updated 5/20/2010 9:29:33 AM ET 2010-05-20T13:29:33

Guests: Jack Conway, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris, Rob Simmons, Michael

Brune, Joan Walsh

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  About last night.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington.  Leading off

tonight: Cannons on the left, cannons on the right, volleyed and

thundered!  One of the biggest stories of this anti-incumbent political

season is the death of the big political machines.  The old liberal

machine in Massachusetts couldn‘t save Martha Coakley.  Kay Bailey

Hutchison, Jon Corzine, Alan Mollahan, Robert Bennett, Trey Grayson, and

biggest of all, Arlen Specter have all been dumped despite the political

apparatus that backed them.  At the top of the show tonight, what last

night tells us about what‘s coming in November.

Also, Democrats are smiling a bit today because they think last

night may have given them a road map to avoid the killing fields this

fall.  Meanwhile, Republicans are trying out their “He‘s too liberal”

line of attack on the hot Democratic challengers, Sestak of Pennsylvania

and Halter of Arkansas.  We‘ll look at both parties‘ strategy for the


Plus, believe it or not, there are some Democrats who are still

clinging to Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the “I served in Vietnam”

pretender.  One Republican who did serve is his possible rival, former

congressman Rob Simmons (ph).  He joins us tonight. 

And it‘s hard for Rush Limbaugh to top himself, but as we reported

yesterday, he‘s now blaming environmentalists for the BP disaster down

in the Gulf of Mexico.  We‘re going to take—take on that one tonight. 

He‘s unbelievable, Rushbo.  Anyway, we‘re inviting any Republican, once

again, who wants to come on HARDBALL and say that Rush is wrong, that he

is not, in fact, the intellectual leader of the Republican Party.  Any


And “Let Me Finish” tonight with some sad and sobering reminders

about the war in Afghanistan and the costs.

We start with the lessons of last night‘s primaries.  MSNBC News

political director Chuck Todd is our chief White House correspondent,

and he starts off the program.  Chuck, last night—I‘m just looking at

these numbers in Pennsylvania, just to look at a little capsule of what

happened there.  In the Philadelphia region, no big break for Specter—

47 for Sestak, 53 for Specter.  And that was his crowning powerhouse. 


is, yes.

MATTHEWS:  It just didn‘t do much.  That little thing down in...

TODD:  The little thing...


TODD:  ... Scranton.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, that‘s my Pennsylvania, that part I lived in

down there.

TODD:  Oh!

MATTHEWS:  That‘s where most us lived down there.  We‘d never leave

the city.  And then the rest of the state was overwhelmingly for Sestak,

something like 65 counties for him.  And then you had the total, 54-46. 

What struck me looking at the map in “The Philadelphia Inquirer” this

morning is this dramatic map we just saw.  It was an the air game. 

There was a thought about Arlen Specter.  He switched parties.  He never

took.  It was tissue rejection right across the state.

TODD:  Well, it was, and it was because he was—it‘s all—all -

he encapsulated all this anger that you hear on both sides right now

with Washington, with his own words, when, you know, he said why he

switched parties.  You know, it was political expediency and it was sort

of—so it was just—he was trying to do something in the exact wrong

ear (ph).

Party switchers in general do have a tough time.  There‘s—

there‘s a long list of them that haven‘t won reelection.  You know, we

know a few them that have, but there‘s a long list that haven‘t won

reelection, and he now joins that.  He‘s now probably the biggest name

on that list of party switchers who ended up immediately losing. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think—I mean, you‘re an expert on

politics.  Why do you think people don‘t like party switchers, per se? 

TODD:  Well, I think it gets to this sense of right now,

particularly this authenticity issue—you know, you‘re bringing up the

Blumenthal story and why there‘s a whole bunch of Democrats wringing

their hands about Blumenthal.  Well, because of all years to try to—

to try to fix a flaw as a candidate, a character flaw as a candidate,

the issue of honesty and authenticity—this is the absolute toughest

year to overcome some sort of chink in your armor on this idea that you

aren‘t who you say you are.

So here was an Arlen Specter who for 29 years said that he was one

guy, and then said, Well, boy they threw me out, and didn‘t even—you

know, didn‘t even pretend.  And look, I remember I was impressed with

fact that at the time of his party switch, he didn‘t pretend that it was

some sort of, Oh, the Republican Party pushed me out, or da-da-da.  No. 

He said, Hey, I want to win, and I thought my only shot at winning—

because I can‘t do it as a Republican—my only shot of doing it is as

a Democrat.  So he was honest about it.

But maybe he got too cute at the end.  Maybe he should have been

even more—you know, at this point, the voter wants to have—know it

all, get it all out there.  And that‘s why there‘s something about... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe the truth just was unacceptable.  Maybe the

reason he switched...

TODD:  And that‘s possible, as well.

MATTHEWS:  ... was he wanted to survive and keep the Senate seat,

and that was the truth that came out and there was no BSing it.  There‘s

just no way.

TODD:  And that‘s what it was.  And there was...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about this other issue across the country

because this country‘s got bigger problems than the character flaws of a

couple politicians.  It looks to me like if you had to say there was one

big story last night is, Don‘t tell me how to vote, that the big shots,

whether it‘s Mitch McConnell out there in Kentucky or it‘s Blanche

Lincoln and the Clintons down there in  Arkansas...

TODD:  Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS:  ... the big shots in Pennsylvania...

TODD:  You know, the—look, Barack Obama had a TV ad for

Pennsylvania, as well as Ed Rendell.  No, I think you‘re right.  They‘re

saying, Hey, you know, I‘ll make this decision.  And in many ways, it‘s

now a kiss of death.

You know, I remember one of the things a Republican said to me, a

Washington Republican said to me right after the Scott Brown victory,

and they said, You know one of our secrets of success?  We didn‘t give

him money.  Everybody says, Well, why didn‘t you get involved?  Because

we were afraid he would get tarnished with Washington. 

