMERCONISH:  I think in every one of those instance it‘s also a

referendum of sorts on organizational politics, of what value our

endorsements, whether they are newspaper, whether they‘re gubernatorial,

whether they‘re party apparatus. 

Is there a sufficient angst out there in the community that people

would just say to hell with all that and go out and vote their conscience,

and overwhelm what had been the factors that could call the shot in a race

like this? 

MATTHEWS:  The challenge in your view so far, this fight.  If you look

in Philadelphia working class white, you heard from there “The Daily News,”

you heard from your white labor leaders, they all said vote for Arlen. 

If you‘re upper class white, you‘re sophisticated white, you heard

from the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” you heard from the governor who they

love, Eddie Rendell, blah, blah, blah. 

SMERCONISH:  Vote for Arlen. 

MATTHEWS:  If you‘re African-American which is 55 percent of the

Democratic vote in this city, you heard from “The Daily News”, you heard

from the labor unions, you heard from your black clergy, you heard the

president, the vice president, and the mayor who is African-American. 

So all the authority figures are saying vote for Arlen, and yet this

thing is a nail-biter. 

MITCHELL:  It‘s a nail-biter but this is partly an unusual case.  He

did switch.  And people are suspicious of politicians—especially

politicians—whom they‘re not sure are really authentic.  I mean you

switched parties -- 

MATTHEWS:  Well, shouldn‘t they be? 

MITCHELL:  -- you did ask them for trouble.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that a reasonable assumption? 

MITCHELL:  And by the way, speaking of that -- 

MATTHEWS:  He switches parties to save his political career, and he

said so in the ad used the opponent.  When you say, I guess he is cynical. 

I guess he‘s opportunistic as he says he is. 

MITCHELL:  You want to talk about cynicism, Democrats in the Senate

went along with Blanche Lincoln and had hands of her derivatives bill

because of this anti-Wall Street.  They thought it would help her today in

her election.  Late today, Chris Dodd, the banking committee, started

pulling back.  They‘ve come up with a compromise watering down her bill now

that the election is over. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, she‘s still got to fight the—the primary runoff

out there.  So bottom line, looking at Pennsylvania, the issue is boss rule

in question up here? 

SMERCONISH:  It is in question.  And we‘ll know in just a couple of


Chris, it‘s a very typical Specter election.  He‘s had 15 competitive

races.  Six of them have been decided -- 

MATTHEWS:  You love him. 


MATTHEWS:  You love him. 

SMERCONISH:  I make no bones about it.  I‘ve got a 30-year

relationship with him.  But six of those 15 competitive elections have been

decided within three percentage points.  And I think—one thing I‘d be

willing to say is he‘s headed for number seven tonight in terms of another

very close election. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about the possibility.  Rand Paul, a big

winner on the right.  The right is alive and challenging in the Republican

center.  The progressive may put on a good show down there in Arkansas even

if they lose Bill Halter, he‘s a future star down there. 

Pennsylvania, is it still possible that there is a purple state?  A

state that you love, Pennsylvania, and you‘ve worked here that‘s still

purple.  In other words, isn‘t right wing, it‘s not Schiavo, Santorum, it‘s

not far-right, it‘s not far-left, it never has been.  You know Bob Casey,

the former governor, said this is a John Wayne state, not a Jane Fonda


Are there still states of the middle?  Is this one of them? 

SMERCONISH:  I think—yes and yes.  I mean I believe those polls,

Gallup and “USA Today” most recently they say 40 percent of the country

identify themselves as being independent and not bound to either -- 

MATTHEWS:  Does that mean in the middle? 

SMERCONISH:  I think it means in the middle but, unfortunately, there

is a lack of passion in the middle.  The passion exists at the polar

extremes.  People turn on television, they turn on talk radio and they only

hear from those extremes.  There‘s just not enough passion -- 

MATTHEWS:  I think I‘m somewhere near the middle but that‘s my


MITCHELL:  You‘re going to learn that because Pat Toomey is going to

be the Republican nominee.  We know that already.  And so we‘re going to

see -- 

MATTHEWS:  And so we‘ll see whether the right-wing is going to stay

like this. 

MITCHELL:  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, your bottom line tonight, the headline tomorrow

morning in your radio show? 

SMERCONISH:  Specter ekes out a victory. 

MATTHEWS:  Your headline tomorrow with NBC News? 

MITCHELL:  I‘m not going to call it yet. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I think that‘s smarter than you.  Anyway, thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  Andrea Mitchell, thank you.  You‘re fighting your heart


Michael Smerconish‘s close personal friend of Arlen Specter up again,

and my friend, Andrea Mitchell who‘s covered politics here since the glory

days of Frank Rizzo.  Anyway, he‘s Frank, he‘s Rizzo. 

Anyway, Rand Paul, the big news tonight out of—the Associated Press

Rand Paul is the winner.  He‘s the Republican Senate primary winner in

Kentucky and a very strong position to win the general, by the way.  He‘s

defeated the candidate of the Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell,

Trey Grayson.  So bad night for city hall in Louisville. 

We‘re waiting for the winner here tonight in the Democratic fight for

the Senate here.  We‘re going to be here all night with everybody. 

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

Blumenthal who did I think the unspeakable by claiming he‘d fought in

Vietnam when he never did. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL live from Philadelphia on primary night. 

Only in MSNBC. 


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

unspeakable.  Whenever I meet a guy my age who served in Vietnam I ask them

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 is 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, face the enemy

by day and night in the heat of Indochina. 

There were 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 that 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 learn that the attorney general of Connecticut, a man with

the power to indict, has made such a claim.  That he was in the Vietnam War

when he never was.  Never was.  He said he misspoke. 

But how much times did he have it written in the paper that he served? 

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

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


And he left the impression to that other men, that other America.  He

let them think that he deserved such honor when he knew every instant that

he did not. 

If he stays in this 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


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.  Polls are closing in Pennsylvania.  I‘ll

have live reports from Philadelphia throughout the night.  And join me at

midnight Eastern as we wrap it up with the results tonight. 





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