Well, what happened to Trey Grayson?  I mean, as somebody joked on

my Twitter feed, they said his first name was no longer Trey, it was

Establishment Candidate Trey Grayson.  His first name had become almost

establishment when you saw write-ups about the guy.  So... 

MATTHEWS:  I think President Obama has been tainted by his contact

with Specter.  I think—that was the first sign to me of, he‘s just

like a lot of other politicians.  He cuts deals to further his power. 

And when he came in and said, I‘ll take Arlen Specter as a Democrat

because I get one more vote out of him and I don‘t care what his

motivation is, I don‘t care how desperate he is to leave his political

party, it‘s good for us, let‘s cut the deal...

TODD:  Well, look, this is a lesson (INAUDIBLE) there‘s a whole

bunch of change agents are going to come to Washington after November,

that are going to win, whether it‘s a Rand Paul, whether it‘s a Sestak

or a Toomey that comes out of Pennsylvania or some other places.  That‘s

a—look, Obama was the change agent, right?  In his Democrat primary,

you know, he was the change agent.  And we were always wondering, you

know, How is he going to be able to balance being the outsider but then

also have to be the leader of his party?

And look, the leader of the Democratic Party, when a 30-year

incumbent Republican senator from a key state says they want to be a

member of your party and it‘s going to give you the 60th vote, you‘re an

idiot if you don‘t say yes.  So—and in many cases, Specter did


MATTHEWS:  Yes, but he made all kinds of deals.  It wasn‘t—you

could tell there was a deal struck there.  He wasn‘t completely clean

about this in saying, OK, join my party, if you want to.  No, you can

join my party and I‘ll give you the following things.

TODD:  And he did...


MATTHEWS:  ... I‘ll give you the endorsement.  I‘ll support you.

TODD:  He didn‘t—wait a minute.

MATTHEWS:  No, he said...

TODD:  They didn‘t give him the seniority.

MATTHEWS:  ... I‘ll support you for reelection.  That‘s different

than just accepting a guy into a party.

TODD:  Sure, but didn‘t give him the seniority on that front,


MATTHEWS:  You should have heard Arlen on this show the last couple

times he‘s been on.

TODD:  He claimed it...

MATTHEWS:  He swears he was given a promise of full seniority twice


TODD:  What committee—what committee was he chairman of?

MATTHEWS:  Well, he was going be—he was going to get...

TODD:  He had nothing.

MATTHEWS:  ... the Judiciary.

TODD:  They had given him nothing.


TODD:  He claimed he was going to get a lot of stuff.  I mean, we -

you know, I...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just telling you, he looked me in the eye and told

me twice that Harry Reid promised him all this stuff.  If he was not

telling the truth, I can‘t help you.  Chuck Todd...

TODD:  But...

MATTHEWS:  I can only go by what...

TODD:  I know, but...

MATTHEWS:  ... the people tell me at this table.

TODD:  But I‘ll say this...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just kidding.


TODD:  One thing I want to—you talk about the political machine. 

One other point I want to make.  We now have seen, I think, three

incumbent senators lose primaries.  Kay Bailey Hutchison lost the

gubernatorial primary.  Bob Bennett couldn‘t even get on his ballot to

lose the primary...

MATTHEWS:  Alan Mollahan lost.

TODD:  Right.  We‘re going to have Blanche Lincoln‘s probably not

going to survive this runoff...

MATTHEWS:  Why do you say that?

TODD:  The law of sort of the physics of run-off politics... 

MATTHEWS:  Even though Morrison, the third candidate down there, is

to her right?

TODD:  But here‘s the thing.  Fifteen percent of the Democratic

electorate showed up to the polls to vote “none of the above.”  They

knew that guy had no chance.  But they voted—they showed up to vote

“none the above.”  Normally, we say there‘s apathy.  No, no, no, no, no. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re betting—you‘re betting...

TODD:  They‘re angry.

MATTHEWS:  ... on Halter.

TODD:  They‘re angry.  And I‘ll tell you, I would be shocked if

those votes somehow said, oh, no, no, no, no.  We want status quo again. 

We want her.  That‘s going to be a tough thing for (INAUDIBLE) My


MATTHEWS:  So your (INAUDIBLE) is now don‘t bet on the incumbents.

TODD:  My point is this...

MATTHEWS:  On any...


TODD:  I wouldn‘t bet on an incumbent.  But my point is this.  We

saw this—the last time we saw this many Senate incumbents lose

primaries was 1980.  And at the beginning of ‘80, there was a lot of

tumult for both parties.  But by November, there was one party that paid

the price.  Democrats can be relieved by what happened last night, but

they shouldn‘t assume they‘re out of woods.

MATTHEWS:  Outside chance they can lose the House and the Senate

this November?

TODD:  Still is.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thanks.

TODD:  There still is.

MATTHEWS:  Chuck Todd, thank you.

TODD:  All right.

MATTHEWS:  Attorney General Jack Conway is the Democratic nominee

for Senate in Kentucky.  He‘ll face Republican Rand Paul in November. 

Congratulations, Governor.  You won that tough fight from Mongiardo. 

Let me ask you this.  What do you got on—to put it bluntly, you must

have your notion of beating Rand Paul.  What‘s your best case, that he‘s

outside the mainstream, that he‘s too flaky, too tea party, whatever? 

What would you say?


just look at the statements he‘s made here in the last few weeks, Chris. 

He‘s stated that he would like to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

He said that he would like to repeal the Americans With Disabilities Act

and let the private marketplace take care of it.  In a state like

Kentucky, he wants to do away with the Department of Agriculture, wants

to do away with the Department of Education.

That‘s not what Kentuckians want.  I mean, Kentuckians are angry,

like the rest country.  They have fear.  They have anxiety.  They‘re

concerned about jobs.  But I‘m frustrated, too, Chris, and I think the

question, the central question here is, How do we use that passion?  How

do we use that anger?  Do we use it to heat the building or do we use it

to burn the building down?

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, you just said something so incredible to

me, having grown up during it.  You‘re saying that this fellow running

for Senate—from Kentucky, the United States Senate, wants to repeal

the Civil Rights Act which says you can‘t deny—you can‘t deny an

African-American a chance to use your bathroom at a gas station.  You

can‘t deny them the right to sit at your lunch table, your lunch

counter.  You‘re saying he wants to get rid of that law and let people

be discriminatory again?

CONWAY:  He made a statement in his editorial board interview with

“The Louisville Courier-Journal,” Chris, said that we don‘t need a Civil

Rights Act, that the commerce clause was interpreted too broadly and

that the private marketplace could take care of the Civil Rights needs

of this nation.  He said something to that effect.  It‘s on—it‘s on a

streaming video at “The Louisville Courier-Journal.”

And Kentucky‘s come a long way.  We have people who have bled and

fought for the right to sit at lunch counters, for example, and that‘s

not going to be acceptable in a place like Kentucky.  And it‘s not going

to be acceptable across the country.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the president of the United States,

Barack Obama.  Is he a help to you in this coming November election? 

CONWAY:  Well, I think I‘m going to have to win this election.  I

don‘t think Barack Obama‘s going to—going to be able on win in

election in Kentucky.  I understand that Rand Paul is going to—he‘s

going to taunt and he‘s going to—he‘s going to ask how many times

Obama‘s coming in.  I think you welcome the president of the United

States from either party anytime he wants to come to your state.  If you

disagree with, him you tell him that.  But I‘m going to have to go out

and win this election, and I‘m going to be an independent Kentucky

Democrat, if I get elected.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s this say about the power of your state?  I was

trying to figure out Kentucky.  It‘s always an interesting state.  I

think it‘s a bit more Republican than Democrat historically, at least

the last 50 years.  But—but what‘s this whole crazy fight in the

Republican Party in your state, where Mitch McConnell dumps Jim Bunning,

and then the people who vote on the Republicans‘ side, who will vote in

your election, they dumped Trey Grayson.  All this dumping going on. 

They‘re getting rid of everybody.

CONWAY:  Yes, well...

MATTHEWS:  They don‘t like Mitch McConnell much, either,

apparently.  They like Trey—they like the guy you‘re running against

more than they like Mitch McConnell, according to the polling last


CONWAY:  Kentuckians are fiercely independent.  You know,

Kentucky‘s traditionally been a Democrat state.  It still enjoys almost

a 2-to-1 advantage in registration, Democrats over Republicans.  They‘re

just—the conservative Democrats, particularly in the western part of

the state that Mitch McConnell helped engineer a change, where they‘re

voting Republican in federal elections.  The majority of our state

officeholders are still Democratic.


CONWAY:  So I think—I think—I think you have a lot of

Republicans that may be recently registered or recently switched, or

just didn‘t want to be told how to vote by Mitch McConnell.  Mitch

McConnell‘s been in Washington now since—since 1984.  He is the

epitome of the establishment.  And I just don‘t think that his

endorsement meant much in this particular race.

And then you have the phenomenon of Sarah Palin coming in and

endorsing my opponent in the general, and then you had Jim Bunning

sticking it to Mitch McConnell.  So they‘ve got a lot of healing to do

over on the other side of aisle.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I grew up when there were moderate Republicans

or centrist Republicans in your state, and now the tea party‘s taking—

I think of Thruston Morton.  I used to love Thruston Morton growing up. 

He was a real personality.  You just liked him, no matter what his

politics were.

CONWAY:  And people like...

MATTHEWS:  And John Sherman...

CONWAY:  ... Marlo Cook (ph), too.

MATTHEWS:  And John Sherman Cooper.  Are they all gone and dead? 

Has that Republican Party just been swamped now by the tea partiers? 

CONWAY:  I think so.  I think that the idea of the liberal to

moderate Republican is long gone, for the most part, in places like—

in Kentucky.  A lot of business establishment—the business

Republicans, as I call them, in the cities consider themselves now to be

independents or vote both ways.


CONWAY:  So I think it‘s changed considerably.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, you‘ve got a good argument there against

I didn‘t know that about Rand Paul.  I now know it.  If he‘s against

Civil Rights bill and wants to get rid of it, he‘s not on my list of

favorites for my Christmas card this year.

Anyway, thank you, Jack Conway.  Congratulations on winning the

nomination to fight Rand Paul.  It‘s going to be one of the national

races we watch night after night here.  Thank you so much.  And

congratulations again.  Coming up...

CONWAY:  Good to be with you again, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ... our strategists on what it will take to beat the tea

party in Kentucky and how Republicans will now try to run against Joe

Sestak up in Pennsylvania.

But in one minute, why Senator Blanche Lincoln could be the next

incumbent to go.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Wow, Arlen Specter‘s the third big-time incumbent in 10

days to go down to defeat.  Could Blanche Lincoln be the fourth? 

Senator Lincoln‘s in a runoff with Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, and

the numbers don‘t look too good for her.  She took 44 percent of vote

last night to Halter‘s 43 -- that‘s one vote difference, with 13 percent

going to a third candidate.  And those people who voted for that third

candidate could go for Lincoln based on ideology or they could vote

against Lincoln, the incumbent, like so many of others have done so far

this year.  We‘ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Is “incumbent” just a dirty

word in this country?  Well, obviously, it is.  Which party can take a

harder hit last night and continue, and who‘s feeling better today about


Let‘s bring the strategists.  Steve McMahon is a Democratic

strategist and Todd Harris is a Republican strategist.  Todd, you‘re not

here.  I‘ll give you the away game opportunity.  Which party took a

bigger lickin‘ last night?  Come on.  Be honest.



HARRIS:  I don‘t think that it was even a party thing.  It‘s—if

you are running for office and you‘re viewed as someone who‘s going to

come to Washington and rubber stamp what‘s going on in Washington, you

are in deep trouble this election cycle.  And as it happens, you know,

obviously, the Democrats control all the levers of power, and because of

that, I think that they are in real, real deep trouble.

If you are—if you‘re running for office saying you want to

continue President Obama‘s spending policies, his growth of government

policies, cap-and-trade you are in real trouble.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s that city behind you, by the way?  I‘m curious

about the skyline behind you.  It‘s very impressive.

HARRIS:  I‘m in Miami.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.

HARRIS:  Down here with Marco.

MATTHEWS:  He makes a good—he makes a good point mathematically. 

There are more Democratic incumbents.  If it‘s an anti-incumbent year,

the Democrats have more exposure.  They can take a bigger hit. 

MCMAHON:  He‘s right.  He‘s right that there are more Democratic

incumbents.  But the bellwether last night was Pennsylvania 12, where

the Democrat in what looked like...

MATTHEWS:  The congressional seat held by Jack Murtha. 

MCMAHON:  The congressional seat held by Jack Murtha.  Looked like

it was going to be nip and tuck, and the Democrat won it going away. 

That was the only general election on the ballot last night.  And I

think Todd is in denial right now, frankly, because if you look at

what‘s going on in the Republican Party...


MCMAHON:  ... you‘ve got the tea party on the far right running

people, moderate Republicans...


MCMAHON:  ... out of the party.



HARRIS:  Let me make a quick point about Pennsylvania 12.  If that

really is the bellwether, Steve, you guys are in deep trouble because

your candidate ran against Barack Obama the entire time, especially

against the Obama health care plan.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, OK, let me...


MATTHEWS:  I want to go right now to Todd.  Todd, how do you beat a

real hot-ticket maverick like Joe Sestak, who‘s just come off a big

victory against (INAUDIBLE) establishment?  He‘s beaten the president,

the vice president.  He‘s beaten the governor, the mayor of Philadelphia

and the political machines and all the labor unions.  You can‘t tag him

as an incumbent, can you?

HARRIS:  Well, he was certainly a maverick in the world of

Pennsylvania Democratic politics, but in Washington, he‘s a rubber stamp

for Nancy Pelosi.


HARRIS:  This guy votes 98 percent of the time with Nancy Pelosi. 

This is a guy who said the only problem with the stimulus plan is that

we didn‘t spend enough money.  So I don‘t think in this environment,

Pennsylvanians are going to be looking for someone who‘s going to rubber

stamp the Obama agenda.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  Pelosi was the target, by the way...


MATTHEWS:  ... in the 12th in Pennsylvania.  It didn‘t work. 

MCMAHON:  It didn‘t work, and it‘s not going to work in November,

either.  Todd, Sestak was recruited to run for Congress precisely

because he was the kind of moderate independent Democrat that can do

well with independent voters.  Now, the Republicans have nominated

somebody who‘s a Club for Growth conservative Republican, the kind of

person, frankly, that‘s running moderates like Arlen Specter out of the

party.  If you think that‘s recipe for electoral success in a blue state

like Pennsylvania, then I think that‘s delightful.

HARRIS:  Well, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party

said, if Joe Sestak wins the nomination, it would be—and I‘m quoting

here—cataclysmic for Democratic chances this November. 


MATTHEWS:  He will be changing those remarks. 


HARRIS:  I am sure he will be. 



MCMAHON:  Yes, he will revise and extend those remarks very, very


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Todd.  I know I‘m pushing for perfection

and honesty here.  Perhaps that‘s too much, but how do you beat a guy

with a 31-year-record of military service to the country, when your

candidate, Pat Toomey, has no military service?  He‘s a Club For Growth,

you know, intellectual.  

How do you challenge a guy with 31 years?  I think one of the

things Sestak had going for him, he put his 30 years of military up

against Arlen‘s 30 years of politics, and that‘s not even a contest. 

HARRIS:  Well, obviously, Sestak‘s military record is something to

be admired and something to be praised.  But that doesn‘t mean, when he

goes to Washington...

MCMAHON:  However, he says...

HARRIS:  Well, look, just because you were an admiral in the Navy

doesn‘t mean that you‘re going to Washington and take on the Obama


And that‘s what this election is going to be about.  Who is willing

to fight the Obama agenda? 


MCMAHON:  Why would you suggest that Sestak owes a thing to Barack

Obama, after Barack Obama dissed him and supported his opponent?  This

is the most liberating thing for—for Joe Sestak...


MATTHEWS:  OK, that‘s the question.  You have got the question. 

What‘s the answer?  He is an independent.  He‘s taken on the Barack

Obama issue.  Can you beat a guy who‘s already beaten Obama, Todd


HARRIS:  Look, if the White House—those guys are pretty smart. 

If they thought that Joe Sestak was going to be the strongest nominee

against Pat Toomey, you know what?  They would have backed him a long

time ago.  The fact is, the White House...

MCMAHON:  They had a political obligation.

HARRIS:  ... the White House and the Democratic Party...

MATTHEWS:  I love this.  I love this. 


HARRIS:  ... did everything they could to defeat Joe Sestak. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I have got a great question for you.  I have got a

great question for you.  I have been very nice to you for the last five

minutes.  I‘m changing now.  I‘m changing. 


MATTHEWS:  How do you beat a wild—wild candidate with tremendous

pizzazz, nationwide pizzazz, like Rand Paul, who beat the establishment,

beat the incumbent, basically, the incumbent in Kentucky, beat Mitch

McConnell‘s name—main man, and came out with like a 2-to-1 victory

out there, and looks like he‘s not afraid of anybody?  How do you make

him into the bad guy in this atmosphere? 

MCMAHON:  Well, I think that you just saw what‘s going to happen to

him very, very quickly. 

You saw the Democratic nominee just on your show a few minutes ago

talking about some of the extreme positions he‘s taken.  I know Kentucky

is a state that—that—I know Kentucky is a state with a mixed

history on racial matters.  But the fact that this candidate, Rand Paul,

said recently that he thought the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be

repealed suggests that his views are outside of the mainstream, that the

Americans With Disabilities Act should be repealed, that the Department

of Agriculture in a state like Kentucky should be repealed, I don‘t

think that‘s going to play very well with most voters. 

And I don‘t think that most voters know that.  They‘re going to be

finding that out very shortly.

MATTHEWS:  Todd, I didn‘t know that.  I learned it tonight.  It

disturbs me.  Can you defend a candidate who wants to get rid of the

Civil Rights Act?

HARRIS:  Well, look, just because the Democratic nominee says that,

that‘s the first I have heard of it.  As far as I‘m...

MCMAHON:  Go to the “Louisville Courier” Web site, and it‘s

streaming there, apparently. 

HARRIS:  Well, what this—what the election in Kentucky is going

to be about is exactly what Rand Paul has been talking about, which is

creating jobs for Kentuckians, cutting spending in Washington, and

reining in the size and scope of the federal government.  This is a

state that Barack Obama, you know, carried—or lost.  He got 41

percent of the vote in 2008. 

I think for Conway to be running as a Obama Republican—or an

Obama Democrat, it‘s going to be very tough for him. 

MCMAHON:  I don‘t think that... 


MATTHEWS:  But, you know, most Republicans back in ‘64 in the U.S. 

Senate, which is the job he‘s running for, voted for the Civil Rights

Act.  You know that, don‘t you? 

HARRIS:  Look, it...

MATTHEWS:  The Republican Party in those states was very pro-civil

rights, before the—sort of the right-wing turned the party.  So, you

would support the civil rights bill, wouldn‘t you, Todd? 

HARRIS:  Yes.  Of course I support the civil rights bill.  And I

have no idea what Rand Paul has said about it.

But, you know, for anyone to suggest somehow that he‘s a racist I

think is just absurd. 

MATTHEWS:  No, just that he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act. 


MCMAHON:  That‘s right.  He just wants to repeal the Civil Rights

Act.  He may or may not be a racist.

MATTHEWS:  That may be enough.  That may be enough for some people

to make certain assumptions.  But I wouldn‘t make that.  But I do think

he may have a problem here.

But we will continue to follow this one.  If this guy is for

getting rid of the Civil Rights Act, he will either have to change his

position or give up this election, my guess. 

Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon.

Todd, you have done a great, masterful job, both of you, after a

night where all the experts were pretty much wrong. 


MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Think how Rand Paul‘s going to play down the

Tea Party for the general election?  Wait until you catch this.  This

guy‘s riding on tea.  He‘s coming in on tea bags next on the “Sideshow.” 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


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

First up: border patrol.  Remember Steve King of Iowa?  He‘s the

Republican congressman who said in 2008 that terrorists would be—

quote—“dancing in the streets” if we elected Barack Obama our


Well, Congressman King has just gone after the president‘s aunt who

came here from Kenya on a visa 10 years ago, and has been granted

asylum.  In a statement out today, the congressman criticized her for

overstaying her visa, writing—quote—“The American people deserve

to know if Ms.  Onyango was objectively granted asylum.  No one is above

the rule of law, and we should not be granting an individual amnesty

based solely on that person‘s relationship to public figures.” 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Ms. Onyango was actually—she argued, through

her lawyer, that if she returns to Kenya, she could face danger because

of her relationship to our president.  The White House says that the

president and his aunt had no contact over the matter. 

Next:  Tea Party candidate Rand Paul makes the rounds.  On “Good

Morning America,” Robin Roberts pressed the would-be Kentucky senator

about the site of his victory rally. 



victory last night was, you know, people saying that they‘re tired of

how Washington is, they‘re tired of how the big politics in that. 

Some people find it a bit ironic that your victory party last night

was at a private country club in Kentucky.  Doesn‘t that kind of send a

mixed message there?


one time, people used to think of golf and golf courses and golf clubs

as being exclusive.  But I think, in recent years, now, you see a lot

people playing golf. 


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  He then said something about Tiger Woods having

changed the image of country clubs.  I don‘t think anyone surprised that

country club people are rooting for the Tea Party types.  The Tea

Party‘s not about poor people, after all.  It‘s about the middle class,

including, I assume, a lot of better-off middle class.

People who make more, and therefore pay a higher percentage in

income taxes are, seems to me, likely among the loudest tax-haters. 

Anyway, speaking of Rand Paul, it‘s time for the “Big Number”


Last night, during that victory speech, Mr. Paul made sure to thank

the movement that got him there, the Tea Party. 


PAUL:  I have a message, a message from the Tea Party.


PAUL:  The Tea Party movement...


PAUL:  ... is about saving the country. 

This Tea Party...


PAUL:  ... movement...


PAUL:  The Tea Party message is...


PAUL:  The Tea Party.


PAUL:  The Tea Party. 


PAUL:  The Tea Party.


PAUL:  The Tea Party message.


PAUL:  The Tea Party movement is huge. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, that Tea Party bell was hours, by the way.  There

it is, nine mentions of the Tea Party.  By the way, Rand Paul mentioned

Kentucky during that speech only once.  I guess this is one case where

politics isn‘t local—nine Tea Party mentions by the winner, tonight‘s

“dance with the one that brung you” “Big Number.” 

Up next:  Can Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate Dick

Blumenthal survive after lying about saying he served in Vietnam, when

he didn‘t? 

Rob Simmons, one of the Republicans running against Blumenthal and

a Vietnam veteran himself, joins us next on HARDBALL. 

You‘re watching it, only on MSNBC.  



“Market Wrap.”

Another day, another decline, this time on Germany‘s move to ban a

technique known as naked short-selling, where you sell assets you don‘t

have possession of.  The Dow Jones industrials slid 66 points, the S&P

500 falling more than five points.  The Nasdaq lost nearly 19 points. 

A big spike in volatility today.  Investors are still trying to

figure out what lies ahead for the euro.  Germany‘s ban on naked short-

selling was aimed at reining in some of that volatility, but Wall

Street, as always, uncomfortable with any new regulation. 

And speaking of regulation, Senate Democrats today failed to reach

a 60-vote majority on ending debate on a sweeping overhaul of the

financial system.  That leaves the door open for more negotiations.  And

that was seen as good news for banks and credit card companies, who were

among the day‘s few winners, Visa, and Capital One, J.P. Morgan, Bank of

America all finishing in the green, despite the overall market decline. 

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


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Well, lying about military service is an offense that has ended

political careers.  Should it end Connecticut Attorney General Richard

Blumenthal‘s run for the Senate? 

There‘s video evidence of his lie and newspaper articles touting

his service in Vietnam that went uncorrected by him over the years. 

Here‘s Blumenthal speaking to veterans in March of 2008. 



learned something very important since the days that I served in

Vietnam.  And you exemplify it.


MATTHEWS:  But he didn‘t serve in Vietnam.  And newspaper articles,

all of which went uncorrected by him, describe him as having served in


For example, a “New Haven Register” article about Blumenthal

swearing in the new postmaster general describes him as a veteran of the

Vietnam War.  Another “New Haven Register” article about his send off

for local troops going to Afghanistan said Blumenthal—quote—“has

served in the Marines in Vietnam.”

An article in “The Connecticut Post” about Memorial Day

celebrations described Mr. Blumenthal as a Vietnam veteran. 

Rob Simmons is a Republican running for the Senate in Connecticut. 

He did serve in Vietnam, and he says Richard Blumenthal should


What do you make—well, let me ask you, what do you think he

should do or just get out of way?  Is he just unfit for the Senate or

any other public office at this point? 


character issue, and the voters are going to have to decide—his

party‘s going to have to decide this weekend at the convention.  If

there‘s a primary, his party is going to have to decide, and, in the

general election, the voters are going to have to decide. 

But the—but the point is pretty clear.  You can be a Vietnam-era

veteran.  I was a Vietnam-era veteran.  The Vietnam era went for about

12 years.  You can be a Vietnam-era veteran and serve in Vietnam or not

serve in Vietnam. 

Now, I served in Vietnam for 20 months or so with the U.S. Army and

another 20 months with the Central Intelligence Agency.  So, I‘m a

Vietnam-era veteran, but I actually served in Vietnam.  He did not.  But

he said he did.  And that‘s wrong.  And he should apologize for that. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of this?  There‘s two possibilities. 

He‘s just a liar and he said something that he knew wasn‘t true.  He‘s a

high-I.Q. guy with his background.  You can‘t assume he is mentally

deficient.  He knew what he was saying.  He chose to say it.  It‘s not

slipping up by mispronouncing somebody‘s name or getting a fact wrong. 

He knew it was wrong.  He knew he didn‘t serve, and yet he said so. 

There‘s only two logical possibilities.  Maybe somebody will think

of another.  One, he‘s a liar and said so to build up his resume, like

some people who do who have real character problems, or he‘s got a

mental problem of some different kind or psychological disorder we‘re

not familiar with. 

What‘s your make?

SIMMONS:  Well, I‘m not a psychoanalyst or a psychiatrist.  He said

he misspoke.  Now, this is a guy that went to the...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t know what that means. 

SIMMONS:  I—you go to the best law school in America, you serve

for 20 years as the attorney general of the state of Connecticut, you

choose your words very carefully. 

I think he misled.  He didn‘t misspeak.  He misled.  He misled

people, because there was a pattern that occurred over a period of time,

a period of years, where he apparently made these misstatements or he

misled on numerous occasions. 

For that, he owes an apology to the veterans who served in Vietnam

and to the families of those who never came back. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it seems to me—just check me on this,

Congressman, but it seems to me, if you meet somebody who has served in

Vietnam and was actually in the fighting, you often ask them what it was

like or you say, “Were you in it?” and they will tell you yes or no and

they will nod their head in a somber way, and then you thank them for

that particular service.

But to be able to have somebody walk around and have people give

them that kind of respect and that kind of devotion, really, when it‘s

unwarranted, is unimaginable to me personally. 

Is it unimaginable to you, that you would let someone say thank you

for your service in Vietnam, if you hadn‘t had that service in Vietnam? 


SIMMONS:  When I—when I meet veterans and they say they‘re

Vietnam veterans, I say, welcome home. 

That‘s what we do.  I say, welcome home.  And, frequently—not

always, but, sometimes, they will say, well, I was just a Vietnam-era

veteran.  I was at Guantanamo or I was in Germany or I was in some other


You know, there‘s a special bond among those who served.  Some of

those who served in Vietnam served in combat units.  Others, like myself

served, in headquarters units or with MACV, on the MACV teams. 

But there‘s a special bond of those of us who served over there. 

And I think he was encroaching on that bond for whatever reason.  And,

for that, he needs to apologize. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the—what you want him to do now. 

Now, it seems to me, personally, I think that he ought to get out

of politics for a while and pay his price for this, and maybe run later. 

It‘s one of those things that you just can‘t really deal with, because

it has to do with your character.

But you say you—are you happy if he simply issued a statement of

I don‘t like political apologies, because they‘re all done under

duress, and they simply mean:  Somebody wants me to say certain words. 

I will say those words.  They mean nothing to me.  I got caught.  You

caught me, so I say the words. It means like—it‘s almost like being a

P.O.W. in saying things that you don‘t believe. 

Why would you want him to apologize if you don‘t think that he did

this by accident?  If he did this on purpose, do you really think that

an apology is sufficient to deal with this situation, sir? 

SIMMONS:  I think that there‘s probably more to be learned about

this case.  Just in the day or so that the case has been in the press, I

personally have been approached by people who have heard things that

they claim he has said.  So I think there‘s going to be more to this

case.  But at the very least, at the very least, he should not show up

at a VFW post—that‘s a Veteran of Foreign Wars post—surrounded by

a cheerleading crowd and say he misspoke. 

He didn‘t misspoke.  He misled.  And apology would begin to diffuse

the issue from him.  I think it‘s foolish for him to pursue this.  He

can‘t win this battle.  And either he‘ll drop out of the race or his

party‘s going to abandon him.  So if it was me, and I was in that

situation, I‘d apologize immediately.  At least that would make some of

the veterans feel better. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, by the way, thank you for your service in Vietnam. 

SIMMONS:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  And thank you Congressman Rob Simmons for coming on this


Up next, Rush Limbaugh wants the Sierra Club to pay for the cost of

the oil spill down into the Gulf.  Really?  We‘re going to talk to the

director of the Sierra Club ahead.  But in one minute, the biggest loser

last night wasn‘t even on the ballot.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  One big loser from last night, Senate Republican Leader

Mitch McConnell.  Not only did McConnell‘s hand-picked candidate, Trey

Grayson, get beaten badly, by nearly two to one, by Rand Paul, but he‘s

now zero for three in endorsements this cycle.  Kay Bailey Hutchison in

Texas, Utah‘s Robert Bennett and now Trey Grayson have all lost, despite

being endorsed by McConnell, the big shot Republican.  More proof this

election may shape up to be about dumping the insiders, even those—

perhaps especially those who have the endorsements of the big shots. 

HARDBALL returns after this.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  Oil continues to gush from that Deepwater

Horizon disaster, despite efforts to siphon off some of it through a

pipe.  A tide of sludge has settled on Louisiana‘s marshlands.  An ocean

current threatens to carry the oil slick around Florida and up the East

Coast, through the Loop Current.  And who does Rush Limbaugh want to pay

for all of this catastrophe?  He wants the Sierra Club.  Let‘s listen. 


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  When do we ask the Sierra

Club to pick up the tab for this leak?  Everybody‘s focused on BP and

Halliburton and Transocean.  Well, let me connect the dots here for you. 

The greeniacs have been drive our oil producers off the land, from

offshore to way offshore, to way, way, way out there offshore. 

Obviously it‘s going to be a much more expensive, problematic

proposition to get oil from that depth than elsewhere. 


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Before we get to the guest, we want to again

invite any Republican who wants to come on HARDBALL and say that Rush is

wrong on anything, and he‘s not the leader of the Republican Party. 

Michael Brune is the director of the Sierra Club, and Joan Walsh is the

editor in chief of “Salon.”  Thank you both for coming on.

Let‘s all take a look at the CEO of BP, earlier this week making an

extraordinary comment about the extent of the damage caused by this



TONY HAYWARD, BP CEO:  I think the environmental impact of this

disaster is the likely to have been very, very modest.  It‘s impossible

to say, and we will mount, as part of the aftermath, a very detailed

environmental assessment as we go forward.  But everything we can see at

the moment suggests that the overall environmental impacts of this will

be very, very modest. 


MATTHEWS:  Perhaps modest over in England, but in this hemisphere

over here, the Gulf of Mexico is turning to oil.  Let me—look at that

map.  We‘re showing how it could follow the Loop Current, as it‘s

called, up the East Coast and destroy the East Coast as well. 

Let me bring on an expert before you join.  Let‘s hear from Michael

Brune.  What do you make, first of all, of the politics of this, Rush

Limbaugh, who seems to be, as of this moment still the recognized head

of the Republican party on matters everywhere?  What do you make of him

blaming you for the oil spill? 

MICHAEL BRUNE, SIERRA CLUB:  You know rush Limbaugh‘s always good

for a good belly laugh.  You know, we think that the issue here is what

BP is saying, it just shows that their recklessness doesn‘t extend—

extends well beyond their oil drilling.  I was down in the Gulf, and the

pollution that we‘re seeing there, this—the oil plume that‘s just on

the surface goes for miles and miles and miles.  And it is a disaster

through and through. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about this—about the—do you

think they‘re doing a good job?  I mean, I don‘t think that they‘re

doing anything.  But what do you think they‘re doing?  Is there

technology available, perhaps at great cost, dumping huge amounts of

cement, for example, on that site?  Isn‘t there something that we would

do we thought that there was a nuclear bomb ready to go off down there? 

Wouldn‘t we take extreme steps. 

I don‘t sense they‘re operating as if this is an extreme problem. 

They‘re sort of doing their best, I suppose.  But they‘re not doing it. 

BRUNE:  No, they‘re not doing it.  But to be fair, there are—

there are workers for BP and for others right now who are working around

the clock to try to fix this.  The reality is that you just—you can‘t

contain a mess of this size.  It‘s very difficult because it‘s never

been done before.  And that‘s why the Sierra Club has been arguing for

decades that offshore oil drilling in shallow or deep water is highly

risky, and we can‘t drill our way to energy independence.  And so we

need to be focusing on a real solution to America‘s oil addiction.  And

hopefully that will come as a result of this disaster. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, look, I‘m worried about what‘s happening and what

we‘re watching now, and not the long-term problem.  I want that fixed. 

I don‘t know why we can‘t fix it.  Joan, why can‘t we fix it?  Are they

doing it, their best? 

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I think they are doing their best.  I have

no evidence, Chris, that anybody is, you know, holding back, that

there‘s more that could be done.  And I kind of defer to Michael on this

one.  I think that they‘re trying very hard.  I think that people are

working hard. 

But it‘s too late.  And you know the really horrible thing in all

this is there‘s been evidence that there was an accident coming.  “60

Minutes” did an amazing segment on this, showing that they knew there

was some defect with the blowout preventer, and they didn‘t fix it. 

They just kept drilling deeper and deeper. 

For Rush to say that the Sierra Club wants them to drill deeper is

just preposterous.  Deeper drilling is riskier drilling.  BP pushed to

drill deeper without safety controls, and they‘re completely culpable

for this. 

MATTHEWS:  Why didn‘t they fill it with drilling mud instead of sea

water right off the bat?  Michael?

BRUNE:  I‘m sorry.  What was your question? 

MATTHEWS:  Why didn‘t they fill it with drilling mud before they

capped it?  They‘re blaming this on the BOP, the blowout preventer.  Why

didn‘t they jam all the dirt in there?  They used to do it that way. 

That‘s the recognized way to do it.  Why didn‘t they do it?  

BRUNE:  It‘s standard operating procedure.  Because BP is trying to

maximize profits from this particular operation, like they try to do

everywhere else.  They‘re cutting corners.  Now we see what the

consequences of that are. 

The problem—one of the problems—just one of the problems here

is that there‘s not effective oversight.  There‘s not an effective

regulatory mechanism.  Obama was right in saying that the relationship

between government regulators and the oil industry is far too cozy.  We

have to separate oil and state. 

There‘s no oversight on a highly risky, a very dangerous, and what

we now see as a deadly process.  It‘s a tragedy for the environment, but

it‘s a tragedy for the families of the workers who were killed. 

MATTHEWS:  My work—Joan, I have no confidence we have regulation

by the government.  I have no confidence that we have self regulation

here.  I have no confidence that they‘re going to fix this problem.  I

have only the fear that this is going to go on and on and on, and we‘re

going to destroy our East Coast.  It‘s just going to keep going.  And

the president is going to sit and watch it like he‘s a Vatican adviser. 

At some point we either move in there, bring the CDs in, bring the

Army Corps, whoever we have at our disposal, and put—I‘d like to put

all those—I‘ve said it before.  I‘d like to take those CEOs and put

them down there a mile and make them stay down there until the problem‘s

fixed.  I know that sounds a bit extreme.  But nothing seems to be

getting done here.  They‘re sitting at home chomping on their steaks and

their profits.  And this is still getting worse.  And it‘s getting worse

and worse. 

WALSH:  It‘s getting worse and worse.  And ridiculously, they‘re

pointing finger at one another, and saying it‘s not my fault, it‘s his

fault.  You know, I don‘t want to be cynical about this, Chris.  I

believe that good government oversight can happen.  And I believe that

when government pays attention, corporate America pays attention, too. 

They don‘t want people to die.  They want to make money. 

I know this sounds naive of me.  They don‘t want people to die. 

This was a horrible thing.  And I think it‘s also unfortunate that

President Obama has recently come out and said he supports oil drilling

when he knows better.  The only way to make sure this doesn‘t happen is

to really crack down on oil drilling.  It is unsafe.  It is unnecessary. 

And we‘ll see more accidents like this if we keep it up. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you, Michael, are they going to open the

cap?  Are they going to let these guys off with 75 million? 

BRUNE:  No, I can‘t imagine that would happen right now.  What we

expect we‘ll see tighter safety regulations.  There will be a much

higher cap.  What we should be seeing is executives like the BP CEO

prosecuted and thrown in jail.  This is—what‘s happening in the Gulf

is criminal, and there better be accountability. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think we should do?  The CEO—who else

should go to jail?  The board of directors?  The management?  Who? 

Somebody decided not to follow the regular procedure.  It‘s management. 

I‘m tired of hearing technology being blamed.  Management presides over

the use of technology.  Everything that‘s ever gone wrong in this

industry has gone wrong before, and they have set up protocols to deal

with it.  They didn‘t follow the protocols.  They didn‘t follow the

management procedures.  That‘s what happens when things go wrong. 

This idea this is the first time this has ever happened is crazy. 

This happens around the world.  Joan, this is a political problem for

the president.  I don‘t like his laissez-faire attitude for this.  I

don‘t like him stepping back and letting the heat go on the oil company

when the damage is done on us, not the oil company. 

WALSH:  I think he needs to step back in.  He had a few days of

sounding resolute and very much leaning on the oil companies.  But, you

know, it‘s the Republicans—I‘ve got to say here, Chris, it‘s the

Republicans who are opposed to lifting the liability cap.  After they

railed against bailouts, because Frank Luntz told them Americans don‘t

like bailouts—if it were up to the Republican party, the taxpayer

would be bailing out BP, not the other way around.

So I think they have to fight to make sure that they pay—that

they‘re responsible for paying for the cleanup.  And then they‘ve got to

fight for better regulation. 

And you‘re right.  I do want to see President Obama out more on

this issue. 

MATTHEWS:  I want to see Harry Truman in the White House right now. 

I want Harry Truman to come back and do the job.  If this was the coal

companies or something else we really depended on, the president would

intervene.  Thank you,  Michael Brune.  Get on the stick, Michael, by

the way.  You don‘t seem that excited about this.  We‘re counting on

guys like you.  Joan Walsh, thank you.

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

milestone in Afghanistan.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re at war this evening in Afghanistan.  This week,

the number of Americans killed in that theater passed 1,000.  The “New

York Times” today showed the faces of those killed just during the past

two years, which is half the number lost since the war began in 2001. 

When you look at these pages, you see the ages of these men and

women.  You learn how young they were when they gave up lives for their

country, their lives for our country.  You see the varied backgrounds of

all the states they represent.  I noticed the large number of Hispanic

names below the faces, and realized how many of them may have come from

recent immigrant families. 

But it‘s the youth, the 20-year-olds, the 19-year-olds who stun

you.  The faces seem so young.  You realize, looking over these so many

faces, again, as if you‘re just rediscovering that we are, indeed, at


Men and women are dying every day out there, especially from

improvised explosive devices, bombs that can be exploded underfoot that

take no account of courage or a soldier‘s daring or even cunning.  So

it‘s a good time, before the weekend of Memorial Day comes at us, and

when that holiday atmosphere casts too much sunshine on the day and

pushes aside the mortal sacrifice, that we look head on at the loss of

life in these pictures, even as we see therein the full flower of youth. 

We all hope that our president was sending our young troops to

Afghanistan, more of them now, has a plan, both military and political,

which offers hope and human joy over there and security here at home, at

all equal or even greater than what‘s being lost, already lost, by these

men and women, and their dear families. 

I want, knowing the hard question that involves to offer—to

salute those who gave to our country.  I thank the loss—for those who

gave their loss and their service.  Also to their parents, I could offer

only the honoring words here of Shakespeare: “Your son, my lord, has

paid a soldier‘s debt.  He only lived but until he was a man.  To which

no sooner has his prowess confirmed, in the unshrinking station where he

fought, but like a man, he died.”  Wow. 

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for watching, thanks for being

with us.

Right now, it‘s time for THE ED SHOW, with Ed Schultz. 




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